Yorkshire is a great place to walk but did you know that it also boasts the biggest number of “Walkers are Welcome" towns and villages in the UK? There are now 23 towns and villages in Yorkshire accredited to the scheme including Bingley. Below is some information about the scheme, how it started and why it is so strong in Yorkshire.
What is Walkers are Welcome?
Walkers are Welcome is an initiative started in 2007 in Hebden Bridge, a small town in the South Pennines and in the heart of Calderdale, West-Yorkshire. At the time a small team of people from an existing group called “Hebden Bridge Walkers Action" led the way to something that now includes a network of over a hundred towns and villages throughout the UK. There is an archived page on Hebden Bridge Walkers Action website detailing the launch day of the initiative. What’s really interesting is that they came up with a short list of criteria and to this day towns and villages wanting to become members of this network, have to meet the following six criteria:
- Demonstration of popular local support for the concept.
- Formal endorsement of application for WALKERS ARE WELCOME status by local council
- Action to ensure that rights of way are maintained in good condition
- Adequate marketing of WALKERS ARE WELCOME status
- Encouragement of walking using public transport
- Demonstration of mechanisms in place to maintain WALKERS ARE WELCOME status
This shows the scheme is a strong community-led initiative and as explained in the official website:
Gaining the status is dependent on the Executive 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.
Yorkshire: A Place Where Walkers Are Welcome
Of course we are really proud that Bingley did get the official status back in January 2015 and to this day we are still going strong. Other towns across Yorkshire also share that energy and enthusiasm required to be part of this great network.
The Welcome Way
Did you know that The Welcome Way is a circular 28 Miles long distance walk joining three Walkers are Welcome towns in West-Yorkshire? And that Bingley joined later on with another 9 miles route?
The towns included in this route are:
- Burley in Wharfedale
As coined by the Yorkshire Post, this corner of West-Yorkshire is now ‘the friendliest place for walkers‘!
One of the waymarkers along the Welcome Way Long Distance Walk
Front Cover for the Welcome Way Guide Book
Find out more about the Welcome Way Bingley Loop
Why is it so popular in Yorkshire?
As mentioned previously, today there are 23 towns and villages in Yorkshire sporting the Walkers are Welcome status, that’s almost a quarter of all the network. Here are some clues to why this is happening:
- A sense of community: in Yorkshire (and the North in general), local people have this feeling of belonging to a place and wanting to care for it. It’s probably because people love the place they live in and are proud of it.
- A fantastic landscape: Yorkshire has a really diverse landscape. From flat terrains to gentle hills and even peaks battered by strong winds,. All of this makes this county heaven for walkers
- A reasonable public transport system: although not perfect, the public transport system in Yorkshire gives access to most of the remote places in the county. Being by train or bus, you should be able to go wherever you want, even for that walk in the middle of nowhere.
- Thriving local businesses: many small towns and villages in Yorkshire are really attractive thanks to their local businesses. Being a shop, a pub or a restaurant, there are some real local gems out there. This is really important in times when city centres become filled with the exact same replica shops everywhere and have lost their diversity.
Agree or disagree, we are sure the above won’t stop Yorkshire getting new members very soon!
List of the Walkers are Welcome towns and villages in Yorkshire
Below are listed all the Yorkshire Walkers are Welcome towns and villages (as of 06/04/2017), complete with their websites and a map locating them: