At the heart of walking

I was recently on a path maintenance training course in Scotland, learning about the things that Ramblers volunteers do, from clearing ditches and path surfaces to fixing gates.

On one of the breaks somebody posed the question: "Who is the most important person on a path maintenance team?" Immediately the response came: "The person who coordinates the whole day, of course."

A whole discussion began about how the team leader may be important but not as important as the team members who turn up to do the work.

Dylan Thomas School path maintenance volunteeringThis discussion carried on for a few minutes until someone else joined in with words of wisdom: "In our group we have one person who brings the soup and rolls at 12.30. If they didn’t, there would be mutiny! So I think the person who brings the soup is the most important person!"

I think it was Napoleon who said an army marches on its stomach and I suspect it isn't so different from own our army of path maintenance volunteers!

This discussion was carried out in rather a light-hearted manner but it made quite a serious point about the time Ramblers volunteers give, and how valuable that time is. Whether working with land owners and local authorities, mapping paths, or turning up with the soup and rolls, the outcome is ultimately the same. Thanks to their hard work, we can continue to enjoy and share our passion for the outdoors and the places that we love to walk.

Of course it’s not just our footpath volunteers that ensure that Ramblers can deliver its mission. Whether clearing overgrowth, checking path diversions, leading a walk around a city park or national park, making sure the finances are in order or coordinating the management committee, every single volunteer helps to keep you walking.

Whenever I’m out and about I can’t help but be inspired by the energy, enthusiasm, passion and sense of fun that Ramblers volunteers have as they go about their work. And they share that energy and passion with everyone who loves the outdoors.

Traffor Ramblers path teamI’ve lost count of the number of times a friend or member of my family have said how crucial the local Ramblers are in making sure everyone can go walking. The parents of an old school friend, who enjoy walking around Bath, joined because of Ramblers installed gates! They were also so impressed with the quality of Ramblers Routes that they were inspired to volunteer themselves.  

Every single one of the 25,000 volunteers who give their time to the Ramblers play a crucial role in achieving our mission. Whether they give a 1 hour a month, or a day a week, it all adds up to the same thing. Thanks to their dedication, we are able to make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of our community, both locally and nationally, and ensure everyone can go for a walk.

Ed Wilson is the volunteer support and development officer at the Ramblers. You can follow him on twitter @Ed1983. Find out more about volunteering with the Ramblers.