Ramblers staff try their hand at volunteering

Building path steps

Emma and Angelah get started on a new step installed on a dangerously sloping stretch

Whether it’s leading walks or maintaining footpaths, campaigning on walking issues or providing administrative support, volunteers are at the heart of what the Ramblers are and what we do and we simply couldn’t achieve our charitable aims without them.

In order to get a better insight into the work our volunteers do and show our support for their tireless efforts, staff at Ramblers central office took on volunteering roles from 21-27 May as part of staff volunteering week, joining Ramblers groups across the country from Brighton to Durham.

Six members of staff spent a day with the Farnham and District Ramblers working group – who carry out monthly path maintenance from March to October – helping to install a set of steps, a finger post and a kissing gate as well as to edge, clear and resurface sections of footpath 5 near Farnham Castle Stables.

“Our day in Farnham gave me added respect for the physical and logistical efforts involved in path maintenance” said Ramblers Web Editor Emma Pearson. “Every time I see a set of path steps I’ll be reminded just how much hard work is needed to keep footpaths accessible for us all to enjoy."

Staff also volunteered to lead walks as part of the annual programme run by Ramblers groups. Anastasia French and Jeff Smith teamed up with Essex Ramblers for a walk along the new Olympic legacy route from Hadleigh to Stratford (see Walk summer edition, p62-7, for more), acting as back markers for the 50-strong group.

“Jeff and I were there to make sure those at the back didn’t get lost” said Anastasia, Campaigns Officer at the Ramblers. “My personal highlight was talking to a man I’d recruited as a member at The Outdoors Show – four months later and he’s an active member of his local group."

More than a dozen Ramblers staff led walks in Oxfordshire, Surrey, East Sussex, Suffolk, County Durham and the capital as part of staff volunteering week, while Des de Moor, Senior Everyday Walking Officer at the Ramblers, developed a new walking route for the Ramblers Routes project (more information in Walk, p26-8).

Completing the picture, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Ramblers Nicky Philpott switched seats for the day to experience first-hand the work recording and processing rights of way issues carried out by Ramblers Campaigns Administrator Emily Shaw and the volunteers she coordinates.

Sebastian Seeney from the Membership team also helped the West Essex Ramblers with path maintenance, which involved installing way markers as well as some extensive foliage clearance ranging from unruly weeds to stinging nettles.

Finally Ramblers E-Communications Officer Sarah Gardner took a scenic trip down to Truro to get her hands dirty with the Ramblers Environmental Action Clearance Team (REACT) coordinated by the Cornwall Ramblers. You can read more about what Sarah and the REACT team got up to in her latest blog.

We are hugely grateful to the Ramblers groups who hosted staff throughout the week, giving them not only a greater understanding of the amount and variety of work carried by Ramblers volunteers but also the opportunity to join in and give something back.

Find out about how to get involved.