Today the Hampshire Ramblers and its South East Hants Group are celebrating the sixth anniversary of the South Downs National Park, an annual event initiated by Owen Plunkett. Unfortunately I can’t be there but it looks fun.
There is a gathering at the South Downs National Park centre at Midhurst at 10.40, and then the vintage South Downs bus will take walkers to Petworth for a seven-mile walk back to Midhurst, led by George and Jasper Stride. The walk is part of the South Downs Vintage Walking Festival.
I have sent a message to Owen to be read out at the reception.
Six years after the South Downs National Park came into being (and five years after the authority was established) it is still wonderful to reflect on our great joint achievement of securing protection for this magnificent expanse of countryside.
We must campaign unceasingly to protect its borders from creeping encroachment, and to ensure that the unique and splendid qualities of the downs are unimpaired.
They give freedom and fresh air to thousands of people and, being so close to population centres, should lead the way in enabling every child to experience the outdoors. What better place can there be in which to learn about our countryside and the environment?
As I head to Lampeter for the Ramblers’ Welsh Council I shall be thinking of those incomparable South Downs which have at last won the recognition they deserve as a national park.