Annual Report 2013

by

President’s Preamble

One of the highlights of the past year was surely the 30th birthday celebration of the Leicestershire Round on the 3rd September.  This was proposed and instigated and arranged by Andrew P, Rights of Way Officer at County Hall, and welcomed as an idea by our committee.  The Tuesday walkers were able to arrange their walk to coincide with speeches and a Birthday cake at the Bradgate Park Ruins.  A separate walk was arranged from the Ruins based on the first walk in the short walks book on the Leicestershire Round.  A total of over seventy walkers taking part in those two walks.

I worked hard in the background, looking up the facts for the speeches.  Out of the blue I was asked for the exact date of the publication of volume 3 of the first edition of the Round, as it was not printed on the cover!  Now this is not a date I carry around in my head so I was obliged to read through my old diaries for 1982 and 83 and then to visit the Record Office in Wigston to search through our committee minutes for those years.  A fascinating experience and a walk down Memory Lane for me and a resulting set of facts for Chris, who agreed to make the speech.

The organisation was impeccable, the doors to the park were opened in time for us to arrange our display and for Judy S to deliver our cake, ready for cutting and serving, the speakers and supporters all came in time to be welcomed, the Tuesday walkers arrived en-masse part way through their programmed walk to hear speeches and taste the cake.  The LCC Chairman thanked LFA for our efforts in creating the Round and our Chairman thanked LCC for their enthusiasm in promoting and caring for it.  And passing pedestrians joined us. And we sold some of our books.  And the weather was perfect and the setting beautiful.

We have had many other happy meetings.  Like the opening ceremony for JIM’S SEAT, which he has bought and erected at the foot of the Punch Bowl, near Little Dalby on the Leicestershire Round.  He and Ken B worked very hard in choosing the seat and the site for it and obtaining the landowner’s permission to erect it and making the foundations for it.  The ‘launch’ was a very happy occasion, with golden ribbons to be cut and picnics to be eaten and ‘bubbly’ to be opened with a bang and consumed with amusement, while photos were taken (and shown on our website!)   It was an occasion for impromptu speeches showing love and gratitude to Jim for all his work as rambles secretary and for being our ‘Round man’ over so many years.  Thank you, Jim.  We hope that many future Round walkers will take advantage of your gift.

We have had less happy occasions for gathering, too, of course.  One of these was the funeral of Syd Marsden at Keyham Natural Burial Ground, a very moving occasion when we remembered his many services to LFA

We are blessed to have so many dedicated members in our association and our thanks go to all of them.  You will see from the following reports what a lot of work goes on behind the scenes.  And you will know from your experience of walking in our many groups how hard our walk leaders and group leaders work.  Thank you, everyone.

It is time for Chris M to step down as Chairman and I would like to offer special thanks to her for her excellent chairmanship over the last three years.  Her knowledge of footpaths and of work being done in other related areas has been of great value to our association.  We are pleased that she is willing to serve on the committee.

I have spent many happy hours this year, reading old newspaper cuttings about the beginnings of the footpath association movement in Leicester.  These date back to 1840 and were sent to us by Steve H, who has been studying John Flower, the Leicester artist who was for a while Chairman of an earlier LFA.  I have been invited by the committee to talk about these findings at our AGM so I hope that everyone attending will find it as interesting as I have done to discover what efforts were made to start an association for the preservation of footpath rights nearly two hundred years ago.

So it is thanks to all members, past and present, who do such good work in walking and clearing paths to make our county so pleasant to walk in.

Heather MacD

Chairman’s Remarks

So this is the last of my comments as Chair of LFA.  The last three years have passed very quickly – time really does seem to go faster as you get older.  It has been an interesting time and the role of Chair is not much more onerous than being a general member of the committee.  Perhaps serving on the committee is something you might consider yourself in the future.  You can see elsewhere reports of some of the committee’s work over the last year.  Although we do mention specific walks from time to time, committee meetings are largely spent looking at proposed diversions or closures and the impact that they might have

on the enjoyment of our own walks and on that of the public at large.  The Association remains grateful for the considerable work Brian J does in liaising with County Hall and others.  A lot of the proposed changes are minor and non-contentious; at the other extreme, in some cases communications can drag on for years and it needs Brian’s tenacity and thoroughness to ensure that an issue is not forgotten.

