What have Walkers are Welcome been up to?

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Using the newly rebuilt footbridge over the Cottingley Beck in February 2016

Floods and repairs

Last Winter Bingley was affected by one of its worst natural disasters when the River Aire burst its banks and reached a record 3.02m height on 27th December. Many lives and businesses were badly hit but thanks to the community spirit many people came together to give a hand. We also saw a lot of damage to our walking paths and quite a few bridges either became unsafe to walk on or simply got washed away. At that point many of us thought it would take forever for any of this to be repaired. But no, our scepticism was unfounded and thanks to the great work from the Countryside & Rights of Way Service many of our paths and bridges were back to their former selves in no time. For example, it was a great pleasure to be among the first people to use the newly rebuilt footbridge on Cottingley Beck during our February monthly Sunday walk which was led by David Smith. Talking of which, our regular monthly Sunday walk has been going on for a full year without interruption! Rain or shine we have always had enough participants to go ahead with the walk.

One of the waymarkers along the Welcome Way Long Distance Walk launched in June 2016

A New Way to Welcome Walkers

Despite the unforeseen weather circumstances, our small committee was determined to make Bingley a great walking place and earlier in the year a project to create a long distance walk was well underway. Talks had already been going on for many months between Burley in Wharfedale, Otley and Baildon to create a 28-mile circular walk between the three towns which are like us part of the Walkers are Welcome towns network. Because Bingley is literally only a few steps away from Baildon, we had approached them to be part of the project and it was agreed that we would create a Bingley Loop off what was to become The Welcome Way. So two of our walk leaders, David and Ronda, got together and started to work on creating this brand new walk. By early February, an outline of the walk was ready and on a cold and wet Saturday morning a group of 5 people trialled it for the first time. A few corrections later and the itinerary was finalised and thanks to the help from some generous sponsors the leaflets were finally off the printing press by end of May! We then installed the waymarkers just on time for an official pre-launch of the Welcome Way during the Third Baildon Annual Walking weekend on 11th June. The official launch of this new long distance path was done as part of the Otley Walking Festival on 25th June which we of course attended. Kate Ashbrook, patron of Walkers are Welcome, General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society and Vice President of the Ramblers also attended and wrote a great post about the day on her personal blog.

Get your copy of The Welcome Way Bingley Loop in one of the local shops!

Attending Shows and Events

Walkers are Welcome Wall Hangings

So far this year, we’ve attended quite a few events to rise awareness of our organisation among the local community. We also organised our first AGM back in April where an estimated 30 members of the general public attended. The Welcome Way kept us busy and we had a stall at both the Baildon Walking Weekend and the Otley Walking Festival. One of the most interesting features at both events was the display of the Walkers are Welcome national wall hanging which is made up of embroidered squares representing many of the member towns. Ours was created by Doreen Thompson who is a member of Bingley WI and is now proudly displayed with the other towns – you can find a close up of the Bingley square on this page.

Another event we also attended was the first “Brilliant Bingley Biathlon” day in early July where we had a stall in Myrtle Park. This was a great occasion to meet up with the local community and visitors to the town. We also wanted to show our support to other local organisations which like us want to raise Bingley’s profile.

Our Stand during Bingley Show 2016

Finally, the highlight of the year was Bingley Show. We shared a stand with our partners Bingley Green Dog Walkers and we got almost the perfect spot. Half way down the slope leading into Bottom Meadow so the footfall was great and there was lots of interest in the stand. We sold 22 of our Welcome Way, Bingley Loop leaflets, six Welcome Way books and a few Bingley History walk booklets. We also had some donations in the box which was pleasing. We ran a competition with a small entrance fee to guess the number of glass pebbles in a glass boot which created some interest and the prizes of a £50 Post Office voucher and a bottle of champagne were both claimed. And has quoted by our chairwoman:

We all felt very positive about the day and felt it was very worthwhile. It will be interesting to see if any of the people who enquired about our walks will join us on a Sunday walk in the future.

Involving Bloggers

Kids enjoying themselves on the family blogger walk in Bingley

Rising awareness of our organisation within the local community is definitely our main priority. However, we also want to attract visitors to the town and working with bloggers is a great way of doing so. This is something we are already familiar with as we have organised such event in the past – see this blog post. When the company Wynsors Shoes contacted us back in May to organise a walk for them with bloggers we couldn’t say no. They also told us it would be in partnership with Canal & River Trust and the aim was to invite families to have a fun day out. With that in mind a short distance walk was planned around the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Five Rise Locks and North Bog and we would all finish in town at the Potting Shed pub for a well deserved lunch. The Canal & River Trust had organised some family packs with oat to feed ducks and Wynsors Shoes was kindly giving away some nice outdoorsy presents for the bloggers. So everything was ready for a great summer day out! Except that the rain invited itself to the party. Well it wasn’t so much of a problem as we know everyone enjoyed themselves and no one cancelled at the last minute. Eight mummy bloggers and there families turned up so we were probably twenty adults and twenty children in total. Overall this was a great success and you can read some of the bloggers post by looking at the Tweeter feed #walkwithwynsors

Please note: one of the aims of the day was to make our participants aware that feeding ducks and birds with bread is not very good for them. So every child was given a little tub full of oats which is an healthy alternative. The Canal and River Trust has more information on what to feed ducks if you are interested

Final Words

A big thank you to everyone who helped man our WaW stands at all the shows and events cited above as well as all the walkers who regularly go on our Sunday walks. We hope you enjoyed the WaW experience and will join us again in the future. Please leave us a comment below if you have any feedback.

Best Foot Forward!

 

Follow Cedric Farineau:

I’m a Frenchman living in this beautiful town of Bingley in West Yorkshire. I love the great outdoors, walking and also write a blog about Yorkshire – have a gander: Walk in Yorkshire. I’m also the webmaster for this site.

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