To celebrate their eightieth birthday this year, the Ramblers have teamed up with the Observer to provide 20 walks for last Sunday’s edition, with a good spread throughout England, Scotland and Wales. It’s excellent publicity for the Ramblers and should encourage more people to get out into our glorious countryside.
The walks come from Ramblers’ Routes, a collection of over 2,000 described by walkers for walkers. Website access to them all is a benefit of Ramblers’ membership.
Fortunately this Observer supplement is the first of many, so there’s time to suggest that some future walks make use of the access land we won by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. And they should celebrate our coastal-access achievements too, with the Wales Coastal Path (included but not mentioned in the Rhossili (Gower) walk) and, in England, the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 which is a path and adjoining access land (included but not mentioned in the Cromer (Norfolk) walk).
We need to trumpet the story of how the Ramblers helped to achieve these significant gains for the public. If more people knew more about what the Ramblers has done for us all, more might join us to support this crucial work.
The walk from Wendover in the Bucks Chilterns, taken from Ramblers’ Routes and tested by journalist Alan Franks, takes you on the footpath around the side of Beacon Hill near Ellesborough. When the route description comes to the Beacon Hill downland, it could have said: ‘now you are on access land, won for us all by the Ramblers, you can walk where you will on this chalk slope including the top of Beacon Hill with its stupendous views over the Vale of Aylesbury’.
I believe that it’s as good as the view from neighbouring Coombe Hill, which is described in the walk—in fact more enjoyable, because fewer people go there. Coombe Hill is easily accessible by car and often crowded. The Ramblers campaigned for the inclusion of Beacon Hill on the access map when it was excluded at draft stage, arguing successfully that this unspoiled chalk grassland qualified as down and therefore as access land.
It’s a pity that the Observer, which with the Guardian is notoriously sloppy about photo captions, has misnamed the photo as Coombe Hill. That fine profile with the tuft of trees on top is Beacon Hill, one of the shapeliest summits in the Chilterns.
I’m glad there are more walks to come, it’s a great way to mark the Ramblers’ anniversary.