Pathways - Spring 2022, Issue 78

 

Editorial

Soon the bad weather should be behind us and the ground starting to dry, and plenty of good walks to be enjoyed. We shall be continuing to work with a rolling programme for the foreseeable future, it seems to work quite well and most people prefer it. Whilst Covid restrictions have been lifted, you will see that most walks are bookable (it’s up to the individual leader) and we still need to record participants contact details.

We are still very short of leaders; those who are leading walks are putting a lot of time and effort in to maintain a full programme and keep the group going. Please try to support them as much as you can. Happy Walking!
Rosemary

Important Information for Walk Leaders

I’m sure you are all aware of the Ramblers new website and re-branding, but they are also making extensive changes to the way that walks are shown on the website (Walks Manager).
Currently each group has a “Group Walks and Events Manager” who is the only person in the group with access to the system (myself). After the changeover, which will happen in the next month or two, all leaders will be able to access the system- if they wish- to put on or make changes to their walks.

However, contact details for a walk will no longer be able to be added without specific consent from the leader, due to GDPR. In simple terms, it means that everybody leading a walk will need to log into Assemble (the volunteer zone on the Ramblers website) to give their permission for their contact details to be published. This will only need to be done once, not for subsequent walks.

At the moment I don’t know how this is to be done, as currently I am the only person with access to the Walks manager, but I’m hoping that all will become clear before long! When it does, I will email round to leaders to tell them what to do. In the meantime, if you don’t use Assemble, it might be worth having a look to familiarise yourself with it. It is simple to access via the Ramblers website; you can use the same log-in. If you then go into “Directory” on the left-hand column, you will see volunteer’s names listed, it would be a good idea to check that your details are correct as it has become apparent amongst the committee that several people have their roles incorrectly listed.

It will be important that everybody gives their consent, once we know how to do so, as it will have implications on our ability to publicise our walks.

The group in Bedford, on a walk led by Ajay in October
The Group in Bedford, on a walk led by Ajay in October.

 
In November I received the following article from Sheila, who moved to Redditch last summer. Here’s how she’s settling into her new life:

Walking in Worcestershire

Firstly, a belated thank you to everyone who sent cards and good wishes to me after my house move in the summer. It was as stressful as they suggest – and then some! I am now settling in and have the new challenge of trying to find competent tradespeople. The garden landscaper was due here this week- no sign- and the carpenter can’t do anything for 6 months.

My home town of Redditch was developed as a new town around its Victorian centre and as such, has large numbers of dual carriageways and roundabouts. At the same time, it was also planted with huge numbers of trees and has some lovely parks which look wonderful with their autumnal colours.
Redditch was famous for its many factories during the industrial revolution, in particular for needle production and in 1870 produced 90% of the world’s needles. The Royal Enfield motorbikes were also produced here and only ceased production in 1967. Prior to that, the Romans settled in the area for over 400 years, attracted in part by the rich salt deposits which later gave rise to the spa town of Droitwich. The nearby Cistercian monastery of Bordesley Abbey was built in 1140 near the River Arrow which enabled them to use water power to create a mill.

As for the walking here, I have joined the Redditch Ramblers who are a friendly and active group. They typically offer 3 walks a week, the Saturday option usually being the most challenging in both distance and sometimes terrain although the Sunday ‘easier ‘walks can still be 10 miles. They are also sociable with meals out and day trips as well as arranging walking breaks – they went to the Isle of Wight in September as the Italian holiday has had to be postponed to next September due to the pandemic .

So far, I have seen some wonderful countryside across Warwickshire and Worcestershire. I have counted 5 walking trails locally and there is a huge canal network , including the Tardebigge locks on the Worcester and Birmingham canal which has the longest flight of locks in the UK- 30 locks over 2 1⁄4 miles. Navigating to the start point of a walk in an area I don’t know can prove challenging, especially when they involve narrow country lanes or are part of the recently created Heart of England Forest which is not on many maps. This month’s programme now uses the ‘what three words’ system of locating the start point so that’s something else I will have to embrace. You will probably be pleased to know they have some excellent mud here too! Happy walking.

