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Holmfirth Walking Festival a big hit!

Holmfirth Walkers Are Welcome staged their annual walking festival last weekend. Over 200 participants took part in a huge variety of activities. In all there were 7 walks over the weekend, all free, ranging from story walks to local history trails. Evening events included presentations by walking guide authors and films on a walking theme. The weather was kind, despite a poor forecast, and the event showcased their beautiful valley. They  have a great team of experienced and willing walk leaders who give up their time to plan and lead walks all through the year. If you missed the festival watch out on Facebook  for their  programme of Sunday walks.

Coleford’s Heritage

Coleford is actively taking part in Heritage Open Days with The Coleford Area Partnership providing events to celebrate the towns marked long history. These events can be found by visiting HOD Heritage Apps/Forest of Dean     On visiting this site, you will see the Coleford Heritage App, being free to download, this app is a brilliant way to see the old town through the magic of technology.

During the autumn the Forest of Dean comes into its own with a spectacular display of the autumn leaves changing colour. Many of the footpaths around Coleford take you past historical sites that give amazing views. See Coleford Welcomes Walkers. 

Coleford has existed since before the Middle Ages with the production of Iron ore still evident locally.  Part of the 17th Century White Hart Inn is the oldest building in town.

The central feature of Coleford is the Grade II Clock tower. It is all that remains of the Chapel of Ease which was built c1489, rebuilt in 1820 and demolished in 1882.  The Clock tower features a war memorial and down the steps sits a stone trough with an inscription to Queen Victoria’s 60 years of reign.

In 1798, work began on Whitecliff Ironworks to the south-western edge of Coleford.  In 1809 David Mushet, a noted Scottish metallurgist, was employed to increase productivity and a legend began with his youngest son Robert’s work. This furnace is the only remaining remanence of its type in Southern England, it is a Forest of Dean Heritage Site and a Scheduled Monument.

In St. John Street, where the tram line crossed, having been built in 1812 to link the town with mines throughout the Forest of Dean with the River Wye at Redbrook and Monmouth, there is a homage of paving depicting the old tram route, following its demise in the late 1870s.

 By the main car park, the GWR Goods Shed, built in 1875 is all that reminds us of the two railway lines that fed into Coleford. One built by Severn & Wye Valley the other by Great Western Railway. The GWR shed is now a museum and well worth a visit.  

Angus Buchanan was born in Coleford in 1894 and was awarded the Military Cross on 7th January 1916, the Victoria Cross on 5th April 1916, being decorated by King George V in Bristol on 8th November 1917.  In honour of his bravery funds were raised and at his bequest a play area was built for the local children and named in his honour. He lays to rest in the Cemetery next to the Angus Buchanan Recreational Park which is managed by a trust in his name.

Coleford is home to Suntory and is the sole production facility for Ribena and Lucozade, with SPP Pumps Ltd, Britain’s leading pump manufacturer having its main UK manufacturing site in Coleford.

For those interested in an in-depth overview of Coleford’s history we recommend a visit to Forest of Dean History Society. 


Kirkby Stephen Walkers are Welcome   usually holds a walk for Heritage Open Days, fitting in with their yearly theme.  With Astounding Inventions, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity of celebrating the towns’ connections to Michael Faraday.  Every time you turn on a piece of electrical equipment, we should remember Faraday although, unless you have studied physics, chemistry, and environmental sciences, his long list of amazing discoveries and inventions may be unfamiliar to you.
James and elder brother Richard Faraday were born in Clapham, Yorkshire, and were both Christened at the Inghamite, Pear Tree Chapel, Kendal. The brothers moved to Kirkby Stephen and worshipped in the Sandemanian Chapel, now called Faraday House and established from a barn in 1761. They married sisters Mary and Margaret Hastwell from the congregation in a joint ceremony in 1777.

