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Bedwyn Footpaths Group – A new-look website for this Pewsey Vale group

Great Bedwyn village lies within the Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire and the local footpaths group has recently launched a refreshed and upgraded website

Self-guided walk routes are available on the website. Walkers now have the option to follow the 9 routes online using their phone, or to download a PDF file to use offline. There’s also the possibility to download a GPX file to use on any walking app with a tracking capability.

For those who prefer to follow printed route instructions, walk leaflets are available too. The leaflets have been updated and reprinted and can be picked up from the Bedwyn information kiosk in the centre of the village and at many other outlets around the Vale.

The group holds monthly group walks, open to all and advertised on the website. These walks, in and around the Bedwyn area, will be recorded on the archive pages with a map ,so there will be more route suggestions there for independent walkers to try. The group has also extended its social media reach by launching on Instagram, in addition to Twitter @bedwynfootpaths

The online gallery gives a flavour of the group’s activities over the 9 years since we formed. In addition to walking, our volunteers also enjoy working to keep the paths in our area clear. Our proudest achievement to date has been to replace all stiles in the parish with gates and to declare Great Bedwyn stile-free.

Bedwyn Footpaths Group are supporters of Pewsey Vale Walkers are Welcome and our walks, along with many others in the Vale, can be found on their website too

Marsden Group Hosts First Wind-Down-Friday of 2024

The end of  March marked the first Wind-Down-Friday walk of the year in Marsden, West Yorkshire; walkers from around Marsden and from further afield joined members of the Walkers are Welcome team for a short walk before sunset, taking in the views of local landmark, Pule Hill and strolling back through Tunnel End Nature Reserve. It was a perfect opportunity to unwind after the week and to have a chat with familiar people and new faces, followed by sampling the local brews in one of the village’s pubs.
On the last Friday of every month March – October, Marsden Walkers are Welcome lead a Wind-Down-Friday walk. The walks, which start at 6pm are designed to last around an hour and a half, and finish in one of the local pubs; there’s no better way to ease into the weekend!
More information about the Wind-Down-Walks can be found on Marsden’s group page. If you’re local to the area, please come and join us, if you live further afield, you could make a weekend of it and try out some of our self-guided walks across the weekend. There’s no need to book – all walks meet at the station in Marsden at 6pm on the last Friday of the month.
See www.marsdenwalkersare  for more information and for self-guided walks.

Crickhowell Walking festival 2024 Wet weather – but high spirits

The 16th Crickhowell Walking Festival ran from 9th- 17th March and was maybe the wettest yet, but though walkers were dampened, their spirits definitely were not. A programme of 81 walks, from strolls along the canal to high level challenges across the Beacons and Black Mountains, was delivered for the hundreds of walkers from far and near who joined the Festival to banish their winter blues – including two who dropped in from Ottawa. Over 50 enthusiasts took up the TM5 challenge – up and down Table Mountain as many as five times in the day, the youngest being ten-year old Oliver with his dad. There was also a fine selection of navigation skills workshops and evening events.
Why do all this? Hundreds of pounds were raised to help the important work of this year’s annual charity, Brecon & District Mind and as ever, the Festival raised thousands for Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre, a vital contribution for a charity with no public funding to support its work for the local community, its economic health and the Arts.

Plans are already beginning for CWF 2025. Crickhowell is firmly established at the forefront of British walking festivals, and all achieved by about 100 volunteers who led walks, gave talks and workshops and managed the organisation and admin behind the scenes. A big thank you to them all, and to the local businesses who have again sponsored our walks – another important part of team CWF. CWF 2025 will run from Saturday 8th- Sunday 16th March. Get the dates in your diary now and keep an eye on

The photograph is this years winner of our photographic competition. Well done and huge congratulations to Peter Lamont.

South Western Railways Declares Whitchurch Hampshire to be a ‘Top Destination’

‘Whitchurch where history, nature and literature converge to offer a unique destination’.

Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome are thrilled to announce that South Western Railways has declared Whitchurch, Hampshire to be a Top Destination in the South.

Jackie Browne, the WaW co-ordinator for Whitchurch said, ‘  We already knew this of course, but now hopefully many more people looking to escape the town/city for a day’s walking, or a weekend break will discover the delights of Whitchurch and the beautiful North Wessex Downs National Landscape. !SW Railways supported our application for accreditation back in 2015 and eighteen months ago members of the Management Team were invited to attend a meeting in Whitchurch to discuss future tourism opportunities for Whitchurch Station, the Southern Gateway to the North Wessex Downs.

It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the team to develop the ‘Destination’ page, it supports the town’s aspirations to become a hub for exploring the lesser-known North Hampshire Countryside and we very much look forward to continuing working with the railway company to promote the area.”

Wellington’s contribution to the Great British Spring Clean

For Wellington’s regular Path Team session on March 21st, they stood down their path clearing tools and carried out a litter pick in support of this year’s Great British Spring Clean.

