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‘Shropshire’s public paths are the key to people’s enjoyment of this splendid county.’ So declared Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary when she opened Clun Carnival on Saturday 6 August.
Kate continued: ‘Clun is a walking hub: a Walkers Are Welcome town on the Shropshire Way in the heart of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here the local economy benefits enormously from visitors who come to enjoy the magnificent countryside.
‘But in these days of austerity, we cannot depend on the hard-pressed Shropshire Council to ensure that our paths are kept in order. The council runs the Parish Paths Partnership scheme, involving about 65 parishes of which Clun is one, with about 650 volunteers. They help to maintain the paths. There are at least three local walking groups in this small town, which demonstrate the popularity of walking here. It is essential that when we find a path problem we report it to Shropshire Council so that it can put it right; then those who follow will find a clear path.
‘We must also urgently research and apply for paths which have been omitted from the official map before 2026 when the law prevents us from claiming any more historic routes. For instance, we are helping our members and Shropshire CPRE to secure their threatened paths through the woods at Weston-under-Redcastle before it’s too late.
‘There is much to be done and it is all immensely worthwhile, because it is the fight for our heritage.
‘It is an honour to open the Clun Carnival in a town with such a rich history – and part of that history is the public path network, the arteries of the countryside,’ said Kate.
Kate did a live interview on Radio Shropshire on the morning of 6 August. You can listen here at 2 hours 40 minutes.