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127 comments:

Andrew said...

A shame about the SWT promo, it's not as generous as last year's one. I was hoping they'd go out in a blaze of glory (their franchise ends in August).

Thomas G said...

correction: Promo runs to 14 July, not 21. apologies

Andrew said...

https://www.artfund.org/national-art-pass

3 months for £10 special offer - free entry to many London museums, and an eclectic mix of country house / gardens

Poppy said...

Without meaning to scaremonger, I wasn't sure where to put this comment but feel it could be used to create a 'Countryside security code' section (or similar). This has ocme up before but what I found online wasn't that good. If anyone can recommend a good source of information to people to refer to on safrty with livestock etc, that would be good. I have noticed recently quite a few doubts about how to behave around livestock, with no clear guidance used in the group (as far as I am aware). For example, a woman who brought a terrier walking with her was criticised by a few people on one occasion, even though he was well-behaved. Yet there is no by-law that says you shouldn't walk with a dog, and the animal wasn't worrying the livestock. So the criticism was unfounded. There are other issues that could be discussed, such as how to behave if cows start to move towards you.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/14/professor-trampled-to-death-by-cattle-in-east-sussex

Sean said...

The Ramblers have a page of advice on Walking near livestock as part of a general Safety section (Walking near horses; Walking with dogs; the legal position; etc). There are several do's and don'ts with cattle but the basic advice given is "move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd".

I think it would be helpful if the SWC site included links to pages like this, but I'd question whether the SWC itself should attempt to offer guidance. Does anyone in the club have the necessary expertise? What would be the consequences if a club member put up some well-meaning advice but something bad happened to someone following it?

Poppy said...

True - thanks. Well then perhaps that link could be highlighted on this website.

Andrew said...

Looks like paper railcards are going to be replaced with a phone app.

Marc Ricketts said...

Talking about Walks. Why not plan some New ones in Essex in the future. Like to Jaywick, Brightlingsea, Thorrington, and Weeley. And why not plan a New one in Hampshire from Botley to Durley as well. And back to Botley?

Libby James said...

Hi, I've just found your excellent site and noticed a thread on safety around livestock. I and a small group of cattle wary walkers have started a group and a website
https://killercows.co.uk/
some of us have been scared by them, some harassed and some nearly killed (and although some advice can be useful we unfortunately know incidents where it didn't help.) We're not in it for profit, book sales or fame - we just don't want anyone else injured.

Anonymous said...

don't know if anyone reads these pleas..but please repeat Sean's Angmering Park And Highdown Gardens walk soon ? for those of us who were intending to go but couldn't at last minute..
thanks!

Walker said...

We read these pleas, but yours would do better in the Walk Requests section below. All walk requests gratefully received, but we do have 300+ walks to get through and one tries to give them all a crack of the whip, so I am afraid requests for walks that have just been done to be repeated are lower down the priority ranking for me. I am glad to hear Sean's new walk was such a hit, however and I am sure it will get a further outing next year sometime

Mike A said...

Knepp Safari Park
I thought I'd mention a recent trip that four of us booked for a walking "Safari" at Knepp. No lions or tigers, but a fascinating rewilding project just south of Horsham.
Our host was a ecologist who was both passionate and knowledgeable about the project and, after an introductory video we went on a 2½ hour walk through the estate. We watched birds being ringed, bees who live underground, saw wild deer and pigs and ended on a tree platform overlooking the estate . If you have an interest in nature/conservation and you haven't been, I'd thoroughly recommend a visit.
The tour ended just before 1 pm and to complete the day we decided to walk to Billingshurst (estimated at about 8-10km). A public footpath runs through the estate and we set of to the Countryman Pub (shown on the estate's map)
Excellent food, service and ales here with a large outdoor garden and local farm produce for sale on our visit. We continued to Billingshurst possibly touching on some of the SWC Walk 283's route with the final leg into Billingshurst being the reverse of the start of SWC Walk 8. (Drop me a line if you would like some details off the route we took.)
If you are interested in costs, then in addition to a CDR to Billingshurst, the cab fare from Horsham to Knepp was just under £20 and the tour was £25 a person.

David Colver said...

Forgive me for being the most boring and humourless of farts, but I wonder if I might ask that walk post headlines include the start and end points of the walk, with a witty pun an optional supplement rather than the entry in its entirety.

The value of an amusing description is outweighed, for me at least, by being able to understand at a glance (without having to open the entry) where a walk is located, and to be able to find the walk posting again later in a hurry, quite possibly on a mobile device with a small screen.

Anonymous said...

hear hear !

Andrew said...

https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/maps/bing.shtml?lat=51.292&lon=1.22728&zoom=12&gpx_url=/test/sandwich.gpx

This map is the England Coast Path past Sandwich, with 3km of new paths, and a longgggg inland detour around a river

Anonymous said...

I have a query about photos for the walks. I know that the website uses Flickr for people to upload photos from specific walks, but I was wondering if there is a SWC Instagram account? Would it be a useful addition? There are some people on Instagram taking and sharing photos of the TOCWalks (myself included) using #saturdaywalkersclub but those aren't linked to go club in any way, like the Flicker ones. It might be nice to see a club presence on there.

What do other people think?

~Karen

Andrew said...

we do have an (unused) instagram account.

the problem with instagram is that their API is only for commercial use, so I can't extract the photo information (author, url, title, description, size, thumbnails)

there is a new facebook version of their API, but the authorisation process is complex - its not just 'public' like flickr is... its the same reason we don't support facebook albums

its a shame as flickr is getting a bit dated now

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew

Thanks for addressing my question. I see what you're saying about incorporating it into the website (although I don't know what API is, I think I get the jist of what you're saying). I do like having the photos on the website, and I actually look at them when deciding to go on a walk on my own.

