Welsh THE CHARITY WORKING FOR WALKERS
Walking along Wales’ Coast I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; “Sea Fever”, John Masefield
ur beautiful coastline is one of our finest natural assets. People from all walks of life feel drawn to the coast and, for many, there’s nothing they enjoy more than walking the cliff tops with wide views of sea and sky. In practice, though, this is often impossible. With no public right of access to beaches and a rights of way network full of gaps and obstructions, coastal walking can often be a frustrating exercise. Walkers love coastal footpaths, but they can be narrow and restrictive, hemming us in with a cliff edge on one side and a barbed wire fence or prickly hedge on the other. This detracts from the openness and sense of freedom that so many of us cherish and thereby reduces the quality of the coastal walking experience. Rather than walking along a narrow, single file route we want a broad band of land set aside for coastal access that lets people really enjoy their surroundings without fear of the cliff edge. A band that lets people look to the horizon and relax with their friends and family in safety. Coastal walking has never been more popular. Nearly 4 million people went walking on the coast of Wales in 2003, spending just short of £650 million (Wales Tourist Board, 2003). A new coastal access right would open up even more of our beautiful coastline and create a resource with real, popular appeal.
Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire © Welsh Assembly Government
We are seeking the opportunity for a continuous route around Wales’ coast and for the access to be certain, clear and secure. Designating a wide band of mapped access land is the best way to do this. Such a band would be available all along the coast of Wales, narrowing and widening in line with local conditions, but with a guide minimum of 20m. This would ensure a quality walking experience, minimise erosion and be a focus for agri-environment money to allow for the development of coastal habitats. Utilising the Countryside and Rights of Way Act – the Act that brought the “right to
roam” to our mountains and moorland last year – we could map a secure right of access and cater for restrictions in line with land management interests. To do this we need backing from the Welsh Assembly Government. They have already made a commitment to extending public access to the coast by 2008/09 and we need to make sure that we get the best deal for walkers. Help us and join our campaign for a coastal access right for Wales by writing to your local Assembly member today. Check out our website for more details and our official campaign statement. PAGE
Hello from the Wales team. It’s too long since we have been in touch. But we are delighted to contact you to say that we have a new team of staff in our new office in Cardiff. Should you click on our website* you can see us all beaming back at you. My new colleagues are Anwen Hughes who is running the Promoting Walking project and is our Office Manager, Richard Granville, Access Coordinator, Martin Dowson, Countryside Protection Officer and Mike Mills, Rights of Way Officer. So, a member of staff leads on each of the Ramblers’ charitable objects. We each have a set of projects and activities agreed with the Welsh Executive Committee and through these we hope, together with volunteers, to develop the RA’s impact and influence in Wales. Whether you ring us or we contact you I hope the photo helps you put faces to names and voices. By the way, many thanks to those of you who completed the Wales Audit Office survey forms, there was a tremendous response. We really hope to hear from you about this newsletter or any other Ramblers’ issue. Enjoy walking! Beverley
2006 MAY 1st – Launch Use Your Paths Campaign 27th – 1st Anniversary of Access Land JUNE 24th – Use Your Paths Week JULY 24th-27th – Royal Welsh Show (we have booked a stand and volunteers are needed) AUGUST 5th-12th National Eisteddfod, Swansea. Volunteers needed. SEPTEMBER 16th-24th – Welcome to Walking Week DECEMBER / JANUARY 26th Dec - 1st Jan – Festival of Winter Walks
Director Wales http://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales/Staff.html
A Big Thankyou Beverley Penney
Hello too from… Pictured below are members of the Welsh Council Executive Committee (WCEC) taken at the office launch last year. Back row: Ron Williams (Chair), Terry Squires (RA vice Chairman, Board of Trustees). Centre Row: Colin Yarwood (Treasurer), Richard Lloyd Jones (President), Andrew Richards Front Row: Beverley Penney (Director Wales), Barbara Palmer (retired), Vernon Davies, Alex Marshall (Vice-Chair). Missing from photo: Jane Davidson AM, Malcolm Wilkinson, Helen Lloyd Jones, Val Walker Jones, Gerald Moss.
A big thank you must go to our retiring Committee members Barbara Palmer and Mary Robinson who between them have served on WCEC for 19 years.