They  worked down a well used local  footpath (cycle route 81) from Sutherland Avenue, alongside the Wrekin College sports field, to Whitchurch Drive, then through an underpass and around a grassed area towards Leegomery. The resulting total haul consist of 5 large sacks of general rubbish, 2 of recyclable bottles and cans, a TV, remains of the spring seating from an armchair, a carpet, and a couple of spent fireworks casings.  The photo of the proceeds can  also be seen on their Facebook page and website gallery.


Marsden WAW have a grand day out with We In Front

Last month, Marsden WAW joined up with Huddersfield walking group We In Front to walk together in the hills and moorland around the Pennine village of Marsden.

We In Front began life in 2020 in the depths of the Covid lockdown.

Errol Hamlet, 69, of Lowerhouses, was bored and frustrated but inspired to see a neighbour taking advantage of her 60 minutes outdoors with vigorous walking. He’d never seen the point of walking for its own sake before but once he started he felt like he didn’t want to stop.

He was soon attracting the attention of fellow West Indian friends and, as lockdown eased, Errol found he had a team of hiking converts around him. They walked and walked, often going astray as they plunged off-road into the fields and thickets around Huddersfield.
But they figured that as long as they stayed within sight of Castle Hill (a local landmark) they’d never get completely lost.

Since then they’ve grown to a membership of over 30 and walk four times a week. The routes range from flat rambles to scaling the most rugged terrain in the Pennines so people of all abilities can take part.

They reckon they are probably the most active group of West Indian pensioners walking anywhere in the UK and, while still drawing most of its membership from the Windrush Generation, the group includes walkers of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

For the walk with Marsden WAW the group divided into two, one group tackling the longer and more challenging Deer Hill walk, and the other opting for a shorter walk along the canal; this walk however wasn’t all that easy as it came with an outdoor gym stop, where members of We In Front led the group in some keep-fit exercises!

We In Front describe themselves as encouraging health and wellbeing and laughter and there was certainly plenty that shared between the two groups. There are plans for a return visit with We In Front hosting Marsden WAW soon – watch this space!

We In Front were recently featured in an episode of Ramblings with Claire Balding on BBC Radio 4. You can listen to the episode on the iPlayer here

The Teifi Valley Trail

The Teifi Valley Trail, West Wales, is an ambitious venture that will provide a new walking route of about 75 miles along public rights of way through some of the finest scenery in Mid Wales. It is being devised, prepared, managed, administered, and maintained entirely by groups of volunteers from the Walkers are Welcome communities in the valley :  Tregaron ; Lampeter (Llanbedr Pon Steffan)Llandysul & Pont-TywelCilgerrantpsSt Dogmaels. 

For walkers going  South from the source of the Afon Teifi, the first possibility for provisions will be Tregaron. This ancient market town is steeped in history, legend, and folklore. Its varied pubs, cafes and shops  provide ample facilities for visitors and for the local and rural community. Sitting astride the Afon Brennig, a major tributary of the Afon Teifi, Tregaron serves as a gateway to the many upland attractions of the central Cambrian Mountains, and as a crossroads between the hills and the coast.

Larger communities will be encountered as walkers continue. The route through the major townships of Lampeter, Llandysul, Newcastle Emlyn, and finally Cardigan is punctuated by smaller communities where provisions  may also be obtained. History, dramatic rural scenery and abundant wildlife are constant companions throughout. The northern end of the trail is located in the wide open spaces at the source of the River Teifi in the gloriously dramatic uplands of the Cambrian Mountains.  The trail pursues a route that embraces ever changing vistas of mountain, wetland, woodland and agricultural landscapes in addition to pool and plunge, torrent and waterfall, gorge and water meadow, all of the features associated with a major waterway. The river finally escapes the confines of its valley as it discharges into the Irish Sea at Aberteifi (Cardigan). Here, the trail terminates at Poppit Sands.

Having finished the Teifi Trail,  walkers may continue in a southerly direction along the dramatic Pembrokeshire Coast Path, or head northward along the equally scenic Ceredigion Coast Path to Borth. From here, the easterly Devil’s Bridge and Pontrhydfendigaid Trail will permit a dramatic return to the mountains and the source of the Teifi.  This latter trail embraces lowland scenery before ascending through former industrial landscapes, river valley and mountain flank before entering the truly dramatic Rheidol Gorge. The entire extended route embraces a complete circumnavigation of Ceredigion. Is this the only county in Britain that can make such a boast?

During recent months, hard work and dedication have allowed good progress towards completion of the Teifi Trail, and an inauguration event is presently anticipated for  early autumn 2024, .  However, this can only be realised when public safety at every step has been assured. The managing association remains desperately short of funds, and many artefacts and facilities require repair or replacement. With some provisional help from the local authorities, the teams of volunteers continue to construct bridges, erect fences, stiles and gates, clear fallen trees and overgrowth, install directional way-markers, and conduct essential liaison with farmers and landowners. At just a few locations route deviation has become a necessity and is an expensive and time consuming procedure. We continue to apply for grants in the hope that this provision will prove sufficient for the public safe completion and our aspired opening.

