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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Resumption of a Walks Programme [Update 18/06/20]

The recent toning down in language about how and when to use public transport, combined with the general encouragement to start shopping again (and therefore use public transport), plus some somewhat encouraging written advice given to the SWC by the Government Office make the SWC Walk Posters reasonably confident that Group Walks can be posted again soon, possibly as early as this weekend (20/21 June). This requires an internal agreement on a set of 'rules' that walkers are expected to adhere to as to enable us to go walking in safety (for us and anyone we do encounter en route and in the countryside), but without cumbersome administration (ie w/o the need to pre-book a place), while staying within the Government Guidelines as we understand them.
In that case, walk posts will go up asap.
===================================================

Update 18/06/20:
As the SWC’s ‘philosophy’ has always been one of leaderless/self-led walks based on freely available walk directions and downloadable digital route files, we are in a better position than most other walking clubs to start group walks again, as we can easily adhere to walking in small groups. But we have had to wait until groups of any size were allowed back into the countryside and restrictions on the use of public transport for non-key workers were relaxed enough to make organised walks possible again. Based on the latest advice and rules we think this point has now arrived.

The core statements from current advice given to the SWC by the Cabinet Office regarding Group Walks are:
“Groups of up to six people from different households are now able to meet outdoors in England, marking a step towards returning our social lives to normal. […] People should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession to avoid the risk of quick transmission between lots of different families. […]
Ultimately the decision of whether the walks are safe, and can conform to the guidance rests with you and the members of your walking club. We would advise you and your members to take a common sense approach, and to follow the issued guidance as best as you are able to.”

The core parts of the advice on the use of Public Transport as currently displayed in mainline stations are:
"Please keep your distance"; "Please wear a face covering"; "Travel during off-peak hours if you can"; "Can you travel another way?"; “Help us keep trains clear for those who really need them”.

With the above somewhat opaque advice in mind, we are now starting to post group walks again, using off-peak trains as usual, while aiming to choose routes with a low ratio of honeypot areas and of narrow paths with little ability to pass oncoming walkers at distance.

To keep everyone as safe as possible, walkers are expected to:
-      Stay at home if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have recently been in contact with someone that has them, are member of one of the high-risk groups or are living with someone that belongs to one of those groups;
-      Follow government guidance if using public transport (for details see above);
-      At the station at the start of the walk, immediately form small groups (no larger than 6) and stay with that group for the rest of the walk;
-      Share contact details with the other walkers in their group to facilitate contact tracing;
-      Start the walk with several minutes gap between groups (with the fast walkers leaving first);
-      Observe social distancing during the walk;
-      Show other walkers on the paths respect by standing back and allowing them to pass at a safe distance;
-      Be prepared for more than usual - and often inexperienced - cyclists out and about and provide them with polite guidance if they are found cycling on footpaths.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks, can you post the written advice so everyone can read it please?

Thomas G said...

Hi Anon. Sorry for the late reply, but it seemed more important to move the issue forward to a decision within the walk posters' group.
The walk post has now been updated and includes the key parts of the advice relevant to us. The rest of the advice was either irrelevant (meeting in private gardens etc) or formalities.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for resurrecting the amazing SWC.

Thomas G said...

Although it seems that consensus amongst the people who went on the weekend's walks is that everything went well and according to the agreed protocol (with a few minor refinements still possible), we also seem to agree that the only structural weakness is the automatic feed of our posts onto Meetup, potentially inviting people onto the walk that are neither familiar with the SWC's 'philosophy' nor with the agreed protocol and so are prone to not adhere to it as much as we'd like them to. Also, of course, they have no vested interest in the future of the SWC, so don't really care that much if we end up breaking the rules due to their actions.
As a result, walk posters seem in agreement that we can only keep posting walks if and when that Meetup feed is disabled. So we'll have to just wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Very sensible.

Anonymous said...

