Burley in Wharfedale Walkers are Welcome joins the iWharfe campaign for a cleaner river

The recent joining of Burley Walkers are Welcome in West Yorkshire to the iWharfe campaign, which aims to improve water quality along the whole of the length of the River Wharfe, links the group full circle back to its formation in 2014. The original proposal for Burley to become a Walkers are Welcome village came from the Burley Bridge Association, initiated by Ramblers UK and local walkers in 1996 to campaign for a safe crossing of the river. A public right of way across stepping stones and a nearby bridleway ford have enabled people to cross the river, said to be one of the fastest rising in the country, for decades and probably hundreds of years. On the other bank to the village lies the enticing Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with many miles of footpaths through gorgeous moorland and valley scenery. So near, but more often than not, so far! Although Walkers are Welcome have encouraged awareness of the area by leading guided walks, publishing routes in three walks leaflets and the development of a long distance path, the Welcome Way, in conjunction with neighbouring WaW groups, the stepping stones remain impassable and unsafe for many months of the year. Nevertheless in the summer the north bank, when accessible, provides an attractive spot for walkers, village residents, and others to stop off to admire the views, or paddle or take a swim. However, sewage outflows from the nearby sewage works upstream in Ilkley are now known to pose a significant risk to health for people entering the water in Burley. Thanks to the investigative work by the Ilkley Clean River Campaign, they have found in Burley that the level of faecal coliform bacteria (E.Coli) is 40 times the recommended Environment Agency (EA) levels during dry weather, and 50 times following heavy rainfall. Having received widespread media coverage for their attempts to get the EA and Yorkshire Water to take responsibility for improving water quality, they have now turned their attention to improving the whole 65 miles of the river by forming the iWharfe Campaign.
On Monday 24 August, water quality sampling took place at 60 locations from its source above Oughtershaw to the confluence with the River Ouse at Cawood by volunteer citizen scientists drawn from 80 or so community organisations such as Burley. There was great media coverage on local television that evening, and an item on BBC’s Countryfile will follow shortly. Burley Walkers are Welcome are pleased to be partners in the project and look forward to the time when walkers can take a safe well-earned paddle or dip in the river at the end of a walk without risk of taking home more than just a pleasant memory! We are also exploring the possibility of devising a walking route between Cawood and Ilkley to complement the iWharfe project, linking the Yorkshire Ouse walk and the Dales Way. Now if only there was a bridge in Burley…………!
David Asher, Chair of Burley in Wharfedale Walkers are Welcome and Secretary of the Burley Bridge Association.
For more information visit http://www.yorkshiredalesriverstrust.com/projects/iwharfe/

Talgarth’s festival had to be cancelled, so they produced a walking guide

Talgarth is a Walkers are Welcome town at the foot of the Black Mountains in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. The name Talgarth means ‘front of the hill’. Talgarth is believed to have been centre of the kingdom of Brycheiniog founded in the mid 5th Century. The kingdom was ruled by Brychan. It is now a friendly riverside market town, with a recently restored corn mill and bakery. It is a lively hub for outdoor activities. The area offers superb walking country, with diverse terrain ranging from the historic townscape in and around Talgarth to the northern escarpment and plateaux of the Black Mountains.  Having been unable to hold their 2020 Talgarth Walking Festival, they have produced a booklet that describes seven circular walks, which are designed to help walkers  discover some of the history, myths, and wildlife of the area and experience a wide range of landscapes.  The guide can be downloaded here.

 

 

Wolfstones Walk for Meltham

This morning  (16th August) Meltham held their first walk since lockdown in March! They contacted walkers via their email list and had an Eventbrite booking system, as numbers were very limited. They report
“It went well, in spite of the weather… one thing we noticed is that it’s easier to social distance when it’s not pouring down and you have to shout at the walker nearest to you because they’ve got their hood up!” 😅🌧🌧.
The group walked up to Wolfstones, taking an easy route without stiles, mainly on roads and woodland.  “Unfortunately, there wasn’t a chance to admire the scenic view today!”

