Rachel is dedicated to promoting the Ramblers. When another member was unwell, Rachel stepped in to ensure that the Big Pathwatch, the Ramblers ambitious campaign to survey every footpath in England and Wales, was supported in and around Durham.
Not only did she opt to receive progress reports so she could see what was happening, she was also heavily involved in promoting the project and inspiring others to get involved. Rachel walked an incredible number of squares herself, but importantly shared what she was doing on Twitter to encourage others to take part.
On an average day volunteering for the Ramblers I’ll update our group twitter account with info on upcoming walks or photos from previous walks, email my local newspaper or media group contact person to tell them all about the walks we’ve got coming up and inviting members of the public to come and give walking with us a try. I also produce posters and display them in prominent places.
I’m currently working with the Northumbria Area Chair to publicise the Ramblers walking festival in our area so enjoyably busy, as usual. I’ll also be going for a walk in my local area to check out the results of my Big Pathwatch work to see whether any problems I’ve reported have been rectified. Often they have, so I’ll thank the local authority on social media to maximise publicity.
I’ve always walked and appreciated being able to enjoy access to so many parts of the UK as a member of the Ramblers. My local group, Durham, was short of walk leaders for a brief time so I offered to lead a walk. Things developed very quickly from that point and I offered to use my skills and experience in marketing and publicity to promote our group and the Ramblers as a membership organisation. I’ve been doing it for twelve years now, how time flies!
I’m proud to be part of the Ramblers and to work on their behalf as a volunteer. I enjoy my roles so much that it never seems like work, just sheer enjoyment of taking people on a good walk, helping people to understand the campaigning aspect of the Ramblers and encouraging others to join us. I particularly loved taking part in the Big Pathwatch, I waxed lyrical about the project to everyone I met and enthused many people to get involved. It was such a fun yet important piece of work and I was really proud to be involved with it.
Q4. How do you feel you make a difference?
I think I make a difference by being committed to and enthusiastic about what I do for the Ramblers and to people who want to walk for different reasons and in different ways.
I helped to make a difference to people experiencing ill health with our programme of Saturday short walks. The real evidence of how I make a difference comes from the people I walk with, who give me positive feedback about what I do, which ranges from leading walks, publicising what we do and just being friendly and approachable – always lovely to hear!
Q5. When did you discover the joys of walking?
I remember going for family walks with my brother and parents around Darlington when I was really small. At school we were forced to go on route marches across moorlands, which actually, I didn’t mind. As a teenager, living on the North Yorkshire Coast, I had access to so much wonderful walking and that really fuelled my love of open spaces.
Q6. Why do you love walking / how has walking changed your life?
I love being outdoors, the open views, the sights and sounds of the countryside and the way it makes me feel… Happy!
Walking is great therapy for the stresses and strains of life and if I don’t go for a regular long walk, I really feel the lack of it. I was very ill recently and house-bound. I used to watch walking programmes on telly and think that I’d never be able to do that again. The first walk I did when I was feeling better was with my group. It was tiring, but very satisfying.
Q7. How has the Ramblers helped you go walking?
Walking with the Ramblers has opened up so many possibilities for walking in places that I hadn’t been to before, in the UK and abroad. The Big Pathwatch was a fantastic concept from the Ramblers and I made full use of the app – a brilliant aid for taking part. I started with paths from my front door, which is next to a section of the Weardale Way, and expanded from there. I discovered paths near my own house that I had never ever walked before, so I would say that this really opened up my eyes to discovering new places to walk. My group have benefitted from this too as I now lead walks in these amazing newly discovered places.
Q8. Describe your perfect walk (group walk, walking alone, where etc)
My perfect walk is on the North Yorkshire Coast. I love walking there on a sunny day, either alone or with one or two good walking friends. The best walk would take me from Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar, meandering along the cinder track with stunning sea views. I’d stop for tea at the Ravenscar Tearooms, where the staff give you a cracking Yorkshire welcome, then back along the cliffs from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay with more fantastic sea views. I’d dip down to Boggle Hole on the sea’s edge and the final steps down into the bay, which are shaded by hedges filled with wild flowers. Then as a treat I’d stop for some cinder toffee ice cream on the beach, a well-earned pint sitting outside the Bay Hotel overlooking the beach and then fish and chips. Bliss!
Q9. Why should other people take up walking?
Walking is the perfect antidote to stress and a great mood-lifter. It’s something you can do for free, at your own pace and from your own doorstep, either with friends or relatives, or on your own. If you want to do more, you can join a group of like-minded people, walk in perfect silence or natter till the cows come home, walking in places and on paths that you may not have visited before.
That we didn’t have to battle or campaign for access to places to walk…
During volunteer week we’ll be publishing interviews with our volunteer award winners, like Geoff, and you’ll be able to read them on our volunteers' week webpage.