Meteorites are Welcome!

Overnight on 28 February, something amazing happened in the sleepy little Cotswold town of Winchcombe. An extremely rare meteorite landed on the driveway of Rob and Cathy Wilcock, who just happen to be members of the Winchcombe WaW steering group. They were advised to remain anonymous but really wanted to share a good news story so later agreed to be interviewed on TV. They had no idea that their story would be shown on TV News all over the world. Winchcombe couldn’t have had better publicity if it tried, it put our WaW efforts into the shade!

On Monday 22 March Winchcombe WaW members were asked to join a Zoom meeting with scientists from the Natural History Museum and the Open University. We were given a talk about how meteorites are formed, how to identify them, and how to collect them. Then they encouraged local walkers to go and search in a certain area where they are sure there will be other fragments. The scientists expected to find no more than 50g of material, but already over 500g has been collected over the wider area. A recent Japanese space probe cost billions of pounds and brought back just 5g of similar material.

We are sure all this publicity will lead to more visitors once lock-down ends and it has led to us thinking about how we can incorporate the meteorite landing in our walking festival. Exciting stuff!

A Point on the English Coast

Walking along the England Coast Path between Staithes and Skinningrove in North Yorkshire, the Cleveland Way, in the Parish of Walkers are Welcome Loftus, we pass a modest trig pillar on Boulby Cliff. At this point, there is hidden information to stimulate the thoughts of walkers passing by.

The highest point on the Eastern side of England
At 700 ft (213m) this is the highest point on the eastern side of England with a horizon some 33 miles (53 km) distant. At this height, the curvature of the earth becomes noticeable. The remnants of industrial history are visible from here. Fossils and rocks from the Jurassic period make up the landscape below. The moonscape from centuries of Alum quarrying and the many connecting paths made by men with horses and carts leading from work to homes are still walked today.

The burial place of Beowulf
The old English epic poem Beowulf produced between 975 and 1025 was heroically recovered from the Cotton Library which suffered a tragic fire in 1731 when the library was in temporary storage in London. This tells of the eponymous 6th century Norse hero who defeats the monster Grendel and his mother, thereby rescuing the Danes from a reign of terror before dying in a battle with a dragon. Professor Henry Morley in his first sketch of English Literature in 1873 was tempted to suggest that this cliff at Boulby, the headland where Beowulf was buried, represents the character of a corner of Yorkshire in which the tale of Beowulf seems to have been told, as it now comes to us in first English verse.

Dark skies in the North York Moors National Park
The open skies of the National Park are breath-taking by day and at night when the dark sky panorama is revealed. In December 2020, the National Park was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark Sky Association, one of 15 in Great Britain. It is reported that in the darkest areas of this park one can see up to 2,000 stars at any one time. For most of human history, people were guided by the faintest colours and light emanating from these dark skies.

Rockcliff Beacon
Just a few metres away from a dry-stone wall near “our point” lies a barrow showing only minimal disturbance known as Rockcliff Beacon. The Rock Art found here dates back to the late Neolithic and Bronze age and is characteristic of similar finds in Northumberland and Durham. Many potsherds of the Bronze age type have been found here.

Standing on “our point” provides a great insight into geological time, the spans of human settlement, and a night sky that has guided all who have and continue to walk these trails.
Marshall Best

Loftus https://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/waw-towns-l-n/waw/160/

The Long Distance Walkers Association

Photo: Spring on Crug Mawr, view of table mountain

The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) is a voluntary run organisation and was created in 1972 primarily to collate the details of challenge walking events that were occurring all over the UK. Until 1972, no organisation had the foresight to provide challenge walk organisers with a central point of contact and in the short few years after creation, the LDWA had grown exponentially as members joined due to their love of pitting themselves against challenge walks all over the UK.

In the following years and as the membership grew, members wanted to walk socially with like-minded people. Consequently, Local Groups started to form and the LDWA now has 43 ensuring that members in every part of Great Britain can walk with their Local Groups should they wish to do so.

