Otley website off-line

Due to a technical problem (well, our host has disappeared) WaW Otley’s website (www.waw-otley.org.uk) will temporarily be off-line. We’re working on a solution and hope to be back soon. Otley’s new web address will then be: www.wawotley.org.uk (so loosing the hyphen).
Sorry, but see you there again soon!

Wonderful

After a massive risk assessment, booking system by invitation only, and precautions in place, Kirkby Stephen have started their ‘Dawdles’ health walking again. They report how fantastic it was to see each other and catch-up on what they  have all been up to in the past weeks, good and bad.
They even managed coffee and cake sitting in the herb garden at their favourite café. Wonderful. They say “we will be so pleased when we can increase numbers as the Government change the guidelines but in the meantime, we will do what we can and enjoy this little freedom.”  Photo: Slack Gap Lane

More than six please

At the beginning of this month Baz Fewster,  our Chairman, wrote this letter to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, suggesting an easing of the restriction of the number of walkers allowed on an organised, led walk in England. Many members have already forwarded this to their MPs with an accompanying letter requesting that they support the initiative. We appreciate that some members may disagree (as is their right) and for some it may still be impractical. We will be sending a similar letter to the relevant officials of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, in the hope that our suggestions could be adopted as their lockdown eases. 

Baildon Summer Sixers

Baildon Walkers are Welcome committee are excited to be able to start offering guided walks over the next two months – for up to 6 people.
This complies with government guidance, and public health advice that transmission of the Covid-19 infection is much less likely to happen outdoors.
Of course, they will all still have to maintain social distance during the walks, but they can, nonetheless, start to enjoy, once again, being able to walk in a sociable company.
Because numbers must be limited to 1 Walk Leader plus 5 participants, they are introducing a booking system and giving additional guidance, like walkers bringing with them:
* any medication they might need, including plasters;
* hand sanitiser;
* water bottle and any snacks.
They are  look forward to walking with some of their walkers  again soon.

Whitchurch, Hampshire, WaW volunteers have been as busy as ever…

Despite lockdown, Whitchurch, Hampshire WaW volunteers have been as busy as ever…

It became clear to the local coordinators very early on that there were many more people wanting to walk, but who were unfamiliar with the local footpath network and seemed unaware that not every track is a public right of way. Requests were also going out on Facebook sites from locals looking for recommendations on where they could walk safely. These enquiries have all been fielded by WaW volunteers who were able to draw on their knowledge of the extended path network and suggest routes and provide maps tailored to suit all levels of fitness.

When the government relaxed restrictions and permitted travel a short distance from home, a set of five longer distance, more challenging walks were produced as pdf downloads; these walks explored the trails along the ridges and valleys in the nearby North Wessex Downs AONB and are now available on the group’s website www.whitchurchwalks.net One delighted resident wrote, “Thank you, took your recommendation and did the route this morning. Breezy but very beautiful. We are so lucky to have such wonderful countryside nearby”. http://whitchurchwalks.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Wayfarers-Walk-and-Crux-Easton.pdf

The Whitchurch, Hampshire Evening Ramblers and Walking for Health groups are now beginning to put in place measures to re-start their programmes, albeit with a different format focusing on small group sizes and social distancing. Until then, Whitchurch WaW have been encouraging regular W4H participants to organise themselves into groups of up to 6 for a social walk and this seems to have been very successful. The group have also provided a buddy service for new walkers. One of the results of this effort has been over 100 new followers to the groups Facebook page in just 3 months.

On a less positive note, Jackie Browne the Whitchurch, Hampshire co-ordinator has reported many more cyclists, often in groups, taking advantage of the situation and cycling at speed down public rights of way designated only as footpaths. Jackie reports that cyclists have then been sharing these routes on social media. Have any other towns experienced the same?

Whitchurch, Shropshire, Committee Meeting

Whitchurch Walkers, Shropshire, committee needed to discuss future walk programmes and what to do in the light of Covid-19 but where could they go to meet, without breaking Government guidelines? Well, they finally found a venue over-looking the Mere With No Name that complied. Somewhere and sometime during the day, they even discussed walk programmes. Have you ever had a committee meeting this laid-back?

Wellington’s First Lockdown Walk

Om Sunday 21st June, Wellington Walkers are Welcome held a version of their regular 3rd Sunday walk adhering to the current Covid-19 regulations (6 or fewer walkers, at least 2 metres apart.) . The walkers enjoyed a socially distanced walk up a local hill – The Ercall (The well known Wrekin would have been very busy). They are planning their next walk for July 5th. This will adhere to whatever regulations are in force then, 

First post-Coronavirus Walk

Market Weighton held their first post Coronavirus restrictions was on 17th June.  They say “Just six walkers, in line with Government guidelines, went for our first walk, walking just as friends and keeping a social distance at all times. We walked just over five miles on a lovely bright morning on to the side of the Yorkshire Wolds, a warm breeze blowing and we all remarked how good it was to be out again together in the fresh air.
The chance just to walk and talk together about our lockdown experiences and chat about what we may be able to do these next few weeks with some more of our walking members. Hopefully we may have the chance to have possibly 3-4 groups of six, walking each week in different directions, unless restrictions are eased further.”

