A lasting footprint

Words: Elyssa Campbell-Barr & Tom Palmer 

Post-holidays and pre-Christmas, autumn is the ideal time to get your affairs in order. Discover how leaving a legacy to the Ramblers can enhance lives and landscapes, benefiting current and future generations of walkers   

Since 1935, the Ramblers has been doing all it can to improve access to the great outdoors and help everyone enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of getting out into nature. We successfully campaigned for the Countryside and Rights ofWay Act 2000, played a central part in securing Scotland's pioneering Land Reform Act 2003 and fought for the opening of the Thames Path, the Pennine Way, the King Charles III England Coast Path and many more.  

Our legal team tackles complex cases, sometimes lasting years, to protect access and remove barriers to walking. And every week, our path maintenance teams are busy installing and improving the gates, bridges, stiles and benches that make rambling more accessible and enjoyable.  

Much of this work wouldn't be possible without the generous legacies we have received over the years. Gifts in wills, whatever the size, are vital to help ensure everyone, everywhere can explore Britain's green spaces and inspire the next generation of walkers.  


Act this autumn  

We all know how important it is to write a will, yet around half of UK adults (including one third of people aged over 55) don't have one.  

But writing your will doesn't have to be complicated or costly. The Ramblers' trusted provider, Farewill, will help you write a straightforward will quickly and easily for free - saving you at least £90 on the usual cost*. Unlike Free Wills Month (see below), there are no age limits and you're not restricted to specific times of year. Visit farewill.com/make-a-will-online and answer a few simple questions to quickly determine your eligibility for their will-writing service. Depending on your circumstances and where you live in the UK, you could make your will either online or by telephone free of charge when you use or quote the code 'RAMBLERS8'. If you take up this offer, we ask that you consider leaving a gift to the Ramblers in your will, but there's absolutely no obligation to do so.  

Alternatively, October is Free Wills Month when, if you are aged 55 or over, participating solicitors across the UK will write or update your will free of charge. Set up in 2005, this worthwhile scheme aims to raise money for respected charities through legacy giving. If you participate in this autumn's Free Wills Month, we hope you'll leave a donation to the Ramblers in your will - although, again, there's no obligation. Find out more at freewillsmonth.org.uk.   


Leaving a legacy  

There are several types of legacy you can leave in your will:  

• Pecuniary legacy A gift of a fixed sum of money decided by you.  

• Specific legacy A gift of a particular named asset or item, for example a property or shares. 

• Residuary legacy A gift of all or a portion of the remainder of your estate once your debts, funeral expenses, inheritance tax and other costs have been paid, and any pecuniary or specific legacies distributed. This type of legacy is especially valuable as its value is not affected by inflation. Just 1 % of your estate could make a tremendous difference in helping us open the way for walkers; a higher percentage will help us do even more.  

• Reversionary legacy A gift of an asset (such as a property) left for the use of a named beneficiary during their lifetime, after which it is passed to another beneficiary, such as the Ramblers.  

If you've already made a will, you can add a gift to the Ramblers through a codicil, a simple legal document that amends an existing will. Your solicitor can explain if this is a suitable option for you and guide you through the process. As the Ramblers is a registered charity, legacies left to us are free of inheritance tax. Leaving money to a charity may also reduce the amount of inheritance tax that may otherwise be payable on your estate. Inheritance tax rules are complex, so we recommend you seek independent professional legal and financial advice in relation to your own circumstances.  


Remembering the Ramblers  

If or when the time is right for you to think about your will, remember every gift made to the Ramblers makes a difference. By including us in your will, you'll create a lasting legacy that will:

• Protect, enhance and open up paths, trails and green spaces across Britain for everyone to enjoy.

• Boost Britain's wellbeing by removing barriers to walking.

• Help current and future generations of walkers explore our beautiful countryside.  


Get in touch  

Find more information about leaving a legacy gift to the Ramblers at ramblers.org.uk/legacies. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about your wishes, please call us on 020 3961 3232 or email legacy@ramblers.org.uk.  

If you decide to leave a gift to the Ramblers in your will, do let us know. We would love to have the opportunity to thank you for your generosity and keep you up to date with our work.  

*Farewill's service is only available to supporters in Great Britain making a simple will. The company is an online legal service, not a law firm, and is not a substitute for a solicitor's advice. If your affairs are complex or you need advice on inheritance tax, we suggest seeking advice from a solicitor. 

Where there’s a will… 

While some members choose to leave a percentage of their estate to the Ramblers, others specify a certain sum or support a particular group or type of work that means a lot to them.  

In 2002, Doris Trappitt of lsle of Wight Ramblers left a legacy of £16,000 to improve access for walkers on the island. The group had a vision of an accessible network of footpaths, beginning with a four-mile route along the Yar Estuary. They boosted the value of Doris's gift by applying for a match-funded grant from a local National Lottery Heritage Fund project. Within the Yar Estuary scheme, the group launched its Donate a Gate initiative, through which supporters could fund the replacement of a stile with a gate, with a plaque showing the donor's name. So far, more than 260 stiles on the Isle ofWight have been replaced, thanks to more than £100,000 in donations from the public. Claiming Gift Aid on the donations where possible generated yet more income, leading to another Heritage Fund-supported project: a £50,000 footpath improvement scheme in the east of the island. In total, Doris's initial gift of £16,000 snowballed into £250,000 of investment in the island's path network.  

A legacy gift of several thousand pounds left to Cornwall Ramblers in the 2010s by Mrs Kemp-Gee enabled a team of volunteers to set up the Ramblers Environmental Action Clearance Team (REACT). Working with the county council and local landowners, they set about clearing and restoring unusable or blocked paths across the county, clearing overgrowth, installing gates, refurbishing stiles, building bridges and installing new signage and waymarkers. After a while, Cornwall Council was so happy with the reliability of the REACT team and quality of their work, it agreed to fund 50% of material costs. Later on, it agreed to pay the full cost of materials. 'Mrs Kemp-Gee's legacy was very valuable in kick-starting the work and led to the council funding the purchase of materials in the longer term,' says local rights of way officer Bob Fraser.  

'I'm 75 and have spent much of my life walking in the Chilterns and on the Isle of Wight. I have always felt passionate about walking and disappointed that so many people face obstacles to accessing the countryside. Inevitably, at my age, you attend funerals of friends who were passionate about walking. Many dedicated their lives to improving paths or campaigning for access. Listening to their stories, you're grateful for their dedication but wonder if this is the end of their important work? I've chosen to leave a legacy to the Ramblers in my will, as I want this work to continue after I'm gone. I'm confident our charity can make a huge difference with this important source of funds.'  David 

'I am blessed to live in a county with an amazing network of rights of way, both inland and coastal. It's a pleasure to introduce people to the joys of walking in the countryside, so beneficial for our physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. Over the years, by sheer persistence, I and many others have seen paths improved. I won't be here for ever, but I am passionate that our paths continue to be available for everyone - residents, visitors and local university students - and protected for the future. A bequest to the Ramblers could and should enable more people to enjoy walking and access paths from their doorstep.'  Mary