Walk leader Michael still striding on as 90 approaches

Michael Bugden, who is still leading group walks through the Norfolk countryside as he approaches the age of 90.

Michael Bugden, who is still leading group walks through the Norfolk countryside as he approaches the age of 90. - Credit: Supplied by Lorraine Barton

He has been using 'Shank's pony' to get around for decades, and now Michael Bugden is about to stride past a new milestone. 

And even though the Wroxham resident is about to turn 90, he has no plans to put the brakes on his beloved walking hobby, nor his passion for showing others the delights of the Norfolk countryside by foot. 

Michael Bugden, centre, with participants in one of the group walks he leads.

Michael Bugden, centre, with participants in one of the group walks he leads. - Credit: Supplied by Lorraine Barton

Mr Bugden said: "I find walking to be a great relaxation where you can forget all about your work. Health-wise, it keeps us going.

"The beauty of Norfolk is that there's such a wide variety of countryside and coastal walks."  

More than 20 years ago, when he was on Wroxham Parish Council, he was introduced to the community rail partnership group on the Bittern railway line from Norwich to Sheringham, and he soon volunteered to lead free walks for people from stations along the line. 

People taking part in a group walk led by Michael Bugden, left.

People taking part in a group walk led by Michael Bugden, left. - Credit: Supplied by Lorraine Barton

Now retired, Mr Bugden used to be the manager of the NatWest bank branch in North Walsham. He married his wife, Ann, in 1957, and walking has always been an important part of the pair's lives. 

Leading walks is a duty Mr Bugden still relishes today, even though he will become a nonagenarian in July.

People taking part in a group walk led by Michael Bugden.

People taking part in a group walk led by Michael Bugden. - Credit: Supplied by Lorraine Barton

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But nowadays there are fewer walk leaders - just two instead of the six there used to be - and they set off on walks not only from the stops along the Bittern Line, but also along the Wherry Lines which connect Norwich with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. 

People on one of the group walks.

People on one of the group walks. - Credit: Supplied by Lorraine Barton

Mr Bugden said: "There's no charge, all we ask is that people join the walk after travelling to the station the train.

"They vary in distance from 4.5 miles to 7.5m miles, and people are encouraged to bring a light picnic lunch." 

He said the ideas for his routes often come from the Saturday edition of the Eastern Daily Press - which usually includes a map and description of somewhere to walk in Norfolk and Waveney. Mr Bugden said he had been cutting the walking pages out of the paper and collecting them for 25 years.