Walkers to explore Bedfordshire - 'our surprising little county'
A walking festival is aiming to raise the profile of rambling by getting hundreds of people to explore "our surprising little country".
The Bedfordshire Walking Festival is expecting about 2,000 people to take part, an increase on the 500 who took part when it started in 2009.
Barry Ingram, organiser, said walking is now seen as a "pleasure" and not "a chore".
Ramblers, the walking charity, said younger membership is on an "upturn".
More than 50 walks of varying lengths, over nine days, have been organised and include visits to John Bunyan's birthplace, strolls through the Dunstable Downs and history talks.
Mr Ingram, who has worked on the event for 10 years, said: "You can look around, and find lots of things of interest. It is all about what you see and hear.
"You are active, you get what you want out of it, it's not a chore, it's a pleasure."
Jeffrey Petts, chair of the Lea and Icknield Rambers in the Luton area, said walking was for "people from all walks of life" due to its social nature as you could always "talk to one another".
Larissa Clarke, a personal trainer from Bedford, said: "A simple walk with the right technique, can provide a full body body workout and is low-impact on the joints.
"Walking in a group is becoming increasingly popular amongst both men and women of all ages."
Sarah Marfleet, from Ramblers, said: "We are definitely seeing an upturn in interest from people wanting to join the Ramblers, particularly in the last few months and some of our younger groups in particular have been really growing over the past year."
The Bedfordshire Walking Festival runs until 15 September.