>>> STOP PRESS >>> Following Welsh Council 2006 we are pleased to announce the new Welsh Council Executive Committee (WCEC). Officers: President – Richard Lloyd Jones Vice-President – Jane Davidson AM Chairman – Ron Williams Vice-Chairman – Alex Marshall Vice-Chairman – Malcolm Wilkinson Treasurer – Colin Yarwood Committee Members: Vernon Davies Helen Lloyd Jones Val Walker Jones Laurence Main Gerald Moss Andrew Richards The Ramblers’ Association, 3 Coopers Yard, Curran Road, CARDIFF. CF10 5NB Tel: 029 2064 4308 Fax: 029 2064 5187 Website: ramblers.org.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKING FOR WALKERS
PROMOTING WALKING >>>
Stepping Along… C
errig Camu/ Stepping Stones is a successor to our successful Lonc a Chlonc/ Walk and Talk project. Offering moderate length walks (3- 5 miles) for all, it provides a great chance to get walking. Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones is a real opportunity for those keen to start, re-start or continue walking. It is important as it fills the gap between the short 1 hour plus Walk your Way to Health rambles and mainstream half and day - long walks offered by many Ramblers groups. So opportunities have been created for guided walks in company with others. The walks are an additional year round activity for Ramblers groups thereby creating additional opportunities for existing members. Participants are asked to monitor their own health gain on a questionnaire, this is needed as the benefit of walking (though widely acknowledged) needs to be checked within each project. Our vice President Jane Davidson AM and RA Wales Chairman Alex Marshall launched the project to terrific press coverage at the National Eisteddfod at Felinheli and after the launch there was, of course a typical Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones walk. At present 185 people have undertaken the walks leader training (more is available), and 21 groups have organised walks in 17 local authorities (our target is a programme in each). Launch of Cerrig Camu\ Stepping Stones by RA vice President Jane Davidson AM with RA Wales Chairman Alex Marshall (centre), Bob Lowe and Sue Walton of CCW together with Ramblers members.
FAQs – Cerrig Camu / Stepping Stones Q. How long is a CC/SS walk? A. Normally about 3 – 5 miles in length. Duration would be around 3 hours depending on comfort breaks and stops for points of interest. Q. What does “regular” walks mean for CC/SS? A. All year round and a minimum of one a month. Q. What grade are Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones walks? A. Stepping Stones walks should be easy, suitable for people without special walking boots or clothing. No steep gradients or significant obstacles. Q. Can I lead a Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones walk? A. All walk leaders must take part in Stepping Stones training before leading a walk. Q. How do I find Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones training? A. Ask your local group CC/ SS co-ordinator, or Anwen in the Ramblers’ Wales office.
Q. Is CC/SS part of my local group walks programme? A. CC/SS is seeking to attract people to walking who do not regularly do so. Many CC/SS walks fit well within group programmes – but CC/SS should also be publicised outside the group. Q. How should I publicise CC/SS walks? A. Specially designed posters are available from Ramblers’ Wales office for display in libraries, shop windows, surgeries etc. Don’t forget to make them bi-lingual! Q. Who should I inform about CC/SS walks? A. Always inform your local Walking the Way to Health (WW2H) co-ordinator about your walks and programme, and other contacts e.g. GP surgeries, Local Health Board Health Promotion team etc. and don’t forget the Ramblers office! Q. Does my group benefit from Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones? A. Yes! Groups taking part find that many people are attracted to this type of walk – both new walkers and people who now feel that longer walks are too much for them, but want to continue to take part in group walks. Grants also available.
Q. Do people have to be a Ramblers’ member to go on Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones walks? A. No. Anyone can take part in Cerrig Camu/ Stepping Stones walks without having to join the Association. However, if they move on to take part in the main walk programme, then the usual conditions apply and they should become a member. Q. What paperwork is involved? A. You need to keep a record of: • number of new walkers. • total number of people taking part in the walk. • new walkers should be given the questionnaire to complete. Q. What do I do with the questionnaire? A. There is a freepost address on the form – please encourage the walker to fill in the form and return to the office. If the new walker can fill it in immediately, you can pass the form to your Group co-ordinator. Q. What is the Insurance cover for CC/SS? A. Walk leaders and participants have the same cover as for any other RA activity. PAGE
Campaigning for Change in Conwy
Footpath Training for Wales process has been the formation of a campaign working group in Conwy headed by local footpath officer, Anne Penketh, Max Grant, and David Tindall and with the support of Mike Mills at RA Wales office, this group will focus on driving the campaign forward over the coming months.
Conwy County Council has been selected after extensive consultation with volunteers and is an area where we believe we have the right mix of volunteer support and potential for public benefit. The first stage of this
Successful campaigns need support so if you would like more information on how you can become involved then please contact Anne Penketh on 01492 622887.
Pembrokeshire Success in Footpath Closure Fight hris Taylor, RA footpaths officer for Pembrokeshire reports on a terrific success; the Planning Inspectorate has rescinded a decision closing a popular Pembrokeshire path Llawhaden 20/15. It runs through the scenic Eastern Cleddau from Canaston Bridge north to St. Kennox and ultimately to Llawhaden forming part of the Landsker Trail.
This path, together with two others joining at the northern end were redesignated as bridleways by Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) in 1991. This redesignation was opposed by a landowner, Mrs Smith, and local farmers, and resulted in a Public Inquiry in March 2004. At this inquiry Mrs Smith challenged the existence of public rights on
her section of the path and said the definitive mapping process in the 1950s was flawed. The Inspector found in her favour, issued a closure order, and the PCC was directed by the Welsh Assembly to issue the notice. The PCC appealed both decisions, and a further Public Inquiry was called in late November 2005, at which there were 40 objections to the deletion of the path 20/15 from the map and to the loss of bridleway status on the other two paths, with Mrs. Smith playing a significant role, and the farmers objecting to the bridleway designation. Objectors to the closure included the PCC, the RA, the BHS, walking groups and many local residents. The Inquiry lasted six days, followed by a site visit on the seventh day in atrocious weather. Exhaustive evidence was produced to show the path had existed and been used for many years, and that the correct procedures had been followed when the Definitive Map was produced. As a result the Inspector did not confirm the deletion which means that the three paths have been safeguarded as bridleways. Chris says “Altogether a welcome outcome for the RA, Pembrokeshire residents and visitors to this popular area”. Ramblers using Llawhaden 20/15
ike Mills, Rights of Way Officer at the Welsh Office is developing footpath training to meet the needs of volunteers. Mike says that talking to groups and areas shows there is a real desire for path training.
ampaign work is a high priority in the work plan of Mike Mills, our new Rights of Way Officer for Wales. This work has already kicked off with an initial ‘big hit’ campaign targeted at Conwy County Council now underway. The aim of the campaign is to achieve an increase in the rights of way budget in Conwy. We also hope to create an exemplar that will highlight the way successful campaigns might be run in Wales in the future.
The RA Wales Office is now able to offer a number of different training sessions at the request of Areas and Groups in Wales. Concentrating on footpath work and basic footpath law, sessions have been developed in such a way that they are suitable for recently recruited volunteers as well as those more experienced footpath volunteers who would like to brush up their knowledge. Six full one day courses planned during the coming year will be run in North Wales, Mid Wales, South Wales and West Wales and it is hoped that by making training available at such a local level will mean that even more volunteers and members take advantage of the sessions. The subject matter for these sessions has been designed around volunteer needs and will include: Introduction to footpath work; Basic footpath law; Changes to the network; Highways Act orders; Rights of way and development and public inquiries; plus any requested subjects. Finally, we are very aware of the need for additional training in matters associated with claiming historic routes for addition to the definitive map in the light of the 25 year cutoff date. Placing ‘Lost Ways’ as low priority on the Rights of Way Workplan provoked a huge response from those who see this issue as an important part of the RA’s work in Wales but before we proceed too far with the development of our own training on these issues we are currently evaluating training options from an external training provider who will be able to bring a great deal of relevant experience to this area of work. Nevertheless we would still like to hear from footpath workers about their training needs in the context of definitive map work. Mike Mills is keen to hear from Areas wanting to host training and from anyone with particular training ideas. Please call him at the RA Wales office or email: email@example.com
WORKING FOR WALKERS
Access Launch and Anniversary O
