Staff, students and the local community will now be able to enjoy the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) 360-acre campus to the full as the first in a series of new waymarked walking routes opens today (9 October).
Thousands of people already use the UEA’s grounds for a stroll, to walk their dogs, and to get out and run each year, and the new route will link up Earlham park with areas of the campus like the rose garden, rockery and the Sainsbury Centre’s sculpture trail.
Each waymarked route covers a variety of distances, and takes in different sights and sounds. This first route is the ‘ecology and nature’ trail which explores areas home to around 5,790 different species of plant and animal, including 127 which are endangered.
Adam Garford, Head of Sport & Physical Activity Development at UEA, who is behind the initiative, said: “We’re extremely lucky to have a beautiful campus with wide open spaces, forest area, a river and even our very own broad. As a University we’ve never had any formal route before and we hope this will not only inspire staff and students, but also local people in Norwich and beyond.”
The news comes after a recent survey of students and staff revealed that one in three people wanted more walking and running routes marked around campus.
And with thousands of new first year students starting at the university in the last month from all over the country, this initiative gives them chance to discover campus facilities, whilst being active.
"I'm someone that appreciates having time to myself amidst a very active and busy lifestyle and walking is always a great way for me to tune out and find 'calm in the crazy'.” said third year psychology student Shakila Omar, when asked about the initiative. “Although the UEA campus is a very concrete structure, it is nestled amongst beautiful nature and being able to take movement breaks within this space between my hectic schedule is brilliant."
The introduction of the route is down to the active campus steering group which aims to promote the wellbeing of the UEA community through physical activity and sporting initiatives.
UEA’s Dr Sarah Hanson who is an expert on the benefits of walking, said: “Walking in green spaces is one of the ‘best buys’ in terms of helping your mental and physical health. It is especially good if you walk with others, helping with the social isolation that people of all ages are increasingly feeling.”
The first people to walk the route will do so at an event today which will be attended by UEA students and staff, as well as members of the local council and Earlham Park.
The waymarked trails are being created by Norfolk County Council. Cllr Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council’s member champion for Walking and Cycling, said: “We’re so pleased to have been involved in creating these trails which will help to open-up the wonderful range of historical and wildlife rich spaces close to the campus by making them more accessible for the first time. This is a very worthwhile project which I hope will be enjoyed by people who live, work and study nearby for many years to come.”
The route links to the Strava app and organisers hope to track the route’s popularity through motion sensors, to inform the development of more physical activity facilities on campus.
There are also additional activities taking place on campus today including the first day of the national British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) fixtures, the start of the UEA’s annual staff and student sport competition and a treasure hunt which pits different halls against each other.
There are also plans for a ‘claims to fame’ route marking out the Marvel Avengers film headquarters, the Ziggurats which are featured on the cover of an album by The Streets and the LCR which has been played by top musicians.