Would it be possible, or would anyone be willing, to maintain the Instagram account as an auxiliary social media site? I understand that the photos would not be incorporated into the website, but a link can be provided on Instagram to go to it. And vice versa perhaps.

I follow the SWC account on twitter, and I just thought that Instagram would also be a great addition. If it doesn't work though, I understand.

Thanks again
Karen

Andrew said...

Karen,

Yes, API is "website-data-interface-for-programmers" in English.

Actually, we didn't already have a club instagram account, but we do now!

Its swcwalks as in https://www.instagram.com/swcwalks/ (as saturdaywalkers and saturdaywalkersclub were already taken).

Please use tags like:
#swcwalks #swcwalk20
#swcwalks #book1 #walk7
#swcwalks #short12

Thanks for volunteering :) I'll email the password.

Anonymous said...

The videos are useful when planning a walk.
Thank you to the walker/s who take the time and effort, recording and posting them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew

Thanks for letting me know! I am already following and liked a photo. Was the bit about volunteering aimed at me? I'd be happy to do it 😃

I have sent a message via Instagram.

I am looking forward to all the photos!

~Karen

Andrew said...

Karen, whats your instagram id, andrew

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew

I'm loneboots on Instagram. I sent you message on there earlier, I don't know if you got it.

~Karen

JohnnyHastings said...

Just a couple of random bits of information. Hastings Borough Council have now put up clear diversion signs to avoid the landslips near Warren and Ecclesbourne Glens on the Hastings to Rye (or vice versa) walk.

Also if you are LOOPER, the River Crane is badly flooded in Donkey Wood at the end of section 9. No alternative but busy roads but plenty of buses to Hatton Cross

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the LOOP info.

Anonymous said...

who has been doing the recent films please? and how? looks like a gopro strapped to the chest! good on you

Bill S said...

Just doing a bit of idle googling when I came across this site - https://www.meetup.com/saturdaywalkers/ A case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?

Walker said...

No, it is a case of our webmaster using Meet Up to promote our walks

Andrew said...

I'm glad our Youtuber is back from his break. He doesn't come on club walks however, but does make it for the Xmas parties.

There's always scope for someone to borrow a Google Maps Trekker... (a streetview camera in a backpack)



Andrew said...

The "inset" maps, that some walks have, now use OS mapping again.

The PDF's created from the (html) walk pages have OpenStreetMap mapping instead (for licence reasons)

Anonymous said...

haha Andrew that google thing isn't very subtle..you'd get questioned all along walk, best to do gopro thingy although might be jittery

Andrew said...

how about a drone? saw a program about the intertidal archaeology of winchelsea beach and petts level which had nice aerial shots.

Andrew said...

The maps.me (iphone and android) is a very easy to use openstreetmap maps app. Way easier than oruxmaps.

Once you've installed it, it'll prompt you to download the southeast england map.

Then navigate to a walk, and click GPS and download the KML file (not the GPX one)

And it'll open the map with the walk route on.

Both maps and app are free. A minus point is the maps don't have contours

Andrew said...

We need a better forum. We could start using our Facebook Group. Or, I could install some forum software. Thoughts?

Andrew said...

We need a better way for new people to the website to choose walks. 300+ walks is a been daunting - too many to choose from? e.g. there is a half implemented system of tags (e.g. NT https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/walks/national-trust.html ). Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

As a fairly new user of the web site, found it easy to search for walks, as they are in order of county, length and difficulty.
Appreciate the efforts of the walk authors, checkers, posters and web site manager, who devote their time to providing a valuable resource, free of charge.

Anonymous said...

Regarding forum,
would prefer to avoid the use of Facebook please.

Walker said...

Agree re Facebook. Hardly any regular walkers seem to look ok at it. I am not sure who are the people who like and comment on it but I never recognise their names.

To make the forum work it would need to be easy to find - a prominent panel on This Week’s Walks - and have content relevant to the average walker.

I would suggest turning “Last Minute” into the Forum. Everything now posted to Last Minute would be a Forum comment instead. What is now the Last Minute box would be a live feed showing the two or three most recent Forum posts.

Walker said...

Re searching for walks. You put tags on them. You could have a page listing the tags, either as a list of links or buttons. Find walk with.....beaches, NT properties, wildflowers, churches, long walks, seaside walks.

Walker said...

Further to my last comment: yes, like the “By tags” page in your mock-up: add that button to the main walk list menu. Possibly call it something more explicit. “Sort walks by type”. But yes, this page of tags you can click on to get all walks with that tag would be good. But as an option on the main walk list. Don’t put it elsewhere.

Walker said...

The “By tags” page would be very useful for walk posters too....

Andrew said...

My local area has an active Facebook based walking group that's good at spontaneous
(and quite well attended) local walks ("meet by the tube at 10am today"). We don't have the same level of community...

Anonymous said...

Is anyone thinking of planning a guided walk in London for the Open Squares weekend in June?

Anonymous said...

sounds good Andrew - what facebook group is it ? Ta

Andrew said...

The Black Rabbit in Offham (near Arundel) is worth a visit for its large riverside terrace with lovely river meadow and castle views. Has a coffee shop, so could be a mid-morning stop. Not quite on any of our walks, but a suggested option on the Book 1 Arundel-Amberley walk.

Andrew said...

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1888145684841273/ Its local walks in/around colliers wood

Anonymous said...

thanks Andrew just checked them out, sound nice group

Anonymous said...

It's LAMBING TIME -
HOW TO SAVE A SHEEP'S LIFE

Andrew said...

http://www.stopnetworkrail.org.uk/

A group against closures of footpaths crossing rail lines.

NR are doing this in East Anglia, but so far, not in the southeast.

Andrew said...

The "OS maps online/app" has a 30 person club license for £100, enough for every walk poster/author and then some. At least 2 (TG, Amib) already use it. Are enough people interested in getting it?

