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Bampton welcomes walkers and celebrates the heritage of 30 years of the Exe Valley Way

The Exe Valley Way is a long-distance route exploring the length of the beautiful river valley.  It is almost 80km/50 miles in length stretching from the Exe Valley estuary in South Devon to Exford in Exmoor National Park, Somerset. The route takes in beautiful valley scenery, following the river Exe, from the broad estuary, pastoral landscapes and moving into narrower, heavily-wooded valleys to open moorland. The terrain is a mix of quiet country lanes and footpaths, woodlands and moorland, with some strenuous climbs. The route can be split into 10 stages, each of which can be walked in half a day by experienced walkers.

Bampton is on stage 6 of the route, taking walkers from Tiverton to Bampton, with stage 7 continuing on to Brushford in Somerset.  On Bank Holiday Sunday, 28th May, Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre ran two free walks both of which took in part of the Exe Valley Way.  There were  24 walkers in total, enjoying between them a shorter route of 4.5 miles or a longer route of 6.8 miles.  Starting in the centre of the town, walkers were able to get free water refills in local cafes and a toilet stop before setting off.  The circular routes returned to Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre, where tea and cake provided welcome refreshment.

If the challenge of the long distance Exe Valley Way attracts you, you can find out more at this link  Bampton makes a perfect overnight stopping off point, with plenty of B & B and Air B & B accommodation, award winning cafes and restaurants and a variety of local independent shops. You can call into the Heritage Centre to learn more about the story of Bampton over past centuries.

Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre runs free walks every bank holiday weekend. The skills of the walk leaders include bird identification and rural landscape and map history. There are bus services to Bampton from Tiverton and Bampton to Dulverton. There are  public toilets including an accessible toilet and most of Bampton’s cafes and restaurants offer free water refills.

See the website and social media platforms    and   for more information and to book your place on one of the  bank holiday walks.

Walkers are Welcome Patron visits Wellington

Wellington Walkers are Welcome were delighted to welcome the Walkers are Welcome National Patron, Kate Ashbrook, to Wellington yesterday. She was there primarily for the Telford T50 50-mile Trail’s 5th anniversary celebration on Saturday, but, on Sunday, did the honours of putting in a waymark at the start of Telford Coronation walk no 9.  The project is run by the Friends of the Telford T50, but Wellington WaW are responsible for this route. It explores the Ercall which is famous for its unconformity, where the  Ercall Granophyre meets the sedimentary Wrekin Quartzite. Wellington is proud to be part of Telford, which has an unjust reputation, as it is home to The Wrekin  (an old hill fort and well known to Midlanders in the phrase “going all round The Wrekin”),  the world’s first iron bridge,  Blists Hill victorian town , and many nature reserves and open spaces. 

The Quantock Hills Walking Festival

Another successful event took place last week for Walkers are Welcome group Stowey Walking in Somerset. This year was their fifth walking festival showcasing the beautiful walks available on the Quantock Hills and West Somerset coast. Seven guided walks took place over five days with themes such as local history, archaeology, and wildlife. Over fifty walkers took part from all over Somerset and further afield. Ten participants also took part in a four-day challenge walk taking in the fifty-one miles of the Coleridge Way from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth. Stowey Walking would like to thank all the walk leaders and everyone who helped to make the event a success. They say  special thanks are due to this year’s  main sponsors the Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme who provided funding and expertise and to Somerset Passenger Solutions at EDF who provided transport to and from some of the walk locations.  They say ‘We hope everyone enjoyed themselves and that we will see you all again next year.’

#Coleford working together gets results

A Collaboration with Steve Gooch Estate Agents/Coleford Branch

Coleford Welcomes Walkers prides itself on its ability to collaborate with and build relations among the local community – be it volunteers, local businesses, or other organisations. It puts great effort into networking and developing a dialogue with those who share its vision of putting Coleford on the map as a destination for walkers and to raise the towns profile as a destination for visitors.

To this end, CWW has incorporated many opportunities for groups to get involved and support CWW aims. CWW has an expanding team of volunteers who help to maintain the Public Rights of Way and who participate in larger projects around the town (such as the clearing of the car park or the Big Help Out event); local businesses can financially support the group through a subscription which allows advertising on the CWW website and the use of a sticker in their window to showcase this support and the group’s Facebook page is updated regularly with news and other information.

