Walkers are welcome in Dereham

Footpath warden Ken Hawkins (left, front) with supporters at the launch of Walkers Are Welcome, in D

Footpath warden Ken Hawkins (left, front) with supporters at the launch of Walkers Are Welcome, in Dereham. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

It's the fourth Norfolk town to join a national initiative to promote walking as a cheap and healthy recreation.

Walkers set off, led by footpath warden Ken Hawkins, at the launch of Walkers Are Welcome in Dereham

Walkers set off, led by footpath warden Ken Hawkins, at the launch of Walkers Are Welcome in Dereham. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Dereham has now joined around 100 towns nationwide, which provide information on local walks and ensure that footpaths are maintained, improved and well sign-posted.

At a launch on Saturday, footpath warden Ken Hawkins said four were included in the first edition of a Dereham Walks pack, of which 3,000 copies have been printed.

He said 1,000 people had signed up to show their support for walking in Dereham.

'Walking is a healthy, beneficial, cheap activity for everyone,' he said.

Retired mental capacity advocate Mr Hawkins, 70, said there were around 35 paths in and around the town which people could enjoy.

'I have a really strong belief that network should be open to everyone,' said Mr Hawkins, who spends many hours with his strimmer keeping nettles and brambles at bay.

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Ian Witham, the Open Spaces Society's local representative in Norfolk, said: 'This exciting initiative should help residents and visitors alike to have the confidence to use and enjoy their local paths and green spaces, and will help to keep the paths open and in good order.'

Kate Ashbrook, the society's general secretary, added: 'Dereham's new status as a Walkers Are Welcome town will help to encourage visitors to this attractive part of Norfolk and the town should benefit as a result. It takes a lot of work to qualify as a Walkers Are Welcome town but it is well worth the effort.'

Dereham is the fourth town in Norfolk to achieve Walkers Are Welcome status, the others being Swaffham, Aylsham and Cromer.

Free packs are available from Dereham Library and the Town Council offices. The walks can also be downloaded online here.

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