Walker said...

I note the dogs on walks debate flared again recently. I have two observations:

1) Every dog owner thinks their dog is well-behaved. On an average day when I walk by myself, three to four dogs come barking up to me, some being friendly, most not. Whenever they address me, which is rarely, the owners always stress how out of character this behaviour is and how well-behaved their dog always is. Interestingly, in one case in twenty does the dog concerned respond to their owner’s command without multiple repetitions. In all cases my tranquillity has been disturbed anyway, well-behaved dog or not.

2) However well-behaved dogs are, some people don’t like them. This is not a crime or a personality defect: it is a preference. People have a right to not like dogs just like they have a right to not like salad.

The onus is not on the person who does not like dogs to avoid your dog or to learn dog psychology. The onus is on you to keep your dog from interacting with strangers, unless those strangers show an obvious enthusiasm for the interaction (which, granted, many people do). The law also says the dog should be under your “close control”, not just vaguely responding to your wishes when it feels like it. If you can’t train your dog not to run up to random strangers and bark, then it should be on a lead.

On SWC walks, try asking at the beginning “Does anyone on the walk object to dogs? If so, I will keep my dog away from you.” This would not just be courtesy but useful training for you as a dog owner. You might start to be aware of how under your close control the dog actually is.

And for the record, while I am not personally keen on dogs, I have never objected to them coming on walks as long as they do not bother wildlife.

Walker said...

Re the OS map question, does this subscription give you a download or just online access? I have the OS Map app and pay £27 a year for the privilege but I rarely use it as it then downloads the area map on my mobile data (you can download a small chunk of map in advance but I use the app unpredictabiy when I have lost my way, so I usually have not downloaded the area map in advance). The old discontinued OS MapFinder app, which I still have, has an already downloaded Landramgwr map for the whole South East which I can access without data. So I tend to use that. It is free, since I paid for the download.

Anonymous said...

Visited the Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre on Sunday when walking Section 24 of the London Loop, Rainham to Purfleet.p
It is an interesting, eclectic collection run by volunteers, who would very much welcome more visitors.
Opening hours are 10.00am to 3.300pm on Thursday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.
Entry charge £3.00
The also hold special events:
11th June Vintage Bus Day
23rd July Motorbike event with the Royal British Legion Riders
6th August Gurkha Day with Nepalese food and dancing

For more info:
01708 890874
Www.purfleetheritage.com
Alan.gosling@rocketmail.com

Sean said...

A club subscription to OS Maps sounds like a good idea. I've used bikehike.co.uk to create my walk routes but it's got some limitations and it would be no bad thing if all walk authors used the same software. I assume the most benefit would be as an app on people's phones but personally I'd only want something for creating walks on a PC (downloading route files, printing 1:25000 map extracts, etc).

Andrew said...

Yahoo (now Verizon) has sold Flickr to Smugmug (a specialist photo website).

On the plus side, Flickr has been long neglected...

On the negative, I don't see it been so generously free for long. We effectively host 20,000 photos on flickr.

Mike said...

Attn of Mr M Tiger or Stargazer!

According to my calculations (I may be wrong) you are responsible for allocating walks for Sunday 17th June. This is a date of some personal significance so can I nominate a walk? Happy to negotiate with you, but I never set foot North of Thames (except Berks) or East of Tonbridge if I can help it.

Mr M Tiger said...

Attn. Mike:

What might your nomination be?

Mike said...

Thanks M Tiger

Here are some ideas.
Coastal walks
211/1 Shoreham to Littlehampton to Bognor
Victoria 9.16 Shoreham 10.26
213 Newhaven to Brighton
Victoria 9.46 (Change Lewes) Newhaven 11.16

Inland walks
293 Banbury circular
Paddington 8.27 (Change Reading) Banbury 9.54

Mike A said...

I thought I'd mention that this years Jevington fete is on Saturday 16th June. It's a couple of quid to get in and is situated in great location just south of Jevington near the South Downs Way. Details are at http://www.jevingtonvillagehall.com/fete/
Would one of you nice Walks Posters consider posting a South Downs Walk on the 16th June with a lunch stop in Jevington?
Many thanks
Mike A

Walker said...

Yes, Mike, I would be happy to do this

Berwick to Birling Gap would be one possibility

Mr M Tiger said...

Attn. the other Mike. it's Banbury for the 17th

Mike said...

Thanks Tiger

Re Banbury 17/6/18, do you have a start time? As I come from a different direction what's good for Londoners isn't always good for me, especially on a Sunday when trains are sparse.

Marcus said...

With reference to the confusion at the start of the recent Bank Holiday Monday walk (Holmwood to Gomshall), a request for those of you armed with hand held devices to be less trigger happy with them. At least two walkers posted incorrect information on our website which probably put off a number of would-be attendees. Please remember - train company websites often lag behind latest events. Perhaps better to let walkers work out what best to do when at the train station, as most of us did on the day.
Thanks !

Andrew said...

One for the statisticians. What is the estimated attendance for a walk?

Parameters are
day-of-week,
time,
and optionally departure station.

What I'm looking for is something like
Sat: 20, Sun:10, weekday:10, evening:5

You could subdivide by north/south, or even by each departure station.

Anonymous said...

Rickmansworth Canal Festival is on this weekend, 19th and 20th May.
Jazz and folk music shows, fly past by Battle of Britain Lancaster and Dakota planes,
canal boat tug-of-war,
and lots of food and drink stalls.
An interesting event for all ages.

Marc Ricketts said...

I am just wondering. What Date will the Walk from Walton on Naze to Clacton on Sea or Jaywick be?

Andrew said...

South Eastern has a so-so summer promotion, e.g. £20 from London to Margate. No railcard discount.

Mr M Tiger said...

Attn Mike re Banbury where are you travelling from? Stargazers doing this one expect post soon. Just seen your May message - been looking in wrong place.

