Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The last few waymarks are now being put in place in time for the inauguration of the three new waymarked trails from Hebden Bridge this coming weekend. Waymarking will mean that both visitors to the town and locals will be able to enjoy the paths to Hardcastle Crags, Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike without necessarily needing to take a map or guidebook.

The walk to Heptonstall
The riverside walk through the Crags

The waymarked trails have been developed by Hebden Bridge Walkers Action as the first practical demonstration of the town’s designation as Britain’s first ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town. The formal launch of the new status takes place next Sunday (February 18th) at the Walkers’ Day festival being held at Riverside school, Hebden Bridge. The event, which is free, offers a range of workshops, stalls and guided walks and is open to all. The day’s programme kicks off at 10am.

“We’re getting the message out that you don’t need to be a hardened rambler to enjoy a walk or a stroll in our countryside,” says Andrew Bibby of Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action. “We hope that by waymarking these trails to popular destinations we’ll encourage more people to make use of our great footpath network. And we hope that this will mean a few less cars on our very congested roads.”

The waymarked trails will be featured on a new information board being erected at Hebden Bridge station, and a second board will be put up in the centre of town when the current works at Bridge Gate car park are complete. Also linked to this initiative is a new general marketing leaflet about walking opportunities in Hebden Bridge, aimed at potential visitors from nearby towns.

Support for the waymarking project has been forthcoming from Calderdale MBC. Hebden Royd Town Council and three parish councils (Heptonstall, Blackshaw and Erringden) have also endorsed the Walkers are Welcome initiative.

As part of Hebden Bridge Walkers Action’s aims to encourage public transport use, the group have arranged with Northern Rail to designate the first two trains into Hebden Bridgethis Sunday as ‘walkers’ specials’. The trains from Leeds and Manchester will carry headboards and passengers using them will be able to get to Hebden Bridge in time for the start of the Walkers’ Day events. “Special weekend trains for walkers was a feature of our railways back in the days of steam trains, and we’re excited to be bringing back the concept for the twenty-first century,” Andrew Bibby says.

With Hebden Bridge, as of next week, formally launched as a Walkers are Welcome town, Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action are hoping that the events on Sunday will act as a springboard for future activities and campaigns. Already the group has announced that it hopes to launch a ‘Gentle Walking’ initiative, aimed particularly at people who want to walk their way to health. Also planned for the coming months is a photographic competition linked to Hebden Bridge’s footpaths, which it is hoped to run in conjunction with Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Details of the Walkers’ Day event on Sunday are available in leaflets widely distributed locally and on the www.hbwalkersaction.org.uk website. More information can also be obtained from 01422 884507.

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