PATHS IN A DAY
It comes after our volunteers
completed their most ambitious project so far... tackling a variety of
problems on THREE paths in a single morning.
The team of nine repaired a bridge, installed eight marker posts and hacked their way through 100 metres of thick brambles blocking a public footpath on the edge of a golf course near Alfold.
Rights of Way Officer Nicky Scott said: "I was delighted to be able to engage with SAWW on their second volunteer task of this year, maintaining and improving public rights of way on behalf of Surrey County Council. The weather was outstanding and there was a good show, with nine people turning up for the task.
"In the space of only three hours, the group had repaired a sleeper bridge, installed eight waymark posts, and cleared a significant amount of extremely thorny vegetation while golf balls whistled overhead.
"This latter action should now enable walkers to traverse the golf course without the need for tin hats, and at something less akin to a sprint."
It was SAWW's second footpath action day. In June the group reclaimed a 'lost' path in Winterfold Woods near Cranleigh. As well as clearing ferns and bracken from the line of the path, the team installed five new marker posts.
In a previous exercise, a SAWW contingent helped the Downlands Project on its annual rhododendron bash at Banstead Woods, which are under threat from the invasive shrub.
SCC's Nicky Scott added: "I cannot overstate the contribution of SAWW in helping to keep the network open and in good order, particularly now that the Countryside Access department is subject to cutbacks and staff losses. We are extremely grateful to our volunteers, and commitment to even one day a year makes a huge difference.
"The enthusiasm of the group is very heartening, and both tasks have been really fun with lots of laughter. I am currently planning the next task – scheduled for Sunday 26th February – and very much look forward to working with SAWW again. Thank you so much to all who contributed."
Out-going SAWW Chairman Jackie Leedham said: "As a group we derive a huge amount of enjoyment and physical benefit from rambling. I feel it's right that we give something back."
Ramblers members from across the county gathered in Dorking on November 4th for a walk led by SAWW's Chris Baron and Jane Watkins. It was one of a series of walks carrying a baton across England, Wales and Scotland to mark the Ramblers' 75th anniversary.
The eight walks in Surrey followed the Greensand Way. Chris and Jane's mission was to lead the fifth section, from Dorking to Reigate - a distance of eight miles.
Chris said: "I heard about the Baton Walk when I attended a Surrey Area meeting in June on behalf of SAWW. I knew immediately that this was an event that SAWW should be involved with as the dynamic, fast-growing group that we are and which has gone from strength to strength in the last seven years. The Dorking to Reigate section of the Greensand Way has lovely views and passes through the charming villages of Brockham and Betchworth. It's one of the SAWW favourites."
The turnout of 37 was bigger than any of the previous Baton Walks in Surrey. Ramblers members came from as far afield as Farnham, Woking, Sutton and Croydon. Among the party were 13 SAWWers - in itself, the highest turnout for one of our midweek walks in 2010.
SAWW takes charge of the baton
The ceremonial 'baton' turned out to be an inflatable tube bearing the Ramblers logo. It was presented to Jane and Chris outside Dorking Deepdene Station by Area Footpath Secretary Brian Reader.
To reach the Greensand Way the group took a ten minute hike past the giant Dorking Cockerel statue and beside the A24. But the traffic noise soon subsided as the walkers headed east through woodland, admiring the burnished colours of autumn. Fleeces and jackets were quickly shed in the bright morning sunshine.
The lunch stop was taken on Brockham Green, abuzz with preparations for the village bonfire night. The warm weather added to the enjoyment... not to mention the refreshments from the Royal Oak pub.
SAWWers found themselves
in familiar territory on the route through Betchworth, Buckland and past
the Skimmington Castle. In 2007 the group completed its own series
of Greensand Way walks from Haslemere to the Kent border near Westerham,
covering 55 miles.
Opened in 1980, the Greensand Way was the creation of Ramblers volunteer Geoffrey Hollis. So it was fitting to mark the Association's anniversary by celebrating his achievement.
Story time on Reigate Heath
At the windmill on Reigate Heath, SAWW founder and Reigate Ghost Tour supremo Gavin Dulley regaled the party with grisly stories of ancient hangings.
The 16-strong contingent from Sutton & Wandle Valley Ramblers said their farewells at the edge of Reigate Park, hurrying off on a short cut to catch their bus home. The rest of the group resolutely kept to the route of the Greensand Way, making short work of a steep climb up Park Hill. A signpost beside the A217 marked the end of SAWW's stretch of Greensand Way. Their mission accomplished, Chris and Jane handed the baton on to Area official Graham Butler and adjourned to the Pavilion Café in Priory Park for a celebratory cuppa with fellow SAWW midweekers.
Chris reflected: "The Baton Walk went very smoothly, which I put down to the two recces Jane and I did - the first in August and the second the week before the event. I was delighted with the turnout from SAWW members as it was a weekday. It's always good to meet and mix with members of other groups in Surrey, and I was immensely proud to be leading the walk with Jane for SAWW. I hope everyone enjoyed the day and felt confident in the hands of our group."