Most recently, CWW is proud to have collaborate with the Coleford branch of Steve Gooch Estate Agents to raise the profile of Coleford as a Walkers are Welcome town to those looking to move into the area. With the permission of the seller, future property information profiles will now include details on the Walkers and Welcome accreditation awarded to Coleford as an indication of its warmth to visitors and adoption of the values of Walkers are Welcome.

This is an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of CWW among residents and demonstrates what can be achieved when working in collaboration with local businesses and organisations. The group are constantly seeking ways to collaborate with local businesses for the benefit of the town and firmly believes that working together as a community can achieve great results.

This collaboration has been reported on in the Forester  (a local newspaper) and CWW hope to imitate its success in the future where it makes sense to do so.

The Big Help Out

Coleford Welcomes Walkers (CWW) recently participated in Charles III coronation weekend by organising an event for the Big Help Out.

The chair commented that this popular recreational route into Coleford Town, “the Milkwall to Coleford Cycle track” was in need of some TLC to make it welcoming to not just residents but people using this route for the first time on visiting Coleford. First impressions count!

The entrance to the track was overgrown with vegetation and the surrounding fencing had fallen into disrepair, not to mention the grotty looking dog bin which  was rusty and covered in graffiti. With permission sought from the Forest of Dean District Council a project was born, supported by kind donations from Jewson, Light Fantastic, WP Service and the nearby Texaco Garage supplying much needed water for the cement!

Volunteers gathered on May 7th to prepare the site, clearing the vegetation, removing fallen down wire fencing, and digging holes for new fence posts. The dog bin was given a good clean and its first coat of paint – wow what a difference. By the end of day the entrance was vastly improved.

May 8th, saw more volunteers turn up with the new wooden fence taking shape, making the surrounding entrance secure and providing a support for people coming down the nearby slope if needed.

CWW volunteers found the response from people passing during the work incredibly encouraging, with the local press running an article and social media posts across a variety of local groups receiving much appreciation and thanks.

The towns mayor Nick Penny said of the work, “Thank you very much for all that you continue to do for the town of Coleford”,

CWW continues to pursue collaborations with authorities, agencies, local businesses and groups to ensure Coleford is welcoming to all.

CWW is looking forward to its next project whilst also ensuring the spring growth on the PRoW is kept at bay!

For more information on Coleford see


Clare Walkers have published a new book entitled “Fifteen walks around Clare: exploring West Suffolk and North Essex”.
Clare is situated in the Upper Stour Valley with the river marking the boundary between the two counties and there is some wonderful walking to be had exploring both sides of the valley, with miles of rolling countryside, woodland and arable farmland.
The book features all the walks that Clare Walkers have scoped and produced leaflets for. These include 6 circular walks from Clare Castle Country Park, 4 short circular walks based on their regular Tuesday guided ‘wellbeing’ walks, and 4 ‘compass’ linear walks: north, south, east and west. The walks range from 2 to 8 ½ miles in length.
The compass walk south is the Magna Carta Walk from Clare to Castle Hedingham that was waymarked in 2015 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.
The final walk in the book is the 50 mile Wool Towns’ Walk encompassing Clare, Sudbury, Hadleigh, Lavenham and Long Melford. The idea for this walk came from Clare Walkers who pitched it to Sudbury Ramblers. They liked the idea, scoped it and walked it for their 50th anniversary walk. And it is now the Challenge Walk in this year’s Suffolk Walking Festival, being walked over 4 days from 13 to 17 May.
The book contain directions, points of interest and OS mapping for each walk, as well as information about Clare, including a timeline of the town’s amazing 1,000+ year history.
It also contains lots of illustrations with over 80 photographs.
The book is available priced £8.99 on-line from, and from the Visitor Centre in Clare Castle Country Park, the TICs in Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, and Harris and Harris Books, High Street, Clare.

More miles without stiles – Bedwyn, a stile free parish

Wooden countryside stiles can have their own charm, often with a quirky or unique design but that can make them tricky to negotiate. They need frequent maintenance by landowners and often fall into disrepair. Even a standard design of stile in good condition can appear as an insurmountable barrier to the hips or knees of an otherwise competent walker.

This spawned an ambition for the Bedwyn Footpaths Group to replace as many stiles as they could in their parish. In the last two years the Footpaths Group has installed a total of 13 gates, 9 in Great Bedwyn and 4 in Crofton, and can now proudly say that Great Bedwyn’s footpaths are stile-free!

Great Bedwyn is the first parish in Wiltshire to achieve this, giving walkers about 20 miles of stile-free rights-of-way in and around the village.

