Norfolk Ramblers Donate £300 to North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

Norfolk Ramblers agreed at our area council meeting on Saturday 11 November to donate £300 to the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.

The funding will be used by the trust to help pay for notice boards at the canal which will allow them to publicise the walks which are available in the area. The area is used by a number of Ramblers groups and the trust is keen to open up the canal area for use by the community.

Julian White, the Communications Officer for Norfolk Ramblers, said:

“We’re pleased to be able to donate this money to the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust in the knowledge that it will be used to help promote walks along the canal. Several of our groups, including Hike Norfolk, have run walks along the route and we fully support the trust’s efforts to restore the canal”.

Workshop at Norfolk Record Office

We were pleased to have been able to arrange a Workshop at the Norfolk Record Office at the end of last month.  The 18 people who attended were drawn from those who had registered an interest in researching paths to be claimed as rights of way before the infamous cut off for claims based on historical evidence on 1 January 2026.

The Workshop started with a brief introduction to the Record Office itself, but quickly moved to a slide show illustrating the types of records which might be most useful in our research.  (That presentation is available on request from ken-hawkins@tiscali.co.uk.)

After responding to questions, and having further information added by our own Ian Mitchell, we were taken to the public searchroom and shown how to order original documents. We then went into one of the strongrooms (to which the public is not normally admitted) to see where the documents are stored, before returning to The Green Room, where a range of relevant documents had been laid out for inspection.

That process also provided opportunity for a lot of detailed questions and exchange of views between small groups of individuals.

Our thanks go to Gary Tuson and his staff at the NRO for providing this session, and in particular to the Education and Outreach Team (Victoria Draper, Kären Gaffney and Claire Bolster) who arranged the workshop, looked after us so well on the day, and also provided the photographs reproduced here.

Reminder About Walks in Forestry Commission Areas

Just as a reminder for leaders who are contemplating or running walks in Forestry Commission area of eastern England. They are advised to check:

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/beeh-9vnet5

To see whether there are any temporary Closures of Forestry Commission work areas.

This site is updated perhaps monthly and has maps of work areas, but other work also goes on at short notice and leaders need to take account of local instructions beside tracks.

Lord Gardiner Visits Norfolk as Part of England Coast Path Announcement

As part of the update on the England Coast Path, Lord Gardiner, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, came to visit Norfolk to see how the project was progressing. On the morning of 1 September 2017 he visited Great Yarmouth, where he sampled a newly constructed boardwalk built to provide improved access to the beach there, linked to the England Coast Path.

Four RA members, three of them on Norfolk’s Area Council, met him at Waxham – Richard May (Chair), Ian Mitchell (Footpath Co-ordinator), Ken Hawkins (Secretary) and Catherine Hawkins. Ken and Catherine had surveyed the England Coast Path proposals before implementation; Ken and Ian had met several times with NE staff to discuss RA views, and drafted the formal RA response to the NE proposals when they were issued. All three had subsequently taken various roles in making comments for improvements to Norfolk County Council after the two stretches were opened.

Lord Gardiner made plenty of opportunities to talk (and listen) to all present – Natural England staff, members and staff from Norfolk County Council, Martin Sullivan (Chair of Norfolk Local Access Forum) and the contingent from The Ramblers. He came across as knowledgeable of both the context and specific issues, and expressed interest in the wider environment (eg the sea defences at Sea Palling, and the pipes which had come adrift and were awaiting ‘rescue’). He also generously bought ice creams for everyone in the party from a van parked at the start/end of our short walk.

Comment had been made to Lord Gardiner that we thought it would be beneficial to local businesses in widening their season. This had been taken up with an interview at Great Yarmouth (Munchies), and a similar discussion was had over lunch at the Waxham Barn Café, where he spoke both to the owner Helen and a member of her staff who walked to her job there from Sea Palling, in preference to using the road (which was derestricted and without a footway for a substantial part of its length).

The Minister was responsive and interested in hearing about the concerns of the Ramblers and we hope to continue that engagement. We were also pleased to see the level of media interest on the day, with Anglia TV covering the event. The day was a great success and we’re delighted to see progress being made on the England Coast Path, a project which the Ramblers has been heavily involved with both locally and nationally.