Fred Brown said...

I am not a member of your club but I belong to Ramblers, can you help me? I am looking to walk from Maldon to South Woodham Ferrers via the old railway line, is it possible and if so are there any problem/difficult bits? Also where would I catch a bus back to Maldon? Any help would be much appreciated. I am leading a small group and would not like to be embarrassed by mistakes! Thank you. Best regards, Fred Brown

Sean said...

Fred: If you search for "Maldon" on this site you'll find that we've got a walk (#159) starting in South Woodham Ferrers which goes along part of the old railway line between South Woodham Ferrers and Cold Norton, and the Walk Notes give a brief history of the line. However, the line isn't mentioned in Julian Holland's "Lost Railway Walks" book, which suggests that it might not be a feasible walking route from Maldon to SWF. bustimes.org is a good resource for bus routes and timetables.

Andrew said...

I'm not sure about the icons... it sort of implies rank which goes against our anarchic philosophy.

Currently, its a 'crown' for webmasters, a 'rook' for bloggers/walk-authors and a 'person' for recognised contributors.

(If I've missed you, it could be that your blogger profile is hidden, or I wasn't sure of your nickname)

Bill S said...

The "How will I meet up with everyone else?" section of the FAQs for new members could do with updating to reflect the fact that normal practice nowadays is to gather together on the platform of the destination station. Advising new members to "look around you for other walkers before departure {from London stations] is particularly helpful to new members given that we tend not to gather together before departure, whilst other groups do. And I'm not sure why the FAQ suggests trying the front carriage of the train given that most members tend to gravitate towards the centre. It may be better to say that you might be able to spot other walkers on the train, though they are unlikely to be all sat together as a group.

Bill S said...

Oops - I meant to say that "Advising new members to "look around you for other walkers before departure {from London stations] is NOT particularly helpful to new members ...

Anonymous said...

So wish Cornwall had a group like yours ,I walk a lot we have great circulars

Sean said...

Does anyone have a view on how we should respond to reports of overgrown footpaths on our walks? There were several more this weekend and anecdotally the problem seems to have got much worse this year. You read about councils cutting back their services to the bare minimum and I guess clearing rights of way is not going to be high on their list of priorities, even if they do have legal obligations.

The SWC doesn't have teams of volunteers with machetes and obviously the "correct" response is to advise people to report problems officially, either directly to the county council or via the Ramblers Pathwatch campaign. When devising a new walk I'd always try not to include unviable rights of way, but it would take a lot of effort to revisit and rewrite dozens of old walks to resolve all these potential problems. It seems defeatist to drop a walk from our list, or to refrain from posting it as a club walk, but perhaps the unhappy reality is that some footpaths are likely to become abandoned over time.

andrew said...

there do seem more issues than usual this year. i could add a link to The Rambler's pathwatch site, or suggest they google the local PROW team.

Thomas G said...

"there do seem more issues than usual this year." might that have to do with the wet spring we've had? does it make nettles/brambles etc grow higher and wider?
but the main problem is of course Austerity Britain, and it is frustrating that this has not fed through to Joe 'Anonymous' Bloggs.
I can't see what else we should be doing other than posting a standardised reply referring to austerity, it being high summer, and pointing to the Ramblers' Pathwatch and the Council's ROW teams. And encourage wearing long trousers and taking walking poles to beat the stuff down...

Anonymous said...

Re: overgrown paths.
I carry secateurs with me when on walks,
and if possible try to tidy up a few overgrown branches on the spot,
returning at a later date if more work is required.
Acknowledge that keeping paths clear is the responsibility of the council,
but not a priority for them.
Sincerely believe it would help if some of us could help clear paths and way markers when possible,

Anonymous said...

Could we do Haslemere to Mid hurst on Bank Holiday Monday please, thank you

Thomas G said...

Not a great idea methinks: the buses back to Hmere/Petersfield don't run on Sundays. The ones to Pulboro/Chichester do, but less frequently, and it's a different train operator, making the journey v expensive. Which of the three H'mere-Midh. walks anyway?

Andrew said...

did a coastal night walk last night. clear sky. only a quarter moon. very surprised at how easy it was to see. didn't need a torch!

Mike A said...

The Guardian Historical Walks

can be found at https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/sep/20/10-best-historic-walks-in-uk-tolkien-war-poets-readers-tips?CMP=share_btn_link for those of you who may wish (or plan) walks further afield
Mike

Anonymous said...

Re: Walk 259
Epping Forest Centenary Walk.
Can anyone please advise me on how to download the written instructions?
Cannot find the link on the info page.
Thank you.

Andrew said...

The Epping Forest walk is a "map walk" only - sorry, no detailed directions. Print the walk from the 'map' page, or use the GPS route on a smartphone

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,

Re: Epping Forest walk.

Thank you for your reply,
thought I was missing a link on the info page.

Thank you also for all you do for the Club,
your work is very much appreciated.

Sean said...

SWC old-timers will be interested in the 'Olden Life' article on p10 of the December 2018 issue of The Oldie magazine: What was Frestonia? One of the leaders of this "attempt to create an independent nation in west London in 1977" was also the founder of our walking club, Nicholas Albery.

Nicholas is described as "an early member of the alternative society" and the photo of him accompanying the article certainly bears this out. However, the author is a bit contemptuous of his "Institute for Social Inventions", so it would be good if someone who knew him personally wrote to the editor to point out the long-running success of at least one of these inventions.

Unknown said...

I just wondered if anybody could advise me? My wife has asked for a pair of warm hiking trousers for Christmas. There are so many to choose from online I can't make my mind up! She is only 27.5" inside leg, so that's a problem too, as most I've looked at are 29". Thanks in anticipation
Dave T.

Mike A said...

What's growing in the fields of the UK?

