The Start and First Thirty Years
The inaugural walk was on a warm evening in early June 1974 from Cirencester to Daglingworth with 2 dozen walkers. This was followed by an evening walk on July 9th from the Daneway and a Sunday afternoon walk of 6 miles on September 1st at Miserden. The first three leaders were Tony Drake, Marjorie Lashan and Peter Clemence, respectively
The Inaugural Meeting of the Cirencester Group of the Ramblers Association was on 24th September 1974 at the Church Hall, Watermoor and the first committee was formed. The Group had 30 members.
Initially the walks tended to be all day and took place once a month. However from spring 1975 this increased to once a fortnight with shorter Saturday or Sunday afternoon walks. Membership reached 100 in 1987 and passed 200 in 1995
There has always been much more to the Group than the local walks programme and to list just a few of the achievements in the first thirty years
- Rambling holidays with the walking group of Cirencester’s twin town, Itzehoe, North Germany, both here in Cirencester and Itzehoe. (arranged by Stuart Dyer with the Cirencester Twinning Association)
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Malchin in Mecklenburg, East Germany was added.
There was a similar exchange with Cirencester’s Friendship town, St Genis La Val in France.
- Away day walks, e.g. Brecon Beacons, Lynton and Lynmouth. This was then extended to hotel based weekends away, usually to the coast, which have become an annual feature of the group's programme. Bill Irving arranged three long distance walks, The Vanguard Way, The Isle of Wight Coastal Path and from Weston-Super-Mare to Tetbury .
- Footpath work throughout the years - at the start, many footpaths were blocked or overgrown and the maps at the time did not have the detail of today’s maps. Stuart and Mary Pym helped to plan and way mark the sections of the 'Macmillan' and 'Monarchs' ways in our area. Also Stuart helped landowner, Mr William Chester-Master in planning and way marking a walk using permissive paths around his land. This area is known to the locals as the 'Hare Bushes'.
- Compilation and publication of five local Walks Leaflets , which were updated by Bill and Jane Irving and are now sold at Cirencester two Tourist information outlets
- Contributions to TV programs:
October 1987, 8 members took part in Granada TV programme “The Countryside”.
1995, a sequence in Bibury to be included in the BBC's Songs of Praise Advent Service from Cirencester's Parish Church and then a few days later filming in Lechlade for ITV's Central News to mark the Thames Path being designated a National Trail
- From 2002 we did a number of shared walks with the Pinner Group
To name a few of the “long service” committee members who contributed so much in the first thirty years, Peter and Jean Clemence, Mary Pym, Stuart Dyer and Bill Irving .
On the Dome Roof Terrace at the Bundestag, Berlin (L to R, Jane Irving, Jean Clemence, Coralie Dustin, Bill Irving, Peter Clemence)
Past Chairs, in date order, are Bryan Ratcliffe (1974), Tony Reynolds (1975), Peter Clemence (1982), Mary Pym (1985), Stuart Dyer (1986), Bill Irving (1995), Phil Gearing (2004)