Thursday, 13 December 2018

An Outbreak of Inaction and Delay

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It’s not that I’ve not been walking, because I have, but there’s been an outbreak of inertia at Pietowers since the crushing of the knipemobile’s door by the X1 Arriva bus to Tow Law.
This is partly because LTD is Not Allowed in the courtesy car (it’s a bus as it happens), so a few informal trips up the Dale have not happened and trips further afield won’t be taking place till a dog-friendly vehicle is accessed.
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I did go to Kendal without lTD and me and The Bro and June (the lass I went to junior school with) had a wet walk up four minor fells ranged around Tarn Hows. As it chucked it down all day, this was a blessing in disguise for LTD cos he would have been miserable in the rain.
I went on the bus, though, to join the Wolsingham Wayfarers Christmas Special walk at Wolsingham and LTD came too. And, as  neither me nor LTD were driving, we were able to wait for the return bus in the Black Lion in Wolsingham where a reasonable amount of beer was consumed. This was very nice. The Black Lion is a fine bus shelter, and very friendly. A very enjoyable walk, too, with mulled wine and some nice beer at the Black Bull in Frosterley.
On the Sunday, we joined Crook and Weardale Ramblers for a walk from Crook Market Place. This was almost exactly the same route as the walks I’ve previously lead for Durham County Council and for the Wednesday Walkers group but for which there wasn’t a space on this year’s programme. Nice walk which is always muddy at this time of year, unless it’s frozen, of course.
Speaking of inertia – during the week I attended a Ramblers meeting in Darlington on Tuesday where I was surprised (or, maybe, not so surprised) to learn that the North Yorkshire and South Durham Area Committee is “in abeyance” – having no Chairman or officers. There seems also to be a problem with the management of at least some of the local Ramblers groups in that the work of running the groups is falling to fewer and fewer stalwart and committed individuals. There’s a perception, I think that the Ramblers groups locally are a group of walking clubs – because they arrange walks. People who join the Ramblers for the walking are, in fact, funding the real purpose behind the Ramblers, which is Campaigning so the walks are important. But, as there’s no Area group, there seems to be little or no campaigning happening and I’m not aware of much else other than walks and bus trips going on; there’s certainly no actual evidence of much in the way of local efforts to recruit members. (I did see a poster in Durham Market Hall encouraging people to join-up, however). Generally, the profile is low and the campaigning aspects are probably best co-ordinated at least at an Area level, specially for Crook and Weardale since many of the potential recruiting grounds are outside Weardale/Teesdale which only have relatively small populations.
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There’s an urgent need to recruit a younger cohort of members to replace the venerable stalwarts have been supporting the local Ramblers for years, ensuring it’s survival for whatever may come.  One of the responses to this has been to introduce shorter walks, presumably to encourage people who don’t do much walking. There’s links to Health Walks in some areas, which are by necessity very short. But people who like to do long walks are neglected and, I believe there’s a constituency for these people. But if I happen to mention it, I’m told that the Long Distance Walkers Association do long walks, the inference being that it's not in the remit of the Ramblers. This may well be because a majority of RA members are uncomfortable walking more than half a dozen miles.  I don’t think the LDWA have a monopoly on walks over 14 or 15 miles, though. I remember joining Craven Ramblers on a walk many years ago, and, my recollection is that it was quite challenging and fairly long. Some of that energy needs renewal, I think.
But this is what happens in all organisations, specially very old ones like this. Thinking out of the box is required. County Durham’s Ramblers groups are not walking clubs and it would be great if more heed could be paid to the pro-active aspects of The Ramblers social purpose and, of course, it’s distiguished history.
Click for more info ramblers campaigns Pics are from the three walks…

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