Sudbury Ramblers walking group reflects on last 50 years as milestone anniversary arrives
Dedicated to preserving a series of footpaths located across the Suffolk countryside, Sudbury Ramblers was established in 1970.
Founded by Roger Wolfe, along with a small group of individuals, the organisation became the first of its kind in the county.
Reflecting on its early ambitions, branch chairman Keith Brown said: “There was a great movement to get a number of paths re-established around the area, with a lot of work done to maintain them.
“Ramblers got together to try to open up some of the main footpaths around the Sudbury and Boxford area.”
To mark the organisation’s 50th anniversary this year, a series of events, which had been planned before the coronavirus outbreak took hold, are expected to be postponed.
Committee members may have to delay the installation of a commemorative bench on the water meadows next to the River Stour.
“It will be a permanent reminder of our history,” said Mr Brown.
It is hoped that a set of walks taking in some of Suffolk’s wool towns, including Sudbury, Long Melford, Clare and Hadleigh, will still be staged at some point.
Less certain is a commemorative lunch to reflect on the work of the original group’s members – due to take place at the Bull Hotel in Long Melford – and a treasure hunt in Lavenham, which would see members provided with a set of clues to solve a series of questions related to the medieval village.
A four-day trip has been booked in Shrewsbury, which Mr Brown said would rest on when the Government deems it safe for hotels to reopen.
“I have my doubts about that going ahead, which is a great pity,” he said. “If we come out of the lockdown, it will probably be a gradual process.”
Highlighting the beneficial impact of walking to help boost an individual’s health and wellbeing, Mr Brown said: “I think it tends to be a popular way of getting exercise, and it’s not just good for the body and soul; we find that some people come out for the benefits of socialising.”
Joining the group walks have also provided an outlet for anyone coming to terms with a bereavement.
“We tend not to ask too many questions,” said Mr Brown, 77. “We let them do their own talking in their own way, and I think they find it comforting to walk with other people.”
One of the group’s founding members, Mr Wolfe, who is originally from Sudbury and now lives in Ipswich, established the Stour Valley Path, which marked its 25th anniversary last year.
“He mapped out the path in around 1968, but it wasn’t recognised until 1994,” said Mr Brown.
Drawn to the rolling landscape of Suffolk, Mr Brown and his wife, Margaret, decided to relocate to the county in 2010.
“We looked at many towns and villages in Suffolk, and then we came across Clare and we thought, ‘crikey, this is everything we need’ as it ticked a lot of boxes,” he said.
Recognising the collective efforts of the group’s founding members, who have helped to preserve countless footpaths as part of their projects, Mr Brown added: “If it wasn’t for the work in those early days, they would have been lost, and I think it’s fitting that people are reminded of that.”
More by this authorPriya Kingsley-Adam