As well as a new Chair, this next year will see a new Obstructions Secretary.  Clive F has had this role for twelve years and feels that now is the time to step down.  We thank him for all that he has done.  When you find problems with stiles or other matters on a pre-walk, don’t just grumble – pass them on to the new Obstructions Secretary.  Even if there is insufficient time for the Rights of Way team to correct them before your real walk, you will be helping LFA to fulfil its aim of maintaining the county’s network of paths.

It was good last September to be able to pay a more public tribute to the Rights of Way team when we marked the 30th anniversary of the Leicestershire Round by the gathering in Bradgate Park.  In preparing for that, I learned something of the work that went into planning and creating the Round.  I had not realised that this coincided with a time when County Hall was making an effort to provide signage for its footpath network.  Indeed the work LFA did may well have had an influence in making that signage the exemplary model that we enjoy today.

The LFA is fortunate in having an active membership and it relies on that membership to remain the thriving organisation that it is.  Apart from the committee, to all of whom I offer my personal thanks, I would like to thank all of you who help in any way; walks organisers, social events organisers, Round wardens, and the many members who lead walks.  Without you, we could not enjoy this wonderful county in quite the same way.  If you want to know more about what other members are doing, can I reinforce Ken B’s suggestion that you ‘follow’ LFA?  All you need to do is go to the website and click on ‘follow’ at the bottom right of the screen.  Any new material added will then be sent direct to your email.

Have a good 2014, walking and otherwise.

Chris M

Secretary’s Report

Your committee has met on seven occasions during the year and discussed a wide variety of issues affecting rights of way within our County.  The Leicestershire Round walk was high on our agenda at more than one meeting for the following reasons:-

Shackerstone Railway Station

The now lengthy closure of the footbridge over the railway track at Shackerstone Station is a cause for concern.  The Saturday walkers on the 25th May visited the station and observed the closure was still in effect.  There were no notices explaining the diversionary route to be taken.  Correspondence with the County Council advised a structural engineer’s report has been commissioned to ascertain the best way of making the bridge safe.  In June the County Council advised the bridge could not be repaired and had to be taken down and replaced.  Due to the high cost of a replacement bridge, the County Council legal team are looking at a diversion of the footpath at the station.

Thorpe Satchville Church Yard

To our surprise it was learned there is no definitive right of way through the church yard. In the event of the church becoming redundant or the church sold for conversion into a dwelling, access could be obstructed.  Not waiting for either of the above to occur it was decided the Association should make application for a definitive map modification order, securing the way through the church yard.  Such application was sent to the County Council on the 25th July, 2013.  It seems there is now a possibility of a footpath dedication order by agreement with the Diocese of Leicester.

30th year of the celebration of publication of the Leicestershire Round walk.

In September, 1983 the Leicestershire Libraries finished the last one of three publications in book form of the Leicestershire Round walk.  It was therefore considered appropriate to mark this occasion by a walk and short ceremony at Lady Jane Grey’s house in Bradgate Park.  On Tuesday 3rd September, Ted and Betty S led a large number of members and friends from Cropston into Bradgate Park. I led a short circular walk based on the first short walk of walks based on the Leicestershire Round with over thirty people in attendance.

Wardens on the Leicestershire Round

David W’s request for wardens resulted in sufficient people agreeing to walk and monitor the surface conditions on the Leicestershire Round. An introductory letter was sent from the committee to all volunteer wardens thanking them for their endeavours in ensuring any difficulties were quickly reported.  David’s report can be read further on.

Fund Raising on the Leicestershire Round

Members will be aware the route of the Leicestershire Round is a tool in many charities fund raising ideas.  Sponsored walks and runs take place from time to time and reported in local newspapers.  One headline ‘Netwalking with Rupert’ caught Roger C’s attention.  Rupert invited sponsors to walk with him for a mile or more in return for a free consultation or just a chance to talk.  Monies raised went to MacMillan Cancer Support.

At the end of June, Richard P from Leesthorpe ran the Leicestershire Round in just over 33 hours.  Richard’s charity is Air Ambulance.

LOST WAYS PATHFINDER PROJECT

Members may be aware the Government introduced a “cut off” date in January, 2026 for claims in respect of possible rights of way not yet recorded on the definitive map for our County.  Provided applications are made by the “cut off” date then the route claimed will be protected until such time as the merits of the case can be determined.  It is therefore important if you know a route you walk is not on the definitive map to report this position to either myself or a committee member so this can be investigated.

The Leicestershire Local Access Forum have been asked to form a sub group to act as an applicant panel as the County Council are precluded from requesting such LOST WAYS for inclusion on the definitive map.

