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350,000 maps downloaded by walkers

More than 350,000 walks were downloaded from the National Trust website last year, with a route showcasing the Bath skyline proving the most popular.

Walking guides were downloaded at a rate of one every one-and-a-half minutes, giving people maps, directions and points of interest for 240 different walks.

The National Trust said the number of people downloading the walking guides rose by more than 100,000 in the past year - up from 250,000 in 2009 to 350,888 in 2010.

Jo Burgon, outdoor programme director at the National Trust, said: "We have seen a remarkable growth in the popularity of walking in the past couple of years.

"Our downloadable walks cater for a wide range of walkers with everything from short circular routes to the more challenging hill walks. We're finding that more people want to get out into the great outdoors but often need to be pointed in the right direction."

The Bath skyline route proved the most popular for the second year running, with 14,000 people choosing the walk through wide open spaces overlooking the World Heritage city.

In second place was Alderley Edge in Cheshire, followed by Flatford Mill in Suffolk which was made famous by Constable's painting the Hay Wain. The ancient woodland of Ashridge in the Chilterns and Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire also proved popular with walkers.

Last year, August was the top month for walking, with more than 50,000 downloads, and the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend was the most popular day of the year.

In total, the walks that can be downloaded cover a distance of 858 miles and range from a seven-mile coastal walk around the Lizard in Cornwall to an easy one-mile stroll around Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland.

The National Trust is aiming to have 1,000 downloadable trails on its website by spring 2012, including cycle routes, horse-riding tracks and canoe trails.

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From Belfast Telegraph