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Delapre Park signposts project one step closer to completion

Date 9.08.2021

A University research project about making the most helpful signposts for people to get around a popular local country walk is nearing fruition with survey results out now.

The University – in collaboration with Northamptonshire Sport* and Delapré Abbey – has been investigating to see if temporary ‘directional signage’ on one route within Delapré Park could increase walking there and improve the physical activity of people in the community.

These signs contain maps and walking distances and directional arrows to help people navigate their way around a set walking route. They also give walkers more confidence that going for a walk is safe as they know where they are and how far they have walked at regular intervals.

The project started in early 2021 and has included a survey about people’s views of such signage and an observation exercise about current walking route use in the park.

The survey results have now been analysed from 266 responses, with mostly strong support for signs being installed (75% of respondents).

47% strongly agreed that directional signposts would make them feel more confident about using unfamiliar routes and 39.5% strongly agreed they would make them feel less anxious about trying new routes.

Participants also noted what information they thought should feature on the signs (such as maps, emergency contact details, consistent colours and fonts) and what should not (motivational statements to encourage physical activity, and the amount of people who have used the route each month. It was felt introducing a competitive element to the signs could be counter-productive for some walkers).

The temporary signs are due to be installed by September 2021: Delapre Abbey signs. There will be ongoing monitoring to see what impact the signs are having, to inform future directional signage projects in the county.

Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, Dr Declan Ryan, has been leading on the research. He said: “The researchers, Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, Northamptonshire Sport and myself are extremely grateful for the large public interest in this research project.

“We’re half-way through this project and every public comment helps us understand how, when, and why directional signage should be installed to help the people of Northamptonshire explore their local greenspaces. We will be continuing our engagement with the local community as users of the signposted walking route will be able to share their experiences by scanning a QR code or visiting the website address found on the route signs within the Park.”

For more: Outcomes from the Delapré Park Walking Route Public Survey – Executive Summary

*NSport is also helping link this project with the Social Prescribing Link Workers and the existing health walk scheme as they will be the users and referrers to the route.