n 28th May 2006 the right to roam celebrates its first birthday! Since being launched by the Minister for the Environment, Planning and Countryside, Carwyn Jones AM a year ago, thousands of walkers have been making the most of their new access rights and enjoying unprecedented freedom to some of our most beautiful and inspirational landscapes. Plans to mark the big day are already well under way, with a suite of local group walks designed to showcase local access land tying in with celebrations organised by the Welsh Assembly and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). If you want to help us celebrate, why not organise an access land walk in your area? This is a great opportunity to put on a showcase event, both for the Ramblers and the new legislation, and is the best single way to make people aware of what the right to roam on access land means for them in their area. Remember to advertise the walk locally and add it to the Group Walks Finder on the RA website, including the ALWW Festival code to identify it as an access land walk. Open access to the countryside away from the rights of way network is a totally new concept for most walkers and will naturally take a while to adjust to. Your local RA group can take a lead in educating other walkers simply by using access land, and by encouraging others to join you through incorporating it into your walks programme. Making people aware of open access, of what the new right means in practice and the wonderful new opportunities it offers them to enjoy our countryside, is hugely important and is something that every walker can help with. Play your part and show your support for open access by supporting the Ramblers this Spring Bank Holiday weekend. For more information on our anniversary celebrations or advice on any aspect of the new right of access contact Richard Granville, our Access Coordinator, at the RA Wales office or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Future of Access 2005 was a great year for walkers. In May, with the official launch of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, we gained the legal right to walk on over 350,000 hectares of mountain, moor, heath, down and common land across the country. It was the biggest breakthrough on public access to the countryside since the creation of the National Parks in 1949 and a great campaign victory for the Ramblers’ Association after nearly seventy years of sustained effort. As wonderful as the new “right to roam”, it does leave us with something of a dilemma. Now that we have open access, where do we go next? What do you do when you’ve achieved your greatest long-term ambition? Well, the first step is to go out and make the most of what we have. With over 21% of Wales newly designated, you’re certain never to be too far away from a stretch of access land, wherever you live. Remember, once you’re on access land you don’t have to stick to paths, so you can explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country with real freedom. See the Information Box for more details. But, it doesn’t stop there! One campaign success makes you hungry for more! The next major campaign, aimed at bringing improved coastal access, uses the same legislation that brought the
Rhinogydd © Welsh Assembly Government
right to roam to our hills and moors and is already well underway. With a Welsh Assembly Government commitment to coastal access in place that will see delivery by 2008/09 and strong grassroots support, the immediate future of the campaign looks rosy. But what about the long term? What vision do we have as an organisation for the types of countryside access we want delivered in ten or twenty years time and what strategies or campaigns do we need to achieve them? We held a conference in January of this year aimed at addressing some of these questions and taking our access campaign forward. It produced some interesting results. At the top of the ‘wish list’ that emerged was a desire to work with other groups, both users and land managers, to create a real sense of welcome in the countryside for recreational walkers. People wanted to see a countryside where walkers were clearly aware of what their rights were and could use them in confidence without fear of reproach. In part this requires a change in attitude, a gradually increasing recognition of the rights of walkers to have access to land and the positive effect this has on the countryside. It also needs the countryside to be open for walkers, with an infrastructure of rights of way and open country that is publicised and well maintained and that people want to use. Campaigning for a wider “right to roam” came second. This would see England and Wales push for a system similar to that currently in operation in Scotland where they enjoy a general right of access over most land and inland water, governed by a written code advocating responsible use. The access campaign may have already had one spectacular success, but it’s not over yet. Securing a legal right of access to over a fifth of Wales under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act was a great start but there’s more to come! With your help we can continue to improve conditions for walkers, breaking down more barriers and opening up even more of our beautiful countryside. Open access is here to stay!
