Taking a walk on the wild side

Five zoo-themed walking trails are coming to Kidlington, designed to help families to explore their local area on foot, improving community connectivity and boosting physical and mental wellbeing.

Published: Friday, 23rd July 2021

a Kidlington footpath on a sunny day

Funded by Sport England and the National Lottery, the routes are due to be installed this summer. They are being created by Cherwell District Council’s healthy place shaping team, K5 Better Together, in partnership with Kidlington Parish Council.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “This wayfinding project offers a fun opportunity for families in Kidlington to find new ways to get around their village, leaving the car at home and building in some exercise to their daily routine. It’s part of our commitment to help residents in Cherwell lead happy, healthy lives.”

More than 180 people took part in test walks on the proposed routes, including officers from Thames Valley Police and representatives from Oxfordshire Association for the Blind. The feedback resulted in five circular trails being chosen, each being given an animal theme, reflecting Kidlington’s history as being home to Oxford Zoo in the 1930s.

The green monkey trail takes in Kidlington High Street, The Moors and Park Hill Recreation Ground. The orange lion route roars through Orchard Recreation Ground and does a circuit of Gosford before returning to Exeter Hall. The blue elephant trail stomps past Kidlington Football Club, around Garden City and through Ron Groves Park. The final pink bear trail is a two-in-one, passing through Chorefields and visiting the canal, while providing a shorter bear cub route for little legs.

Each path will be easy to follow, with animal paw prints painted on the ground and signposts provided to help people find their way. The trails vary in length from 1.7km to 5km, offering a slightly different experience for the walker. People can join the circuits at any point but central signage at Exeter Hall will mark the official start and end points.

Features, including child-friendly games painted on the ground, bug houses, scramble boulders and balancing logs will add interest on the way, while benches will also be provided as a point for rest and relaxation. The routes have been designed to be accessible and user friendly, including the provision of short-cuts, so that all ages and abilities can enjoy them.

Kidlington residents are invited to find out more about the plans by visiting the K5 Better Together stall at Gala Day at Exeter Hall on Saturday 24 July. For more information about the project, go to www.cherwell.gov.uk/K5-wayfinding-walks.