Who are the Ramblers? What do they do? Are there groups for people in their 20s? How can I join? Can I volunteer?
The Ramblers are one of the biggest walking clubs in UK. Originally from Sheffield, Chris Greig joined the Dearne Valley Ramblers (DVR) in January 2012 after deciding that he needed to lose weight. He was struggling to find walking-for-health schemes that suited him as he had a full time job, so he searched online for walks in his area and joined DVR on a Sunday walk. He was so impressed with how well the group was run and how welcoming the members were that he joined the Ramblers that same night. Now, Chris is the Social Media Officer of his local group, handles some of the group publicity and leads a few walks.
We recently caught up with Chris and asked him a few questions about the Ramblers.
Q: Who are the Ramblers and how are they organised?
A: We’re an association of people and groups who come together to both enjoy walking and other outdoor pursuits and also to ensure that we protect and expand the access to places where people go walking.
Our roots are in groups of walkers who wanted access for the public to the countryside. To this day most of our work is done by members who volunteer their time.
There are over 500 groups in around 50 areas, all run by volunteers plus additional affiliated bodies. We have an elected general council and volunteer committees at area and group levels. The Ramblers also have a board of trustees who are also volunteers. There are a few members of paid staff at higher levels.
Q: What is the Rambler’s mission?
A: We aim to represent the interests of walkers across Great Britain. We aim to promote walking, safeguard paths, increase access to walkers, protect the countryside and educate the public.
Q: How can I join walks and is there a membership fee?
A: Just turn up… In some cases it’s advisable to inform the walk leader that you wish to join them. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know the location of the walk’s starting point well beforehand as the leader may not be able to answer questions and give directions on the day due to poor mobile signals etc.
In regard of membership fee: There is a fee to join up which is £34 a year for a non-concession adult. This entitles you to walk with all the Ramblers groups thoughout Britain on all of the walks all year long. Being a member also grants you discounts at some retailers… However you will NOT be expected to join up straight away. Ramblers groups will allow you to walk with them as a non member for a while so you can get a feel of a group and see if it suits you… this is usually a month or 3-4 walks.
Q: How can I choose a walk or group?
A: You can see the walks being led in your area using the Ramblers website walk finder, its simple to use and will display all walks and their respective groups. Some groups will request that you inform them that you intend to join the walk, others have a more relaxed way of doing things…either way you will be welcome to join them.
Most groups have a website, social media stream or both which will help you to decide which group in your area will suit you….the best way to find out however is to try out a few walks. They may even host social events where you can meet the members and have a chat first.
Q: I’m in my 20’s and want to meet like-minded people my age. Is there a group for young people?
A: Absolutely… Most areas will have groups that are geared towards younger members: 20-30s or 30-40s, for example. I’d like to think that all groups would welcome a new face no matter their age etc.. Walking is a past time that can be enjoyed by all together so try out the groups in your area till you find one that suits you… You may find that an “older” group actually suits you better!
Q: I’ve got a dog. Can I bring him to the walks?
A: Dog walkers will be welcome on all walks where practical. However, it is always advisable to check with the walk leader first. Dogs should be kept under close supervision at all times and owners must have their dogs on leads when told to do so by the walk leader. At certain times of year dogs aren’t allowed into areas where there’s likely to be ground nesting birds.
Q: How can I volunteer and what work would I do?
A: Groups and areas always welcome new volunteers… All groups and areas will host an annual general meeting where roles can be taken on… If you wish to volunteer to lead a walk some groups may have an annual or biannual walk programme. So it’s best to speak to the group’s walk co-coordinator and see if you can help out.
Typical roles on offer could be chairperson, group’s secretary, walks’ co-coordinator, walk leader, publicity, maintenance etc.. All roles have role descriptions which can be found on the Ramblers’ website.
Some groups also have a vibrant social calendar, so there’s plenty of opportunity to help with those ones, too.
For more information about the Ramblers check out their website: Ramblers Website