Wales Coast Path gets ready to celebrate

With more Blue Flag beaches than anywhere else in the UK from where you can view blue whales, dolphins, puffins, and Atlantic seals, the Wales Coast Path is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
 
Launched in May 2012, the 870-mile-long Coast Path is not just for dedicated walkers – with so much to do and see along the Welsh coast, the Wales Coast Path offers everything from a day out to a full-on adventure holiday.
 
Wales, with its own distinctive language, maybe a small country, but it is big on things to do. Although the Coast Path is a top attraction for walkers, the surrounding areas offer much more than just walking – everything from unspoilt countryside, bustling market towns and culture and history galore.
 
With sections of the path open to cyclists and horse riders and also accessible to wheelchair users, where the ground is flat and even, this spectacular coastline will appeal to clubs and walking groups, families, day-trippers and adventure seekers as well as those just looking for peace and tranquillity and the chance to get away from it all.
 
To mark the 10th anniversary a new calendar of celebratory events is being launched aimed at attracting walkers from across the world. Events will include walking festivals at several coastal Walkers are Welcome accredited towns. The Chepstow Walking Festival will take place between the 20 – 24th April and the Prestatyn and Clwydian Range Walking Festival will take place between the 20 – 22 May.  ‘The Vale Trails – 10 Days in May’ walking festival which takes in Cowbridge will take place throughout May.
 

These trails provide huge scope for a wide variety of group visits, including the creation of long-distance walking holidays and destination breaks at some of the Walkers are Welcome accredited towns on the Welsh Coastline including Chepstow, St Dogmaels, Cowbridge, Cilgerran, Holywell and Prestatyn – all geared up to welcome walkers of all abilities and interests.

 

Celebrations will include the launch of a suite of new unique walking itineraries, created in partnership with the Welsh Government historic environment service, Cadw. The plan is to link a coastal visit to some of the country’s most iconic castles and historical landmarks.

Walkers will also be able to track their walking adventures on the official Wales Coast Path app. It is being updated to make the route as open and accessible for exploration for as many people as possible.

The Wales Coast Path contributes substantially to the Welsh economy and creates opportunities for holiday resorts, tourist attractions, historical monuments and towns and villages to welcome visitors from not just the UK, but from around the world.

When combined with the attractions along the three National Trails in Wales – Glyndŵr’s Way, Offa’s Dyke Path and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – the opportunities are endless.

Making Tracks in Mytholmroyd

It is not an easy task to encourage children to venture out on muddy paths to leave the comfort of their bedroom and the games’ screens, but it can be done!

In 2013 the Mytholmroyd group of Walkers are Welcome commissioned a local artist to design a booklet of six children’s walks to encourage them to explore the countryside. The booklet was designed to capture the interest of children by an artist who was skilled in producing such work.

Each walk has its own name, and the walk is waymarked with the respective walk signs.  The local footpath maintenance group ensured the routes were well marked and maintained and they continue to do so.

The booklet gives advice and guidance on what to wear, snacks to take and a reminder of the Country Code. It is packed full of interesting facts such as ‘the word dandelion translated means Lion’s tooth’.  There are also quizzes and suggestions as to what to look for on the walk. There is even a honeybee cookie recipe following the walk to see the bee boles on the hillside. Another interesting fact – ‘A honey bee has five eyes’. The walks are simply explained and easy to follow, road tested by local children.

Each primary school child in Mytholmroyd received a free copy of the booklet and the local primary schools were encouraged to teach the children about walking in the local area. Volunteers also led children’s walks in the summer. This is an ongoing project with booklets handed out each year to the school’s reception class.

The whole project was funded by the local town council, the county council, the cooperative society and the rural development and community small grants body.

Available to buy, follow on your ‘phone or download to print off, see webpage http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/making-tracks/

Popular local footpath saved!

Holmfirth Walkers Are Welcome are pleased to announce that the DoT have today rejected a proposal to divert a well- known and well- loved footpath. After years of wrangling at planning meetings and latterly at a DoT Public Enquiry the Holmfirth 60 footpath at Wolfstones is to stay with it’s original course. Wolfstones is one of Holmfirth’s iconic and most popular viewpoints with 360 degree views to Holme Moss, Castle Hill and the Holme Valley. If you’ve never been, then call in at the Holmfirth Library and Tourist Information Centre for a detailed walk leaflet.

