Walkers Are Welcome

‘Walkers are Welcome’ (WaW) is a national organisation that seeks to boost our wellbeing by walking and also by supporting the local economy by encouraging tourism.  It is aimed to cover all levels of walking from the lunch time stroll to strenuous long-distance exercise. WaW membership is open to towns, parishes and districts. The 90 plus members stretch from Cornwall to the Shetland Isles and from Pembrokeshire to Norfolk, but there are only two of them in the Chilterns at present – Chesham and Henley-on-Thames.

In 2006 Chesham was one of many towns across the country seeking revitalisation, as a consequence of a nationwide process known as Market Town Health Checks. One of the outcomes of that was the idea of publishing walking routes in and around the town. Suitable routes were sketched out and a small committee formed. The routes were formalised and funding obtained to print walk leaflets. These consisted of walks in town and others stretching out north, south, east and west as well as a walk following the natural boundary of Chesham.

In 2009, the group decided to apply to join the national WaW movement. This meant collecting 500 signatures from local residents to show community backing and gaining the support of the Town Council, which was readily given. The leaflets were rebranded and downloadable versions produced which can be accessed from the Chesham Town Council website. The support of businesses in the High Street was sought, and many now display WaW stickers.

Subsequently Chesham WaW produced a series of leaflets called Station to Station Walks, encouraging visitors to alight at railway stations readily accessible from London and walk to Chesham Station. Another leaflet outlined a route linking producers and providers of local food and drink. WaW are also working with the Chilterns Conservation Board to update their 10-mile walk along the River Chess.

This year, Chesham WaW supported by Chesham Museum, will be launching a series of 4 downloadable walks which will guide people along routes with stopping places showing details of the historic significance of various locations. Three routes are within Chesham, but the fourth follows the life and death of the local martyr, Thomas Harding, who was burned at the stake in 1532 for his non-conformist beliefs. 

WaW aims to cater for all kinds of walking and the Chesham group are hoping to incorporate routes suitable for the less able. A few years ago, in conjunction with the Disabled Ramblers and the Chiltern Society Path Maintenance Volunteers, they installed accessible gates in the Royal Forestry Society’s Hockeridge and Pancake Woods near Berkhamsted.

Chesham WAW has led walks in conjunction with Heritage Weekends and with St Mary’s Church Beating the Bounds. We also advertise walks with notice boards at Chesham Station and in Water Meadow Car Park where most of the walks start from. You can access these walks here or from the following websites: Free Walks Leaflets - Chiltern Society; Walkingworld - Britain's walking community

Working with Chesham Environmental Group, we aim to help keep footpaths open and well maintained.

Would you be interested in getting involved with your community and sharing your knowledge of the beautiful countryside around Chesham? We are looking to welcome a couple of new members to join our committee. Further details are available from Phil Folly at postmanfolly@gmail.com or Andrew Clark at ceg_waw@yahoo.co.uk

To get in touch with Walkers Are Welcome, please Contact Us.

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