Our Association have two such applications in the queue as it were.

1) Addition of a restricted By-Way from Kirby Bellars to Sysonby and

2) Addition of public paths from Leicester Lane, Swithland and Bradgate Rd, Cropston.

Ken B has submitted independently of our organisation, a claim for a footpath from Langar Lane, Harby to Stathern Lodge Canal bridge.

Rights of way and draft deregulation bill 2013

On the 1st July, 2013 the above bill was published affecting the recording and modification of public rights of way.  This will result in certain powers being devolved to Local Authorities and would save the Government a considerable amount of money.  The main thrust of the bill is to speed up decisions being made on amendments to the definitive map.  This will result in consent orders where there is no objection.  Rights of appeal against orders not being progressed within three months may be made to the local Magistrates’ Court. The requirement to advertise modification orders in newspapers will finish and will instead appear on the Local Authority’s website. For full information the draft bill can be assessed on the internet at the following link:-https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-deregulation-bill

Local Green Space

It is now possible for communities, through local or neighbourhood plans, to submit applications for sites to have special protection.  New development is ruled out there, other than in limited circumstances.  The site must fulfil at least one of the characteristics below.

Beauty, Historical significance, Recreational value, Tranquillity and richness of wildlife. Land can only be designated where a local plan is being reviewed or a neighbourhood plan is being produced.  Green places in Leicestershire are shown on the website below:-http://www.leics.gov.uk/greenspaces

Bosworth Battlefield Conservation plan (the new location)

Part of the plan concentrates on the arrangement of access to the new location of the battlefield site and other sites associated with the battle. It is noted there is no access to Crown Hill which is under private ownership. There is poor provision for bridleways and the old disused railway line if turned into a multi user access route into the new location would be of immense value.  Unfortunately ownership of the route is not in single occupation and a great deal of expenditure and work would be needed to make such a route viable.

Objective 13 of the plan is to maintain and where possible enhance the accessibility of the Battlefield area for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, whilst safeguarding the valued characteristics of the area.

Diversions and Closures

Your committee has considered a total of Forty-six applications affecting public rights of way on the Definitive Map.  Network rail have adopted a policy of trying to eliminate ground crossings of their railway lines.  In particular the main line from London to Leicester has resulted in a number of applications and some bridges have been erected.  Applications have also been received for rights of way on the Leicester to Coventry line and the Melton to Leicester line.  I will deal with those applications which needed our involvement.

Diversion of footpaths A45 and A48 at Great Bowden

Footpath A48 leaves Langton Road opposite Langton Brook Farm crossing two fields before a ground crossing on the Midland mainline railway.  It then proceeds across a further field before crossing the Market Harborough By-pass and continuing to the West of Great Bowden and onto Market Harborough.  Footpath A45 leaves the Langton Road, crosses the mainline railway before joining A48 close to the By-Pass.  Following two site visits and one public meeting an area of agreement was reached resulting in the proposal for one crossing of the railway line at the position where A45 crossed the railway line and a footbridge would be built at that point.  Footpath A48 would be diverted to the same footbridge.

Diversion and part closure of footpath Z49 The Twitten crossing, Glen Parva

This ground level crossing is on the Leicester to Coventry railway line and on safety grounds Network rail asked for it to be closed and diverted  along the North side of the railway to join bridleway Z51.  The bridleway crosses underneath the railway and continues through a small housing estate before joining Little Glen Road.  Following a site visit your committee agreed to oppose this part closure on the following grounds:-

1) The historic nature and pleasantness of the right of way and its direct route from Featherstone Drive through to Little Glen Road and then onto Blaby.

2) Visibility at the railway crossing is very good looking both East and West along the line.

3) This route is regularly used by local people and is superior to the proposed diversion.

Closure of footpath I73 within the Parish of Rearsby

This is a relatively short footpath which leaves Broome Lane, crosses the railway at ground level and then joins footpath I72 and proceeding onto Rearsby.  The Saturday group walked footpath I73 in the winter of 2012 without any problem.  Objections were lodged against this closure on the following grounds:-

1) There was clear evidence of usage by local people thus satisfying the need to keep this right of way open.

2) Visibility is satisfactory for the speed of trains on this line.

3) When crossing the line, the road crossing on Broome Lane can be seen from the footpath and the road crossing gates can be clearly seen being activated.

4) No incidents of death or injury to pedestrians at this crossing have occurred.

At our October committee meeting a further proposal to divert a section of this footpath adjacent to the railway line was also not accepted as being in the best interests of walkers.

Diversion of footpaths M72, M59, M54 and M47A at Ginn Stables Farm, Coleorton

I now return to a number of diversions in the North West of our County at Ginn Stables.  The stables are situated off Outwoods Lane, Coleorton and your Association were consulted in 2012 to consider major alterations to the network of footpaths surrounding the stables.

Following a revised planning application the alteration to the network of footpaths have now been restricted to those which pass close to and through the complex.  Your committee is content with what is now being proposed and will agree to the diversions.

Proposed diversion of footpath H56 (Part) just to the North of Brooksby College

Your committee welcomed the movement of the start of this right of way from South of the railway line to the North of the line.  As a result the footpath will now commence and continue for one field along the banks of the river Wreake.  Certain suggestions were made about accessibility from the road to the new route as we considered people with disabilities would be at a disadvantage.  This diversion will eliminate a ground crossing of the railway.

Proposed stopping up of Footpaths N49 (Part) and O35 (Part) and temporary stopping up of

Footpaths O35 (Part) and O22 (Part) and creation of temporary alternative footpath N49 (Part), Bardon, Coalville and Markfield.

In order to facilitate the eastern extension of Bardon Hill quarry, the operating company have applied to divert, stop up or suspend a number of the public footpaths which cross the land in question.  Site work will not commence until April, 2014.  These proposals follow the grant of planning permission to mine.  Unfortunately this will have major consequences to walking in the area of the extended mining.  In particular the entrance from Copt Oak Road onto footpath N49 will be moved to a position opposite Old House Lane for a temporary period of 18 months.  Following eighteen months, the footpath will be stopped up for two years to allow excavation works to commence on the formation of the new quarry.

The most disappointing aspect of the extension of quarry mining is the Eastern closure of footpath O35 originally passing through Kellams Farm but now taking a route further to the East and emerging onto the Copt Oak to Abbott’s Oak road.  This will mean access to bridleway L24 on the Northern side of that road can only be accessed on foot along the road from either Copt Oak or Abbott’s Oak.  There is no footpath on either side of that road! Representations have been made to the County Council concerning providing a link and the exposure of walkers to traffic on the roads.  In October the County Council advised they had persuaded the Quarry Company to provide an alternative route to the North West of the quarry.  Footpath O22 leading to the top of Bardon Hill will remain open.  O22A can then be used to come down the hill on the North side and continuing on O22 into the housing estate at the bottom of the hill.  Half of route O22 around the hill will be closed for two years but the other half will now be part of the diverted footpath O35.

Deletion of footpath L98 (Part) at Isley Walton.

An application has been lodged to delete the section of footpath leaving footpath L98A to the farm just South of Isley Walton.  It is suggested an error was made when the first definitive Map for the County was published.  This is a dead end footpath as no right of way was recorded passing through the farm complex into the village of Isley Walton.  Only last year an Inspector ruled the footpath should not be extended because he was not satisfied this would add to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public, or add to the convenience of persons resident in the area.  The applicant has to prove an error was made when the first definitive map was published and this will be quite a difficult task.

Bridleway I20 – Railway crossing at Barrow upon Soar.

In 2008 Network Rail applied for a temporary closure of the right of way over the six track railway line between Leicester and Loughborough on safety grounds.  Following various meetings and discussions a suitable diversion of the route was not identified.  However, a proposal for a footbridge at a position to the South of the existing crossing was a distinct possibility.  This would have meant bridleway users on cycles and horses would come to a dead end.

On the 14th August, 2013 County Hall sent our Association Network Rail’s new proposal to extinguish the bridleway at the rail crossing.  Your committee have objected to such proposal as have the Ramblers Association, the Bridleways Association and the Local Access Forum.

Dedication of Footpath N64 at Ibstock brickworks, Ibstock.

A path walked by local people at the back of houses on Leicester Road and WILSON HOUSE has now been dedicated as a right of way and will be marked on the definitive map of public rights of way for our County.  Extending from footpath Q90 where it turns Westwards (Grid Reference 44099 31097), N64 has a total distance of 660 metres and emerges on Leicester Road at Grid Reference 44139 31131.  The width of the path is 2 metres.

Brian J

Leicestershire Round Volunteer Wardens

The Leicestershire Round was devised in 1987 by members of the Leicestershire Footpath Association to celebrate what was then thought to be the Association’s centenary year and it is promoted by Leicestershire County Council.

The intention of seeking volunteer wardens was to help preserve and maintain the ease of Passage along the “Round” by checking one or part of one of the eleven nominated sections, once or twice a year and reporting any obstructions or damage to be later dealt with by the County Council.

The appeal for volunteer wardens was soon answered with seventeen LFA members and some non-members volunteering their services, covering the whole one hundred miles of the “Round”, with several others offering their services as reserves.

A number of incidents have been reported to County Hall of stiles and paths that have been obstructed by overgrown vegetation, missing waymarkers and footpaths not being re-instated etc.   Volunteer wardens have also responded and investigated reports by walkers who have experienced problems along the “Round” and have contacted either the LFA website or LFA committee members.

A lack of Leicestershire Round stickers normally sited on directional discs along the route will hopefully soon be rectified as County Hall is, at the time of writing, about to source another supplier and it is hoped that each volunteer warden will be able to have a supply to renew or replace the stickers on their section.

Most of the volunteer wardens have indicated their willingness to continue monitoring their sections next year, but should any LFA member wish to be added to the list of reserves, I’ll be grateful if they would contact me via the Secretary.

On behalf of the Chairman and LFA Committee, I would like to sincerely thank all the volunteer wardens for their time and efforts in helping keep the Leicestershire Round the premier walking route in the county.

David W

Obstruction Officer’s report

This year I am writing my last report as Obstructions Secretary, as I am resigning from this position at our AGM in February.

I have been doing this task on the committee since 2001.  During my first year, walking along rights of ways was severely curtailed by the Foot and Mouth outbreak which lasted from February to October, so I didn’t have a great deal of work to do.

Looking through my reports since then, there seems to be one common theme.  This is that the annual number of reports submitted to County Hall by us has fallen year by year.  I believe that over the years the continuous work done by County Hall to clear problems such as overgrown vegetation, fallen trees etc. will still happen but problems with the furniture of footpaths do appear to have lessened.  The introduction of metal gates instead of stiles has brought a major improvement but it will be a long time before all wooden stiles disappear.  Another factor could be where we walk.  If club walks often use the more commonly used paths then these walks will miss paths which could be in a real mess and need repairing.

Just to remind members of the kinds of problems for which we are looking.

1.  Where the footpath is physically blocked, e.g. by crops such as oilseed rape and beans etc. overgrown vegetation, building works, locked gates, barbed wire, electric fences, blocked footpaths, fallen trees etc.

2.  Where the passage of the footpath is affected by safety considerations, e.g. dodgy stiles, steps on steep slopes in a bad condition, ploughed up headlands, aggressive animals, dodgy footbridges, quagmires etc.

3.  Problems with the furniture of rights of way, e.g. finger posts, waymarks, waymark posts, gates, bridges etc.

Most of these problems used to be resolved fairly quickly by reporting them to the rights of way department at County Hall, who arranged for inspectors to check our reports on the ground.

The first two groups appear to get priority for attention.  The inspectors arrange with either farmers to clear crop obstructions or place orders with subcontractors to repair the furniture of rights of way.  County Hall has a system whereby they remind farmers during the growing season that fields containing cross field paths will need to have paths cleared through their crops.  The third group of problems appear to have a lower priority for action but they do get resolved in time.  However, recent conversations with County Hall tell me that because of manpower reductions, Highway Inspectors have a target of within ten days

to get out to look at a problem and subcontractors of within four weeks to complete the work.  This clearly has a bearing on the timing of pre-walks for leaders.  If there is a gang working on problems in the immediate area of a problem it is possible these targets could be beaten.

Cindy West has agreed to take over as Obstructions Secretary from the next AGM and I am sure you will give her full support.

Finally, thanks to those at County Hall who organise the maintenance of rights of ways, and of course members who have advised me of problems.

Clive F

Treasurer’s report

My first year in the role has proved to be both interesting and challenging, and as a ‘spreadsheet nerd’ who likes receiving lots of mail I have also found it most enjoyable!

My thanks must go firstly to Jane D for help with the hand-over, and also to Brian Jenkinson for his support during the early months.

During the year the popularity of walking with the LFA has continued to grow, with an overall increase in membership bringing our number to 338, including 5 life members and one person who paid their subs twice!  In addition, 6 parish councils paid their 2012 subs retrospectively and also renewed for 2013, whilst 5 decided not to renew, leaving us with 52 parish councils.

