Help Needed at Nar Valley Way at Newton by Castle Acre

When public rights of way were registered and mapped with the County Council in the 1950’s, for some reason the route across Mill Common in Newton by Castle Acre was forgotten about. So this 140 metres of track from the mill to the south end of Restricted Byway 3 has been a gap which bothered nobody for at least 40 years.

Unfortunately a general measure, the CROW Act 2000, which gave legal access on foot to any Common also carried a proviso that those persons on foot should not approach within 20 metres of a building. After 20 years somebody has invoked this rule to prevent legal access to the common from the north and by erecting a barricade across Restricted Byway 3.

The County Council can take action against the blockage on the restricted byway, but the long term solution will be to apply for the track across the common to be a public right of way. The Ramblers have already started to gather evidence of use by people on foot, on horseback, on bicycles or anything else.

If you have used this route by any of these means, please will you print the User Evidence Form for Newton by Castle Acre together with the above map (click on the above image for a larger version of the map). Then fill in the form and sign and date it at the end and somewhere on the map. It can be returned to me: Ian Mitchell, 5 Montcalm Road, Norwich, NR1 4HX.

Local users are most welcome because they are likely to have used the path most often and possibly for the longest time.

Norwich Western Link Local Access Consultation Launches Today

Norfolk County Council has launched its Norwich Western Link Local Access Consultation today (27 July 2020), which will run for eight weeks.

The council said:

“Through this consultation we’re asking for views on the four local roads that cross the route of the Norwich Western Link and Public Rights of Way in the vicinity of the new road. We also want feedback on potential measures to support walking, cycling and public transport use across a wider area. In coming up with these proposals, we’ve had input from parish councils, walking and cycling groups, bus companies and others, and we’re now keen to see what everyone else thinks of them.”

The documents relating to the road project can be found at http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/nwl, with details on how to respond to the consultation. For anyone who wants further information relating to this consultation, or wants to discuss matters with the Ramblers, please contact Ken, the area secretary, at ken-hawkins@tiscali.co.uk.

Successful Area Council Zoom Meeting

Unfortunately, current events mean that we can’t meet together for our usual area council meeting. So, instead, we went on-line and used Zoom to at least be able to hold some sort of meeting. 17 members from the area went on-line and there were only a few technical issues.

I won’t use photos of everyone in the Zoom meeting as some people (well, primarily, me, Julian) need a hair-cut (that’s happening this week, woooo), but above is Richard May, confidently chairing the meeting.

We hope that we can return to normal in future meetings, but perhaps we can look at having an on-line element to them to allow for more people to engage with them.

It was great to hear today from groups that were embracing social media and WhatsApp, using this as a tool to attract new members. Lockdown has made more people think about exercise, and we’re ready to help people get walking and make new friends.

There was also discussion about things such as risk assessments, the less exciting side of these meetings perhaps, but important to show that we’re taking the safety of walkers and communities seriously.

We’re sending out a programme to members, to help them feel informed of what’s going on. We can’t list walks in this one, but we’ll be publishing a printed programme again as soon as walking is more back to normal.

2020 Norfolk Ramblers AGM

The inspirational core officers of Norfolk Area Ramblers, the secretary, Ken Hawkins, the chair, Richard P May and the treasurer, Peter James.

This year’s AGM was wonderfully hosted by Norwich group at Great Witchingham Village Hall and started with a walk around the local area, including along Marriott’s Way and we also stopped off at St. Faith’s church at Little Witchingham.

Local wildlife.

The walkers set off.

This is the church at Little Witchingham, which is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. More about the church here…..

The wall paintings inside the church date from as early as the fourteenth century and it is a magnificent piece of history.

An innovation started by Richard May (right) was the introduction last year of an award to the group which had seen the largest increase in members. The first winners last year were Hike Norfolk, and this group won it again, with a 25% increase in membership. Congratulations to the group’s chair, Łukasz Banka, who couldn’t make it to the meeting, so Julian White (left, the younger one of the two people in the photo) collected the award on behalf of Hike Norfolk.

Congratulations to Norwich group who came second, with the award now hotting up, as there’s a similar policy to Brazil and the World Cup. When they won the World Cup for the third time, they were allowed to keep the trophy, so there’s a chance Hike Norfolk will be clearing a space on their collective mantelpiece for the permanent award. And Richard will be buying a new trophy.

During the meeting we heard from Peter James about the work that he’s been leading with working parties, where the Ramblers get involved directly with repairing footpaths and improving accessibility. Ken also gave an update on the Local Access Forum and we received positive news about the national membership numbers of the Ramblers.

After the main part of the meeting and formalities, we received a presentation from Jack Cornish (left) and Chris Hodgson (right).

Jack is the programme manager for Don’t Lose Your Way, which is a campaign to ensure that we don’t lose 10,000 miles of paths after 2026. There’s more information about this project on the Rambler’s web-site. Jack gave an interesting talk about the challenges ahead, as well as the opportunities, including more information about the on-line mapping scheme launching later this week.

Chris, the chair of Ramblers Cymru, gave an upbeat assessment of the organisation and provided food for thought (we hadn’t had the cakes yet incidentally, as the chairman makes us wait until the end….) about some new ways of engaging with current members and the community.

Richard, Jack and Chris then answered questions on a number of different areas, before then Richard confirming that we could eat the cakes.

The main event (well, for those who are very food orientated), the cakes kindly made by Norwich group members. A rather lovely selection.

We always welcome members and those interested in our work to attend the AGM, as well as encouraging members to get involved with the work of our area committee. We are constantly looking for new volunteers as there’s always plenty to do!

Festival of Winter Walks 2019

After our successful Festival of Winter Walks in 2018, we’re doing it again! Everyone is welcome to come along for a walk, meet new people and start a new year of getting fit and healthy. There’s a list of walks on our web-site at http://www.norfolkra.org.uk/ and we’re also pleased that we’ve again been featured on BBC Radio Norfolk.

Have a listen at 07:40:49 and 08:38:10 on the BBC’s catch-up service at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07w48c5.

Richard May, the area chair of Norfolk Ramblers, said:

“I’m really pleased to see so many new people walking with our groups, the Festival of Winter Walks was a successful event last year and I know that new friendships were formed during 2019. We know it’s often hard for people to get the confidence to come on a group walk, but we’ll offer a friendly welcome and do get in touch with a walk leader or group in advance if you have any questions or concerns”.

Following Norfolk Area Ramblers on Facebook

For anyone who is interested in following Norfolk Area Ramblers on Facebook, our page is located at https://www.facebook.com/norfolkramblers/.

Everyone is welcome (unless you post spam and then we will might be disappointed) and there are weekly updates with many of the walks which are running, as well as campaigns which are taking place.

Hike Norfolk also have a group at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikenorfolk/

Interested in Walking Longer Distances?

We have lots of groups in Norfolk Area Ramblers who offer walks across the county (and beyond), as well as walks of different lengths. Sometimes there is the belief that Ramblers only offer shorter walks, and although we’re proud to offer those, we also have some longer walks as well.

Legstretchers is our long-distance walking group and there are walks of around 18 miles offered on the first Sunday of every month. There’s more information at http://www.legstretchers.org.uk/, or why not have a look at the walk Cas is leading in February 2020?

Details of Cas’s walk on Sunday 2 February 2020 are available at https://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Area-Ramblers/events/267116708/.