A group of Cotswold Voluntary Wardens marked the recent launch of the Cotswold Way National Trail by holding a relay walk along the 102 mile route. The wardens are the voluntary arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, the organisation that exists to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Cotswold Wardens give up hours of their time every year to carry out practical work across the AONB and an entire section of the service, the Cotswold Way Warden's district, dedicated itself to helping ensure that the Cotswold Way was up to National Trail standards.

The wardens started the first stage of their nine leg relay at 1030 am on Wednesday 16th May at Bath Abbey and carried a Shepherd's Crook, which was passed by relay to Stanway House for the opening ceremony of the National Trail, by Natural England on Thursday 24th May.

Chairman of the Avon Valley District of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Service Nigel Locke said:

"The launch of the Cotswold Way National Trail is a chance for people to enjoy an improved walking experience along the route and learn more about it. The Cotswold Way has been a long distance walking trail from Bath to Chipping Campden for 40 years and in that time thousands of visitors and local walkers have enjoyed the stunning views out across the Severn Vale from the Cotswolds escarpment.

A launch like this provides a good opportunity to reflect on the heritage of the area. The historical wealth of the Cotswolds was founded on the wool trade, the grazing land for the Cotswold Lion sheep and the hillside streams to power the woollen mills. The Shepherd's Crook with a sheep's head carved into it signifies a connection between the present tourist industry and the old woollen industry. "

Link to Cotswold Way National Trail Walks organised by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens & the Public Rights of Way Department