The fourth and concluding instalment of the history, life and times of the West Essex
R.A. group entitled RAMBLING ON AND ON AND ON ..... by Eric Barker commences with
the realisation of an ever expanding programme as the new Millennium approached.
That for April to July, 1999, for example, covered 17 pages, the last six single
sheets being reserved for booking slips in respect of coach rambles, social events
and two long-
The Open Day at Chingford, previously mentioned, was deemed an outstanding success.
About 60 Membership Application Forms had been handed out. A morning walk on the
following day had attracted an attendance of 75. After lunch, 45 people had congregated
for a similar outing. The Walk for the Blind was re-
Sadly, Phyllis Govey passed away early in January, 2000 having been taken ill during
the Christmas period some two weeks before. In a tribute, John Holness mentioned
her work for the original Working Party, providing cakes for the helpers and cooking
jacket potatoes when a bonfire was used. She had been Membership Secretary for 11
years. During the early times, the Walks Programme was produced on a hand-
Together with changes in personnel which had occurred at the Annual General Meeting
a few weeks earlier, the Committee comprised the following ten members in 2000:-
Asst. Rambles Secretary:-
The Saxon Shore Way, a 160 mile linear route from Gravesend to Hastings was the long-
A new leader made his services available on Sunday, 19th March, an approximate nine mile ramble from Stock. An opportunity to take “stock” of the immense contribution by John Juchau and Pat in the ensuing ten plus years will be recorded in due course.
An Open Day took place at the Church Rooms, adjacent to St. John’s church, Epping at the end of April with the customary walk on the May Day Bank Holiday led by Frank Holzman. This would prove to be the final one of its kind. Fifteen members took part in a Millennium Walk from Benfleet station to the Kursaal, Southend in the middle of April organised by the same leader, this outing being part of a promotion by Essex Area to walk as much as possible of the County coastline between Tilbury and Harwich.
Alan and Val Weatherley followed the footsteps of John and Pat Juchau in further
enhancing the versatility of the group’s activities. Val agreed to take on the responsibility
for obtaining members to lead the short mid-
At the beginning of September, an outing from the Travellers Friend, Epping Green, led by Peter Spence, was designated a Leader Training Walk for those who wished to develop leadership skills and at the end of October the now regular Map Reading Course took place organised by Peter and Frank Holzman. The final 15 days of December included 10 listed walks with the Festival of Winter Walks, bringing the first year of the Millennium to a memorable conclusion. It had been a time of further expansion.
BOXING DAY OUTINGS IN THE “NOUGHTIES”
Francis Staines led the Millennium walk, a half-
The Saxon Shore Way was due to be completed during 2001, six legs being walked on
one Sunday each month from April to October, August excepted. Seven provisional
Outings for a total of five months were affected commencing with Ted Ellis’ Epping Society walk on Sunday, 25th February. Eight out of 18 ramble dates were cancelled in March, the remaining locations being adjudged available at that time. Among the casualties, one walk did take place, the route being slightly amended. A member was able to lead a 70th birthday ramble in early May, an out and back walk from Hawkey Hall, Woodford Green, to the Foresters Arms, Loughton. Members were invited to join the outing at certain times and locations in a similar way to the Centenary Walk. During the morning coffee break at High Beach, the appointed back marked informed the leader 70 had attended! A remarkable coincidence indicating the enthusiasm of the group to turn out whenever possible during a difficult situation.
The following programme forwarded in early July included a note from Frank Holzman
dated 15th June with information that, acting on government advice, Essex county
Council had announced the re-
Membership numbers stood at 1060 at the end of 2001. The role of Countryside Officer had remained unfilled for a short time. Doreen Lodge became the incumbent a the Annual General Meeting.
Having produced a dummy copy to the committee, Len Banister, Publicity Officer at that time, supervised the first issue of the WEP., posted to members with the ‘April to July 2002 walks programme with John Francis as editor. The production was continued by Len on his computer for the next three years since when Audrey Carson has taken over. John remains the editor. The WEP., now in its ninth year, has been the medium for the social side of the group and the focus for many varied articles. Members have aired their views on many subjects as it continues to make interesting reading.
Most of the back page of issue number one was devoted to the West Essex Working Party under the heading of “.....and finally FRANK” as previously mentioned. However, the first article on the front page “Frank’s Plea Answered” introduced two members who had agreed to serve on committee in addition to Fred Matthews. John and Pat Juchau had put their names forward and attended their first meeting in March, 2002. The seeds were thus sown for a vast and versatile contribution to the group’s benefit which would quickly emerge. Ramble dates in May included two longer than usual walks led by Len Banister. Both of 17 miles, the first started locally at Highams Park Lake, the second at Cobham, Kent. A further outing of 19 miles from Rickling Green took place in June. Len has continued with similar rambles since which have attracted a core of members who enjoy an extra challenge .....