I am pleased to report that the LFA has recently joined The Walking Programme. This is a scheme operated by Ramblers Holidays whereby any member who books a holiday through the Ramblers can nominate us to receive a funding donation (at no extra cost to their own holiday).  The amount that we will receive can be as high as £30 per person for long haul holidays, and we already have 3 members whose holidays will create a combined income of £90 in coming months.  I would therefore ask any member who has a booking with Ramblers Holidays, or makes one in the future, to please ensure that before you actually take the holiday you nominate the LFA to receive the Walking Programme donation.

Reclaiming Gift Aid for 2012 has proved to be a difficult nut to crack.  HMRC have moved into the 21st Century and now require claims to be made on-line, which I have been unable to do as they have only just processed the change request from Jane to myself as the Authorised Person, leaving insufficient time for the claim to be submitted during this financial year.  Frustrating, although not catastrophic as 4 years is allowed for claims to be submitted, but it does mean that the 2012 Gift Aid amount of £297.50p cannot be included in the 2013 accounts.

As can be seen from the Financial Statement in the centre pages of the Annual Report, I am pleased to report that overall expenditure of £2,761.79 was comfortably less than the total income of £3,857.29, thereby producing a surplus of £1,095.50 in the year to leave us in a very strong financial position.  Membership subscription for 2014 has already been set at £5.00, and the committee has agreed that no increase should be recommended for 2015.

Dave R

Webmaster’s report

Over the last year the site had 19,100 views. This figure is steadily increasing year on year.  I can also report that over the past year the site had visitors from the USA (364 views), Australia (65), Canada (50) and many more.  The number of views has increased since the new style Google calendar was introduced.  While it might be a vanity thing for us to aim for more site visitors there is the concern that our provider might introduce adverts if the site became too popular.

I’m not a smart phone user but I was delighted to hear recently that our site, hosted free of charge by WordPress, can be viewed on a mobile device so no excuses for you not to stay in touch.

We have just 27 folk signed up to “Follow” so you could be missing out.  It’s easy to follow, just click on the ‘Follow’ button bottom right of the page.  You will then receive an email about the latest information as it’s posted on the site.

The site is constantly being changed and this year I added more links to other walking sites.  Some are what you might call recreational, something to look at or read while others are packed with useful information facts and links to other sites. I especially recommend the page on Geograph which lists and provides links to counties which have their Definitive Map online.

The great thing about being webmaster is that I can carry out the duties when the rain, wind or snow is beating against the window and here I sit in the warm comfort of my own home.  I await the flurry of reports and pictures from our frequent walks where interesting, amusing or unusual incidents occur.  I tidy these reports and pictures and upload them to our site for the whole wide world to see what a wonderful county Leicestershire is. I need never meet another soul and that is perhaps the downside of the web and may also explain why I don’t get many reports and pictures because members of the LFA are a very social lot, they don’t like sitting at home in front of a computer screen, they prefer to get out and meet other real folk.

My sincere thanks to those who have provided material including Brian, who now has his own ‘log in’ for uploading reports, to Vanessa for helping with the Google calendar by adding the Saturday walk details, to Roy for the Facebook page and to Neil for managing the Tuesday walks and posting another wonderful video.  Many hands make for lighter work.

Ken B

Saturday walks

The group have maintained good numbers over the year with some walks attracting up to 26 members.  We are becoming more adventurous with walks in the more unexplored areas of the county and going over the border into neighbouring counties.  We are now regularly walking longer distances of up to 10.5 miles especially during the summer months.

Many thanks to all our leaders and in particular to John R who led three walks which were combined with some members from the Loughborough Ramblers.  Most memorable was the combined walk in June from Lyndon, Rutland on a very hot day when we walked along the banks of Rutland water and viewed the prayer maze at Wing. Later some of us went for tea at Wing Hall.  Some members have developed a habit of visiting the local pub after the walk to put the world to rights – the most popular being those with their own brewery such as Church End Brewery!

In November a linear walk of over nine miles was undertaken on a lovely day. Members caught a bus from Syston to Frisby-on-the-Wreake.  We then walked back to Syston utilising footpaths along the Wreake valley and the Leicestershire Round. Many thanks for Ken for this different approach to our walking menu.

Vanessa M

Evening walks

We had a good summer of walks from ‘G and H’ villages – Groby, Gilmorton, Houghton, Hoby etc.  However, now that we do these every week, we have run out of letters that can cover a season, either singly or in pairs.  So don’t waste time trying to guess what they will be next year!  Instead, we are going to spend two summers going Around the Round, choosing start points on the Round and inevitably covering some of the Round on the walks.  Walks are on Monday evenings, starting at 7.00pm, and run from May 12th to August 11th.  Anyone is welcome to join just one of several walks.

Chris M

Tuesday walks

The Tuesday walks are still very well attended and some of our new members are becoming good leaders.  Many thanks to all the leaders throughout the year for some lovely walks.  Aren’t we lucky?

Our short walks are still going very well.  Its good to welcome Clive back after his knee operation.  Thank you Val for your continuing help with these walks.

Forty-three of us enjoyed a super Christmas meal at “The Shires”, Peatling Parva.  A collection was made for the Air Ambulance again.

Jenny T

Wednesday walks

Having to find volunteers for two walks is proving not to be as difficult as I first thought, our short walk winter programme was completed well in time and with help again from Roger C the long walk programme was also filled.

Wednesday walkers over past years have often boasted about having fine dry weather for our walks, unfortunately 2013 was not so good and we got pretty wet on a number of occasions, although the delayed summer improved matters somewhat.

Having been walking on Wednesdays for some years now (I won’t say how many) I am still surprised how leaders can still find pathways we have not walked before.  Many thanks to all those volunteers who have made our walks possible over the last year and keep up the good work.

I would like to thank Anne C and friends on behalf of all the Wednesday walkers for their magnificent buffet which was provided in place of the usual pub meal.  I am sure all the walkers would agree with me that it was a truly brilliant way to end the year.

Roger W

Thursday walks

This has been a year of contrasts for the group, from wading through field-sized snowdrifts with much laughter and not a little mucking about, to sweating through those summer days which led to dwindling numbers of walkers as the heat was too much for some. We have had a few eventful walks.  An early December walk was brought to a temporary halt when the path became impassable because two very large bulls were having a head-on fight, watched by a large herd of cows.  Fortunately for us, the cows got bored with watching these macho antics and moved to another field, and the bulls followed.  So we lived to tell the tale.

The group has grown over the last year.  There are now 54 people on our contacts list, although some rarely walk and of the regulars, not everyone walks every week.  If they did we would have traffic jams at stiles.  We are fortunate in that the solid core of regular walkers are happy to lead walks and are competent map-readers, so the responsibility is evenly shared throughout the year.  The walks have been very varied, through some lovely countryside and with lunches at some excellent pubs.  We have often learned a bit of history on the way (thanks to some of the leaders) and we are a happy and friendly band of walkers.

Kate P

LFA Weekend in August at Cromford.

A record twenty eight members took to the paths around Cromford in Derbyshire on our weekend this year.  For some this included lots of walking, for others a bit of walking, a bit of sight- seeing and shopping.  For everyone it included fun and friendship, some knowing everyone and others making new acquaintances.  Our accommodation was excellent and the weather glorious.  Our Saturday walks gave us a choice of twelve or six miles and Sunday’s walk saw us covering between four and six miles as two groups started out the same way and then parted to face varying challenges by choosing different terrain to conquer.  Thanks go to Chris B and Brian H for planning them and leading us through the lovely, sometimes testing countryside.

Thanks to Barbara M for taking on the mantle of “tour guide” for some of our group who completed the Cromford “Treasure Hunt” that Chris M provided for us.  This gave us opportunity to see bits of Cromford we would not have known existed.  Roger C showed his “tough guy” skills as he cleared our path of a tree that almost landed on his head as it fell along the Cromford canal.  We kept our brains well and truly active in the evenings thanks to quizzes provided by Glenyss H, Les P and Cindy W. 

Research is now underway to find a suitable area and venue for our 2014 venture.

Cindy W

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Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at the Evangelical Baptist Church, Main Street,

Woodhouse Eaves at 10.15am on Saturday, 23rd February, 2013.

1.   Seventy-six people attended the meeting and the following apologies were received:-

Avril  B, Tom B, Sallie B, Gerald C, Ann C, Diana D, Jennifer McG, Colin H, Heather H, Linda, Althea, Lionel, John P, Judy P-A, Brian and Marjorie T, Martin and Kath W.

Heather welcomed members to the meeting and outlined the morning’s business, Luncheon arrangements and afternoon walks. 

Eric A outlined fire safety drill and spoke of his sad loss of his beloved Mary.

2.   Chris M presided over her second meeting as Chair and thanked members for their attendance.  The minutes of last years AGM had been circulated by inclusion at the back of the Annual Report and were accepted as a true record of the meeting.

      There were no matters arising from those minutes.

