For those who haven’t seen it, we have a Meetup account at:
We have just under 800 members and it’s primarily used by two of our groups, Hike Norfolk and Legstretchers. There are lots of events listed on there and Hike Norfolk now use this as their primary way of advertising new events, so keep an eye out!
At the moment, in addition to the weekly Hike Norfolk walks, there are also pub nights, a canoeing trip, a cycling day out, a tubing evening out and a Norfolk Broads cruiser day trip.
It’s free to join – so sign up and see all of the events that we list!
Summer is here (mainly), and so is the season of rampant crop, nettle and bramble growth, when walking can become more difficult on some paths. I suspect most of our members will have experienced repeated problems with certain paths. They may have reported them to the Council. They also may have done this on several occasions and given up doing so as they felt that little or nothing seemed to happen. This, though completely understandable, would in my view be a mistake.
From April this year, Norfolk County Council restructured the departments dealing with rights of way and those other routes supported by Norfolk Trails. The new structure, brought in at least partly because of pressure from The Ramblers and colleagues in CPRE, Open Spaces Society and U3A, is still settling down, and it is too soon to have a full appreciation of how it is working. But there are already signs of improvements and benefits. The most obvious change has been the appointment of three Countryside Access Officers, with specific responsibilities for public rights of way. Not only do these augment the previous two people holding equivalent positions, but they have been moved from their central positions in County Hall, to be based in defined geographical areas, and so be close to the nettle face.
The three areas are:
• West – King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: Manager Chris Alston, Countryside Access Officer David Mills
• North – North Norfolk, Broadland, Great Yarmouth: Manager Karl Rands, Countryside Access Officer Sarah Price
• South – Breckland, South Norfolk: Manager Grahame Bygrave, Countryside Access Officer Jody Thurston
David and Sarah are the previous centrally based officers, while Jody is a new appointment. As my own area is Breckland, I have already met Jody twice and a very positive experience it has been, even though she is still getting to grips with the role.
Which brings me back to my starting point. However enthusiastic and hard working the officers are, what sways management and councillors tends to be statistics. If the figures seem to suggest there are few problems, it will be assumed that current resources are fully adequate. It is therefore vital that all problems are reported; and if nothing happens, follow it up. And if still nothing happens, consider making a complaint. If you have access to the internet, this is the best way to report and monitor problems. Go to http://maps.norfolk.gov.uk/highways/#, zoom in to the area concerned until the paths become visible, click on the one which has a problem, and choose Report a problem. You will be invited to set up an account. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, you will get updates on what is being done about your report. It has to be admitted that these updates are not particularly informative, but they are better than nothing, and we continue to make representations to have the system improved. It will also help if, when you are aware of a change in the situation (eg the path cleared, or a route cut through a crop), it will help NCC colleagues if you also report this – and a word of appropriate thanks never goes amiss.
Some of you may be using The Ramblers’ Pathwatch app: by all means continue to use this, but please be aware that this is no substitute for making a direct report to the Council. Pathwatch data comes out only at intervals, and in a format which is not easily compatible with the Council’s systems: under time pressure, you can guess how much effort might be made to decode what is being reported.
Enjoy your walking – but please report all problems.
Last year, Dereham Town Council put in claims to have a number of paths in the town registered as Restricted Byways. The claims were put together by the Town Clerk, with input from Ian Mitchell. Much of the evidence submitted related to historic usage of the routes, and was collected both by The Ramblers, and through local advertising, including a ‘drop in’ morning at Dereham Windmill, which lies adjacent to one of the routes claimed. The issue was also complicated as a planning application was being processed which affected some of the routes, and the Town Council ensured in discussions with the developer that they were aware of, and accommodating, the claims.
The initial response from Norfolk County Council in reviewing the evidence submitted, was to propose making orders for some of the routes to be Restricted Byways, but others only to be Public Footpaths. In practical terms, the Town Council and The Ramblers both thought this was a nonsense, as it would have resulted on users of the Restricted Byways having to turn back where the only continuation was on a Public Footpath. Ian sought advice and input from The Ramblers national office, while the Town Clerk conducted his own review of past decisions, as the County view appeared to be based on the validity of evidence regarding cycle usage.
We are pleased to note that the orders now made by the County are for Restricted Byways for all of the claimed routes.
