IT’S time to pull on yout boots today as the National Trust launches its week long Walking Festival. Over the next seven days its sites throughout Britain – including Croome Court, near Pershore, and Hanbury Hall, near Droitwich – will be encouraging everyone to ramble and amble.

In Worcestershire, the event is being supported by singer, former punk rocker, writer and actress Toyah Willcox. She said: “We tend to forget the fabulous countryside we have all around us and it’s there for us to discover. Croome Park is absolutely stunning. It’s designed, yet you think you are in natural countryside.”

Toyah is a regular visitor to Croome Park – just a few miles from her home in Pershore – and her favourite walk is to Croome’s Park Seat folly, which just happens to be included in the festival’s special walks programme.

It is also being championed in a voting campaign to find the nation’s favourite walk, together with seven others across Britain, each supported by a celebrity.

Beccy Speight, National Trust director for the Midlands, said: “For too long it’s felt that outdoor spaces have been our best kept secret. We want to play our part in helping to reconnect the nation with our amazing countryside.

“We hope the first ever Walking Festival will inspire everyone to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors. Walks have been arranged for everyone to take part in, from the true enthusiast to the first timer.”

Of course the benefits are not just scenic because regular walking can have a dramatic effect on improving your health.

Just two and a half hours of walking a week and losing 12 to 15 lbs can reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes by more than 50 per cent and walking is also a great way to help prevent cancer. Women who walk for one and a quarter to two and a half hours a week have an almost 20 per cent lower chance of developing breast cancer compared with inactive women. In addition, the risk of developing colon cancer reduces by nearly a quarter between the most active and the least active men and women.

And there’s more. Walking can be an effective means of preventing heart disease. Retired men who walk more than two miles a day are only half as likely to die from heart disease than those who walk less than one mile.

Also, walking for 30 minutes, three to five times a week for 12 weeks, can reduce the symptoms of depression by nearly 50 per cent.

Hundreds of people are expected to take part in the National Trust’s Walking Week across Worcestershire, which has organised walks and selfled walks – available to download in advance from walking festival.

The programme kicks off today with a walk through Hanbury Park, near Droitwich. It will provide the opportunity to soak up the glorious views across the park and Hanbury Hall’s beautifully recreated 18th century gardens. Also starting today and continuing until Sunday, October 30, are the walks at Croome that will suit all ages and fitness levels.

For something a little different – and to quicken the pace if things turn scary – there are ghost walks next Saturday and Sunday at Hanbury Hall, while from Tuesday, October 25, until Saturday, October 29, there will be walks led by a costumed guide through the streets of Worcester starting from National Trust-owned The Greyfriars in Friar Street.

The walking festival should have something to suit most tastes and abilities but whether you are walking in town or country, wear something suitable on your feet – Jimmy Choos don’t go with green fields – and take a waterproof, if only to keep warm.

Then go and enjoy yourself and marvel at this wonderful countryside of ours. Next stop, top of the Worcestershire Beacon.