One of the unexpected silver linings of Covid-19 has been the incentive to be innovative at Nene Park. Our new 'Virtual guided walks' are an initiative, which makes use of technology widely available to all smartphone and tablet users. The aim is to help people feel comfortable exploring the wider park without having to go on a guided walk led by our Rangers, which are currently cancelled due to social distancing requirements.

The first walk, The Two Meres Walk guides people on a circular route from Orton Mere into Ferry Meadows and then back over the river to Orton Mere, passing Ham Mere on the way. Visitors can download a route guide from our website which provides a brief overview of the walk and a basic route map. Along the walking route we have placed route markers featuring QR codes. Walkers can then scan the QR codes using their phones or tablets to access a short video giving information about points of interest and route guidance for the next stage of the walk.

Education and Activities Manager Anna Thompson explains more: “In 2019, 79% of UK adults owned a smartphone and this number is only expected to increase. This means that most of us are carrying around an incredibly powerful device with the potential to help many more people feel comfortable exploring the countryside. Most smartphones already have a QR code reader installed and for those that don’t, applications such as Google Lens are freely available to download. With our virtual guided walks we are harnessing this technology to provide an alternative to a traditional ranger led guided walk. The beauty of this approach is that it supports social distancing by allowing people to explore the quieter areas of the Park, away from the main visitor hubs at their own time and pace.”

It is intended that over the next few months several more walks will be created which will take visitors to areas such as Thorpe Meadows and the rural estate to the West of Peterborough, which for many remains an undiscovered gem. All new virtual guided walk routes will be published on our Virtual Guided Walks page.