Happy New Year! I hope all residents managed to find time to relax over the festive period. Although it continued to be far from ‘normal’, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that 2022 is going to be the year we gradually start to not be dominated by Covid!

So let’s start with some good news! Just a few days before Christmas, it was announced that Shepton Mallet has been accepted as a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town. Thanks to the over 1,100 people who signed a petition, this new accreditation means we become part of a national network of over 100 other towns whose aim is to welcome walkers from all over and co-promote outdoor activities.

Around 30 people came together on New Year’s Day to celebrate with a walk organised jointly by Shepton Walks! and Somerset Health Walks. It was the first of many walks and activities which Shepton Walks! plans to run over the coming year, including Shepton’s first Walking Festival in the early autumn. Shepton Mallet is perfectly positioned to explore some magnificent countryside. It’s on the doorstep of an area of outstanding natural beauty criss-crossed with trails, footpaths and the remains of ancient and medieval industry and old mine workings. Making walkers feel welcome in the town helps the local economy and community – bringing walkers and visitors to the cafes, restaurants, shops, B&Bs and hotels, and other visitor attractions, and promoting the benefits of physical, health and mental wellbeing through walking.

More detailed information about the benefits to Shepton Mallet of becoming a Walkers are Welcome town can be found on our website at: www.sheptonmallet-tc.gov.uk/shepton-walks/

Many thanks to Councillors Jane Nicklin and Martin Lovell for sponsoring and Patric Devitt and the Shepton Walks! team for organising this initiative.

Until next time,

Matt Harrison, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council