Last night I joined the Wellingborough Ramblers to celebrate their 25th anniversary at a dinner at Overstone, Northamptonshire. The group was founded in 1991 as a breakaway from Northampton Group. At that time there were only two groups in Northamptonshire: Northampton and Daventry.
Two of the five founders, Richard Marshall and Bob Gotch, were present at the dinner and they recalled the group’s early days. Richard had led 207 walks totalling 1,695 miles, but when you add the reccies, the mileage doubles. He was leading his final walk on Wednesday 23 March at Barnwell. Bob had produced the early walks-programmes, writing them all by hand in careful calligraphy.
I love the programme they had on display (autumn 1992) because it features the Ramblers’ Forbidden Britain day, an annual event in September or October when Areas were exhorted to focus on a path or access problem, and we usually won national press coverage for our rallies and the campaigns we highlighted. It is sad that this no longer happens, but I shall continue to press for its revival.
The cake was sumptuous.
In proposing a toast to the group I thanked them for the work they do for the Ramblers—they have an excellent programme of long and short walks and manage to find sufficient walks leaders. Being a part of the Ramblers is much more than just being a member of a walking group, you are helping to campaign to enable everyone to enjoy their paths and access.
No one is stronger with this message than another of the group’s founder members, Bob Coles, who unfortunately could not be there due to illness. For decades Bob has fought tirelessly in Northamptonshire to get paths opened, reinstated on their correct routes and added to the definitive map, and he has won publicity for the Ramblers’ efforts. Thank you Bob, and to all who have campaigned with you. And happy 25th anniversary Wellingborough Group.