Celebrating 25 Years of the Stour Valley Path
2019 is a special year for the Stour Valley Path as we mark 25 years since it was officially launched as a Long Distance Path. It took about 27 years from when Roger Wolfe, a keen walker and advocate of the area, had the initial idea for a Stour Valley Path, to the launch on 12 May 1994.
News coverage at the time described the Stour Valley Path: “The walk goes through more than 25 villages, stretching from the Stour’s source, and covers some of the most beautiful areas of East Anglian countryside”.
I talked to Roger about his recollections from the early days (see page 12 of the AONB newspaper), especially his first ever walk in the area and how the AONB team and numerous other organisations made the Stour Valley Path happen. I also spoke to three other AONB staff involved in the 1990s, undertaking detailed preparatory work to have the Path adopted (see page 13 of the AONB newspaper). For someone newer to the team (only ten years!) it has been fascinating for me to learn about the impetus for getting this kind of project off, or rather, on the ground!
What is happening this year to celebrate?
The AONB team, the councils and numerous volunteers work hard to maintain and improve the route. In the 2019 Spring-Summer edition of the AONB newspaper you can read the highlights selected by the volunteer Stour Valley Path Wardens and about what a Warden does (pages 10 to 11). Plus hear how a Rights of Way Officer first started work on the SVP (page 13).
To mark this anniversary the AONB is undertaking a range of improvements and enhancements. The biggest project is to replace as many stiles as possible with gates, along the whole length of the Path. This is part-funded by the Wool Towns LEADER visitor development project and also by the AONB, as we want to establish a lasting legacy for this wonderful and varied route.
We will also be installing some information boards at strategic locations and starting a ‘P3’– Parish Paths Partnership – volunteer group who will respond to footpath reports, so any issues to do with signage and access along the Stour Valley Path are dealt with as soon as possible, and walkers can enjoy the path and the outstanding countryside it passes through.
Copies of the Stour Valley Path Guide can be downloaded for FREE or posted for a charge.
We’d really like to hear from everyone who has a memory of their walk of or involvement in the Stour Valley Path in the last 25 years, and we’ll include more stories and photos in the Autumn-Winter edition of the newspaper, please get in touch.