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Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area

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Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area

Ramblers call for Bucks walkers to help protect paths following biggest public-path survey

The Ramblers has today (14 November 2016) released the results of the Big Pathwatch, the nation’s biggest-ever public-path survey.

The results revealed that although more than half (56%) of paths in England and Wales are well kept and signposted, more than a third (35%) are in need of improvement and nearly a tenth (9%) are difficult or impossible to use.  The Ramblers is calling for people in Buckinghamshire to take responsibility for their local paths by walking them and reporting any problems they find using the free Pathwatch app.

Citizen surveyors walked every path in almost half the total area of England and Wales recording more than 100,000 features including attractive views and interesting flora and fauna; and locked gates, barbed wire across paths and missing or misleading signs.

More than half (55%) of reported features were negative, with muddy, ploughed or potholed paths, unsafe stiles, gates or bridges, heavy undergrowth or overhanging vegetation and, in particular, missing, broken or misleading signs commonly reported.  Many of these made paths difficult or impossible to use. However, 45% of features identified were positive, with attractive views topping the charts.

Says Kate Ashbrook, footpath secretary of the Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Ramblers’ Area, said: ‘Walking is great for our health and mental well-being. It’s a cheap form of transport and exercise, and a well-maintained path network in Bucks could provide the solution to some of the area’s biggest challenges.

‘The results of the Big Pathwatch show that while many paths are well-kept, a significant number are in serious need of improvement, with many of these completely blocked or very difficult to use, resulting in people having to abandon their journey and turn back.  In Bucks we are fortunate to have hard-working rights-of-way staff at the county council and we know that councillors appreciate the benefits of walking.  But times are tough and there is not enough money to support this excellent service.

‘The Ramblers should be at the forefront of solving path problems, working with local authorities to maintain the path network.  By using insight, such as findings from the Big Pathwatch, and deploying our 150 volunteer path-maintenance teams, including the including North Bucks rRIPPLE (Ramblers Repairing & Improving Public Paths for Leisure & Exercise), we know we can be instrumental in helping maintain this key community asset, which in turn will save money for public health.

Walking is regularly enjoyed by nine million people in England and has huge benefits:

  • Walking helps keep people fit and healthy, tackling the national obesity crisis and improving general health.
  • Walking has proven mental health benefits.
  • Walking short distances instead of using cars is good for the environment, cutting carbon emissions.
  • Walkers support rural economies, particularly in tourism with walkers in England spending over £6 billion a year supporting nearly a quarter of a million full time jobs.

Any reduction in walking caused by inconvenient or blocked footpaths will have a negative impact on Buckinghamshire’s health, environment and the economy.  Well-maintained, easy-to-use paths will boost efforts in these areas, improving the area’s health, wealth and wellbeing.

Kate added: It shouldn’t just be up to local authorities to ensure the upkeep of our paths.  We all have a part to play in looking after them, which is why we want everyone to take responsibility.  Our volunteer path checkers in Bucks do a great job annually walking all the paths in their parishes and reporting problems.  We always welcome new volunteers.

‘If you see a problem, use the Pathwatch app to report it and we’ll pass the information on to the local authority.  Problems reported early that would be quick and cheap to fix can become difficult and costly over time.

To get involved in protecting Buckinghamshire’s paths, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/pathwatch

Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2016 19:40
 

Area Annual General Meeting

The Area AGM will be held at 1.45pm on Saturday 4 February 2017 in the Park Room of the Stoke Mandeville Community Centre, off Eskdale Road (grid reference SP835107). Eskdale Road is a turning off Station Road and is readily accessible by bus and train (as for the pre-AGM walk, below). There is a car park, which may also be in use by others if there is an event in the main hall of the Centre. Access to the Park Room is via a path to the right of the main entrance. The room is booked from 1.00pm and will be available for anybody attending the morning walk to eat packed lunches. If you require further information about the meeting please contact the Acting Area Secretary, John Esslemont (tel. 01494 881597 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

After the formal business there will be opportunity for questions and discussion. This is your chance to make your views known on how Ramblers operates, whether locally or nationally. Please come along and exercise your democratic rights.

Before the meeting there will be a walk led by Roy Johnson (tel. 01296 486350 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) starting at 10am. We meet at The Green in front of Stoke Mandeville Combined School (grid reference SP833104). The walk is about 5.5 miles including return to the meeting room, is over flat farmland paths with a mostly reasonable surface and includes 17 stiles. The walk highlights a section of the HS2 route and its construction and the effects on the local path network will be discussed as we go round. Even though the upgrade of the Risborough line (as part of the East-West Rail project) has now been cancelled we will also look at proposed stand-alone alternatives agreed with Network Rail as details may be of interest because Network Rail are committed to eventually removing all at grade crossing points here and everywhere else.

The school is a few minutes walk west along Station Road from Stoke Mandeville Station and is served by bus routes 300 (High Wycombe to Aylesbury) close by and 50 (Aylesbury to Wendover/Halton) along the Wendover Road at the other end of Station Road. If coming by car please do not park at the Community Centre which may be in use by others during the morning. We hope parking will be available around The Green but, should there be an event at the school, Roy will be on hand to suggest alternatives.

