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Volunteer newsletter
Sent to: all active volunteers who have registered on the Ramblers website.

23 January 2019

Hello Keith

I wish you good health and happiness for 2019. Looking back for a moment on the last few years I think it is worth reminding ourselves that in 2017 we focussed our efforts on working together as one team and building a healthy dialogue between staff and volunteers. In 2018 our watchword was change as we started our journey of transformation. Last year we achieved some fantastic results together, most significantly gaining a major income steam as a new beneficiary of the People’s Postcode Lottery and starting our essential digital transformation programme.

In 2018 we also began to turn up the volume on the campaigning front, most notably achieving external recognition of public access in the Agriculture Bill, running some terrific walking events (including Festival of Winter Walks, Walk About, Big Welsh Walk and The Gathering), launching our first Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award, developing an exciting programme for Don’t Lose Your Way, forging new partnerships and initiating new research into the needs of our members. As you can read in this month’s newsletter, this good work continues to bear fruit - thank you. 

We also spent time in 2018 ensuring that, as an organisation, we are fit for the future. As well as the new insight hub, we implemented essential new phone and finance systems, re-introduced a staff survey after a long break, welcomed some wonderful new volunteers, trustees and staff to our team, ran the first year of our area support pilot and produced an area description. We also re-focused our Roadshows back onto volunteer networking and training and developed the walk leader programme from the Scottish pilot. In short, we made great progress together in 2018.

However, we still have much, much more to do together, to become truly relevant to walkers across Great Britain and to fulfil our charitable mission to help everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot. Our aims for 2019 are articulated in our business plan and will see us this year continue to focus on transforming our digital and data capabilities, delivering increasingly engaging and impactful campaigns, expanding support for volunteering, planning for membership and income growth and continuing to improve our internal infrastructure. 

Given our own transformation as an organisation, and the major changes to our external environment, I believe in 2019 we will need the courage to be loyal - to our best selves, to each other and to our cause. Coming together is the easy part, staying together - with faith, dedication, confidence, trust and love - is harder. Towards the end of 2018 we started to explore the Ramblers values and culture, so that we can ensure our charity is a truly great place to work and volunteer. Celebrating and strengthening our diversity and accommodating multiple perspectives - whilst remaining welcoming and loyal - will be of paramount importance to us this year.

2019 is undoubtedly going to be another year of significant transformation - externally and internally. The Brexit negotiations continue and we cannot ignore the ongoing impact of human activities on the natural world, or the reality of our ageing population and health inequalities. There will be many opportunities and challenges, successes and failures, delights and disappointments ahead. As long as we continue to work well together as one team, embrace change and remain loyal to each other and to our cause, I believe that we will continue to thrive.

I feel lucky to be a part of such a strong team, engaged in such a worthwhile enterprise. You have my loyalty and I look forward to working – and to walking – with you again this year.

Kindest regards,

Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 3961 3300
Twitter: @RamblerVan
Video: Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood - please send us your nominations

Note: If the video isn’t appearing on your screen, please make sure you download the pictures as part of this email. Alternatively, you can watch the video on YouTube.
Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award - please send in your nominations by 3 March 

A picnic bench sitting on a paved footpath, beside a road and treeImagine if the neighbourhoods where we live and work truly put walkers first. If everyone’s natural impulse whenever they set off on a journey was to walk, from doing the school run, to running errands and commuting every day. We want to give people of all ages and from all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from walking outdoors, wherever they live and work. That’s why we’re campaigning to ensure that our neighbourhoods actively encourage walking, bringing health, social and economic benefits to individuals and communities.

Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood is the Ramblers’ new annual award, designed to highlight and celebrate those places which encourage people to go about their everyday lives on foot. Places where people live and work which are green, with well-connected walking routes and accessible public space. Nominations for 2019 are now open, so if you think your neighbourhood is great for walking please let us know at, and your city, town or village could be crowned Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood. Nominations will be considered by an expert panel in early March, and a shortlist of ten neighbourhoods will be put to a public vote in the summer. 

We’d love your support to get more nominations, so as well as nominating your own neighbourhood please do encourage fellow volunteers, members and supporters to get involved. We have put together a resource pack to help you with further information about the award, suggested text for websites and newsletters, and template social media posts for you to use. You can download the pack. If you have any questions about the campaign please get in touch with Oliver Hicks-Pattison at
General Council - please register by 2 March, both to attend and/or to stand as a trustee 
If you are coming to the General Council (GC) meeting in Manchester, please keep an eye out for the update which will be emailed to Council members and area chairs and secretaries before the end of this month. This update will include further information about the meeting and a link to register online. This information will also be posted on our GC web page. The deadline for registration is 2 March and please note that we cannot accept registrations after this date. 