The Saxon Shore Way took place during 2002, rescheduled from the previous year due
to the Foot and Mouth outbreak, the 17th and final stage completing the route in
Further changes to the committee took place at the 2002 Annual General Meeting. Len
Banister relinquished the office of Publicity to create a new venture:-
Len requested help in the fresh approach to the R.A.’s aims of highlighting the benefits of walking to include those with physical or learning difficulties. In March 2003 and for the next 4 ½ years he organised approximately 50 walks for Asian women with attendance averaging 15 per outing. One of the two coach trips financed by the group attracted 57 people. The same month above marked the final “Walk of the Month”. Len had commenced this three years earlier, featuring a leader with his or her walk each month. A questionnaire forwarded invited each person to complete and return same with a background to their other interests and previous working life. Together with an appropriate photograph, these were sent to various local papers and served to draw attention to the group and its activities. A total of 41 leaders were involved, a B2 walk led by Derek Davies from Galleywood Common, near Chelmsford on 2nd March 2000 being the initial one. The final outing, a morning ramble on 27th March, 2003 from Jack’s Hill featured Alan Silwood.
The Greensand Ridge Walk, a 40 mile linear route bisecting the county of Bedfordshire,
was the weekend coach ramble selected for 2003, walked during four summer Sundays.
Frank Holzman led a John Holness Memorial Walk along the David Livingstone Trail
from Ongar at the end of April, those attending having first visited a memorial-
Unfortunately, after many years, a popular parking place became out of bounds for ramblers during 2003. Disturbances had occurred at Upshire Village Hall. Walkers had not been involved, but in future bookings would only be accepted for specific events at the hall. Hence, locations for this regular walking area have since changed with parking in a side road or near the grass verge adjacent to the Good Intent hostelry.
Two evening social events took place towards the end of the year. Diminishing Whist
in early November and a Jazz Band Ball (mid-
The 26th December 2003 to 1st January 2004 were the dates listed for the annual Ramblers’
Association’s Festival of Winter Walking. An ordinary-
Another leader introduced walks with an historical theme, a few weeks after the winter walk described above. With his own enthusiastic style, often quoting dates and nearly always without recourse to notes, Denis Galvin it was who led the first of these for the group in early February, 2004, when a walk (in the footsteps of Marie Lloyd) drew a large contingent to Liverpool Street station. Being well supported since, he leads regularly for other groups and societies. Historical walks of all descriptions have been an ever increasing part of the walking programme, being particularly appreciated during the winter months as an alternative to sometimes heavy going over ploughed fields.
The December, 2003 publication featured a “Protest” heading for the first time, concern being raised in connection with the possible expansion of Stansted airport. The Ramblers’ Association had joined two pressure groups campaigning for a less environmentally damaging aviation industry. At local level, the group would be keeping a close watch on impending developments, with adopters of parishes likely to be affected being particularly vigilant. Currently, plans appear to have been shelved, but no doubt an eye will be on the lookout for any potential changes in direction likely to interfere with the surrounding countryside.
While continuing to be involved with disadvantaged groups, Len Banister had stood down as Outreach Officer at the end of 2003. At the same time, Roger Gibbs became Footpath Officer. This important work had been unfilled following the sad passing away of John Holness eighteen months previously. Roger would contribute a huge input for the next 6½ years, dedicating himself in the task of looking into many queries raised by adopters, leaders and other members contacting him with path problems. Relinquishing the post in the middle of 2010, he continues to serve as a committee member, remaining available to impart much knowledge to his successor.
The Greensand Way, from Haslemere in Surrey to Hamstreet Kent was the long distance route selected for 2004 and 2005, 118 miles being traversed on seven Sundays and four Sundays each year, respectively. A team of leaders organised different stages. Frank Holzman was in charge for the walking of the Gloucestershire Way. This took place over two long weekends in May and September, 2004, staying at Lydney in the Forest of Dean.
WEST ESSEX GOES FOREIGN
During 2003, John Juchau had suggested to the committee the group might consider
a short holiday abroad. With the idea given the go-
June 2004 48 in the group to The Rhine Valley
November 2005 40 in the group to Malta and Gozo, 5 days on each island
September 2006 33 in the group to Northern Spain
May 2007 39 in the group to Croatia
May 2008 40 in the group to Crete
May 2009 50 in the group to Turkey
February 2010 40 in the group to Lanzarote
The final two sentences of the letter quote:-
The activities of the Working Party and Adopt-
During 2004, three sub-
On the active front, Len Banister’s long distance venture in September took the group south of the River Thames for the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk of 27½ miles. A party of five completed the route with little trouble. The traversing of The Green London Way commenced in December 2004, a 92 mile circular outing through the London Boroughs. Stages took place monthly during the winter with completion a year later.
The group gained further prestige for a walk led by John and Pat Juchau on New Year’s day 2005, being voted the Best Urban Walk by the Independent newspaper. The seven mile route, from East Finchley station to Marble Arch incorporating the greener side of London, represented one of the outings of the Festival of Winter Walks and attracted an attendance of 37. Over the next Bank Holiday weekend, a total of 160 walkers participated during the Easter period of four days, 69 being the attendance for an afternoon outing from Chigwell Row church. One of the many evening walks in the programme included a later than usual start at 19.45 hours. John Francis leading the group from Bury Road Car Park, Chingford, to the “Owl”. A midsummer day/evening outing, attendees were reminded to bring a torch for the return journey.
A long weekend took place at the beginning of July walking the Belmont 30, a circular route of that distance around the South Lincolnshire Wolds. The group stayed at a Youth Hostel near the town of Louth, Joyce Whiteley being in charge of arrangements. The Gloucestershire Way was completed in August and early the following month Len Banister’s long distance walk for 2005 involved a circular outing of 18 miles around Great Waltham, a cluster of pretty villages north of Chelmsford. Earlier in the year, he had given up his work on the WEP publication, having taken on the office of Essex Area R.A. Secretary.
Hazel Davies led a C2 outing from Nursery Road Car Park, Loughton, on 21st December
with a difference. This first time walk took the group to the home of her daughter
in Lippits Hill, for the lunchtime break. There, mince pies and mulled wine were
served by husband, George and family. Those attending were invited to make a donation
to the Woodland Trust in which the family were closely involved. Just over £72 was
collected on the day. This popular walk has continued annually since, a few days
before Christmas and is always well-
Val Weatherley agreed to take over the position of Social Secretary during the year,
having effectively organised such engagements for some time. The 2005 Annual General
Meeting towards the end of November resulted in more changes than usual to the committee
and officers, notwithstanding the constitutional challenge regarding the maximum
term of office having been rejected. Mike Whiteley became Secretary after a vote,
defeating a certain member decked out in the club colours of the football team of
his support and choice ..... Mike replaced Peter Spence and continued in the role
of Membership Secretary for a few months into 2006. The author stood down after
7½ years as Assistant Rambles Secretary, having negotiated a smooth change over with
Ray Latham, ably assisted by Jan. Doreen Lodge retired after five years of dedicated
work as Countryside Officer. David Weekes replaced Doreen, wishing to put something
back into the group having, with Pam, enjoyed regular walking for many years since
retirement. A new office was created, that of Web Site Officer:-
During the year, a lady from New York State wrote a letter, thanking the West Essex
group and Redbridge Ramblers for their company, leadership and car rides during a
three month stay. Mentioning places walked, she appreciated a few hours of enjoyment
which helped, quote:-
For 2006, eight Sundays from April to November were allocated to walk the High Weald Landscape Trail, a 90 mile route from Horsham to Rye. A team of leaders organised each stage. The latter town was approached from a different direction, being the finishing place for the 1066 Country Walk, this being a joint venture with the Redbridge Ramblers, 31 miles traversed from Pevensey Castle on two summer Saturdays. The Green London Way continued during the winter months.
The April to July, 2006 programme included the West Essex website which had gone live in December, 2005. Harry Hawkins explained the benefits in an article. Val Weatherley composed a column in the WEP inviting members to complete an application form to join the Stop Stansted Expansion. The detriment to the countryside, covered by the building of a second runway at the airport, was set out. A Ramblers “Use Your Paths Week” was highlighted by two walks in the summer drawing attention to the poor responsibility of Essex county Council in their attitude to rights of way.
Two walks within eight days in April provided members with an appreciation of local railway history, flora and fauna. John Francis was joined by Prof. Edgar Brown in a detailed examination of a proposed extension to the railway line from Chingford to High Beach in 1878. “Day Return to High Beach.” Brian Ecott was invited by John Juchau to impart knowledge of plants and animals in a “Nature Walk.” The latter guest would feature in future programmes.
Keith Wenden replaced Mike Whiteley as Membership Secretary during the summer leaving the latter able to concentrate fully on the affairs of group Secretary. The former, with Cynthia, expressed interest in introducing Family Walks to the varied programme and to that end led the first outing towards the end of September, 2006, an approximate four mile circular walk at a leisurely pace from Chingford station. This proved worthwhile, 41 being present including 13 children of different ages. The walks have been repeated since with varied numbers.
During the same month, the traversing of the London Loop commenced, a 140 mile route completely within the M25 Motorway. The length of each stage would be about 11 miles, programmed for the last Saturday in the month embracing the next year.
Harry Edler had expressed a wish to stand down as Treasurer earlier in 2006 and was thanked wholeheartedly at the November Annual General Meeting for 15 years service which had also been preceded by two years as Auditor. He would serve for three more years as a committee member, a total of 20 years in three different capacities ..... David Goodwin was elected in the Treasurer’s role. A new system of coach journey refunds was immediately put in place, consequential to David’s appointment. These would be forwarded in November each year in future. At the same time, Frank Holzman gave 12 months notice that 2007 would be his final year as Chairman.
The aforementioned Thames Path became the linear long distance route on Sundays during
2007, the first leg starting on 11/3. The final walk in the April to July 2007 programme
featured Len Banister’s longest invitation to date:-
Three outings, each with a different theme or purpose, were included in the following
By complete contrast, a Runway Ramble was organised at Hatfield Forest a month later, with the group joining the National Trust and Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, drawing attention to the severe impact the building of a second runway at the airport would have on the forest. Val and Alan Weatherley were the leaders responsible for the group’s involvement. A route for the five mile walk from the National Trust was available on the day, being well marshalled for the benefit of the large number who attended.
This was immediately followed by six walks during Public Transport Walks’ Week, each group outing commencing from a different tube station, B.R. station or the DLR network. These were well supported, the first, a Sunday afternoon outing from Chingford attracted 36 people. The last, on the following Saturday was a joint venture with the Redbridge Ramblers, commencing at 11 a.m. with one fewer meeting at the Bank of England outside the Royal Exchange.
The 2007 Annual General Meeting held in its usual month of November, marked the retirement
of Frank Holzman after 19 years in the role of Chairman. The relevant available
WEP which had accompanied the December 2007 to March 2008 walks programme featured
Richard Iles was elected Chairman. He and Judy had been members and leaders for
many years, with the latter a member of the newly-
Thanks were accorded to Yvonne Marshall for the production of the Walks Programme on her word processor for over ten years. Lesley Gillard had volunteered her services, the programme overlapping 2007 into 2008 being her initial one on a different format.
The business of the Annual General Meeting during the evening included a surprise
accolade for a quartet of members, an award of a Certificate of Achievement for lasting
contribution. This was presented and signed by Kate Ashbrook, an executive at the
Ramblers’ Association Head Office and the invited guest speaker. Frank Holzman,
who had vacated the Chair about an hour earlier and Harry Edler, 12 months after
stepping down as long-
The 2008 walks programme included an initial series of summer Sunday afternoons organised and led by Alison Moore, visiting churches of renown and the windmill at Aythorpe Roding. Following the conclusion of each, homemade tea and cakes were available, the one stipulation being the requirement of a telephone call to Alison the evening before, confirming attendance. These were joint ventures with the Redbridge Ramblers. General notes in the programme also included the availability of the above facilities for members on an individual basis.
Walk codes were revised during the year, five separate categories being introduced. These ranged from Easy Access (EA) TO Strenuous (S).
A Saturday a.m. ramble on 14th June commenced from the “Royal Oak”, Stapleford Abbotts,
“Morning walk in fields, woods and parks” led by Cyril Scanes. Organised to finish
before 1 p.m. around 20 people gathered on a slight rise nearby to witness the traditional
The Forest Festival took place on Sunday, 7th September in 2008 with a difference.
This had been held annually for many years in September, taking place on Chingford
Plain with the exception of 2005 when the west side of Centre Road, Wanstead Flats
was the venue. This provided the opportunity for the general public to meet group
members face to face. Peter Spence was originally in charge, but soon after their
appointment as Publicity and Recruitment Officers, John and Pat Juchau spent long
hours at the West Essex Ramblers’ Association group stand. It was necessary to undertake
much preliminary planning to advertise the group’s aims, with many pamphlets available
for distribution with the ultimate object of encouraging an increase in membership.
On this occasion, in addition to the pre-
A further initial date appeared on the walking calendar in 2008, a “Christmas Morning Meander”, a four mile outing from the Roding Valley Nature Reserve car park, Chigwell. A 10 a.m. start, the leader, John Juchau, assured those interested “You’ll be back around Noon.” Eight attended with John and Pat.
During the year, David Weekes in his role as Countryside Officer drew members attention
to the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign. A meeting was held at the United Reform
Church, Chingford, on 3rd October to raise awareness of the outcome of a recent public
enquiry with an explanation of future action, should the plan to expand the airport
succeed. The well-
David also reported the rejection by Epping Forest District Council to an application to build over 100 homes to the north of Grange Farm, Chigwell. The Planning Inspectorate had appealed, however.
Ken Hoy, Chairman of the Friends of Epping Forest, was the guest speaker at the 2008 Annual General Meeting and during the proceedings presented Yvonne Marshall with a Certificate of Achievement. Yvonne was recognised for her typing of the walks programme, the role from which she had recently retired.
The year 2009 opened on a sad note with the passing away of Fred Matthews on New Year’s Day, in hospital after a short illness. He was 85 years old. His funeral service, two weeks later, took place at Lambourne Church and he was laid to rest beside his wife, in the churchyard. Many West Essex group members were present, together with colleagues and friends from other R.A. walking groups in the county, after which a reception took place at Abridge Village Hall.
A two page tribute to his immense contribution, with others, in the creation of footpaths in Essex appeared in a subsequent WEP. Written by John Francis. Moving to Abridge in 1953 upon his marriage to Kathleen, they both walked on their own for many years. In 1970, Fred joined an afternoon walk from Buckhurst Hill to Abridge in connection with a National Footpath Week organised by the R.A. This was abandoned before the finish due to the state of the footpaths, hence his eventual response to the letter from Ken Knowles in April of that year to assist in the public meeting and subsequent formation of the West Essex group.
Taking early retirement from the Civil Service in 1972, he commenced writing and publication. His first book “Walking with West Essex”, describing countryside around Epping, Ongar and the Roding Valley cost 25p. This was soon followed by “More Walks with the West Essex” at a price of 45p and included sketch maps by Harry Bitten. Seven similarly titled publications with Harry, catered for the growing number of car users. Further books included “The Three Forests Way”, a 60 mile route linking the forests of Epping, Hainault and Hatfield, the Epping Forest Centenary Walk (1978), the “Essex Way” (1972) from Epping to Harwich, 82 miles (extended from Dedham), the “Harcamlow Way”, Harlow to Cambridge and return via Saffron Walden (1980) and “St. Peter’s Way”, a 45 mile walk from Ongar to the Chapel at Bradwell.
In 1986, the “Essex 100” commenced, an annual 100 mile linear Area event over nine
consecutive days which criss-
Fred was involved with Frank Holzman and Len Alcott in the establishment of the Adopt-
Would it be correct to call Fred the “Wainwright” of Essex?” In parallel circumstances
with “AW”, he wrote books. However, whereas the latter investigated routes completely
on his own, Fred opened up many paths accompanied by fellow enthusiasts. Their outlook
on the Great Outdoors, though, appeared similar. Both spent working lives in the
public sector, Fred a civil servant, A.W. Borough Treasurer at Kendal Town Hall,
Cumbria, but while the latter retired at 60, and spent his weekends and holidays
travelling and photographing for his books, Fred took early retirement. Despite
differences in some respects, the principle still applies. A final comparison:-
Colin and Freddy
This photograph, dated 5th August, 2001, was taken outside Canuden Village Hall after the conclusion of the Essex “100” of that year. Fred is pictured with Colin Jacob of the Brentwood Group. Some one (Colin himself?) would have collected him from Abridge so that he could join in the celebrations and witness the distribution of certificates to those who had completed all nine days of the event. Until he was unable to drive, Fred supported each day’s walk, parking his car at strategic points and walk towards the oncoming participants, over 100 on each weekend at its peak popularity, and pass on words of encouragement.
The Capital Ring was the local circular route on the agenda for 2009. Commencing at Beckton on 28th February, Reg Clarke became the sole leader during eight sections walked on Saturdays, a total distance of 75 miles. The 65 mile Oxfordshire Way was the long distance path chosen for six Sundays from May until October. A different leader took charge for each stage.
The Forest Festival on 6th September with the pre-
Essex Area was formed in 1984, with county groups organising 25th year celebrations. The West Essex hosted a weekend of walks on 19th/20th September which were also dedicated to the memory of Fred. The afternoon outing on the first day was led by John Francis, with Mike Whiteley in charge of the annual Centenary Walk on 20/9.
Three “Old Boys” each celebrated his 70th birthday by leading a five mile morning ramble from the “Good Intent”, Upshire on 19th November and, with their respective wives, hosted a party for around 50 members at the hostelry afterwards. In order of seniority, Alan Weatherley, George Davies and Len Banister made a speech and then “cut the cake” with due ceremony.
John Juchau’s second venture, leading on 25/12 entitled “Christmas Morning around Abridge” attracted 10 plus John and Pat. Due to weather conditions, one couple could not pass their car drive so a round dozen around Abridge failed to materialise. A portent of falling temperature which would arrive during the next few days, as a new decade and the group’s 40th anniversary beckoned .....
Congratulations were accorded to Len Banister on his election to the R.A. Board of Trustees, the first West Essex group member and County member to have achieved that distinction. He was currently serving as Essex Area Council Secretary.
Frank Holzman accepted the honour of President during the November 2009 Annual General
Meeting. This Friday evening occasion was enlivened by the guest speaker, Tom Franklin,
Chief Executive of the Ramblers’ Association. He had those attending up and down
from their seats like yo-
2010 – A RAMBLING REVIEW AND THE SOCIAL SCENE
Despite The prevailing cold spell, an attendance of nearly 50 gathered outside Loughton station for the traditional afternoon amble on New Year’s Day, part of the Festival of Winter Walks. However, three outings involving lengthy journeys by car into the countryside were cancelled almost immediately afterwards due to heavy falls of snow. In the middle of the month, 10 hardy souls braved the elements for the first historical ramble of the year round Leyton, walking with extreme care on icy pavements, a route which included passing Leyton Orient Football Club. A fortnight later, the annual outing to Cheshunt and return took place from Waltham Abbey, the landlord of the hostelry driving to the meeting area beforehand to take orders for meals, a custom going back well before the Millennium. It happened to be this veteran leader’s birthday on this occasion with the usual rendering of “H.B.2.U. (Abbrev.!) being sung during the afternoon tea break.
The popular historical Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and the Lea Valley bird-
Parts of three “Ways” were walked during March, the Green London, Harcamlow and Flitch, the second and third necessitating longer county journeys to Newport and Little Dunmow respectively. A new outing featured the Waltham Forest Boundary Walk, a 24 mile circular route from Chingford station via Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Leyton over varied terrain. The walk, in two equal parts, took place on consecutive Saturdays.
Easter occurred in such a way that the programme provided walks on 11 out of the
first 14 days in April. A varied choice offered outings as diverse as the easy first
Tuesday of the month ramble, to a 12 mile Thames walk from Kew to Hampton Court on
Easter Saturday. A small party of eight met on a dull day at Kelvedon Hatch on Good
Friday following old Pilgrims routes. Easter Sunday’s annual Primrose Walk and the
traditional Easter Monday coach ramble to Sussex, on this occasion from Beachy Head
to Wilmington, were well supported. The walk on 14/4 linked London Art Galleries.
