How The Ramblers Association is helping to look after our footpaths and countryside
Paul Bould of South West Sussex Ramblers tells us why he's so excited by the introduction of the Chichester Walking weekend. "We’re working with Visit Chichester to help raise the profile of The Ramblers, not just as a walking organisation but also to highlight the work we do in protecting the countryside and campaigning, which is often not noticed.
I have been a Ramblers member for 12 years, and a member of the Sussex Area Council as West Sussex Countryside officer, which, like all other Ramblers members who take on roles, is a voluntary role. A Countryside Officer essentially scrutinises planning applications to ensure that countryside issues are considered. Recent examples are objecting to Drilling Sites, Mineral Extraction, a bio waste farm, A27 developments at Chichester, Arundel and Lancing, many of which I have been involved in. There are a lot of applications for residential dwellings, but we do find that developers have got better at being sympathetic with the area they are developing and tend not to encroach on existing footpaths, but we still check planning applications. We also help look after footpaths, and our dedicated Footpath Secretary will react to reports submitted weekly by Ramblers walks leaders which might covering broken stiles, footpath blockages, maybe a fallen tree or landowner encroachment which all helps keep footpaths open and safe for people to use and enjoy.
Ramblers are also helping to with a Government objective to create a fully connected English coastal footpath to completed by 2020. I was asked to work with Natural England, is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom which is sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and have been assigned this task. I was asked to scope the section around Chichester Harbour. That entailed checking where there are sections that do not have a continuous accessible footpath, for example there are some sections that flood at high water. The Ramblers report highlighted those areas to enable Natural England to seek solutions. That may be the provision of boardwalks or contacting landowners to gain public footpath access to their land. I’m delighted that whilst there are a couple of challenges still to overcome, the completion of the full footpath network is still on target. We are so lucky in our corner of sussex to have such beauty on our doorstep, right there for all to enjoy.
My walking goes back many years, I have walked in many places across the world including the Himalayas, but my heart is still in Sussex. I live near Kingley Vale, a stunning 5 mile walk and when reaching the Tumuli, I am always filled with the delight of living in such an area. It’s this passion for where I live which formed the idea for the Chichester Walking Weekend – we want to showcase what the area offers from the Downs to the City to the Sea, I believe what is being offered will embrace a walk for everyone, and help people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to get connected with the joy of walking and the delights of the area."
The Ramblers Association Chichester branch (South West Sussex Ramblers) offers 3 walks per week – details on how to join can be found on the following link https://www.ramblers.org.uk/south-west-sussex
Details on the Chichester Walking Weekend, including how to book tickets for one of the walks can be found here: https://www.visitchichester.org/walkingweekend