GET WALKING Information on where you can walk and what you can do on access land in Wales can be found at www.ramblers.org.uk/freedom Access land is also highlighted on the new range of Explorer maps (1:25000 scale) from Ordnance Survey The website of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has an interactive map of all the access land in Wales and details of any restrictions or exclusions that may be in place at www.ccw.gov.uk. Or you can call their enquiry line on 0845 130 6229 Many local RA groups run walks that cross access land. The Group Walks Finder section of our website at www.ramblers.org.uk/walksfinder is a great place to start, with information on thousands of walks and contact details for all the leaders. The Ramblers’ Association fully supports the Countryside Code. PAGE
Ramblers and Renewables
AN8, the Technical Advice Note to guide planning for renewable energy was published in July 2005. Despite opposition from Ramblers’ Wales, the TAN designates 7 ‘strategic’ search areas (SSAs) in Wales where on-shore wind turbines will be focussed to support CO2 reduction targets. Whilst the RA fully supports the need for renewable energy to combat climate change, we cannot accept this in inappropriate locations where it damages the environment in other ways – visually and for recreational amenity. The fact that priority is given to on-shore rather than offshore turbines is a concern for the RA and many other groups. The impact on landscape of such industrial scale developments is huge. The renowned wind farm at Cefn Croes, near Aberystwyth, has 39 turbines up to 100m high (as tall as Big Ben). Hundreds of new turbines, for example in TAN8’s proposed Clocaenog Wind Farm Zone in North Wales, are already expected to be 130m (over 400 feet) high - higher than St Paul’s Cathedral! Buildings this high would struggle to get planning permission in a town, let alone in the heart of the countryside! It is difficult to understand how these can ever be seen to be part of the landscape. Indeed, WAG states in TAN8 that ‘the implicit objective is to accept … a significant change in landscape character from wind turbine development’. So much for environmental sensitivity! Our hopes to avoid this lie in a change to the financial incentives that the government offers to renewables energy companies - the renewables obligation. This effectively promotes on-shore wind energy as an exclusive short term solution. Only if this is changed will enough money be spent on research to develop alternative renewable sources such as tidal and wave energy. Change to the renewables obligation however, is a long term solution. Our immediate hope lies in the moral strength of local authorities. Councils affected by SSAs have been charged by WAG with deciding how exactly to locate wind turbines within the SSAs. It is important that they realise the weight of responsibility that they have. Only a year after the CRoW Act established our right to access to many areas of Wales, plans for wind turbine developments on exactly those same upland areas are about to take away our reason for visiting them. We
believe that the planning policy of TAN 8 conflicts directly with the objectives of CRoW legislation which designated statutory public rights of access for open air recreation - the ‘freedom’ to roam. Local authority planners must also realise that the impact of wind turbines on the landscape and on recreation must be fully and objectively considered when assessing their designated areas. They will then discover that the original SSAs have been mapped by WAG on incomplete information and criteria. When all factors are taken into account, these landscapes are clearly not suitable for industrial scale developments – impacting thousands of people, be they local communities or visitors who gain huge benefits from walking and taking in the landscape of upland Wales. Do we really want hundreds (yes, hundreds) of turbines concentrated into these areas? RA Wales believes not. Local, small scale community schemes can be much better assimilated into the landscape, delivering immediate benefit in the place where the energy is used. To those people who say they like wind turbines, we have to ask, do they also like the upland landscapes of Wales? Is it really worth sacrificing one for the other, when there are alternative ways to reduce our impact on climate change? If you feel you can help our aims to protect the countryside and in particular to ensure that local authorities pay full heed to their responsibilities to protect the environment from inappropriate development, please contact Martin Dowson, Countryside Campaigner.
Access to the Countryside – … A New Survey
he Wales Audit Office has just completed its survey of access to the countryside for the National Assembly for Wales. As well as a sample of members of the Ramblers’ Association in Wales, they surveyed bodies such as landowners, management authorities alongside other user groups. The preliminary conclusion of the study is to be officially reported in Spring 2006 and is likely to inform CCW in setting future priorities for developing access management in Wales. Overall the report is likely to conclude that open access implemented through the PAGE
Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act has worked well, with much good practice being demonstrated. The condition of Public Rights of Way, however, is recognised to be still in poor condition. RA Wales also took the opportunity to gather opinion of its members on a range of topics – from future priority setting to the focus of countryside protection work in Wales. Thanks to all those who took part. It was also very heartening to receive so many offers of further support from volunteers old and new. We will be getting in touch soon.
WORKING FOR WALKERS
Policy Developments – RA Wales Responses to Consultations Affecting the Countryside ith climate change being such high profile, the significance of energy policy has risen up the agenda. RA Wales has an interest not only in policy development concerning wind turbines, but in other renewables such as for biomass crops (eg. woodland coppicing) which may represent a new trend in agriculture and its impact on the landscape. The place of nuclear power with its implications not only for built development, but for expended nuclear waste storage is also a key topic. For this reason we have been actively reviewing a number of consultations, based on existing RA policy (see separate article). • The Welsh Affairs Committee (of 11 MPs) is conducting a sixmonth study on ‘Energy in Wales’. This is examining the spectrum of energy generation options for Wales. A similar UK wide review by the DTI - ‘Our Energy Challenge’ is being reviewed jointly with RA Scotland as part of a RA wide response. •The Wales Rural Development Plan and the associated Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping exercise are also being reviewed concerning implications for agri-environment schemes and the reform of the CAP. • RA Wales has also supported the North Wales Area in responding to consultation on Supplementary Planning Guidance for wind turbine developments in Denbighshire and Conwy. • We will also be studying closely a consultation on the long term management of solid low level radio-active waste in the UK issued by DEFRA.
has been worked on by a forum of interested parties such as Sustrans, Living Streets, CCW, local authorities etc. and is championed by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport, Tamsin Dunwoody AM. The Strategy seeks to raise the priority of the promotion of walking and cycling and the development of footpaths, cycleways and facilities as part of the urban and rural scene. The Strategy will be published this spring and will be used to influence local authorities planning policies.
