SAWW members joined a weekend of special walks to commemorate the father of Surrey rambling.

Ramblers from across the county converged on the graveyard in Godstone where Edmund Seyfang-Taylor was buried 100 years ago.   Taylor, popularly known as 'Walker Miles', wrote and published around 40 'sixpenny' guides covering walks in Surrey, Kent and Sussex.

Graham addresses the Godstone gathering. Photo: David Sharp
Graham addresses the Godstone gathering. Photo: David Sharp

Graham Butler, who organised the event for the Ramblers' Association's Surrey Area, said:"By describing many paths Walker Miles undoubtedly rescued hundreds of rights of way from oblivion.   There were no definitive maps to confirm their legal status but by publishing walks he encouraged others to also walk little known paths which resulted in them being saved for future generations to enjoy."

At Walker Miles' grave Graham addressed dozens of ramblers who had arrived on five separate walks.   Among them was a contingent from SAWW.   The group's walks coordinator Chris Baron said: "There were about 10 of us.   Nine were on the Godstone walk led by Leslie from Epsom & Ewell group and one SAWW member joined a walk from Oxted station.   The sun shone, the churchyard at Godstone looked a picture with primroses and other wild flowers.   The vicar was welcoming and enthusiastically invited us into his church for a look at the beautiful stained glass, altarpiece etc, saying that boots weren't a problem." 


Chris added: "There was a short service during which the importance of Walker Miles was explained, with an act of remembrance.   We had prayers including the Lord's Prayer and a blessing.   And there was tea and cake at a village hall, where Graham Butler had set up a display of information about Walker Miles."

Born in 1854, Walker Miles was the founder of the Croydon Rambling Club and was associated with the Federation of Rambling Clubs, the Forest Ramblers and the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society.   His guides were published by the printing company, R E Taylor & Sons, which he inherited from his father.

Former RA Vice President David Sharp, who attended the Godstone commemoration on April 20th told SAWW News: "With his amazing series of sixpenny fieldpath guides, Walker Miles showed us the importance of our rights of way.   In his day they had no legal status and had virtually been forgotten by a generation.   He seems to have been a visionary, sensing how important these fieldpaths would become, as the motor car took over the country lanes.   Today we well know how important a part of our heritage they are, and it was Walker Miles who opened our eyes."

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