WALKER by decree


									                                                                    Psychogeography or psychobabble, each of us draws our own

             WALKER                                                 sustenance from our perambulations, always feeling the better
                                                                    for it. As Nietzsche said (before he went mad): ‘Never trust a
                                                                    thought that didn’t come by walking’.
                      Summer 2009
                    Ramblers’ Association
               Warwickshire Area Newsletter
                    Editor: John Garrett,
          10 Conway Avenue, Tile Hill, Coventry,
                  West Midlands, CV4 9HZ
                Email: joh_gar@yahoo.co.uk                           The psychogeography of Windsor includes Queen Victoria’s
                                                                          first train ride and Heathrow Airport’s terminal 5
               Registered Charity No. 1093577                                             __________________
    Area Web Site: www.warwickshireramblers.org.uk
                                                                                  Puschair Walks: Update
                    Editor’s Word
                                                                    From Catherine Nicholas:
A recently published book, The Lost Art of Walking: the
history, science, philosophy and literature of pedestrianism by     Getting these started has required the assistance of the
Geoff Nicholson, is a reminder, if any were needed, of the          ‘Activities coordinator’ at one of the Solihull Children's
contribution to mental and physical health offered by our           Centres who is able to provide walk leaders and has access to
favourite weekend pastime. As an American urbanite,                 the contact details of new parents in Solihull for advertising
Nicholson’s focus is on city walks in particular; he notes the      purposes.
currency of the verb ramble among black New Orleans
citizens in the early 20th century. Some of you may be              Pushchair walks in Solihull will be starting May 12th on a
familiar with Kid Ory’s classic Muskrat Ramble, or know the         weekly basis for parents with babies under 12 months in the
two-part structure of the funeral march, Didn’t he ramble, as       first instance. It is hoped to develop this further to include
performed by Louis Armstrong: a solemn trudge to the                more locations and dates, so, if anyone is interested, please
cemetery followed by an upbeat swing back to town once the          either let me know or email Walker for a copy of the timetable
body has been interred. Life goes on.                               in the first instance.

Now, two of the articles in this issue of Walker refer to           For 4 yrs and above, I hope that it may be possible to develop
geoparks. But what about psychogeography, I hear you cry            a local Ramblers Family group in the longer run.
(don’t I?). Well, Nicholson attended a conference in New                              ____________________
York on psychogeography. This is one of the many abstract
terms for which we must be grateful, or not, to the French.                       ADVANCE NOTICE OF AREA AGM
Apparently it was invented in 1955 by Guy Debord, who
defined it as ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects   The Stratford-upon-Avon Group will be hosting the next Area
of the geographical environment, consciously organised or           AGM on Saturday 6th February 2010 in the Town Hall,
not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’. So next         Stratford-upon-Avon, commencing at 10.a.m.
time you feel like emitting a murmur of discontent when your
leader has delayed the coffee break too long, just think of all     Further details will be included in the next issue of Walker, but
the juices you’re unwittingly imbibing from the atmosphere.         Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of Ramblers Association, has
                                                                    promised to come to the meeting, having been unable to attend
England has its own psychogeographer: Iain Sinclair (strictly       the last AGM in Birmingham.
speaking, a Welshman). Sinclair has steeped himself in the
psychogeography of London, which he regards as a                    A selection of walks in and around Stratford will be led by
palimpsest, a text written over many times by events in             members of our Group.
history. He’ll walk, for example, down a street in Whitechapel
and hear the footsteps of Jack the Ripper padding along behind      We look forward to welcoming members of all the other
him. You know the feeling. Sinclair’s highest (or lowest) point     Warwickshire groups to Stratford-upon-Avon.
was reached in 2002, when he published London Orbital, a
600-page description of his walk along the M25, all 117 miles       Susan Bruce
of it. According to Sinclair, Guy Debord was not the inventor       Stratford-upon-Avon Group Chairman
of psychogeographic walking. A Brit got there first: Thomas
                                                                    Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Autumn 2009 issue of
de Quincey, famous opium-eater of the early 19th century,
                                                                    Walker is 31st July.
published his London ramblings, ‘slightly druggy, no pattern,
mapping out the city in a dream-like state’.
                                                                     obviously used to holding a geological map in their hands as
                                                                     well as an OS map, but armed with the Guide, the appropriate
                   VIEWPOINT                                         OS map and the help of the waymarks now appearing along
                                                                     the route, you should have no trouble following the Geopark
                                                                     Way... indeed, I suspect that many of you would find that you
                                                                     are already familiar with much of the route.

