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Dursley: A Kissing Gates celebration

Dursley Welcomes Walkers say they  are fortunate to have excellent links with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, especially their very experienced local work party. So when the local Long Distance Walkers Group (Bristol and west branch) came up with an offer of funding, they were able to negotiate the replacement of old stiles on the Coaley Parish section of our flagship 14-mile Lantern Way route. Once the installation was complete, they organised a public walk to enjoy the improvements. Nearly 50 people participated, some travelling a fair distance to join in. At coffee time when they had reached the community-run shop in Coaley, they publicly thanked all the organisations involved. The party included several Wardens who had helped install the gates and representatives from two of the local parish councils. Parts of the walk were new for many participants. The weather was good, everyone enjoyed it, and the events was covered in  a full page spread in the local paper giving Dursley Welcomes Walkers some great publicity.

Dereham’s Heritage Walks

Three years ago, Dereham Walkers are Welcome opened a dialogue with Dereham Heritage Trust, to add a town walk to its usual suite of walks out into the Norfolk countryside.  It was arranged with a view to including it in the Heritage Open Days programme.  We all know what happened in the following months, but the world didn’t stand still, and the dialogue was extended to two further town walks – one to look at the industrial heritage sites in Dereham (sadly most now gone and redeveloped) and one to look at Georgian Dereham, and in particular the work of John and Ellenor Fenn.  These are now planned for August and September, the latter as part of the 2022 HODs week.  In the meantime, the Town History walk took place as planned; the photo shows some of the party at the entrance to the town’s museum, located in Bishop Bonner’s Cottages and staffed by volunteers from our partners in the Dereham Heritage Trust.

Hampshire Live – Featuring Whitchurch, North Hampshire’s Hidden Gem.

It seems the message is getting out there to the delight of team Whitchurch;

an extract from Hampshire Live’s feature article promoting all that is great about Whitchurch, Hampshire’s smallest town….

“The winding two-mile walk with riverside views that explores the history of Hampshire’s smallest town.

From silk mills to listed buildings, the small town has a fascinating history.

The warm weather and brilliant sunshine mean it is the perfect time to get outdoors and explore all that Hampshire has to offer. From beaches to outdoor cinemas to New Forest walks, there is plenty to do. But the little known areas of Hampshire are worth a visit, too.

With the accolade of being Hampshire’s smallest town, it would be easy to assume there is not a lot to do in Whitchurch – particularly when compared to the hustle and bustle of major shopping towns and cities in the county. But what it lacks in high street retail names, it makes up for in charm and historical interest. With quaint cottages and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is a picture-perfect town.

There is a wealth of history to explore, and the beautiful scenery combined with ancient tales makes Whitchurch well worth a visit”.

You can read the full article here  
Find out about the Whitchurch Heritage Trail here

Seat Project on Langholm Walks

In the last month Langholm Walks Group have placed 2 picnic tables and 4 seats on their network of walks in Langholm. These are made of recycled plastic and a further 3 seats will be placed during the next month. A sum of £6,000 was raised from local charitable trusts to pay for this. These replace many of the broken seats that have been in place for years. The photograph is of one of the 2 picnic tables placed in the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve with sponsor Niall Weatherstone and the management team of the new Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, Jenny, Angela, and Kat.

Kirkby Stephen Animal Treasure Hunt

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Kirkby Stephen Walkers are Welcome felt it would be a great idea to involve Jubilee Park, at the southern end of the town, which had been laid out for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Today’s Jubilee Park has a mature woodland with an award-winning summerhouse designed by Elaine Blackett-Ord, a willow maze installed by Kirkby Stephen Community Arts and a wealth of wild and naturalised flowers. The park is currently undergoing some restoration by Kirkby Stephen Town Council as Trustees.

Union Jack bunting and knitted flowers in red, white and blue were installed together with a simple Animal Treasure Hunt which included that well-known woodland dweller Gruffalo and his mouse friend. The Dawdles walk group enjoyed the activity on Thursday as part of their Jubilee celebration before opening it to residents and visitors from the nearby Pennine View caravan site.

