It is 10 years since St Oswalds way was first opened to the public, so how did it all begin
Ten years ago we had district councils in Northumberland before they all got unified a few year later. There was some great staff and inspirational people lost at that stage but thankfully St Oswald’s Way was created before that time by Alnwick District Council.
The idea was the brainchild of Reverend Michael Mountney. In late 2004 he approached Gary Campbell from Alnwick District Council and within days of their first meeting the St Oswald’s Way Project had far more going for it than the fledging concept Michael and Gary had discussed.
I know Gary very well and his enthusiasm for anything like this is second to none, I have spent many hours stood on stands promoting St Oswald’s Way at The Outdoor Show at the NEC and his entrepreneurial flair is second to none.
With the idea of a St Oswald’s Way Gary started to bring together a steering group that consisted of some great partners in the four district councils the proposed route was going to pass though and idea started to take shape.
After funding was secured a St Oswald’s Way Project Officer was appointed in November 2005. This post was given to Martin Paminter and he set about putting the trail in place. It trail was then opened to the public in August 2006 after many months of hard work.
The finished project was fully waymarked and maps had been created with a variety of other merchandise.
As a direct result of the success of the long distance path the project partners sought ways to make the project more accessible to all. This resulted in phase two of St. Oswald’s Way coming together with still more invaluable input from partners and funders.
Phase two of St. Oswald’s Way is a collection of 24 short circular walks along the full length of the long distance path enabling everyone to sample what St. Oswald’s Way has to offer.
Phase two also saw the return of the phase one Project Officer; Martin Paminter. Martin’s input to the project in both phases has been immeasurable and there is no question that the success of the routes, maps and guidebooks is down to his skills, knowledge and dedication.
Then in 2011 with the abolition of Alnwick District Council a new home was to be sought for St Oswald’s Way. As I (Jon Monks from Shepherds Walks) had sat on the steering group for many years I put together a business plan for the steering group to consider and they took it up.
A quick extract from this business plan can be seen below –
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Purpose of this plan
Due to the unity of the councils it has been decided to take St Oswald’s Way out of the council and set it up as a Ltd company. The following plan will look at the plans for this company over the coming years.
This plan outlines the proposed future growth plans and strategic focus to take.
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It was quite pioneering at the time (2011) to run the long distance trail in this way.
St Oswalds’s Way is now managed by a small, voluntary non-profit team, the St Oswald’s Way Management Group.
They are assisted by bodies including Northumberland County Council and by over thirty volunteer rangers, who help to look after the route.
The group is funded by sales of our official St Oswald’s Way products, and profits are put back into the management and improvement of the route.
It has been fascinating to be involved with this trail over the years. Shepherds Walks Holidays were the first tour operator to deliver holidays on it and I personally worked closely with Jonathan Manning (ex-editor of Country Walking magazine) to pitch to the BBC regarding doing a full series of BBC Ramblings on the trail. This was aired in 2009.
As Shepherds Walks Holidays are based in Rothbury on the St Oswald’s Way our local knowledge we hope is second to none.
You can listen to St Oswalds’s Way on BBC Ramblings here.
You can view our walking holidays on St Oswald’s Way here.