Walking and cycling should be the norm for short journeys

More people should be encouraged to keep fit by incorporating walking and cycling into their everyday lives, in an attempt to tackle declining rates of physical activity in England, walker and cyclist sharing paththe National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says.

Regular physical activity is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, as well as being important for good mental health.

Defending access to the outdoors

Kate Ashbrook, a leading campaigner for the outdoors and Patron of Walkers are Welcome has written an interesting story and in it she says “We mustn’t let austere times get us down, indeed campaigners function best when they’re up against it”.

We all need to apply pressure to decision makers about the huge benefits to our health and wellbeing of access to the outdoors.  To read Kate Ashbrook’s article click here

English Coast Path

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The creation of a coastal path round the English coast will be complete by 2020, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has pledged.

The Government will provide resources to complete the project earlier than planned. Countryside and access groups welcomed this as they thought  the  political impetus for that the national trail was fading.

The creation of the path will breathe new life into our coastal towns, as proven in Wales where they completed their coastal path. Full article can be found at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/03/nick-clegg-england-coastal-path

It’s now official, walking is good for you.

walkers in roadAn ITV report click here has revealed that having studied 334,161 European men and women for 12 years, they have found that ‘people who took moderate levels of daily exercise, the equivalent of an energetic 20 minute walk, were 16% to 30% less likely to die than those classed as inactive’.

Many Walkers are Welcome towns run health walks which will introduce you to gentle exercise and will go at a pace to suit you on the road to improving fitness levels and overcoming health issues. There will also be social benefits in meeting new people and sharing a regular walk. Many extend this regular event and meet for refreshments afterwards.

So let’s get out there and make 2015 the year of the walks to improve your health and extend your life. Spread the word, walking is good for you.

Walkers are Welcome Towns’ Network UK agreement with the Footpath Association of Japan

On Friday 6 February 2015 a historic agreement was signed between Walkers are Welcome UK and the Footpath Association of Japan, who will now start its own WaW Network.

This is a milestone for the Walkers are Welcome Towns’ Network UK, which began in 2007 in Hebden Bridge and has mushroomed.

In May 2013 Sheila Talbot, Chair of Winchcombe Walkers are Welcome, was invited to tour Japan to lecture about the benefits walkers can bring to rural communities. The Japanese were very interested in the concept of Walkers are Welcome and now starting their own Network, the first foreign country to do so.

Walkers are Welcome in Japan

England and Wales have a fantastic network of footpaths revered by walkers from home and abroad.Japan-walking

While we are seeing cuts in PROW budgets and National Trail budgets, you only have to step into Japan to see a very different story. For a number of years academic visitors from Japan have visited Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, described by Country Walking magazine as “a stick of rock with Walkers are Welcome through it”, to see how walking has benefited local people and the local economy.

Coast to Coast Walk

 

A campaign has been launched to upgrade the status of the Coast to Coast path, which runs for 190 miles across the north of England, by Richmond MP, Rishi Sunak.

The Coast to Coast walk is one of the most popular long distance routes in the UK – but has never been made a UK National Trail.

The campaign has support of Julia Bradbury, mountaineer Alan Hickes and Eric Robson, host of the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time.

 

Walkers are Welcome towns feature in Japanese Research

Earlier in the year WAW asked its members if they would like to host Japanese academics and tourism specialists carrying out research into walking and rural economies in the UK. Some of you jumped at the chance, so when we received a request for a visit in August, we organised the trip to include some of you.

Yuko Shioji, a Professor of Anthropology and International Tourism at Hannan University in Osaka, Japan visited three WaW towns with her young daughter Yoko.

On behalf of the Japanese government she is researching how footpaths in the UK are thought out, designed and maintained. The objective is to revitalise and introduce new walks in Japan. During her stay she received a warm welcome from all the WAW towns she visited.

Winchcombe in the Cotswolds was first on the itinerary, welcoming Yuko back for the third time. To show the benefits walking can bring to local economy, they arranged meetings with a local Walking Company, an accommodation provider and a Leisure and Tourism councillor.

 

Yuko visit 1

Several companies and volunteers giving up their time to explain concepts to Yuko

 

The next day Winchcombe WaW drove her down to Wiveliscombe or ‘Wivey’ in Somerset, situated at the foot of the Brendon Hills to meet Ann Scotter and Brenda Boyland. After a fascinating tour of the town, they met the owner of a new campsite and a landlord who explained how he organises sponsored walks on the Wivey Way.

The next day, Town Councillors and volunteers and who staff the community office and Tourist Information Centre showed her the leaflets, guides and information for visitors and she was interviewed for 10 Radio.

Then on to Dunster, the first village on Exmoor to join the ‘Walkers are Welcome’ initiative where Antony Brunt of the Yarn Market Hotel made the group very welcome. He organised a full programme of activity during her stay in Dunster. Antony was able to call upon the Leader of Somerset County Council, the Sustainable Economy Manager, Exmoor National Park Authority, Tourism Officer, West Somerset District Council and the North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival organiser.

She then visited the Tall Trees Trail in Dunster Forest, the South West Coast Path, and the Coleridge Way before concluding her visit with a guided tour of Dunster Village, the Castle and Dunster Watermill.

Yuko visit 2

Her last stop was in Nether Stowey, a small town that is working towards Walkers are Welcome accreditation, to find out how a town goes about joining.

Once back in Japan, Yuko will use her newly gained knowledge in her lectures to students, other academics, tourism professionals, government representatives and volunteers involved in creating and promoting the walking opportunities in their area.

Once again the Walkers are Welcome Network is helping to promote walking in the UK to an audience on the other side of the world, which can only be good for business!Wiveliscombe visit

Dereham WAW improvement sign

Ken Hawkins, one of the members of Dereham Walkers are Welcome is also the Footpath Warden for Dereham Town Council, and, with his wife Catherine, is regularly involved in keeping the town’s public rights of way and other routes in good condition.  As part of our publicity arrangements, we wanted to let people know what we were doing, so we designed a plaque which could easily be fixed to posts where we had worked.  They were not expensive, but we were delighted when Dereham Town Council agreed to fund them.  The photo shows Catherine with the first one we fixed, after clearance work on a Restricted Byway notorious for its nettle and bramble growth.

The photo shows Catherine with the first one we fixed, after clearance work on a Restricted Byway notorious for its nettle and bramble growth.

A further boost to our publicity came when the Footpath Warden was given a Citizen’s Award by the Town Council “to recognise the outstanding voluntary work undertaken”.  (Ken is 3rd from right.)

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