Limited to 20 places, it was led by one of the year’s new leaders. An outing from
Mile End station encouraged a large attendance featuring a visit to the recently
opened cafe overlooking the 2012 Olympic Park. The last day of the April programme
became the first of seven mid-
The second Sunday in May provided members with a choice of two outings. The Suffolk
Coast and Heaths Path was the long-
A wet spell of weather in early June restricted numbers to four plus the leader on
the first Tuesday of the month. Unusually, the following Tuesday also featured a
walk, a coach outing to visit Rockingham Castle situated on the border of the counties
of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. A wet morning walk beforehand greeted the
group again. Dry and warmer conditions then prevailed for the rest of the month
which included two of the outings cancelled in January due to the dangerous driving
situation. Two more “Ways”, a long walk from Collier’s Hatch incorporating parts
of the Essex and Three Forests took place. Using these long-
During the first days of July eight group members spent a weekend walking in Sussex,
Just over 30 attended the morning walk before the annual Forest Festival got into
full flow on the first Sunday in September. Business was brisk at the West Essex
Group R.A. stall on Chingford Plain with the Publicity and Recruitment Officers assisted
by other members. A few days later, the ever popular outing from Hadleigh to Leigh
involving the climb to Hadleigh Castle took place with the opportunity to sample
fresh seafood for lunch at Old Leigh before the return journey. This is another
day at the seaside which has appeared annually for many years. The Centenary Walk,
described earlier in the narrative, took place on the third Sunday of the month,
attracting the usual large numbers arriving and departing at different times during
a long day. A week later a “Full House” of ramblers arrived at Sandown, the base
for a five-
Two walks for the West Essex 40th Anniversary commenced the walks programme for the
month of October, Saturday, 2nd. These took place from the Avenue of Trees, Theydon
Bois, a six mile medium paced walk and one of a shorter distance of about four miles,
led by two founder members of the group. Those who attended on an historic occasion
(nearly 60), were almost equally divided between each ramble. Although muddy underfoot,
the weather remained kind for these pre-
The initial outing in the November programme invited members to walk the first stage
of the Chelmsford Centenary Circle with a linear route of about 10 miles from Galleywood
to Broomfield, returning to the start by bus. This was for the benefit of those
who did not wish to traverse the whole circle as half a dozen had earlier in the
year. A circular leg of the Harcamlow Way took place on Thursday 11th November from
Roydon station on an overcast day, during which the small group attending observed
a Two Minutes Silence, remembering lives lost in conflicts throughout the world.
A particular request from a member in 1998 before an all-
21 walks were scheduled to take place during December but heavy falls of snow and freezing temperatures resulted in the first Saturday and following Wednesday outings to be called off. A brief thaw enabled the annual Mulled Wine and Mince Pies walk to take place, albeit in muddy conditions underfoot. Some 60 members gathered for the reception (and welcome log fire) by the leader’s husband and daughter at the latter’s abode once more, most having gathered at Nursery Road Car Park, Loughton for the 10 am start. The pot was filled to overflowing for the benefit of the Woodland Trust after which murky visibility and a persistent drizzle greeted the group for the return to Loughton with the temperature falling rapidly. The joint walk with the Epping Society became a casualty of the second fall of snow. Held on the third Sunday of the month on this occasion, it was unfortunate that this senior and most regular of events of around 35 years should have been cancelled. True to the rule of those in charge, the leader of the day (one of a pool of seven during the other 11 outings of the year), made his way to the meeting place near Epping station, but no one had attempted the journey by the appointed hour. Members had a choice of an outing on every day of the Festival of Winter Walks from 25th December to 3rd January, 2011 with 10 leaders sharing responsibility from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. Although not laying crisp and deep and even, and not falling during the period, remnants of snow continued to cause hazardous conditions with icy patches not always visible. On 25/12, a quartet, including the leaders, met at Abridge, with 11 joining the leader on Boxing Day, a morning outing again from Coopersale. The final three days of the year were well supported with numbers attending in the 20’s. A celebration drink, Bailey’s and sherry, were enjoyed before the commencement of the New Year’s Eve outing at Tawney Common, kindly provided by the joint leaders and much appreciated by the party of 25. A slight accident occurred during the morning, one member failing to negotiate an icy patch, with more damage to wet clothing than physical self. (The author wishes to state that it was not a question of being under the alcofluence of incohol .....!! but took the opportunity of a kind gesture of the loan of a pair of gloves .....) Following the finish of the walk, more than 20 of the group repaired to the “Mole Trap” consuming a variety of food and drink served by friendly and accommodating staff. This social gathering brought to a conclusion the final event of over 230 walks held during the memorable 40th anniversary year of 2010 .....
A deliberate decision not to mention names in respect of leaders of the above cross-
A breakdown of the 61 leaders during the year reveals an interesting spread of longevity, broken down into decades. The four outings led by newcomers to the leaders’ list during 2010 have been mentioned above. Fourteen commenced their year in charge in the 1990’s, one in the 1980’s and one first led in 1978! (No records exist prior to that year but that particular person’s recollection may go back further .....) The balance have commenced their leadership days since the Millennium. All approximately 280 names on the leaders’ list have been located with their initial year. The author is willing to supply information upon request – the meeting place might take a little longer .....