As is well known, Spring is the growing season. Unfortunately for walkers, growth is not restricted to those nice flowers in your garden, but also includes rampant growth of brambles and nettles across public rights of way. In Dereham, two paths are particularly prone to this – Restricted Byways 30 and 31. These carry the legal right for horse and carriage drivers to use them between Neatherd Moor and Northall Green, but at their best, they are currently suitable only for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. And even those users can find their way blocked by nettle and bramble growth, so to tackle this before the route became impossible, Dereham Walkers are Welcome and The Ramblers together cut the paths on 3 May.
Peter James, the Area Treasurer, laying new protective covers for the path, from a previous path clearance day.
Not in the pictures were Rambler Gerald and Ken Hawkins from Dereham WaW. Try these paths for yourself – and let us know of any potential blockages on these or any other paths. We like to keep Peter busy! 🙂
Ramblers’ General Council, which is the national organisation’s annual meeting, took place on 1st and 2 April 2017 in Southampton. Four of us went from Norfolk, with Richard May going as a trustee candidate, Julian White and Peter James going as delegates and Ian Mitchell going as a visitor.
There was a walk before the formal proceedings of General Council began and this went around Southampton Common. The local Hampshire group led this and ensured that we given some interesting historical facts and it was a great opportunity to meet other delegates from across the country.
The meeting was opened and chaired by Des Garrahan, the national chairman, who balanced a professional and informal approach. The new Chief Executive made her first speech to General Council and I hope she is able to move forwards on her central theme of improving and enhancing communications. Our new President, Stuart Maconie, was also announced.
Richard May, our area chairman, was standing again for trustee after losing out last year. He was one of 15 candidates, although one didn’t turn up to General Council because of other commitments, and one, Hugh Dyer-Westacott (who has written a book), withdrew during the event.
With regards to the motions, Norfolk area had an amendment to motion 4 on ploughing and cropping.
Motion 4 was proposed by SYNED (South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire) group. They opposed our amendment and we felt, after discussion with them, that General Council would likely not support our amendment based on these comments. We decided on that basis to withdraw our amendment.
We proposed a motion on funding lost ways, which is essentially about appointing a project officer and establish funding for the 2026 project, also ensuring that volunteers are co-ordinated and offered national assistance. The board of trustees proposed an amendment which we were content with and accepted. Cheshire East proposed a motion which essentially said that we should focus only on key routes, not trying to put in a claim for all footpaths. We opposed this, and it was a close vote, which fortunately went in our favour as the amendment wasn’t passed. Our original motion was though passed unanimously.
The results of the trustee elections was a little complex as there were three places for three years, two places for two years and two places for one year. That meant two elections throughout the day, but in short, the results were:
ELECTED IN FIRST ROUND
Rebecca Dawson – 87
Paul Rhodes – 80
Richard May – 78
ELECTED IN SECOND ROUND
Teri Moore – 80 (will serve two years as a trustee)
Sophie Clisold-Lesstor – 77
Peter Carr – 53 (will serve one year as a trustee)
Peter Rookes – 51
Well done to Richard, our area chairman!
The organisation from the national office was excellent, and there were plenty of staff on hand who made an effort to engage with the delegates. The event ran smoothly in terms of timing, technically and in ensuring all members were able to get their voice heard.
The meeting ended with a contribution from the European Ramblers, and they have a very positive agenda and the Danish chairperson came to speak. She spoke about the importance of getting people out into the countryside, whether on foot, by bike or on horseback.
It was another really useful weekend for everyone who attended, great for meeting other delegates and putting forwards the view of Norfolk Ramblers to the national organisation. Next year’s event will be held in Bangor in April 2018 and anyone who is interested in attending can let us know at any time over the next few months!
It was our annual AGM this week and we were delighted that it was well-attended. It was held in Acle and Great Yarmouth group did an excellent job at leading an interesting walk and ensuring that an extensive range of cakes were provided!
The pre-AGM walk went around the Norfolk Broads and was only partly muddy!
Richard May, the Chairman of Norfolk Area Ramblers, opens up the meeting. Ken Hawkins, our secretary, is on the left and Peter James, our treasurer, is on the right.
Richard presented Ian Mitchell, our Vice-Chairman, with a certificate marking his extensive work to protect the footpaths of Norfolk. He has worked tirelessly, and has a knowledge which is unparalleled in the county, to help the Ramblers and his honour is very well deserved. He now goes on to a national award at General Council in Southampton in early April 2017, and our fingers are firmly crossed.
