Walkers' Day success

Sunday, 18 February 2007

The Hebden Bridge Walkers' Day to launch the first Walkers are Welcome town in Britain was an outstanding success. At just after half ten Sunday morning, the hall of Riverside School was packed solid with people coming from all over the district and as far away as London.

The weather was perfect: glorious sunshine making our surrounding countryside look its very best.

The day started with a few short speeches of welcome from Andrew Bibby of HB Walkers' Action, Betty Ward, Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council, Pam Warhust of Natural England, Kate Ashbrook, national chair of the Ramblers' Association and Chris McCafferty, MP.

Above from left: Andrew Bibby, Chris McCafferty MP,
Pam Warhurst and Kate Ashbrook

Kate Ashbrook said that the Ramblers Association saw the idea of Walker Friendly towns pioneered by Hebden Bridge as a model which could be copied by other places all over the country. She remarked how impressed she was with the new waymarked routes, saying there were few other towns or villages with them. Kate Ashbrook also commended the work of Chris McCafferty in helping bring about the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which had opened up so much extra countryside in the hills around Hebden Bridge. However, she pointed out that Calderdale had a lot of work to do in establishing footpaths - 45% of the paths in the area were not easy to use. Hebden Bridge was the exception.

Pam Warhurst stressed the importance of making walking available to people from all different backgrounds, and envisaged a network of Walkers are Welcome towns throughout the South Pennines. She said what we were doing here in Hebden Bridge was "fantastically inspirational".

During the morning session, people could opt for a variety of workshops and walks. The photos above and below show those who opted for a short walk in the Nutclough Woods. The Friends of Nutclough Woods showed how they are managing the valley for wildlife and the community, and how the site was being improved for walkers. They explained that they have developed a management plan to restore the woods to a much healthier balance of flora and fauna and improve accessibility for people.

More walks and workshops took place in the afternoon. The photos above and below were taken from the walk through Eaves to the Hell Hole Rocks and back to Hebden Bridge. Much of this walk was along well-established paths which are not yet recorded on the official definitive maps. They could easily be lost for ever under recent government legislation. Andrew Bibby led this walk and described how important it was that we made sure that such paths became recorded. One of the problems is that Calderdale takes many years to organise the paperwork to establish a new path. Those present pointed out that perhaps Calderdale needed encouraging to devote more resources to this important work.

Tea, coffee and cakes were provided by the local Woodcraft Folk.

At the plenary session to end the day, around 4pm, Hebden Bridge Walkers' Action were congratulated by several speakers from the floor for organsing such an enjoyable and informative day. If you wish to help the group with future events, please contact them via their website.

See also

HB Walkers' Action

HB gains waymarked trails

Ramblers' Association

Natural England

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