A NEW CHAPTER FOR THE COTSWOLD WAY NATIONAL TRAIL

A year on from its launch in the summer of 2007, the Cotswold Way National Trail now has a new host body and project team. Natural England has appointed the Cotswolds Conservation Board to host the Cotswold Way, under an initial one year agreement and the trail offices have relocated to the board's headquarters at Northleach in Gloucestershire.

A new project team has been formed to oversee the trail. James Blockley is the new National Trail Officer and will be working alongside Don Field who has moved across from the old team

Walking along the Cotswold Way National Trail is an ideal way to experience the breathtaking landscape of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The 102 mile (164km) trail follows the Cotswolds escarpment with its stunning views and picturesque villages from the market town of Chipping Campden in the north, to Bath in the south. It has been promoted as a long-distance walking route for over 30 years and after an eight year programme of access improvement work ,funded by Natural England, it became a National Trail in 2007.

Janette Ward, Regional Director for Natural England in the South West welcomed the Cotswold Way's move to its new home:

"Natural England's remit to conserve and enhance the natural environment alongside increasing peoples enjoyment and understanding of it was a key factor in inviting the Cotswolds Conservation Board to host the new trail team. This is an excellent opportunity to take forward England's newest National Trail."

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, along with the volunteers that are devoted to the Cotswold Way, gave up their time to help with the improvement works that took place to ensure that the route was up to National Trail standards before its launch last year. They are integral to the ongoing maintenance and enhancement of the trail and are always looking for help. If you are interested in doing your bit for the Cotswold Way, contact the team on 01451 826034

For more information on the Cotswold Way, visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk

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Notes to editors:

National Trails (originally know as "long distance routes") came about through the same legislation that designates National Parks (the 1949 National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act). They are the "flagship" long distance routes in England and Wales offering some of the best walking, riding and cycling experiences in the country. Each trail has a dedicated manager who insures that the route and the information supporting it is maintained to the highest standards.

The Cotswold Way is a new National Trail funded by Natural England and managed by the Cotswold Conservation Board in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Gloucestershire County Council and Worcestershire County Council. It is a long distance walking trail that runs between the market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the World Heritage City of Bath in the south. The Trail is 102 miles (164 km) long, and runs for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment with its stunning views, picturesque villages and sites of historical interest. The Cotswold Way has existed as a promoted long distance walk for over 30 years. Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, its special qualities have been recognised; in 1998 the government approved its development as a National Trail, and in May 2007 it was formally launched as a National Trail. The trail attracts large numbers of local, national and international visitors every year, and plays a key part in the protection and understanding of the Cotswold landscape. For more information please contact the Cotswold Way National Trail Officer, James Blockley on 01451 862034.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.

With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. For further information about Natural England please visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk or contact Paul Wynne at the Natural England press office on 07900 608049

Contact: James Blockley Tel: 01451 862034 or

Claire Cunningham Tel: 01451 862003

Cotswold Way National Trail &

Cotswolds Conservation Board

Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000

Websites: www.nationaltrail.co.uk

www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk