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Volunteers Help Maintain Footpaths

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rRIPPLE Rambler Volunteers

North Bucks rRIPPLE (ramblers Repairing and Improving Public Paths for Leisure and Exercise), the small group of retired people who work on the ground to make public paths more accessible, recently celebrated the installation of their 300th gate in Dinton, Buckinghamshire.

The team, under the aegis of the Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Ramblers, was founded in early 2015 and works closely with Bucks County Council rights-of-way department, landowners and villagers. The team removes obstacles, such as dilapidated stiles, from the public-path network at the rate of around one per week. They install self-closing, self-latching, galvanised steel gates which are friendly to farmers' stock and make life much easier for the ever-increasing number of more elderly and less-able walkers who wish to venture a bit further afield.

The 300th gate was sponsored by Dorton residents Peter and Jane Smith through the group's Donate a Gate scheme, whereby a person or occasion can be marked by a plaque on the gate.

This same group of volunteers have also installed several gates along the Wychert Way (a circular fieldpath route around Haddenham and other local villages) including several with commemorative plaques to the late Jim Robinson, a loved and much missed Haddenham resident.

Says the team leader, Bill Piers from Haddenham: 'When we started out in 2015 with a couple of wheelbarrows, we were in awe of those Ramblers' groups that had installed 200 gates. Now, with our Land Rover, the support of Buckinghamshire council, landowners, and a fantastic team of retirees doing the hard graft, we have installed 300 gates, and are set for more. There is certainly no shortage of opportunities to replace stiles with gates to make our paths more accessible.'

Adds Kate Ashbrook, Area footpath secretary for the Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Ramblers: 'The Ramblers are proud of the work carried out by rRIPPLE, which is extremely impressive and to a high standard. As Buckinghamshire Council has to face greater austerity, it is a wonderful help that volunteers are willing themselves to do vital work on our public rights of way.

'Public paths are enormously important for our health and wellbeing and there is no better way to explore the countryside.'

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