New long-distance walking, cycling and riding route – Pewsey Vale Circular Way

The Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership has launched a new long-distance walking, cycling and riding route – the Pewsey Vale Circular Way. The launch took place on 3rd March at a partner networking event at The Royal Oak in Pewsey.

The way marked route is a 77 mile walking route or a 72 mile cycling/riding route, with the Vale of Pewsey at its heart.

Dramatic downland, secluded woodland, sweeping valleys and the Kennet & Avon Canal provide a rich variety of landscapes for the walker, rider or cyclist to enjoy.

The walking route has been divided into seven stages, with ideas on where to eat, where to stay and transfer options available. All the information, including maps, gpx downloads and other useful information can be found at www.visitpewseyvale.co.uk/discover-pewsey-vale.

Dawn Wilson, Chair of the Partnership, said, ‘The Pewsey Vale Circular Way is the third itinerary we have published for use by visitors and by local people but it is the first one that is a completely new route – the other two routes follow the Mid-Wilts Way and the Kennet & Avon Canal. This new route supports our recent accreditation with Walkers are Welcome, demonstrating the quality and variety of walking in the area and will encourage people to visit the area and to stay longer.’

A promotional video of the route, is available from the Visit Pewsey Vale YouTube channel – https://youtu.be/GvpR1qj3lHw together with a guide to the cycling route – https://youtu.be/gYffzXe0DKQ.

Slow Ways Swarm Weekend – March 25-27

We were treated to an inspirational talk on Slow Ways at our AGT in 2021.  Their latest  news is reproduced below. 

You can  find out more and sign up here.

“How many routes can we walk and review in a single weekend? Join the National Slow Ways Swarm Weekend!

As of today there are 8,016 walking routes in the network. Our ambition is to check out every one of them. And it sure is ambitious – together they amount to 118,612km!

But if everyone who opens this email went out to walk a route at the same time, we could potentially verify the network together in a single weekend.

Inspired by this possibility, we’re calling out to people across Great Britain to join us on our first National Slow Ways Swarm! To take part, we’d love for you to walk one or more routes on March 25, 26 or 27.

You can join the national swarm on your own, with a group of friends or fellow walkers.

With Slow Ways routes connecting 2,423 towns, cities and villages, you can take part nearly anywhere in Great Britain. For people who can get to Leeds we’ll be having a special celebratory get-together at the Town Hall on the Sunday. You can expect hot tea, biscuits, films, talks, and post-walk jubilation!

We want to use this first pilot swarm to see what we can achieve in a single weekend, to learn what works and then hope to plan more in the future. “

