It is official; Yorkshire is the friendliest part of the country for walkers, with Bingley its latest town to be formally recognised for the opportunities, amenities and hospitality it extends to those getting out and about on two feet.
The West Yorkshire town is one of 25 towns and villages in the region to achieve ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status by the national organisation of the same name.
Nowhere else in Britain is so duly recognised, with Wales coming closest where 24 places are officially recognised by Walkers are Welcome.
Ruth Coulthard, a member of Walkers are Welcome’s national executive, said: “Yorkshire is one of our most beautiful parts of the country to go walking and we have found its communities are very organised and keen to join our network.
“One of the first questions we ask is about the warmth of the welcome to visitors - that’s really important if we are signposting people to visit a particular place.”
Gary Verity, chief executive of the region’s tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire, hailed another reason to be proud of the county.
“Yorkshire is famous for its warm welcome and generous hospitality, and for yet another Yorkshire town to receive Walkers Are Welcome status goes to show that the county’s famous hello remains very much part of its charm.
“And now with 25 towns and villages across the county recognised by the Walkers Are Welcome scheme, Yorkshire is reigning supreme as one of the nation’s top destinations for ramblers, amblers and hikers.”
West Yorkshire is becoming a hotspot with Bingley joining neighbours Ilkley, Baildon and Burley in Wharfedale to be awarded the status.
Christine McCabe, who spearheaded Bingley’s bid which involved a petition signed by over 1,300 residents, said: “Bingley is a brilliant place to walk and enjoy the great outdoors, particularly as it’s so accessible by public transport. There’s the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, the River Aire, three wonderful parks and the moors, and so much interesting history to explore.
“We’re now looking forward to developing the walking routes and making sure the launch is a terrific success so that more people put on their walking boots and come to experience the area.”
A launch event will be held at Bingley Arts Centre on Saturday, April 11 at 10am.
Ann Sandell, secretary of Walkers are Welcome Towns Network UK, said Bingley’s application for accreditation had been unanimously approved.
“The executive committee was very impressed with the strength of the application. We are delighted to welcome Bingley into the network and it is clear that the town and surrounding area has much to offer walkers.”
Mike Church, chairman of the West Riding branch of the Ramblers organisation, welcomed Bingley’s recognition, adding: “Yorkshire has a wealth of fantastic places to walk from the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales to the rugged tranquillity of the North York Moors; from our heritage coast line to our historical towns and cities.
“I hope this will encourage even more people to get out walking in Yorkshire and discover the health and well-being benefits it can bring.”