On Tuesday 30 January ITV will be showcasing Britain’s favourite walks in a new two-and-a-half hour TV special.
The show, presented by Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba, showcases Britain’s finest rambles, scrambles and ambles across the countryside and through cities – featuring locations from the West Highland Way to the Ridgeway and almost everywhere in between.
Ramblers worked alongside OS and the National Trust to help find Britain’s best walks. Many of our members took part in the largest survey ever conducted into the UK’s hiking habits. The top trails were put to the vote ahead of the countdown, which airs on Tuesday 30 January.
A host of famous faces - including Cath Tyldesley, Ade Edmondson, Katherine Kelly, Larry Lamb, Janet Street Porter and Robert Bathurst - hit the trails to reveal their own favourite walks, which feature in the countdown.
They are joined by walking experts, nature aficionados and members of the public with extraordinary stories to provide a vivid insight into the hikes, the history and the hidden stories behind the trails.
This bumper rundown visits locations like the picturesque Rye to Camber Sands route in Sussex, the stunning Scafell Pike in the Lake District, historic Oxford and numerous other beauty spots in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland before revealing Britain’s favourite walk.
Tune in to ITV at 7.30pm on Tuesday 30 January to watch the countdown!
During the show, join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #100walks.
Julia Bradbury, our ex-president and co-founder of The Outdoor Guide said:
“Walking is one of Britain’s best loved pastimes. Every month, up to nine million folk pull on their boots and head to the great outdoors. I hope you’re inspired by ITV's Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100 to go on an adventure however big or small of your own. Happy Walking!”
A report by the Department for Transport, released today, reveals people are walking less often compared to ten years ago, yet people are cycling further.
The statistics show that in 2016, on average people made 243 trips on foot, covering 198 miles. Walking trips have decreased by 19% over the last ten years, from 4.7 trips per week to 3.8 trips per week. The distance walked decreased by 8%.
However, miles cycled have increased by more than a quarter over the last ten years, with people cycling on average for 53 miles.
Our chief executive Vanessa Griffiths, said:
“The increase in cycling revealed in the Department for Transport’s Travel Survey shows what can be done with concerted action and investment. Now we need to continue to work with government to ensure that this success is replicated for walking.
“The ongoing decline in the number of people walking, revealed in these figures, is disappointing. Encouraging walking helps to boost local economies and create happier, more cohesive communities.
“Walking also has huge benefits for mental and physical health, potentially saving the NHS England £1.8billion a year. That’s why we’ve been supportive of the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
“While the ambition in the strategy is commendable, we clearly need to do more to get more people walking and making it the first choice for any urban journey: in many ways, walking remains the poor relation compared to cycling when it comes to government investment in active travel."
To read the full Department for Transport Walking and Cycling Statistics report, click here.
Reacting to Theresa May’s speech and publication of the government’s 25 year plan for the environment today, the Ramblers welcomes the positive ambition. We’re keen to start to look at the detail of how this plan will be delivered, so everyone can enjoy the natural environment on foot.
We are particularly encouraged to see the ambition to increase engagement with the natural environment. Our recreational access infrastructure – including our public rights of way, access land, National Trails and other publicly accessible green space – has a critical role to play in delivering this.
What we are now keen to see is detail which:
We agree wholeheartedly that we all have a stake in our environment and everyone needs to pay a part in securing a better future. The Ramblers looks forward to being part of the solution.
Today we welcomed the recognition by Environment Secretary - Michael Gove - of the need to invest in public access for the public good post-Brexit, as part of the reform of agricultural payments.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Gove said: "Vital as investment in our environment is, it is not the only public good I think we should invest in - I believe we should also invest in technology and skills alongside infrastructure, public access and rural resilience."
He continued: "Public access I know can be contentious and I won’t get into the weeds of the debate on rights of way now. But the more the public, and especially school children, get to visit, understand and appreciate our countryside the more I believe they will appreciate, support and champion our farmers. Open Farm Sunday and other great initiatives like it help reconnect urban dwellers with the earth. And they also help secure consent for investment in the countryside as well as support for British produce. So public access is a public good."
We hope that the Government ensures that new legislation also enforces current landowner responsibilities to maintain access to existing footpaths. Landowners who are recipients of public money must demonstrate their compliance with their existing legal obligations relating to path maintenance, to be eligible for payments from the public purse.
Our chief executive, Vanessa Griffiths, said: “We recognise the hard work our farmers do to balance business needs with benefits for the public and the environment and we believe that they should continue to receive support from public money. However in return, there should also be benefits for the public in the form of well-maintained paths over farmland.
“We already have a wonderful resource in our existing path network across the country, much of which crosses agricultural land. By fulfilling their path maintenance responsibilities, farmers will give people the opportunity to easily walk on their land and truly understand the work they are doing, helping to secure public consent for investment in the countryside.”
With over a billion visits to the countryside every year - with walking the most popular activity - the path infrastructure is essential in enabling people to discover and enjoy the environment, connect with nature and improve their health and wellbeing, as well as encouraging spending to support rural economies.
Vanessa added: “It’s a priority that the Agriculture Bill provides for an effective system of enforcing landowner compliance with their existing path maintenance duties, to enable millions of walkers to continue to access and enjoy the countryside every year.”
Eight hundred years ago today (6 November 1217) the Charter of the Forest granted ordinary people the right to access royal forests. This was the first step in a campaign spanning centuries seeking the legal guarantee of freedom for people to access our beautiful landscapes.
Today, only around 40% of woodland in England and Wales is available for people to fully explore, compared to the UK average of 50%. And much of this 40% doesn’t have a permanent right of access, meaning it could be closed off at any time.
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Ramblers revealed that people in England are most interested in seeing increased access to woods and forests over other types of land. In response, we’re asking people to sign our petition, which calls on the government to improve access to woodland: www.ramblers.org.uk/forest.
Our chief executive, Vanessa Griffiths said:
“The Ramblers has been leading the way in opening up access to the countryside for everyone, and we’ve come such a long way from the times when land would be reserved for the sole use of aristocracy.
We know how people love to wander through their local woodlands, enjoying the peace and beauty, but not everyone has access to enjoy these simple pleasures. And, although the government pledged in 2013 to increase access to woodland, very little progress has been made. With compelling evidence that a walk in the woods can do wonders for wellbeing, we want to see this change.”
Stuart Maconie, president of the Ramblers added:
“I’m proud to be president of an organisation that has been leading the way in increasing access to the countryside during the 82 years since its inception. It’s amazing to look back and see just how far we’ve come thanks to the Ramblers campaigning efforts and an overwhelming public will for opening up the countryside. But our job is not yet done.
"With the Ramblers most recent YouGov research showing that 18-24 year olds are using open access land more than any other age group, there’s clearly an appetite not only to maintain access to the countryside, but to increase it too, so the new generation of walkers can make the most of the freedom to explore.”
We want to gather your thoughts on what you’d like the future of access to look like for the next 800 years. Please let us know in our survey: www.ramblers.org.uk/accesssurvey.
Back in June we shared with you the Key Findings from the survey we ran to help us improve the support we provide for our group and area volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales.
Thank you once again to each and every one of you who took part, whether you helped promote the survey, took the time to fill it out or held meetings with your group or area to feed back collectively. Thanks to your efforts, we heard from at least one volunteer from each area across England, Scotland and Wales.
Here are some changes coming to your support in 2018, as a result of the survey feedback:
We’ll share an update on how this work progresses, in spring 2018.
If you have any questions on this, or anything to do with the support you receive as a volunteer, please contact us.
The Ramblers are proud to have run the English Walking for Health programme in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support since 2012.
We have been exploring the potential future direction of the programme, once the current partnership with Macmillan comes to an end on 31 March 2018.