3.   David W addressed members on the introduction of wardens who will monitor sections of the Leicestershire Round.  There had been a good response by members and most of the sections have been covered by volunteers.  The main outstanding section for a member or members to cover is from Newtown Linford to Mountsorrel.  The wardens will walk their respective sections and ensure the way is clear.  Light maintenance on hedges can be undertaken.  Any major problem to be reported to David who will then  ass information onto Clive who will contact Leicestershire County Council. Bob S asked about insurance for members undertaking maintenance. They would be deemed to be in the employment of the Association and if injury was sustained when clearing a possible claim could be forthcoming against the Association.  After some discussion the Secretary was asked to make enquiries over this legitimate concern.

Roger W asked if existing stiles on the Leicestershire Round would be placed by metal gates.  This was unlikely due to cut backs on the LCC budget for maintenance work.

4.   The Officers’ reports were accepted subject to two amendments.  In the President’s preamble, in the first line at word eight, Substitute numbers for members.  In the Treasurer’s report the loss figure should read £265.25p. Jane D, our treasurer for the last four years has decided to relinquish her post and thanks were expressed for the work she had undertaken on behalf of the Association during that period.  Jane has also vacated her position on the committee.

5.   The election of Officers and the committee then took place.  In respect of the vacant Treasurer’s post, Dave R was proposed by Neil B and seconded by June B. Proposal carried by the meeting.

There then followed a proposal by Peter B (seconded by Bob S) for all other existing officers being re-elected for a further year.  Proposal carried by the meeting.

Tim W proposed continuance of existing committee members (seconded by Les P) and this was duly approved by the meeting.

The position of a Social Secretary was mentioned.  The meeting was of the opinion as no person had been nominated, social events would be arranged as and when needed by individual members of the Association.

6.   The meeting then considered subscriptions to other organisations.  It was agreed to renew membership of the Ramblers Association, Open Spaces Society and the Woodland Trust.

7.   The meeting confirmed three cheque signatories, any two to sign.  Heather MacD, Brian J and the newly elected treasurer Dave R.

8.   The Secretary advised members of the need to review the guidance to the walk leaders document.  This was last reviewed in 2011.  In particular there is no reference to a walk leader cancelling a walk due to bad weather.  Members present then contributed to a general discussion and raised the following matters:- the pace of walks, keeping the group together, back markers, stops on walks, appropriate footwear and mobile phones.

The Committee at its next meeting will review the guidance and amend where necessary.

9.  Under any other business, Chris M indicated a new Chairman would need to be appointed at the next AGM, due to her having completed three years in that position. 

Clive F has also given notice of his intention to relinquish the position of Obstruction Secretary, the duties of which he will have by then been doing for thirteen years.  The membership were asked to consider a possible candidate for that post and also for the vacant position on the committee.  Ken B said the membership must be mindful that the continuing existence of the Association is dependant on volunteers coming forward and filling positions. 

Steve K is arranging a quiz night (to include meal) for Saturday, 6th April, 2013, tickets priced at £7.50p.

Chris B and Dr. M R are arranging a treasure hunt on foot on the 23rd June. Further information will be in the Spring newsletter to members.

Chris H reported the sale of club sweat shirts had been poor with only two being sold during the last twelve months.  No new ones have been ordered and she is considering whether to continue with this task.

10.  Gerald P (volunteer with the Woodland Trust) then gave an illustrated talk on the work of that organisation.   Founded in 1972 and then becoming a National organisation within five to six years.  The Trust have Two Hundred Thousand members and are responsible for eleven hundred woodlands.  Interestingly hedgerows can also be classed as part of the woodland. Sheffield is the most wooded City.

Gerald then talked about the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicestershire which consists of 463 acres with a mixture of trees.  Much of the site was bought in 2012, previously having been a coal field.  There will be a number of pathways, linking with the rights of way system.  The wood can be accessed via a  car park on Heather  Lane. The wood is situated to the West of Ravenstone and there are links to Sence Valley park where there is ample car parking and toilets.

Gerald gave details of two websites which may interest our membership:-

visitwoods.org.uk and www.queenelizabethdiamondjubileewood.wordpress.com This website is for friends of the Jubilee wood project in Leicestershire. 

Chris M thanked the speaker for his presentation and closed the meeting at Twelve midday. 

11.  Chris M thanked Judy and her band of helpers in providing an excellent lunch.

Following lunch two walks were arranged with Val W leading a short walk of sixteen members and Chris M led a longer walk supported by eleven members.

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