Richard built a Cotton Mill and dabbled in textile milling before handing the business over to his descendants.  Low Mill was later made into a Saw Mill and was ironically eventually converted to electricity, only stopping business a little while ago. James worked as an apprentice Blacksmith in nearby Outhgil, Mallerstang.  In the winter of 1790, James and Margaret moved to Newington Butts, Surrey (now part of the London Borough of Southwark), where Michael was born on 22nd September 1791.

Faraday stayed close to his Kirkby Stephen family with nieces and nephews visiting as shown in Census returns. When Back Lane was improved and widened, Kirkby Stephen Town Council named it Faraday Road. His independent religion and thought sustained him despite being poor and having little formal education.  He became a Sandemanian deacon and elder. Faraday initiated the Christmas Lectures that continue until today.

The Kirkby Stephen Faraday Connection walk will take place on Thursday 15th September and

there will also be a Faraday display at the Upper Eden Visitor Centre.   Kirkby Stephen  has an historical town trail and blue plaques celebrating ten building’s pasts. You can take time to enjoy the town’s heritage with Saxon and Viking artefacts all set in spectacular countryside.  

The Vale of Snaith

The town of Snaith, which will, next year, be celebrating the 800th anniversary of being granted a market charter, has some special heritage events scheduled for September 2022.

On Sunday 11th September, the highlight of the annual Heritage Day celebrations will be in the Market Place, where there will be a display of cherished motor bikes.  In nearby Cowick, there will be a guided walk along Cowick Royal Way, where you will hear stories about visits to Cowick by Kings and Queens and many other important people with royal connections.

For those who like to enjoy self-guided walks, there is the four-mile East Cowick Circular Walk which is fully signposted and has many Heritage Links detailed on a leaflet available from the church or village hall.  Newly installed on the 20 sign posts are permanent pictures of birds and animals that you might spot on your journey, all drawn by children from the local primary school.

Also available are Heritage Walk laminated card packs featuring 15 walks.  One of the walks is Snaith Heritage Trail, which has now been enhanced with a number of the historic buildings displaying a blue plaque (they are currently 12 in total).

Coming up in September, maintaining the Heritage theme, are three guided walks as part of The East Riding of Yorkshire annual walking festival.

September 10th A long walk which includes a visit to the memorial garden created after a horrific train crash in 2001.

September 17th A long walk which includes a look at the engineering heritage of two canals, an aqueduct and a reservoir.

September 23rd A stroll from Snaith to Carlton Towers for a tour around  a magnificent country residence, packed with  

The photo shows an amusing plaque which  was erected by a local trader inspired by the blue plaques in Snaith.  It did the trick and the unused traffic lights were taken down after 7 years.

Wellington Celebrate Thomas Parker, inventor of the electric car

Wellington, although a proud market town since 1244, is now situated in Telford. The area that comprises Telford was home to myriad inventors, many of whom are celebrated in Telford’s Ironbridge Gorge Museums.  The museum’s tag line is now “valley of invention”.  So, when Wellington was planning their 2022 walking festival, which always coincides with Heritage Open Days, they thought it would be sensible to include an event showcasing one of Telford’s  inventors.

As electric cars are now in most people’s consciousness it seemed appropriate to celebrate one of Telford’s lesser-known inventors – Thomas Parker.  Little did they know the museum trust had the same idea- and are also showcasing Thomas Parker, making two of their Coalbrookdale sites free on September 17th and 18th.  Rather than clashing, the two events complement each other nicely.

Thomas Parker was born in Coalbrookdale in 1843, the son of a moulder.  Thomas also worked in the Coalbrookdale Ironworks, starting as a young child while attending school.  In 1862 he too became a moulder. His horizons were broadened by a visit to the 1862 International Exhibition in London where he saw, among other technology, the wet battery. 

Spells in Birmingham and Manchester followed, but he returned to Coalbrookdale in 1867, first as a foreman then as a chemist in the electro plating department.  While working in Coalbrookdale he made his name, not for electricity, but first for co-creating in 1876 a new and improved steam pump The “Parker and Weston’s Patent Pump” which would later be awarded a medal at the International Inventions Exhibition of 1885.

