now part of Gillingham Walkers are Welcome 

An informal group set up for those who wish to walk in the area of Gillingham, Dorset.



Festival 2018

Dates confirmed as Sat 1st to Sun 9th September.  Put it in your diary now!



Gillingham is now a Walkers are Welcome Town 


Gillingham has been awarded the national status of a ‘Walkers are Welcome Town”.  The Mayor of Gillingham received the certificate from Kate Ashbrook, Patron of Walkers Are Welcome and national President of the Ramblers at the launch of the second Gillingham Walking Festival.

Walkers are Welcome is a nationwide initiative encouraging towns and villages to be ‘welcoming to walkers’ by offering people and visitors excellent walking opportunities, well maintained footpaths and promotion of health benefits.

Gillingham achieved Walkers Are Welcome (WAW) status on 10 August 2015.  This means that it has fulfilled the six criteria necessary for acceptance: it has demonstrated local support, gained endorsement from the town council, made a commitment to ensure the local path network is in order, guaranteed adequate marketing of WAW status, shown how use of public transport will be encouraged and demonstrated how the status will be maintained in future, with broadbased support.

The Mayor of Gillingham announced at the launch,

“We are very proud to be the first “Walkers are Welcome Town” in Dorset. We don’t have the dramatic landscapes of the Jurassic Coast of South Dorset but we do have the Blackmore Vale of Hardy’s Wessex and hidden gems like Langham’s little thatched church and the ancient Judge Wyndam’s Oak at Silton. We have friendly folk, welcoming pubs, cafes and farm shops and lots of enthusiastic local walking groups. We hope that we can share our enthusiasm and local knowledge with a growing number of guests and visitors”


Kate Ashbrook said:

“I am delighted both to launch Gillingham’s Walking Festival and to announce it has achieved the status of ‘Walkers are Welcome Town’. Gillingham joins one hundred communities throughout England, Scotland and Wales who can boast excellent walking facilities, fine countryside and, of course a warm welcome to walkers.

We know the value of walking to our health and wellbeing, and to the local economy. Walkers are Welcome status will help to secure that vital investment in our path network in these austere times.”


Sheila Messer, Chair of the Gillingham Walkers are Welcome Group (WaW) commented

“ The Steering Group sees this accreditation not as an end but a step along the way. There is much more that can be done to make Gillingham even more welcoming to walkers.

Achievements in 2015

Gillingham’s second Walking Festival was held 5th to 13th Sept.  See News page.


Three routes are now waymarked, all starting on the Town Meadow and all three are featured in this year’s walking festival programme.

·         Blue route to  Wyndham’s Oak at Silton

·         Red route, “In the Footsteps of Constable”  - visiting three  views that Constable painted when staying in Gillingham

·         Green Route - a short stroll around Lodbourne and Bay


A footpath work party now meets monthly doing simple maintenance and liaising with Dorset County Council Countryside Rangers to improve the local rights of way. 


Future plans include

·         Maps of the waymarked routes coming to the station and town centre soon

·         Revised walks packs to be published soon

·         Promotion of the Gillingham section of the Stour Valley Way by signing a link from the station

·         Reviving the “Adopt a Footpath Scheme” in Gillingham as a way to identify problems as they arise and then get them resolved as quickly as possible

·         Replacing stiles with gates

·         Festival 2016


There is much to do.  If you would like to get involved  you can be sure of a warm welcome.

Contact Sarah  [email protected]  01747 824327

or Sheila [email protected]  01747 821269

Festival 2016

Dates confirmed as Sat 3rd to Sun 11th September.  Put it in your diary now!







Contact Details


Sheila Messer  01747 821269

email:  [email protected]


Penny Peat  01747 823774

email:  [email protected]

Social Team Leader

Michelle Collicott 07787 835046

email: [email protected]

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