Some of our existing trustees have reached the end of their current terms of office, so we are looking for new trustees help the Ramblers to grow and develop – there’s still time for you to put your name forward for election as the deadline is the 2 March. This coming year, as well as seeking to ensure we have geographical balance across the whole of Great Britain, we’d also particularly welcome walkers with a background or interest in change management or organisational development, or with legal expertise. You can find further information and a nomination form. If you have any questions about GC or would like to discuss the trustee role, please contact
Time to Talk Day - please get involved if you can, 2 - 10 February 
Time to talk dayAre you leading or attending a walk between Saturday 2 February and Sunday 10 February?

We have created a top tips guide for walking and talking about mental health for you to bring along on your walks.This includes a letter from Rambler’s member John who joined a group walk after his wife died to help him combat depression and loneliness. 

Download your free guide now.

As mentioned in November’s newsletter, this year we’ve teamed up with the mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change to highlight the wellbeing benefits of walking. Time to Talk Day on 7 February, is an awareness raising day that is all about bringing together the right elements for having a conversation about mental health. 

Being physically active, connecting with nature and other people - the ingredients of a Ramblers group walk - are all things which have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. We know that walking with a Ramblers group is a lifeline for many people with mental health problems, so we are encouraging all our groups to have conversations about mental health on their walks during the first week of February. 

To help reach as many people as possible, it would be brilliant if you could tweet photos of your walks as part of Time to Talk Day using #TimetoTalk #walkandtalk and tag us @RamblersGB. We will share your tweets on the Ramblers account.

We are also looking for stories to share of people who have found walking with the Ramblers beneficial to their mental health. If you would like to share your story or have any questions about Time to Talk Day, please get in touch on
Raising awareness of our cause - thank you and please note the terrific media coverage…
1.    BBC Breakfast covered our Festival of Winter Walks  

Thank you to everyone who worked together so brilliantly to ensure our 2018 Festival of Winter Walks was a great success. This year Ramblers groups really engaged with theme of tackling loneliness over the festive season and collectively ran nearly 2,000 welcoming wintry walks across England, Scotland and Wales. And the media loved it  - highlights included coverage on BBC Radio Wales (Good Morning Wales on Friday 21 December), some great local radio interviews (BBC Solent, BBC Oxford and BBC Norfolk to name a few), a piece in the Guardian by Ramblers president Stuart Maconie, BBC North West TV heading out on a winter walk with the Manchester Weekend Walkers and BBC 1 Breakfast joining the East Devon Ramblers at the crack of dawn in Otterton, to launch the festival, Christmas jumpers and all!

2.    Guardian, New Yorker, Times and Express covered Don’t Lose Your Way  

The interest in our Don’t Lose Your Way (DLYW) project to save historic rights of way continues to grow. Following our pre-Christmas coverage in the Guardian, we reached page three of The Times, as well as a great piece in the Express and this lovely piece in the New Yorker about our efforts to reserve these routes in Cornwall. Meanwhile our DLYW Programme Manager, Jack Cornish, was interviewed on BBC South East Today and also featured as a guest on the London Peak’s podcast. Ramblers volunteer Chris Smith, who has been tirelessly working on applications for lost paths, appeared on the BBC Sunday Politics South East show (22m 36s in). As a result, we have received lots of enquiries from the public who are keen to help and we have already passed many of these contacts onto the relevant local Ramblers volunteers. Please download the Guide to finding lost rights of way and join the hunt today! As you know, this important project aims to save historic paths before the 2026 cut-off date. We have yet to publicly call on the government to extend this deadline - but we are now reviewing our position, following government delays to enacting important elements of the Deregulation Act 2015. We will keep you posted…

3.    BBC Breakfast for the Designated Landscape Review 

Two members of the Derbyshire Dales Ramblers appeared on BBC Breakfast (Friday, 11 January) to talk about the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs review of designated landscapes in England, which is looking at how to secure the future of our National Parks and Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) 70 years on from their creation. Sue Weatherley and Anne Fletcher appeared with Julian Glover, who is leading the review, and highlighted the importance of protecting the footpath network, to enable people to continue to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of National Parks like the Peak District. The review’s call for written evidence ended just before Christmas and we submitted a response covering a broad range of issues of importance to walkers living in, and visiting, our designated landscapes. Many thanks to all those of you who contacted us to tell us why National Parks and AONBs are special to you and who fed into our response. 

4.    Fix the Fells on Radio 4

Path repair was a hot topic for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme last month. They were investigating the use of ‘stone pitching’ by National Trust group Fix the Fells to repair footpaths in the Lake District, following complaints by mountain bikers (who say the stone pitching or steps ruins their enjoyment of the paths). Our director of advocacy and engagement, Tompion Platt, was interviewed for the programme, and emphasised the importance of well-maintained paths, with more people than ever enjoying walking in the countryside.  If paths become damaged, it inevitably has a negative effect on walkers, so the work of groups like Fix the Fells and Ramblers volunteers across the country is crucial to ensuring paths remain accessible for people to enjoy. 