Elham’s New Displays

Elhan Walkers are Welcome tell us ” Walkers Rejoice! Superb New Walks’ Maps are now on Display in Elham.
The display cabinets in The Square and on the railings across the road from the village shop now contain new improved maps showing the seven walking routes designed by Elham “Walkers are Welcome” team….. and what’s more if you read the map’s QR code with your smartphone you can download all these wonderful walking routes along with crystal-clear, easy to follow written route descriptions. We hope these maps help Elhamers and visitors to safely enjoy our exquisite landscape.
This has been a big team effort but special thanks are due to Chris Burrows for designing such an attractive and useful map and to Ros Humphries for the clarity and accuracy of the written route descriptions.
STOP PRESS… within hours of installation a visiting couple were spotted in The Square downloading our maps onto their smartphone….. almost instant success!”

Ross-on-Wye Protecting Footpaths

Just south of Ross the PROW in question passes through the grounds of a large house, Cubberley House, that for some time was the home of the singer/songwriter Roger Whittaker. The section of path that passes near Cubberley House has three stiles, two small gates where the PROW crosses the drive to the house, and a standard footbridge over a ditch.
Back in March the new owners suddenly blocked the path by erecting 8ft by 4ft sheets of plywood on two of the stiles, removing the footboard from the third stile, welding shut the two small gates, and removing completely the footbridge. There then ensued a battle with obstructions being removed and re-erected and the ditch being dredged deeper and wider.
The problems were reported to Herefordshire Council who served Enforcement Notices. These were ignored and the case progressed to the point of Court proceedings. Just prior to the Court proceedings a protest demonstration was organised by the group set up to reclaim the path. This took place on a Sunday morning in mid-July. About 130 people turned up and the very orderly demonstration involved everyone walking the path. A temporary bridge supplied by the organisers was put in place over the ditch, one of the obstructed stiles had a section of fence removed so people could pass through. The other stile had its footboard replaced and the welding on the two small gates had been cut away so they could be opened.
About two weeks later, the bridge over the ditch was replaced in its entirety and cemented in place, the welded gates are fully operational and all stiles have been rebuilt.
No-one knows how or why this has suddenly happened so Ross  are keeping a close eye on things.
The photograph shows the new bridge which  was imperative for crossing the wide ditch.
Well done Ross-on-Wye

Kirkby Stephen Bench Walks

Kirkby Stephen has just completed a new project working with the local Women’s Institute and other community partners. All the benches in the local area have been surveyed, 80 of them, and mapped with a leaflet being produced. ‘Happy to Chat’ signs are also being fixed to six benches in strategic positions.
The Bench Walk Project has three specific aims:
• To help less able people in the community, and visitors, to enjoy the benefit of short accessible walks, increasing their physical activity with the assurance of where the next bench will be.
• To help tackle isolation and encourage people to engage more with their community.
• To combat loneliness by creating an opportunity for people to chat with others on the ‘Happy to Chat’ benches along walking routes.
Local artists and printers were engaged to design the leaflet which will be available at the Visitor Centre, Council and Community Centre, Health Centre and retirement homes in the area from the beginning of August, as well as online, see http://walkeden.org/getmedia/afec6161-42f0-42b4-bedd-3f49293d19d2/KSBenchesLeafletA4B.aspx

A New Dimension

The Vice-chair of Montgomery Walkers are Welcome says

“It was a chance sighting of a signpost to Watership Down that started a chain of 20+ emails that culminated in a very special walk. As Vice-Chair of Montgomery Mid-Wales WaW, I spotted in the newsletter an item by WaW Whitchurch, Hampshire, leader, Jackie Browne about a special walk she’d led exploring the story locations in Watership Down, the eponymous setting for the book by Richard Adams detailing the exploits and adventures of a group of rabbits and a seagull. The film was one of Sue’s and my first ‘dates’ and July 2020 our Ruby Wedding Anniversary.

My tentative email to Jackie received an immediate enthusiastic response; so started my plan to surprise Sue with a stay at The Watership Down Inn and a guided walk led by Jackie to places referenced in the book. Then came Covid! Jackie was not to be thwarted and so it was that lockdown eased only just in time for us, together with our daughter to travel to Whitchurch.

