The Avon Area Ramblers recently recognised a local farmer’s efforts in maintaining public rights of way over his land, with a group hiking their way to a farm near Bath to present a special certificate.
The party of ramblers from the Norton Radstock Ramblers hiked their way over to Wilmington Farm, near Bath, to present the farmer, Mervyn Keeling, with a framed certificate.
Mr Keeling was nominated by the Bath Ramblers Footpath Volunteer Team as an example of a farmer reinstating a footpath after cropping, providing a clear direct route for walkers to use.
The footpath forms part of the Three Peaks Walk, a 16.5 mile circular route from Maesknoll Hill Fort just south of Bristol, passing through Pensford, Hunstrete, Clutton, and Chew Magna before climbing back up to Maesknoll. The ‘peaks’ are Maes Knoll, Knowle Hill and Blackberry Hill.
Keith Weller, a volunteer with the maintenance team said: “It’s wonderful to have paths reinstated. It makes life easier for both farmers and walkers to avoid people wandering around and going where they shouldn’t be.
“Walkers can see exactly where to enter and exit a field and how to walk across the crop, enjoying nature and causing the least possible damage to crops.”
Mr Keeling added: “It is nice to be acknowledged for this and I am honoured to receive the first award.” When asked on his views of the relationship between walkers and farmers, he added, “It’s all about respect for one another.”
The Ramblers have been fighting for the rights of walkers since they were set up in 1935. Avon Area Chair Person Tessa Wyatt points to the Three Peaks Walk as an important local route which is easily accessible from Bristol and Bath.
She explained: “It is important that people have access to these routes, especially since an increasing body of evidence points towards the mental and physical health benefits of walking, particularly for those who live in urban areas.”
The Ramblers offer a variety of walks throughout the year to suit all abilities. Walking with them is ideal for those who want to get out into the countryside, those who may be feeling lonely at this time of year, or simply for those who wish to walk for fitness.
You can try them out on several walks without becoming a member at any time of year.
To find your local Ramblers group and a list of walks visit www.avon-ramblers.org.uk.