Prestatyn this weekend celebrated its status as the first town in Wales to gain the Walkers Are Welcome accolade.
A walkers’ day, including guided rambles, workshops and stalls was opened by Roger Thomas, chief executive of the Countryside Council for Wales and was address by the Ramblers’ Association chairman Kate Ashbrook.
Hebden Bridge in the West Yorkshire Pennines was the first to gain the award, followed by Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway and now the principality’s walking-friendly resort.
Mytholmroyd, just along the Calder Valley from Hebden Bridge, is the fourth to join the scheme, which involves meeting six separate criteria to demonstrate a town’s welcoming stance to walkers.
Ms Ashbrook urged other towns to go for the Walkers Are Welcome status. She said: “The Ramblers’ Association is delighted to see Prestatyn officially designated as the first Welsh town which welcomes walkers.
“Walking is great exercise and, with obesity on the rise, it is more important than ever for people to make walking part of their daily lives. We hope this initiative will be a model for other towns and communities in Wales, encouraging as many people as possible to go for a walk, and encouraging the local authorities to get their paths in good order.
“With nearly half the paths in Wales difficult to walk, the Walkers are Welcome initiative will provide a new incentive to get Wales’s path network in tip-top condition.”
The first UK conference for the scheme takes place later this month in Hebden Bridge. Speakers include Pam Warhurst of Natural England, the Government body charged with looking after the countryside; journalist Colin Speakman, a former member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and Janet Davis of the Ramblers’ Association, who will give her views on access policies.
Prestatyn and Moffat will both be represented at the conference, along with the Calderdale towns. The event, on Sunday 21 October, intends to give guidance and information for those communities aiming for the designation, and to share experience. Optional guided walks will take place the previous day.