For any thoughts or queries on any of the four activities outlined above please email
Mansfield Woodhouse - please note this path success 
Nottinghamshire Ramblers have helped residents defeat the proposed extinguishment of a well-used footpath at Mansfield Woodhouse, between The Mount and Clipstone Drive. For seven years it has been unlawfully obstructed by a developer, since Mansfield District Council granted planning permission for five houses on the site of a demolished community centre past which the path went. 

For many residents, the path was the shortest way to a children’s play area and to country walks in woodland by the river Maun. But Mansfield District Council - granting the permission without requiring the path’s retention in the proposed development - said that existing longer routes on ordinary pavements were acceptable alternatives. They made an extinguishment order under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980, on the footing that it was not needed for public use. Several people objected, including the Nottinghamshire Local Access Forum and the Ramblers. 

The matter was referred to an Inspector to determine the order on behalf of the Secretary of State. The Ramblers pointed out that the path was well used before its unlawful closure, and contended that even the shortest alternative route (on ordinary pavements) would be three times as long. The Inspector accepted our view and rejected the order on 20 December 2018, and we hope we can look forward to the path’s reinstatement. For any questions on this topic, please email
Website incident update - please note the conclusions of the investigation and remain vigilant
We promised to provide you with a brief update following the ransomware incident we faced in November last year. As you will be aware from the previous updates, since then we have been working with IT cyber security experts to investigate the incident. The investigation has now concluded, and has reported that it did not find any evidence that any personal data was extracted as a result of the incident. In addition, following notification to the Information Commissioner’s Office following the incident, we have been informed there will be no action taken and no further action required by Ramblers. 

We would again like to apologise for the incident and any concern this has caused and we would also like to thank you for your patience whilst the investigation took place. We will be providing an update to members in their newsletter which will be distributed this week. Unrelated to the incident, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of being vigilant, particularly when you receive unsolicited emails. As a reminder:  Ramblers will never ask you in an email to transfer money or to provide your bank or credit card details. For more advice on how to protect yourself against financial fraud please visit If you have any questions, please contact
Three graphs of statistics, side by side
Data transformation - please sign up to access the insight hub
As mentioned in the last few newsletters, we now have a suite of dashboards in the insight hub which provide a wealth of information about areas, groups, volunteers, walkers and membership. This resource is designed to be available to all volunteers, so if you would like access please email and we will send you details about how to sign up for an insight hub account. If you are a membership secretary, you should by now have received information to enable you sign up for your insight hub account and received your ‘how to’ guide to the membership secretaries dashboard. If you are a membership secretary and have not yet received these details please contact the membership services team by emailing

On the membership dashboard you can discover the number of new members, leavers, renewals and growth in your group or area over time. You can also see the figures for the Ramblers as a whole and make use of a helpful tool which enables you to benchmark how your group or area membership is doing, by contrasting it with other groups and areas. We hope this new dashboard will encourage learning and discussion between areas and groups, and through this, boost membership. If you are a committee member of an area or group you can gain access to the membership dashboard by emailing with the subject line “Access membership dashboard” and we will also send you some helpful hints and tips.
Is the Ramblers in your Will? -  If so, please share your story with us. 
Gifts in wills make up around a fifth of the vital donations that enable Ramblers’ work to help everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot. If you’ve remembered Ramblers in your Will, we’d love to hear more about what’s important to you. Please contact and he will be in touch.
Ramblers Cymru - please join us on the Welsh Coast Path and for communications training 
A person walking along a path beside a cliffPlease do come and help us to celebrate the fact that it is seven years since the launch of the Wales Coast Path with a festival of walks along the coast starting on Saturday 4 May in Llandudno and ending in Llantwit Major on Sunday 19 May.  With seven walks in seven locations, we are going to need some extra help.  If you would like to volunteer on the day to help marshal, sign people in, or support a walk leader with a large group please let us know. 

We also have two training opportunities coming up over the next few months to help you to promote your group or area. The first is a publicity workshop with Ramblers GB media and PR manager in Llandrindod on Thursday, 7 February. The second is a social media training session in Merthyr Tydfil on Monday, 4 March. And this one too? Please contact if you would like to get involved in either the Wales Coast Path walks or the publicity and social media training. 
Ramblers Scotland - please register for to join new walk leader training 
As part of our Sport Scotland-funded walk leadership project, Ramblers Scotland is launching new training this month, to help experienced walk leaders become 'mentors' to the next generation of walk leaders – building on the skill-sharing that already takes place within many groups and areas. Participants will learn basic mentoring skills, form links with newer leaders and share knowledge during nine free courses from January to March across Scotland. Please register on our website or email for details.
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The Ramblers · 2nd Floor Camelford House · 87-90 Albert Embankment · London, Lnd SE1 7TW · United Kingdom