Have you ever climbed the tree-covered slopes of Ashley Hill on a sharp winter’s morning; strolled through the meadows from Maidenhead to the centuries old village of Cookham; viewed the grandeur of Windsor Castle from the Copper Horse; explored the beech woods around Winter Hill in Spring or Autumn or gazed down on the winding Thames from the slopes above Cock Marsh?
If you have done any of these you have followed in the footsteps of East Berks Ramblers.
The group was formed in Maidenhead in 1970 to restore, protect and improve the 1,200 public rights of way in the eastern half of Berkshire. Local paths were poorly maintained at that time and the Group organised working parties to open up scores of paths that had become impassable. Ramblers working parties renewed footbridges, repaired stiles and erected signposts. This work was led by Margaret Bowdery, MBE, who as our Footpath Secretary was a fierce champion of walkers rights and public access. Margaret, who was Branch President, sadly died in 2017. A memorial plaque is to be installed on a new bridge over The Cut in Braywick, Maidenhead.
Thanks to her drive and the work of many others East Berkshire now has a comprehensive and well-maintained public rights of way network. But work continues to keep it this way through our team of Path Wardens, who regularly check all footpaths in the group’s area, and our working parties who carry out maintenance work. Income from the sale of our publications and maps helps to fund local improvements such as stile replacement, and some wider activities such as the lost paths initiative.
Achievements since our formation include:
- Clearing obstructions from over 50 miles of paths
- Erecting or repairing more than 700 signposts
- Building or repairing some 220 stiles and 86 footbridges
- Persuading local landowners to provide many miles of Permitted Paths
- Winning several prizes for conservation work
- Completing a number of projects for the National Trust, such as tree-planting and scrub clearance
- Contributing to the Royal Borough’s Path Improvement Plan under the Countryside Rights of Way Act
- Donating £5,375 towards the construction of Temple Bridge over the River Thames at Hurley
- Funding over 20 kissing gates on local paths
- Successfully negotiating a safe crossing of the A404 at Bisham, including payment towards the considerable legal costs involved
- Negotiating the re-opening of the towpath under Cookham Bridge after 45 years of obstruction
- Negotiating a riverside route of the Thames Path opposite the Thames Hotel in Maidenhead and contributing £10,000 towards the cost of construction
- Devising the 18 miles Maidenhead Boundary Walk (now an annual charity event)
- Publishing and distributing Parish Footpath Maps, covering seven villages around Maidenhead and the very popular Windsor Great Park Map
- Producing, publishing and distributing the much-acclaimed Rambling for Pleasure series of walking guidebooks
- Attending many local shows and events to raise general awareness of the benefits of membership of the Ramblers’ Association
Organising and leading some thousands of walks of varying lengths for our members