You could make new friends. Traffic was low and so it was safe to walk.
Fran, Rome, 1998
My brother, Andrea, and I used to go to the same nursery and primary school in Rome.
Our father would be the one to take us to school on his way to work. Our home in Rome was quite far from school so we weren’t able to walk all the way. Dad would park the car around 10 minutes away and we’d walk the rest of the way together. As dad worked long hours, he would often get home after our bed time, so the only quality time we had with him was in the morning on the way to school and I cherished that time very much. On the walk he would tell us stories about his childhood in Florence in the 60s and how he would walk to school on his own at the time with his lunch in a basket along with a couple of books and pencils. Some of my favourite memories from those journeys to school include playing the Italian version of ‘I spy’, ‘Indovina, indovinello’, laughing lots and holding hands with my brother and father.
Dan, Greater Manchester, 1980s
I went to Greenside Lane Primary School in Droylsden, Tameside. My Dad used to come and meet me after school and together we’d take the half-hour walk back home. At the time I must have had an interest in cowboys and my dad decided we were going to collect discarded wooden lollipop sticks on our walk so that we could use them to build a fort. It was litter picking and creative upcycling all in one, but to me it made that walking journey home a very enjoyable one - each lollipop stick we spied and placed in our pockets was like finding treasure. Eventually - and thanks to the ever-present ice-cream van at the school gates in the 80s (what a healthy lifestyle we led!) we had enough to build our fort. Sadly over the years the bulk of our creation vanished, but I always retained the Headquarters building (see photo) – still looking good for over 35 years old!
Mary, Cardiff, 1960s
I walked to school every day as a child. It was such fun. Spotting caterpillars in summer and snowballing in winter.
We passed lots of front gardens, all very different. We passed people walking dogs that were nice to pat. There were so many of us walking in groups. You could make new friends. Traffic was low and so it was safe to walk.
Later on I worked at a school and walked there and back. The walk home after work was very good. By the time I reached home I was very relaxed and any problems encountered in the day had gone. Those were the days.
Lisa, Essex, Today
I am a childminder and I have been walking 12 children to and from school every day for 12 years.
We walk half a mile there and half a mile back. We chat about things that are happening in the world and what they'll be doing at school.
We sometimes go via the park on the way home and collect conkers, sticks, leaves for projects. We play games at the park and also Play in the swing park. The children love walking to school together - their ages are 5-11 yrs and when they get to year 6 they become more independent and walk off in front on their own to get them ready for high school.
They then walk to high school in their own.
DANILA, SOUTH AFRICA, 1990S
When I was a child growing up in a suburb of South Africa we walked to school each day, and one of my favourite memories was the long, waist-high, grass on verges that danced and fluttered in the breeze giving off a strong scent in the summer. We ran our hands through the grass, feeling the tiny seeds gently tickle our palms, and watched bees and butterflies flutter and buzz among the grasses looking for nectar rich flowers peeping out amongst the grasses. Not all verges and pathways along the school walk were blessed with such a wonderful sensory feast of nature, but when we did pass long grasses, we slowed down and took our time walking by.
Walking isn’t just a mode of transport; it allows us to slow down, chat, share stories, and really experience our surroundings. I miss those walks now, both mine as a child, and those walking my own children. I still stop and slow down when I see long summer grasses. I’m glad my children got to share such a similar experience from my childhood even though we are miles away from where my school-run journey first began.
SAYED, LEICESTER, 2022
Whenever I get the opportunity to collect or drop my daughter off at school, I get that quality time we don't get during the day. It’s an opportunity to look at the changing seasons, when leaves are falling off the trees, or in summer walking under the shade of a tree. It allows me to ask her what kind of day it has been or a moment for her to moan about things not going right at school. A moment to take a breath and be grateful in an ever-busy world.
BECKY, YORK, 1990s
My grandma used to pick me up from school when I was young. We used to take the slightly longer route home to walk by the seafront. I enjoyed those walks together and I remember her asking me the same question every day: 'what did you have for your dinner?'.