The Langholm Moor Community Buyout

Langholm is one of 8 Walkers are Welcome Towns in Scotland.  They tell us  “Langholm  has a population of 2,300 and used to be a very prosperous Textile town with several mills plus it was the HQ of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) and also the home the famous animal figurine company Border Fine Arts. In the 70s and early 80s, there would be over 1500 people employed in the town with many of them commuting from all over the area to the town. Over the next 20 years, all these industries started to decline and now the very last textile mill has closed as a result of the Coronavirus. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has moved its HQ to Carlisle in England and Border Fine Arts is also closed.
In 2000, Langholm Walks Group was set up to try and encourage people to come to the area to walk. In the past, Langholm did not need tourists as there was full employment, but now we are doing our best to encourage people to visit. We have always been the poor relation of Dumfries and Galloway and the locals feel more like Borderers than from D & G. As the tourist industry in the area has always promoted the A75 corridor through Dumfries & Galloway, the east of Dumfriesshire was neglected and especially Langholm, so we developed an attitude of “nobody will do it for us so we will get on and do it ourselves”. This has proved very successful over the last 15 years with the development of Langholm Walks and also The Buccleuch Centre as a Theatre and Arts Centre plus many other projects. The tourists had started coming and things were looking good until the Coronavirus and now we are facing a bleak future. The one thing on the horizon that gives us hope is the development of The Langholm Moor and the possibility that we can purchase it for the community. A year ago, The Duke of Buccleuch announced that the 25,000 acre Langholm Moor was being put up for sale. This prompted a group of locals under the guidance of The Langholm Initiative to look at the possibility of purchasing it on behalf of the community. After a considerable amount of money was raised in a very short time a feasibility study was commissioned and talks opened with Buccleuch Estates. As a result of all this an agreed value was placed on the land of £6.4M and an application made to The Scottish Government’s Land Fund. It is hoped that this fund will contribute £3M to our fund which will leave £3.4M to be found by the community.

On 7th May 2020, a GoFundMe page was set up and the campaign to raise the £3.4M was started. We had an excellent start with £100,000 being pledged to the project by The John Muir Trust and in a few hours, £18K had been raised on the GoFundMe page. Of course, there is a long way to go and we have just until October to raise the money to complete the purchase depending of course on The Scottish Government support which is due hopefully in June ; early indications are that everybody in The Scottish Government  and also many of the organisations like SNH and RSPB are behind the project. If we are successful and buy the land then we would immediately have an Income as there are 9 properties including a working farm plus an area of Forestry so that income would sustain a Project Manager and team to implement all our plans for the future. It’s a huge project, but so important as The Langholm Moor is probably the best place in mainland UK to see the hen harrier. This year we have at least 4 pairs nesting on the Moor plus many other raptors such as merlin, and short eared owls.

To find out all the details of our plans for this exciting project please visit The Langholm Initiative website https://www.langholminitiative.org.uk and study our plans for the future of this wonderful Langholm Moor.
If you wish to give a donation to the fund to purchase The Langholm Moor then visit
https://www.gofundme.com/f/langholm-moor-buyout?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR2DIcFCPE_28ZDgBNQ08xCldEzenl5gMuU4UNBjy9JOZcUtlihiV28TOUs 

The  photograph  is of a hen harrier on The Langholm Moor by John Wright who has kindly donated it to the project.”

Whitchurch, Hampshire Celebrates – The Incinerator has been BINNED!

Whitchurch and the Upper Test Valley villages are CELEBRATING the news that US giant Wheelabrator has officially withdrawn their plans for a massive incinerator, larger than Battersea Power Station, that threatened to devastate the precious eco systems of the River Test and Dever chalk streams.

With spare capacity at each of the three smaller Hampshire incinerators, the plan was vehemently opposed by all local councils, MPs, countless businesses, environment bodies and the many thousands of residents and user groups.

Jackie Browne, coordinator for Whitchurch WaW commented, “why any company thought that this site alongside a world famous chalk stream, multiple SSSIs, protected commons, meadows and ancient natural woodland was a good business decision is beyond me, but right now I’m celebrating that the nearby countryside paths and Test Way long distance trail are no longer under threat and would like to thank the many volunteers that walked the walk delivering thousands of leaflets, put up boards, wrote letters, lobbied politicians, organised fundraising events and behind it all the ‘Keep Test Valley Beautiful’ campaign team for simply being magnificent”.

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