                                                                     So if you find yourselves out and about in the new Geopark
                                                                     and you come across the Geopark Way waymarks, dark green
                                                                     with a stylised image of the Silurian trilobite Dalmanites
                                                                     inside the arrow, just remember that he’s 400 million years
In addition to National Parks, AONBs, SSSIs, Access Land,            old, or thereabouts... I think!
World Heritage Sites, Nature Reserves and Country Parks, we                                         *****
now have a new addition to the official armoury of                   In the 2007 winter edition of Walker I wrote of the closure of
countryside designations – Geoparks – and one of the six in          the Dodford Inn near Bromsgrove, a splendidly useful and
the UK, the Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark lies just             welcoming pub for ramblers, which the owners, an Essex-
to the west of our Area. What is more, the Hereford and              based investment company, wished to sell for conversion to a
Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust have published the route         dwelling. So outraged were my Group at this blatant example
of a 109-mile-long Geopark Way, for the benefit of the               of asset stripping that when the case came before Bromsgrove
geologically inclined walker.                                        Council for planning consent, our Group sent in a formal
                                                                     objection. To our delight Bromsgrove planning committee
There is a line of thought that the whole of the British Isles       threw the application out—unanimously!
deserves to be designated a Geopark, as rocks of all but one of
the fifteen geological periods are displayed in our small            Not happy with this rejection, the owners served notice on the
archipelago! Be that as it may, the Abberley and Malvern Hills       tenant and closed the poor old Dodford anyway—despite a
Geopark - running in a linear direction from Bridgenorth down        desperate attempt from local campaigners to keep this unique
to Gloucester - manages to cover a surprising variety of             village asset open. But the Company were determined to have
geology, from the Pre-Cambrian right through to the Jurassic,        their wretched way and appealed to the Planning Inspectorate
with more recent glacial drift and river terrace deposits thrown     at Bristol—and on the Planning Inspectorate’s usual form, I
in for good measure... For the benefit of the non-geologist I        expected them to get it!
had better explain that the geological timescale is divided into
some fifteen or so main divisions, ranging from the Pre-             However, much to my delight, even the Planning Inspectorate
Cambrian at 4600 million years old to the present day. So if         dismissed this second application and I now hear that the
you ask a geologist how old a particular rock is - like the          Dodford has reopened with new tenants. So come on ramblers,
historian who will say Medieval or Stuart rather than                this is a rare victory these days, so get your boots on, visit
‘sometime around the 1200s or 1600s’ - the geologist will            Pepper and Chaddesley Woods and don’t forget to call in the
place your rock in one of these fifteen divisions rather than tell   Dodford for a celebratory pint!
you its age in millions of years. Frankly, like me, they
probably can’t carry the figures around in their heads anyway.       Michael Bird
                                                                     Area Chairman
It is a geological convention that the geological column is read                          _______________
(oldest first) from the bottom up—and if only it were that                                 Poets’ Corner
simple we would be able to follow the Geopark Way in that
direction too. But, unfortunately for simplicity - but splendidly    What would the world be, once bereft
for the scenery - tectonic activity has so jumbled up the rocks      Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
of these periods and thrust them up and worn them down to             O let them be left, wildness and wet;
such an extent that the oldest rocks (the Malvern Hills) now lie     Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
in the middle of the walk. Only at the southern end                                             Gerard Manley Hopkins
approaching Gloucester will you encounter the youngest
rocks, the Lower Jurassic, at 199 million years old.

