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Annual Review 2016

All members should by now have received a copy of our Annual Review for 2016.  If you a are member and have not received yours, please email Area Secretary Robert Peel on info@kentramblers.org.uk.

13 January 2017

First Section of England Coast Path in Kent Opened

The section of England Coast Path from Camber through Folkestone to Ramsgate was officially opened on 19 July 2016.  At a ceremony near the National Trust's White Cliffs Visitor Centre overlooking the busy port of Dover the Chairman of Natural England, Andrew Sells, cut a red ribbon to mark the culmination of many years' work by many individuals, not least Kent Ramblers' Ian Wild.  Ian has carefully surveyed every mile of the Kent coastline and made route recommendations on behalf of the Ramblers that have been largely endorsed by Natural England.

To coincide with the opening, Kent Ramblers have produced a printed guide to the route from Camber to Ramsgate in full colour with detailed maps, directions and information about points of interest along the way.  For more details and to order your copy please visit our publications page.

Work is well in hand to establish further stretches of path from Ramsgate to Margate then to Whitstable and beyond.

Cover and sample page from our guide to the route:

Great Day Out at Medway English Festival

On 23 April 2016, appropriately St George's Day, we took the Area stall to the Medway English Festival at Riverside Country Park.  Ann and Tony Faulkner and Jim Bushnell from Medway Group and Area Secretary Robert Peel did their best to extol the virtues of walking and explain the benefits of joining the Ramblers to the passing crowds.  Sales of our bargain packs of walking books and leaflets certainly sold well.  Here are a few pictures from the event:

Medway Group has just launched a new website which you can view here:

Medway Web Site

North Downs Way on Google Street View

The North Downs Way has become the first National Trail to be captured on Google Street View.  Street View has for some years allowed you  to take a virtual tour along most of Britain's roads, streets and lanes thanks to the millions of photographs taken by Google's car-mounted cameras.  Now, for the first time, a back-pack mounted camera has been taken off-road and carried the full length of the North Downs Way.

The new offering was launched in March 2016 and allows you to travel the entire route of the North Downs Way without leaving your chair.

The North Downs Way runs from Farnham in Surrey to Canterbury and Dover in Kent.  A launch event was held at the edge of the harbour in Dover by the Channel Swimmers Monument.

Present were both Area Chairman, Alison Hargreaves, and White Cliffs Group Chairman, Margaret Lubbock.

Relevant links:

North Downs Way on Google Street View

Surrey Hills AONB (through which the Way passes)

Kent Downs AONB (through which the Way passes)

Via Francigena (a trail from Canterbury to Rome which follows the same route as the North Downs Way for the English section)

Annual Review 2015

A bumper issue of our Annual Review was posted to all members in January 2016.  It contains two more walking routes.

Copies are available free to anyone interested - all we charge for is postage and packing.  You can have the most recent four issues with seven of our best walking routes for just 1.60.  More details on our publications page.

Annual Review 2014

Our 2014 Annual Review has now been posted to all members.  If you haven't received yours please let us know at info@kentramblers.org.uk.

The Review contains two of our favourite walking routes as well as the usual roundup of news from Groups, an update on coastal access in Kent and articles on topics that include Vinters Park, Hadlow Tower and how Kent County Council handle reports of footpath problems.

10.1.15

Annual General Meeting 2015

We have now received notice of one motion to be debated at the AGM on 7 February 2015.  This concerns the Ramblers' response to proposals to close pedestrian rail crossings.  There are more details here.

9.1.15

 

Latest Successes from our Path Maintenance Teams

We have long had path maintenance teams in Kent clearing vegetation or installing stiles or gates.  Over the last year we have introduced a much expanded programme of vegetation clearance to compensate for reduced expenditure by local authorities on such work.

White Cliffs Group has been amongst the most active of our Groups in tackling severely overgrown paths.  The successes of the White Cliffs team are too many to list but a good example is a path included in one of the walking routes published on our web site (Walk 83: Four Churches Walk: Barham, Womenswold, Bishopsbourne & Kingston) that they cleared recently (15 October 2014).

The path runs along the top of a bank above the A2 and was at one time signposted as a bridleway.  A walker reported difficulty using the path in August and we immediately alerted our teams.  The path is not marked as a public right of way on the definitive map so we had to research its status before starting work I turns out that while there is public access the route cannot be designated as a public footpath because it is already part of the public highway by virtue of its proximity to the A2.  Having got the agreement of Kent County Council, our team turned out on a fine October morning for good exercise and great job satisfaction.  The before and after photographs speak for themselves why not get out and take advantage of their work by tackling Walk 83 now?

Bromley Group also has a team and 14 volunteers turned out on 2 October to clear overgrown paths near Chelsfield.  Our picture shows one of the volunteers and one of the plastic discs that we use to let users know that they have the Ramblers to thank for the cleared path.

