In my experience, most Ramblers’ Areas have their walk before their AGM, though a few have it after (Gloucestershire, for instance). Wiltshire and Swindon Area bucks the trend with a walk afterwards.
I went to their AGM on 10 February at Kennet Valley village hall at Lockeridge, near Marlborough in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was well attended and lively, in particular there was much concern about Wiltshire Council’s lack of resources for rights of way. The Area is doing excellent work on paths and runs a programme of shorter walks to enable less-able people to join them. The chair, Grahame Lee, leads the Area effectively and ensures they have good contact with councillors.
The walk after the AGM took us past Fyfield church
and on to Fyfield Down part of which has been mapped as open country where we have the right to walk. Our leader, David Trease, is extremely knowledgeable about the area and helped to claim access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
There was a misleading sign on the gate leading onto the down, which is also a public bridleway. We need to report it.
There are sarsens (sandstone blocks) scattered over the down. They are peculiar to this part of England and are an impressive sight.
Wiltshire is one of those areas, in southern England in particular, where the access mapping of downland makes little sense on the ground. The land beyond the fence in the middle distance is not access land, but it looks identical to that in the foreground.
We returned via West Overton, having seen a pleasant chunk of Wiltshire countryside.