WALKER Winter 2009 Ramblers’ Association Warwickshire Area Newsletter Editor: John Garrett, 10 Conway Avenue, Tile Hill, Coventry, West Midlands, CV4 9HZ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Registered Charity No. 1093577 Area Web Site: www.warwickshireramblers.org.uk Negotiating a cliff-path waterfall on Ramblers Holidays’ Editor’s Word Madeira adventure ______________________ Seeing the rain sleeting down outside the window, and the STRATFORD UPON AVON GROUP invites you to the world outside coated in a uniform battleship-grey (apart from WARWICKSHIRE AREA AGM one brave tree fluttering its few remaining gold leaves in vain and futile seduction, like a refugee from le beau monde), I On Saturday 6th February 2010 struggle to comprehend why anyone should wax enthusiastic about autumn. This may be the season of mists and mellow 10.00 for 10.30 fruitfulness (though I think we’ve passed that bit), but for us ramblers it’s the time of year for scraping mud off boots, At The Town Hall, Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon preparing flaskfuls of hot soup and stashing extra layers in our rucksacks, just in case. All of which leads me to say a word in Guest Speaker - Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of favour of Ramblers Holidays. Ramblers By general consent this organisation gives good value for There will be tea and coffee on arrival, and a free buffet lunch money. You find yourself in a group of like-minded people after the meeting, followed by a selection of walks in and who – in Majorca, say –would rather slog up the slopes than around Stratford led by members of our Group. sunbathe on the sand. Food and accommodation are ample without going overboard. Leaders are of a high standard, and We recommend all visitors to use Stratford Park & Ride (near quickly suss out the strengths and weaknesses of individual junction of A46 and A3400). Parking is free, and the bus trip members of the group. In dreary November, what could be into town is free if you have a bus pass (otherwise £1.50 more invigorating than to chase the sun as it absconds to return). Our members will meet you at the bus stop outside southern shores? Marks & Spencers in Bridge Street, to guide you to the Town Hall. I speak as one of the converted, having just returned from a fortnight’s Ramblers Holiday in Madeira: an island about We look forward to welcoming members of all the other twice the size of the Isle of Wight, with a surprising variety of Warwickshire groups to Stratford upon Avon. dramatic scenery. As I stood upon the summit of Pico Ruivo, at 1,861 metres the highest point in the island, and gazed upon Susan Bruce the surrounding mix of sun-kissed mountains and rain-forested Stratford-upon-Avon Group Chairman valleys, like fat Cortez (or was it Balboa?) silent upon a peak ______________ in Darien, I naturally thought of you, dear readers, clumping through the sodden clay of some woebegone field near Southam, and I was reminded of the Billy Connolly car advert: ‘I’ve got a new Clubman, and you hav’nae!’ But dinna fash yersel’, as Billy might have said. Next autumn you may well be in bonnie Barbados while I shall be slugging it out with the mud of Moreton-in-Marsh. The whirligig of time has a way of bringing in its revenges. Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Spring 2010 issue of Walker is 31st January. secrecy—necessary, we are told because of the confidentiality of consultations with staff over redundancies. In short, it has been an unsatisfactory year of done deals . . . not the least of which has been the shameful abandoning of our proper name! I did start by saying that I needed to be serious this time, and This quarter I need to be serious and write, as your Area I’m not sure that I’m not still being serious when I suggest that Chairman, about the financial difficulties the Ramblers have all this trouble is the result of people who don’t know what been experiencing since May this year. . . . Well, the financial they are doing tampering with a perfectly good name! difficulties were revealed to us in May this year— conveniently just after General Council was out of the way— ***** but they had obviously been building up for some time! Did not the Board of Trustees see this coming—and if not, why After that I think I ought to end on something lighter! Next not? year is the Ramblers 75th birthday and Warwickshire Area is going to celebrate it with a picnic. A good old fashioned Maybe they were too involved in attempting to sort out the picnic, just that—not a rally, no speeches and certainly mess they have made of our (previously simple and once without the media intruding! We have asked all our twelve totally reliable) membership records. I do not like being groups to arrange a walk on Sunday the 23rd May next year, a disloyal to the Association, but someone took their eyes off walk that will converge on the obelisk on the Welcombe Hills the ball for us to get into the mess we are in now! Either that near Stratford upon Avon at 12.30pm, when we will all sit or we have a Board of Trustees who just aren’t up to the job? down on the grass and eat our lunch together (you bring your own picnic of course!). After that your group will be free to In the past I could always feel confident in saying that the RA continue with your own ramble and, if you are going down was the most democratic of all the associations I belonged to. into Stratford, you might like to detour down St Gregory’s Albeit, this democracy was always of the delegate variety— Road (it’s on the route) and take a look at number 7 which but I make no apologies for that. The delegates we have sent used to be the Whytegates Hotel where, in 1934, at a meeting to General Council have always been active members of the of the National Council of Ramblers’ Federations, it was Area, well informed as to what was going on and in which resolved to form a new national organisation to be called ‘The