Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Bid to turn Thirsk into a hub for walkers
A GROUP of volunteers dedicated to improving residents and visitors' experiences in the Thirsk area has won support for a scheme to transform the town into a hub for walkers.
Thirsk Tourist Information Centre has received backing from more than 100 residents, rambling groups, Thirsk Rotary Club and the town council to create a pool of information about walking opportunities and extend services for hikers.
The centre has also had assurances from Hambleton District Council that it would be given help with building infrastructure, such as new signs, for the walking hub.
Co-director of the centre, Jo Caramello, said the initiative would have a wide range of benefits, including boosting the local economy, encouraging the use of public transport and improving health in the area.
She told a meeting of Thirsk Town Council: "What we want to be is a centre for walking. "We get an awful lot of walkers coming to the tourist information centre and it is quite clear while there is quite a lot going on in the area, it hasn't been joined up in a sense.
"A lot of our visitors not only want to know where they can walk, but where they can eat, somewhere they can stop off in the middle of the walk and where they can stay.
"It's not just visitors who come asking about walking information, it's local people and we are very aware that local people need to know where people can walk with a pushchair or a wheelchair."
The volunteers will initially seek accreditation with the Walkers Are Welcome UK Network, an online group of more than 100 towns and villages, including Richmond, Knaresborough, and Boroughbridge, seeking to attract more hikers to their areas.
The network has been backed by TV presenter Julia Bradbury, who described it as "a truly innovative project".
Ms Caramello said the centre would encourage traders in the town to place a Walkers are Welcome sign in their shops and organising walks to enable it to invite people for hiking events with transport laid on.
She said: "One of the problems we have around here is the transport. There is no transport up to Sutton Bank for instance, so we could look at some way of organising that. "There are all sorts of ideas flying around, but what we need is to get it set up and on the go so we can build on that."
Councillor Cynthia Hesmondhalgh, Mayor of Thirsk, described the scheme as "excellent".