The social scene commenced in mid February with the annual quiz night, questions
being distributed on this occasion by John Francis as M.C. Aided by John and Pat
Juchau, adjudicators/scorers, the usual close contest for prizes ensued. Thanks
were accorded to the above, together with Val Weatherley for pre-
On return to Theydon Bois from the two walks, members who had pre-
Five weeks later, a group of nearly 30 attended the first-
Within a week in mid-
Two days after, a short walk in the forest preceded an attendance of over 50 people to the U.R.C. church, Chingford for carol singing followed by mince pies. Organised by Mike and Joyce Whiteley with John Rippin as accompanist, it was suggested during a short speech of welcome by the Chairman at the Christmas lunch a few days later, that a West Essex choir had added another chapter to its versatility.
The Waltham Forest College welcomed the group for the fifth successive year on the
occasion of the 21st annual Christmas lunch on 16th December. Again the attendance
of around 90 included a senior veterans table, with a cross-
Tricia Moxey of the Essex Wildlife Trust was an interesting guest speaker at the
40th Annual General Meeting at the end of November. The larger than usual attendance
of over 60 perhaps reflected the opportunity to view the photography and archive
material displayed again, adjacent to the venue of the church hall in Chingford.
Changes to the committee involved Peter Cozens replacing Roger Gibbs in the office
of Epping Forest District Footpaths Secretary, effective from 1st July. Roger was
thanked for his significant work and output in dealing with Rights of Way problems
over a period of nearly seven years and agreed to serve as a committee member. Sue
Coulbeck had become a like officer during the year with an immediate brief for part
of the organisation of the 40th anniversary year. Attention was drawn to the financial
situation, with the lower capitation figures for the current approximate number of
880 members as at 30th September, 10. The cost of programme and WEP printing had
risen dramatically during the past three years. As a sign of the availability of
the Internet, a motion was proposed and seconded asking quote:-
A STATISTICAL SURVEY
A lengthy and extensive research using the three notebooks kept by Len Alcott during his tenure as Rambles Secretary (from November 1979 to November 1995), together with every walks programme available from November, 1989 to date, has revealed the extent by which the group’s activity has grown decade by decade since its formation.
YEAR NO. OF WALKING DAYS NO. OF LEADERS
1980 165 40
1990 156 36
2000 203 61
2010 239 61
2009 238 66
2008 246 61
The 1980 and 1990 walking days are consistent with the Saturday and Sunday outings
and alternate weeks of Wednesday and Thursday rambles. Fred was a prominent leader
in 1980 with 45 walks and 10 years later still led on 27 occasions. Members responded
to a request for extra leaders from John Francis during 1999 for the possible addition
of a short mid-
By 2010 the numbers would seem to have peaked in respect of walking days and leaders,
with a comparison of the two previous years listed. Extra days organised during
the Festival of Winter Walks and increase of mid-
A further analysis of leaders, conducted again by reference to the same sources as
above, provides the following:-
1980 to 1995 Just over 160 leaders
1996 to date Nearly 120 new leaders
The first line represents the era of Len Alcott, the second being the result of efforts made by John Francis, Len Duffin and subsequently two Assistant Rambles Secretaries and the short walk organiser. Other members would have led in the 1970’s, e.g. Ken Knowles, but few papers exist for that period.
THE GROUP FOUNDATION
A solid basis of a group surely depends on the substance of a committee and officers,
leaders and members in general. Perhaps an analogy can be drawn with that of a theatre
Elected and appointed throughout the years, the COMMITTEE and OFFICERS are the DIRECTORS taking ultimate responsibility in deciding the many aspects and destinations required. If some of the offices appear glamorous and hit the headlines, others are no less important, each one being essential for the provision of a varied and balanced walks programme.
Opening the envelope three times a year, initial concentration centres on the walks,
the LEADERS representing the MAIN PLAYERS. The versatility of the outings provided
are the result of much time, energy, thought, travel and general dedication behind
the scenes. These can take place up to 8 months before the date itself, much more
when coach rambles, long-
If the narrative has concentrated on the two sections above, the group could not
survive without the remainder of MEMBERS, a huge SUPPORTING CAST. A large proportion
consist of those who, though not active, are sympathetic with the aims and ideals
of the Ramblers’ Association. Many simply attend the social events, assisting before
and during functions and serving on sub-
Challenges to keep a committee busy many years hence will undoubtedly arise. These
were met successfully, for example, during the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001. In
retrospect, the group was fortunate in its geographical location bordering Outer
London and Essex. Rambling was curtailed for a greater length of time in more agricultural
areas. Similarly, the coldest start to a year for a quarter of a century in January,
2010, followed by the heaviest fall of snow in early December 11 months later since
records began, could have interrupted travelling to and from the social activities
prepared for the 40th anniversary. Cancellation of walks were minimal compared with
many areas, even in adjacent counties which were badly inconvenienced. The group
enters its fifth decade in 2011 with the longstanding mix of a long distance footpath
2012 will be viewed with interest as the London Olympic Games take place on the group’s doorstep. An early challenge may subsequently result to ensure paths closed and diverted are restored to their former alignment.
11th Dec – 17th Dec
2010 Walk Programme... Week 50
Meet Fishers Green car park, Stubbins Hall Lane
Lee Valley walk, Hopefully mud free.
Joint walk with Redbridge
Meet at Chingford URC, Buxton Road, E4 A 10 min
TQ 388 946
Walk from Chingford Station
Epping Forest, Carol singing and Mince Pies.