The membership of the LDWA is growing; the last 3 years have seen the Executive reaching out to the wider walking community, embrace a robust publicity strategy, and make full use of several social media platforms to share what the LDWA does. As well as offering the very popular challenge events and social walking with the Local Groups, the LDWA has also collaborated with the Walkers are Welcome network. The LDWA has collated the only known database of every known long-distance path in the United Kingdom and has been able to offer challenge walks for attendees of Walkers are Welcome towns, walking events such as walking festivals and by leading the challenge walks, ensures that all forms of walking are offered.

Other ways the LDWA has become involved in the Walkers are Welcome network is by assisting in creating new long-distance routes such as the Welcome Way in West Yorkshire which links the Walkers are Welcome towns of Otley, Burley in Wharfedale and Bingley. The LDWA is proud to be part of the wider walking community and recognises that it offers a service that complements other walking organisations. If you are an avid National Trails walker, and if you have walked 5, 10, 15 or even all 19 of the trails, then you can record your achievements with the National Trails Register and you will receive a certificate for your efforts. This service is also open to non-members and the Executive has noted that this is a gateway to membership of the LDWA as people soon discover the other opportunities that come with membership of the LDWA.

There are enhanced facilities that are available to members only such as the ability to download GPX files. There are currently 1700+ long distance trails in this database ranging from the very famous Pennine Way, to the little known Monmouthshire Way! So, if you’re planning a walking holiday in a different part of the UK, and you want to walk a long distance trail that you previously had not heard of, the Long Distance Paths database section of the website might be exactly what you’re looking for.

For details on how to join and become a member of the LDWA and the services offered provide please visit https://www.ldwa.org.uk

David Morgan LDWA Chair

Dover – Feature Town

There cannot be many that have missed the celebrity status of the White Cliffs of Dover as made famous by Vera Lynn classic:

‘There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.’

The 350ft (110 m) high chalk cliffs look out onto the Strait of Dover giving far-reaching views over the English Channel to the French coast. The best way to see the cliffs is to enjoy a walk along the coastal path from the National Trust centre, towards South Foreland Lighthouse. This is a stunning heritage coastline with the Kent Downs AONB protected landscape. The chalk grassland is home to so many unusual plants and insects, with a great abundance of flora and fauna. Ponies graze to protect the grassland. There is also access to the Fan Bay Deep Shelters below the cliffs.

There are so many other walking opportunities: The Kearsney Loop is a scenic 2.6-mile walk taking in Russell Gardens, Kearsney Abbey, Bushy Ruff, and Scotland Common. taking you out to the beautiful countryside. Further along the coast towards Folkestone, there is the unique Samphire Hoe nature reserve which was created because of the building of the Channel Tunnel. The Hoe provides rare chalk downs and coastal habitats which attract some uncommon and interesting plant and wildlife species.  Also, Dover is on the North Downs Way, England Coast Path and the Via Francigena 

In addition to the world-renowned busy port, the ‘Gateway tAlso England’, Dover has an abundance of culture and historical heritage, the area is a living timeline. Keeping watch over the port is the Norman Dover Castle. This Dover’s “Jewell in the crown” also has later Napoleonic fortifications and the World War II secret tunnels hidden below. More modern military heritage sites on the opposite side of Dover include The Western Heights and Drop Redoubt which can be visited on popular town and country walk routes. There is also the Roman Painted House and a unique Bronze Age Boat in the museum.

Walkers are Welcome membership will always recommend a town that is hospitable; so, having the status is an asset to this corner of Kent. Other advantages are a more varied group of visitors and not those just passing through on route to Europe extending the tourism season. This brings,
additional trade and employment opportunities.

Dover has recently been featured in an article, written by Anya Meyerowitz, published in Country Living, 12 Best Coastal Walks in the UK for 2021, to try when we can travel again.

The town is enjoying an exciting period of redevelopment. Plans are underway for the Western Dock’s Revival with the amazing new Marina Pier opened in 2019 which allows you to walk right out to sea and view the white cliffs in all their glory. The planned marina will attract a host of shops, bars cafes, and restaurants to complement those in the new St James centre and cinema complex in a Listed Building area of Great Historic Interest. The plan is to become the best port in the world for the benefit of customers, visitors, and the local community with hundreds of Jobs.

