Walking for Pleasure

Transcript from article first published in ECHO Community Newspaper October 2008, written by Di Powell: reproduced with permission


(Left to right) Jim, Bob and David after one of the walks
ending in the Memorial Park.
Photo courtesy of Di Powell

In view of the popular 11th Annual “A Coventry Way Challenge” in September, putting Coventry on the map by attracting walkers and runners from all over the country, we thought readers would be interested to hear of Earlsdon’s connections with this event and how easy it is for local people to benefit from the pleasure and exercise to be gained from walking in our lovely, local countryside.

Coventrians have access to 21 different walks in lovely surroundings, along designated public paths around our city.  This remarkable scheme was the brainchild of an Earlsdon resident – our very own “Wainwright”, Cyril Bean, whose passion and hard work over many years made possible the development and formal recognition of “A Coventry Way”, the 40 mile route around the city and the 21 circular walks emanating from it.  These walks encompass many different locations, from the outskirts of the urban sprawl to the gentler pleasures of green fields and thatched cottages.  Some views towards the city’s three spires are as breathtaking as the vistas across rich agricultural pastures!

For several years another Earlsdonite, Jim Powell, with his friends David Burrin and Bob Brandon, have attempted the “21 Challenge”, walking the 21 circular walks in 21 days.  This year, from 1 – 21 June, these keen members of the Coventry Way Association set off at 5am (their early starts were due to the fact that Bob is still a working man with a 9am start) and stepped out to the sound of the dawn chorus.  Their self discipline at getting out of bed so early was rewarded again this year by hearing larks rising above several locations around the city, an encouraging sign that at least some local farmers are protecting land for threatened larks to nest in safely.  Observing the ever changing scenes around them – new types of crops, housing estates springing up, trees lost to disease, hedges replanted, deer crossing their path – provides endless interest for the walkers.  This year David Burrin also recorded 55 species of plants in flower, including the Bee Orchid.  By the end of the 21 days they had covered around 120 miles!

All these men lead very active lives, setting an excellent example to the rest of us.  Bob Brandon, who is the youngest, regularly runs marathons and organises and competes in orienteering events.  David Burrin has a background as a marathon runner and climber.  In recent years he has travelled the world to trek in remote places, most recently in Tibet.  Long distance walking has always been one of Jim Powell’s favourite activities.  He has explored many miles of now defunct railway lines, backpacked nearly all the long distance paths in the UK including the 600 miles of the South West Coast Path, and continues to chalk up an impressive number of miles in his retirement.  Cyril has been devoted to outdoor activity all his life.  He and his wife Iris love Derbyshire and remain keen walkers.

“A Coventry Way Association” books of the walks mentioned above are available at some local outlets.  Anyone wanting to join the Association should make contact using the Contact page.
Note: ECHO (Earlsdon, Chapelfields, Hearsall Opinion) is a community newspaper of over 20 years standing. It covers local news and events with articles from local contributors.