by ANTONY CLAY
FOUR decades on and a popular rambling club is still going strong.
The group – which has around 120 members – has just celebrated its 40th anniversary and has treks planned for every weekend, as well as longer trips away.
But it is certainly more than a chance to ramble in this country’s stunning rural places – it is an opportunity for people to get together and have fun.
Rotherham Rambling Club was started by three men who thought the town should have a walking club to get folk out and about.
Little did they expect the response on the first meeting when dozens turned up all ready to ramble.
One current member is John Bashforth, of Firbeck, who joined Rotherham Rambling Club relatively recently three years ago with his wife Julie.
He said that they have not regretted signing up and regularly take to the footpaths with other members.
“Although it’s called a rambling club it’s a walking group really,” said John, who spoke to Chase on behalf of the club.
“But it’s a walking group with a big social side. All walks finish at a pub, for instance.
“People have made lifelong friendships out of this club and they are a really nice bunch of people, They all bend over backwards to help you.”
There are walks every Sunday and some midweek walks, as well as holidays both in the UK and in Europe.
All walks are pre-visited to make sure they are safe and organisers of each trek make sure that safety is paramount for all participants. Somebody leads walks and there is a back marker to ensure that no one is forgotten.
“So it means that people who cannot read maps too well can still come along,” said John.
“No one gets left behind.”
The 40th anniversary of the group was celebrated in style with a big bash at Firbeck Village Hall in June which was attended by 70 members.
Membership comes from a wide area but mainly in the Rotherham district and is varied in terms of people’s backgrounds.
The age range of the group ranges from around 40 to people in their 80s.
“Members range from ex-miners to a college professor,” said John. “There is every walk of life there.
“People are not obsessed by walking, they have got lots of interests.
“There are some members now who just do the social thing. There are some who go on the holidays but don’t do the walks”
“It’s a social thing really, Everyone is really nice. People spend time talking to each other.
“It’s great for people who have lost partners because everyone talks to everyone else.
“We would like to attract more members. You do need a reasonable level of fitness and anyone who does come has to wear walking boots.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can visit the club’s website at http://www.rotherhamramblingclub.co.uk or just attend one of the walks, for free.
The club is run by a committee of eight and its 120 members keep in touch via the website. They also receive a book showing walks for the year and can attend as many or as few as they wish.
Membership costs £6 per annum.
The club was started by three men who worked together in Rotherham’s wire industry — Alan Davis, Glyn Mansell and Adrian Wall.
They designed their own posters to promote their new club.
“They came up with the idea as there was no walking club in Rotherham so they decided to set one up,” said John.
The posters urged anyone interested to meet for the first event at the Bridge Inn in Rotherham. To their surprise, 80 turned up — and the seeds were sown for success.
Glyn returned to give a speech at the 40th anniversary celebrations.
The club has raised money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue because, said John, these organisations have helped people who enjoy the great outdoors like the club’s members do.
John said that more and more people are seeing the health benefits of walking and enjoying getting away from the hurly burly of urban life.
He said: “There are numerous walking clubs now.
“Healthwise people who do outdoor stuff will stick to it but the people who go to a gym often get bored at looking how big they are.
“There are 80 year olds in the club who are so fit. I would defy younger people to keep up with them.
“When people do get ill they get better quicker because they are fit.
“People want exercise and fresh air all year round so you cannot beat it.
“The main thing is that it empties your head especially if you have lots going on in your life.
“When you finish a walk you feel tired but it’s a very relaxing way of feeling tired.
“Well-being has always been a part of the club. The social side of it is as important as the walking.
“Anyone who comes along will feel really welcome.”
John said that members of the group enjoy doing what they do and encourage others to join in.
When they go out on trips, he said that they set a good example.
“They are a good asset for Rotherham because whenever members go abroad they are promoting the district,” said John.
It is good news that more and more people are choosing to spend their leisure time outdoors exploring the countryside.
The Rotherham Rambling Club wants people to get involved, particularly younger people who will be the outdoor enthusiasts of the future.
So, leave the concrete, noise and traffic behind and explore the mountains, hills and lowlands of our stunning countryside.
And make some great friends on the way!