LAUNCH OF 'WALKS ON WHEELS' PROJECT

A brand new publication is being launched that helps people using wheelchairs, power scooters and buggies to enjoy walking routes across the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 'Walks on Wheels' is a collection of 15 walks descriptions and maps, which help people to explore quiet country paths, villages and market towns in the area.

The project which was devised by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens to mark their 40th Anniversary will be launched on the Badminton Estate by the Duchess of Beaufort at 11am on Friday 23rd May.

The walks are located across the Cotswolds AONB, which is a 790 square mile landscape, stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire down to west Wiltshire and the area around Bath in the south.

Members of the public can chose from 15 'walking' experiences such as a route that takes in the highest point in the Cotswolds at Cleeve Common just outside Cheltenham, or two pleasant routes alongside canals in the south of the AONB.

All of the routes have been tested by disability and access groups from across the Cotswolds and have been carefully chosen to ensure that they are appropriate for users. The walks are available to download on the Cotswolds AONB website at www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

Phil Hughes, Chairman of Stroud & District Access Group said:

"I am delighted that we were given the opportunity to be involved from the outset with the project."

Access Group member Pam said:

"Being a wheelchair user, this is great because now with walks on wheels I am able to go with my grandchildren to the countryside and join in, and with the publication of these walks being readily available, all members of the family will now be able to participate together."

Organised mother and toddler, disability and walking groups are encouraged to contact the Cotswolds Conservation Board and request the walks pack.

Ends

Notes to editors:

Click here to download the walks from our website.

The press are welcome to attend the launch and there will be a photo opportunity at 11am. Please come to the Badminton Estate Office, Badminton, Gloucestershire. GL9 1DD.

(The office is located in the village of Badminton.) For further information please contact Claire Cunningham on 01451 862003 / 0778 6995869.

Working in partnership with other organisations continues to be an important element of the work of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Service. They work with local authorities, wildlife trusts, Butterfly Conservation, DEFRA, The Wychwood Forest Project and many local communities.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens were formed in 1968 and are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. In addition to the Walks on Wheels project, they will also be marking the event with parish walks in the north Cotswolds, family-focused walks across the area, a public conservation work party in the south and a special event to mark the Anniversary at the Royal Agricultural College in June. A further press release will be issued in due course.

There are 340 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, part of the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The wardens have been leading guided walks in the AONB since 1975.

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.

The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.

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.

Press contact: Claire Cunningham

Tel: 01451 862003

Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk