As many of you will have seen from the latest edition of Walk magazine, Ramblers can now pre-register their intention to take part in the Big Pathwatch project, and I urge you all to do so as soon as possible.
I'm sure you will all be aware by now that the Big Pathwatch is an important initiative by Rambers Central Office (RCO) to establish the condition, both good and bad, of all Rights of Way in the country by getting Ramblers, and as many other walkers and walking groups as possible, to each survey at least one Ordnance Survey grid square in their local area. This will provide them with a complete overview of the entire footpath network in order to put more pressure on Government and Local Authorities to increase, maintain and protect the places in which we love to walk.
RCO is well aware of the enormity of this project and appreciate that it is extremely unlikely that every Right of Way in the country will be surveyed, so they are going to come up with 200 survey squares for each Highway Authority in the country which must be walked. This, for our Area, will include both Wiltshire and Swindon Highway Authorities. The exact location of these specific squares is expected to be made known to us within the next few weeks.
A dedicated website is being set up to enable us all to choose a grid square, walk all the Rights of Way within it, and report the results to Ramblers Central Office using an app, which can be downloaded from the website if you have an iPhone or Android phone, tablet or laptop, or by printing out the grid square and reporting the results via the website on your return home. The website should be up and running later this month, and the project will officially begin on 13th July. We, as Ramblers, will be able to sign on and choose squares from the beginning of July, however we feel that it would be appropriate to allow members of the public to choose their own, most popular squares first, leaving the Ramblers to cover the remaining less popular ones. Tim Lewis, our Area Footpath Secretary will be discussing which squares we should be concentrating on with the Group Footpath Secretaries as soon as he receives the list of the 200 "must do" grid squares.
I appreciate that programmes of led walks for the current year have already been decided and communicated to members, but it would make sense to try to amend or extend these wherever possible to accommodate the requirements of the Big Pathwatch. However, given the intention of covering as wide an area as possible, it is more likely that this will be achieved by individuals or small groups organising their own walks. Your assistance in achieving this cannot be overstated and we shall be arranging meetings of Group Officers in the next few weeks to determine how we, as an Area, can maximise our resources and play a significant part in this important initiative.
To pre- register just enter your details at the Big Pathwatch website on www.ramblers.org.uk/bigpathwatch as soon as possible.
Your assistance in this initiative is most appreciated.