Kirkby Stephen Bench Walks

Kirkby Stephen has just completed a new project working with the local Women’s Institute and other community partners. All the benches in the local area have been surveyed, 80 of them, and mapped with a leaflet being produced. ‘Happy to Chat’ signs are also being fixed to six benches in strategic positions.
The Bench Walk Project has three specific aims:
• To help less able people in the community, and visitors, to enjoy the benefit of short accessible walks, increasing their physical activity with the assurance of where the next bench will be.
• To help tackle isolation and encourage people to engage more with their community.
• To combat loneliness by creating an opportunity for people to chat with others on the ‘Happy to Chat’ benches along walking routes.
Local artists and printers were engaged to design the leaflet which will be available at the Visitor Centre, Council and Community Centre, Health Centre and retirement homes in the area from the beginning of August, as well as online, see

A New Dimension

The Vice-chair of Montgomery Walkers are Welcome says

“It was a chance sighting of a signpost to Watership Down that started a chain of 20+ emails that culminated in a very special walk. As Vice-Chair of Montgomery Mid-Wales WaW, I spotted in the newsletter an item by WaW Whitchurch, Hampshire, leader, Jackie Browne about a special walk she’d led exploring the story locations in Watership Down, the eponymous setting for the book by Richard Adams detailing the exploits and adventures of a group of rabbits and a seagull. The film was one of Sue’s and my first ‘dates’ and July 2020 our Ruby Wedding Anniversary.

My tentative email to Jackie received an immediate enthusiastic response; so started my plan to surprise Sue with a stay at The Watership Down Inn and a guided walk led by Jackie to places referenced in the book. Then came Covid! Jackie was not to be thwarted and so it was that lockdown eased only just in time for us, together with our daughter to travel to Whitchurch.

Four from Whitchurch joined the three of us for our socially distanced foray. The walking was gentle and lovely (as was the conversation) along tree-shaded byways, selected not just for ‘rabbity’ references but for the stunning views too. Rolling countryside with mostly gentle inclines on very well-maintained paths. Jackie had researched the sites of the rabbits’ journey complete with folk-lore background and botanical names of characters (even finding a sprig of Woundwort for those who know the story). We visited Watership Down, of course, with the recently planted commemorative tree, Efrafa too, and took in the River Test. Some on private land for which Jackie had negotiated special access. The time spent at the bridge over the crystal-clear Test where she read an extract from Adams’ writing was especially memorable.

The new dimension was what is now a firm link between not just our two WaW groups but individuals too. We look forward to their return visit here to explore the castles and rolling hills of The Marches where a mix of home hosting, B&Bs and Inns awaits. This October’s very well supported Montgomery walking festival may be too soon but undoubtedly before long.

Whitchurch is a little ahead of Montgomery in their journey of walking improvement and development, so we look forward to an ongoing relationship where we can discuss common problems and develop some ties, almost an informal twinning arrangement – something beyond the well-established mentoring.”

Ross “Do-it-Yourself” Festival

The Ross Walkers are Welcome Group has fallen in line with many events this year and cancelled the Ross Annual Walking Festival. The Coronavirus and the restrictions that have come with it has made running a successful and safe festival impossible.

Undaunted, the committee decided that visitors could still come to Ross and walk but in smaller family-sized groups, if they knew where they could walk to make the most of their trip. Accordingly, the Committee has produced a series of leaflets for 18 walks in the Ross area. Each leaflet describes one walk and gives route directions, interesting and useful comments at certain points, a clear map of the route and a GPX file that can be downloaded to a walkers’ satellite navigation device.

The walks range from short 2.5 to 3 miles up to 8 miles in length. Some start close to the town centre and others are a short (no more than 20 minutes) drive from Ross. The terrain covered includes the riverside, Chase Hill, Penyard Hill, Fownhope, Sollarshope, Kilpeck, the Hope Mansell valley and Coppett Hill; all with interesting features and amazing views of the area. Many of the routes will be familiar to local walkers but it is hoped that the selection of interesting walks described will attract visitors from further afield. This aligns with the objectives of the Walkers are Welcome organisation, namely, to help boost the local economy by attracting walkers into the locality to walk and patronise local businesses.