WAW member seeks action to save the ‘at risk’ Herefordshire Trail

A member of the Walkers are Welcome Leominster Group has played a leading role in the launch of a rescue and promotion plan for the neglected Herefordshire Trail. Pete Blench feared the trail, parts of which were in very poor condition, risked losing its status as a recognised Long Distance Footpath.
Donning a backpack and setting off directly from his Leominster home, the former journalist walked the 154-mile circular trail in sections ‘as a tourist’ staying at pubs and B&Bs, compiling a report for Herefordshire Council.
The trail passes through black-and-white villages, all five Herefordshire market towns – Bromyard, Ledbury, Ross-on-Wye, Kington and Leominster. It takes in stunning border landscapes and historic sites such as 12th century Dore Abbey and Arthur’s Stone neolithic chamber tomb.
Pete described his journey in daily posts on social media and wrote a report for Herefordshire Council on access problems, making the case for the trail’s tourism potential. He is now working closely with the tourism body, Visit Herefordshire. A trail upgrade and major promotion are planned.
“Fortunately, I was able to ‘get the ear’ of cabinet members on Herefordshire Council, those responsible for trade/tourism and highways/rights-of-way portfolios,” said Pete. “As a result, they took part in a meeting with PROW and tourism officials, local Ramblers group members and myself. I was asked to kick off the meeting with an ‘overview’ of the Herefordshire Trail. I am delighted with the plan for action.
“This wonderful trail was devised 17 years ago by a group from the local Ramblers, but it was never fully-embraced by the county council which was coping with a backlog of path problems and was unable to give special attention to the trail. Herefordshire Council also has a major stretch of the Wye Valley Walk on its patch which is prioritised.
“But times change. The fact that the trail is exclusively Herefordshire and includes all the market towns on route is now seen as a plus for tourism and the economy.
“The council agrees that it’s something we should be promoting big-time – but there is a lot of work to be done. I struggled on some overgrown parts which were impassable or near-impassable due, for example, to growth of head-high bracken which weaves into an impenetrable mass in the wind and rain. I highlighted these blackspots in my report.
“There were other issues such as dangerous footbridges, broken stiles and poor waymarking on some sections. Problems in that category were meticulously recorded in a report compiled in the same period by Duncan Smart of Hereford Ramblers and has also been taken on board by the council.”
Pete added: “As a Walkers are Welcome local group member, my focus has been on walking tourism and seeking a much-needed uplift for local businesses. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the part of ‘tourist’ in my own county – meeting the people serving the drinks and meals and providing the visitor accommodation. They were really encouraging about my ‘mission’ to promote the Herefordshire Trail and so helpful.”

Boroughbridge say “We are Back…”

Boroughbridge Easter Walking Festival is back and will be held from the 15th to 18th April 2022 (see events).
Set in a delightful riverside area of North Yorkshire this year’s festival will include a commemorative walk around the site of the Battle of Boroughbridge which took place 700 years ago. The Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322 was between a rebellious group of barons and supporters of Edward II, a weak and ineffectual king, whose reign was marked by military failure and constant internal disputes. The rebellion was led by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, Edward’s cousin and the second most wealthy person in the country. He was defeated at Boroughbridge by the King’s army led by Sir Andrew de Harclay. Lancaster negotiated an overnight truce with Harclay, many of the rebels had deserted. When the Sheriff of York arrived to reinforce the king’s army, Lancaster had to surrender. He was taken to his home at Pontefract Castle where he was sentenced to death after a show trial. He was beheaded on March 22. Thirty of Lancaster’s followers were executed, including Roger de Clifford, Second Lord of Skipton, who was hung from Clifford’s Tower in York, which now bears his name.
A series of commemorative events are planned in Boroughbridge throughout the year. The first is on Saturday, March 12, when a wreath will be laid at the Battlecross in Aldborough at 9.30am before the Three Swords Mediaeval Group demonstrate arms and armour on the shared community space behind Boroughbridge car park.
There will also be the first of the planned guided tours of the battlefield by Louise Whittaker, of the Battlefield Trust. Boroughbridge Historical Society, the Battlefield Trust and Boroughbridge Town Council are working on the events with funding from Miller Homes.
Mediaeval art work by the Yorkshire chairman of the Battlefield Trust, Chris Rock, is being incorporated into a series of display boards for a permanent Battlefield Trail around the town to aid walkers in the future.

England Coast Path in Somerset

The Coaster: 2, The Newsletter of the England Coast Path in Somerset is asking whether your community could be a focus for walkers.
‘Whether it’s as a destination for tourists or as a local walking hub we’re looking for communities on the England Coast Path in Somerset interested in exploring the opportunities that being on or near the trail provides.’
Their goal is to support the creation of local hubs that engage with businesses and provide, information, maps and walking resources. They also hope to work with organisations such as Walkers are Welcome to improve the national profile of the communities involved.  The success of Stowey Walking has been used as an example of a Walkers are Welcome member involving the whole community.

