Dates for your Diary

Advance Notice

8 April 2019
For Mid Berks members only. We are considering booking a group holiday next spring (April 2019) at the HF country house
Abingworth Hall, in the South Downs. More details below.
23 June
Pang Valley Ramblers group are recreating a walk first done in 1894, with a Darwinian theme, and taking place in Kent. It includes a journey using the same stations as the original. All Mid Berks members are invited - there were 120 walkers on the original walk. For full details, follow this link.
Wednesday 18 July First Aid Course at the St. John Ambulance Centre, Church Road, Woodley, RG5 4QN. This is an evening course between 1800 to 2100 hours. To book a place please contact David Turner.
29 July
Our annual get together with the London Blind and partially sighted Rambling club. We need volunteers to pick up the walkers from Twyford Station and to assist on the walks from Waltham St. Lawrence. See full details in the programme and contact Ali Melabie if you can help.
12 August
A Coach Trip To the Bath area. Last year we led walks for the Bristol ramblers in the Henley area. This year they have invited us to their area. They propose to start the walks from the village of Cold Ashton and finish in Bath. There will be 3 walks to choose from , 7/8, 11/12 and 14/15 miles.
Pick up 1: ASDA Lower Earley @ 08.30
Pick up 2 : Calcot @ 08.50
There should be time in Bath to have refreshments and we will leave around 17.30
Full details will be provided in the next programme. The Approx. cost will be £20 pp (depending on numbers)
If you wish to join the trip please advise Paul Townson, address in the printed programme, by the end of June with a £10 deposit p.p. made payable to Mid Berks Ramblers.

Mid-Berks Newsletter - April to July 2018 - edited extracts

We have certainly had plenty of mud, glorious mud for the autumn/winter, which however did not dampen our enthusiasm for being out and about. The compensation was once again glorious displays of spring flowers and mostly not too cold (although the "beast from the East" is forecast for March). As I write the snow is clearing and the sun is shining.

The A.G.M. in November was enjoyed by those who attended, with the necessary business kept to a minimum, preceded by the delicious cakes on offer and a delightful picture show of our holiday on the Isle of Wight, courtesy of Ron Knowles.

Both the Christmas lunch at the Butt Inn and the New Year lunch at The Bull at Theale were well attended and much enjoyed. However only the hardy amongst us attempted the walk, prior to the New Year lunch, due to inclement weather!

Once again the London walk, which has become a regular item on the programme, was much appreciated. As a bonus those who have joined them, have been given a souvenir dvd of the walk, by Terry Pritchard who is a keen photographer. Many thanks to Terry for his generous gesture.

This year Mid Berks will be hosting the Berkshire Area A.G.M. on November 17th at Mortimer West End Village Hall. Full details in the next programme.

Please note that we have suspended sending the walk programme electronically as the lists, over time, have become corrupted and the information we hold may be incorrect. We therefore will be sending everyone a printed copy by post. The information about walks can also be obtained from this website and from walk finder on the Ramblers website when you are out and about. We will ensure that these websites are regularly updated.

Holiday info

Spring holiday 2019

DETAIL of CHARGES: Holiday cost is £369.00 per person
Holiday is based on full board accommodation. The package starts with afternoon tea/coffee on arrival (served between 4.00 – 5.00pm) and finishes with breakfast on departure day. Packed lunch is provided daily excluding arrival and departure day.
If we manage to get 35 guests we can have sole occupancy of the House.
A Non-refundable deposit is due as follows:
A deposit of £75.00 per adult by 25 May 2018
Final balance is due six weeks before departure date.

To book a place (Mid Berks members only) email as soon as possible. A cheque for £75 pp made payable to Mid Berks Ramblers will then be required. All cheques should made payable to Mid Berks Ramblers and  sent to Maggie Hills, address in the printed programme.
There have already been a few enquiries for single rooms, so don't delay if you need a single room.

The youngest of Britain’s 15 National Parks, the South Downs National Park combines a bio-diverse landscape with bustling towns and cities. We will include some of the 160km South Downs Way. The quaint town of Arundel with its imposing castle is about 20 minutes’ drive away. Closer to home are Uppark House with its ornate rooms and gardens and 17th century Petworth House with extensive grounds landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and collection of works by the artist JMW Turner, whose studio was based in the Grand Library for many years. And just 10 minutes’ drive away is the large deer park of Elizabethan Parham House.

Autumn holiday 2018

From 10th September we have booked a 4-night holiday staying at the Riverside Inn in Monmouth. You may remember that we stayed there in 2013. The cost is £278 per person for a shared room on dinner, bed and breakfast basis with packed lunches. We have reserved a small number of single rooms at a cost of £328. If you would like to go on the guest list, please let Maggie know as soon as possible (especially for a single room).  The deposit is £75 pp and is now due. There will be a number of longer and medium led-walks, with many short walks and sight-seeing opportunities nearby. The hotel is just a short walk from the town of Monmouth. The address is Riverside Inn, Cinderhill Street, Monmouth, NP25 5EY. The hotel was originally a 19th coaching inn and now offers a combination of market-town energy and rural setting. More information can also be found on Trip Advisor

Maps and GPS

We were sitting on the ground having our sandwiches when a young man and his girlfriend stopped and asked to look at our map. He had maps on his i-pad but the battery had run out and he didn’t know how to get back to his car!