Answer sheets were delivered to the Upper Eden Visitor Centre for a prize draw which was won by Rebecca Louise and son Quintin. They chose gifts at the visitor centre and particularly loved the Bernese Mountain Dog glove puppet pictured.

Cowbridge South Wales join the fun!

The historic market town of Cowbridge has now joined the Walkers are Welcome network of towns. Situated only 5 miles from the Heritage Coast and 12 miles west of the Capital Cardiff, the town lies in the heart of the countryside. Cowbridge still retains part of its medieval walls and historic South Gate with many listed buildings along its attractive High Street. Numerous walking routes radiate in all directions to a number of attractive villages, woodlands, commons and coast. The town itself is a popular destination for those looking for independent shops, restaurants and pubs with character. See more here.

North Wessex Downs Walking Festival is Underway

The annual North Wessex Downs Walking Festival is now underway with group walks taking place all over the area.
Tuesday 14th June saw the first of two walks the Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership is organising, with a walk led by Judy Kunkler from Pewsey Parish Council and the Pewsey Footpaths Group and Susie Brew from the Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership. Having grown up in Pewsey and with many generations of her family living there over the years, Judy’s insights and stories really brought everything to life. It was a glorious day and the walk included Jones’s Mill Nature Reserve which was resplendent with orchids and butterflies. The walk finished with a hidden gem of a nature reserve, right in the centre of Pewsey, called The Scotchel which is alongside the edge of the River Avon – welcome cool on a hot day! A wonderful afternoon thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who went.
There are plenty more walks going on as the Festival continues until 26th June –  follow this link to the festival on the North Wessex Downs website.

A bigger and better walking festival this year!

Alton has just finished its May Walking Festival – its biggest ever with 113 walks, covering some 670 miles, spread across the month, enticing walkers from as far afield as Scotland.

Over 1650 people participated, with one walker commenting ‘What fun the festival has been! How much smiling and chat there was, what lovely routes and weather and how easy it was to get out of bed when going walking that day!’.

Alton say “Alton’s Walking Festival is run by Walk Alton and our town council, led by the wonderful Natalie who managed the mammoth task of the timetabling, bookings and making sure everything ran smoothly on each of the 31 days. Our publicity was supported by a new partnership with South Western Railways which saw a poster on each of their stations across the network, as well as a fresh social media presence with stories on most days of the week.

We were blessed with super weather with rain affecting walkers on only two days. And among a collection of walks ranging from 2 miles to almost 30, the festival included a 20 or 30 mile challenge with only a map as a guide (no leader, no instructions), two walks from our neighbouring Walkers are Welcome towns – Overton and Whitchurch (20 and 26 miles away) – and shorter themed walks such as foraging, mindfulness and literary as well as lots of other lovely local routes. The brewery and vineyard walks were particularly popular. Walks were led by volunteers and by our various local walking groups

One of our walk leaders summed up the festival with this little A-Z:

Alton Women Walkers
Biggest & Best Festival!, Bluebells, Binsted, Buses to the start of some walks
Chawton’s Challenge, Civil War, Battle of Cheriton, Cobbett, Cardiac Rehab
Dogs … on leads, Dawn chorus, Deer, Downland
Everybody can join in, Eventbrite bookings/cancellations
Fields, Forests & Footpaths, Free, new Friends, old Friendships rekindled
George’s gallops, Gilbert White’s brewhouse tasting, Ghost walks
Hedgerow foraging, Hi-viz vests, Hares, Hangers
Ian … pestered leaders and provided training (with Sally)
Jubilee Playing Fields, Just another mile
King’s pond buggy walks
Leaders and Backmarkers volunteering, Lost? (not in this festival)
Miles and miles and miles
Natalie … who did so much work
October next, One hundred miles walked, OS maps, Odiham, Overton
Powerful poles, Photo competition, Petersfield friends not rivals
Questions & feedback
Rapid or relaxed speed, Ramblers too, Rain or shine
Six Hills, SWR, Spoilt for choice
Tree walks, Treloars, Town walks
Villages, Views, Vineyards
Whitchurch, Winchester, Whistles, Walkers are Welcome, Writers’ footsteps, Wellbeing walks
X-citing new routes discovered
Yes! to next year’s festival
Zzzzzzz … now its all over (for a while)

