Yorkshire: A Place Where Walkers Are Welcome

WAW has come across a blog by Cedric Farineau, a Frenchman in Yorkshire who’s been living here for a while now and really loves it. Cedric passion for the Great Outdoors is completely fulfilled in Yorkshire. Read his blog.

Cedric FarineauCedric

Yorkshire is a great place to walk but did you know that it also boasts the biggest number of “Walkers are Welcome” towns and villages in the UK? There are now 23 towns and villages in Yorkshire accredited to the scheme and the latest ones to have joined the scheme are:

  • Baildon (December 2013)
  • Burley in Wharfedale (March 2014)
  • Bingley (January 2015)

With Ilkley and even Otley also members, this corner of West-Yorkshire is really becoming a place to be for walkers!

I am actually really proud that Bingley has got the official status now. It’s been my adoptive home town for the last seven years and I’ve been on many beautiful walks in the area. I’ve published some in this blog if you are interested.

About the Scheme

To come back to Walkers are Welcome, the initiative started in 2007 in Hebden Bridge, a small town in the South Pennines and in the heart of Calderdale, West-Yorkshire. At the time a small team of people from an existing group called “Hebden Bridge Walkers Action” led the way to something that now includes a network of over a hundred towns and villages throughout the UK. There is an archived page on Hebden Bridge Walkers Action website detailing the launch day of the initiative. What’s really interesting is that they came up with a sshort-list of criteria and to this day towns and villages wanting to become members of this network, have to meet the following six criteria:

  • Demonstration of popular local support for the concept.
  • Formal endorsement of application for WALKERS ARE WELCOME status by local council
  • Action to ensure that rights of way are maintained in good condition
  • Adequate marketing of WALKERS ARE WELCOME status
  • Encouragement of walking using public transport
  • Demonstration of mechanisms in place to maintain WALKERS ARE WELCOME status
  • This shows the scheme is a strong community-led initiative and as explained in the official website:

Gaining the status is dependent on the Executive Committee being convinced that any application is a ‘bottom-up’ initiative from within the local community. This is to ensure that there will be on-going continuity of support for the project.

Why is it so popular in Yorkshire?

As mentioned previously, today there are 23 towns and villages in Yorkshire sporting the Walkers are Welcome status, that’s almost a quarter of all the network. Why is the scheme so popular in Yorkshire then? I might have my own explanation for this:

A sense of community: since I arrived in Yorkshire (and the North in general), I’ve seen how local people have this feeling of belonging to a place and wanting to care for it. It’s probably because people love the place they live in and are proud of it.

A fantastic landscape: Yorkshire has a really diverse landscape. From flat terrains to gentle hills and even peaks battered by strong winds,. All of this makes this county heaven for walkers

A reasonable public transport system: although not perfect, the public transport system in Yorkshire gives access to most of the remote places in the county. Being by train or bus, you should be able to go wherever you want, even for that walk in the middle of nowhere.

Thriving local businesses: this has probably more to do with the “chocolate box village” effect but I find that many small towns and villages in Yorkshire are really attractive thanks to their local businesses. Being a shop, a pub or a restaurant, there are some real local gems out there. This is really important in times when city centres become filled with the exact same replica shops everywhere and have lost their diversity.

So “Vive Walkers are Welcome” and I hope Yorkshire will get its 24th member very soon!

Facts updated for Jan 2015

 

WAW is pleased to announce that Sam Phillips is our new Chairman

We are pleased to announce that Sam Phillips from Ross on Wye is the new Chairman of our organisation.
SamMany people will know Sam who has worked very hard for a number of years helping towns with their accreditation.

Sam,  is the Chairman of the Ross-on-Wye Walkers are Welcome group. Ross gained accreditation in 2009. He has been a member of the National Executive Committee since the first Conference in Hebden Bridge in 2007. In addition to walking Sam is a cyclist and is Secretary of the Ross/Betzdorf (Germany) twinning association. He is also a member of Ross Lions Club.

Special thanks must go to Nigel Botting for all his work and leadership during a period when the network has grown quickly and led us on the path to updating our WaW Constitution and Business Plan.

Liskeard WaW tidy up their town

On 17th January the Mayor of Liskeard unrolled Liskeard’s Walkers are Welcome banner. At the same event the mayor presented prizes to the winner of the Clean Liskeard group’s Design a Poster competition. The two groups then joined forces litter picking around the town centre.

Liskeard banner

Hebden Bridge Loop

The Pennine Way, launched in 1965 did not direct people though Hebden Bridge, at that time a depressed and half-empty ex-weaving town.

