Friday, 12 August 2022

Henley becomes official Walkers are Welcome town

Initiative to encourage walkers launched

WALKERS are now officially welcome in Henley.

The town was designated by Walkers are Welcome, a community network which promotes walking areas and encourages visitors, at a launch event in Market Place on Sunday.

To mark the occasion, a ribbon was cut by Kate Ashbrook, from Turville, who is patron of Walkers are Welcome towns’ network and chairman of the Ramblers.

She said: “I’m really thrilled to see Henley become part of the Walkers are Welcome family because I know it is a fabulous walking centre and it hasn’t promoted itself enough in the past.

“You can walk out of the town straight on to paths which will take you to all sorts of wonderful places. It’s important because it’s a recognition that walking is important in so many ways — it’s good for the local economy, it’s good for people’s health and happiness and having people on the paths will keep help them open.”

Alie Hagedoorn, secretary of the Walkers are Welcome committee and chairwoman of the Henley and Goring Ramblers, said it had taken two years to have Henley accredited. 

She explained: “We had to show there was enough interest from businesses. We got 1,000 signatures, which had to be from people from the RG9 area. We had to prove there’s good transport in the area as well.

“With the river and the Chiltern hills, it’s just a beautiful place for walking. Henley is known for rowing but in my mind it should be known as a walking town.

“We’re making things available for walkers, such as good facilities, and letting them know we’re making a special effort for them. We also make sure the footpaths are well maintained. I feel really, really proud — this is what we have been working towards for two years.”

Five free walks were available for people to join on the day, including a Nordic walking taster, a walk for people with mobility scooters, another around Stoke Row, a Midsomer Murders walk and a five-mile walk via Lambridge Woods and Greys Green.

Businesses that support the scheme can display the Walkers are Welcome sticker in their windows meaning they have facilities for walkers such as shoe covers for muddy boots.

Henley Mayor Glen Lambert, who attended the launch, said: “I’m a big walker myself and used to aim to walk 30 miles a week. Very often I did achieve that but not so much since becoming mayor! It’s important for the town because this is a nationwide group that will promote Henley as a place to come and walk.”

Businesses and organisations supporting the initiative include Henley Town Council, the River & Rowing Museum, Henley and Goring Ramblers, A Foot in the Chilterns Nordic Walking, Stoke Row Stores, the Cherry Tree, Stoke Row, Stag and Huntsman, Hambleden, Five Horseshoes, Maidensgrove, White Hart, Nettlebed, The Barn, Turville Heath, and Going Forward Buses.

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