In February when I was writing the last newsletter none of us could have imagined how soon our lives would change. As lockdown began activities were severely curtailed. Fortunately we were permitted to exercise each day, and the fine weather made daily walks enjoyable. As restrictions eased we were permitted to walk with one friend and then in a group of up to six from other households. What joy!

Meanwhile considerable work was going on behind the scenes at Ramblers main office so that larger group walks could restart safely. Staff worked alongside other organisations including the Outdoor Industries Association, the British Mountaineering Council and Sport England, to meet the government guidance. Finally in late July volunteers in England and Wales were contacted with the news that walks of up to 30 people could resume, following our guide on ‘How to restart group walks in a COVID-secure way’.

After consulting with leaders our walks co-ordinator, Dennis, has decided to restart walks in October and to limit the number of walkers to 20. A booking system will be in operation and the usual 6-month programme will not be issued as we have been advised not to plan walks more than a month ahead. Details of group walks in October will be available on the website in September.

Alternatively you can contact the walks co-ordinator, Dennis Barr, on 01642 892215.

Despite lockdown our Footpath Officers have dealt with a number of consultations and planning applications. Following our rejection in 2016 of proposals to close and divert PROWs at Ravensthorpe Manor, Boltby, we have again been contacted by the landowner’s agent to discuss proposed changes which are almost identical to those rejected. We have reluctantly agreed to a site visit which will take place as soon as convenient.

We provisionally agreed to a footpath diversion at Sutton Bank so that the current route can be used for cycling events. This agreement is subject to ensuring separation between cyclists and walkers.

In the Stockton area Elton FP2 was found to be blocked at Sandy Leas Lane. We had threatened legal action to enforce removal of the obstruction but this threat was rescinded due to lockdown.

Since lockdown public rights of way have seen a huge increase in use as many people discover the pleasure of walking and cycling for the first time. Unfortunately in some areas, such as Guisborough Forest, rogue mountain bikers using public footpaths have become a real problem. The National Park Ranger has asked the landowner, Forestry England, to install suitable signage as a first step towards trying to address this.

Anyone intending to park in the Cat Nab or Pier car parks in Saltburn should be aware that the charge for a full day has been increased from £4 to £6. There is of course free parking elsewhere.

Hazel Merigold