Chairman's News!




This coming year is my 5th and last as Area Chair. I will be pleased to discuss the role with anyone who is interested in taking over.

The sudden and unexpected pandemic this year has caused a major upheaval in Ramblers activities across the country. All group walks were cancelled during the lockdown period, starting on 24th March. However, group walks were allowed to recommence in August, being categorised as 'outdoor physical activity events'.  These were exempted from the latest restrictions, as Ramblers met the necessary protocols, and put extra measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. These included completing a written risk assessment for each walk, keeping an attendance record and registering walk leaders on the Ramblers’ Assemble database.

I am very pleased to report that that we have had a very positive response from our Groups, all of whom (bar one) managed to restart small group walks. Unfortunately, these activities have now been suspended due to the national lockdown.

It is my sad duty to report that the Tiverton group committee have recommended dissolution of the group, after consulting members. I have set up a sub committee of Area Council to attempt to resolve this matter. Discussions are currently ongoing.

Our Area Council work has been continuing in the virtual world, allowing us to function and progress necessary work, which would otherwise not be possible. We have also found a new Area Secretary designate, who is already very actively engaging in area council work.

On a positive note, for the post pandemic world, many more people have now started walking and we have plans in hand to fast track recruitment activities for new members, when conditions permit.

Ramblers central office are progressing the Don’t Lose Your Way Campaign with the appointment of regional co-ordinators. A co-ordinator for Devon (Fraser Clark) has very recently been appointed and our Area Council is co-ordinating with Fraser to promote this work.

For the time being, Area Council work will continue in the virtual mode, but I look forward to the time when we can all meet again in person.

With many thanks to all our volunteers for your continuing enthusiasm and dedication, I wish you all happy walking and fellowship.

Professor Andrew Chadwick

Chairman’s report AGM 2020

The Ramblers, nationally, has a membership of about 102,000 with about 60 local areas and 485 groups. Our Devon Area has a membership of over 2500 which has been stable over the last few years. We are currently the 11th largest area by members in the country. In my third year as chairman of Devon Area, I can confidently say that we have a thriving area organisation and very active, welcoming groups. This has been achieved by the dedicated inputs of all our volunteers in group and area committees and walk leaders, both past and present.

In 2019 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, legislation that led to the creation of National Parks, AONBs, National Trails, the definitive map in both England and Wales, and National Nature Reserves across Great Britain. The Ramblers charity and Devon Area have played a significant part in all these developments over the years.

Devon Area Council is responsible for promoting good governance, handling finances, looking after the footpath network and access and environmental concerns. We also try hard to promote the various national campaigns and advocacy for new initiatives, such as connecting people to nature, don’t lose your way and national walking trails.

Our Area Council has had a busy and fruitful year. Currently, we are supporting our region’s two major new walking routes, The Two Moors Way and the Dartmoor Way, with finances and volunteers. We are also supporting a new initiative of East Devon District Council called Routes for Roots. This project promotes walking and “green time” in the area East of Exeter and around the new town of Cranbrook.

On the campaigning front we have held discussions with Devon County Council to secure an altogether better arrangement in connection with the future management of the “Beautiful Days” festival which takes place each August at Escot Park.

On 7th September 2019 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Devon Ramblers, with an event on Hookney Tor, Dartmoor. Nine walks were led by our local Ramblers groups, each taking a different route to walk to Hookney Tor. Over one hundred walkers converged for a lunchtime picnic event where we were addressed by myself, Kate Ashbrook, national chair of Ramblers trustees board, and Dr Rob Parkinson, Dartmoor National Park Authority member. We celebrated 50 years of ramblers’ fellowship, 50 years of promoting access to the countryside, 50 years of protecting, maintaining and enhancing our public rights of way and 50 years of working with Dartmoor National Park for the public good.

Looking forward to the coming year, it is our intention to stimulate more volunteer activity for the Don’t lose your Way campaign and to offer more training events promoted by Area Council. In the meantime, I send many thanks to all our volunteers for your enthusiasm and dedication and I wish you all happy walking and fellowship.

Professor Andrew Chadwick

Chairman’s report for Area Council 17th August 2019

Devon Area 50th Anniversary Walk 7th September

George Coles and I have progressed this further by submitting an event notification form to DNPA, together with an event management plan and risk assessment. I have also asked DNPA to offer a speaker and Naomi Oakley, one of the Authority Members and chair of the Park Management Working Panel for the Authority, has agreed to speak

70Th Anniversary of the National Park (Update)

Concerning the new survey of the Dartmoor footpath network in late summer/autumn. We agreed to circulate to Devon Area groups seeking volunteer help, when details were available. This has now been completed and several members from various groups have volunteered.

Devon Countryside Access Forum

On 13th May, I was invited to a meeting with Hilary Winter, secretary to the Devon Countryside Access Forum to discuss its functions, application procedures and candidate assessment processes. It was agreed that I would circulate the details to Area Council, with a view to encouraging applicants for the next round of appointments in Jan 2020.

Letters to Devon County Council regarding footpath closures

Two letters to the chief executive of Devon County Council have been sent on the 23 April and the 20th June to secure an altogether better arrangement in connection with the future management of the “Beautiful Days” festival which takes place each August at Escot Park. This entailed PROHIBITIVE TRAFFIC REGULATION ORDERS IMPOSED ON PUBLIC FOOTPATHS NOS. 5, 6, 7, 85 AND 86 OTTERY ST MARY AND 4 TALATON

No response has been received to these letters and the East Devon Group is intending to take further action to progress this matter. I will continue to assist, as necessary.

Routes for Roots project

Bob Pond and I attended a meeting on 23rd July with Simon Bates, from East Devon District Council concerning a project he had been working up for Heritage Lottery funding please. EDDC are proposing a two year c£100k project in the Clyst Valley, just east of Exeter, and including most of the National Trust Killerton estate.  The project is called ‘Routes for Roots’. Bob and I agreed to offer a Ramblers letter of support and give some in-kind support e.g. leading some public walks.


Launching the Franklin Totnes Trail August 13th 2017