You can find out at https://map.onesoil.ai/2018#5.47/54.623/0.455

Unknown said...

Hi Dave T - re. walking trousers for those with a shorter leg... Being on the short side, I've had most success with Craghoppers. They have 3 lengths and the short length is 28" inside leg. Their Kiwi Pro style is also nice and neat - not too much material flapping about.

As for warmth, I wear the same weight all year round - change to shorts in the heat. So I can't advise on warm trousers. I deal with the cold by moving a bit faster : )

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say a big thank you to all of the walk posters and the web site manager, for all of the work you put in to providing such an amazing selection of walks every week. Thank you also for the advice given on walks, train fares/deals, places of interest to visit and most of all, your company on the walks.
You are very much appreciated.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all.

Andrew said...

Last Thursday, 30 odd people paid £5 to join a Meetup group's short London walk. Is it that people like short walks, or walks with a host, or something else? Our walk's are cross-posted on Meetup, but that doesn't seem to have made much of a difference. Aside: There is a gap, authors, for short London walks with a history/architecture etc

Thomas G said...

There are various points touched on in your comment, Andrew.

To start from the back: Yes, there is certainly room for short walks with history, architecture or art background, but it all needs a lot of work, and dare I say it - more work than just throwing up a gpx file for a route and adding some sparse info... And if one wants to create one of the above types of walks, in my mind it is even more important than usual to get the facts right. So: art, architecture, history...it's not easy to keep it interesting for the layperson while factually correct and complete, w/o being an expert oneself. For now, I'll better stick to what I do, but once the easy short walk ideas have run out...

Short (Evening) Walks: We have a growing portfolio of them, and attendances these last few years have certainly rivalled those of popular weekend walks. There'll be more coming, but as always - we are volunteers and no one here wants to spend 24/7 on matters SWC... But my question: why aren't more of them posted in weekend slots by the walk posters that are so vocal about a perceived lack of short walks? You have to ask them, I guess. Personally, I'll wait until my knees get wonky before posting a short daytime walk outside of Bank Holidays...

Hosted/Guided Walks: Some people like a guided walk-format more than having to follow directions themselves, undoubtedly. I don't think though (Caution: controversial statement!) it's the SWC's purpose to cater for those people (in my opinion, they're very welcome to join but shouldn't be the ones calling the shots in this club). There's always The Ramblers, and CLOG and, and, and... I stand ready to be corrected, of course.

Paid-for Walks: in my observation the popularity of paid-for guided walks is not confined to short walks (just last week we bumped into a 30-40 strong Meetup contingent at Lewes station, they went to Southease, we to Glynde), and based on the groups I have witnessed myself (about 5 in as many years), judged by their attire, equipment, apparent fitness and attitude, generally they had little to no outdoor experience, with which I mean self-guided walks in the countryside (and not necessarily wild countryside at that), so one can understand why these folk want the security of following an "expert" they can trust (and who also takes away the need for organising everything). The hope is that in the long term, some will 'upgrade' to groups like ours.
The extreme end of this I just witnessed today: the londonwinterwalk.com, 2,000 participants (it was fully subscribed) doing 20 km along the Thames and back from Southwark Park, paying up to £50 for it and getting a bobble hat, a bandana, some refreshments and a fully flagged route for it. £50, where do I get the number from? The organisers are the same lot that are behind the easterwalk.com, and there - for 25 km through Windsor Park, people are paying up to £59! The people I saw today (walking right past my flat) were all having zero outdoor or walking experience. So: the less experience, the higher the willingness to pay up for an experience and safety and org etc.
Do we want to appeal to those people? I don't think so.

As for the success or otherwise of our walks being cross-posted on Meetup: it is indeed a bit curious that with 1,822 members there (more than Met Walkers and Capital Walkers, and about same as CLOG, but a mere fraction of the paid-for groups Outdooraholics and GO London), we don't get more Occasionals turning up.

Anonymous said...

Dear SWC

I love this site and first of all many thanks for all the work that goes into making it such a great resource!

A slight shame, in my opinion, is that holiday walks (eg in Wales or abroad) are included in the list of club walks. This I think dilutes the power of the list. If only day walks were included, new visitors would clearly understand the main focus and area of expertise of the group, and could be amazed to see how many routes they can easily do in a day out from London. As it stands, this is not clear and the list is confusing.

Also including random holiday walks means that unfortunately the first walk in the list is "Algarve".

Today when I Googled "swc walks" this walk appeared at the top! It does not give a good represenration of what the club is about.

My suggestion would be to remove holiday walks and if required make a separate page where they can be labelled as such.

Thanks again for all your work which is much appreciated.
Regards
Elsa

Andrew said...

Elsa - Fair point. Needs some thought. There are now enough 'holiday walks' for a 'outside the SE' list to make sense

Sean said...

Elsa makes a good point. For regular club walkers who only visit This Week's Walks or the Comments page it's easy to lose track of how a casual visitor might perceive the site for the first time. I think it's essential to highlight the "Day Walks from London" which are our defining feature and move the rest into something like a "Further afield" section.

There are other oddities as well as the "Algarve" anomaly, including some bizarre items in the dropdown lists from the top menu. What is so important about "FA Minimiser" to club members? Or Storrington pubs? How many SWC walkers need to consult the list of Screwfix and Toolstation locations in UK Maps, or indeed the top item (Nudist Beaches)?

Sean said...

Re Andrew's comment about short London walks: there are about twenty in the main walk list as well as all the Short Walks. I've contributed eight, with others from Jon G, Pete B, etc. These don't tend to get posted very often on Saturdays but I think they work better as Sunday walks. I'm going to restrict my Sunday choice (every four weeks) to something inside the M25. As well as our club walks and the Transport for London site (London Loop, Capital Ring, etc) there's even a Time Out Book of London Walks, although most of these are rather too short for a full day walk.

