What is The Ramblers?
The Ramblers is the largest walkers’ rights organisation in Britain. It is a registered charity in England, Wales and Scotland with over 123,000 members. It is an interest group as opposed to a cause group and operates as an outsider group, pushing its ideals but never getting directly involved in government policy.
History & achievements
The Ramblers were formed in 1931 as the National Council of Ramblers’ Federations to represent the interests of walkers. In 1934, following a mass trespass staged on Kinder Scout in the Lake District that resulted in five ramblers being arrested the organisation announced that it would be changing its name. On January 1st 1935 the Ramblers Association was officially founded.
The passing of The Countryside and Rights of Way Act granted the public the freedom to roam in the open countryside in England and Wales.
Long-distance footpaths, some of them ancient, have been maintained by the Ramblers, in conjunction with local authorities, and their use has been encouraged and promoted by the organization. Examples of these are; the Pennine Way, the Pilgrims’ Way, the Saxon Shore Way, Offa’s Dyke and The Ridgeway.
Along with the Long Distance Walkers Association, the Ramblers is recognised by Sport England as the governing body for "Rambling" in England.
Beliefs, structure and campaigns
The Ramblers have, as a charity, the beliefs that what it does should benefit society as a whole. It also aims to protect what is seen as a right to ramble in the countryside.
The Ramblers also argues that Britain's network of public paths is an invaluable part of its national heritage and that the relevant authorities have a duty to invest in them.
In summary, the aims of the charity are:
To promote walking
To safeguard paths
To increase access for walkers
To protect the countryside
To educate the public
There are 485 Ramblers groups in about 50 areas, and around 350 other affiliated bodies (the Footpath Society for example).
Each of the Ramblers groups is structured into areas and sends representatives to an area committee. Once a year a general council is held, whereby representatives from each area meet to discuss the priorities of the Ramblers for the forthcoming year. The trustees that are legally responsible for the Ramblers are also elected at this time.
The key figures in this pressure group are:
Tom Stephenson, secretary from 1948 onwards, was a leading campaigner for open-country access and Britain’s first long distance footpath, the Pennine Way. Hugh Dalton served a term as president of the Ramblers Association. In 1946 he started the National Land Fund to resource national parks, and in 1951 as Minister of Town and Country Planning for the Labour party approved the Pennine Way.
The Ramblers currently have three major campaigns underway. These are the campaign to promote “walking for health” schemes, a campaign against the expansion of Stansted Airport and in 2010 a campaign was launched to monitor the funding cuts being made to highway authorities.
Past campaigns of the Ramblers have included the right to