We have taken feedback from a wide range of stakeholders including Walking for Health volunteers and co-ordinators, Ramblers area and group volunteers, staff and trustees, and other national organisations with an interest in physical activity through walking.
Many of you have provided input online and at workshops - for which we are very grateful - thank you.
All these views, combined with survey results and a literature review, have helped us to create two diagrams which describe the desired outcomes for the future.
The first diagram explains the benefits that a participant should experience and the factors that motivate them to try a walk in the first place… and then keep coming back.
The second diagram outlines the services that the Ramblers aspire to put in place in the future - in principle, and subject to funding - to help local co-ordinators to organise a great local short walk programme.
To view the diagrams, please download the Theory of Change report or summary overview below:
We will continue provide updates and, in the meantime, please email any queries to email@example.com.
We are one step closer to walking the entire England coastline as Natural England announce 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. 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
To find out more, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/EnglandCoastPath
It's volunteers' week and we're celebrating the incredible achievements of those who volunteer with the Ramblers. From leading 47,000 walks a year, to clearing paths, or running one of our 500 groups and 50 areas: it's safe to say without them we couldn't be Britain’s walking charity.
As part of Volunteers’ Week we are announcing the winners of our National volunteer awards and you can find out more about them at our special volunteer week page.
Over 90 nominations were received, with nine nominees shortlisted. Hundreds of you across the country voted, and we were overwhelmed with kind words and encouragement for our volunteers - it's safe to say the work they do is truly inspiring.
Volunteering coordinator at the Ramblers, Ed Wilson said: “Our volunteers are vital to our success. Their daily efforts underpin our work in promoting healthy lifestyles through increased physical activity. The annual NCVO Volunteers’ Week is a timely celebration of the hard work and dedication of millions of volunteers, and this year we’re proud to be able to convey our thanks through the Ramblers Volunteer Awards as well.'
We want to make walking the most practical, pleasant option for getting around in towns and cities, whether travelling to work or school; to shops or local amenities; or for exercise and relaxation.
Walking should be the easy choice for any type of urban journey.
We were very pleased to see that the first ever Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) for England, published recently by the Department for Transport, has an ambition of:
‘making walking and cycling the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey’.
This means there is a shared agenda for creating cities and towns that encourage walking, and in so doing improve public health, boost local economies and create happier, more cohesive communities.
The need for walkable cities is more pressing than ever. A growing number of us – around 80% of the population - now live in urban areas. The built environment has been designed over many years to get cars, rather than people, moving. This has made urban streets less safe, less pleasant, more polluted, noisier and more difficult to navigate. It’s not surprising that many people prefer the convenience of cars for even the shortest journeys. Evidence shows that walking is in long-term decline, with people walking 30% less than 20 years ago.
While the ambition in the CWIS is commendable, we need to do more to turn this decline around. It’s far from clear that the investment identified will be enough to meet the ambition of the strategy. Walking remains the poor relation compared to cycling when it comes to government investment in active travel.
Many of the factors which strongly influence whether people chose to walk – for example, the character of the built environment or the quality of parks and green spaces – cannot be solved by the Department for Transport alone. A co-ordinated, cross government effort is needed to achieve a long-term shift in public behaviour. Local authorities also have a hugely important role to play as the managers of most urban green and grey spaces. As the amount of funding given by central to local government decreases, many local authorities are struggling to maintain the places we walk, putting our urban walking infrastructure at high risk of further decline.
The CWIS is a step in the right direction and should we welcomed, but there is much to do. We look forward to working with government to meet our shared ambition of walkable cities.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced today that he will not guarantee financial backing for the controversial Garden Bridge. This follows Dame Margaret Hodge’s report earlier this month which concluded that the bridge would not represent value for public money.
Clare Wadd, chair of Inner London Ramblers said ‘‘we’re delighted with the Mayor’s decision. This Bridge would have been a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. There are far more cost effective ways to get people walking, such as investing in existing parks and urban green spaces and completing the Thames Path through London.''
“We’ll continue to work with the Mayor and other organisations to improve conditions for people accessing the city on foot.”
Last summer, the Inner London Ramblers presented Transport for London with its wish list for improvements to the strategic footpath network across the city and is now in talks with the new Walking and Cycling Commissioner to make these wishes a reality.
This includes completing the Thames Path, opening up more walking routes around London, improving the London Loop and Capital Ring walks and prioritising the improvement of parks, squares and urban green spaces.
Broadcaster, writer and journalist Stuart Maconie has been named as our new president.
The keen walker and advocate of walkers’ rights is well known for his weekday BBC6 Music show Radcliffe and Maconie, his books, including The Pie At Night: In Search of the North at Play and Never Mind the Quantocks and for having climbed all 214 Wainwrights in the Lake District.
Here’s why Stuart’s looking forward to his role as president:
He said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been asked to be president of the Ramblers. It is not just a prestigious position, but one that will allow me to share some of my views, enthusiasms and passions with regard to our enjoyment of the outdoors.
“Like the originators of the movement and the organisation, I am a son of the industrial north and I both value and love the tranquility, uplift and adventure of walking in our beautiful country and also appreciated that our rights to enjoy it have been hard won and are never to be taken for granted.
“I hope to add my voice to those who seek to ensure the birthright that is free access to our open hills, moors, downs and wherever we put one foot in front of another for recreation.”
Stuart developed a love for walking during his time as deputy editor of the New Musical Express (NME), when he found walking to be an antidote to a busy life. Since then, he’s walked all 214 Wainwrights, completed the Hadrian’s Wall Path national trail and walked much of the South West Coast Path.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive said: “We are delighted that Stuart has been elected as our president. He is truly passionate about walking and walkers’ rights and we think he will be a great champion, not just for the Ramblers, but for walkers everywhere.”
Stuart was elected to the honorary position at our annual meeting (General Council) on Saturday (1 April 2017) in Southampton and hopes to use his presidency to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors and get involved in protecting people’s rights to access the countryside.
With the Government triggering Article 50 yesterday, the country has finally started the complicated process towards disentangling itself from the European Union. As the full extent of this task is worked out, there is a fair amount of uncertainty but also a unique opportunity to take a fresh look at how we want things to work in the future.
Public money is scarce, with years of cutbacks in public services behind us and the prospect of more to come, so now is the time to focus on using them to provide public goods – things that the market will not pay for but are valued and needed by the public.
Public access is an essential part of the package of public goods that should be delivered by Government payments to the agricultural sector, alongside improvements in biodiversity, protection for natural resources and caring for landscapes and heritage.
We are working to ensure that every path in England and Wales is well-maintained by 2020 as part of our Pathwatch campaign and Article 50 presents us with the potential to create an effective system of subsidies that would encourage and reward farmers and land managers for providing and maintaining paths, visitor facilities, learning resources, and training for volunteers.
Reconnecting people to the countryside is a vital step in helping everyone to be healthy and active and to understand the natural world – we now have an opportunity to look again at how we provide this.
Acknowledged experts, Phil Wadey and Sarah Buck, will be presenting training courses based on their book ‘Rights of Way - Restoring the Record’. The aim of the training events is to enthuse, enable and empower rights of way researchers to make definitive map modification order applications to ensure that routes that would be extinguished in 2026 are saved from the cut-off date.
The sessions will concentrate on identifying routes, the key sources of evidence of historic ways, where that information is located, what it can tell us, and how a systematic research method is the best way forward.
All training sessions are free. The days will run from 9.30am - 4.30pm.
To make a booking for this training session only, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following training sessions are organised by the British Horse Society and Ramblers members are invited.
To make a booking for these events, please go to the British Horse Society booking page.
There is no charge for the event but delegates will have to meet their own travel expenses. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Additional information will be sent to delegates nearer the time.
Please take a copy of ‘Rights of Way - Restoring the Record’ with you if you have one, and a laptop to take part in some practical activities. (Smart phones and tablets may not be suitable for all activities but may be better than nothing.) Wi-fi is provided.
More dates and venues will be announced shortly.
Read more about the work volunteers are doing to find lost ways.
This year’s Festival of Winter Walks saw Ramblers groups run over two thousand group walks – that’s over 80 Ramblers group walks every day!
We’d like to say a great big thank you to all the Ramblers volunteers (and of course all the walkers!) for making this all happen.
Keep reading for some highlights from the festival.
Kingston Ramblers went one step further for the Festival and organised a “Fire of London” themed walk. They took a historical tour of the city from Waterloo station via The Monument and ended at the Museum of London. They also took in the city-wide views from the top of One New Change. On this walk alone there were 34 walkers, including four non-members.
Pang Valley Ramblers held four festive walks during the Festival of Winter Walks, and enjoyed some crisp December sunshine in their walks around the River Pang area in Berkshire. Their walks really showcased the beauty of their local area – and it’s great to see one walker in particular in the photo above getting in to the Christmas spirit!
Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers surely win the prize for most aptly named Walk Leader – their Christmas Day walk on Hankley Common was led by none other than Mr Christmas himself! They held a very successful Festival of Winter Walks programme, organising 14 walks with a total of 385 walkers – including some new members!
Liverpool Ramblers also ran fifteen walks as part of the festival, all of which were a great success. Their largest party consisted of 39 walkers, with ages ranging from 5 to over 70. Overall during the festival they estimate that around 320 people walked over 2000 miles!
Thank you to everyone who helped showcase the Ramblers and enabled more people to get on their feet and explore Britain’s wintry landscapes.
2016 has been a big year for Britain and the world – and a big year for the Ramblers! Our chief executive, Vanessa, has been looking back over the last 12 months and all that we’ve achieved together:
You can see more walking successes and more detail on our twelve days of Christmas pages.
We welcome the appointment of Will Norman as London's first full-time Walking and Cycling Commissioner and look forward to working with him from 2017 to make London better for everyone who walks in the city.
Our Love London Walk London campaign group called for the appointment of a walking champion in the run up to the mayoral election in 2016.
Following the results of the Big Pathwatch, our biggest ever footpath survey, we’ve embarked on an ambitious week-long path maintenance project to fix problems along the popular national trail Offa’s Dyke.
The Big Pathwatch report revealed November to be the worst month for paths, so we’re setting out to solve the problems found, starting with those along the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke Path.
Our path maintenance teams are heading out to help clear bracken, brambles and undergrowth from the path, improve drainage to ensure the path surface remains firm underfoot and install boardwalks where the path is currently difficult to navigate.
Nicky Philpott, the Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, said: “The results of the Big Pathwatch show that while many paths are well-kept, a significant number are in serious need of improvement, with many of these completely blocked or very difficult to use.
“There are even some problems along our much treasured and well-kept national trails, like the Offa’s Dyke Path.
“We’d like to thank all our volunteers involved for rolling up their sleeves and heading out to help with this ambitious path maintenance project, and improving the trail for everyone who walks it.”
Find out how you can get involved in protecting the nation’s paths.
The Ramblers has today, 14 November 2016, released the results of the Big Pathwatch, the nation’s biggest ever footpath survey.
Citizen surveyors walked every path in almost half the total area of England and Wales recording more than 100,000 features including attractive views and interesting flora and fauna; and locked gates, barbed wire across paths and missing or misleading signs.
The results revealed that although more than half (56%) of paths are well-kept and signposted, more than a third (35%) are in need of improvement and nearly a tenth (9%) are difficult or impossible to use.
Just over half of reported features were negative (55%), with muddy, ploughed or potholed paths, unsafe stiles, gates or bridges, heavy undergrowth or overhanging vegetation. Many of these made paths difficult or impossible to use. However, 45% of features identified were positive, with attractive views topping the charts.
The good news is that the problem is far from insurmountable – and we are now calling for everyone to take responsibility for their local paths by walking them and reporting any problems they find using the free Pathwatch app.
Nicky Philpott, the Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, said: “It shouldn’t just be up to local authorities to ensure the upkeep of our paths. We all have a part to play in looking after them, which is why we want everyone to take responsibility for their paths. It can be as simple as regularly using your local paths. Get out and walk them. If you see a problem, use the Pathwatch app to report it and we’ll pass the information on to the local authority. Problems reported early that would be quick and cheap to fix can become difficult and costly over time.”
So when you’re out walking, pick up rubbish, carry a pair of secateurs and snip away overhanging vegetation. Or join one of our path maintenance teams and help keep paths clear.
The top reported problem across all regions was missing or misleading signs. We will therefore be concentrating the first leg of our campaign to resolving this problem.
To get involved in protecting the nation’s paths, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/pathwatch.
Our volunteers across Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are responding to proposals being put forward by Network Rail for the closure of 130 level crossings in the Anglia region.
Of these, more than 100 are public rights of way—footpaths, bridleways and byways.
Network Rail argues that their proposals are intended “to reduce the risk that level crossings pose”, but our assessment of the plans has revealed a haphazard scheme. Some of the alternative routes which are being suggested will force walkers on to busy roads where they must face the dangers of fast traffic, often on roads with no pavements, or take them on long detours.
We welcome moves to make level crossings as safe as possible through education, improvements to crossing approaches, and the provision of warning lights and alarms. We feel that the closure of such crossings should only ever be a matter of last resort, and that when closure of a level crossing is being considered then the alternative route must be safe and convenient for all users, with alternative crossing points as close to the original crossing as possible: any detour is likely to be a deterrent to users. Rights of way, including many being targeted in this scheme, form vital links within local communities for people going about their everyday business.
Read more on our policy here.
What we’re doing about it
Our plan of action to deal with this threat to the path network includes going beyond objecting to individual proposals. We are building a coalition with other path user organisations, including the British Horse Society and the Open Spaces Society, and we are speaking to relevant local authorities. They are also concerned about these proposals because Network Rail has chosen to try to use a legal process which involves the Secretary of State at the Department of Transport making orders to close these paths under the Transport and Works Act, rather than the more usual route which involves the local highway authority making orders.
We are seeking to meet with Network Rail and with Ministers, and will pursue legal advice on Network Rail’s intended approach to the closures. Volunteers have already begun the process of seeking support from local MPs.
If you live in East Anglia and will be affected by these closures, we want to hear from you. Will closing a crossing affect your walk to work? Are there local businesses which will suffer from reduced footfall? Will it mean a long detour for children on their way to and from school?
We understand that Network Rail is planning to roll out this programme across the country. We'd also like to hear from you if you live elsewhere but have heard about planned closures of level crossings in your region.
For more information and any questions, please contact our senior policy officer Janet Davis (email@example.com).
We are delighted to announce that Vanessa Griffiths has been appointed our new Chief Executive.
Vanessa joins the Ramblers from National Trust Wales, where she is responsible for leading the Trust’s North Wales team of staff and volunteers. With more than 10 years experience in the charity sector, Vanessa has also previously successfully led Groundwork North Wales - a social enterprise which works with disadvantaged individuals and communities to help them to improve their own lives through the creation of green spaces, green jobs and green energy. Prior to this Vanessa was a senior civil servant within the Welsh government, where she was responsible for economic development and business support.
Des Garrahan, Chair of the Ramblers Board of Trustees, said “We are delighted that Vanessa Griffiths is joining us as our new chief executive and we extend a warm welcome to the Ramblers. Vanessa has a long history of caring for landscapes and helping connect people with place, which stands her in good stead as the lead of Britain’s walking charity.