Thomas makes a good point though: it takes more effort to research and write up "Feature" walks like this, and it's only worth doing if people are interested in reading about them. Maybe this type of walk works best with a guide who draws attention to the features, or for solo walkers who don't have the distraction of trying to keep up with a group while chatting to friends.

Thomas G said...

...always a good idea to get rid of inconsistencies, dead information and things that "sounded like a good idea at the time"... In the perfect world we'd even re-set the website completely as we think it should be rather than as it has grown over nearly 20 years. All this preferably though AFTER the webmaster has consulted other regular contributors to this site...

Andrew said...

Sean: I have been moving towards the opinion that 'every possible link at the top' is too cluttered.
TG: Good reply. It was a day walk.
Also: the 'walk map' page has been on my 'to do' list for some years. Maybe some sliders or other way of filtering walks. Try www.alltrails.com, then 'los padres forest', then a walk at random.

Andrew said...

The majority of visitors use a mobile now, so I'm changing some pages (e.g TWW) to be more mobile (i.e. narrow screen) friendly

By device
Iphone: 41%, PC: 26%, Android: 22%, Mac: 9% (so mobile: 63%, desk/laptop: 35%)

By Browser
Safari: 42%, Chrome: 40%, IE: 4%, Edge: 4%, Samsung browser: 4%, Firefox: 4%

Figures are for users, not page views.

MoonBrain said...

For Walks Reports, should we have m for mud in addition to n for numbers and w for weather?
It is certainly something which is considered when deciding to go on a walk.

Andrew said...

Mud? With hindsight, it should be #23 for numbers and #muddy_but_sunny for anything else.

Andrew said...

The 10 day x hourly weather pages, which I particularly liked, no longer work. IBM brought the wunderground.com some years back, and have just turned off its API (weather feed) for non enterprise customers. No other free weather feed is anywhere near so generous - the Met Office is 5 day x 3-hourly.

Amib said...

Bearing in mind that the majority of the walks on this site start at rail stations, and then involve crossing of the tracks at some point later on, I'm surprised that the contentious issue of the closure of such crossings hasn't previously been mentioned?
'Network Rail (NR)' are currently testing the waters in the East of the country, and, whereas crossings have occasionally been moved or closed in the past, we're now looking at a whole new ball-game! 'Ramblers' members will be familiar with this campaign, via the paper, 'SE Walker', but, apparently, despite the massive threat to the national footpath network, it seems the membership are not too bothered. Many others, who are not members, are not even aware this happening, as NR are doing this stealthily whilst the Brexit debacle takes the limelight (they're also decimating scores of trees along the embankments, Nature's corridors!). Once a precedent is set, it would appear that they'll have 'carte blanche' to then attack the crossings throughout the country. This cannot be allowed to happen.
'The Ramblers' are doing their bit, if you 'Google' it, but they have limited resource. It needs further public attention as well, so I've recently written to Tom Heap at 'Countryfile' in an attempt to do this, so strongly do I feel. Whether the BBC will air the subject is another matter though.
Other walking group members, like this one and the 'Meetups', should also lobby their M.P's (useless though they have proven to be of late!) as another avenue.
My own solution would be that where a crossing is closed, a footbridge is built, end of, but NR want circuitous alternative routes put in place, often dangerous, to offset the maintenance costs to the local Authorities. This could well result in more road deaths than the suicides they claim to be preventing!
If NR get their way, many of the walks on this site could be drastically affected and, of course, would need to be re-written, but it's the principle of the attack on the path network that annoys me. These were here before the rails. The Victorians recognised this when building the railways and so allowed crossings over the tracks. Now NR is trying to dispense with their maintenance costs, under the guise of Health and Safety, just at a time when walking is becoming even more popular.
I'd be interested to hear what others think?

Sean said...

Amib is quite right to raise the issue of rail crossing closures and get members of the SWC involved. I've also been following the progress of the Essex inquiry in 'SE Walker' and I signed a petition about the closures on the Ramblers' site when this kicked off a few years ago (I doubt if it's still there).

I suspect that after one or two incidents Network Rail have been clobbered under Health & Safety legislation and their top brass have simply decided to minimise their future liabilities by closing as many crossings as they can get away with, however inconvenient to walkers and the general public. However, it's worth noting that we don't yet know how badly this is going to turn out, since the Inspector's recommendation on which crossings to close won't be published until the end of the year.

Although it's tempting to expect the Ramblers to object to every closure I think the view of one Essex representative in the last issue of the magazine was more realistic: to focus on improving the diversions being offered where they're dangerous or impractical, perhaps by seeking to add new rights of way to improve the local walking routes generally.

As Amib says, the obvious solution to a proposed closure (at least on well-used crossings) is a footbridge but this can run into obstacles. I recently came across the example of a crossing at the southern end of Lingfield station which has been 'temporarily' closed since 2011 when two girls were almost hit by a train. In this instance Network Rail did eventually propose a new footbridge but their plan was rejected by Surrey County Council because it had no ramps or a lift and so was deemed unsuitable for people with disabilities, parents with prams, etc. So because the planned replacement failed some well-meaning legislation (and the current diversion to a footbridge at the other end of the platform isn't excessive) the crossing will probably stay closed indefinitely.

Perhaps I'm being too dispassionate because the current focus on East Anglia seems fairly remote to me. I'm sure I'll feel more strongly about this issue if lots of useful rail crossings are slated for closure in my local area...

Andrew said...

the weather pages have a new moonlight tab, with moon rise, set and facillum.

Anonymous said...

Could Walker please recommend a May Bank Holiday walk in Hampshire where bluebells are likely to be still out? Thank you.

Jo C said...