Is the meetup link really such a big problem if only one person turned up via that route at the weekend? The SWC website is very clear about how it works and what's expected. If a few people turn up, the majority of them probably will be prepared. COVID is likely to be with us for a long time and it would be a shame to deprive potential new members of the opportunity to join. I respect the concerns of walk posters and I'm really grateful for all the work they put into keeping the club going.
I hope it will be possible to start posting walks plagain soon.
Frances

Thomas G said...

Hi Frances.
Fair question. Answer: it depends.
If the person has read the walk post and our blurb about how the club works and also the Covid 'rules' and acts accordingly: no difference to anyone else, no problem.
If they haven't done most of that and then blindly follow a 'leader' while asking the occasional 'How long do we have to go?', 'What is this we're looking at?' or 'Which train will we catch?' then they just are a minor or major annoyance.
But if they do the above AND refuse to distance on narrow paths AND refuse to wear face coverings on trains AND plonk themselves in the row between other people that those people had deliberately left free for distancing AND then get up to pace up and down the aisle while doing their stretches, then that puts paid to anything all others are trying to achieve with this Covid-rules malarkey. That's then what I call a problem. And that type of thing we can only try to control if it's a person known to us that is likely to want to come back to walk with us. But only then.

Anonymous said...

moved here from the Hope Valley post...

Mike A, Wed 24 Jun 20, 11:51
Latest Ramblers Statement
I have just seen this from the Ramblers which summarises their view of the latest Gov statement
https://mailchi.mp/6449742f71ce/volunteers-restarting-activities-gwem?e=18da90a791

Daisy Roots said...

Meetup are starting to advertise walks again. They have Seaford to Eastbourne listed for 18th July.

Marc Ricketts said...

What about a Walk in Essex on July 11th. Ether Walton on Naze to Clacton on Sea or Jaywick, Canvey island, Wivenhoe, Brightlingsea, Marks Tey or Sudbury?

Bill S said...

Good news! Is it worth including a message in the Covid 19 section of the Forum referencing this post for the benefit of those (like me) who have an alert set up to let them know of any new comments there about resumption of walks

Marcus said...


SWC Wednesday walks will resume on 15 July if my fellow mid-week walk poster and I think it safe to do so. Walk starts will be slightly later than before in order to avoid any travelling at the back-end of rush hour.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Marcus. Great news.

Mike P said...

It's important that all walkers read the clear, sensible guidance on the SWC website and abide by it, particularly in relation to contact details. Conscientious objectors should walk separately, whether they are from Meet Up or SWC. It's all about respecting our responsibilities to each other.

Thomas G said...

To reiterate Mike's point following a walker refusing to give contact details, and the walk group refusing to split into subgroups (for more details see the walk report for Saturday's Harpenden walk): walkers that can't get themselves to comply with the few rules the Walk Posters have set for people attending the walks in these circumstance (clearly stated at the top of This Week's Walks and also in the explanatory walk post about the Resumption of a Walks Programme) should not come on a SWC walk for the time being. No walk poster has any problem with people breaking the rules and laws while they go about the countryside under their own steam or in email-arranged groups of walkers not under the SWC name, but on SWC business we demand people stick to the rules as they are (as does any other walking club that has taken up operations again, may that be The Ramblers, CLOG, MeetUp or any other club I know of).
As as an immediate result of these rebels' activities I will not post another walk that I am not 100% sure to be on myself, so that I can then deal with scenarios like this appropriately, and I can't see any other walk poster doing so either.
To repeat: the SWC does not want to be seen to be breaking the rules and laws as laid down by Government and does not want to be seen to quietly enable or tolerate people to be breaking those rules and laws while on a SWC walk.

Anonymous said...

Government guidance FAQs:

5.1 Who is allowed to travel on public transport?

If you need to travel to work or make an essential journey, you should cycle or walk if you can, but you can use public transport if this is not possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allows people who need to make essential journeys to travel safely.

Mike said...

This one may be more directly relevant to SWC - significantly it doesn't ask you not to travel.

5.4 Can I use public transport to get to green spaces?
You should still avoid using public transport wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.


Anonymous said...

Maybe because it has already been covered in 5.1. Some exemptions do exist, eg people with autism might be in some circumstances.

MoonBrain said...

1.11 Are day trips ok?
Yes, day trips to outdoor open space are allowed. You should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household or support bubble. You should continue to avoid using public transport if you can. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Government's guidance at 4 July is still clear that only essential journeys should be made by public transport. This is what it actually states:


"5.1 Who is allowed to travel on public transport?

If you need to travel to work or make an essential journey, you should cycle or walk if you can, but you can use public transport if this is not possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allows people who need to make essential journeys to travel safely."

"5.4 Can I use public transport to get to green spaces?

You should still avoid using public transport wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers."

Therefore, the expectation is that you will not use public transport to access green spaces that are further afield. On 9 July Network Rail was using digital noticeboards to advise "Is your journey necessary? Please only travel if it is essential" and "Do not travel by train for leisure". This reflects the above guidance. I travel on public transport to and from work (critical worker) and I feel ashamed when I see ramblers/walkers travelling for leisure.


Mike P said...

We are all doing our best to deal with very difficult circumstances and trying to make sense of inconsistent guidance, so please don’t patronise others. Personally I did not use any form of vehicle for about 3.5 months. On occasions that means a 3 hour round trip on foot to a supermarket (actual shopping time, 5 mins). Recently, I’ve used public transport on one day only.
I’ve reluctantly concluded that the government is simply not considering the needs of public transport users. Are they ever going to encourage normal public transport use again? I doubt it. This while encouraging motorists to drive across country and flop down on crowded beaches and opening up shops, airports and holiday accommodation, for those who can get there. At some point people have to consider their quality of life, not least for mental health reasons.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with Mike. The comment he responded to was very patronising and holier-than-thou. Keep your affected shame to yourself, please. Read the papers:the government you have appointed yourself as a spokesperson for will soon be encouraging public transport use. Why? So public transport survives.

Thomas G said...

Hi Anonymous at 14.31.
It is unfortunate that you feel too many people are using public transport and that you are ashamed of them. Seeing that you refer to "...ramblers/walkers travelling for leisure...", I can only deduct that you are talking about off-peak trains, presumably weekend services, as no walker or rambler would pay for peak prices if they don't have to, and all the ones I know are acutely aware of not putting undue pressure onto trains, tubes and buses during rush hour. But in my personal experience of using PT over the last 4 months, I have not seen a single off-peak service too busy to adhere to the social-distancing rules valid at the time, so you must be very unlucky to have witnessed some.

Further to Mike P's arguments, I would challenge your interpretation of the rules that you quote though: "Therefore, the expectation is that you will not use public transport to access green spaces that are further afield." is far from being the only and clearly correct interpretation of that piece of text you quote. We have been over this ground a month ago and debated the same text passages and have unanimously come to the conclusion that the use of PT, off-peak, with distancing and face-covers and if no viable alternative is available to get to your destination, is well within the rules, as imprecise as they are. And, surprise, surprise: other walking clubs are seeing it the very same way. For example, OutdoorAholics (via MeetUp) are raising their permitted group sizes to 30 from next weekend, and their walks rely on PT same as hours. And they are a commercial company, so they will have spent a few more minutes on checking the legal framework than we did.

Generally, I think it's futile to quote carefully selected bits of one 'rule' or the other to support your case (MoonBrain has shown how easy it is to find a seemingly contradicting quote in another 'rule'), as it's the very obvious strategy of BoJo's Government to be opaque and to put decisions into the hands of the public (with all their 'world-beating' common sense). So they have ditched scientists from making pronouncements and are issuing lots of contradicting advice, precisely so that the Great British Public can find their own way around the problem of 'How to live with Covid'. And, with due respect, I think the SWC are taking a very considerate approach in this situation. So, going forward, unless you find some new striking arguments, I suggest you refrain from continuing your one-person campaign of trying to rein us in.

As an aside, it won't have escaped your attention that BoJo has already started his next line of freeing up stuff, by suggesting people should start working from their offices again, rather than from home. So trains will get busier still, as they have to, because the way it is, the Taxpayer (ie you and I and most other people) is loosing fistfuls of money on PT every day.

Thomas G said...

These comments all moved here from the Brecon post...
Thomas G, Mon 13 Jul 20, 14:48
Hi Anonymous, sad to see you're silent now.
Rumour on the mean streets of my dark part of London has it that you might actually not be a SWC walker at all, but just some randon person that is venting their ire at an easy, low-hanging target? And as our blog does not require registration or even a verified email address, it is obviously such a low-hanging target, open to any person venting their spleen at any point in time.
Some advice from me: as we are a small community of no more than 200 (at best) active walkers, it seems a bad use of your valuable time (being a key worker as you are) to try to stop grown-up and generally well-behaved adults from going about their business in a responsible manner.
Why not direct your undoubted surplus of energy at more valuable targets?
What about the millions of car-less middle and lower class Britains that dare to take themselves and their families to beaches, zoos, National Trust properties, amusements parks etc (as encouraged by Government), while using public transpost to get there? Too many foes? Too difficult to target (have you tried the Daily Mail?)?
Or what about an easier identifiable target: Network Rail's Management, who recently have employed a veritable army of high viz-jacketed jobsworths to stand around at Main Line Stations, ostentatiously to enforce the 'rules' you are so bullish about, but who - between them - achieve the grand total of f*** all in blocking access to people without facemasks, large groups of youth, walkers with daypacks, skaters, cyclists in Lycra, families with beach bags etc pp? The breakdown of society? It's right there...

Thomas G, Mon 13 Jul 20, 09:20
well, we did get clarification from Number 10 directly, 4 weeks ago? that was at the start of this whole process. not good enough?

Anonymous, Mon 13 Jul 20, 09:15

I have no time to do that. It's up to people to make their own choices, but it's been incredibly amusing reading the bluster when someone has an alternative view that doesn't fit another's narrative.

If anyone really cared about doing the right thing, they would have sought clarification from the Government via their MP.

Walker, Mon 13 Jul 20, 08:35
“How rail companies interpret the rules”: oh really? Why do the staff of the rail companies, plus all the extra “marshalls” employed at mainline stations at present, stand around watching twenty-somethings in shorts and T-shirts getting on trains, then? Or I have even seen parents and children with bicycles. By no stretch of the imagination are people so attired making essential travel. Police, on the rare occasions you see them on railway stations these days, also do nothing to intervene to stop such passengers. So you seem to be on something of a lonely crusade in seeking to make a strict interpretation of the rules.
Thomas G, Mon 13 Jul 20, 08:17
Outdoor exercise IS essential both for physical and mental well-being, even the government says that. And as half the population in big conurbations don't have (and don't want to have) a car, that means using public transport.

Anonymous, Mon 13 Jul 20, 06:09

Going for a walk is not going to work or other essential travel. You might find a differnt point view outrageous but that is how rail companies also interpret the Government's guidance. We can decide whether or not to do the right thing, but attempting to justify it and making personal attacks misses the point and is unedifying.

Anonymous said...

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/saving-central-london-tfl-andy-byford-a4496531.html

Mike A said...

There seems to be a subtle shift in the guidance
for travelling on Public transport Although primarily aimed at those travelling to work, the "only if you have to" bit seems to have disappeared. Has anybody else got a take on today's announcements from Boris?

Anonymous said...

Looks like a game changer to me. If you're comfortable with the risk of getting on public transport, you won't be breaking any rules or guidelines.
Tee internet is full of lies, damn lies and statistics on Covid, however there appears to be a fairly reliable set of Covid stats at https://www.london.gov.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-numbers-london

Anonymous said...

For Government data on the R number by region at 17 July see:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-r-number-in-the-uk#history

For London R is 0.8 to 1.1