Jackie Browne, coordinator for Walkers are Welcome Whitchurch, Hampshire provides the background story that led to Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome ‘fixing it’ for Jon and Donna from Yorkshire……
“It was 2016, just a few months after Whitchurch achieved accreditation. We had just set up our footpath maintenance group and were taking stock and considering what our next steps should be, when a chance encounter with a couple from Yorkshire, attempting to find a parking space in Whitchurch, started me wondering what if and would it be possible? Well three years on and we proved we could!
Jon and Donna had been in North Hampshire on a personal odyssey to visit all the story locations featured in Richard Adam’s famous book Watership Down, but what they hadn’t realised at the time was that a number of these locations were on private land, with no PROW access. Since that chance encounter Jon has been closely following our progress and ‘banging the drum’ for Whitchurch and North Hampshire and so last Friday, after two years of planning and negotiating with landowners we were delighted to welcome Jon and Donna back to Whitchurch to join our special walk, ‘In Search of Hazel & Bigwig’ and visit some of the locations they missed in 2016, including a rarely available route through the Laverstoke Park Estate to the river and bridge locations noted within Richard Adams’ (late of Whitchurch) famous book.
46 walkers from Whitchurch and Overton braved the wet weather to take advantage of this rare opportunity, with some aficionados of the book commenting that they were amazed that given the hot spell recently we had even managed to organise the weather to fit with the narrative!
Jon writes, “We would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making today’s walk possible, we really appreciate the efforts of Jackie, Ian, and others in making this happen. Donna and I had a wonderful day, despite the weather and it did give us a taste of what the Watership Down rabbits had to deal with in their escape from Woundwort and his officers! Thank you too to the walking group’s members, all of whom made us feel very welcome.
We shall continue to follow your work from afar, and look forward to our return to Watership Down and the beautiful countryside that surrounds it. You are all very lucky to live in this wonderful landscape that is so tied to the works of Richard Adams. I feel sure that given your success with this event, we shall one day be hearing from Jackie again saying she has another adventure in the making”.