Walkers Are Welcome







Chepstow is an accredited 'Walkers are Welcome' Town and was the first in Monmouthshire!

The aim is to provide the best possible walking experience to those who live locally or visitors to the area. There are four long distance paths that start or finish in Chepstow.

Walkers are Welcome

‘Walkers are Welcome’ (WaW) is a nationwide initiative originally launched At Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire in 2007. Its primary purpose is to enable and encourage smaller towns and villages around the UK to develop and promote walking activities to a set of common standards whilst recognising unique local character and features.

In order to be awarded and to maintain ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status, locations are encouraged to:

  • Develop the location as an attractive destination for walkers by providing quality information on local walks
  • Offer residents and visitors excellent walking opportunities within the local catchment.
  • Play a leading role in developing, maintaining and improving the local footpath network and ensuring it is well signposted.
  • Contribute to local tourism plans, business growth and regeneration strategies.
  • Promote the health benefits of walking and increase participation from all sections of the community.
  • Encourage the use of public transport, where available.

The network has expanded rapidly and there are now 100 locations across the UK that have joined this innovative community-led scheme to benefit from Walkers are Welcome accreditation. The scheme itself is managed as a Community Interest Company by volunteers from across the member locations, and has its own website presence at walkersarewelcome.org.uk.


Walkers are Welcome in Chepstow

Chepstow’s prime location at the nexus of several major trails and with direct access to the Wye Valley, the Forest of Dean and the Gwent Levels puts it amongst the UK’s premier hubs for walkers. Association with WaW began in 2011 when Monmouthshire Council Rural Development Team asked for expressions of interest in securing WaW status for the town, ahead of the launch of the Wales Coast Path which was to have its southern terminus in the town.

Seven representatives from the Town Council, hospitality sector, Transition Chepstow, Ramblers and U3A came together to form a steering group, who did the groundwork to gain WaW accreditation for Chepstow:

  • Demonstrating popular local support through promoting the scheme and collecting signatures of support from 5% of the town’s population.
  • Securing formal endorsement of the scheme by Chepstow Town Council.
  • Establishing contact with the Rights of Way Teams in Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire Councils in respect of pathcare matters
  • Encouraging use of local public transport by providing access to timetable information and the Community Grass Routes Scheme
  • Marketing of the Walkers are Welcome concept and status through creation of a website (www.walksinchepstow.co.uk), social media presence, and the first tentative steps towards what would become Chepstow Walking Festival.

On February 6 2012, Chepstow Walkers are Welcome (CWaW) was constituted as the volunteer-led, not-for-profit community group which has since been responsible for retaining Chepstow’s WaW status and developing the local concept.

Having secured WaW status, the group quickly built momentum and were winners of ‘Best Social Enterprise’ at the Monmouthshire Business Awards in October 2013. Other subsequent notable achievements:

  • Hosting of the WaW UK annual national get together in 2014
  • Creating and maintaining the national WaW wall hanging (which is displayed at Chepstow TIC when not in use)
  • Installing walker backpack lockers in the Tourist Information Centre
  • Hosting a visiting group from Japan, who were exploring creation of a WaW equivalent in their home country.
  • Forging strong partnerships with local community groups and organisations (e.g. Wye Valley AONB, Living Levels Landscape Partnership, Transition Chepstow, Wildlife Trusts).

Today, the group’s current activities and objectives continue to focus on maintaining the town’s WaW status, pathcare, promotional/pr work, providing information for walkers and organising walking events.

The regular programme includes a programme of monthly free walks and providing both financial and logistical support to the Chepstow Walk for Health Group, which runs a separate programme of easier walks suitable for a wider range of abilities. The largest profile event though is Chepstow Walking Festival, which started modestly in 2013 and has evolved into a six-day walking spectacle and a fixture on the town calendar.

Chepstow Walking Fesival

 2015  4 days, 22 walks  421 walkers
 2016  5 days, 28 walks  757 walkers
 2017  5 days, 30 walks  789 walkers
 2018  5 days, 35 walks  521 walkers
 2019  5 days, 35 walks  569 walkers
 2020  cancelled due to Covid lockdowns  
 2021  4 days, 22 walks  265 walkers
 (event was postponed to October due to Covid)
 2022  5 days, 34 walks  403 walkers 
 2023  6 days, 36 walks  425 walkers

The Festival brings together a team of local volunteer walk leaders and partner organisations to deliver a programme of walks suitable for all abilities. It regularly attracts visitors from the local area, the wider UK and even far away destinations which have included Chicago, Argentina and Australia. In addition to the direct benefits for walk participants, the Festival seeks to raise the profile of Chepstow as a hub for local walking activities, with associated benefits for the local economy.


The Chepstow Walkers are Welcome Group - CWaW

A common misconception is that CWaW is primarily a “walking group”. Although organising and leading walks are core activities, CWaW work in partnership with other walking groups and like-minded organisations to promote the local area as a walking hub and are equally happy to facilitate and promote other non-commercial walk organisers.

In addition to the Festival and other promotional activities, CWaW provide local like-minded accommodation, hospitality and retail businesses with the opportunity to advertise via their website, and to take a more active role in sponsoring and funding the group’s core work. This income stream provides cashflow for the website, insurances, pathcare equipment and other routine incidental costs such as the WaW annual renewal subscription. CWaW has been particularly grateful to Chepstow Town Council, through the Community Contribution Grant scheme have supported CWaW as main sponsors since inception.

Apart from some modest publication sales, CWaW’s other main income stream comes from surpluses generated from Chepstow Walking Festival, which over the years has become very much a self-funding event, providing working capital for the following year’s festival, a contribution to CWaW reserves and, in good years, donations to local charitable causes who have played a part in the festival’s success.

Priorities for the group in 2024 are delivering the 2024 Walking Festival (2nd to 7th April), developing a new partnership with Monmouthshire County Council to restore and maintain the footpaths network to the west of town, and exploring new ways of encouraging even more walkers to explore Chepstow's magnificent surroundings.

These walks offer a variety of walks to suit most abilities. Every April the group host an annual walking festival and many walking events throughout the year. For more information, please visit http://www.walksinchepstow.co.uk/