EVESHAM has gained ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status, becoming the first town in Worcestershire to do so.

It has taken years of planning and hard work by Evesham Rambling Club.

The group has had to demonstrate that they can keep the public path network in good condition, that the initiative would have the support of businesses, and that the town supports the use of public transport for walking activities.

Spokesperson for ERC Glyn Hayter said: “This is very much a town effort.

“As part of the application, we had to demonstrate the support of the town, both through local organisations, the Town Council and most importantly the people of Evesham.

“To do this we had to collect 1,300 signatures of support, equivalent to five per cent of the population of the town.

“We managed to far exceed this number of signatures, showing that Evesham is definitely a walker-friendly place.”

Evesham Journal: Glyn Hayter of Evesham Rambling ClubGlyn Hayter of Evesham Rambling Club (Image: Evesham Rambling Club)

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Mr Hayter added: “There is still a lot to do.

“Other Walkers are Welcome towns have seen an upturn in trade with visitors from further afield staying locally, increasing accommodation occupation and spending in shops, pubs and eating places. 

“We are currently working with other organisations including Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership with a view to promoting local walking via the railway network.

“In addition, the group needs to ensure that the walks that we have created are well maintained to make sure people gain the maximum benefit from them.”

A steering group was formed earlier this year involving members of ERC, the town and district councils, Evesham u3a, Evesham Ramblers, the tourist information centre, civic society and Worcestershire Health Walkers.

The group put together the application and will now continue developing strategies for encouraging walkers in the town.

Councillor Bradley Thomas, leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “We’re proud to have been involved in supporting this bid and delighted it has been successful.

“This supports the vision for the town set out in the Evesham Investment Prospectus of a place that is recognised for welcoming walkers and cyclists.

“The wider publicity and promotional benefits of Walkers are Welcome status will help establish Evesham’s reputation as a walking destination for visitors, which will provide opportunities for our retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses.”

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Evesham Journal: Evesham Rambling Club members have been working hard to maintain the town's footpathsEvesham Rambling Club members have been working hard to maintain the town's footpaths (Image: Evesham Rambling Club)

Ken Hawkins, chair of Walkers are Welcome, added: “We were delighted to receive the application from Evesham to join our network, which came with the strongest of recommendations from our locally appointed independent mentor. 

“We read of the extensive range of work already undertaken by Evesham Rambling Club and the steering group to demonstrate how it met our criteria for accreditation - and how it planned to continue to do so. 

“We also know that other nearby Walkers are Welcome members are looking forward to working with Evesham, so we eagerly anticipate yet further improvements for walkers.”