Like many other organisations within the UK, we have had to close down all of our activities, and they will remain closed until government restrictions are lifted.
Two considerations are currently affecting us - first, the limits on any gathering of people not from the same household (no gatherings indoors, and no gathering of more than six outdoors) and secondly, government advice that anyone over 70, which includes many of our members, and most of those involved in the running of Newton Abbot Ramblers, that they are at greater risk from Corona Virus than younger people.
This page is intended to keep our members, and any other visitors to this website, informed regarding our response to the issue, and it was last updated on Saturday 6th June.
Advice from HM Government
Walking alternatives during the closedown
For those members who are a couple, it seems quite likely that if one of you catches Corona Virus, your partner will catch it as well. Couples are therefore well placed to simply go on walks together, as often as they please.
For those of us who live alone and don't fancy walking alone for several weeks, the changes of June 1st have opened up the possibility of going for walks with friends, provided you don't travel to your walk in the same car, and don't get too close to each other while walking. The maximum size for such a group has now been increased from two to six people.
Although there is nothing to stop you from going out with a different group of five other people each day of the week, doing so for seven days would bring you into contact with thirty five others, and considerably increase your chances of catching the bug. Better then to form a single 'bubble' with one group of friends, and stick to them as your companions.
Whether you're going to walk on your own or with someone else, you will need a supply of walks to go on together, and we have a few suggestions to offer. First, you could simply try to find your own way round the walk which was advertised for any date, as if the close down hadn't happened, but this would not be a good idea if several couples turned up at the same time, which would then defeat the idea of social distancing.
Another option could be to choose walks from the Past Walks Archive page of our website. This includes a search facility, so if you have memories of a walk you enjoyed, and just need reminding where it started from and a rough idea of the route, then a visit to this page might be all you need. However, the route shown for these walks is only a few words long, and you might not be able to work out from this whereabouts on the OS map the leader took you.
Next, we offer you the Walks In South Devon website. This is run as a personal venture by one of our members, and includes not only a map showing the start point of each walk he has been on, but also its route, logged by a GPS device and superimposed as a blue line on the OS map. The site has details of over 250 walks, mostly 5 to 6 miles in length, and has a search facility.
If you are technically minded, you can download any walk as a GPX file, and then copy it into either your own GPS device if you have one, or into your tablet computer (iPad or similar) or your smartphone. As you travel along the route of the walk, your device will then show you where you should be going and where you actually are on a map, so if you go wrong you will soon know, and you can then retrace your steps if necessary.
To access the Walks In South Devon website, follow the link to it, under the heading Walk Planning for Walk Leaders in the Links page of our own website, and if you need help with getting GPX files on to your own device, then let us know by e-mail, and we will get back to you.
Whether you use the Walks page in the Walks In South Devon website, or the Past Walks Archive page of the Newton Abbot Ramblers website, then a good starting point will be to choose Advanced Find, and then type the first half of your postcode into the SatNav Starts With box. Choosing Show Results will then give you a list of walks which start from somewhere near your home. Some of them may start from some way off, but then pass nearer to where you live, in which case you can simply start the walk from wherever suits you.
Finally, if you know your way round an OS map and fancy some armchair walk-planning, you could either modify a walk you already know, or combine a number of routes from Walks In South Devon, to create a brand-new walk of suitable mileage for any of our walking groups. Who knows, we could emerge from the close down with a whole host of new walks, all ready for a future programme!
Helping the Police with their Enquiries
The National Police Chiefs' Council have published some documents regarding the law's requirements, and the latest one deals with being away from home.
From 1 June 2020, the approach to restrictions has changed. Rather than requiring a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, there are now specific things that members of the public cannot do. A person may leave and remain outside of the place where they live for any reason, subject to restrictions on gatherings and overnight stays.
Gatherings in a public or private place
Indoors - no gatherings are permitted.
Outdoors - gatherings of up to six people are permitted.
Exceptions apply, including for members of the same household, but none of them seem likely to assist us in resuming our programme of walks.
A gathering is defined as two or more people present together in the same place, intending to engage in any form of social interaction, or to undertake any other activity with each other.
