Who we are
Who we are
Walkers are Welcome is a nationwide initiative launched at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire in 2007, to encourage towns and villages to be ‘welcoming to walkers’. The network has expanded rapidly and there are now over 100 locations across the UK that have joined this innovative community-led scheme to benefit from Walkers are Welcome accreditation. The network is managed by Directors, a National Committee of volunteers and a part-time paid secretary.
To enable and assist the development and maintenance of nationally accredited Walkers are Welcome communities across the UK and beyond, thereby contributing to their communities’ economic, physical health and mental well-being.
To be the primary national enabler to communities wishing to demonstrate their distinctiveness as walking destinations.
To encourage and support towns and villages to:
- Be attractive destinations for walkers providing top quality information on local walks
- Offer local people and visitors excellent walking opportunities within their areas
- Ensure that footpaths and facilities for walkers are developed, maintained, improved and well signposted
- Contribute to local tourism plans business growth and regeneration strategies
- To be nationally and internationally recognised as the best source for walkers looking for excellent locations for walking trips and holidays in the UK
- Promote the health benefits of walking and increase participation from all sections of the community
- Encourage the use of public transport
The ‘bottom-up’ approach
Gaining the accreditation status is dependent upon the National Committee being convinced that any application is a ‘bottom-up’ initiative from within the local community. This is to ensure that there will be on-going continuity of support for the project. Experience has informed us that when applications come from Councils or other agencies, the commitment has tended to be short-term as personnel change. That is not to say that such groups cannot initiate the formation of community groups to pursue an application, and very often they provide initial funding. Bottom-up has been defined as meaning that it is local community led in the decisions and actions.
A ‘town or village’, for membership purposes, is a town, parish or Community Council area, except in exceptional circumstances where agreed by the National Executive Committee. We expect the town or village to reflect one community and not, for example, groups of parishes. It should be possible to ensure that the criteria for membership can be met across this community with the endorsement of their council. We do not accredit towns with populations greater than 35,000.
To gain Walkers are Welcome accreditation, towns and villages must satisfy the National Committee that their community is working in partnership to be a destination that welcomes walkers.
This is achieved by meeting the following criteria:
- Demonstrate popular local support from the community and local businesses for the concept – We require evidence of signatures of support from 5% of the population. We suggest adding to that local organisations and identified businesses. See our local support form on the website which you are welcome to adapt for your own use.
- Demonstrate that the local council formally endorses the application for Walkers are Welcome status – This can be demonstrated by the local council (town, parish or community council) passing a resolution in support, being represented on the steering group, and making a financial contribution where possible.
- Demonstrate a commitment that the local public path network will be maintained in good condition – For example, this could be: ensuring that the local footpaths are walked at least once per year; that any problems are reported to the relevant authority/organisation; that efforts are taken to make improvements and extend the opportunities for walking; etc.
- Demonstrate that there is adequate marketing of the town’s Walkers are Welcome status – This can be demonstrated in a number of ways: for example, press coverage; signs/map in the centre of town advising casual visitors of walks they can undertake; waymarked walks starting from town centre; leaflets readily available; local shops encouraged to display WALKERS ARE WELCOME HERE stickers.
- Demonstrate how the town encourages the use of public transport – This can be demonstrated, for example, by including clear public transport advice on marketing leaflets or lobbying for improvements.
- Demonstrate the mechanisms in place to maintain Walkers are Welcome status. This can be demonstrated through having a well-balanced and committed WALKERS ARE WELCOME steering group from within the community – When establishing a steering group, we ask for a constitution or governing documents in line with our aims to be produced. It is best practice to have a constitution and many grant making organisations require this. An example can be provided.
Please see How to Join.