My fourth Ramblers’ AGM of the season was Nottinghamshire Area‘s, held in Papplewick, north of Nottingham. It was during a cold spell and I could not safely get there in time for the morning walk, but I arrived early at Papplewick and Linby village hall. I was sorry to have missed the chance to join the walk around Newstead Abbey.
Rod Fillingham suggested I visit the nearby Moor Pond Woods and I am glad I did. Moor Pond Woods is the site of a system of reservoirs and channels built in the eighteenth century by the Robinson family to serve their extensive cotton mills along the Leen valley. It runs for a mile, roughly north to south from the village.
The land is owned by the Co-operative Society and managed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s conservation service. In 1999 the parish council decided to mark the millennium by creating a permanent resource for the parish. It worked with the county council and the Greenwood Community Forest team to produce a plan. This involved partial restoration of the leats, a survey of the ecology, archaeological excavation, improvement of public access, and educational activities. The group won a grant from the Countryside Agency’s excellent Local Heritage Initiative, and sponsorship from local businesses.
I wandered along the well-made track through the woods, listening to the calls of a variety of tits and hammering of woodpeckers.
Every so often there are guideposts with a number which relates to the audio tour podcasts on the website.
I stopped at the remains of a sluice.
Further on I came to Moor Pond, which had ice on it.
I returned to the hall as the walkers were coming back and there was an opportunity to socialise over tea and cake before the meeting began. It was the best-attended AGM I have been to in a long time with over 70 present. Because the Area secretary Judith Anson already had a lot on her plate, Alex Staniforth, a former Area secretary and with long involvement with the Ramblers, volunteered to take on the role of ‘Area AGM 2019 coordinator’. Alex’s dedicated and detailed attention to the AGM may well be why we had such an excellent turn out. It was properly publicised and Gedling, the host group, did a great job in organising it.
The Area president, Paddy Tipping (Ramblers’ vice-president and good friend, and former Labour MP for Sherwood), welcomed us and spoke about the important times we are in, with the opportunity to influence the Agriculture Bill to get more and better access. The AGM itself showed how much Notts Area is achieving for walkers, particularly on defending paths and claiming lost ways (led by Stephen Parkhouse). They have created a new role of Area tourism and heritage paths officer which is admirably filled by Chris Thomson and is an excellent idea. Most of the posts were filled, although some people double up.
My talk inspired many questions and much discussion, just as I hoped it would, with queries ranging from Ramblers’ publicity materials for shows to what are we doing about dangerous road-crossing. I came away feeling that Notts Area is a hive of activity.