Walkers Are Welcome sticker in a Hebden Bridge shop windowThe West Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge today celebrated gaining walker-friendly status with a day of events in and around the Pennine centre.

The Calderdale town is the first in Britain to gain the Walkers Are Welcome designation. Ramblers' Association chairman Kate Ashbrook joined more than 100 visitors and members of Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action for the festival, which included talks and walks as well as safety advice from Calderdale Search and Rescue Team.

Walkers Are Welcome sticker (left) in a Hebden Bridge shop window

The Walkers’ Day kicked off with speeches by the town’s mayor, Natural England board member Pam Warhurst and Kate Ashbrook. Walks around the town’s surrounding countryside followed, along with sessions on local legends, flora and fauna and discussions on current issues facing walkers.Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action is behind the designation, which means, among other things, involving local businesses, keeping footpaths in good repair, promoting the use of public transport and getting the backing of local councils.

The action group has set up a series of three waymarked routes around the town and its spectacular hillsides which can be followed without resorting to a map. Details are on boards at the railway station and in the town centre.

It was revealed at the event that Moffat in the Scottish Borders and Prestatyn in north Wales are the next likely candidates for the award of Walkers Are Welcome status. The market town of Otley in West Yorkshire has also expressed an interest.

The inspiration for the scheme came from the Fair Trade Town status, which Hebden Bridge achieved in August 2003.

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