I'm hoping to contact the walker from Bolivia, her name is Ulli. She gave me some top tips when we were on a walk about a month ago. Now I've booked flights and go on 12th June. I've got lots more questions so if Ulli sees this, please let me know if you're doing any upcoming walks via The Forum. Gracias !

Anonymous said...

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission are holding open days at Brookwood Military Cemetery on Friday, 28th and Saturday, 29th June, from 10.00 - 16.00. Address: Dawney Hill, Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0JB. Free entry and free parking. Nearest station: Brookwood.
Events on the open days will include: talks and tours by volunteers, vintage military vehicles, stonemasonary demonstrations and a Spitfire exhibition.

Andrew said...

We have had a request from a (not club) walker to post a walk.

While "the only rule about SWC is bring a copy of the route", some regular walk posters have complained about people (club members, let alone non club members) doing this in the past. They have reasonable points... it takes a lot of effort to post a walk... too many walks on the same day... we don't know who the new poster is

So, the question is, should anyone be able to post a walk, should any "club member", or just the club's "scheduled posters"?

Thoughts?

Thomas G said...

Hear! Hear! ...took you a long time to raise that subject here, Mr. Andrew...

Just to clarify the "regular walk posters'" point of view at the time (end of last year it was): the person in question had (by his own admission) never walked with the SWC, no one knew him, and he was suggesting (via email) to the webmaster to post a long walk (for the time of year) with a late start that was guaranteed to finish in darkness, and all that map-led only, and 'led' by him. We 'regular walk posters' strongly objected to that proposal, especially as the draft post (by the webmaster) had gone up without any previous consultation and/or discussion. As it happens, we asked Mr. X to first come to a couple of club walks, to get to know the people (incl. some walk posters) and take it from there, but - of course - we have heard nothing from him ever since (to my knowledge).
Apart from that particular case though, walk posting DOES take time and thought, and - as we have a fixed rota - the volunteers involved in the posting do them whatever the season, the weather or any other circumstances. So yes, we (at least a clear majority of us) are loath to people just popping up when the sun shines and posting a favourite seaside walk (or somesuch) and then disappearing again for the muddy season, so to speak.
And yes, if we have a potential turnout of 40-75 walkers on a Saturday (Walker runs a spreadsheet with attendances and apparently those are the average numbers over years and years of charting them) and far fewer on a Sunday, there is a natural max number of walks that make sense to have on a given day. No one I know is happy to spend 30-60 minutes of their time on a walk posting if the potential turnout drops to low single figures regularly, just because we have too many walks posted.
That doesn't mean we can't re-jig the rota (and we have done so several times over the last few years) or have some other walk posters join the team or have a slot reserved for occasional posters (but where exactly is the queue of chomping-at-the-bits potential walk posters? where is the flood of walk requests on the forum that we don't then act on? they're not there), but I don't think the total number of walks posted should go up unless and until we have rising walk attendances.
And as a basic rule, I think any walk poster should be a regular walker with the club, how else are they going to know what punters think and want, or even just know the walks? We already make an exception by tolerating the webmaster posting occasionally (smiley face emoticon)...
And anyway: at the moment a total of 12 people are involved in walk posting, out of about 100-150 regularly active SWC walkers (please correct me if you have evidence to suggest the number is higher), that's a high percentage already, surely?

Anonymous said...

I'm a regular walker and I wouldn't be in favour of just anyone posting a walk. I think the people who currently post do a fine job and you kind of get to know what a day will be like depending on who posted the walk. I've seen requests from people for walks and as far as I can tell, the regular posters accommodate all (sensible) requests. Currently, as best they can, the posters try and have a geographical spread and variety of lengths and terrain. As well as taking that into consideration, they check train routes for engineering works and to see if lunch spots are still operating. It belittles their efforts to think that it should be a free for all.

I think that as well as the occasional requests posted on the website, 'club members' probably already informally make requests to posters and these are accommodated. So, if you want to influence the walk postings without becoming a walk poster, the best thing is to support the club by your presence and get to know people.

Andrew said...

@thomas. its someone new

I like that idea that anyone can say: "I'd like to do this walk (check), would anyone else like to come along", or advertise complementary walks (e.g. the Sunday Walks or Silent Walks of a few years back).

But I appreciate (say a last minute seaside walk on a sunny day) wouldn't go down well on a weekend with someone who'd thoughtfully planned a club walk.

Anonymous said...

If we go with the "I'd like to do this walk (check), would anyone else like to come along" approach, may as well dispense with having walk posters. Get rid of the website and create a big WhatsApp group... One thing newbies or nervous people fear is turning up to a walk and being the only person. That can happen now (seems rare) with only 3/4 walks on a Saturday, more of a risk with more walks. And from my experience, the non-committed 'Hey guys, I'm going on this walk on Saturday, hope to see you there!!!' types often follow up with a comment the night before 'Sorry guys, just checked the forecast, looks like rain, think I'll give it a miss, soz my bad.' Wouldn't want to depend on them showing up for a walk they posted that they might fancy doing (if it's not too cold or too wet or windy or they've not had a late night). I realise the SWC is meant to be a bit loosey-goosey, but a few parameters are not a bad thing. Complementary/themed walks not a bad idea...I'm sure we've all been on a walk and found ourselves wishing it was a silent one : )

Thomas G said...

@andrew: no, he wasn't "new" to the club. he wasn't - and isn't - a member of the club at all, as defined (on our website and in the hallowed books) by attending club walks! and that also applies to anyone else who sees this just as a cheap way to reach the masses and just do any old walk (or new walk) they like.

and yes - if any club member fancies doing a non-regular walk posting, I think it's a good idea to first inform/consult the people doing walk postings regularly, especially those ones that - as per the rota - will be posting on the day and weekend that the club member is targeting. common courtesy, surely? as another very active walk poster said in an email to you some months ago (quoting from memory here): "how would you feel if some geek starting fiddling with the website design w/o consulting you first?"

that doesn't mean there can't be extra-walks on sunny days, or silent walks or noisy walks or art walks or architecture walks or long walks or short walks or strolling walks or dog walks or cat walks etc. pp., but - for God's sake - don't just do it; co-ordinate it (beforehand)! how can that be contentious?