The wonderful range of cakes provided at the end of the AGM. Walking is important to the Ramblers, but so is food 🙂
Des Garrahan, the national chairman of the Ramblers, gave a talk about the future of the organisation and how volunteers were helping to achieve our aims. He also gave further information about the 2026 deadline of when paths have to be recorded on the Definitive Map to ensure that they are protected.
Lloyd, the beautiful Guide Dog!
Graham, with his guide dog Lloyd, is partially sighted but was able to complete our pre-AGM walk with assistance, showing that this no barrier to walking with the Ramblers! Helen Sismore came from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and gave a fascinating talk on how we could welcome those with sight difficulties and ensure they can take part in walks. There will be a future blog post about this!
Julian White, the External Communications Officer, said:
“This was a lively and interesting AGM where there were discussions covering several areas, particularly regarding the 2026 deadline. It was great to have Des present so that we could ask questions and so that our members could hear more about what is planned. Helen also gave encouragement and ideas on how we could welcome more blind and partially sighted people to our walks. And thanks to Great Yarmouth group for the cakes!”
This is the latest post in the series about the various groups within Norfolk Area Ramblers.
Seventh in the series is South Norfolk group.
Our group runs walks on some Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Thursday walks are for half a day and dog walkers are especially welcome on these. Most of our walks are circular but a few involve public transport enabling us to do linear walks. We are a friendly group and welcome walkers of all abilities – just ring the leader if you want to know more about what to expect, what to wear etc. Any walk over 7 miles will have a stop for refreshment – bring a packed lunch unless the walk says there is a pub stop.
We also try to keep an eye on the local paths and have financed some improvements such as a new footbridge at Topcroft and some new bridges as Bracon Ash.
In the future we hope to host the occasional weekend away in, for example, the Peak District or close to home in Suffolk
Our Annual General Meeting for Norfolk Ramblers will take place at 2pm on Saturday 25 February 2017 at Acle War Memorial Recreation Centre, Bridewell Lane, Acle, NR13 3RA; 01493 752043: OS Explorer OL40, grid reference 401107.
Come and hear what The Ramblers in Norfolk has been doing for the last year, and help to shape what we do in future. Help choose our new officers – all members have a vote. And to get you in the mood, there is a short walk leaving at 1100 from the Centre: walkers should bring a packed lunch. Teas/coffees will be available from 12 noon prior to the meeting and after the meeting.
Legstretchers, the long distance walking group within Norfolk Ramblers, has been restarted and the first walk will take place this weekend, on Sunday 5 February.
Everyone is very welcome at the walk which will take place near North Walsham, and which is 18 miles long. In future, the Legstretchers walks will take place on the first Sunday of every month and will be advertised in the area programme, on Meetup, Facebook, the area web-site and also on the group’s new web-site at http://www.legstretchers.org.uk/.
Julian White, the area publicity officer, is leading the walk and said:
“It’s great to have Legstretchers back in Norfolk, offering a longer distance option to those walkers who fancy the challenge! I’ve been delighted with the number of walk leaders who have come forwards, so I’m very optimistic that the group will have a successful future”.
Further information about the walk is available at:
Legstretchers : 5 February 2017 – 18 mile Inaugural Walk nr North Walsham
Sunday, Feb 5, 2017, 9:30 AM
Pigney’s Car Park Hall Lane North Walsham, GB
13 Walkers Attending
Lots of advance warning for this one!Legstretchers is a long distance walking group which has been re-established by Norfolk Area Ramblers after a gap of several years. There will be a walk, of around 18 miles, held on the first Sunday of every month from February 2017. The first few walks, by chance, are around North Norfolk, but future walks wil…
The national Ramblers team have been organising roadshow events for members over recent months, and these have been well received. They’re a great way to meet people and they’re entirely free of charge.
The nearest event to Norfolk will be held at Essex County Cricket Club in Chelmsford on 28 January 2017. There are a choice of workshops, which are entertaining and informal, including first aid, basic navigation, walk leading, retaining members and running walks.
There’s a possibility that we can arrange a free lift or arrange transportation expenses for members, please e-mail Richard May for further details about this, or with any other questions about the day.