Transport links between this our largest port and other parts of this country and Europe are unrivalled including high-speed trains to London, the Eurostar and ferries. Many walks can be accessed via Public Transport.

Dover https://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/waw-towns-c-d/waw/148/

Wye Valley AONB

The picturesque lower Wye Valley has attracted tourists and walkers for at least 250 years. But 50 years ago it was officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). See the photo of  Forgotten Valley, Newland, Wye.
It was of little surprise that the parts of the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean were proposed by Lord Bledisloe and others in 1931 when the Government first considered setting up ‘National Parks and other similar areas in England and Wales’. However, it was not until 1971 when the 126 square miles of the Wye Valley, from Mordiford just east of Hereford down to Chepstow, were officially designated. Thus after 40 years of wrangling the 28th AONB came into being. It remains unique as the only cross-border Protected Landscape in the family of 13 National Parks and 46 AONBs in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

This outstanding landscape offers so much for walkers. There are the long-distance walks, including (probably the best) stretches of the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and the Wye Valley Walk, the start of the Wales Coast Path and Wysis Way, part of the Herefordshire Trail, and more. Hundreds of miles of footpaths, tracks, and lanes through ancient woodland, fertile farmland, or along the Wye lead to endless opportunities for tranquil walks and picturesque views. Many are promoted with printed or downloadable route guides and leaflets. The Walkers are Welcome towns of Chepstow and Ross-on-Wye, with also Coleford preparing to join, make planning and visiting even more pleasant. They lay on local Walking Festivals and organised walking groups regularly lead guided walks and step out throughout the year.

Anybody walking in the Wye Valley AONB is literally following in the footsteps of our ancestors. We know paleolithic hunter-gathers lived in the caves on The Doward. The iron age Silures tribes obviously found the dramatic topography of the Wye Valley outstanding for incorporating into their hill forts, likewise for King Offa with his Dyke builders and guards marching up and down the valley and the Norman lords building their castles and overseeing the locals. The Cistercian monks found the tranquility and productivity of the Wye Valley perfect for their second monastery in Britain (their first in Wales). The complex geology gave the area powerful streams, abundant forest, and copious minerals from which early industrialists forged the crucible of the industrial revolution, while on the rich red soils and fertile floodplain a wealth of crops and livestock grew, which could all be traded up and down the Wye. Meanwhile, artists and writers discovered picturesque, sublime, and romantic views in the Wye Valley from the mid-1700s onwards to this day.

If you haven’t visited the Wye Valley you are missing one of the nation’s most outstanding national landscapes. If you have been here before, you’ll know you have walked in mind & body with William Wordsworth, who wrote in 1798 ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour’
“O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!”

Chepstow https://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/waw-towns-c-d/waw/174/
Ross-on-Wye https://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/waw-towns-o-z/waw/49/

Wotton-Under-Edge Walking Festival to be rearranged

The annual Wotton-Under-Edge Walking Festival was due to take place between May 13th and 16th.

It has been decided to rearrange the dates to allow the easing of Coronavirus restrictions.

A decision on the rearranged date will be made in early April with June or September being the most likely slots.

The organisers say ” We hope some of you can join us on our walks which are in a beautiful part of the Cotswolds.  You can follow us on our Facebook page for more updates.”

Spilsby Litter Pick

Two Members of the Spilsby Walkers are Welcome  group did a litter pick on Saturday morning on 20th February and managed to fill 2 large sacks in just 30 minutes.  They  covered a small area on A16 in Spilsby filling their bags with bottles(a few empty vodka ones), cans and picked up and deposited at least 20 bags of dog poo in the appropriate bin. There are still a number of those in the hedgerows.  They say that  the A16 still looks like a dumping ground but every little effort helps. Normally there would be 8 pickers and they  could have made a real inroad, however, lockdown has prevented that.
Take a look at their efforts