“This is an exciting time for the Ramblers, when we are seeing a huge demand for our work. We are confident that Vanessa's background in conservation and sustainable development makes her the perfect candidate to lead the Ramblers in our ongoing journey to protect and promote footpaths and the British walking environment.”
Vanessa Griffiths said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Ramblers, who do so much to protect our right to access Britain’s countryside and historic path network. This is an exciting time for the charity, with lots of opportunities to get more people walking and enjoying the many benefits that walking can bring.
“I am a keen walker myself and look forward to helping people connect with the beautiful landscapes Britain has to offer. The Ramblers has a proud history of involving people in protecting our paths and countryside for future generations, and I’m looking forward to working with the staff, members and volunteers who make the Ramblers what it is today.”
Vanessa Griffiths will take the helm from Natasha Clayton. Natasha was appointed interim chief executive in July 2016 following the departure of Benedict Southworth, who stood down from his position at the Ramblers after four successful years as chief executive.
Natasha Clayton has been appointed as our interim chief executive.
With a wealth of experience in the charitable sector, Natasha will be leading the organisation forwards while a permanent chief executive is appointed.
Des Garrahan, chair of the board of trustees, said: “I am delighted with Natasha’s appointment. She joins us at a time when there is huge demand for our work. Natasha will be responsible for leading the Ramblers forward during this busy time.”
Natasha’s most recent role was interim chief executive at Farm Africa, where she was previously chief operating officer. She’s also worked at the Prince’s Charities and Diabetes UK and is trustee of Transparency International.
Natasha said “I’m really excited to join the Ramblers. Walking is something I’ve always loved, since growing up in the Yorkshire countryside.
“The work that the Ramblers does in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from walking is hugely important and I’m really looking forward to making a contribution to that work.”
After the drama of the tied vote for First Minister, we welcome the announcement of new Welsh Government and the election of the new Assembly members.
The dust is now settling after the exciting period of political intrigue. Assembly members are taking up their seats and Cabinet members are getting to grips with their new portfolios.
Fresh and interesting challenges face us. We have a different type of minority Labour government, with a solitary Liberal Democrat Cabinet member; a raft of brand new Assembly Members to build links with as part of the robust and varied opposition; and lots of pre-existing relationships to rekindle with returning AM’s.
We are busy contacting all the Assembly Members, Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers to congratulate them on their appointments, and invite them to walk and talk with us to build positive links for the future.
We need to work together to make a strong case for the benefits of walking to people’s health, to communities, and to our economy. Exiting opportunities are ahead, such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which will bring a focus on to improving the health and wellbeing of Wales. Walking has a key role to play in achieving the goals of the Act and presents opportunities to work with public bodies to support our work.
We will continue to champion walkers’ rights and to press for the issues raised in our manifesto to be addressed.
By being, or becoming a Ramblers member, you can support our desire to make Wales the best country in the world for walkers and walking.
Without the 25,000 volunteers who give their time to the Ramblers we just wouldn’t exist.
Whether looking after paths and green spaces, leading walks, opening up new places to explore, without our dedicated volunteers we just couldn’t do what we do. Every hour that everyone gives is so important in helping the Ramblers achieve what we do in making sure everyone can enjoy walking and the benefits it provides through improving health and happiness.
To mark the start of volunteer week, we are announcing the winners of our 2016 volunteer awards. The awards recognise volunteers or groups of volunteers for their outstanding contributions. Whether that’s inspiring people to walk or helping to protect and expand the places we love to walk, they are the real walking heroes.
During volunteer week we’ll be publishing interviews with our volunteer award winners and you’ll be able to read them on our volunteers' week webpage.
The Ramblers welcome Sport England’s new five-year strategy launched this week, which brings a much-needed shift in focus from investment in conventional sports to a greater emphasis on physical activity and specifically, helping inactive people to become active.
We also welcome the announcement that Sport England will make more funding available for programmes that support people walking for leisure. This recognises what we already know: that walking is the closest thing to perfect physical activity, a free, easy, effective and - with 9.1 million adults in England walking recreationally for at least 30 minutes once a month – an incredibly popular accessible way of getting people active and healthy.
Towards an active nation sees Sport England investing £250m – 25% of its resources – into targeting the most inactive people. This includes strong action to:
In drafting this new strategy, Sport England received the input of many organisations including the Ramblers, Macmillan and local Walking for Heath schemes. We are delighted to see the new direction they have set as a response and look forward to working further with Sport England and other organisations in order to reverse the tide of physical inactivity and build an active, walking nation.
Today the Government has outlined its legislative programme for the coming year. But how will the proposed new legislation impact walking and the walking environment?
The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will contain provisions to strengthen neighbourhood planning; privatise the Land Registry and to establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.
We will study the detail of changes to planning law to ensure this doesn’t undermine existing procedures for the closure or diversion of public rights of way. We will also closely examine legislation to privatise the Land Registry; any changes this makes must not affect the public’s ability to access information.
Today saw the formal establishment of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), a body which appears to be focussed on big shiny infrastructure projects (i.e. new roads, railways and airports). The government is missing a trick here, where the NIC’s remint could include nation’s green infrastructure as well, such as our developing England Coast path.
The Bus Services Bill features potentially useful provisions for walkers who wish to choose a greener transport option, however further progress could be made by better support for more joined-up planning, and Ministers must make provisions here to ensure local authorities ensure their services connect with those of another.
Also on transport, the Modern Transport Bill will enable the development of spaceports, driverless cars and tighter rules on drone use. Walking though – the most sustainable form of transport - is once more overlooked.
More people walking of course will bring huge health benefits for individuals and communities, and health and wellbeing receives some attention. The most eye-catching measure is a new soft drinks industry levy to tackle obesity. Any government action here need to be many-pronged, with the promotion of physical activity at the heart of it.
Ramblers Scotland warmly welcomes the new Scottish government, following the SNP’s success at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.
We also want to congratulate the new MSPs from all parties – some of whom are familiar faces to us and will know the Ramblers well.
During the election campaign we spoke with many candidates about our Manifesto for a Walking Scotland, which sets out our vision for a happier, healthier Scotland. Our underlying message is that Scotland should be capitalising far more on our fantastic natural environment and world-class access rights to encourage more people to get outdoors and be active.
As members of the delivery forum for the National Walking Strategy, we are eager to help deliver the action plan so that more people – from all sections of society – feel inspired and empowered to enjoy the health and social benefits that walking offers.
Our manifesto calls for a greater recognition of the role outdoor recreation and active travel can play in delivering many of the new administration’s manifesto promises. We will continue to highlight to all areas of government why it is in everyone’s interests to make decisions that ensure Scotland’s outdoors is welcoming and accessible.
In particular, we believe there are six key reasons why investing in walking, recreation and the outdoors makes sound political sense:
Put simply, the funding needed to support walking is a long-term investment towards a more healthy, active population fully engaged with the natural world, bringing widespread benefits for all.
As soon as the Parliament is sworn in, we look forward to working with the new administration and representatives of all parties on these important issues during the next five years.
So far Spring has served up sunshine, wind and a lot of rain. It's been pretty wet underfoot and we're sure wellies have been out in force.
This month Quality Wellies have kindly donated a pair of Quality Muck Boots to be given to one lucky person who joins the Ramblers this weekend (23rd and 24th April).
You just need to join using the code N16L4A, and you'll be entered into a prize draw.
If you are not lucky enough to win, or are an existing member but would still like a new pair of wellies then you can use voucher code RAMBLERS on the Quality Wellies website. This will give you 10% off all wellies valid until May 31st 2016.
