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                      Winter 2009
                    Ramblers’ Association
               Warwickshire Area Newsletter
                    Editor: John Garrett,
          10 Conway Avenue, Tile Hill, Coventry,
                  West Midlands, CV4 9HZ
              Registered Charity No. 1093577
    Area Web Site:
                                                                       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.
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
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

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
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:
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.
                                                                  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
at central office before work starts.

            Please note that the deadline for material submitted for the Spring 2010 issue of Walker is 31st January.

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