Joyce and Mike
Following a short walk in the forest, we will return to the Church at 4 pm for Christmas carols, accompanied by John Rippin, then we'll finish with mince pies.
Meet Nursery Road car park, Loughton
TQ 417 963
Hazel's "Woodland's Trust" Xmas Walk a circular
Lunch stop. "Owl" PH. More Information in Printed Programme
Meet near gates of Waltham Forest College, Forest
Christmas Lunch Walk around Walthamstow
Historic amble around Walthamstow. You may attend the walk even if not having Christmas Lunch
For Lunch see "Social Events" in index at top of this page.
What lies in store for the years following? How will the shape, design and distribution
of the walks programme change by, say 2020, with the arrival of a Golden anniversary?
With a growing proportion of computer-
The group is 40 years old and in another forty the half-
Whatever problematic situations develop in the years to come, it is surely the sincere wish that, with a strong and resilient committee, backed up by an enthusiastic membership, the West Essex group of the Ramblers’ Association will continue to keep RAMBLING ON AND ON AND ON ..........
A Judgement has been necessary in deciding what items of memorabilia should be included in the narrative with the interest of the group’s history a deciding factor. Additionally, some papers were unsuitable for reproduction. Sincere thanks are hereby recorded to those members who responded to the request for anecdotes, memories and information received by letter, telephone calls, or during conversation on group outings. All have been acknowledged by similar methods. Much has been reproduced as written, some articles have been edited. Using the same principle as that adopted for the description of the walks during 2010, a summary of some items received is deemed more appropriate rather than listing a long column of names without comment. (There will be one exception.)
At the 2008 Christmas lunch, an appeal was put to those attending, via the Chairman,
for the location of the first lunch 18 years previously. During the same evening,
a telephone call received from a senior member gave details taken from that person’s
1990 diary! This information completed the list of venues as related previously.
Another member enclosed a five-
Access to Fred’s hand-
For easy future reference, a Photostat copy has been taken for the archives of the
walks produced by the Secretary and Assistant of the time, which were hastily organised
during the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001. An explanatory letter from the Chairman
has also been copied. Similar copies exist in respect of full-
The leader of the short ramble preceding the 40th Anniversary lunch used part of a route “More Walks with the West Essex”, a second guide written by Fred and published in September, 1973, cost 45p. Some copies were distributed to those attending, one is retained in the archives. An enthusiastic member has forwarded a news sheet for retention (and advisedly to relevant committee officers) entitled “Hands Off Wanstead Flats!” This details plans for the Metropolitan Police to site its Olympic operational centre on Wanstead Flats for about three months in 2012. (A head and shoulders view of the above person was seen by the author, captured on local television at a meeting at Forest Gate in early October, 2010.)
The above is just a description of a cross-
Apologies are offered in advance for any misinterpretation of events, glaring inaccuracies and outstanding omissions. Care, concern, commitment and consideration have been at the forefront in an attempt to chronicle the group’s history, decade by decade.
Many paths have been cleared, renovated, re-
Finally, a lasting personal tribute is reserved for Audrey Carson, interpreting the typing of four instalments on four different machines (Two electric, two portable!), used by the author from September, 2009 onwards. With patience and understanding expressed by both parties, the transfer to a word processor has created a neat result, pleasing to the eye .....
THE HISTORY, LIFE AND TIMES OF
THE WEST ESSEX GROUP OF THE RAMBLERS
RAMBLING ON AND ON AND ON…….
|Grid Ref. & OS Map|
|Etiquette & Rules|
|Family Walk 1|
|Family Walk 2|
|Mile End & Olympics|
|Shakespeare's Way - Leg 1|
|Shakespeare's Way - Leg 2|
|Shakespeare's Way- Leg 3|
|Shakespeare's Way - Leg 4|
|Shakespeare's Way - Leg 5|
|Shakespeare's Way- Leg 6|
|Shakespeare's Way - Leg 7|
|Shakespeare's Way- Leg 8|
|Shakespeare's Way - 10, 11|
|Shakespeare's Way 12,13,14|
|London Loop - Leg 1|
|London Loop - Leg 2|
|London Loop - Leg 3|
|London Loop - Leg 4|
|London Loop -Leg 5|
|London Loop - Leg 6|
|London Loop - Leg 7|
|London Loop - Leg 8|
|London Loop - Leg 9|
|London Loop - Leg 10|
|London Loop - Leg 11|
|London Loop - Leg 12|
|London Loop - Leg 13|
|London Loop - Leg 14|
|London Loop - Leg 15|
|Norfolk Coastal Path|
|Brecon Beacons - Ross's View|
|Isle of Wight - September 2010|
|Weymouth - Ross's View|
|Crete Page 1 of 3 by JJ|
|Crete Page 2 of 3 by JJ|
|Crete Page 3 of 3 by JJ|
|Crete Mosaic Photos|
|Evia - Map|
|Evia - Ferry Trip|
|Evia - Karystos|
|Evia - Day 1|
|Evia - Day 2|
|Evia - Day 3|
|Evia - Day 4|
|Evia - Day 5|
|Evia - Day 6|
|Santo Domingo de Silos|
|History Part 1|
|History Part 2|
|History Part 3|
|History Part 4|