Fancy Free Walks is a non-profit-making organisation set up to introduce more people to our simply wonderful countryside, to exercise the mind and body in the pleasantest way, and to connect with our historic land, towns and villages. It has no finance and all the work in planning and authoring the walks, and in maintaining this site is voluntary and unpaid.
The '.org' extension was used so that any country or region can be featured. Until now, all the walks have been in South East England, where there is a huge demand from people in London and the Home Counties. In fact it is here that some of the best country is found, with the North and South Downs, the Chilterns, the many woods and forests and lakes. The relative prosperity of the area around London means that most land is green meadows and sheep or horse pastures, with few large ploughed fields.
The main spur to designing the walks on this website was years of frustration trying to follow brief or inadequate walking notes with unimaginative routes. During a long exhausting hike people want clear detailed directions so they don't get lost. The routes in the old guidebooks were often very predictable and did not use legal short cuts or the more 'interesting' paths, as though the authors planned them by tracing the 'green lines' on the OS map.
The name Fancy Free Walks came about because the first guides were offered to passers-by with the words 'Fancy a free walk?'.
John, the project's founder, began it in early 2009 in a blog format after semi-retiring from a successful IT business.
He designed the Fancy Free Walks website in January 2010.
During year one it had a rudimentary home page but significant enhancements were made in January 2011.
John also researched, wrote up and illustrated many of the walking guides using more than a dozen aliases.
Most are completely original; some are inspired in whole or in part by the Adventurous Walks books.
Individual contributors also researched and drafted some of the best walks on this site, for which huge thanks.
A host of devoted readers have sent feedback, from minor changes to extensive revisions in great detail,
including a survey of 150 Home Counties walks by one contributor.
All text and drawings on this website are the original work of the authors and do not borrow from any other source.