The following letter and copy of the Annual Report has been sent to outdoor organisatons with a possible walking interest on the Pennine Way in an effort to increase our profile.
Annual Report of the Pennine Way Association
2011 was a successful year for the PWA. In view of the drops in numbers in other assoociated groups (such as the Ramblers Association) our membership remained static which was pleasing. This was possibly due to our website which receives over 2000 hits per month and the establishment of this website has had a beneficial effect on our organisation. Not only does it provide a news section relating to the PW but in addition it contains our Accommodation Guide. In the absence of a specified hard copy which we formerly provided this is invaluable and is kept up to date by our Accommodation Guide Editor. Our Guide is proving very useful, particularly as the Accommodation Guide provided by Natural England is also not now available as a book and is on their website. As there is limited funds available there for marketing the future of this may be uncertain.
In 2011 the membership of the officials remained static but like many similar organisations we are having difficulty in recruiting volunteers and any additions would be most welcome.
The Objectives of the PWA are:
a) To provide information about the PW and its environs to the public.
b) Encourage users of the PW in a proper respect of the countryside.
c) Make appropriate representations to governmental and non-governmental bodies at all levels, and to their individual members
d) Provide a forum in which different interests connected with the PW and its use can discuss problems of mutual concern.
These objectives have been pursued and in 2011 the PWA was involved in the Dales Bus project, making a generous donation which (along with some bigger organisations) helped to provide the service. In other matters we have supported Natural England on the Walshaw Moor Estate in their decision to refuse planning consent for changes to the Walshaw Moor Estate which would be detrimental to the landscape. We were asked for comments by the Countryside Agency of several minor changes to routes and erections of gates to segregate stock, none of which were contentious. We believe that the proliferation of the demands for vehicular access on old bridleways and other paths in both the National Parks and other countryside areas (not all of which are well protected) is having a very adverse effect on these routes. This is not only in terms of excessive cost but also in accessability and enjoyment. This applies to all other users such as horseriders and mountain bikers and because of this the PWA has joined the Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Alliance and the newly formed Peak District Green Lane Alliance following their stand at Chapel Gate near Edale close to the start of the PW and arguably an extension of the PW.
The current state of the PW is still good and it has been well maintained by the Countryside Agency over recent years. In fact we feel that it has never been in better condition. At the current time we are not certain whether this situation will continue and the situation will be closely watched. We are aware of some cutbacks in flagging in the Cheviots in the Northumberland National Park.
The accommodation providers reported a reasonable year although we note with some disquiet the further loss of some Youth Hostels in Scotland, in the Borders and particularly the loss of Kirk Yetholm hostel at the end of the PW. It is hoped that, as in England, this could become a private hostel or other similar type of accommodation.
Our Annual Walk and Dinner this year will be in Teesdale, based at the Langdon Beck Hotel on the weekend of September 29th and 30th. This is an excellent area much enjoyed by both the founder Tom Stephenson and in later years by Wainwright as well as countless others.
New for this year is to be a Certificate which will be available for those who complete the Pennine Way. This is being designed by our President John Needham who also produced out memento which is available for purchase.
Since the inception of the Pennine Way a tremendous number of National Trails, other specific walking routes with top class guides and also other competitive challenges (either the one-day challenge events or the more arduous Munroes etc) have entirely altered the face of walking in the UK. We believe that the Pennine Way, being the first National Trail, still has a special place in the walking hierarchy and still represents a significant physical effort and because of this we believe our organisation remains important for future generations of walkers.
In the coming year there are proposals to alter Planning Law which will impact on the PW as indeed will the apparent reluctance to push on with the last big National Trail project – the Coastal Trail around England. At a time when financial restraints look as though they will be around for the forseeable future, we will be there to ensure that our much loved trail will get its share of funding and attention.