It’s Ramblers’ AGM season again and many of my weekends are taken up with visiting Areas. I welcome this because I learn so much about what Ramblers’ volunteers do for paths, access and helping people to enjoy walking.
Last Saturday I was in Gloucestershire, at Norton village hall, on the A38 about three miles north of Gloucester. The meeting was a fairly standard AGM but it was made more interesting by short talks which punctuated the proceedings. This was the idea of Bernard Gill, the chair. It worked well and I shall recommend this to other Areas as a way of keeping people’s interest during the AGM.
We heard from Mike Hillier, walks coordinator of the 20s-30s group (a subgroup of the Gloucestershire Walking Group for younger members). He explained how the members communicate through WhatsApp and how experienced leaders help new ones. Mike works hard at this, despite having a full-time job, and the walks are well attended.
A bit later in the meeting the Cleeve Group footpath secretary, Martin Thornley, demonstrated two ways of reporting path problems. You can use the online map on Gloucestershire County Council’s website, or the Ramblers’ Pathwatch ‘app’ with the advantage that you can log the problem on site and take a photo, and the app sends it to Ramblers’ central office. Reports are forwarded every fortnight to the county council and the Area footpath secretary.
We were able to put this into practice on the afternoon walk, led by Derek Hughes of Gloucester Group. We set off on a path heading east from the A38 (Norton footpath 34) and soon came to a crossing with Norton footpath 33. There was no waymark on the stile, and one was needed as we were turning north onto a cross-field route which was not well reinstated. Bernard Gill took a photo and sent a report using the Pathwatch app. As I do not have the app on my phone, I made a note to report it later.
We walked up to Priors Norton church, part of which dates from the thirteenth century. It is known as ‘the disappearing church’ because it is built just behind the brow of a hill and, when seen from the A38, it appears to sink into the hill.
Then we walked down to the A38 and, after crossing it, found that the signpost for the path we were to follow (Norton footpath 5) was leaning over and would shortly be hidden by vegetation. Another report was sent via Pathwatch.
We walked over fields and eventually came to the River Severn at Wainlode, with a view across to Barrow Hill with a clump of trees on top.
Just by the river is the Red Lion pub, a fine building.
We walked back on the lanes, passing through Bishops Norton with its pleasant village green. When I later reported the path problems to Gloucestershire County Council via its website I was pleased to discover that its map had a layer showing registered village greens. Bishops Norton village green is VG25.