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  • Robert McIntosh

History, Nature and Health: Forest Hill's First Walking Festival Unites Community

The Sunday weather was ideal for walking in Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park, London SE23, for the community to come together to celebrate the successful launch of an exciting new annual event: the Forest Hill Society Walking Festival.

On the 9th of June 2024, more than 100 enthusiastic residents, visitors and members of the Forest Hill Society laced up their walking shoes and marked a vibrant beginning to what promises to be a popular local tradition. This inaugural event showcased the area's natural beauty, local history and musical and art connections, and highlighted the health benefits of walking, setting a positive tone for future editions of the festival. But it also fostered community spirit, and hopefully some new friendships.

Together, all walkers combined covered around 275 miles, or a whopping 550,000 steps! A great collective effort.

Not only that, but the Society's Environment Committee also handed out more than 150 'edible' plants to willing local families and residents, with dozens of children excitedly selecting to grow, and eat, chard, tomatoes, rosemary, sage, courgettes, mint and many more plants on their windowsills, balconies and gardens.

To round off the festival, our friends at ArtMongers gathered ideas for a new mural to cover the blank space on the WH Smith Wall.  We’ll be writing more about that very soon.

This inaugural Walking Festival included 5 walks, each with its own theme. There were two nature walks, highlighting the views and green spaces in this hilly corner of south east London. There were also two historic walks to celebrate first our notable Victorian residents, and second the long association of this area with musicians, performers and artists. For more details on the walks, check out the guides that are on the Forest Hill Society website. Due to popular demand, we hope that some of these individual walks will be re-scheduled later this year so that more people can take part in a guided walk around the area. Make sure you sign up to our newsletters (see the website footer) if you are interested in taking part.

Better still, join us! Membership of the Forest Hill Society only costs £5 a year and the more members we represent, the louder our local voice can be, and the more events we can arrange.

Thank you once again to all those who came to walk, grow plants, share stories, support our local work and help us build the local community spirit.

The Forest Hill Society would also like to thank those organisations who helped us to put the event together and promote it, including London Borough of Lewisham, GoJauntly, Sydenham Gardens, the Forest Hill Library, the Friends of Albion Millennium Green, Devonshire Road Nature Reserve and Arriva Rail London


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