Cancellation of Newton Stewart Walking Festival 2021

The decision has been taken to cancel this May’s Newton Stewart Walking Festival due to the continuing Covid crisis. The event had been scheduled to take place between 7th and 13th May 2021.
Chair of the group of volunteers who organise the event, Joan Mitchell, said:
“The committee has regretfully had to take the decision to cancel Newton Stewart Walking Festival for another year. The safety of our walkers and leaders, and protection of the wider community has to take priority. The festival would, of course, need to adhere to all Covid related guidelines and regulations which were in place at the time and this led us to the conclusion that the only prudent option was to cancel the festival for 2021.”
“We have been in touch with our supporters reassuring them that the walking festival will return in 2022, Covid permitting, as we are in a sound financial position and our enthusiasm is undimmed. It’s been gratifying to have had responses from friends from around the country expressing their support and regrets. In the meantime, local residents can continue to enjoy the many local walking routes which exist around Newton Stewart and elsewhere, in line with current regulations.”

The photo by R. Peace  shows  walkers enjoying  the spectacular views from Cairnsmore of Fleet during the  Newton Stewart Walking Festival 2019More information from Joan Mitchell, Chair, Newton Stewart Walking Festival Committee,  joan@bagbie.co.uk

Talgarth Walking Festival- cancelled

Talgarth WaW say “We regret that we have decided to cancel the 2021 Walking Festival because of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, and the uncertainties about restrictions. We have decided to aim to organise the Festival on the first May Bank Holiday 2022, assuming that restrictions will have been lifted.
We are sorry to disappoint you, but hope that we may see you in 2022. In the meantime, stay safe.”

That Was A Year That Was

Heritage Trails and Remembrance Day Walk –

It was with frustration and sadness that the seventh annual Corsham Walking Festival scheduled for last June had to be cancelled and postponed, especially as the walks programme, the website and brochures were finalised before the first national lockdown. The Walking Festival was to be a highlight of several weeks of public events centred on Corsham which all were all sadly cancelled.

However, as more Corsham residents were required to look to the local paths and byways for their daily exercise, the completion of a local Heritage Trails project last April provided a welcome alternative to ‘lockdown’.

The Heritage trails proved extremely popular as gyms and sporting clubs were forced to close and walking became one of the few means of exercise readily and locally available for families to get involved with.

The Project was developed to encourage the local community and visitors to appreciate the historical environment and experience the natural beauty of the North West Wiltshire countryside.

The first part of the project involved improving the Public Rights of Way (PRoW) and path furniture: stiles, gates, waymarker posts and signs. In total 55.48 miles of PRoWs are included in the trails, resulting in a significant number of repairs and installations to make the trails accessible to all. Work included the installation of additional waymarker posts and the replacement of some of the stiles with kissing gates (See pictures).

The second part of the project saw the design of eight trail leaflets so that walkers can learn about local heritage and places of interest as they explore the trails ranging between four and ten miles. The improved paths, signage and the leaflets have inspired many more people to explore the area beyond the town, including nearby villages of Biddestone, Box and Colerne and live their cars in Corsham and use paths instead of roads.

The eight Heritage Trails can be viewed and downloaded from the Corsham Walking Festival website at: http://corshamwalkingfestival.org.uk/more/heritage-trails/

Remembrance Day November 2020 Commemorated by walkers –

Last November, the pandemic restrictions changed the way the town was able to mark Remembrance Day. The British Legion cancelled all parades at local war memorials and instead, a group of local ex-Service walkers walked 17 miles between the Town and Village War Memorials and Commonwealth War Graves sites around Corsham, laying British Legion Remembrance Crosses to commemorate the fallen.

Another eleven walkers from the St Bart’s Walking Group laid crosses on a ten-mile walk at two Commonwealth War Grave locations on the graves of the fallen of the two World Wars.

In all, crosses were laid at 5 War Memorials, 55 Commonwealth War Graves and 30 Service graves: a poignant and fitting way to combine walking with respect for those who fell in combat. It is now planned that this will become an annual event.

Report from Barry Cox and Jane Dezonie, Corsham Walking Festival Committee

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