On a more practical note, we have been involved with the development of WAGs ‘Walking and Cycling Strategy for Wales’. This
For more information, please contact Martin Dowson, Countryside Campaigner.
The significance of landscape is also topical at present, with the recent signing of the European Landscape Convention by the UK. This recognises the significance of landscape and requires it to be managed, planned and protected in recognised policies. In a related sphere, CCW has been consulting on the meaning of “Natural Beauty”. In the past the meaning of this term has been variously interpreted (recently, the so–called Meyrick judgement concerning the New Forest National Park, questioned the historical and cultural interpretation of natural beauty). RA Wales has submitted its response. CCW hope to clarify for WAG, a clearer statement on natural beauty to guide future policies in Wales. Other consultations coming soon… • TAN5 - Nature Conservation and Planning (WAG) • Draft Coal Mineral TAN (WAG) • Proposals to implement controls on Avian Influenza (WAG)
More Members… Members are vital to the Ramblers they are our source of volunteers, political clout and income. For the Ramblers as a whole the membership recruitment picture has been encouraging for many years but now we are seeing a small decrease in the number of new members joining us and of members rejoining. We are concerned by this and researching it. The reasons are not clear cut but we do know that many organisations are seeing a similar pattern. The issues appear to be a combination of “donor/charity fatigue” and the decreasing effectiveness of traditional recruitment methods (e.g. ads not bringing in as many new members as they used to). We know we lose members most in their first year e.g. the renewal rate for those who joined in 2004 was 54% (which means 46% of people left the RA after one year of membership). As we hold onto members the figures do get better, 82% of people renew after their 2nd year and 92% renew after their third year. So if we can hang onto people for 2-3 years we generally have them as committed members.
So you can see how important it is to look after members in their first year of membership and to do as much as we can to keep them.
What can Groups and Areas do to help retain their members:
* make sure all new members feel welcome on walks and at meetings/ social events (we are an inclusive organisation - not just a club for select people) * have a contact from each Group phoning up or writing to any members who lapse and asking them why and encouraging them to rejoin (this could help in conjunction with our letters).
* offer a variety of walks for all ages / abilities (this will be more welcoming to those who are new to walking or not as experienced) * get their walk leaders to talk about the valuable footpath and campaigning work the RA does (so that on our walks the members become aware that we are much more than just a walking club)
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path © Welsh Assembly Government
Some reasons members give for leaving: * * * * * * *
their group was unwelcoming and unfriendly (too cliquey) their group didn’t offer shorter/ slower walks (they found it too hard to keep up) their group only offered walks on Sundays (they wanted some mid-week walks) their group didn’t offer any family walks (they wanted to take their children) they feel they have got too old/ ill to walk anymore they didn’t have a car and couldn’t get to the start of the walks by public transport they have cut their spending on charities (due to a change in their financial circumstances) * they no longer agreed with our charitable aims TIP: Do promote Ramblers by getting our logo onto on any Walking Festival publicity material you contribute to (and any other walking literature!)
BOOKS >>> Private Views of Snowdonia Photographs by Steve Lewis – a review by Martin Dowson. Perhaps ‘personal’ views of Snowdonia would have been a better title. Published in collaboration with the Snowdonia Society, this book started essentially as a photographic project. The result, however, is I think, much more powerfully conveyed through the contributions of those individuals whose prose was the inspiration of the photographs in the first place. Local people, famous and not so famous had been asked to write about their favourite place. Steve Lewis then set about capturing those places on film. However, whilst the quality of the photographs is very high, I often found that the image he had captured did not convey the image I had generated in my own mind when reading the text. The writings and reminiscences are not in themselves necessarily literary masterpieces but do come across as genuine and deep feelings about sense of place to their authors. This is the real value of this book – it invites you to visit some perhaps familiar places, but through the eyes of people who see it for more than its scenic qualities. (Published by Gomer Press, 2005).
