Closure of the PWA – Some Votes of Thanks

As the current President of the PWA, I write on behalf of the Executive Committee to record the Association’s appreciation and thanks to all of our members over the years since 1971, to all those who over the years have served as officers, and to all those who in other ways have voluntarily given their time to support and encourage the Association and its objectives.

Members I know, would join me in expressing that appreciation and thanks.

The inaugral meeting of the Pennine Way Council, as it was then, was held in Skipton in May 1971 and there were two earlier meetings there. Subsequent meetings were held in central Leeds allowing access by road and rail, firstly at the YWCA, Binder Hamlyn’s Office, Cooperative Wholesale Society’s building on the south side of Leeds railway station, and later (and for a very long time) at the Friend’s Meeting House adjacent to the university. We acknowledge and thank these organisations for the services and other excellent facilities they provided over the last 40 years.

The Pennine Way Association may now be closing, but the Pennine Way remains. I do hope that you will all continue your interest in it, that you will continue to enjoy it as much as you have done in the past and that you will encourage and help others to do so.

Trevor Hardy MBE

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Minutes of Final PWA Executive Committee

The PWA Executive Committee met for the final time in Leeds on 14th November 2015 to discuss the closure of the PWA.

The minutes from this meeting can be downloaded and viewed as a PDF file by clicking the link below:

PWA Minutes November 2015

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Memorial Seat for John Needham

The Executive Officers of the PWA decided some time ago to purchase a memorial set in memory of John Needham, our President, and this was purchased recently along with an engraved plaque to acknowledge the work that he did for our Association. This has been placed at the Kearton Country Hotel at Thwaite in Swaledale which was a favourite place of his where in his latter days he stayed for a holiday every year. We have also had one of his mementos framed and this is to be placed on a wall in the lounge of the hotel. The funds which the PWA are currently donating to several organisations associated with the Pennine Way were generated from the Accommodation Guide that John produced for the PWA on an annual basis and were essential for virtually all walkers setting out on a Pennine Way walk in the days prior to the introduction of the websites that we now take for granted.

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Closure of PWA

It is with a degree of sadness that the Executive have decided to close down the PWA at the end of this year after over 40 years of giving advice and help to thousands of walkers over the years. There are several reasons for what to many will be a surprise decision and we can honestly state that the decision was not made lightly .It is no coincidence that this is taking place in the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Pennine Way which has received some greatly welcome publicity recently.

As we are all aware since its opening way back in 1965 there have been many changes in the walking world and there is now a plethora of other walks and trails as well as the National Trails. That is good to see and having walked one National Trail (The Ridgeway) and one local walk (The Ripon Rowel Walk) very recently it is easy to observe the huge impact that the opening of the Pennine Way has had, greatly assisted by organisations such as the Ramblers Association and ourselves. Every mile of each route was well waymarked and had good stiles and gates as well as a generally good walking surface. Albeit both walks were done after a spell of dry weather. The same can be also said of the Pennine Way and much of this can be attributed to the work of Natural England and the Pennine Way National Trail Officer Steve Westwood who always maintained good contact with us and attended our meetings. Unfortunately due to cost cutting this position now no longer exists.

Regrettably the quality observed on the National Trails is not the case for footpaths in general throughout the countryside as there has been a noticeable deterioration in some areas where footpath maintenance has slipped down the agenda. A further shift has been the massive changes in how people communicate, now having access to the worldwide web. In earlier days the PWA published a superb Accommodation Guide edited by John Needham which was invaluable to anyone contemplating walking on the PW. The use of the internet has largely made this aspect of our work less relevant and some of this work has been replicated by more commercial organisations. In addition there are now several outdoor walking magazines which cover many of the other news relating to the Pennine Way that we currently also cover and there are now many excellent guides published on the PW including one from our own Chairman Chris Sainty.

Another aspect which has had a major influence is that we have been unable, over quite a few years, to be able to recruit sufficient new blood onto the Executive to help run the organisation which has meant an increasing workload on the existing volunteers, with people such as Ron Powell having more than one role. Sadly this is becoming prevalent amongst many other groups not only among the walking fraternity but in other groups relying on unpaid volunteers which is indicative of the change in culture of the country. Last year we decided to review the thoughts on closing down the PWA to see what effect the Anniversary might have on us but this has had a very limited impact. We are currently in discussion with several groups regarding the closure and how best we can ensure that our past work and current expertise can be harnessed in the best interests of the walk that we have all enjoyed so much over the years. We hope that the walk will be achieving a hundred year anniversary and continue to give so much pleasure, and no doubt some pain, to countless numbers in the future. We would like to thank all members both past and present for their support and will continue to keep you posted as to what is happening.

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Four Pieces of Good News!

1. The Ancient Unicorn at Bowes has been bought and work has started on its refurbishment with, l believe, plans for ten bedrooms and a coffee bar. I have no details on the work programme but hopefully the work will be completed for later in the summer.

2. After being closed for nearly a year the High Force Hotel has reopened under the care of Jan Butterfield and Angela Cockburn. They promised Lord Barnard that it would be open in time for the Teesdale Spring Show on May 23rd and it was. A fuller report will appear when the hotel has been visited.

3. The Strathmore Arms in Holwick which is on the opposite side of the River Tees from the High Force Hotel and not far from Scoberry Bridge has recently been visited by several PWA and RA members who can report that it was doing well on the Saturday night with bar meals and a good range of well kept real ales. Recommended!

4. Also visited recently has been the Langdon Beck Hotel and we can report that this continues to be a an enjoyable visit for food, good ales and accommodation.

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New accommodation in Ickornshaw

We are pleased to welcome Mallard House self catering apartment to our list of Accommodation Providers

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