Forward 50 years and the situation has changed totally, with Hebden now known for excellent walking.  The fact that the Pennine Way doesn’t come through Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall now looks quite perverse. A proposed new way-marked link route is being developed by HBWA in partnership with Hebden Bridge Hostel and is expected to be of real benefit to visitors to Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.

The link is being funded by local town and parish councils, Rotary, Walkers Action, Love the South Pennines and Friends of Calderdale Countryside. There is still a shortfall in funding but the public can sponsor a waymarker. The average cost is £5 with about 60 needed. To sponsor a waymark, people can just text CROW42£5 to 70070.Hebden press

Snaith’s new advert for tourist brochure

John Barrett from Snaith has designed an advert, including the Walkers are Welcome logo for the V.H.E.Y, Wolds and Beyond tourist magazine.

Similar adverts have bought visitors into the town and local area to enjoy the heritage walks, with information boards.snaith poster

Does your town have a geocache?

Horncastle is in the process of developing a series of geocaches on a circular walk around their town to encourage families and young people to get out walking. They are looking at the idea of putting a ‘trackable’ in one of our geocaches which has the mission of travelling to geocaches in other WAW towns.

To do this they need to know how many other WAW towns have set up their own geocaches. This is a brilliant idea for promoting visitors to WaW towns and villages.

If you have a geocache situated in or near your town or interested in creating one, please let us know by emailing webmaster@walkersarewelcome.org.uk and we will pass your details to Horncastle WaW group.

 

Where’s WaW? has positive results

WaW National Executive members visit accredited towns at random throughout the country unannounced. They look to see how each town is promoting WaW.

We see a contrast between towns and usually report back our findings. We are pleased to see Brian from Liskeard has used the comments to positive effect.

Western Morning News December 02, 2014

I thought your readers may be interested to read an excerpt from a report by a member of the national WaW organisation after an unannounced visit to Liskeard: “You will be pleased to know that we thought you are doing an fantastic job. We thought Liskeard was a lovely town and it had a really friendly feel about it. We saw lots of WaW stickers in shops and cafes and the Tourist Information Centre was fantastic, loads of guides and leaflets about walks and staff who knew what they were talking about. Well done!”.

Llandovery has caught the WaW bug!

It can now be said with increasing conviction that the Llandovery Walkers are Welcome group is making its own particular contribution to the community life of this small market town.

An attractive collection of ten walks in the local area has been identified, and negotiations are now in hand with the Brecon Beacons National Park authorities with the aim of having these walks published into a booklet.

We have also contributed two walks to Steptember 2014, the monthly Festival of Walks in the Cambrian Mountains, organised from Tregaron by the redoubtable Dafydd Morgan, himself a Llandovery boy!

Finally, we are delighted to know that our neighbouring town of Llandeilo, some twelve miles to the west along the Towy Valley, have themselves recently been awarded WaW status. We now look forward to being able to work together in a number of initiatives, one being the delineation of a footpath joining our two towns.Llandovery bug

Ross is totting up the £s

Ross on Wye WaW group has recently identified that their efforts in attracting visitors to their town since 2009 has brought in over £100,000 to the local economy.  This has come from people staying in the town for their Walking Festival, walkers on day trips eating in local pubs and restaurants, plus use of car parks and other facilities. Maybe your town could start recording the number of visitors to your town?  TICs normally know how many visitors they get each day or the council will have a record of car park takings.Ross boost to economy

Networking can create results

Results of an earlier “Get Together”

There is always a lot of enjoyable “networking” at the annual “Get Together”. This, together with the topics of the workshops and talks, inevitably leads to lively discussions while travelling home as to what is and what is not appropriate for our own town. A few years ago the comment was made “we don’t even have a footpath map in Wiveliscombe”!

A few days later we attended a meeting to gather idea about how to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As a result of Walkers Are Welcome we suggested a footpath noticeboard which was received very positively apart from the fact that it started to be referred to as a town map. It was therefore important that we joined the sub group to ensure we got the footpaths we wanted well illustrated. Together with the county archaeologist, town council chairman, walkers’ representatives and financial help from Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane and Wiveliscombe Town Council the attractive display board was erected in the Square late in Jubilee year. This noticeboard has received very favourable comments from locals and visitors as well as those who want to see the town plan and those who want to explore our footpaths.

I wonder if it would be there if we had not got WAW status and also attended the “Get Together”?

Wiveliscombe mapWiveliscombe map2

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