Copies of the Annual Report will be available at the meeting or, from early January, on request from the Acting Area Secretary, John Esslemont, either as a PDF file (requests, with 'Annual Report' as the subject, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or in print (requests, accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope of suitable size for an A5 booklet, to 4 Park Farm Way, Lane End, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14 3EG). An abbreviated version of the report, excluding contact details, will be published on the Area website, http://www.bucks-wmiddx-ramblers.org.uk.

Notice of any formal motions to be proposed at the AGM should reach the Acting Area Secretary no later than one week before the meeting, i.e. by Saturday 28 January. We still have a number of vacancies for Area Officers, including for the Area Secretary; any offers of help, or enquiries about what is involved, are welcome.

 

RAMBLERS HONOUR BUCKS PATHS CHAMPION WITH COMMEMORATIVE GATE

Bucks Ramblers has honoured the work of Mike Walker, former Environment Group Manager for Buckinghamshire County Council, with a commemorative gate on a footpath at Great Missenden, Bucks. 

Mike, who retired last year, managed Buckinghamshire’s network of public rights of way for 30 years.  The Ramblers has celebrated Mike’s work with a gate under the Chiltern Society’s ‘donate a gate’ scheme, on Great Missenden footpath 51 on the north-eastern edge of Hobbshill Wood.  The inscription on the gate is:

Mike Walker, path champion

Thanks from Buckinghamshire Ramblers

Mike Walker

 

Mike Walker

Says Kate Ashbrook, footpath secretary for the Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area of the Ramblers: ‘Mike has worked tirelessly for Bucks County Council for over 30 years and he made massive improvements.  Under his leadership the county’s paths were transformed—in the past walking in the less-trodden north Bucks was like negotiating an assault course, now the paths are in far better condition. 

kate mike paul john

Kate Ashbook, Mike Walker, Paul Rhodes and John Esselmont

‘It is sad for all of us that Mike has retired from the council but we are pleased he is still involved on national committees, promoting public paths and their value to the public.  We all have much to thank him for, in making conditions for walkers, riders and cyclists in Bucks so much better.’

Says Mike Walker: ‘I am truly honoured that the Ramblers and Chiltern Society, who do such great work to encourage and protect access to the countryside, wish to commemorate my achievements and those of the county council’s rights-of-way staff.  I am particularly pleased that the council’s relations and co-operation with path users and volunteers have improved tremendously over the years.  If I have helped to achieve that then I hope I have done a good job.’

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 12:34
 

East West Rail

We are engaging with Network Rail over their plans to reinstate the disused railway lines from Bicester to Bletchley (with a new station at Winslow) and from Calvert towards Aylesbury, eventually providing rail services between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes with a branch to Princes Risborough via Aylesbury. In line with Network Rail policy, particularly as trains will run at around 100mph, at-grade crossings, whether for vehicular, pedestrian or private use, are to be removed.

In the current phase of the project Buckinghamshire paths will be most affected, along with some crossings in Oxfordshire. Those between Bletchley and Bedford are also likely to face changes in the longer term, though not as part of the current phase.

At the end of April 2014 representatives of Ramblers' Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Areas had a preliminary meeting with Network Rail, at which we were assured that no path closures were planned, though some diversions would be necessary. We were promised detailed proposals for each path affected, prior to further discussion meetings before formal path diversion procedures begin.

The first such meeting, to which representatives of other stakeholders in addition to Ramblers were invited, took place at the beginning of July 2014, with a programme of further meetings continuing until December and a parallel series of public meetings open to anybody interested.

For many of the crossings, bridges or underpasses are planned at or close to the current routes of the paths affected. Such proposed diversions as we have seen details of at the time of writing appear acceptable, but we shall continue to monitor proposals and comment when necessary.

John Esselmont

 

The Ramblers

The Ramblers is Britain's walking charity, working to safeguard the footpaths, the countryside and other places we go walking, and to encourage more people to take up walking. With 108,000 members in England, Scotland and Wales, we've been working for walkers for 76 years.

Our Area

The Area supports the activities of ten groups, listed on the left hand side or this page, operating in Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Harrow, Brent, Ealing and Hounslow. Each group offers a full programme of walks and other activities.


The Area monitors developments affecting the enjoyment of walking within our territory. In particular we monitor the state of our paths and seek to get any problems put right. Southern Buckinghamshire includes a major part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the northern part of the county and, indeed, our London Boroughs and Milton Keynes also include attractive countryside, making our Area a great one for walking.


We also do what we can to fight, or seek to reduce the impact on walkers, of developments which would lessen enjoyment of our countryside, not least of which at present is the proposed London to Birmingham high speed rail line which will cut right through our territory.


Ramblers is run by volunteers at local level and offers to help with our work, particularly in monitoring the footpaths but also in other ways, is always welcome.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

New to the Ramblers?

You'll get a warm welcome at each of the local groups. Just have a look at the list of upcoming walks in the area. Once you have walked two or three times with any of the groups, you will be expected to join the Ramblers.

 

Join the Ramblers

As a Ramblers Member you can:

ramblers    be part of Britain’s biggest walking charity
ramblers   join a community of over 115,000 members
ramblers    enjoy a wide range of membership benefits
ramblers     choose from 38,000 led walks a year across England, Scotland and Wales
ramblers   help us continue our charitable work to protect Britain’s footpaths and promote walking

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