As a child, this bugged me! Now I have my own children and enjoy walking them home from school (unfortunately, no sea front here!). Guess what I ask them every day on that walk? That's right: 'what did you have for your dinner?'! Cue a hard stare from them!
JAYNE, WEST MIDLANDS, 1970S
My twin brother and I walked to school the whole of our school years. Our dad didn’t have a car, so walking was 'normal' for our family.
We walked along many a busy main road but we’d enjoy meeting our fellow classmates en route to school, bonding and forming long life friendships along the way.There were pockets of greenery on the way, and as I love wildlife and animals, I’d always be happy to see a bird or squirrel – something which took me away from the urban 'chaos'.
Now that I’m older, I spend more time walking and engaging in nature as a very active rambler. For me, walking is something not only good physically but mentally too. Walking has been 'the norm' in my life, and long may it continue to be so.
EVA, ST ANDREWS, TODAY
I’m a walking bus coordinator at my local primary school and we have just launched our bus, which runs every Friday morning to school. We have a great turnout with happy kids and a lovely walk – a particular highlight is seeing our school janitor dressed up in fluorescent yellow as he helps us to cross the main road near the school! I love hearing the chatty kids, pretending to be a bus driver, seeing the long line of high-vis kids, and giving them a high-five at the end of the trip!
ELIAS (AGE 5), SHOREHAM BY SEA, TODAY
I love walking to school! I like to see my friends on the way to school. I like to look in the window of my favourite shop and pop in on the way home from time to time and I like going on the smooth parts of the pavement on my scooter.
FIONA, EDINBURGH, 1960S and 70S
I walked to primary and high school with my sister and two other sisters from round the corner. We lived on Montpelier in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh, and our walk took us up Viewforth, across Bruntsfield Place then across the lovely, grassed area known as the Meadows.
We played tig en route in our younger days then graduated to chat about boys, films, and music as we became teenagers. In the winter the mornings were dark and cold, but we loved the springtime when the cherry blossom was out.
NIGEL, HERTFORDSHIRE, 1950S
My first day in school when I was five years of age was in September 1954. It was a newly opened rural village school. I lived about half a mile away from the school on a new council estate where lots of young families had moved in at the same time as ours.
My mother took me to school on my first day at school. After that I went on my own and in the first year that also meant coming home on my own for lunch. So four trips a day unaccompanied. The school was only about half a mile away from our house, so you linked up with a friend or two a soon as you left the house. All the pupils started at 9am. Everyone walked to school.
There were virtually no cars on the road – few people on the estate could afford one – so if any car or delivery van that came onto the estate, we’d know the driver. All the children knew each other as did the families. There were rarely any 'strangers' in the village despite it being near a main road. In essence everyone felt safe – there was no mention of don't talk to strangers because there weren't any!
Nigel now walks with his 8-year-old granddaughter, Del.
“I like to Park and Stride with Grandpa. We race over the bridge, chat, and play ‘what would you rather?’. I get to see my friends on the way and enjoy some fresh air at the same time.”
JANE, LIVERPOOL, 1980S
I think one of my favourites was my dad taking me, my sister and brother to school on a sledge. He pulled us there in the snow and on his walk home decided to run with the sledge and jump on it. However, the snow had run out and he hit the pavement, went flying over the top and gave the greengrocer a right laugh!
Share your #WalkToSchoolStories with us this International Walk to School Month, and we'll enter you into our prize draw!
🐌 Did you find a friend like #AbigailTheSnail on your walk to school?— Living Streets (@livingstreets) October 6, 2022
Share your #WalkToSchoolStories with us as we celebrate all the weird and wonderful joys that come from spending quality time together this #InternationalWalkToSchoolMonth! https://t.co/kyVFdhEniY pic.twitter.com/lFcJfwMKPK
@livingstreets my son is 8 years old and he's been walking to school in all kinds of weather - heatwaves, rain, ice & snow. One snow storm he was adamant that it would be quicker to scoot to school, it's a mile, it took us 40 mins😆 #walktoschoolstories— Michelle 'Clippy' McKenna (@ClippysWorld) October 6, 2022