Chairman’s Highlights report 2020
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, with 9 restarting group walks, at the time of writing.
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.
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 wishing 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.
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.
Wednesday 20 January 2021Starting at 10:00A moderate 10.5 mile / 16.9 km walk
Wednesday 20 January 2021Starting at 10:30A leisurely 7.5 mile / 12.1 km walk
Wednesday 20 January 2021Starting at 10:00A moderate 6 mile / 9.7 km walk
Wednesday 20 January 2021Starting at 09:30A strenuous 10.5 mile / 16.9 km walk
Wednesday 20 January 2021Starting at 10:00A moderate 8 mile / 12.9 km walk
Thursday 21 January 2021Starting at 10:30A moderate 6 mile / 9.7 km walk
Thursday 21 January 2021Starting at 10:30A leisurely 5.5 mile / 8.8 km walk
Friday 22 January 2021Starting at 10:00A leisurely 5.8 mile / 9.3 km walk
Friday 22 January 2021Starting at 10:00A leisurely 5 mile / 8 km walk
Saturday 23 January 2021Starting at 10:00A moderate 6 mile / 9.7 km walk
Saturday 23 January 2021Starting at 10:30A moderate 11.5 mile / 18.5 km walk
Sunday 24 January 2021Starting at 10:30A strenuous 10 mile / 16.1 km walk