I’ve been a member of the Malvern Walking Festival walk leading team for a couple of years now. The festival attracts walkers from all over the country, indeed all over the world: I had a couple from Australia on one of my walks.But what surprised me was how many of the walkers are local. Of the two walks I put on this year, of the 32 walkers, 23 were from Malvern or the surrounding areas. ( I limit my walks to a maximum of 16 as I find it to be a comfortable number when everyone is a ‘stranger’). As many of them don't belong to any walking group, this means it's a good opportunity to tell people all about the Worcester group and to get them interested in joining.
A good example of what can happen is Richard. I met Richard on my ‘History and the hills’ walk. He had recently moved to Malvern, saw the festival advertised, and wanting to know more about the area he’d moved to, felt this walk was a good option. He has a sporting background, playing and coaching rugby, but having recently retired, felt that doing some walking would keep him active, although he hadn’t done much walking previously.
During the walk, we talked about the Ramblers and the Worcester group, the people in it, the website, the walks and activities we did and whether the walk we were doing was typical of a Worcester Ramblers walk. It was. Richard, being new to the area, was also keen to meet new people and joining such a group would help him do that. Typically, at the end of the walk, we finished up in the pub, where the majority of the group sat around discussing the walk and I was able to give out further information about our group. Richard was very positive about looking at our website and following up.
Not unexpectedly, I received an email from him saying he would be coming on the Birmingham Canals walk which I led a week or so later, and that it was likely he’d be joining the group. By the time we did that walk, he had indeed joined the group. He has since done two or three further walks with us. He found the website comprehensive and very informative with a wealth of interesting walks and feels others in the group are welcoming and friendly.
Being part of he walks team at the Malvern Festival, walk leaders have an opportunity to spend some 3-4 hours with newcomers and potential members. Anyone interested therefore has an ideal opportunity to ask questions about the Ramblers, our activities and receive first hand information; I am sure this played a big part in Richard's decision to join us.
Perhaps there are some of our walk leaders who would like to take part next year. The 2019 Festival, which will be in its 18th year, will run from Saturday 25th May to Sunday 2nd June. Planning is about to commence. If you would like to take part, contact me, Derek. and I will put you in touch with Bob Baldwin, the festival walks programme coordinator, who will send you a ‘walk details’ form for completion. These need to be sent to Bob by the end of September such that during October/early November the programme can be finalised prior to going to print. The Festival programme will be launched, as every year, on 1st January.
Ideally, your walk should have a theme. The festival offers a rich variety of themes, including history, geology, nature, music and literature as well as notable people, buildings and events associated with the area. Most of the walks are centred around Malvern and the hills, but some venture further afield, including to the Bromyard Downs, the Teme Valley and the Croome estate. There were over 50 walks this year, the day walks being from 1 mile to 12 miles in length.
Currently Brian Pitts, Lyndon Bracewell and myself are the only members of the group who lead Festival walks. Perhaps YOU would like to join us. I’m sure the team would love to share your enthusiasm and local knowledge.