Two Walking Festivals in celebration of the Teifi Valley are being prepared and will take place in Llandysul the weekend of 20-22 September and at Strata Florida Abbey on the weekend of 27-29 September. Both will further highlight the scenic beauty, the industry, and the diversity of the County of Ceredigion and the many and varied opportunities for outdoor and countryside activities. Both events will include programmes of walks for all ages and abilities from full-day and half-day hikes in the localities, to local rambles in pursuit of the considerable local historic interest, and more entertaining provision for a younger generation. Both locations enjoy a huge diversity of scenery, habitat, wildlife, history, archaeology, and the intended programme of events and opportunities will provide for all tastes and interests.

Please sign up for the Teifi Valley Trail newsletter,  here  where there are also introductory videos and  links to the  Facebook page .

Unveiling The River Coln Trail Saturday 23rd March 2024

The much-anticipated River Coln Trail is set to officially open, offering a picturesque journey from the river’s source to its convergence with the mighty Thames, spanning thirty-three miles.

The River Coln Trail, a collaborative effort between the two ’Walkers are Welcome’ towns of Winchcombe and Fairford, together with Gloucester County Council Rights of Way, aims to promote sustainable tourism and environmental awareness. The project has been several years in the making, to provide an enjoyable and educational experience for trail-goers. A guide book offering a route description and maps complements the route.

Key Features of the River Coln Trail:

  1. Scenic Beauty: Embark on a visual feast as the trail winds through picturesque landscapes, including charming villages, lush meadows, and woodlands. The River Coln’s crystal-clear limestone waters will be a constant companion throughout the journey.
  2. Rich Biodiversity: Nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers will be delighted by the diverse flora and fauna along the trail. Birdwatchers, in particular, will find the route a haven for spotting many bird species.
  3. Historical Landmarks: Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the region as you walk the trail. From a castle and Roman villa to hamlets, villages and quaint market towns, the River Coln Trail showcases the heritage of the area.

To mark the grand opening of the River Coln Trail, a celebratory event is scheduled for Saturday 23rd March 2024. Kate Ashbrook, Patron of Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network, and General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society will be guest of honour, with local dignitaries, environmentalists, supporters and trail enthusiasts gathering to inaugurate this exciting venture. The event will include a short guided tour and an opportunity for attendees to be among the first to experience the trail.

Kate Ashbrook says ‘I am thrilled to be opening this splendid trail, which links two dynamic Walkers Are Welcome Towns.  There is a great joy in walking by water and, having sampled stretches of the route, I know that the River Coln Trail is a pure delight.  Congratulations to Winchcombe and Fairford for their achievement which will bring pleasure to many.’

The River Coln Trail is a great example of eco-tourism, providing an avenue for both locals and visitors to connect with nature, appreciate the importance of conservation, and revel in the beauty that the River Coln and its surroundings have to offer.

Words  from Sheila Talbot and photo copyright Robert Talbot, both of Winchcombe

Pewsey Vale Leads the Way with On-Demand Buses

Having a joined-up rail and bus network is generally the preserve of cities and urban areas. But now the Vale of Pewsey can also boast integrated public transport!

The introduction of an on-demand bus service has transformed the public transport service across the villages of the Vale. The service links Hungerford, Marlborough, Devizes and Pewsey and the villages in these areas, as well as providing scheduled routes to Swindon and Salisbury.

You can use the app (look for Wiltshire Connect) to book a bus or, if you prefer, you can call 01225 712900. Once you have a booking, you can follow its progress on the app whilst you wait. There are lots of designated pick up and drop off points across the Vale for you to choose from, making the service extremely convenient.

Connecting to your train arrival or departure couldn’t be easier. The Vale of Pewsey is well served by having two railway stations – Bedwyn in the east and Pewsey station at the heart of the Vale. The train service makes it easy to get from London and Reading to the Pewsey Vale, which is at the heart of the North Wessex Downs National Landscape. With the new bus service, you can book your bus to pick you up or drop you off at a time that meets with your train. If your train is running late, then you can text via the app to rearrange the booking.

Once you are in the Vale, you can also use this service to take you to the start of a walk, or to meet you at the end of a linear walk to take you back to where you started. Have a look at Rail Ways on the Pewsey Vale website to see walks you can do direct from the stations. However this new bus service opens up all sorts of possibilities to walk anywhere in the Vale when you arrive by train!

The buses are wheelchair accessible, have air conditioning and free passenger wi-fi.

Wiltshire Connect really is a fabulous service so please use it whilst you are visiting – it’s the easy and convenient way to get around!