Quality Wellies is a friendly online wellington boot shop selling wellies for all occasions from safety and farming through to rambling and dog walking. Many wellies are available on a free next day delivery service and there is a 365 day return policy on all their boots.
After four successful years, Benedict Southworth has stepped down as our chief executive. Benedict will continue in his capacity until 29th July and the search for a successor is underway.
Over this time, we’ve continued to expand our work opening up more places for walkers across Britain while defending their rights and promoting the benefits of walking to everyone, everywhere.
Under Benedict’s leadership, we’ve seen many great successes:
Benedict has established a new vision and a long term strategy, improved support for volunteers, made internal devolution to the nations work and strengthened the finances of the charity.
Benedict has always provided the board with insightful and robust information on our performance and impact. This was one of the reasons he enjoyed the trust and confidence of the board. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
Benedict says; “I will be passing on the baton to a new chief executive who can lead delivery of the direction agreed by the charity in our 80th year. They will find a charity capable of great things for its members, communities and the country.”
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to attend the Dick Balharry Memorial Lecture on Friday 11 March and Scottish Council on Saturday 12 March. Over the whole weekend 140 people attended and it was fantastic to see so many people come to support Ramblers Scotland.
Here are just a few of the highlights that we have taken from our Scottish Council weekend:
An election was held and the following people have been appointed to official positions:
Congratulations to both Alison and Andy on their new appointments! The following people were also appointed as SCEC members:
Siggi, Catherine and Catriona join as new SCEC members and we wish them all the best in their new roles.
Please keep an eye on our website for further updates on Scottish Council!
Today we’re celebrating the opening of the next stretch of the England Coast Path between Brean Down and Minehead in Somerset.
Our volunteers in Somerset have been working hard alongside Natural England to ensure the best route for walkers was put in place.
From today, people can enjoy a continuous walking route along the 58 miles of new and improved path, which includes foreshore, beaches, cliffs and areas where everyone can rest, relax and admire the view, including new views that have been opened up across the Bristol Channel.
Nicky Philpott, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, said: “For years we campaigned for the right to be able to breathe in the sea air while freely following the country’s beautiful and dramatic coastline.
“The right for this path to exist was enshrined in law in 2009 and the Government reaffirmed its promise to create the England Coast Path last December (2015) after our award-winning campaign One Coast For All successfully saved the path from being cut.
“We’re delighted to see this new stretch of the England Coast Path opened in Somerset. There is huge public love for our coast and today brings us one step closer to achieving this longstanding Ramblers dream.”
The new stretch of coast path will bring huge recreational, social and economic benefits, offering more opportunities to get active outdoors, connecting communities via safe coastal routes avoiding busy roads and attracting visitors keen to explore by the sea.
The new route offers a significant improvement in Doniford, where a new 15 metre footbridge over the river Swill now connects the two sides of the village via an easy-access walking route.
The next stretch of the England Coast Path due to open is in Kent.
Every 5 years, thousands of Ramblers from across Europe come together for Eurorando, a huge gathering of ramblers from dozens of different countries. The next Eurorando is taking place in September this year, in Skane in southern Sweden. The event runs from 10-17th September, based around the town of Helsingborg, and Ramblers members in Great Britain are invited to take part.
The Ramblers is one of 59 members of the European Ramblers’ Association which collectively has around 3 million individual members. The last Eurorando took place in Andalucia in 2011 [ http://www.era-ewv-ferp.com/events/eurorando-2011/andalusia/ ] , when over 3,000 people came together to enjoy a week of walks, culture, talks and events. Back in 2006, Eurorando was held in Bohemia and a contingent from Ramblers Scotland travelled over there to join in the fun – in kilts of course!
For 2016, the Swedish Tourist Association, Helsingborg city and Skane regional development organisation are all working together to provide a programme of walks and events to showcase Swedish food, music and culture. There are a range of packages available which include accommodation, walks and transport, and the whole event gives a great opportunity to meet like-minded people from around Europe while you explore Skane’s coast, woodlands and hills.
For more information about Eurorando and how to book, see: http://www.eurorando2016.com/
London mayoral candidates are talking about walking
Earlier this month, four of the London mayoral candidates discussed what they would do for walkers at the Greener London hustings, hosted by the Green Alliance.
Watch the debate starting at 32 minutes 50 seconds.
With the 2016 London mayoral elections now only two months away, volunteers are working hard to promote their Love London Walk London campaign. They’re speaking to candidates about how they can get more Londoners to enjoy the benefits of walking and protect where we walk. We’re calling on the next Mayor of London to:
Ramblers Scotland calls for a boost in support for outdoor recreation to make Scotland a happier, healthier place.
In the run up to May’s Holyrood elections, we are calling on all political parties to support walking and demonstrate their commitment to promoting active, healthy lifestyles, protecting the environment and improving access to the outdoors.
As Ramblers Scotland’s director, Jess Dolan, explained, “We would like to see a political and social sea-change in attitudes towards the role outdoor recreation and Scotland’s amazing natural heritage can both play in improving our daily lives and our wellbeing. We need proper investment in the places people walk, from their local park to Scotland’s national parks, with better promotion of paths and routes to make it easier for people to enjoy all the benefits of being active in the natural environment.”
“Our vision is of a Scotland where walking is something people do every day, as a way of spending time with friends or just keeping healthy, as a mode of transport or simply for the joy of being outdoors,” continued Jess. “We want to capitalise on Scotland’s unrivalled natural heritage to transform the culture of our country, so that everyone is inspired to walk the West Highland Way, climb a Munro or bag their own personal summit.”
Some of the measures put forward in the manifesto include:
Investing in paths and bridges, signs and promotion.
Setting up National Recreation Areas around Scotland to showcase our world-class opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Setting up hut trails to enable people to experience a night staying in remote areas.
Protecting Scottish access rights, which are under threat of being eroded away by obstructions and lack of enforcement of the law.
Establishing Scotland’s third national park in Harris.
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat mayoral and Assembly candidate, took a stroll down the Thames Path around City Hall with London Ramblers and Liberal Democrat Assembly candidates. London Ramblers spoke about how the next Mayor can help more people to enjoy the many benefits of walking.
Caroline said, “Walking deserves as high a priority as cycling, bus and Tube use in London’s transport hierarchy so we can ensure everyone can benefit from something that's good for your health and wellbeing. I had a great time walking along the Thames. I’d urge everyone in London to get out and enjoy the wonders of walking.”
With obesity costing London £900m a year and one in five of the capital’s children overweight, the Ramblers knows that walking is more important than ever. Ramblers' Chair, Des Garrahan, spoke to Caroline about London Ramblers calls for the next Mayor to:
For more information and to get invovled visit www.ramblers.org.uk/london
Ahead of the Scottish budget debate on Wednesday, Ramblers Scotland has joined a coalition of transport and environmental groups backed by the broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and University of Edinburgh Professor Chris Oliver to call on the government to reprioritise its transport budget and spend less money on road building and motorways and more on supporting walking and cycling.
In the current budget proposals, the government will spend £820 million next year on roads but just £41 million on active modes of travel. Therefore, the groups who include Spokes, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Pedal on Parliament, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Transform Scotland have jointly issued a Parliamentary Briefing calling on the Government to transfer 1% of its proposed trunk roads and motorways budget to active travel.
Dave du Feu, cycling campaigner for Spokes said,
"If Councils are expected to find cuts of 7% to non-care services, surely the government can find 1% from its own trunk roads budget to ensure that its policies on walking and cycling do not suffer.
"The last year or two have seen growing ambition and expertise in many Scottish Councils seeking to improve conditions for cycling, for example Edinburgh's plan for a segregated route through the city centre, and other bold plans in Glasgow and Inverness. Just 1% from the government's £820m trunk roads budget would help maintain this momentum rather than putting it at risk."
Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,
“The Government has got its spending plans all wrong by pouring millions into roads which will create more traffic congestion, more air pollution, and more climate emissions. If it transfers just 1% of the cash it plans to spend on new polluting roads into active travel, this will support councils to get lots more people walking and cycling across Scotland.
Lesley Riddoch, broadcaster and journalist, said,
"It's not too late to make a big dent in Scotland's bad habits with a relatively small amount of public cash. We know the sedentary lifestyle of many Scots is a killer, here's a way to do something about it."
Professor Chris Oliver, Honorary Professor of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh said,
"There is far too much money in virtual silos in Scottish Government. It's difficult to sensibly move money around. Transferring more money into active travel will not only benefit cycling and walking levels but will have a considerable amplified effect on long term Scottish health as well."
Jess Dolan, Director of Ramblers Scotland said,
"If we were all physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, as a country our risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and some common cancers would be much lower and the chance of dying early would decrease by 30%. It's important that we reprioritise transport spending to invest in active travel so that walking and cycling become the easiest and most convenient options for short journeys. This would help increase physical activity levels, and contribute to making Scotland a healthier nation."
Our annual winter walking festival, from 19 December 2015 - 3 January 2016, saw thousands of people joining over 1,900 group walks covering a staggering 13,897 miles across Britain. Here’s a taster of what happened.
Herts Weekend Walkers welcomed 50 people on this walk through the wintery woodlands of Sherrards Park. The group celebrated their last walk of 2015 by providing mulled wine and mince pies at a local cricket club afterwards. There are more photos on the group’s Facebook page.
Walkers made the most of the winter sun on a New Year’s Eve Ramble in the beautiful Malvern Hills. Worcester Ramblers led 13 walks during the festival, attended by 100 people. See their website for more photos.
The walk leader of Daventry Ramblers, Thea Young said: “Poor weather did not deter nineteen Ramblers from meeting up at Eydon for the first walk of the year…yes, plenty of mud and waterlogged ground but at least heavy rain held off and it wasn't too cold.“ More photos can be found on the Facebook page.
Chair of Thame and Wheatley Ramblers, Mike Smith, led 15 walkers on this 10 mile walk, starting from Cowley in Oxford. The group came across flowering daffodils at Sandford Lock!
On 2 January, Len from Croydon Ramblers celebrated his 80th birthday in style - by leading 20 people from East Surrey Walkers on an 11 mile walk.
Our free Festival of Winter Walks is open to everyone and continues to be hugely popular. We’re already looking forward to next year’s festival!
Sian Berry, Green Party mayoral candidate, stepped out with the London Ramblers’ volunteers to stroll down the Thames Path and talk about the many benefits of walking and how the next Mayor can help to build a walking city.
With obesity costing London £900m a year and one in five of the capital’s children overweight, the Ramblers knows that walking is more important than ever.
Sian Berry said, “Many of our greatest walking amenities were fought for by visionary people whose achievements we now take for granted. We shouldn’t – and we should bear in mind that, without them, the South Bank would be as unwalkable as the North Bank. If I’m elected Mayor of London I’ll prioritise walking as a healthy and enjoyable way to travel and spend leisure time. It’s central to the Green vision, and protecting the Thames Path from the encroachment of developers or properly preserving and signing the London Loop and the Capital Ring are to me an essential part of the job of running London for the common good.
Des Garrahan, Chair of The Ramblers, led the walk, and commented “Walking works to prevent physical and mental health problems and offers an effective, low-cost solution to many of the problems we face in London. We’d love to see our communities walk more for health, travel and pleasure.”
London Ramblers are calling on the next Mayor of London to:
Employ a walking ambassador to promote London as a world class walking city for all.
Champion the Thames Path and other routes to ensure they remain safe and open for all Londoners to walk.
Ensure equality of access to our amazing parks and green spaces, so that everyone has a green space close to their home.
Find our more and get involved in the campaign: www.ramblers.org.uk/london
Following the announcement by the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP to approve byelaws banning camping from parts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Jess Dolan, Director of Ramblers Scotland said “This is a sad day for everyone who holds Scottish access rights dear. The national park itself has admitted that most of the anti-social problems arising from some camping activities are caused by a lack of infrastructure and enforcement of existing legislation. Therefore we are disappointed that the Minister has decided to approve byelaws, albeit with a short delay before they come into effect.
“We are aware of very strong feelings on this matter from our members, visitors to the park and others enjoying outdoor recreation in Scotland”, continued Jess. “The vast majority of people who camp in the park and across Scotland are doing so responsibly and they will now be penalised by this byelaw. We don't condone anti-social behaviour and believe that there is existing legislation which should be properly implemented to tackle any problems arising from any anti-social behaviour in the park.
“It’s important to ensure all visitors to our countryside understand their rights and also their responsibilities in terms of camping, whether in a tent on top of a mountain or by the side of a road in a campervan. We are therefore calling upon both of our national parks, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish government, local communities and recreation bodies to work together to devise a national strategy to promote these messages and stop the blight of litter and anti-social behaviour which has led us to this situation.
“We do not want to see any more byelaws restricting access in Scotland and will be working to ensure that these byelaws are not renewed in three years’ time when they come up for review.”
Read more on the byelaws announcement here.
We are excited to announce that the Ramblers have teamed up with Sport Relief to help get more people walking in 2016.
Jo Brand is kicking off this year’s Sport Relief by walking coast-to-coast from Hull to Liverpool – the challenge of a lifetime! Why not follow her example and set yourself a challenge in support of Sport Relief 2016?
There’s lots of (less drastic) ways for you to get involved and walk yourself proud, and in doing so, help to change lives. We are lending our knowledge and expertise of all things walking to encourage more people to step out and enjoy the simple, free and easy pleasures of walking. Together with Sport Relief, we have developed an inspiring pack to help newcomers get started and to provide new challenges for more experienced walkers, as well as encouraging families to get out and enjoy walking together.
Benedict Southworth, Ramblers Chief Executive, said, “As the expert voice on walking, we’re proud to be supporting this endeavour. This is a fantastic opportunity for us all to champion the benefits to health and wellbeing of walking, and to share the enjoyment of getting out into nature that Ramblers have always understood.”
We’ve selected 40 free routes across the nation for you to enjoy as part of Sport Relief 2016.Download your free copy of the Walk Kit to get started.
The Ramblers is celebrating the announcement today that Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has approved the longest stretch of the coastal path so far. Work can now begin to make the path between Filey Brigg in North Yorkshire and Middlesbrough’s Newport Bridge a reality.
Running for 70 miles through some of the most spectacular scenery in the north east, the new path will help walkers to access historic sites such as Whitby Abbey and the village of Staithes, home to Captain Cook.
Tom Fewins, Ramblers policy and advocacy manager, said, “we’re really pleased to see progress is being made in the North East and that we’re one step closer to opening up this beautiful stretch of the area’s coastline for everyone to enjoy.
“The path will bring huge recreational, social and economic benefits to the North East, as well as providing walkers with a beautiful coastal route offering uninterrupted spectacular sea views along the way.
“Although people can already enjoy some of the coastline in the area, the new path will include lots of areas where people can take a break and enjoy the views. Importantly for walkers, if the path erodes, a replacement route will be put in place, maintaining the England Coast Path for future generations to enjoy.”
The government recently confirmed that funding to complete the England Coast Path by 2020 would be protected, despite reductions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) budget.
