Walkers are Welcome towns and villages are places which have something special to offer walkers.
Obtaining Walkers are Welcome status, brings a number of benefits by helping to:
- bring communities together – businesses, voluntary groups and tourist attractions.
- strengthen a town’s reputation as a place for visitors to come to enjoy the outdoors, bringing useful benefits to the local economy.
- ensure that footpaths and facilities for walkers are maintained in good condition, benefiting local people as well as visitors.
- contribute to local tourism plans and regeneration strategies.
- provide communities with regular networking opportunities with other Walkers are Welcome towns, when experiences are shared and new ideas discussed.
Here in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the communities of Hay-on-Wye, Talgarth and Crickhowell have all achieved this status.
Open public meetings for local residents, to introduce and raise awareness of the scheme, were held in the three towns. Community interest and enthusiasm at the meetings was high and volunteers from each stepped forward to help take the concept forwards.
The next step was for each community to form a constituted steering group and start implementing their ideas with the money available through the Offa’s Country Partnership provided by EU and Welsh Government funding.
Crickhowell held their first steering group meeting on Thursday 12 April 2012 and received the accolade in October 2012. Now Walkers are Welcome in Crickhowell are developing a booklet of local walks which should be on the shelves at the beginning of July this year. If you would like to be involved in the steering group or think you can help in a supporting role, whether it’s walking the local network of footpaths and reporting any problems back to the group, or whether you are social media savvy and can help the group promote the work they’re doing and market Crickhowell as a year round walking destination etc., please get in touch with Elsa Cleminson, the Chair of the group.
Talgarth was the first of the three towns to receive this accreditation in August 2012 and they are now working hard to finalise the programme for Talgrath’s Inaugural Walking Festival, taking place on Friday 3rd to Monday 6th May 2013. Talgarth Walking Festival website is in development and the group are aiming for the online bookings system to be up and running on or soon after the 1st April. In the meantime please sign up to receive festival updates through the website holding page and please also visit them on Facebook and like their page! If you think you can help Talgarth ‘Gateway to the Black Mountains’ Walkers are Welcome Group or volunteer any time to support the festival, please contact Nicola Willis, Chair of the group.
Hay-on-Wye also received their accreditation in October 2012 when they also ran their second ever walking festival with great success. This year’s festival dates have already been set for 10 to 14 October 2013 and a great programme of walks is already in development. Please take a look at their stunning Hay Walking website to find out more about the festival and to keep up to date with festival news. If you think you can help the Hay Tourism Group’s efforts to maintain the Walkers are Welcome status and volunteer any time to help with the waking festival, please get in touch with Anna Heywood or Alison O’Grady, who will be delighted to hear from you.
In Monmouthshire, Abergavenny received its accreditation in February of this year and is the 100th town to join the UK-wide network. Plans are afoot to celebrate this at Easter with a special event. If you would like to find out more or if you’d like to support the work if the Abergavenny group, please contact the Chair Ruth Coulthard, who is also currently a National Committee member.
For more information about the UK-wide scheme, please visit the national Walkers are Welcome website