To show the breadth of his invention, in 1880 the Kyrle Society increased awareness about the negative effects of coal smoke in cities.  In response Parker invented the “Kyrle Grate,” which was designed to allow anthracite coal to be burned inside of it. His grate won a silver medal at the Smoke Abatement Exhibition in 1881, He would later, in 1904, invent Coalite. 

Still at Coalbrookdale, Parker also improved the electroplating process by adding a dynamo that he built himself.  He then became in effect an electrical engineer, working on projects that were at the cutting edge of technology. In 1882 he moved to Wolverhampton to co-found, with Paul-Bedford Elwell, the first company in the Midlands to manufacture electrical equipment. It was whilst there that he made, and used, electric cars.

After working in London for a spell, where he was responsible for the electrification of much of the underground, he returned to Coalbrookdale in 1907 to retire.  He bought and lived in Severn House in Ironbridge, now the Best Western Valley Hotel.  He was still very active as he purchased and ran the Court Iron Works in Madeley as well as giving lectures at the Quaker Meeting House in Coalbrookdale.  He died (aged 72) in 1915 from a brain tumour.

Wellington’s event is a 7.5-mile walk on 15th September. The walk will start in Madeley and go first to Thomas Parker Drive (named in his honour on the centenary of his death), the Court Iron Works (still remembered by many in Telford), before going to various sites in Coalbrookdale, where he lived and worked, then returning to Madeley, via Madeley Parish church where he was buried in the Fletcher (his mother’s) family vault.  See details here on the HODS site.

The photo shows the Thomas Parker electric car. Thomas Parker is in the middle of this photograph.

St Ives Estate, Bingley

The St Ives Estate in Bingley is one of the highlights of walking in the area.  Now owned by Bradford Council (Bradford is nominated City of Culture for 2025), this 550-acre park has Grade II listing in the English Heritage National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Interest and has been given Accredited County Park status by Natural England.  Bingley Walkers are Welcome  are supplying a guide telling the history of Bingley St Ives Estate on 11th September as part of Heritage Open Days.  

This free walk takes you past some of the many listed buildings within the Bingley St Ives Estate. including a Traditional Pennine Laithe House and across an area which has had a Geophysical Survey carried out showing interesting features. You will see remains of the extensive ponds and water gardens which were developed in the early 1800’s by Walker Ferrand. The walk passes an area which it is said to have influenced Disraeli in the writing of his book Sybil.

See the site where the ‘Minster Oak’ was felled and donated to York Minster, after the roof was struck by lightning, causing the fire which destroyed part of the roof. This oak tree was due to be felled so it was donated to the Minster where it was incorporated into the roof reconstruction.

You will walk along a short stretch of the lane, which was known as the Kings Highway, this was the old track leading from Bingley to Haworth (perhaps even imagine the Bronte sisters on the road home). The Coppice Pond is thought to date back to 1300’s, you will see the site of the boathouse. Coppice Pond was used as part of Bingley’s water supply for about 100 years until 1974 when Yorkshire Water took over the supply. This water feature is now the home of many different species of waterfowl.

One of the buildings in the Mansion complex was a Nonconformist Chapel. This has now been converted into residential accommodation however the Bell Housing on the roof is still a feature.

If you are unable to make the walk, you may visit St Ives anytime you ae in the area and further information is provided by Bingley on their webpage including a number of walks.

The Blind Photographer

The Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership has put together a short video to accompany a poem – The Blind Photographer. This evocative poem, read by Andrew Rae, describes how the landscape of the North Wessex Downs has been impacted by thousands of years of man’s activity ….. but this isn’t always seen.

The beauty of the landscape about which the photographer rhapsodises was actually created by man. His mark is everywhere, and goes back centuries to the first moment a man decided to work the soil, or to fight for it, or to dwell there ….. but the photographer only sees the surface: by ignorance or choice, he is blind to its long, long story.