The Ramblers have been the driving force behind the campaign to open up the coast for everyone to enjoy, including beaches for kids to play on and cliffs for climbers to clamber up. Through our One Coast for All campaign, we’ve been lobbying the government to open up our coastline and set out a full timetable for completion. The new coastal route will be a high-quality piece of infrastructure which will link coastal communities around England and provide the foundation for outdoor recreation and tourism for decades to come.
The Ramblers welcome the publication of the government’s Strategy on Sport, which sets out new commitments to get more people physically active and recognises that walking has a central role to play in achieving this aim.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announced a new and more joined up approach to delivery and funding across government to increase physical activity. From now on, there will be an increased focus on organisations that not only increase activity but can demonstrate wider social benefits, namely: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development and economic development. The remit of Sport England will be widened to support certain physical activities that deliver these benefits, such as cycling, dancing and walking. Greater emphasis will be placed on motivating inactive people to become active.
The strategy also highlights the vital role that good quality green spaces – including parks, paths and other open spaces – play in getting people active everyday and providing social benefits for communities. It calls on Sport England to ensure that these spaces are supported alongside more traditional built facilities such as sports halls and pitches.
The Ramblers believe that increased government support for walking is the best way to meet the strategy’s aims. Walking is an ideal way of getting the inactive more active because it is simple, sustainable, inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere and can be incorporated into everyday routines. Evidence also shows that walking provides clear social benefits, including improved physical and mental health, increased social interaction, greater community cohesion as well as economic benefits. Walking acts as a gateway into other sports or competitive physical activities.
The Ramblers Chief Executive, Benedict Southworth said:
“We welcome the government’s pledge to get more people physically active and the new focus on increasing the social benefits from sport and physical activity. Greater support for walking programmes such as Walking for Health and infrastructure including paths and parks would go a long way to meeting both of these aims.”
“Sport England, Natural England and local authorities all have an important roles to play in the delivery of this strategy and we will work with and support them to improve the quality of local green spaces. “
Today we’re celebrating the government’s confirmation that funding to complete the England Coast Path by 2020 will be protected, despite recently announced reductions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) budget.
Chancellor George Osborne presented his Autumn Statement last week, detailing £20bn of budget cuts intended to eliminate the budget deficit, including spending reductions at DEFRA averaging around 30 percent over the next four years.
Given the substantial cuts expected, we’ve been working hard to ensure that the government maintains it’s commitment to construct the England Coast Path by 2020, so that the substantial momentum, experience and benefits realised to date are not lost.
The government has now given a clear indication that they intend to follow through on their pledge. Responding to a Parliamentary Question, DEFRA Minister Rory Stewart confirmed that funding to complete the coastal path around England by 2020 will be protected. Further details about funding will be announced early next year.
The Ramblers have been the driving force behind the campaign to open up the coast for everyone to enjoy, including beaches for kids to play on and cliffs for climbers to clamber up. In 2009, we won the right to walk along the coast and explore our stunning beaches but development on the ground was slow. Through our One Coast for All campaign, we’ve been lobbying the government to open up our coastline and set out a full timetable for completion.
The new coastal route will be a high-quality piece of infrastructure which will link coastal communities around England and provide the foundation for outdoor recreation and tourism for decades to come.It’s particularly fitting that this week we are also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW), which gave us rights to walk over mapped areas of open green space in England.
Winter is here and to help inspire everyone to get out walking during our popular Festival of Winter Walks we’re sharing our top routes for you to try.
We’ve picked some incredible routes that are best walked in winter, with an abundance of wildlife or stunning wintry landscapes. These 12 routes are free to view – simply register. And if you like these walks, there are over 2,500 more to discover – become a member and you can access them all.
Our groups will also be leading hundreds of free walks from 19 December 2015 to 3 January 2016 and everyone’s invited. You can now search for festive winter walks near you.
So pull on your boots and head out for a winter walk.
The very best of our winter routes to try:
Hawkshead and Grizedale Forest, Lake District
Length: 3 miles
Walking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Starting point: The main car park, Hawkshead Village
This short but pleasant circuit crosses Hawkshead Hill and takes you through the wintery beauty of Grizedale Forest’s conifers. Hawkshead is one of the Lake District's famous villages. Beatrix Potter lived nearby and you can see some of her sketches in the Beatrix Potter Gallery. It’s well worth exploring the village to take in all the beautiful buildings and visiting the church on the hill.
Copywright: Nell Roger
Aldeburgh to Snape Maltings, Suffolk
Length: 7.3 miles
Walking time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: Fort Green car park, Aldeburgh
End point: Snape Maltings, Plough & Sail bus stop for bus back to Aldeburgh
This linear walk from Aldeburgh starts along the coast then turns inland along the Sailors' Path to Snape Maltings. Winter is the perfect time of year to enjoy atmospheric views across the River Alde and its mudflats. Being tidal, it’s a place of glistening mud and shallow open water while in the skies above huge watercolour cloudscapes fill with the constant movement of birds.
Image credit: Fiona Barltrop
Length: 6.3 miles
Walking time: 3 hours
Starting point: St Mary’s Church, Tetford
If you really want to get away from it all this winter, this gentle, scenic walk will give you quintessentially English views of rolling hills and a babbling brook. Follow in the footsteps of one of our most famous writers, Lord Tennyson, passing his former home and taking you through the landscapes that inspired him.
Copywright: Dave Hitchborne
Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, Highland
Length: 3.7 miles
Walking time: 2 hours
Starting point: Aviemore Station
A woodland and hill walk through Craigellachie National Nature Reserve in Aviemore. In winter, enjoy breathtaking views across crags of lochans, the Cairngorms and beautiful birchwoods.
Image credit: Walter Baxter
Oxford, Rivers and Parks
Length: 7 miles
Walking time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: Youth Hostel Association, Oxford
There is plenty to savour on this picturesque walk through the rivers, parks and colleges of Oxford. Enjoy stunning views of Christchurch College and the dreaming spires. Annual winter floods bring flocks of wildfowl and waders to Port Meadow and if the meadow freezes you may spot skaters out on the ice!
Length: 4.8 miles
Walking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: Cliff Top Car Park, Penarth
This leisurely circular walk follows part of the coast path, taking you through Lavernock Nature Reserve, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and a restored medieval village. In winter, enjoy seeing migrating wildfowl such as teal, tufted duck and bittern along the Penarth Coast.
Copywright: Ben Salter
Hadrian’s Wall – The Great Wall of the North
Length: 5.2 miles
Walking time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: Housesteads National Trust Visitor Centre
Hadrian’s Wall is Britain’s best preserved Roman fort and this walk takes in the most dramatic stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, which offers stunning views. The views are spectacular, particularly in winter when snow settles on the moors.
Image credit: John Gardner
Beacon Hill, Buckinghamshire
Length: 4.7 miles
Walking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: Little Kimble Station
Despite their proximity to London, the Chilterns are a beautiful, unspoilt corner of England. This circular walk offers a winning combination of gently rolling hills and dense woodland with a scattering of Iron Age forts giving a hint of the history of the area. On a crisp winter’s day, you get the best of the views from Beacon Hill and the woods provide plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities: look out for fallow deer, buzzards and robins.
Mount Edgcumbe and Maker, Cornwall
Length: 6.3 miles
Walking time: 3 hours
Starting point: Bus stop at entrance to ferry slip, Cremyll
Explore the so-called ‘Forgotten corner of Cornwall’ on this walk which in winter is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs. The route is entirely within the Rame Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and takes you through formal gardens, landscaped woodlands and plenty of historical buildings, while offering fantastic views over river, sea and harbour.
Copywright: Ruth Sharville
Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve and Dowles Brook, Worcestershire
Length: 4 miles (plus ½ mile each way if using the bus)
Walking time: 2 hours
Starting point: Car park at bottom of Dry Mill Lane, Bewdley
This is a great walk for any time of year, but is spectacular in snow or frost. The route takes you past the fast-flowing Dowles Brook to a derelict mill. Look out for Hawfinch and Brambling in the area around Lodge Hill Farm in the winter months.
