Henley-on-Thames was officially launched as a Walkers are Welcome town on Sunday, joining more than 100 other towns, but only the second in Oxfordshire, accredited by Walkers are Welcome.
Launched in 2007, Walkers are Welcome, is a non-profit community interest group that encourages towns and businesses to become more welcoming to walkers to benefit local economies and promote hiking.
Businesses who pay the annual membership fee of £20 receive a welcome pack including a Walkers are Welcome window sticker, walking route leaflets, a listing on the Henley Walkers are Welcome website, muddy boot covers and will also be highlighted as welcoming places to take a break on promoted walking routes.
After running costs, proceeds from the fees are used to help maintain footpaths.
"I’m really thrilled to see Henley become part of the Walkers are Welcome family because I know it is a fabulous walking centre that hasn’t promoted itself enough in the past. You can walk out of the town straight on to footpaths that will take you to all sorts of wonderful places. It’s important because it’s a recognition that walking is important in so many ways — it’s good for the local economy, it’s good for people’s health and happiness and having people on the footpaths will help keep them open."
- Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society and Patron of the Walkers are Welcome towns’ network.
"With the river and the Chiltern Hills, Henley is a beautiful place for walking. Henley is known for rowing but in my mind it should be known for walking too. We’re making a special effort for walkers and making sure we have good facilities and that our footpaths are well maintained."
- Alie Hagedoorn, Secretary of the Walkers are Welcome Committee and Chairwoman of the Henley and Goring Ramblers
"For several years, I have been exploring the extensive network of footpaths, bridleways and tracks that surround Henley and am still discovering new sights and new hiking routes. Henley is a beautiful town surrounded by miles rolling hills, fields, valleys and woodlands in every direction. Walkers are Welcome accreditation is important because this is a nationwide group that will promote Henley as a place to come and walk."
- Cllr Glen Lambert, Mayor of Henley-on-Thames