Our next festival – just a week – will run in October to coincide with Alton’s hosting of the Walkers are Welcome annual event. We will be happy to talk to delegates about our festival and how to go about planning such a big event when we meet you in the Autumn. So we hope you will book your place in Alton in October (4-9th) and join us on some of our favourite walks. “

Langholm are a step closer to buying another 5000 acres from The Duke of Buccleuch

Phase 2 of the Langholm Initiative plan to purchase a further 5000 acres from The Duke of Buccleuch came a step closer with the award from the Scottish Land Fund of £1M towards the purchase price of £2,.2M. We have until the end of July to raise the remaining £450,000 and we have several funders waiting to see how much The Scottish Land Fund gave us before they commit to funding.


Exmoor is a landscape that has inspired poets, writers and artists for centuries, and one of the best ways to experience it is to put on your most comfortable shoes and set out on foot. With over 1,300km of paths waiting to be explored, all carefully signposted and maintained by our dedicated ranger and field services teams, it’s undoubtedly a walker’s paradise.

To help you find your feet are the Exmoor Explorer walks  – a series of 10 short self-guided routes chosen as some of the most iconic and quintessentially Exmoor. Each one lasts up to two and half hours and aims to show you a different aspect of National Park’s distinctive landscape and character.

The coastal village Lynmouth  – a Walkers are Welcome destination – is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park and it is not difficult to see why. The Valley of Rocks, to the west of Lynton, and is one of the most scenic locations on Exmoor. It is reached by an easy walk from Lynmouth along the South West Coast Path or can be appreciated from an alternative viewpoint by following the footpath directly next to Lynton Town Hall up to the top of Hollerday Hill. Ask in the National Park Centre at the Lynmouth Pavilion for directions.

Equally as picturesque is the Watersmeet walk – featured in another of the 10 walks.  This particular walk takes you up the Lyn valley along the leafy tree-lined banks of the East Lyn river and upstream to where it meets Hoar Oak Water. Be sure to stop and admire the newly restored ‘Woodside Bridge’: fundraised for by the community and “CareMoor for Exmoor”,  which reinstated this historic link with Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of the 1952 flood victims. Finally, stop for a well-earned break and a cream tea at the National Trust café and shop before heading back down the dramatic river gorge.

Another Walkers are Welcome location featured in the series is Dunster, renowned as being one of the best-preserved medieval villages in the country. The route starts near another of the National Park Centres (the third is in Dulverton), passing the castle and along to Gallox bridge – a stunning 15th century packhorse bridge spanning the picturesque river Avill. The route then winds its way back through the village, touring many magnificent and historically significant buildings along the way.

For those that enjoy longer walks, some of the UK’s finest waymarked long-distance routes also pass through Exmoor. Notably, if you step outside the National Park Centre in Lynmouth, you’ll be immediately greeted by a wire statue, known fondly as “The Walker” that marks the junction between the Two Moors Way, the Tarka Trail, the South West Coast Path and the Coleridge Way. The latter starts in Nether Stowey on the nearby Quantock Hills, another Walkers Are Welcome destination. You can still visit Coleridge’s former home there, where the pioneering Romantic poet lived when he wrote great works such as ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’ and others, all inspired by the surrounding landscape.

As stated above, details of all these walks are available online at, where there is also OS mapping and video previews to watch,  giving a flavour of each of the ten walks. Those wanting to delve deeper into the wildlife, history and legends of the landscape can purchase guides for £2 (£8 for the complete set of 10).   Also keep a look out on the same website for the new range of longer ‘Exmoor Classics’ walks due to launch later this year.