If you would like to help with this vital and satisfying work anywhere in Kent, Bromley or Bexley, please get in touch with us on info@kentramblers.org.uk.
Walk 83 Path: Before:

Walk 83 Path: After:

Bromley Team at work:

Sandwich Bay

Festival Walkers at the Bleriot memorial

A fine walk at the 2012 AGM

Avery's Wood near Bullingstone

The new Wealdway information board at Tonbridge castle

Ightham Mote

Kent's Coastal Path: Your Opportunity to Make a Difference

Work on the section from Folkestone to Ramsgate is well advanced but Natural England's hopes of significantly improving a difficult section around Sandwich are under threat.  Natural England, supported by many including Kent Ramblers, have proposed a route along the historic quayside at Richborough Port, avoiding a section of unattractive and busy main road through an industrial area along a footway shared with cyclists.  

Unfortunately the landowner has objected, despite having made no use of the quayside prior to the proposal for the coastal path, and the Inspector has indicated that he is minded to accept the objection.  This would be a major detriment to this part of the path and a consultation is now under way, ending on 11 September 2014.

So all those with an interest in the coastal path now have an opportunity to affect the outcome by making a representation.  There are more details on our Coastal Access page.  Make your views count.

White Cliffs Walking Festival

The 2014 Festival finished on Wednesday 27 August with some more splendid walks followed by a barbeque at the Port Arms in Deal.  The total number of participants for all the week's walks is thought to have comfortably exceeded the 1000 target despite a couple of days of poor weather.

The Festival had opened the previous Thursday with a ceremony in Dover at which Ramblers' national President Kate Ashbrook commended those involved in organising the Festival and stressed the importance of volunteers doing their bit to look after the path network when local authorities lacked the resources to do it all themselves.  Local MP Charlie Elphicke also spoke and promised to join a walk later in the week.

Immediately after the ceremony the first two walks of the Festival set off, one to walk the cliff tops from Capel le Ferne to Dover and the other past Dover castle to the Bleriot memorial and then along the River Dour Greenway.

Planning for next year's festival is already under way.  You can check for details as they become available on the Festival web site:

White Cliffs Walking Festival

Ramblers' President Kate Ashbrook and White Cliffs Group Chairman Margaret Lubbock

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke speaking at the opening ceremony

Festival walkers at the end of their walk in Dover

Top 50 Summer Walks

On Saturday 13 July the Independent published its 2013 supplement of "Top 50 Summer Walks".  These included 11 walks from Ramblers' Routes and one of these was "Teston, Yalding and the Medway" which was featured in Kent Area's 2012 Annual Review.

Teston Lock

There are 30 more fine routes in or very close to Kent on the Walking in Kent page of this site.

Protecting our Paths

On Saturday (6 July) nearly 30 members met in Lenham to refresh their knowledge of path protection work in Kent.  Some were current volunteers engaged in path protection work and others were ordinary members keen to learn about this important aspect of Ramblers' activity.

John Charles, Kent Ramblers volunteer Public Rights of Way Manager, opened the meeting and welcomed all present.

Graham Rusling from Kent County Council reviewed the impact of reduced financing on the work being done by his path protection team.

  • To cut costs Kent County Council has cancelled around 30% of path clearance contracts but the reduced economies of scale mean that around 50% less work will actually be done.  Kent Ramblers has offered to help clear some of the affected paths and two pilots will be carried out shortly involving volunteers from Medway and White Cliffs Groups.
  • Graham has reorganised his team's work so that instead of each staff member having responsibility for a geographical area cases are allocated to staff as and when they have the time to handle them.
  • Graham stressed the importance of people reporting path problems on-line so that staff are not distracted from actually dealing with the problems.

Robert Peel spoke of the need to make the work of Ramblers' footpath volunteers more widely known.  Membership of the Ramblers both nationally and in Kent is falling and evidence suggests that the members we are losing fastest and recruiting least are those joining to support our public rights of way work.  Clearly most members and almost all of over 6 million regular walkers in Britain do not appreciate the work done by the Ramblers in ensuring that walking and access are easy.  Robert therefore appealed to all footpath volunteers to help by ensuring that all their work and especially their successes are reported to John Charles and onwards to Central Office so that we can publicise them and, hopefully, encourage more people to support our work.

After lunch a group of ordinary members learned more about the work of our Local Footpath Officers while those already engaged in this work looked at a series of case studies involving proposed footpath diversions or closures.

Sandwich Bay

Mayor of Dover Pam Brivio and White Cliffs Group Chairman Margaret Lubbock both spoke at the Festival opening ceremony

Front cover of the Annual Review

Ian Wild and Canterbury Ramblers setting off to Faversham


The coastal path at Capel between Folkestone and Dover (saved by a Ramblers' campaign)

Margate in Thanet

 

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