Fields and hills above Hebden BridgeThe Calderdale town of Hebden Bridge is to celebrate its Walkers are Welcome status with a festival next month.

Ramblers’ Association chairman Kate Ashbrook will be among speakers at the event in the West Yorkshire town, the first in the country to gain the new accolade. The celebration will also include walks around the surrounding area.

Right, the fields and hills above Hebden Bridge

The idea of the Walkers are Welcome town grew from similar Fair Trade schemes. The idea is that enough signatures of support are collected from residents and the local council’s endorsement secured.

To gain the status, footpaths in the area have to be properly maintained, commercial marketing put in place and public transport promoted.

Andrew Bibby, of the Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action Group, which promoted the idea, said: “We're lucky in having a large network of paths in our area, many the legacy of our particular industrial heritage. This is a way to celebrate that heritage.”

Other activities including a photography competition and an adopt-a-path scheme are also planned for later in the year. The Walkers’ Day takes place on Sunday, 18 February and starts at 10am. Details are on the action group website.