Sheila West

Winter Walking

Every winter brings challenges with the weather for walkers, and we had to cancel a February walk because of strong winds. But prior to that everything had gone ahead as planned. We enjoyed bright sunshine on a walk from Ouse Valley park, led by Eric, at the end of November. However, the photo of us crossing the lock gates gives no indication of how bitterly cold and icy it was!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, when we slithered through some serious mud on Andy’s walk from Peter’s Green, enhanced by frequent showers! But as the picture shows, most were still smiling!

At least this winter we have been able to walk as a group; a definite improvement on last year – but I’m sure I speak for most of us when saying “Roll on spring!”

Photo by Ajay Gandhi

Photo Ajay Gandhi

Change of Email Address

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to change to a new email account for sending out Rambler’s notifications. Currently I am using my personal address, and as we become more and more reliant on digital communications, there is going to come a time when I am not available to do this ( you never know- I may be on holiday!!!)

Having a dedicated account means that I can nominate one or more delegates to act on my behalf. Initially the person who will cover in my absence will by Eric Peppiatt (membership secretary) but there could be others added later if we feel it is necessary.
Before the changeover can take place, we will need to test that it will work, but I will send out an email from my usual address to let you know when I will be sending a test email, then if that works OK (fingers crossed), Eric will test it from his end. You may find that you need to check your junk mail if you don’t receive it. Further details to follow!

Annual General Meeting 2021

For the second year running, we found ourselves hosting the AGM via Zoom, due to Covid. We had a reasonable attendance- 16 clearly present and a couple of others were there in name only- but thanks to them for trying! There were a few minor technical hiccups at the start while everyone attempted to get themselves positioned (it’s not this much fun when you’re sitting in a hall), but fortunately Area Chairman Nick Markham was there and able to advise.

Once the meeting was underway it followed the usual format of officer and committee member reports. Some didn’t have a lot to report, as Rambler’s activities are still being impacted by the on-going pandemic. Treasurer Bob Shelley reported that the group has an excess of funds and asked for ideas as to how this money could be used. However, Ramblers are launching a major re-branding initiative in early 2022 which will necessitate updates to our publicity materials, which will probably swallow up a good proportion of it! Bob Tarron, with his footpath secretary’s hat on, told us that the building of the A5-M1 link road could mean that some footpaths to the north of Luton could be closed for at least 5 years. But good news on the membership front; Eric reported that we have had 22 new members this year (although one is resident in Kenilworth- something wrong in Head Office admin. there!)

The committee were re-elected en masse, and we were all really pleased when Maggie Rattigan,(pictured) who has only been with us for a short while, bravely volunteered to become social secretary- a post which has been vacant for several years. Thanks were extended to her and we look forward to working together.

Charlotte Rattigan - new Social Secretary

Whilst reports may have been brief, several topics gave rise to lengthy and lively discussions, for example; the outlook for the walks programme and booking procedures, how to encourage new and younger members to join us and also whether anything could be done to enable more members to car share when attending walks. These are obviously on- going issues for the committee to discuss further.

The meeting finally drew to a close, with thanks all round, at 9.20pm- surely a record! What a good job weren’t in a hall- we would have barely had time for the cheese and pineapple! I think everybody is hoping that next year’s meeting will be an in-person meeting rather than a virtual one, but I think we said that last year!
Rosemary

Changes to the Highway Code

You have probably heard or seen in the media about recent changes to the Highway Code. If you haven’t already done so, do check out www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code for the facts.
Some of the media reporting has led to confusion, especially surrounding the new hierarchy for road users. As walkers we should not just step out in front of traffic and expect it to stop!

The Ramblers Association is a registered charity (England & Wales no 1093577, Scotland no SC039799) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 4458492). Registered office: 2nd floor, Camelford House, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TW