direction our members would like to see the Association being Ramblers’ Association’! taken. Now the Board of Trustees is suggesting that we should send as many new members as possible to General Council Michael Bird next year—how very convenient, if you don’t want Area Chairman knowledgeable delegates asking awkward questions! ____________________ Some four years ago we were told by the Board of Trustees Pushchair Walks Update that Charity Law required us to give up our formally happy situation, in which General Council was in charge of the Pushchair walks, otherwise known as 'Babies and Association, and to pass control into the hands of the Board Buggies', have continued to be well attended since they who were now legally required to carry personal responsibility started in May 2009. Anyone who would like dates and for the Association in future. This unfortunate change of times of the next pushchair walks should phone either governance seems to me to have resulted in the Trustees now Lyndon Children's Centre at Solihull 0121 704 8768 or having to show excessive caution and being forced to rely their local children's centre for further details. more and more on the advice of consultants and professional charity workers, rather than on a Central Office staff who were footpath workers first and foremost, as before. In short, we have effectively had control of our own Association taken away from us! I cannot say that this is anyone’s fault in particular. It is a situation that has been forced on all charities by a Government that seems determined to use charities as instruments of social engineering, instead of leaving charities to get on with doing what they understand best. Now the rule of Public Benefit must be applied; and it seems to me that Public Benefit is being interpreted to mean a direct benefit to people personally, and not to some nebulous idea of common good, such as looking after footpaths or the countryside. And, personally, I think the Association has been much weakened by this requirement. As well as being a year notably marked by a lack of consultation from above, this has also been a year of excessive Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Spring 2010 issue of Walker is 31st January. letters 2. The move to communication solely through the internet also got a lot of stick. No solutions were promised because of the Dear Editor costs involved, despite the loss of morale within the membership. As a member of the Ramblers’ Association for the past few 3. There was a view that too much stress had been placed on years, I would just like to bring to your attention the reason projects such as Get Walking Keep Walking to the detriment of why I have yet to join a ramble with the local rambling group; the traditional Ramblers' business. This was accepted, and a namely, that as a committed and practising Christian I am promise made that due regard to that view would be given in always at church on Sundays, and Sunday is the only day the future, although it was stressed that outreach activities were an walks in your programme are arranged for. important element of the charity's aims. Surely, I am not the only person in this position? Why can’t a 4. No decisions have been made about the Ramblers' number of rambles be held on a Saturday or other days of the Yearbook, although it is the only material benefit that many week? members get, apart from the Walk magazine. There will be no 2010 edition because of cost savings. I do belong to, and indeed run, other walking groups, mainly through the U3A [the University of the Third Age] 5. There was general agreement that staff in London should be organisation, but it would be nice to be able to join in with the members of the Ramblers, so that they can understand more RA walks occasionally. clearly what it's all about. This is not the case at present. In fact, Tom suggested at one stage that students do not join the Yours sincerely Ramblers. Colin Baker ____________________ Leamington Spa If you go down near the airport today . . . The support of ramblers has been sought by Police Constable Frances George, of the West Midlands Police Operations Aviation Unit at Birmingham International Airport. The main concern of this Unit is ‘the security of the flight path against terrorist attacks on the aviation industry and any other matters which may affect the security of the airport’. To this end, the Unit ‘patrols the footprint beneath the flight path’, and it engages the local community to act as extra ‘eyes The village church – more often used by ramblers as a and ears’ by showing particular vigilance and reporting sandwich stop than a spiritual sanctuary? anything that looks suspicious or unusual in the vicinity of the __________________ flight path, ‘for example, cars parked up in odd places, or people parked up in cars that don’t seem to be there for a Crisis? What Crisis? legitimate purpose’. A regional meeting was recently held in Birmingham to The ‘footprint’ covered by the Unit at Birmingham Airport address some of the issues that have been causing concern to ‘starts approximately at Sutton Park, North Birmingham to some members of the RA over the last few months. The Chief North Leamington in a dog-shaped bone along the runway and Executive (Tom Franklin) and the Chairman (Rodney covers part of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the West Whittaker) of the RA were present, as were Board Members Midlands’. The Unit is particularly interested in ‘rural areas, Keith Roberts and Tom Fisher. All our surrounding Areas parks or fields which are quite isolated and not overlooked’; were represented (generally by their Chairmen): Powys, specifically, the focus would be on ‘people using Sutton Park Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, and south of the airport, areas around Meriden, Barston, Leicestershire, Mid-Cheshire and Northamptonshire. The City Berkswell, Hampton-in-Arden, Kenilworth and Balsall of Birmingham Group sent six members of their Executive Common’. Committee, but no other Groups attended. Roger Gibbs, of City of Birmingham Group, was one of the Since these are all areas that we Warwickshire ramblers visit attendees, and he drew up the following succinct points in frequently, the police would like us to report anything summary of the meeting: suspicious on their 24-hour contact number, 0121 712 6151, or by email: email@example.com. 1. Over half the time was spent on the CRM [Customer Relationship Management] cock ups, criticisms of which were many and loud. A tentative hope was expressed that things would be in order by January 2010. Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Spring 2010 issue of Walker is 31st January. Where is that path? The details required for each individual are: name, postcode (or membership number), contact telephone number and date The following significant path changes have taken place in the of birth. This can be done by telephone, e-mail or letter. rural parts of our Area since the last report was prepared. Steven Wallsgrove Area Footpath Secretary ________________ SD92d, SD92e and SD355, Kineton (Explorer 206) WE’LL KEEP A WELCOMBE . . . The first of these paths has been diverted very slightly, to follow an existing fence, near SP32755120. The section of On Sunday 23rd May 2010 all Groups in the Warwickshire SD92e from SP32655125 to the Warwick Road at 32815135 Area are invited to plan their Sunday walk so that it arrives at (which passes through farm buildings at Pittern Hill) has now lunchtime on the Welcombe Hills, just north of Stratford- been replaced by SD355 from the diverted part of SD92d at upon-Avon (see ‘Bird Droppings’ above). The hope is that as 32765117 to the Warwick Road at 32855133. many of the Area’s members as possible will converge more or less simultaneously in a kind of informal jamboree to R268, Grandborough (Explorer 222) commemorate Stratford’s role in the launching of the The section of this path at Woodbine Farm (where it went Ramblers’ Association 75 years previously. through the farm buildings) has now been diverted to go to the What precisely was this role? Well, by 1930 the various west of them. It now starts from the road at SP477656 and regional federations of rambling clubs had concluded that they goes north-east to meet the original line at the field boundary could achieve their aims more effectively through a national at SP479658. body that would represent their interests. In 1931 eleven of the AL154, Oldberrow (Explorer 220) regional federations attended a conference at the Holiday Fellowship (HF) Guest House at Longshaw, Derbyshire, The northern end of this path, at Bishops Farm, has now been chaired by the Reverend T.A. Leonard (founder of CHA and diverted to go to the east of the farm instead of through its HF). They voted unanimously to form a National Council of yard. It now goes from SP11896561 east to 11956561 then Ramblers’ Federations, which would meet annually. generally south-south-east to the original line at 12016536. On 30th September 1934, this Council convened at the M414, Over Whitacre and Nether Whitacre (Explorer 232) Whytegates Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, with the Reverend Leonard in the chair again. A copy of the minutes of this Two sections of this path have now been diverted. meeting is held in the Midland Area archives. Thirteen The first is the section to the south and east of Botts Green Federations, including the Midland Federation, attended. In Hall, which went from Botts Green Lane north through a consequence of a motion proposed by two members of the garden then north-east, then east (through a pond), then north. Sheffield and District Federation, Stephen Morton and Phil The new route leaves the lane at SP24409236 (south-east of Barnes, it was resolved to form a national organisation that the house) and goes north-east across the paddock to would be called ‘The Ramblers’ Association’. 24549246 (the field boundary) then north then east to rejoin The following year, the Midland Federation and all the other the original path at 24609251. regional Federations – except Manchester – joined the The other section is to the north-west of The Uplands. The Ramblers’ Association, while retaining, for the time being, original path went diagonally north-east from SP24679263 to both their Federation titles and much of their autonomy. M413 at 24859276. The new route goes north-north-east from So Stratford played a key geographical role in the inauguration the first point, beside the field boundary, to M413 at of the RA, and that is what the May 23rd picnic will celebrate. 24709271. And what has become of Whytegates Hotel today? Once Insurance situated on St Gregory’s Road, almost within spitting distance of the Welcombe Hills, the hotel’s space in the universe has (taken from Walking Environment News, April 2009) been taken over by flats. Fulfilling a commitment given in the Public Rights of Way (Thanks to Michael Bird for the above details, which will appear, Strategy, personal accident insurance for members carrying with amplifications, in his forthcoming book.) out practical work came into effect on 16 April 2009. ----------------------------- For a practical work party's activities to be 'approved' under the terms of the insurance policy they must be coordinated by ‘Walker’ in Colour? someone who has clear authority from a Ramblers Area or If you want to see the Walker photos in glorious Technicolor – Group. For individuals to be covered by the new insurance, the and magnify the size of the print – don’t forget that you can group coordinator must give details of the group members access it via the Area website: engaged in these activities to the Walking Environment team www.warwickshireramblers.org.uk at central office before work starts. Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Spring 2010 issue of Walker is 31st January.