Unfortunately the restrictions in place at time of writing still preclude ESW from implementing our walks programme. Please see our web site for updates www.eastsurreywalkers.org.uk
Many of you may be aware that ESW operate under the umbrella of the Ramblers Association (RA) a national association of about 500 local walking groups with approximately 107,000 members.
How did the RA begin?
Walking in the countryside became popular during the 19th century. For many people living in towns and cities, walking offered a welcome escape from pollution and their hard working lives. However landowners began to restrict and close access using the Enclosure movement.
From the mid-nineteenth century to the 1930s walking clubs and groups started to form and in response to the landowners restrictive actions began to campaign for walkers rights.
In 1931 in order to progress walkers rights on a national basis , six regional federations representing walkers from all over Britain joined to create the National Council of Ramblers Federations,
The following year, 400 walkers took part in a “mass trespass” at Kinder Scout. Although not all members of the Ramblers Federations were in favour of the trespass it became a landmark event in progressing rights and access to land.
On 1 January 1935, the Ramblers Association was officially created .During the next few years the Association grew. In1938 an office was established in Liverpool and by 1948 the Association had appointed a full time, paid secretary.
The organisation continues to grow. Major developments included the separation of the association into independent entities with the establishment of Ramblers Cymru (1974) and Ramblers Scotland (1985).
Throughout its history the Association has continued to promote walking as an easy, accessible form of exercise and to campaign.
Landmark successes include;
1949 – The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. This Act required footpaths in England and Wales to be recorded on definitive maps. The Act also laid the foundation for the establishment of National Parks and National Trails in England and Wales and National Nature Reserves (the first being established in 1951 at Beinn Eighe in Scotland).
The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act was brought into law in 2000. CRroW established the Right to Roam in England and Wales This followed a 15 year campaign. Similar successes were achieved in Scotland which has the most progressive access to land rights in Europe.
The RA were instrumental in establishing various national footpaths including the coastal path , protecting access rights to Forestry Commission Woodland which was in danger of being sold to private owners and ensuring that the quality of footpaths is maintained.
Within The Don’t Lose Your Way campaign ESW members are currently working to identify and save many footpaths that have fallen into disuse and will be lost unless action is taken.
The RA continues to campaign to encourage walking for exercise and health and also provide information and advice on numerous aspects of walking including walking routes, Right of Way, safety and navigation skills. They also operate ‘Pathwatch’ a tool to assist protection and improvement for footpaths.
(ESW Publicity Officer)