Walking in Pembrokeshire by Dennis and Jan Kelsall – a review by Peter Harwood Inevitably walks guide books are a compromise between marketability, convenience and content. “Walking in Pembrokeshire” is no exception; albeit better than some with its attempt to attract the majority of walkers who want short to medium length walks. The main problems arise from the sheer number of walks included, necessitating a print size, map size and the instruction detail, insufficiently readable or understandable by many potential users. Nevertheless, the book has an excellent introduction containing much useful information with good quality and relevant pictures; it is a perfect size for slipping in the pocket and has a glossy cover to assist in keeping out the rain.
Wild about the Wild by Iolo Williams – a review by Richard Garman Few Welsh people would doubt that Iolo Williams is wild about the wild, but will his book have that effect on the average walker? It is written as a countryman’s diary, spanning a year in his life from September 2004. In it he records his thoughts and observations about the wildlife and countryside that he sees, his reactions to the workings of man and society, his meetings with friends and fellow naturalists, and above all his refreshingly optimistic take on the world. We are introduced to some fascinating new words like “sprooting”, which apparently means searching high and low for anything and everything - a new word to me. The theme running through it is the way in which his own fascination for nature developed as a child and continues to thrive in adulthood. He sets out to awaken that feeling in his readers, and to demonstrate his commitment to inspiring his children, and potential young naturalists throughout Wales, to experience and enjoy the world beyond the playstation. But what will it do for your appetite for the wild? If you are looking for a solid read with something to get your teeth into, then this may not be for you. If you are looking for something to get your taste buds going, then it’s a pretty good hors d’oeuvre. (Published by Gomer Press, 2005).
Views, Vistas & Reverie A photographic survey of the intrusion of telecommunications infrastructure in the landscape of the Forest of Dean – a review by Martin Dowson Are you increasingly annoyed at the proliferation of masts and mobile phone infrastructure in the landscape? Irritated by the distraction of telecommunications towers on the skyline? Then this report may be of comfort to you. It provides a wellconceived and informative survey of the increasing impacts on our distant views and on practical, but imaginative ways to reduce those impacts.
(Published by Cicerone Press, 2005).
Walking on the Web A new web-site has been launched by the MoD to bring together all its access opportunities onto one site. Take a look at: www.access.mod.uk MoD land is not all firing ranges and tank battlegrounds, OK so a lot of it is, but they do actually contain footpaths and walking routes that may offer somewhere different to visit. The walking routes at Castlemartin and Sennybridge, for example, are featured as downloadable leaflets. Nothing new in terms of actual access on the ground maybe - and still a long way to go in opening up the potential of some fine walking areas - but may be a step in the right direction. Some useful information about upcoming reviews of MoD bye-laws too. Do let us know of any other web-links that might be of interest to include in the next edition of Welsh Rambler or on our web-site.
Photographs illustrating living trees used as mobile phone base stations, using wooden poles instead of lattice masts, show that alternative solutions really do exist. Such case studies could well be used to persuade local authorities to develop their own guidance and, in so doing, minimise the impact of these essential but often intrusive facets of modern life. (Published by PLACE 2005).You can also access the full survey at www.viewsvistasandreverie.org or to purchase a copy call Andrew Darke on 01594 562646.)
The Archaeology of the Welsh Uplands Edited by David Browne and Stephen Hughes – a review by Martin Dowson This is technically a review of 10 years of the Cadw commissioned ‘Upland Initiative’ - a survey and assessment of the upland archaeology of Wales’. However, this is not just a book for the specialist. Filled with illustrations and photographs, with many views from the air, this book provides a new perspective on the landscapes we love. With chapters written by a variety of contributors, we are taken from Roman times, through the medieval period to the industrial exploitation of the landscape. Glimpses of cultivation patterns and enclosure in the Epynt; bronze age cairns in the Berwyns; and early 19th century mineral extraction at Blaenafon, give a new view on the landscapes we walk over. This book perhaps highlights most clearly how the landscape is always changing as a result of man’s influence and helps us interpret this in a way that adds to its value, rather than detracting from it. It also considers the pressures on the uplands, reflecting many of the issues that we as walkers have with regard to protecting the countryside. This is a book which will give you a new view on the hill beneath your feet. (Published by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and historical monuments of Wales, 2003).