Image credit: Peter Wright
Almondell Country Park and Union Canal
Walking time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Starting point: South Entrance, Almondell Country Park
An interesting and varied walk through the historic Almondell Country Park and along the Union Canal Towpath. The circular route crosses impressive viaduct and aqueduct bridges, with lovely views over the River Almond. In the winter, look out for redwings, bullfinches and lesser redpolls.
Image credit: Jimmy Dee
Circular walk from Tywyn, Cardigan Bay
Length: 8 miles
Walking time: 4 hours
Starting point: Tywyn seafront
Tywyn literally means ‘beach’ or ‘sand dune’ and the town boasts a five mile stretch of sandy beach. The highlight of this walk is Broad Water, a salt water lagoon and designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, where in winter you can spot waders and wildfowl.
Copywright: Peter Trimming
The Ramblers advises people to take care when walking in mountainous regions during the winter. Check the weather before you set off, plan walks carefully to take account of the early sunset and make sure you have the right equipment with you, including warm clothes.
As long as walkers are properly equipped, they can enjoy a great winter walk.
Visit www.Ramblers.org.uk/ramblersroutes to find a route near you.
For more information on the Festival of Winter Walks, please visit www.ramblers.org.uk/winterwalks.
People in Scotland can now benefit from a new free booklet produced by Ramblers Scotland containing expert guidance on accessing the outdoors in a responsible way, so that everyone can be confident in enjoying a walk.
Ramblers Scotland played a leading role in helping to secure world-renowned rights of access for Scotland through the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and has since been working to ensure walkers understand their responsibilities as well as their rights. The Scotland on Foot booklet will help to continue this work.
“We are incredibly lucky in Scotland to enjoy such amazing access rights”, said James Lawson, Convener of Ramblers Scotland. “However we know not everyone feels confident in their rights and their responsibilities when they are outdoors, so not as many people are making the most of Scotland’s wonderful natural environment as they could be.”
“In celebration of our 50th anniversary we wanted to give people in Scotland a gift, so we’ve produced a brand new booklet full of advice on what Scottish access rights mean to walkers,” continued James. “We hope this will help everyone feel more confident so that they can head out and enjoy the great outdoors much more often.”
Full guidance on responsibilities for land managers and those enjoying access is provided in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Ramblers Scotland’s 50th anniversary
Scottish walkers were involved right from the start in the foundation of the Ramblers’ Association in 1935, when rambling federations from Glasgow and Edinburgh joined forces with walking groups in England to form an organisation which would campaign for rights of access to land across Great Britain. In 1965 the first Scottish Area was established in the Ramblers, making 2015 our 50th anniversary, and the 80th anniversary of the Ramblers in Great Britain.
Chancellor George Osborne today presented his Autumn Statement, detailing
£20bn of budget cuts aiming to eliminate the budget deficit. But what does this mean for walkers?
Departments including Defra (Department for Rural Affairs) and Communities and Local Government have shouldered substantial cuts, both agreeing to further budget reductions over the next four years that average around 30 percent.
What this means for our green and pleasant land is unclear, although Mr Osborne had good news for some of the most cherished parts of it, including promising to protect £350 million of funding for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and public forests.
Sadly, this overlooks other areas that would benefit from more funding, such as the 138,000 miles of public footpaths, bridleways and byways which thread their way through the countryside; and the parks and green spaces that allow people to unwind in our towns and cities.
These are maintained by local authorities that have seen their direct grants from central government fall by 27 percent between 2011 and 2015. The Department which issues these - Communities and Local Government - has seen its own budget reduced by half since 2010 and with local authorities struggling to plug gaps in vital services there is going to be even less funding available to keep paths open in the coming years.
We would urge the government to look at alternative sources such as the £3 billion Mr. Osborne today pledged to ‘safeguard England’s countryside through the Common Agricultural Policy’ or the millions handed out to Local Enterprise Partnerships every year.
Other, partially built, walking infrastructure also face an uncertain future, particularly the eagerly anticipated England Coast Path. Despite our best efforts, the Chancellor has still not given any assurances about what will be a vital new national asset. Natural England, the agency charged with its creation, face an increasingly difficult task as Defra seeks to implement yet more stiff budget cuts.
Access to the countryside could be affected by today’s announcement of a sell off of further chunks of government land and allowing local authorities to keep funds from sales of assets. We will be investigating the implications of this as we receive further details, along with renewed proposals to privatise the Land Registry and Ordnance Survey.
All this comes at a time of unprecedented pressure on the NHS budget, and whilst that has been protected, local health budgets have been reduced. This will have a direct impact on the long term health of communities across the country, where physical inactivity is now a massive public health problem. Schemes such as Walking for Health, which the Ramblers run in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, rely on Local Authority funding in England for more than half of its 400 health walk schemes. Without them, inactive people are more likely to suffer long term health conditions.
Inactivity also places a significant cost upon local economies and health services, whereas walking itself makes a vital contribution. Only this week new figures from Visit England reported walking is worth £1.8 billion a year.
The Ramblers Cymru team were featured on Countryfile last night, 8 November, calling for the freedom to explore with a true right to roam.
Angela Charlton was talking to Tom Heap of the popular BBC programme about our campaign to make Wales the best country in the world for walking. Following in the footsteps of the Scottish achievement, where there has been a right to access most land since 2003, we are petitioning the Welsh Assembly to create a similar freedom for Welsh walkers.
The programme can be viewed here until 17th December and our feature starts at 7m23s.
Join our campaign to make Wales the best country in the world for walking by signing our simple pledge.
The Ramblers is delighted that the extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have today been approved by Defra Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss.
The extensions will complete and protect these stunning and important landscapes, and will not only benefit walkers and visitors but also local, rural economies in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, as well as the nation as a whole.
Benedict Southworth, for the Ramblers said:
“In 1936 The Ramblers, alongside other organisations, set up the Campaign for National Parks. We have campaigned for them ever since.”
“Today’s announcement is excellent news. These extensions bring wonderful walking areas such as the Northern Howgills, Mallerstang and the Orton Fells within National Park boundaries.”
"Not only does National Park status strengthen the protection of these magnificent landscapes, but it will greatly enhance the experience for walkers in a way which will benefit local businesses and the Nation.”
Christmas is fast approaching and while you might be thinking about gifts to buy your loved ones, we’re busy planning our gift to the nation as we invite everyone to step out during our annual Festival of Winter Walks.
For over 25 years, we have organised a special fortnight of walks across England, Scotland and Wales. A winter walk is a great way to appreciate the beauty of our landscapes. From frosted fields and snow-strewn hills, to dramatic coastal views and sparkling lights on a city stroll, you will be surprised by what you can discover.
Our groups will be leading hundreds of free walks from 19 December 2015 until 3 January 2016 and you’re all invited. From short city strolls to remote rambles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Find out more and sign up for updates here.Got a favourite winter walk? We’d love to know! Share your favourite winter rambles below or tweet @RamblersGB using the hashtag #winterwalks.
In response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on improving access to the outdoors for recreation, Ramblers Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to be ambitious and introduce the ‘freedom to explore’, giving people access to all of Wales’ countryside and coastline.
Ramblers Cymru is suggesting that Welsh Government can learn from the success of Scotland’s Land Reform Act, which was enshrined in law 12 years ago.
The response makes the case for the freedom to explore along with a strong statutory code of conduct, and protection for our path networks. This will create opportunities for more people to walk more often, while the Code will educate everyone about their responsibilities in the outdoors.