This work has involved quite a number of people as you might imagine! Starting with Judy Haynes who manages the Bedwyn Footpaths Group. Judy and her team of volunteers give up their time freely, cheerfully and in fair weather and in foul. They have been aided by Stephen Leonard, a Wiltshire Council right-of-way Countryside Access Officer (CAO) for the area who guided the Group in the art of kissing gate installation.

In addition, permission from landowners was required before the stiles could be replaced and they were all extremely helpful and supportive of the work.

Funding for the gates and associated works came from the Pewsey Area Board, the North Wessex Downs AONB Access for All fund, a donation and Bedwyn Parish Council.

The specialist equipment needed to install a kissing gate was bought by Pewsey Community Area Partnership (PCAP) and is now available for any parish in the Pewsey Community Area to use.

Many of the gates that have been installed are hooped metal kissing gates, essential to keep livestock safely enclosed. Metal gates are preferred by landowners because they are practical, secure and long-lasting. In one location, by St Mary’s Church, where the silver-grey of the gates was a bit ‘too new’ looking, the gate was powder-coated black which makes it merge into the background and look ‘aged’.

The biggest piece of work was on Forest Hill on the north-west side of Bedwyn. The stile needed replacing but the footpath on the top of the bank leading up to the stile had become unusable. This meant that walkers had to walk along the edge of the lane, which is on a bend and a hill so can be quite dangerous. Contractors re-established the bank so that the footpath is now flat, sufficiently wide and usable, with the kissing gate at the top of the hill topping it off perfectly!

Congratulations to Judy, her team an everyone involved!

Whitchurch, Hampshire Launches the NEW ‘Test & Dever Way’

April 28th saw the official launch of the NEW Test & Dever Way at Whitchurch, Hampshire and the team were delighted to welcome a representative from Tourism South East and the Strategic Manager for Hampshire Countryside to Whitchurch Town Hall to join in the with celebrations.

The Test & Dever Way

You can explore the sweeping downland to the south of Whitchurch by following the waymark signs on this 19-mile circular walking trail across stunning open downland and through peaceful chalk stream meadows to the Dever valley villages of Bullington and Sutton Scotney. A shorter 14-mile walk is available and it is possible to complete the walk in two sections with a bus journey at the start or end of your walk.
You can stop to admire the delightful 12th century church of St. Michael and All Angels in its beautiful meadow setting at Bullington, the crystal-clear waters of the chalk streams and the panoramic views on the western section of the trail, with Danebury Ring Iron Age Hillfort on the far horizon.
Everyone loves an abandoned steam railway line and evidence of the former Didcot-Newbury-Southampton line can be seen in the landscape along the western stretch of the trail between Bullington and Whitchurch. Take some time to stop on the newly installed bridge at Tufton to admire the stunning river views and the impressive Victorian railway arch spanning the famous River Test chalk stream.

The Test & Dever Way leaflet can be downloaded from the town website

Detailed Walking instructions

Environment minister breaks government pledge to save historic paths

The Walkers are Welcome National Executive Committee shares the deep disappointment, anger and frustration at the latest government volte face – backtracking on the promise made only last year to abandon the 1 January 2026 cut off date for most of the means of registering public rights of way left off the official list. Ironically, it comes very soon after the publication of the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan, promising that the public should be able to access green space or water, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers, within a 15-minute walk from their home. Many fear this is more empty words, ‘promised’ to sound good and buy off opposition, but without any commitment to the resources necessary to achieve it. And like the 2026 ‘promise’ to revoke’, it is open to being casually abandoned in the future because it was never a serious commitment.

We know that our many member towns and villages across England (the announcement does not apply in Wales or Scotland) commit hours of their time to making walkers welcome and this reversal will undermine that work. Already, local highways authorities, starved of resources, are tens if not hundreds of years behind in dealing with applications to recognise unrecorded rights of way and this announcement will put them under even more impossible pressure. It is of little value the government states it wants to encourage more active travel and access to the wider countryside and nature, while taking actions that operate in exactly the opposite direction.

We would urge you to support the calls for changing this destructive decision – contact your MP, lobby your Local Access Forum, add your voice to those of others such as The Ramblers, OSS, BHS, Byways & Bridleways Trust and no doubt more as the news spreads. Meanwhile, an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is being promoted in the House of Lords which calls for the cut-off to be revoked. So if there are any peers you could contact, please write to them too asking them to support the amendment.We don’t know when it will come up for debate.