An East Lancashire borough has been named as the number one walking area in England and Wales in a new report.

The study, by Britain’s national walking charity, The Ramblers, has revealed that Rossendale has been ranked the highest for having the longest length of public rights of way within 800m of people’s homes.

Written by the New Economics Foundation, the report calculated that Rossendale ranked first above areas such as the Malvern Hills, Calderdale, High Peak, Burnley, and Pendle, meaning residents have the best access to pathways within a 10 minute walk of their home.

Jack Cornish, head of paths for The Ramblers, said: “Availability of paths close to people’s homes has a massive impact on health outcomes – with those from more deprived areas or underserved groups missing out.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Round the Hills walkers taking a breakRound the Hills walkers taking a break (Image: Danforth Care)

In response, Rossendale Council leader Alyson Barnes said: “We are very lucky in Rossendale to be surrounded by such great countryside, and the fact we can take advantage of it so easily is a real bonus.

“We have a number of excellent walking routes of varying difficulty around the borough – you can see the walking board routes at various points – so there should be something to suit most abilities.

“Plus, it’s free and there’s not many things we can say that about these days. I’d encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy our beautiful valley.”

Rossendale Ramblers organise around 150 walks every year, from two-hour pub walks right up to an annual challenge walk of 25 miles.

It is a sociable group working hard to improve the local footpath network. With funding from Rossendale Rotary and other local organisations and individuals, the group’s active team of volunteers clear vegetation on paths, repair stiles, and replace stiles with gates to improve accessibility.

Lancashire Telegraph: Lee Quarry, BacupLee Quarry, Bacup (Image: Rossendale Council)

David Clegg, chair of Rossendale Ramblers, said: “The increasing number of our green signs dotted around Rossendale saying ‘Improved for your by Rossendale Ramblers’ shows our commitment to improving access for all walkers.”

John Lowe, chair of the Rossendale Rotary organising committee, added: “This is a great accolade for the valley and is testimony to the work done over many years by local walkers, landowners, and various organisations in establishing and maintaining such an impressive network of accessible footpaths.”

Finally, Sir Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said: “Rossendale is a wonderful place to live, and one of the things that makes it so special is the beautiful landscape that surrounds our valley’s towns and villages.

“Volunteer groups like Rossendale Ramblers do a sterling job helping to keep our local paths well maintained, so I’d like to add a huge thank you to everyone who contributes to keeping our local walks and trails accessible for as many people as possible.”