Four from Whitchurch joined the three of us for our socially distanced foray. The walking was gentle and lovely (as was the conversation) along tree-shaded byways, selected not just for ‘rabbity’ references but for the stunning views too. Rolling countryside with mostly gentle inclines on very well-maintained paths. Jackie had researched the sites of the rabbits’ journey complete with folk-lore background and botanical names of characters (even finding a sprig of Woundwort for those who know the story). We visited Watership Down, of course, with the recently planted commemorative tree, Efrafa too, and took in the River Test. Some on private land for which Jackie had negotiated special access. The time spent at the bridge over the crystal-clear Test where she read an extract from Adams’ writing was especially memorable.

The new dimension was what is now a firm link between not just our two WaW groups but individuals too. We look forward to their return visit here to explore the castles and rolling hills of The Marches where a mix of home hosting, B&Bs and Inns awaits. This October’s very well supported Montgomery walking festival may be too soon but undoubtedly before long.

Whitchurch is a little ahead of Montgomery in their journey of walking improvement and development, so we look forward to an ongoing relationship where we can discuss common problems and develop some ties, almost an informal twinning arrangement – something beyond the well-established mentoring.”

Ross “Do-it-Yourself” Festival

The Ross Walkers are Welcome Group has fallen in line with many events this year and cancelled the Ross Annual Walking Festival. The Coronavirus and the restrictions that have come with it has made running a successful and safe festival impossible.

Undaunted, the committee decided that visitors could still come to Ross and walk but in smaller family-sized groups, if they knew where they could walk to make the most of their trip. Accordingly, the Committee has produced a series of leaflets for 18 walks in the Ross area. Each leaflet describes one walk and gives route directions, interesting and useful comments at certain points, a clear map of the route and a GPX file that can be downloaded to a walkers’ satellite navigation device.

The walks range from short 2.5 to 3 miles up to 8 miles in length. Some start close to the town centre and others are a short (no more than 20 minutes) drive from Ross. The terrain covered includes the riverside, Chase Hill, Penyard Hill, Fownhope, Sollarshope, Kilpeck, the Hope Mansell valley and Coppett Hill; all with interesting features and amazing views of the area. Many of the routes will be familiar to local walkers but it is hoped that the selection of interesting walks described will attract visitors from further afield. This aligns with the objectives of the Walkers are Welcome organisation, namely, to help boost the local economy by attracting walkers into the locality to walk and patronise local businesses.

The programme will go live on the Ross Walkers are Welcome Group’s website http://www.walkinginross.co.uk/
on Saturday 1st August; along with other information about the town and visiting Ross. Needless to say, the routes are available to everyone, visitors and locals alike. So, if you live in Ross and have been hesitant about trying new routes, log on, download and go out and discover more of our beautiful county and the Wye Valley.
Ross invented tourism so let’s use it to help us recover from the virus.

Overton Walking for Health

On Monday 20 July, Overton Hampshire  held their small led walking for health.

They say  “We’ve had great feedback from walkers and walk leaders and these small led walks will be continuing fortnightly in August. Monday proved a great success and I suspect that August dates are fully booked already.

The social distancing of 2 meters was strictly kept both on, around the registration point, and on the walks. Plus one walk leader signed everyone in so only one person handled the pen.

Here’s some feedback, from a walker and a walk leader on different walks.

“What a super walk this morning. The weather was perfect and we had great company in our group of 5. It really couldn’t have been better and everybody made a point of thanking Maureen for leading such a splendid group. We had no difficulty maintaining social distancing and there was plenty of animated conversation. A thoroughly enjoyable morning and I can hardly wait two weeks for the next one. Thank you, Denise. “

“We enjoyed our walk and guest walker Matthew from Basingstoke was appreciative of the Overton scenery. John was his usual self striding out“

We had 24 walkers and 5 walk leaders so this needed a lot of careful planning, but we proved that it can work in the right circumstances. “

I-Spy Cam and Dursley

Dursley Welcomes Walkers are pleased to have been able to support a local initiative to provide an activity book for young people and families to enjoy over the school holidays.

One of the activities featured in the book is based on their popular and interesting local history walk, “Cam and the Winterbothams”. The activity book also features activities based on the local “Cam Stone Stiles” walk and also “The Cotswold Way”.

Considerable interest has already been shown in the activity book which should prove to be very popular during the holidays.

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