An eco-trail with the theme ’21 Ways to Save the Planet’ proved very popular in a Derbyshire village this February during lockdown

Penny Northall

The idea of an eco-trail came to me whilst walking near my home in the Derbyshire countryside in lockdown January.  A local walk for exercise and fresh air had become a daily habit for many people in my local community.  I reasoned that a ‘21 Ways to Save the Planet’ trail would add interest to the daily walk.  21 seemed appropriate for 2021 and the 21st century. I discussed the idea with our Rector and the go-ahead was given. 21 environmental themes came to mind:

THE PERFECT PLANET – ‘Just right!’

(A PDF version of the resulting report is available HERE)

For each theme, I described the current facts, suggested a way to ‘make a difference’ for adults and an activity for children.  I also put on a joke or riddle to ‘sweeten the pill’ of the grim environmental facts and to engage with any joke lovers doing the trail. An eye-catching image to illustrate the theme and a letter to collect for the trail anagram completed the information. They were printed on A4, laminated and pinned to boards.  Here are two examples.

The two boards below were designed to encourage people to think theologically.  Their format was a little different.

Sites for the boards were planned next. Many were sited at footpath ends on the lanes, to encourage footpath use. Appropriate locations were selected for the boards, such as a view of wind turbines and solar panels for the Energy theme, a stream for Water, a beautiful far-reaching view for Beauty in creation, the church for What does the Bible say about our World, the main road for Transport. A little hiccup occurred.  On consulting a neighbour about a board on the footpath crossing her fields (the one with the tremendous view) she was concerned about extra walkers, so another site was chosen. Important to keep the neighbours happy! The map showing board locations was designed next by my husband using Open Street Map. Instructions were added at the top.

Goody bags (see below) for trail completers were made up, making use of the freebies I had gathered before the pandemic for an eco-stall at a Church fair, which had been cancelled at the last moment.

Congratulations on doing Hulland’s Eco-trail. Inside are some things you might find useful or give them to someone who would. Please pop anything you don’t want back in the box.

I then designed a publicity poster

Boards up, maps and instructions in a box at the church gate for collection, goody bags too, risk assessment done, all information on the church website, Facebook and posters. We were ‘ready to go’ on 1st February.

It proved very popular. Many people of all ages in our community did some or all of it. Some comments I received back:

  • Really enjoyed the trail on Saturday morning thanks. Took 4 of the grandchildren and such a lovely change from on line learning.
  • Many thanks for organising the eco-trail. We have thoroughly enjoyed working our way around this week as we do our daily exercise. My 4 year has been telling everyone about the treasure map. Such an important topic for us all. Hopefully we have the anagram to be sustainability in all things.
  • Thank you for setting up the brilliant eco trail. It has been great to have a focus to our walks, especially such an important focus. I hope it encourages more people to live more sustainably … every small change helps. This is J finding the last one in Millington Green this afternoon
  • We did part of this a couple of weeks ago, walking from our house to just past the second triangle and back. It was the first time I’d been outside since before Xmas and it was a lovely day. I really enjoyed it.
  • I thought a quick note would be appropriate, to say how much fun it is. Kath has been pretty good on the riddles, but thinks one or two of the jokes are a little corny!  The environmental messages and suggestions are great.  Plus it is good to follow some walking routes we wouldn’t normally take.

The feedback was so positive, I set up an  Easter Trail a few weeks later telling the Easter story;  a shorter route and more specifically for children.

Penny Northall is a CRES student and is just starting her second year. She attends her village parish church in Derbyshire and took on the role of leading her church towards a bronze eco church award in February.  Before she retired she was an Early Years teacher.

Photos: All are from Penny Northall and permission was granted from the parents of the child for our cover photo

PDF Version: A PDF version of the report is available HERE