Stafford Rambling Group Affiliated to the Ramblers Stafford Rambling Group Produced with Xara -  Stafford Rambling Group 2014 -20
CHAIR’S REPORT 2018-19 This is the sixth annual report that I have presented as your Chair. I realise now why chairs resign; it becomes progressively harder to say something new about the course of the year. Our regular walking programme has continued with its long-established pattern of alternating between a morning walk and an all-day walk. I continue to worry about finding sufficient leaders but they do appear and we must all thank them for delivering what is our core activity. Not only do they appear but they have become more active providing the new activity discussed at last year’s AGM, the shorter, flatter, slower walks now rebranded as the Amble Rambles. David and Gill Dunn took the lead in getting these going and leading the early walks. They stressed that it was a case of “suck it and see” but the walks have been well-attended, are now a regular monthly event and the leadership of the walks has been devolved to a number of members. Again, thanks to David and Gill. Last year I raised concerns that the length of the day walks had been dropping – what was once 10-12 miles now seems to be 8-10 – and the numbers of participants and drivers were also falling. AS most of you will be aware the committee decided to run a survey to find out what you all think. My thanks to Mike for designing this and to John for translating this into an on-line form which I found very easy to complete. In many ways the responses confirmed what we suspected – that there are very few members who want to walk more than 10 miles and 8-10 is indeed the preferred range for those doing day walks. Whilst there are fewer people doing day walks there was overwhelming support for the structure of the programme, possibly helped by the availability of the Amble Rambles for morning walkers. The message which the committee has taken from this is that recent programmes have been about right and to continue with these. In terms of the special events, we kicked off with the Spring Weekend in Tenby. I suspected that this would be popular but was still surprised by the number participating, 45. We struck lucky again with the weather as it was glorious until we boarded the coach after the final walk – cue torrential downpour for the next hour or so. The walks were near Monmouth on the outward journey, from Laugherne and Bosherton Pools over the weekend and around Cardigan on the way home. Thanks to Mike, Ruth and Beryl for leading the walks. We were spared Beryl’s bingo quiz as the hotel provided its own (but it was nowhere near as good). I cannot leave Tenby without mentioning that bridge! What an experience that was – as in an experience never to be knowingly repeated. Our driver, Michael, fancied returning by a different route and very pretty it was too until we saw the bridge which was only microscopically wider than the coach. We all breathed in to help its passage. Michael remained poker-faced, and ignored the gathering crowd of spectators as he inched the coach over the bridge. He did confess to a little anxiety afterwards. Our coach ramble to the Malverns continued its own separate reputation for sunny weather. The longer walk took in most of the ridge with sweeping views over West Mercia. The shorter walk started part-way along the ridge at British Camp. Both finished in Great Malvern. Chris. Tony and Angie lead the walks. Pam organised our summer evening’s entertainment with a treasure hunt around Eccleshall. Unfortunately, I had to miss it because our pre-walking commitments but there was a good turn out and those, I spoke to enjoyed it. What can I say about the Morecambe weekend in October other than “Well it had to happen sometime” Our run of sub-tropical weekends came to a spectacular end. I called off Friday’s walks feeling that it was too risky to be walking along the coast on wet and very windy weather. Instead we went to Salford Quays where the combination of the Imperial War Museum (North), the Lowry Gallery and a shopping outlet seemed to provide a reasonable day’s entertainment. The Saturday walks led to Grange-over-Sands from Cark (long walk) and Cartmel (short). The initial thought on the long walk was “Hmm – it’s quite wet”. This changed to “It’s quite a while since I walked in rain like this” and ended up as “I can’t remember ever walking in rain like this” As we entered Grange I was preparing the long walkers for another half a mile along the road to get to the car park = it was still persisting it down at this point. Oh, the bliss on turning the next corner and seeing the coach there. The car park had flooded and the driver had been forced to paddle out to rescue the coach. That was a certain amount of poetic justice in that because the driver was the same Michael as of the bridge incident. It’s the first time I can remember us having the same driver for two weekends away. The weather did improve on Saturday and Sunday with works in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB and to the Singing Ringing Tree on the moors above Burnley.  Beryl did get the chance to do another bingo quiz and she led walks along with Angie, Chris and Tony. We were back at Tillington Hall for Festive Fun. Thanks to Beryl for organising it. It was our third year there and we had such a good time that I thought we might be going back again. However, we have had a really good alternative offer. The day before the dinner ramble the weather forecast was dire; strong winds and a 90% chance of heavy rain. I had visions of cancelling for the second year in a row. I can’t claim that the actual weather was balmy but it was warm, reasonably calm and there were just a couple of short light showers. The bad stuff held off until after we got into the Olde Dun Cow where we had a warm welcome and really good food with no stinting on the veg. Thanks to Chris for her efficient organisation (which this year included turning up in person), to John for another one of his on- line surveys for everyone to choose his/her meal and to Mike, Ruth, Chris and Angie for leading the walks. Looking more generally, we had a magnificent summer but part of the down-side was a number of upland fires, notably the one which devastated the Roaches. The committee decided to contribute to Stafford Wildlife Trust’s appeal which will aid restoration work and will also be used to buy equipment which, it is hoped, will make recurrences much less likely. I believe that the club is in good order. Our membership is reasonably stable. (at least numerically) We deliver what we set out to do, even if we do sometimes have to chase people up to offer to lead walks. Our finances are in good order as John will shortly report. Your committee has started to look at succession planning. We make good use of modern technology in communicating with members – and our open group recently established on Facebook is an additional way of promoting the group to non-members Thank you to all members of the committee for all their help in planning and delivering the activities of the group. I hope you will all agree that it has been another good year. Trevor Whincup