I love gadgets but wouldn’t be without a compass and paper map. GPS (Global Positioning System) can help but the gadgets require electricity. When working, GPS gadgets can tell you where you are with a grid reference, how far you have been, how fast and how high, and many other things. Some come with maps – even OS ones – so you can record your route. But they are expensive and if they have OS maps, very expensive.

GPS Systems

Smart phone or tablet

If you have a smart phone or ‘pad (tablet) it almost certainly has GPS built in and does not require wifi, but will have no suitable maps for hiking in the country - they will cost you extra – we are talking £225 for the whole UK at 1:50K OS mapping. There are many Apps that use the GPS but not so many that work with OS mapping. For being out and about you will need off-line mapping so the maps are down loaded to your phone (or ‘pad) and wifi is not needed. I like OS mapping and it relates directly to the paper map. The main Apps that can use OS mapping are Memory-Map (used by Ramblers Association), Anquet, ViewRanger and OS. For these Apps you can buy whole-country maps at 1:50K or regions or individual ’tiles’ to cover just the area you want. You can add tiles when you need them. This works well with 1:25K maps as to get the whole country at this scale is not likely to be necessary and is very expensive indeed. As you probably know you can carry a portable charger to replenish the battery. My Samsung Note 4 (really a ‘phablet’) battery lasts for one very long walk without needing to be recharged. Of course if you use its camera a lot or phone or email – or, God forbid, music - then the battery won’t last so long. These Apps give you lots of stats and your co-ordinates for position, including the OS grid reference.

Handheld units like Garmin or SatMap GPS

These often use replaceable batteries like two AAs and although some have Topo maps built-in these are not as good as OS maps, in my opinion. They have colour screens and battery life is about 2 or 3 days of rambling. Some can run OS maps but these have to be purchased extra. It is possible to buy a handheld (such as the Garmin Oregon at £590) with OS 1:50K for the whole country pre-loaded and there are other makes and models, some less and some more expensive. They can take a route plotted in advance or record a track as you walk it – with all attendant stats. When abroad they can give other position co-ordinates like lat. & longitude. There are accessories like waterproof case, belt clip, carabiner or handlebar attachment.

Wrist-based GPS

The main one is the Garmin Foretrex which takes two AAA batteries (Duracells last for 2 long walks). It give lots of walk stats including altitude, gives the OS grid reference of where you are (you can choose many other co-ordinate types as well – useful when abroad). It can’t take maps and is very large.

Fitness trackers even with GPS are usually much more limited in what they can tell you and have poor battery life between charges. They can give your heart rate (pulse) but are expensive – for instance the Garmin Fenix 3 is £350 and can’t take maps. They are about the size of a wrist watch and can be used as a watch.

Batteries - The subject of another article.

This article is very abbreviated. Corrections or clarifications will be gratefully received.
Supplied by Ron Knowles

Mid-Berks Newsletter - December 2017 to April 2018 - edited extracts

Baby, it’s cold outside………

It may be cold outside, but that's no excuse to stay inside when you could be out walking and enjoying our lovely countryside! Here are just a few prompts before you head-out:

  • Keep warm - wear comfortable clothes and sturdy, comfortable footwear suitable for the conditions and terrain.
  • Several thin layers of clothing are better than one thick layer. You can take off layers as you warm up, or add them if you get cold.
  • Take a good waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers.
  • Wear a hat and gloves, and take a scarf – the winter wind can find its way into every gap!
  • Take some food with you, such as high energy snacks like flapjack, chocolate or dried fruit and nuts, and a flask with a hot drink.
  • Take a map and a mobile phone (charged and switched on) and make sure someone knows where you’ve gone and when you expect to be back.
  • Take a torch and spare batteries.
  • Consider wearing some reflective clothing if you are walking on roads after dark and remember to walk facing the traffic.

Ramblers have recently issued a revised version of the Walk Leader’s Checklist and an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card. These will be available at the MBRA AGM, Saturday 2nd December 2017.

Bucklebury (and Lambourn) Byways seasonal closures

West Berks Council are closing various Byways to 4WD vehicles, for the winter months, from 16th October 2017 to 15th April 2018. Walkers, horseriders, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists and carriage drivers will still be permitted to use them (providing there is not a separate total closure order). This is to protect vulnerable surfaces from damage. Notices, maps (and plastic barriers restricting the access width) will be at each end of the affected sections.

The council will be trying to monitor the routes over the winter with the help of the local police team but if anyone sees any vehicles using any of the closed routes they should report them immediately to the police on 101 with as much detail as possible and to the Rights of Way team at West Berks Council. If any particular route appears to be still being used by vehicles, the council may install Kent Carriage Gaps, i.e. lockable, retractable bollards.

If the seasonal order is deemed to be successful it could happen every winter. Details of the byways affected can be obtained from the Mid Berks Footpath Secretary.

Hopefully works to improve Bucklebury Byways 39/2, 49/7, 11/1 and 11/2 will be completed shortly.

Newsletter & Review

Once again our short walking break, on the Isle of Wight, was blessed with good weather. The accommodation at Warner’s Norton Grange, though not specifically catering for walkers, proved to be excellent value for money. Comfortable chalets and generous amounts of good food. Evening entertainment was available for those who wanted it. The amazing walks were led by our husband and wife team Vinny and Ron Knowles. Vinny patiently led the medium walkers (though she usually leads longer distances) and Ron led the hardier souls on the long treks. The views were amazing and the experience was enjoyed by all. Our heartfelt thanks for the hard work of all who book and arrange these short holidays for us and lead the walks.

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