So far two of our local groups, Stratford-upon-Avon and the
City of Birmingham Groups, have embarked on walking the
Geopark Way in monthly sections—and by the time you are
reading this they should have arrived at the half-way stage,
swapping the rolling fossiliferous Silurian limestone of the
Suckley Hills for the rugged igneous terrain of the Malverns.

There is a splendidly illustrated trail guide published by the
Hereford and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust, University
of Worcester, price £9.95, postage and packing £2 (an order
form    can    be    downloaded        from    their   website
www.EarthHeritageTrust.org). The authors of the Guide are
                                                                    We found and boarded the coach, breathed a sigh of relief, and
               OUT and ABOUT                                        all agreed that it had been a wonderful day’s walk.

                                                                    Derek Spencer

                                                                                         To Boldly Go . . .
                                                                    This report has been received from Andrew Ireland of
                                                                    Coventry Group’s footpath working party.

                                                                    Some residents are more welcoming than others.
  Relic of a footbridge over the Great Central Railway near
                           Maidwell                                 This sign was displayed on a garden gate near Ansty,
               ________________________________                     Coventry, through which a footpath right of way went, and it
                  A Walk to Remember                                would intimidate even the bravest, especially as the waymark
                                                                    had been removed.
                  Geopark Walk Part 2
                                                                    Warwickshire Council recently had the sign removed, but it
It is possibly best that I do not mention the name of the leader    was lying on the ground and looked ready to be replaced in
of this particular walk although it seems as if the name Roger      position!
is obligatory if one is to be honoured in this way. We should
have been suspicious at the Highley start for, after information    The sign reads ‘No Uninvited Guests - This is my dog and it
and instructions, he wished us well on the walk as though he        can get to the gate in 1.6 seconds - the question is - can you??’
was not actually coming with us! Was he just revealing his
own secret apprehension?

Fate must have smiled on us as we battled through snow and
mud, slipping and sliding from and along the assumed path.
Our childlike question, ‘Are we nearly there?’ was treated
with disdain. With just a few centimetres of snow the fields
looked lovely, pristine white with no visible puddles or
marshy mires or any sign of footpaths to spoil the landscape.
Of course the only problem was that we were trying to follow
the hidden paths with only occasional diversions through
jungle-type vegetation to avoid mud that would have
swallowed a small dog – we didn’t experiment with a small
Coming through woodland to a small stream, we assumed we
were on the path but there was no obvious crossing point.                                 BRANDING
Like migrating wildebeest we massed on the bank waiting for
the first one brave or foolish enough to risk it. Was the water     On 18th February a workshop was held by Central Office at
a little deeper than it looked? Would that stone roll over the      the Centre for Voluntary Action in Birmingham to familiarise
moment you stepped on it? Were there crocodiles and where           representatives from Warwickshire Groups with the Ramblers’
was our leader? He had left us to face the dangers alone and        Association’s new branding and the rationale behind it.
two kind helpers hauled me up the far bank with such
enthusiasm that I landed in a bog a couple of yards further         The message presented by Chief Executive Tom Franklin (by
on. Our gallant leader had gone downstream either to cry or         video) was that recent surveys undertaken on behalf of the RA
to search fruitlessly for a ford, a bridge or perhaps a boat        indicate that the image of ramblers outside of the RA’s
whilst we, a leaderless herd, poured, or rather hauled,             members ‘borders on ridicule’. It was therefore decided to
ourselves over a fence posing as a stile. We subsequently           revamp the image of ramblers so that people would say ‘Wow!
laboured over many stiles and squelched through numerous            I never thought the Ramblers were like that!’
fields, but the navigation was mostly impeccable. That was
until the advance party realised that their snow-disguised          Kate Ashbrook, the RA Chairman, recalled (also by video)
‘path’ was at a ninety degree variance with the actual snow-        that twenty odd years ago a meeting had been held to change
covered track. As they swung round towards the other corner         the RA logo from a rucksack to the present squiggly-line
of the field, and another championship-standard awkward             motif. After extensive consultation, a new logo has been
stile, everyone else adjusted their route so that any passing       devised that will carry the organisation forward and
airman would have observed a fan-like pattern of forty or so        encapsulate what it wants to be in the future.
Stratford ramblers seeking to prove that the last can be first so
long as you do not follow the leader.
BRIEFINGS          (cont.)                                          through the garden of ‘Woodacre’ and onto Hardwick Lane at
Tony Hall, the RA’s Director of Marketing and
Communication, outlined the new strategy for 2008-13. It is         AL163, Tanworth in Arden (Explorer 220)
called Fresh Air, Firm Ground, and encompasses four aims:            This path has now been diverted to follow the south-east side
                                                                      of the long narrow field from Gorcott Hill at SP 092685 to
         1)   a good-quality walking environment                                     Ullenhall Lane at SP 095687.
         2)   making walking accessible to all
         3)   communicating our work                                                            Steven Wallsgrove
         4)   ensuring a well-run organisation                                                Area Footpath Officer
Why rebrand the RA? To increasse ‘relevance and awareness’.
Research independently undertaken to discover what the man                                  Ansty Golf Centre
and woman in the street associated with the word rambler
elicited responses such as ‘retired’, ‘elderly people’, ‘men with   The following briefing has been received from Richard
beards’, ‘anoraks’ or simply ‘???’.                                 Barnard, Footpath Officer with Warwickshire County Council.

