Benedict Southworth: A message from the Ramblers
This time of year is when many of us will be returning to our working routine after summer breaks. Despite the rain, it will have been a chance to enjoy the freedom of the countryside on foot. If, like me, you were lucky enough to get further afield, you’ll have returned to this island with the memories of other places and perhaps a greater appreciation of what we have to offer.
I managed to spend some time with my family in the Apennines, north of Lucca, in Tuscany. As we struggled down overgrown mule tracks, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the problems being faced by walkers in Norfolk, where the rainy summer and cutbacks by the county council mean that paths are becoming increasingly impassable. This autumn, the Ramblers’ chairman, Jonathan Kipling, and I will be holding meetings around Britain to talk to members about such local issues, and the future of the Ramblers. I look forward to meeting you at one of these events.
As a tourist I was also reminded that, when faced with choices, we tend to be drawn to the known or the iconic. My American in-laws love to come to the UK to go walking, and they invariably choose a National Trail. They’re the crown jewels of all our long-distance paths, and as big a draw for walkers internationally as Big Ben or Loch Ness are for tourists in general.
In the Autumn 2012 edition of walk you’ll see a lot about National Trails. We are dedicated to allowing all walkers to enjoy the freedom that access to the outdoors on foot can bring, and the kind of world-class quality footpaths that National Trails provide are a key part of that freedom. So, of course, the Government’s recent proposals to change how the English trails are managed are of great concern to us all. We cannot let the standards of National Trails fall or lose a strong national champion for them, and the Ramblers is doing all it can to raise these concerns and work with the Government on the best-possible outcome for everyone. Enjoy your walking this autumn!