ECR Committee Meeting Minutes 5th May 2020

MINUTES OF ECR ZOOM MEETING TUESDAY 5 MAY 2020

Start time 1.30 pm

ATTENDANCE

Dave Barraclough

Jane Gay

Kathryn Carty

Keith Anderson

Maggie Swindells

  1. APOLOGIES AND ATTENDANCE

The only absent committee member was Colin Finlayson.

  • MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING

The minutes of the last meeting held on February 3rd were approved.

  • MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
  •  Thanks were expressed to Neil Collie for information re the Donkey Bridge at Pott Shrigley.  The work is done and there is an article on the website.
  • Lost Ways – Keith Anderson is interested in doing some work on this and is waiting to hear from Colin Park.
  • The annual General Council, which Jane and Steve Butterfield were due to attend, was cancelled.  No cost was incurred by ECR.
  • WALKING PROGRAMME

Jane has emailed coordinators and suggested that as soon as we receive a recommencement date, they prepare the programme for the first month and then concentrate on the rest of the schedule.

Dave suggested simply bringing forward the unused element of the current programme (Jan to June) and send that out to leaders and simply amend if walk leaders are unable to lead on the revised allocated dates.  This was considered to be a good suggestion which would be put to the all coordinators.  Jane would email them after Sunday.

  • REPORTS FROM OFFICERS
  • CHAIR

Jane met Steve Butterfield re Area chair.  Diane Simcoe (Northern support officer for the Ramblers).  Jane mentioned ASSEMBLE a unified website all officers should be using. She had encountered some difficulties and Dave suggested all committee members try and log on or register and have a look how it works and familiarise themselves with it.  He will similarly ask the footpath committee.  He will forward the email from Wendy Halley.  Any thoughts on Assemble can be emailed to committee members.

  • Jane didn’t intend emailing ECR members about the present situation or restarting the programme until there was advice from Head Office. It was felt that there was clear advice on the Ramblers website.
  • TREASURER

Absent. Nothing to report.

Dave referred to an earlier email re relinquishing part of the budget and suggested in future all committee members be consulted. Jane, however, had been consulted and had agreed the course of action. Dave also wondered whether the treasurer could ask Ramblers if it is was their intention to extend the annual membership period to reflect the period of non-walking.  This was from the viewpoint of encouraging new members and retaining new members as the group was very aware of the competition from other walking groups and ECR membership not being seen as of comparable value for money. Other members of the committee said they were happy to pay the full subscription to support the Ramblers at this difficult time.

  • FOOTPATHS
  • One recent query related to footpaths being illegally closed.
  • The closure problem near Mottram is now resolved.
  • Dave has spoken with Nicola Swinnerton who is the new part-time Rights of Way Officer with Cheshire East.  The post is shared with Evan Pedley who was persuaded to remain in post, now part-time.  Nicola is very enthusiastic.  She has access to the Ramblers footpath database and is initiating actions to rectify things and she would like to be able to write onto the database.  It needs to be clear to the user that any of her entries are hers, and not those of Ramblers.  There needs to be some way to differentiate.  Nicola’s enthusiasm is very welcome but she seems to think that ECR can be allocated lots of maintenance tasks whilst we really should decide what tasks to undertake.
  • The footpath committee meeting has been cancelled though they may have a Zoom meeting at the end of May.
  • Some footpath inspections have continued where paths are near the inspectors’ homes.  Maggie wondered if we could swap areas to coincide with paths close to home.  Whilst a good practical idea, Inspectors like to keep to their same patch and this does provide continuity and they can keep abreast of what needed doing and what has been achieved. 
  • Someone is needed to coordinate the working projects team.  Nick Brierley hasn’t enough time for coordinating teams to work big projects and general maintenance.

A list of jobs can be extracted from a database but it needs prioritising.

  • Nicola Swinnerton is keen to involve ECR in helping with non-statutory footpath maintenance tasks. ECR is happy to be asked for help but we must make her aware that this must join the queue of the existing tasks generated from the ECR footpath inspections. Also, the maintenance capability is currently undergoing a period of transition in its management, so it cannot be an instantly available resource.
  • We need to ask for volunteers. Dave was sure that Brian Richardson had a spreadsheet which included some 15 volunteers.  He will draft an email and send it to Brian to see what he thinks about it.  Chris Munslow will provide a list of maintenance people he worked with.
  • In discussions with Nicola Swinnerton it transpired that Cheshire East Rights of Way has had its budget cut by 20%.  Dave thinks he could lobby the appropriate people in Cheshire East.  He has contacts with Craig Brown, the deputy leader of the Council.  We have been advised to address next year’s budget.  Dave wondered if the Area could get together and send a joint letter.  Dave will put some input into this and liaise with Jane who will get the other Area groups on board.
  • Whilst inspections may not all be done before the AGM, they will have been by the end of the year.
  • SOCIAL AND EVENTS SECRETARY

Virtually everything has been cancelled. 

The Settle coach trip for the 3rd weekend of June is unlikely to go ahead.  Maggie will speak to Ann Thompson, the organiser, after Sunday. 

The Patterdale weekend has not yet been cancelled.  The hotel has been shut during April and May.  If we cancel then we will lose deposits, therefore we are waiting for the hotel to cancel.

The footpath inspectors’ social gathering is postponed until maybe next year.

The long walkers’ weekend in August has not yet been cancelled.  This is the organiser’s decision subject to Head Office guidance.

Maggie will advise the coach company that the September coach trip is likely to be cancelled.

No decision has been made on Andy’s weekend away at the end of September.

Maggie will contact Judith re the Stockport history tour to advise it won’t be going ahead.

  • MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY

There are 546 current members.  Two new members had joined just before lockdown. Some members had joined in January and then cancelled their membership in April but there were no further facts at present.  A few people haven’t renewed their membership.  Dashboard, a Ramblers tool, is available to Sue to obtain membership information.

  • PUBLICITY

Colin Park hasn’t been asked for any updates during the lockdown.

  • AOB
  • Keith had a question about re-routing a path. Apparently you can go on Cheshire East’s interactive maps.  Maggie thinks this brilliant.  She will send the link.  There is a link from our website on the footpath tab.  If you go on the interactive tab you can use the snipping tool and highlight where you want to walk and print off the map.
  • Dave alerted people to information from HO Ramblers on lost ways (called Don’t lose the way).  He urged the committee to look on the Ramblers site and log on to get and sign up for progress updates.
  • Dave said that there was a facility to compare a current OS map with an historic map so that differenced which looked like lost ways could be highlighted.  Once a member had accessed a square and highlighted the differenced no-one else could access the same square which was a flaw in the system.  We wouldn’t want the situation to arise where HO would be pursuing a lost way without consultation with Ramblers group which covers that area.
  • ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN
  • All committee members to familiarise with Head Office’s ‘Don’t Lose the Way’ and sign up for progress updates.
  • Jane will ask Colin Park to contact Keith re Lost Ways.
  • Jane will email walk coordinators after Sunday with proposals re next walk schedule.
  • All committee members to familiarise themselves with ASSEMBLE by logging on and maybe registering.  Convey any thoughts to fellow committee members.
  • Colin to approach HO re possibly extending membership period.
  • Maggie to contact Ann Thompson after Sunday to discuss the feasibility of her coach trip.  Maggie also to advise coach company that September coach trip likely to be cancelled. Maggie to advise Judith that Stockport history tour won’t go ahead.
  • Footpath maintenance coordinator sought. Sue to get Chris’ list of footpath maintenance people.  Draft email to be drawn up by Dave and to be sent to Brian Richardson for his comments.
  • Area letter to be put together by Dave and Jane (Jane to approach other Area groups) to send to Cheshire East re next year’s Rights of Way budget following 20% cut this financial year.
  • Maggie to send link re interactive maps to committee members.
  1.   DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Tuesday 11 August, possibly via Zoom

The meeting closed at approximately 3.30pm

Historic Harrop Brook Footbridge Saved

The Gritstone Trail near Bollington re-opened in February 2020 following an eighteen month closure for repairs to an iconic stone arch footbridge across Harrop Brook.  After severe flooding in 2018, it was judged to be unsafe due to movement of some large stones at its base.  The bridge was probably built in Victorian times, it looks like a pack-horse bridge and is known locally as the ‘Donkey Bridge’. It was saved from collapse thanks, in part, to a donation by East Cheshire Ramblers.   The bridge is located in the Peak District National Park (at grid reference SJ 948785) and on the Gritstone Trail, a popular long distance trail stretching south from Disley through East Cheshire and Staffordshire to Kidsgrove.

Over the years the bridge supports had been eroded by the force of the Harrop Brook and the bridge was in danger of collapse. However, the cost of restoration far exceeded the cost of replacing it with a ‘standard’ timber footbridge.  East Cheshire Ramblers considered that it would be tragic to lose this unique little structure and pledged £500 towards the cost of restoration. Cheshire East Council obtained similar donations from Pott Shrigley and Rainow Parish Councils and also a donation from the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. The repairs took a long time to organise as Harrop Brook is, surprisingly, classified as a ‘Main River’ and the responsibility of the Environment Agency.  However the restoration was completed in early 2020 when stones were replaced in the arch and bags filled with fast-set concrete were carefully placed at the side of the stream to protect the bridge from further damage.  Whilst the repairs looked stark initially, we expect they will mellow over time and blend into the surroundings.

This is an example of the work of the Footpaths Committee of East Cheshire Ramblers whose members regularly liaise with the Public Rights of Way Unit of Cheshire East Council.  The Footpaths Committee monitor all public rights of way in an area of East Cheshire stretching from Disley and Poynton in the north to Wincle in the south.  We hope that the many walkers using the Gritstone Trail will appreciate the retention of this historic bridge.

Neil Collie

The bridge before the repairs

The repairs are to the right of the bridge

Harrop Brook and the Donkey Bridge

ECR Important Update

Hello to you all.

I thought it would be good to update you on the situation as far as ECR is concerned. We are obviously following all the guidelines which have been issued. Almost all of you will have received the email from Ramblers telling you that all walking and social activities are suspended until at least the 31st of May.

As those of you who lead will realise we start planning the next programme  from as early as the middle of April. This obviously is not going to happen. I have emailed all the coordinators and we have agreed that as soon as we are given the go-ahead to start walking again the programme will go out with requests for people to volunteer for the first couple of weeks very quickly. This will then go onto the website as quickly as is possible. Many of us will have walks left over from this programme so hopefully we will be able to get up and running shortly after we are given the go-ahead.

Now for the social programme For clarity I am listing everything that has been amended or changed so that hopefully this will answer everybody’s questions.

20th March the Stockport guided walk was postponed. Thanks to Maggie who had made this decision prior to the information from Ramblers.

23rd March Footpath Committee meeting cancelled but it will be carrying out most of its functions via email

31st  March Cheshire East PROW consultative meeting cancelled.

4/5 April National Conference which I was attending cancelled

12th April start of strollers programme  postponed until further notice

23rd April Indian meal cancelled

4th to 26th of April long walkers weekend. Cancelled

5th May ECR committee meeting cancelled. The committee is staying in contact via email. 

14th May start of evening walks. Postponed until further notice.

19th to 21st of June Patterdale weekend. I have phoned the company and the hotel is shutting for two months. Staff had just heard this and were absolutely devastated. I have decided to leave it until after May 31 to see what advice comes out from Ramblers and also Nationally. 

25th June coach trip. Ann T will make a decision about this in the middle of May

29th June footpath inspectors gathering postponed

2nd July walk leader training Postponed

Advice is changing almost on an hourly basis but at the moment individuals can go on safe walks as long as they keep 2 m between themselves and anybody else. Due to this guidance the  usual information will be sent out shortly to all footpath inspectors as it is felt that footpath inspections can go ahead. In fact it’s a good way of going for a safe walk and feeling useful at the same time.

Bear in mind that we are being asked, at the moment, to avoid popular walking areas.

Most importantly of all stay safe. Jane Gay Chair. 01625-427444 or 07909682098

Group walk 7th March

On Stanage Edge.

By Michael Murphy

With improving weather, nine members of East Cheshire Ramblers ventured a little further afield on a bright March morning, for a 12 mile walk from Heatherdene Car Park, in Derbyshire. The forecast was for sunny intervals with moderate winds.
The route firstly ascended through mossy woodland, up onto Bamford Moor, where the group enjoyed splendid views across Ladybower Reservoir and the snow-specked hills beyond.
Having briefly strayed onto the wrong footpath (the distracted leader engrossed in conversation!) some “off-piste” descending was required to regain the correct route above Jarvis Clough, before stopping for our coffee break.
A long gradual climb followed, to access the rocky gritstone ridge known as Stanage Edge. What had been moderate winds in the valleys were now experienced as much stronger gusts, as the party headed South East along the jagged ridge.
Many walkers were encountered in both directions, taking the opportunity to enjoy the early spring weather, whilst using varying techniques cope with the wind.
Leaving the ridge, the group headed South West to the attractive town of Hathersage. Here they visited the churchyard of St. Michael, the reputed location of the grave of Little John, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men.
The walk then crossed some boggy farmland to arrive at Bamford. The intended route would have used stepping stones at Bamford Mill, over the River Derwent. As these were underwater, it was necessary to extend the route to reach the Thornhill Trail. Now a bridleway, well used by walkers, cycles and horses, it was once the route of a narrow-gauge railway; built to carry materials used in the construction of the dam wall to create the Ladybower Reservoir, opened in 1945.
After walking the two-mile length of the trail, the group crossed the dam to arrive at the car park, before driving to Bamford for refreshments.

A path through the woods.

Ramblers Association COVID-19 UPDATE

Dear Members

You will have seen the announcements made by the Prime Minister yesterday evening (Monday, 16 March) in relation to COVID-19. We have followed Government advice to date, and we continue to do so now. Your health, and the health of our volunteers and staff comes first.

What does this mean for the Ramblers group walks?

We have sadly had to take the decision to cancel all group walks and social activities from tomorrow (18 March 2020) onwards. This follows the government advice to avoid all unnecessary social contact. We have informed all volunteers today by email and will be updating our website shortly.

Does this mean I can’t walk?

Fresh air and gentle exercise can do a world of good for your mental and physical health.  You can continue to access independent walking routes on our member app and on our website as a member of the Ramblers. The advice from the government is that you can continue to walk outside (staying a safe distance from others), unless you are showing symptoms.

What about my Ramblers membership?

Your membership protects our green spaces, our rights as walkers and helps others to discover the powerful benefits of walking.  

At this time, more than ever, as a wonderful community of members I know you will reach out to support each other in new ways, as we all begin to feel the impact of this unprecedented challenge.

We hope you’ll continue to stand with us as an active member of the Ramblers.

You’ll continue to receive Walk magazineaccess back-copies of Walk magazinereceive discounts on walking gear and have access to independent walks to explore. In the upcoming weeks we’ll provide advice on staying active if you are having to self-isolate, as well as more tips and support on independent walking – which you’ll find on our Facebook page as well as in our regular member emails.

What happens next?

We will keep you updated as we move forwards, so do keep an eye out on our website and in your emails.

The Ramblers has been around for a long time, through the tough days and the bright days. We will continue to fight for the rights of walkers, for the protection of our important green spaces and for the joys of walking.

Together we’re stronger. Thank you for standing with us at this difficult time.

With best wishes,

Sarah Marfleet
Director of membership and fundraising


P.S. I understand some of you will have more questions.  We are working hard to put things in place for all our staff, volunteers and members so please bear with us.  If you do have questions please email coronavirus@ramblers.zendesk.com
 

Group walk report 5th March

By Maggie Swindells

Ascending the staircase to Mow Cop Folly

After days of incessant rain fifteen East Cheshire Ramblers met on a rare sunny morning for the start of an eight and half mile walk from Congleton to Mow Cop and back. We set off along the Macclesfield Canal, one of the last narrow canals to be built; indeed, it was very nearly built as a railway! The mud along the tow path tested our stamina and skill in parts before leaving the canal at Ackers Crossing and taking a moderate, steady climb through fields and woodland to the summit of Mow Cop.
We reached Mow Cop, the southernmost outcrop in Cheshire of hard sandstone grit, which rises 335metres above sea level. We passed the ‘Old Man of Mow’, a gritstone pillar over 20 metres high, which was left after the quarry was last used. The Old Man used to be a rock climber’s paradise, but now is deemed too unsafe to climb. From there it was a short walk to Mow Cop ‘Castle’; a mock tower that was built as a summer house in 1754 by Randle Wilbraham, the Squire of Rode Hall. The tower, now owned by the National Trust, is visible for miles around and is a major landmark visited throughout the year. Mow Cop was also the first meeting place for John Wesley, who took the first Primitive Methodist service there in 1807. We were able to take a well-earned lunch break at the top of the ‘Castle’, sitting in the winter sunshine! This allowed us time to take in splendid 360 degree views across the Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside.
After leaving Mow Cop we walked along Congleton Edge, the final section of the Gritstone Trail; formed as a result of earth movements along the Red Rock Fault. Here the much older, often harder rocks of the Peak District and Pennines dip beneath the young sandstones and mudstones of the Cheshire plain. The ridge follows the Gritstone Trail to Nick i’th Hill, a pronounced dip in the ridge, believed to have been caused by a melt water drainage channel in the last ice age. From there we negotiated our way slowly down, through extremely muddy fields and water logged stiles, back to the beginning of our walk.

ECR Social Event Indian Meal ‘Bombay To Mumbai’

Bombay To Mumbai
10 Fir Road, Bramhall
Bramhall, SK7 2NP

THURSDAY 23rd April 2020 7.30pm

SET MENU (Including Service)

£25.25 for 3 courses

£21.95 for 2 courses

Last date for booking 16th April 2020 Contact Andy Davies

STARTERS
Ragda Patties (V) Potato patties topped with yellow chickpeas, sweet , spicy and tangy chutneys  
Samosa Chaat (V) Pastry stuffed with potatoes & peas, topped with yogurt, chutneys, salad  
Chicken Lollypop Spices chicken wings shaped as lollypop  
Sheekh Kebab or Chilli Kebab Spicy skewered minced lamb kebab tossed with onion pepper and Indo-Chinese sauces  
Chicken Chilly Fingers of Chicken breast tossed in garlic, onion, peppers & Indo-chinese sauces    
MAIN COURSE
Chana Masala (V) Spicy chickpeas curry prepared with dark brown cooked onions  
Saibhaji(V) Healthy combination of lentil and spinach  
Butter Chicken Mumbai version of Butter chicken.  
Lamb Bhuna Lamb curry slow cooked in Mumbai spices  
Mumbai to Goa Fish Curry Spicy fish curry cooked in fresh homemade paste of coconut and dry red chilli.  
Choose plain rice or pulav rice or plain Naan or plain rice or Garlic naan    
DESSERT   Gulab Jamun or Gajar Halwa or Sticky Toffee Pudding

11-03-20 EAST CHESHIRE RAMBLERS SOCIAL CALENDAR 2020

Thank you to all those involved in organising these events, any suggestions or ideas about an event would be warmly welcomed. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on:

Maggie Swindells maggieswindells@gmail.com  07729327940 /01625 829671

DATE EVENT
Friday 20th March 1.30 pm Stockport Guided Walk with Judith Wilshaw organised by Maggie Swindells
 4th and 5th April   National Conference  Bristol
Friday 12Th April  Start of fortnightly Strollers’ walking programme
Thursday 23rd April ‘Bombay To Mumbai’ Indian Meal – organised by Andy Davies
Friday 24th April to Sunday 26th April Long Walkers Weekend – Aberystwyth to be organised by Colin Park
Thursday 14th May Provisional start of evening walks organised by Steve Hull
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st June Weekend Away  Patterdale organised by Jane Gay
Thursday 25th June Coach Trip Settle organised by Anne Thompson
Monday 29th June ‘Footpath Inspectors Gathering’  3.30 pm Macclesfield Tennis Club organised by the Footpath Committee
Thursday 2nd July ECR Walk Leader Training Macclesfield Tennis Club (more details to follow)
Saturday 4th July Walk with a Ranger organised by Jane Gay
Friday 7th August to Sunday 9th August Long Walkers Weekend – Anglesey (exact location to be decided) to be organised by Steve Hull
Thursday 20th August Meal following final evening walk provisional booking at Farm Made, Rainow organised by Nick Wild
Saturday September 5th Coach Trip to Church Stretton organised by Gina Thompson and Maggie Swindells
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th Sep Ambleside Weekend away – Andy Davies
Saturday 12th September (date change) Walk with a Ranger organised by Jane Gay
Saturday 31st October Ceilidh and Supper at the Victory Hall Mobberley  organised by Tony Battilana
Saturday 14th November 2020 ECR AGM Macclesfield Tennis Club
30th November 2020 Ramblers Association Area AGM
Saturday 5th December Christmas Carol short walk – Jenny Bordoli
Saturday 12th December Week End Christmas Lunch at The Windmill organised by Teresa Marshall preceded by a walk organised by Jane and Frank Gay.

Coronavirus – advice for members and volunteers

Walking is a great way to bring groups of people together, to enjoy the outdoors on foot.  Over 50,000 group walks (and other activities) take place every year, and we take the welfare of our volunteers and members very seriously.

With the spread of coronavirus posing a risk to public health, we’re following government updates and latest NHS advice closely. 

For now, most people can carry on as normal.  Remember you can help to minimise the spread of the virus by:

  • catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, and throwing them away immediately.
  • washing your hands with soap & water regularly (or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser if not available).
  • avoiding close contact with people who are unwell.

If you think you might have coronavirus, recently returned from a high-risk area, or have been in close contact with someone who is unwell – you should contact the NHS coronavirus service online, or call 111.  There’s a chance that you might be asked to self-isolate, which means staying at home and avoiding public places (including Ramblers group activities).

We’ll continue to monitor the situation, and will update groups and areas via the website and volunteer newsletter.  If any further action is needed (such as the cancellation of walks), we will contact area & group chairs and secretaries directly. 

If you have any questions, please get in touch with the supporter care team on 020 3961 3232 / membership@ramblers.zendesk.com

For more information click Coronavirus