Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers

Footpath Reports

Work Party Report June 2016

During our recce for the February work party (near Springbok Farm around Dunsfold), we came across a footpath (FP411) which was being seriously restricted by vegetation from a household hedge and a barbed wire fence which had been installed inside the field fence. We decided to challenge the location of this barbed wire fence and Alan (our Surrey County Council rep) went off to find out about the landowner and make contact about the fence. Success—it turned out that the land owner was Surrey County Council who had just purchased the property for it to be made into a respite care home.

So in February we installed another kissing gate, removed an old stile, placed the revetment in front of two kissing gates, installed an extra sleeper, repaired the planking on a footbridge and removed the barbed wire fence and gave the hedge a serious cut-back. A good day’s work.

March was all change again. Alan Brown had moved on and Nicky Scott was back from her travels to act as our SCC rep. This time we were just north of Ewhurst at Isemongers Farm, installing two kissing gates, one of which appeared to span the line of an underground high voltage cable. So we eventually got everyone assembled at the farm and set off for the gates, plus some veg clearance and checking of way marks, then the heavens opened and it poured down (which it did almost all day, with occasional interludes of sleet). It turned out the choice was either deep sticky mud or careful digging looking out for high voltage cables, whilst soaking wet using metal tools. It’s a tribute either to the amount of hard work everyone was doing or what a hardy bunch these ramblers are, that no one suffered from exposure that day.

April must mean that the weather is improving and things are looking up—well, yes and no. The weather was certainly better and we trooped off to Holmbury St Mary to erect a new set of steps, finger posts and waymarks and to clear a blocked section of path on the Greensand Way.

Unfortunately we also learned that Nicky Scott and James Browne, our two key contacts with Surrey County Council, had both resigned, together with another member of the Rights of Way team. Nicky has been our contact and support for work parties for a number of years now and has always shown an unstinting enthusiasm and energy to get the most out of our work parties. This would include her getting up really early to load up vans with materials and tools so she could be at worksites before we arrived, providing doughnuts to keep us all going when we were flagging and dealing with the muddy mess of tools we had thrown in the back of the van at the end of the job. Overall, these resignations mean the loss of vast amounts of local detailed knowledge about our footpaths, including the history with various landowners. We sadly said farewell to Nicky at the April work party and are now facing a period of uncertainty whilst we wait to see if SCC can recruit replacements and train them to act as liaison/support for the volunteer teams.

The May work party was cancelled and it looks like all work parties are now on hold until we get some progress from SCC.

Work Party Report February 2016

October found us milling about at Fisher Lane and Tugley Wood in the deep southeast from Chiddingfold. We had waymarks, a fingerpost, a new footboard on a stile and some veg cutting to do on about three different footpaths. The hardest part was finding out where everything was supposed to go. We had instructions to fit a waymark post where a forest path left the main path to make sure people didn’t stray. We must have walked up and down the main path three or four times and could not find any sign of a second footpath, much less temptation to stray. In the end we decided the forest elves had reclaimed it and made it invisible to humans (strange things happen in the deep woods).

We liked Fisher Lane so much we returned in November, this time with four separate worksites a couple of miles apart. After much shuffling of people, cars and tools, three separate teams replaced steps on three stiles, installed a sleeper bridge, cleared vegetation and had our sarnies in the damp and muddy fields. Meanwhile, a ‘select’ team installed a new field gate at the bottom of the lawn in the garden of a large cottage and were served coffee, tea and biscuits by the owner (honestly, some people are just born lucky). However, it must be said that the whole work party got through so much work that month because we had a record turnout of 16 people—hurrah!

December found us at Gostrode Farm (across the road from the Rams Nest) where we installed two new stiles and repaired a third, whilst also installing a new fingerpost. Then we retired to the pub for our well-earned Christmas lunch.

January is our one month off but we will be back in February, raring to go.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017