Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers

Footpath Reports

Work Party Report June 2017

February saw your enthusiastic team shake off the sloth of winter and start hacking through the vegetation, replacing several steps and refurbishing a bridge near Sydenhurst Farm at Chiddingfold. As part of the bridge task we spent a fair amount of time on our hands and knees brushing and scrubbing all the bridge planks to remove accumulated moss and debris and at the end it looked sparklingly clean. However on behalf of the team I must say that this should not be taken as us revealing a skill for scrubbing floors—this was an entirely different skill.

March saw us back in Chiddingfold revisiting two stiles and some steps we had installed in 2008 and replacing them with kissing gates and new steps. Hopefully the new kissing gates will last longer than the old stiles otherwise we are going to just keep going round our last nine years of work replacing stuff yet again as the wood rots out.

A change of scene then saw us in Alfold clearing vegetation and fitting two kissing gates and finger posts. Part of the vegetation clearing was alongside a path which we had cleared in February 2016 where we had removed a barbed wire fence (with Surrey’s permission because they had just bought the adjoining field for development of a care centre). So what do I find when I go to check the sterling work done by our veg cutters? Surrey CC (probably through their contractors) had removed the original fence and re-instated a barbed wire fence even closer to the hedge causing a real hazard for walkers. Cue an irate letter to the countryside team saying how come they can’t control their own work, let alone landowners. I am assured they are looking into the problem.

May found us tackling yet more step repairs, this time at Grayswood, on a path where, after a couple of years waiting, they have finally tackled the drainage problems. Fortunately, the weather had been very dry and the drainage works had settled down, so we missed out on another mud experience—hurrah!

Don’t forget that, with the continuing slashing of the Surrey Countryside budget, there is plenty of work to go round, so why not come and try out a new exercise regime with the Work Party Step aerobics class or the vegetation swing, snip and move formation team?

Work Party Report February 2017

November saw work parties resume after the appointment of John Baker as a new rights of way assistant. For this task we went back to Goose Green to re-open a heavily overgrown footpath, erect some way marks and cut a new entry through a hedge.

Having proved that at least some muscles had not atrophied over the long break, we decided to take on a challenge for December. Well, that’s not strictly true, as it was me who decided we should tackle some challenging jobs and the others just walked into the trap. So the tasks went like this: Team 1, our gallant veg. cutters, were told there was some general clearance to do, and oh, by the way, there is a small tree across the path, we haven’t got any chain saws, but you should be able to cut it into small pieces using your bow saws. Well, I thought it would be quite a challenge, but was sure they could do it. However, it turned out it was an oak, only a small oak, but nevertheless a slightly-enhanced sawing challenge.

Team 2’s task was to replace a couple of sleepers on a sleeper bridge over a small stream. Fairly straightforward; well, it should have been, but it turned out that the sleeper bridge was, in fact, carefully supported/ balanced over a large concrete duct which the stream flowed through. So there was a lot more thought and work needed on how to pin the sleepers so they did not move.

Meanwhile Team 3’s job was to replace all the planking on top of the steel girders on a proper bridge over a stream. Of course, when we got down to it we also found that the bearer strips, which sit directly on top of the girders for the planks to screw onto, were also rotten and had to be replaced. However, as everyone knows, when facing a large difficult task motivation is the key, and in this case it was the fact that we had booked a table for our Christmas Lunch at the Crown in Chiddingfold. So, amazingly, we got all the work done and still managed to get to the Crown for a late lunch. Well done all.

Finally, in January a small team went to Elstead and erected the oak field gate that we bought as a memorial to Denis Holmes. The gate, or, more accurately, the supports, are truly monumental and should easily be there for the next 100 years, so a fitting memorial for one of our longest serving members.

Saturday, December 15, 2018