On 30 September, the Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside Day, I launched Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire as a Walkers Are Welcome Town.
I cut the ribbon with the mayor, Glen Lambert and pronounced the town ready to welcome walkers. I dubbed it ‘Hikers’ Henley’ (rather than ‘Boaters’ Henley’).
Located on the edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Henley has a terrific network of paths, including the Thames Path National Trail, the Oxfordshire Way and other named routes; but more importantly there are the many field and woodland paths which run between villages and take you to fascinating places.
Henley achieved its status a few months ago, having complied with the goals set by the Walkers Are Welcome towns. It has a strong committee made up of representatives from the Ramblers, the town council, the Chiltern Society, the visitor centre and local businesses. The Chiltern Society does maintenance work on the paths, and there is a wide choice of walks, with a good public transport system, to name a few of the town’s assets.
A number of businesses have already signed up to support Walkers are Welcome including the River and Rowing Museum, Stoke Row stores, the Cherry Tree at Stoke Row, the Stag and Huntsman at Hambleden and The Barn at Turville Heath. No doubt more businesses in the town itself will want to sign up soon.
Henley is only the second Walkers are Welcome town in Oxfordshire (Charlbury was first), and there are still too few accredited towns in the south-east of England. We must remedy that.