30/11/2015 - Permalink

Volunteers open the way for walkers in Church Stretton

Related topics: Health / Leisure, culture and heritage / Partner organisations

Church Stretton Parish Paths Partnership, in conjunction with Shropshire Council, are piloting a sponsorship scheme where old path stiles and gates can be replaced with new oak gates to enable walkers to gain easier access to the Countryside.

Under the scheme a message or name can be carved on to the gate serving as a memorial for many years to come. There is also the unique opportunity for businesses to advertise on these gates, whilst also helping their local community.

Parish Paths Partnerships (P3) are groups of community volunteers who work throughout Shropshire, in their local parishes, to identify local priorities for countryside access and to help maintain their local Rights of Way network.

One of 63 groups across Shropshire, Church Stretton P3 has been established for a number of years and has improved a significant number of walking and riding routes in the area for the benefit of visitors and local walking groups.

In Church Stretton an active Walking for Health and Next Steps progression walk programme runs from the local Mayfair Community Centre every week. The Walking for Health walks are free short walks of varying grades and duration (10-90 minutes). These walks are led by local volunteers at a pace to suit those who come along, they are a great way to stretch your legs, explore what’s on your doorstep, and make new friends.

The walkers from the two Mayfair Centre walking groups decided they would like to support this initiative and sponsor a gate to improve accessibility on a route off Watling Street.

In October 2015 David Hardwick, Area Rights of Way Officer with Shropshire Council’s Outdoor Partnership, and the Church Stretton P3 group, began work on replacing the existing stile with an oak kissing gate, inscribed with ‘Mayfair Walkers’, to celebrate the work and enjoyment of the two walking groups.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for outdoor recreation, said:

“We’re pleased to support this sponsorship scheme, which will make it easier for walkers to get access to the countryside.”

Volunteer Trish Howard, who coordinates the walks, said:

“Now we have a gate it enables some our Walking for Health walkers who are not able to climb stiles, to have a circular walk in that area.”

Lee Chapman, Shropshire Councillor for Church Stretton and Craven Arms, said:

“This is a great opportunity for people who may have a favorite walk or view to contribute to improving access to it.”

David Evans, Shropshire Councillor for Church Stretton and Craven Arms, said:

“This is really good project and I welcome this idea of new gates and replacement of stiles. Walking for health is essential and it also creates an opportunity for people that can’t climb over stiles.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a gate in your local community, either as a business or as a memorial, please contact David Hardwick on 01743 791984 or email david.hardwick@shropshire.gov.uk 

If you enjoy being outdoors and are interested in volunteering with a P3 group or becoming a walk leader, contact Outdoor Partnerships on 01743 255957 or visit www.shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk to find out about the opportunities in your area.