Dave Cavanagh

Dave Cavanagh
Doing my volunteering as a member of Ramblers, rather than just on my own, has enriched my life socially and has increased both the quantity and quality of my contribution to improving the walking environment.

Vice Chair | Vale of White Horse Ramblers

In 2011, in my late 50s, I saw the Ramblers as the optimal medium through which I could combine my desire to do more out of doors and to improve my local walking environment. I like walking for the obvious reasons but I was also looking for ‘added value’. It has turned out that volunteering within the context of Ramblers has given me this in spades.

I started by leading walks. Currently I lead a monthly mid-week 5-6 mile walk in the west of the Vale and sundry other walks of shorter and longer distances. I then attended my first AGMs, whereupon I volunteered to join both the Vale of White Horse (my local group) and Oxfordshire Ramblers committees to represent the interest of the members. This was a low commitment way to observe the Ramblers working at grass roots level and to contribute ideas.

Subsequently I have become Vice Chair of the Oxfordshire Ramblers. The committees were where I learned more about parish path wardens (PPWs) and path maintenance. I subsequently volunteered as PPW for my local parish, photographing all path furniture. This gave me what I wanted: getting out and about with added purpose. I also enjoyed collating my data in an attractive way, the better to convince others to rectify the inadequacies along the paths, and it satisfied my compulsion to compile reports!

I sent reports to my local parish council. I struck gold: a parish councillor said “Right, let’s use your report to apply for money to replace stiles with gates on selected routes.” This was very satisfying. Several meetings and iterations of my report later we submitted an application to the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment. The upshot was a grant of £5K. That was even more satisfying.

I am now PPW for two parishes. Although I improved all the public rights of way that I walked along using secateurs and a pruning saw, it was clear that some paths required more than one person’s efforts. I contributed to the formation of a path maintenance group within the Vale and now get satisfaction making extensive improvements at the same time as enjoying the company of fellow work party members.

Volunteering for the Ramblers, an organisation respected throughout the land, adds to the impact that I can make, gives me great satisfaction and fantastic company.

Dave Cavanagh
Countryside Secretary, Vale of White Horse Ramblers and Vice Chair, Oxfordshire Ramblers

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