This poem was written by Ewen Cameron after hearing a politician discussing how God and nature had given us such a wonderful English countryside. Whereas the truth is that our countryside comes entirely from the sweat and toil of man over years, decades, and centuries. Our countryside is the greatest living cultural legacies we have inherited – as important as any of our wonderful cathedrals.

Tarras Valley Nature Reserve

Langholm tell us that they are part of the Langholm Initiative which is a community  body formed to raise money to found the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve .  The Langholm Initiative have now succeeded in raising a further £2.2M to secure a further 5,000 acres of land from The Duke of Buccleuch. This makes a total of £6M raised in 2 years and the Tarras valley Nature Reserve will now extend to a total of 10,000 acres.
See, for example,

They say “The photo shows the famous Langholm Moor and the B Road that crosses it. This  has become the best place in Mainland UK to watch Hen Harriers and other Raptors like Merlin, Short Eared Owls, and Buzzards. There is also an occasional Golden Eagle that appears on the Moor.  It was in the first 5000 acres purchased by Langholm Initiative.”


Stocksbridge Walkers recommended by the Ordnance Survey

Stocksbridge Walkers are Welcome is now a recommended route partner for the Ordnance Survey, OS Maps app and website. Since 1791, the OS has mapped Great Britain. Several years ago, as smartphones became the norm, the Ordnance Survey launched OS Maps. This allowed users, for the first time, to view, navigate and download up-to-date maps. The app is used by millions of people to plan their outdoor adventures. The free version gives access to standard mapping and all routes .

Deputy Mayor of Stocksbridge, Mark Whittaker, said, ‘this deserved recognition not only validates the work carried out by this local group but also cements Stocksbridge as one of the best, and possibly the most under-rated, walking centres in the UK.’

Outlines of all the walking routes developed by Stocksbridge Walkers are Welcome are now available via this internationally respected outlet. Detailed instructions for all the routes continue to be available from the local website: The group can also be found on Facebook here.

A visit from Clare Balding!

Helen Dudley from Alton says “Having written to the BBC’s Ramblings programme three years ago I was very surprised to get an email from the programme’s editor recently asking for a chat to discuss a possible walk with Walk Alton in East Hampshire. Some 7 weeks later we were out walking with Clare Balding and producer Karen Gregor.

It was all surprisingly light touch and easy to set up. Essentially Ian Fleming and I recce’d a walk aimed at showcasing what the area has to offer – beautiful steep sloping beech hangers offering amazing views, an ancient woodland (Binswood) owned and managed by the Woodland Trust and an unusual heathland (Shortheath), and all this within the South Downs National Park (SDNP).

Ian did his research on the history and geology of the area and we invited Natalie Beckell from Alton Town Council, who we work with on the twice yearly Alton walking festivals, and Elinor Newman, an engagement ranger with the SDNP who has specialist knowledge in the wildlife supported by the sandy heathland, to join us.

On the day Clare and Karen met us at the Three Horseshoes pub in East Worldham who we have partnered with to produce local walks leaflets, and we set off. They showed no signs of fatigue – surprising really as on the previous two days they had recorded walks in Malham Cove and Dovedale, not to mention driving many miles! No preamble or briefings, just off for another walk. We chatted along the way, stopping only for the noise of what seemed like lots of planes from Farnborough Air show flying overhead. At Shortheath Elinor told us all about the wildlife and certainly brought it alive with her amazing impressions of the sounds of a stag beetle, a nightjar and asking if we’d heard the turtle dove on entering the heath only to recreate the sound for us. We couldn’t have hoped for a more enthusiastic and knowledgeable expert.

On the way back, we passed some of the very last hop poles stacked against a tree, remnants of the now extinct hop growing industry that Alton was once famed for. We topped it off with a much needed drink in the pub.

To hear more you’ll have to wait until the new series goes out on Radio 4 in the autumn, or catch it on BBC Sounds. And of course you will have the chance to visit the area/do this walk in October (4-9) when we are hosting the Walkers are Welcome Annual Event alongside our autumn walking festival. We hope you will.”