David Colver said...

“Biggest new fitness trend of 2019”

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/14/hiking-walking-younger-generation-ramblers

Mike A said...

If you haven't already seen it and you have an interest in how important, inspiring and beautiful wildflower meadows are you might like to take a look at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0006nz2/gardeners-world-2019-episode-18

Anonymous said...

Any walks on Sunday this week?

Anonymous said...

coming up soon, goes the rumour...

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Mike for the link to the wildflower programme,
absolutely fascinating.

Daisy Roots said...

There is a nationwide campaign called "Don’t Lose Your Way" which aims to find a restore lost historic footpaths. It might be of interest to some.

https://www.ramblers.org.uk/dontloseyourway

Anonymous said...

hi just read the blurb on site about GPS units. Really don't want to shell out mega dosh for the Satmap Active 10 or some oversized watch and same amount again for OS maps, talk about expensive..
Anyone use a Garmin unit and more specifically the GARMIN E-TREX 30 please? what's good what's bad about it?
Many thanks!
would so appreciate any opinions loads of yous use these things..

Andrew said...

I've applied on behalf of the club for funding from TFL and SWR (trains to Guildford, Southampton, Weymouth). The funds are to be used for walk author's expenses for new walks / walk checks in the TFL / SWR areas.

Andrew said...

Do people think the walks posts feed to meetup.com is worth the cost?
1. The idea was a new source of members
2. It has all the (see who is coming | post a review reminders ) stuff
3. It has payments.. possibly useful for holiday organisers
4. The cost has been creeping up since meetup.com was sold. It's now owned by WeWork, but they are in trouble, and have withdrawn their IPO. Sources say they are trying to sell meetup.com
5. Monthly cost is $24 ($16.5 if pay 6-monthly)
Thoughts?

Sean said...

The consensus from today's lunch pub discussion was that it wasn't worth continuing with the Meetup feed. Yes, we do get some people turning up because they've seen a walk there (especially evening walks, I believe), but no-one could think of anyone who had come back for a second walk. According to the SWC page on Meetup.com we have 2,385 members (joining at the rate of one a day), but scanning down the photos I didn't recognise any of them as people who actually come on our walks.

My impression is that people who turn up via Meetup are mildly baffled by our leaderless walks, but as there's hardly any feedback on the Meetup site it's difficult to know what they really make of it all. I doubt if many of them know much about the walk they've come along to do, but as someone at the front will be peering at the route on a gizmo they can just tag along like everyone else (as do many of our regulars, of course).

The automatic transfer of walk posts onto the Meetup site is impressive, but there are some confusing aspects which ought to be ironed out if we continue with it. To my mind the location and time shown ought to be where and when the group is supposed to meet, as I'm sure it would be for any other Meetup event. The text says a group meets "by the exit of the station the walk starts from" but the Google map shows a central London location (and not always the 'correct' London terminus - today's Paddington walk shows Trafalgar Circus).

Unknown said...

Hello, I don't know if this is the right place to ask but here goes. I haven't been on a SWC walk for at least 15 years. I would like to go on one tomorrow (Saturday 19th Oct). Way back when, the the three walks used to have a fast a relaxed and a slow. I forget the exact wording. There doesn't seem to be anything about the speed on these. Are they all the same? My fitness levels are probably not up to a fast one. I used to mostly do the middle ones as they had longer in the pub for lunch. (The fast walkers were very keen). I would be grateful for any help? Annette

Thomas G said...

reg. meetup feed: I tend to agree with Sean (apart from the start of walk time issue). there have been a few recruits through the meetup channel, but very few have come again. the ones that did come though were kind of not aware that they are supposed to be able to self-lead (i.e. to have directions or gpx route) and - especially on evening walks, which attracted a few day tourists to London amongst the meetup numbers - that puts pressure on the 'leader'/poster/author of a walk to talk those folk through the walk, highlight features etc.; i.e. repeat all that stuff that's already included in the write-up. and that turns a casual evening walk into an unpaid work assignment.

Walker said...

Annette, I would have to say that compared to 15 years ago we are probably all fast walkers now (possibly super-fast). There are many 9-10 mile walks that used to seem a decent length for a day's outing that now seem too short, because we finish them by 3pm or somesuch, I don't regard myself as a fast walker at all - I am invariably at the back of the group - but even I find I can do a 12 or 13 mile walk in February without finishing after dark (or only just after dark, say). In the early days of the SWC this would have been a long walk for a summer's day.

There has also been a marked reduction (it seems to me) in stopping to look at the view, etc. We used to often sit down on the downs after lunch and admire the view, but this happens now more rarely, to my personal regret. An exception is in summer where we have walks by the sea and a small but dedicated band of us stop to swim, enabling non-swimmers to sit on the beach awhile. Winter in general has a tendency to speed walks up a bit, as there is less incentive to dawdle when the weather is colder.

We still spend a decent time in the pub for lunch (sometimes unwillingly, because the food takes ages to come...) though the numbers of walkers bringing sandwiches has crept up a bit in recent years.

Having said that, there is something of a backlash against the faster/longer brigade, particularly (I am probably going to upset some people here, but it is true) as we get older and some walkers start to slow down. Over the summer there was a shorter walk of under ten miles each Saturday and this was aimed at more relaxed walkers. My advice to you would be to pick the shortest of the available walk options, as this is more likely to be at a manageable pace for you.

One last thing to say is that where groups are larger they inevitably fragment and you then get some walkers who go slower and some who go faster.

I hope all this won't put you off and that we will see you on the walks again.