24th October 2015
16 km – with Surrey Young Walkers.
Unfortunately, hiking seems like sport for the middle-aged ones. Why is that? I don’t know, because I’m in my 20’s and I love hiking.
After my interview with Chris about the Ramblers I checked out the Surrey Young Walkers, a local Ramblers group. Walking with the Ramblers was on my to-do list for a long, long time. So I searched for a walk on Saturday on the Ramblers walk finder website and found the ‘Ranmore Ramble’ around Dorking organised by the Surrey Young Walkers (formerly Surrey under 40’s Ramblers Group).
I contacted the walk organiser if it was ok to join them on that day and got an email back that there was no need to book or reserve a place, I just had to turn up at the start location and introduce myself. Cool!
When I arrived at the Dorking train station the group of 15-20 people was already waiting. A friendly ‘hello’, a first chat with the other newbies and we set off for the walk. Throughout the day I could chat with the one or other member and learned more about the group. The youngest is 20, half of the group is around 30, and the other half on the upper end of 30. They organise hikes almost every week, led by one of their members, usually in and around Surrey. Some hikes start at a train station, some in the middle of nowhere near a car park. If you’ve got a car you definitely have an advantage. If not, just pick the hikes that start at a train station. Apart from day hikes they also organise weekends away and social events.
Many members are in the group for several years, but new ones are constantly joining and more than welcome. I had the feeling that unlike in a commercial meetup group like Outdoorholics or AAA London Group (both organise trips around/outside London), these people are a group, an entity. They all know each other, they know each others names, they come on a regular basis, they are more than an interest group. They are sort of friends. (Obviously, I didn’t have a deep insight into the group, but that was my impression.) Oh dear, I sound like a spy. But I swear I have the best intentions.
Becoming a member
Everyone can join any Ramblers group on a walk 3 times. Then you’re expected to become member. It costs £34 per year for an individual membership and £45 per year for joint membership. There is also currently a monthly membership option of £3 per month single or £4 per month joint. Which I find a fair price. It’s not that they want to make money with you. Your membership fee is used to maintain the group but also the footpath network and to expand it.
This walk started at Dorking train station, through Denbies Wine Estate (the largest in Britain) on the North Downs Way. We had fantastic views over Box Hill and the vineyard as we walked to Ranmore Common.
Walking though the woodland and the parkland we passed Polesden Lacey where we stopped for lunch. Unlucky with the weather we had to abandon our benches in the rain and hide under the roof of the café until the rain was over.
Through the woodland of Norbury Park we returned to Box Hill & Westhumble for a social in a near-by pub.
I’m not really a fan of autumn. It’s cold, grey, mostly rainy, but this year I’m inclined to change my mind. The autumn colours we saw around Surrey were amazing.
I finally, finally found a hiking group with young members. Not that I mind the more mature generation but I do appreciate people with the same interests in my age. All were very welcoming and happy for anyone joining. I have the best intentions to join them again for another walk.