                                                                    I don't know how familiar you are will the stretch of path
This gave rise to some self-examination within the association
                                                                    along the Ansty Golf Centre course, where the landslide from
and the asking of questions such as ‘What type of organisation
                                                                    the railway has blocked the correct line of the path for the last
are we? Environmental? Leisure?’ and ‘How could we attract
new members?’ Prominent among the responses from the                16 years. Needless to say, after much discussion the path is
public was the query, ‘Tell me more about what you do.’             now open on its correct line, behind the fence on the railway
                                                                    side and by 24th April will be surfaced with stone. The path is
                                                                    well waymarked, but the problem we and the Golf Centre have
So the decision was made to refurbish the RA brand, focusing
                                                                    is to educate walkers and the general public to use the new,
on the Ramblers’ ethos, defined in the slogan, ‘We want to be
at the heart of walking’. The essence of the RA is crystallised     correct route after having used the golf course for so long.
in words such as ‘knowledgeable’, ‘welcoming’, ‘positive’,                                  __________________
‘expert’, even ‘inspiring’. The general public, it emerges, do
perceive us as knowledgeable but not as inspiring. Based on                              New Area Website
this, we need to focus our attention on being ‘visionary’ and
‘relevant’.                                                         The new Area website has been up and running for some
                                                                    months now and the Area Webmaster, Colin Rock, would
When asked about how they responded to the current, 20-year-        welcome any appropriate photographs. Could Groups please
old logo, people said it looked cheap and old-fashioned: it         check their links to the site:
didn’t say anything about what we, as Ramblers, do. The             www.warwickshireramblers.org.uk
conclusion from these investigations was that the RA needed
to make a quantum leap, to startle people.

Hence the new logo was arrived at, based on the key motto, At                               __________________
the heart of walking. The new logo was based on the original
pattern of two figures: a vertical rectangle and a circle,
representing objects that might be seen on an urban and a rural
walk: e.g. a tall building and a pebble. The concept was
refined, so that the rectangular block was softened into a more
flexible shape, somewhat like a tree trunk.

Although ‘The Ramblers’ Association’ remains the official
designation of the organisation, this will be simplified to
‘ramblers’ on all publicity material.

Since 2010 will be the 75th anniversary of the RA, the new
logo must appear on all the stationery by the end of the year.      The Ramblers’ Association is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England
                                                                    and Wales. Company registration number: 4458492. Registered office: 2nd floor,
                 ___________________                                Camelford House, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TW Registered Charity
                                                                    in England and Wales number: 1093577

                    Where is that path?
The following significant changes have taken place in the rural
parts of our Area since the last report was prepared.

AL164a, Mappleborough Green (Explorer 220)
The east end of this path has now been diverted to exit on to
the Morton Bagot Road at SP 102663, instead of passing

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