Henley-on-Thames welcomes walkers

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Henley-on-Thames Town Council in Oxfordshire is holding a public meeting to assess the public support for Henley to become a Walkers Are Welcome Town. The Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network is a community-led scheme celebrating towns throughout England, Scotland and Wales which have something special to offer walkers.

The Thames Path at Temple Island

The Thames Path at Temple Island

Our general secretary Kate Ashbrook, who is also patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network, will speak at the public meeting on Wednesday 20 April, 5.30pm at Henley town hall.

Says Kate: ‘Henley has much to offer walkers. Two long-distance paths, the Thames Path national trail and the Oxfordshire Way, pass through the town. It is on the edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the hub of a rich network of well-marked paths. There are many welcoming cafés, hotels, bed and breakfasts and pubs.

‘Walkers Are Welcome status would strengthen Henley’s reputation as a place for visitors to come and enjoy the outdoors. It would benefit the town’s businesses — walkers in the English countryside spend around £6 billion a year, generating more than £2 billion in income and supporting up to 245,000 full-time jobs.

‘It might also provide leverage for an improvement to public transport, since Walkers Are Welcome encourages the use of buses and trains by walkers.

‘There is already good support for the plan. It is great that the town council and other organisations are on board.

Henley footpath 32 dedicated by the town council in November 2014

Henley footpath 32 dedicated by the town council in November 2014

‘They need to gather support from about five per cent of the population: there is a petition and the public meeting will enable people to ask questions and pledge support.

‘Other requirements are a commitment to ensuring that the local path network will be maintained in good condition. Henley has a good reputation here, and the town council is developing some waymarked walks and producing leaflets about them.

‘Once it is approved by the national body, the town must market its Walkers Are Welcome status, and ensure that businesses display the logo, and it should encourage use of public transport.

‘Finally, it must demonstrate how Walkers Are Welcome status will be sustained in future, and form a broad-based steering group.

‘It will be good for the town and good for walkers if Henley becomes a Walkers Are Welcome town and I congratulate all who are working on this,’ says Kate.

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