Maintaining the capital ring

Ahead of the local elections across Britain on 5 May, the Ramblers is calling on councils and councillors to support its volunteers who are working hard to encourage and inspire people to enjoy walking in nature.

A woman standing beside a green waymarker

Jackie Gower coordinates a group of volunteers who maintain and improve the Capital Ring and the London LOOP, two of London’s iconic walking routes. Here Jackie talks about how they make walking in the capital easier for everyone, and how working together with local authorities can have great results.

It’s all about breaking down barriers to getting into walking. It’s our dream to make the Capital Ring and the London LOOP easily accessible for people from all backgrounds, including people who aren’t regular or experienced walkers or experts in reading maps.

Both pathways are easy to get to from lots of train or tube stations along the routes. We want people to come out of a station and immediately see well-maintained paths with signage that makes them feel confident about going for a walk.  They should be paths on which they can have a happy walking experience without worrying about getting lost – just follow the signs or the simple PDF guides provided by Transport for London, that we’ve been working on updating and improving.

A woman nailing a waymarker on a postWaymarking and maintenance

I'm involved in getting the waymarking improved on the Capital Ring and the London LOOP. The routes are divided into sections and Ramblers in London have volunteer coordinators who oversee specific sections of each, encouraging and supporting volunteers to help to keep them well-maintained. For the Capital Ring, I look after sections 6-10 in west London.

We try to check our allocated stretches of the routes about three times a year, making sure none of the signage has come down, that the paths aren’t obstructed and that the waymarks aren’t obstructed by brambles.

Working in partnerships

For the waymarking, we work in partnership with the various landowners to ensure posts are in place for us to put waymarks on. Posts can become damaged in all sorts of ways and need replacing. This means working with organisations like the Royal Parks and the City of London, and also with London borough local authorities – getting local councillors to support our work and liaising with parks departments and rangers.

Of course, many councils have experienced budget difficulties, especially since the beginning of the pandemic and replacing posts and investing in their stretches of the paths costs money. But we feel that investing money and expertise really is worthwhile – there are proven health and wellbeing benefits in enabling people to easily access and enjoy walking, and both the London LOOP and the Capital Ring are such valuable walking resources. We’d like to see councillors and candidates in the upcoming local elections support our work and the Ramblers’ manifesto for London. 

We’ve done good work in partnership with local authorities.  I’ve been able get waymarking done on Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. I was recently out fixing new waymarks on Wimbledon Common several people stopped to look at what I was doing and thanked me and said how useful it was to have better signage. A very satisfying day!”

Help up to bring the benefits of walking to everyone by sending our manifesto to your council candidates.