A Tyneside club ( Ryton and District Pathfinders) which was formed to make regular walks to keep open rights of way and public footpaths over a wide area of Tyneside, from Blaydon and Whickham, to Riding Mill, made its pioneer walk 50 years ago at Ryton.
Among its keen party of walkers fifty years on, is stalwart JESMOND URC member. ….and brains behind the church’s ‘Messy Church’ among other things…Chris Rankin. Still going strong and now in her 8th decade Chris walks with the group most weeks.
In 1973 the secretary of the Ryton and District Pathfinders Group was Donald Martin. He then said many were worried and he was amazed , at the number of people who attended the first meeting of the Group. They included pensioners, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, many others from various walks of life. Interest was far ranging and the club was asked to include Blaydon, Whickham, Swalwell as well as Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill and Rownlands Gill.
The new club soon attracted a membership of 50 and a bulk order of two-and-a-half inch Ordnance maps of the area was made for members. Before any walks were undertaken they were vetted, and still area, by members of the committee to ensure the walk in questiion is still open.
It was hoped the idea would spread across the country, indeed growing concern over rights of way in the UK persists. Recently the owners of Dartmoor in Devon clamped down on anyone wanting to camp over the area, causing howls of protest across the UK
In County Durham, a cyclist and rambling enthusiast, Neil Gander, a former BBC radiio producer, campaigns to ensure ancient rights of way are not neglected, forgotten or dismissed without warning.
Ryton and District Pathfinders till has a healthy membership of 35, and a Gold Anniversary celebratory meal is planned for May the 10th in Ryton Village at 1pm.
A full programme of walks is planned this summer and winter, and includes. trips further afield when the group plans to stay at Dumfries, Innerleithen and Skipton.
*note. Contact details – Michael Curry, chairman of Ryton and District Pathfinders, on ….. 0744 3614 650