17 December 2018
I love this time of year: the migratory geese are on the move, the weather is crisp and the pub at the end of the walk is lovely and warm. I recently enjoyed just such a pleasant ramble with some wonderful members of our North and Mid Cheshire Area. We chatted constructively about what is working well and what is working less well in the Ramblers right now. I came away encouraged and with some helpful food for thought on a variety of topics, including the paramount importance of maintaining a mutually supportive and respectful dialogue between staff and volunteers.
We are part of an amazing movement, full of passionate people who have come together to help everyone to enjoy the beauties and benefits of the outdoors on foot, no matter who they are or where in Great Britain they live. On the 30 November we marked the day, 18 years ago, when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) came into force across England and Wales. You can find more information about CRoW in this newsletter. It is a brilliant reminder of what we can achieve together when we galvanise staff, volunteers, members and the general public, in support our cause.
On the theme of teamwork, it was brilliant to meet recently with Kate Ashbrook (with her Open Spaces Society hat on), Crispin Truman, Fiona Howie and James Blake (CEOs of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for National Parks and Youth Hostel Association respectively). We toasted the formidable history of our organisations, which first joined forces in the 1930s, to campaign successfully for the establishment of national parks. We committed to meeting regularly, to explore shared opportunities around our common aim of connecting people with green spaces.
This month has also seen us start to realise the huge potential of Don’t Lose Your Way as a major campaign, with some excellent coverage in the national media which you can read more about in this newsletter. If you have time, I would encourage you to read some of the 500+ comments which the article generated online. Paul Howland’s brilliant example made the campaign authentic and relevant and engaged readers emotionally in a way that the facts alone - such as the number of miles of public rights of way at risk (est.10,000 miles) and the 2026 cut off date - can never do.
The trustees met earlier this month for their quarterly meeting and spent some time reviewing progress on our new data and digital transformation programme. Over a year ago the board approved a programme of scale and ambition, and this month they were able to see the insight hub in action and approve the plans for 2019. The excitement was palpable: the board were delighted to see the genuinely transformative results now starting to come through in terms of our improved business intelligence and the opportunities for growth which are emerging as a result.
This month’s newsletter contains some requests for your support, especially in terms of asking you to take a few moments to write to your MP to support our crucial Your Path Awaits campaign, and to help us to reach all volunteers with the current Check In exercise. There is also a request for path maintenance volunteers to make contact with us and an update on the Government’s response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review. And of course, there are thanks to those of you who are taking part in our fantastic Festival of Winter Walks which starts on 21 December.
It remains for me to thank you, on behalf of the trustees and the staff team, for everything you have done for the Ramblers - and for walkers across Great Britain this year - and to send you very best wishes, of joy, love and peace, for the coming holiday season.
Phone: 020 3961 3300
Path maintenance volunteers - please make contact with us
Countryside Rights of Way Act - please join us in celebrating this amazing victory
Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy - please note the results of this important review
As communicated in previous newsletters in our Festival of Winter Walks (from 21 December to 6 January), we’ve been sharing the stories of the many people impacted by social isolation whose lives have been transformed through walking with others. In our winter edition of Walk magazine, we heard from John who told us how walking with the Ramblers helped him at a very difficult time “My wife died in 2004. Initially I kept myself busy with work, family and golf, but after I retired in 2010 I was diagnosed with depression. To help, one thing I did was walk to town and back, so I contacted Andover Ramblers and I did my first walk around Longparish and Harewood. I enjoyed the walk and felt a lot better for it and now I have a strong group of friends who I not only walk with but socialise with outside of the walks”.
Website incident - please remain vigilant