Walkers in Norfolk one step closer to enjoying England Coast Path

People in Norfolk are one step closer to being able to walk around the entire England coastline as Natural England have announced today (1 September 2017) that work has started on every stretch of the England Coast Path.

The England Coast Path is an inspirational project to create the world’s longest continuous coastal trail. In Norfolk there are 4 stretches included in the project:

  • Sea Palling to Weybourne which has been open since December 2014
  • Hopton on Sea to Sea Palling was opened last November
  • Weybourne to Hunstanton is still under consideration, with Natural England expecting to issue its proposals fairly soon
  • Hunstanton to Sutton Bridge is also still under consideration, with proposals expected late 2017 or early 2018

Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, Nicky Philpott said:

“This is a huge milestone in the story of the England Coast Path and one we should celebrate. Building sandcastles on the beach, dipping toes in the sea and taking a stroll along clifftops are favourite activities that cross generations and bring us all together.

So it might surprise you that until recently, a third of England’s coastline was inaccessible. The Ramblers has long dreamed of a country where everyone can freely enjoy our beautiful coast, so we were pleased that after years of campaigning, in 2010, work started on the England Coast Path.”

At almost 3,000 miles long, the path will stretch around the entire English coastline. Not only will this open up new paths, it will create new areas of open access land so people can freely explore headlands, cliffs and beaches, right up to the water’s edge.

Natural England has been working with landowners, local authorities and others to open up stretches of the path and Ramblers’ volunteers have worked tirelessly to walk and survey swathes of coast, mapping out the best route for walkers.

Nicky added: “We’d like to thank our wonderful volunteers who have spent hours exploring possible routes for the path. Using their local knowledge and thinking with their feet they are helping to ensure that the England Coast Path is not just a path, but one of the most incredible walking trails in the world.”

In Norfolk, Ken Hawkins took on liaison between Natural England and The Ramblers during the planning of the route. He said, “Right from the start, The Ramblers put forward proposals for the route, and these always received full consideration from Natural England. Since 2013, we have had a number of productive meetings and a regular exchange of ideas. More than that, after the opening of each section, members of The Ramblers have walked the routes and offered ‘fine tuning’ suggestions to Norfolk County Council, which took over responsibility for them once open.”

The Government hope to complete the England Coast Path by 2020, and the Ramblers is keen to ensure that plans are put in place to maintain the path once it’s complete and has become a National Trail.

Local Press Feature Our Work in Clearing Paths

The Dereham Times has published an article featuring the work done by Dereham Walkers are Welcome and the Ramblers in making paths more accessible. It also makes reference to the plaques that have been put up to improve the signage on the route.

Peter James, pictured above in the article, is fast becoming the poster boy for Norfolk Ramblers with all the publicity his path clearance is generating! He helps run numerous path clearance teams where volunteers go out and clear overgrown paths to make them more accessible.

The full text of the article is also available on the EDP’s web-site.

Hike Norfolk Go Canoeing

Hike Norfolk, one of our Ramblers groups in Norfolk, don’t just go walking on a regular basis, but also try other activities. Last week was the annual canoeing trip in Bungay, which was attended by fifteen people.

The canoeing went well and there were no incidents, although the famous toppling incident when Clive was attacked by a swan two years ago is still often talked about. The group members enjoyed a paddle along the river to a lunch spot before canoeing back to stop off at a pub to discuss the day (and other gossip). Some of the participants got a bit competitive, whilst some of the others enjoyed a slow and sedate paddle.

Liam decided to try and swing out over the water and had to be rescued to avoid him falling in   🙂

Other social events taking place over the forthcoming weeks include a day out on a Broad cruiser, a weekend trip to Budapest & Visegrad, tubing at the Norwich dry ski slope, pub nights and a day of cycling. Take a look below for further details about these events!

Norfolk Area Ramblers events on Meetup

Have you seen our Meetup Account?

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!

Got a problem with a path? Please report it!

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.

Ken Hawkins, Area Secretary.