The programme will go live on the Ross Walkers are Welcome Group’s website
on Saturday 1st August; along with other information about the town and visiting Ross. Needless to say, the routes are available to everyone, visitors and locals alike. So, if you live in Ross and have been hesitant about trying new routes, log on, download and go out and discover more of our beautiful county and the Wye Valley.
Ross invented tourism so let’s use it to help us recover from the virus.

Overton Walking for Health

On Monday 20 July, Overton Hampshire  held their small led walking for health.

They say  “We’ve had great feedback from walkers and walk leaders and these small led walks will be continuing fortnightly in August. Monday proved a great success and I suspect that August dates are fully booked already.

The social distancing of 2 meters was strictly kept both on, around the registration point, and on the walks. Plus one walk leader signed everyone in so only one person handled the pen.

Here’s some feedback, from a walker and a walk leader on different walks.

“What a super walk this morning. The weather was perfect and we had great company in our group of 5. It really couldn’t have been better and everybody made a point of thanking Maureen for leading such a splendid group. We had no difficulty maintaining social distancing and there was plenty of animated conversation. A thoroughly enjoyable morning and I can hardly wait two weeks for the next one. Thank you, Denise. “

“We enjoyed our walk and guest walker Matthew from Basingstoke was appreciative of the Overton scenery. John was his usual self striding out“

We had 24 walkers and 5 walk leaders so this needed a lot of careful planning, but we proved that it can work in the right circumstances. “

I-Spy Cam and Dursley

Dursley Welcomes Walkers are pleased to have been able to support a local initiative to provide an activity book for young people and families to enjoy over the school holidays.

One of the activities featured in the book is based on their popular and interesting local history walk, “Cam and the Winterbothams”. The activity book also features activities based on the local “Cam Stone Stiles” walk and also “The Cotswold Way”.

Considerable interest has already been shown in the activity book which should prove to be very popular during the holidays.

Meltham – Walkers are Welcome

On Sunday, 5 walk leaders/committee members  from Meltham went for a walk together for the first time since March!  They say “It was lovely to get together and discuss future walks and events.
We aim to resume our guided walks in August. However, there will be some changes, eg; smaller groups, more frequent walks, etc. We may also need to adopt a pre-booking scheme for our walks.
We’ll publish more information soon as we’ve finalised details. Meanwhile, keep walking and enjoying the outdoors!”

Otley website off-line

Due to a technical problem (well, our host has disappeared) WaW Otley’s website ( will temporarily be off-line. We’re working on a solution and hope to be back soon. Otley’s new web address will then be: (so loosing the hyphen).
Sorry, but see you there again soon!


After a massive risk assessment, booking system by invitation only, and precautions in place, Kirkby Stephen have started their ‘Dawdles’ health walking again. They report how fantastic it was to see each other and catch-up on what they  have all been up to in the past weeks, good and bad.
They even managed coffee and cake sitting in the herb garden at their favourite café. Wonderful. They say “we will be so pleased when we can increase numbers as the Government change the guidelines but in the meantime, we will do what we can and enjoy this little freedom.”  Photo: Slack Gap Lane

More than six please

At the beginning of this month Baz Fewster,  our Chairman, wrote this letter to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, suggesting an easing of the restriction of the number of walkers allowed on an organised, led walk in England. Many members have already forwarded this to their MPs with an accompanying letter requesting that they support the initiative. We appreciate that some members may disagree (as is their right) and for some it may still be impractical. We will be sending a similar letter to the relevant officials of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, in the hope that our suggestions could be adopted as their lockdown eases. 

Baildon Summer Sixers

Baildon Walkers are Welcome committee are excited to be able to start offering guided walks over the next two months – for up to 6 people.
This complies with government guidance, and public health advice that transmission of the Covid-19 infection is much less likely to happen outdoors.
Of course, they will all still have to maintain social distance during the walks, but they can, nonetheless, start to enjoy, once again, being able to walk in a sociable company.
Because numbers must be limited to 1 Walk Leader plus 5 participants, they are introducing a booking system and giving additional guidance, like walkers bringing with them:
* any medication they might need, including plasters;
* hand sanitiser;
* water bottle and any snacks.
They are  look forward to walking with some of their walkers  again soon.

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