No person may stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living, without reasonable excuse. A list of reasonable excuses is given.
You can view the full text of the document here.
Walks Programme for Winter 2020-2021
As soon as the summer season of walks has started on April 1st, our walks co-ordinators start thinking about recruiting leaders for the winter season October to March. Experience tells them that leaders rarely come forward of their own accord, and usually respond best to a face-to-face request, but of course this will not be possible during the closedown. Your co-ordinator will be very pleased to hear from you if you are willing to lead a walk in the winter season, and soon after the summer season has actually started in April, you should be able to see the winter walk dates on the Help For Walk Leaders page of our website, with names alongside the dates taken, so you can see which are still free. If you've never led a walk before, your co-ordinator will be delighted to talk you through the process, and to offer you every encouragement.
Don't be lonely
The closedown doesn't mean you have to stay at home alone. Even if it happens to be pouring with rain, you can still contact walking friends by telephone or e-mail, or via our Facebook page. If you don't 'do' Facebook, you could try messaging applications such as FaceTime (only between users of Apple devices) WhatsApp (only works on a smartphone) or Viber (also works on a tablet linked to a smartphone, and therefore much easier to type into). There's also Skype.
FaceTime also allows video calls, as do WhatsApp, Viber and Skype. All of these will consume plenty of mobile data if used when you are out and about, but when you are at home, they should work through your broadband router, and not cost you a penny. The BBC News website currently offers a useful guide on how to get started with FaceTime and WhatsApp, complete with videos, and you should find it here.
We're still here for our members
The fact that all of our activities involving face-to-face meetings of more than six people are currently suspended, doesn't mean that we've simply given up for the next few weeks. We are still in the business of supporting our members as best we can, while we get through the closedown, and we are looking at ways in which we can help any of you who need help with forming a 'bubble' of five others, with whom who you can go out for walks under your own steam.
Please note that if you do go out with an informal walking group, whether put together with help from us or not, we cannot be held responsible for any mishap or misfortune which you may suffer as a result, as the activities of any such group will be beyond our control.
Although there are a lot of things you can do nowadays on line or by telephone, catching the Corona Virus isn't yet one of them!
If there is anything we can help you with, your point of contact is our Admin system. Any message sent to this address will be seen by several members of our Committee, and will be forwarded, within a day or so, to whoever is best placed to deal with it, and they will get back to you. If you don't have access to e-mail, then you probably won't be reading this, but you can still try phoning any of our officers at their home phone numbers shown on the Contact Us page of this website, though you may not get through if they happen to be out for a walk at the time.
The sort of things we can help you with:
- Technical advice for your computer, tablet or smartphone, for such things as contact with friends, or help following the route of a walk.
- The current situation regarding cancelled walks and other activities, if our e-mails haven't reached you, or aren't sufficiently clear.
Social Distancing and Self Isolation
There's currently a useful article about Social Distancing and Self Isolation on the BBC News website, and you should find it here.
Social Distancing is about avoiding close contact with other people, and it should be practised by all of us. It allows us to go out for a walk, and to go shopping for food or other essential supplies, and is for people not having any symptoms of Corona Virus.
Self Isolation is a period of quarantine, to be observed by any household where someone has, or has had, the symptoms of Corona Virus. If you live alone, you are in quarantine for 7 days, and during this time you can go out for a walk, but you should not go shopping for food or other supplies, unless this is unavoidable.
If you live with others, then each person who goes down with Corona Virus should self-isolate for 7 days, and the entire household should self-isolate for 14 days from the date the first person is affected. Once 14 days have passed since the first person was affected, then any member of the household who is not within their own 7 day period of isolation can go back to social distancing.
- Without a vaccine, or drugs which can treat the disease - both of which are many months away - it is possible that some of us are going to have to put up with the effects of catching the bug.
- Everyone is at risk - we've seen it happen to Prince Charles, and to government ministers.
- If we catch it, most of us may suffer only a few days of discomfort.
- A few of those who catch the bug will need hospital help - this is more likely if you are over 70.
- Some people who have go into hospital will die, but most of these will be people who have an underlying health condition.
- There will be an end to all this, and we look forward to resuming normal service, once the All Clear has sounded.