Poldark in Corsham

Those walkers who are keen film and TV fans might have a sense of deja vu when visiting Corsham, a thriving market town located in north Wiltshire on the fringes of the Cotswolds National Landscape. The honey-coloured High Street with its 19 ‘listed’ buildings, quirky shop frontages and magnificent Georgian Town Hall, is perhaps most recently recognisable and renowned for providing the market place and courthouse in the popular BBC series Poldark.  The early morning filming of Aidan Turner striding along the cobbles did nothing to deter huge crowds gathering at the far end of the High Street to watch filming in 2014 and Aidan’s presence has spawned a small industry producing Poldark memorabilia to satisfy the many fans still mourning his loss on a Sunday evening.  In the same year, ITV also landed in Corsham to film scenes for the popular and spooky series The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

Not far from the High Street, in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, Corsham Court stands on a site rumoured to have links to Ethelred, the first King of England, and has been in the same family for eight generations.  The stately house provides the backdrop for a number of films and television series and was first used in Stanley Kubrick’s romping adaptation of William Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon which starred the 70s heart throb, Ryan O’Neil.  Fans of Sir Anthony Hopkins will recall the poignant scenes filmed there in The Remains of the Day and the house also features in the BBC’s adaptations of Thomas Hardy’s, Tess of the d’Urberville’s and Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters as well as historian Philippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade based on the slave trade in Bristol.

Although steeped in history and well-suited to characters in bonnets and top hats, Corsham and environs have also provided several locations for several more modern and fantastical film creations.  Harry Potter fans flock to Lacock to glimpse the topiary in the gardens featured in The Philosopher’s Stone. As early as 1967, Castle Combe, six miles north-west of Corsham, was the setting for Doctor Dolittle starring the late Rex Harrison.  Robert De Niro visited the village briefly during the filming of the magical fantasy Stardust and the ever-popular War Horse was filmed there too.  Castle Combe also pops up in scenes from Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and another Agatha can often be found sleuthing in Corsham and nearby Biddestone while filming the popular series Agatha Raisin for Sky television.

Corsham Court https://corsham-court.co.uk/ is open all year round but only at weekends in winter.  To learn more about the walks on offer in and around the town, please visit the Corsham Walking Festival website http://corshamwalkingfestival.org.uk/ There are eight Heritage Trails available locally or to download.

Visit Midsomer in Henley

Henley-on-Thames, https://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/waw-towns-e-k/waw/60/ aka Causton, has appeared in numerous episodes of Midsomer Murders.  Fans of Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby will recognise many of the filming locations within the town including Gabriel Machin’s butcher shop, Tudor House Antiques and the Argyll Public House. Guided and self-guided walking tours are available. See Visit-Henley website. 

However, the interest does not finish there with their nearby villages offering many other locations to explore. Turville is the ultimate film village with the cottage next to the church being the main centre used in The Vicar of Dibley, with the church being named St Barnabus. The Windmill featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. More recently Turville was used in Killing Eve.

Stonor was used for a major sequence in the James Bond film The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton, and again as Robbie Coltrane’s stately mansion in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic Danny the Champion of the World, which starred Jeremy Irons. Other credits include The Young Visitors and A Duet for One, starring Julie Andrews. Stonor has also been presented in two episodes of the 2021 series of Antiques Roadshow, in the 2019 Disney/BBC production of A Christmas Carol starring Guy Pearce and Andy Serkis, Hornblower and Midsummer Murders to name but a few.

Hambleden is another iconic village used in films and is best known for the cluster of charming brick and flint cottages grouped around the old water pump, with the church and lych-gate flanking one side of the village square. Hambleden is in films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 101 Dalmatians, Sleepy Hollow, Into the Woods and the New Avengers, and in major TV productions Band of Brothers, A Village Affair, Poirot, Rosemary & Thyme, New Tricks and Down to Earth as well for promotions. Hambleden is the location of the book’s village, Titherton in the film Mothering Sunday just released starring Colin Firth and Olivier Colman.  Henley to Hambleden 10.9 km hike. https://www.outdooractive.com/en/route/hiking-route/henley-hambleden/162251779/

There are James Bond connections with Nettlebed and surroundings because of the Fleming family’s involvement beginning in 1903 when Robert Fleming, the Scottish banker, bought Joyce Grove.  Fleming’s grandson was the renowned travel writer Peter Fleming whose younger brother was the celebrated spy novelist, Ian Fleming, famous for his James Bond books. The winged fibreglass horse statue at Bromsden Farm is from a James Bond film. It was hit by a tank in Russia during the film.

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