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Frequently Asked Questions

A click on any of the question links below will take you straight to the answer for that question. If you want to read all of the answers, just scroll down the page and they will appear. If you have a question we haven't answered here, please let us know at admin@newtonabbotramblers.org and we'll consider it for inclusion.

Walks      General
What time do the walks start? What is the history of Newton Abbot Ramblers?
What distance do the walks cover? What insurance do you have?
What time do the walks end?
What do I need to wear? Technical
What do I need to bring with me? What are an OS map and a Grid Reference?
How do I find the walk starting point? What's a GPS and do I need one?
Do you have a car sharing scheme? How do I learn to navigate using a map?
Do I need to worry about ticks? What are Latitude and Longitude?
Does the walk go ahead whatever the weather?    
What type of walk should I start with, A or B? Membership
Will I be able to keep up with the other walkers? Why does it cost so little to join?
What qualifications does the walk leader have? Do you offer anything other than walks?
Can I bring my .... ? What personal information about members do you keep?

Walks Question Answer
What time do the walks start?

Wednesday and Sunday 'A' Walks usually start at 10am, while Tuesday 'A' Walks set off at 10:30, but 'B' Walks give you a longer lie-in, as they normally don't move off until 11 o'clock.

These times may be varied, for example if a bus is to be used for part of the walk. Any change from the normal start time will be made clear in the walk notes.

Meeting times for Café Walks may vary between seasons according to the hours of daylight, and in the depths of winter, there may only be a lunch scheduled for some C Walk dates, and no actual walk. So for these walks, it's best to always check the Forthcoming Walks page.

What distance do the walks cover?

Sunday and Wednesday 'A' walks can be 8-12 miles or more,
Tuesday 'A' walks are between 7 and 8½ miles,
'B' Walks are 5 to 6 miles,
Café Walks are around 3 miles, and
'C' Walks will only be about 2 miles.

An A+ Walk is a more strenuous A Walk, while A- indicates an easier than usual A Walk.

What time do the walks end?

Walking pace around town is 3-4 miles per hour, but over rough ground and field paths, in the company of fellow walkers, 2 miles per hour is more realistic. Add a quarter of an hour for a coffee stop (A walks only) and half an hour for lunch, and you can fairly easily estimate the duration of the walk.

What do I need to wear?
  • Ideally, walking boots, but you could start out with stout shoes, wellies or even trainers, provided the ground is not too rough. Be prepared to go home with wet or muddy feet, if you wear shoes or trainers and we encounter boggy ground, or if we need to cross a stream where there isn't a footbridge!
  • A coat, ideally waterproof, to keep wind and rain off.
  • Depending on how cold it is, a fleece or jumper, gloves, a scarf, and maybe a fur-lined hat with ear flaps. You might think you'll look silly wearing a hat with ear flaps, but there will almost certainly be another walker whose hat looks even more comical than yours, and both of you will have warm ears!

Be prepared to get your clothing snagged on brambles.

What do I need to bring with me?
  • Ideally, a rucksack - alternatively, a shoulder bag. This is to carry something to drink, your packed lunch, and as stowage for any clothing you need to take off once we get going and you warm up.
  • If it's cold enough, the additional warm clothing mentioned in the previous answer.
  • If we happen to be walking whichever day summer falls on, you might need some sun cream.
  • If you're into photography, a camera. All of the pictures on this site were taken by members out on walks.

No need for any of the following to start with, but as you become more more of a walking enthusiast, and maybe even progress to leading a walk, you might want to consider:

  • Maps (Ordnance Survey, ideally 1:25000 scale, cheapest on line or at Trago Mills) and a compass.
  • A first aid kit consisting of some plasters, and maybe some headache tablets, or something for insect bites or stings.
  • Tick removal tools, available on line for around £5.
  • A GPS device. These start at about £100, and use radio signals from the satellites of the Global Positioning System to give you your current Grid Reference. The more expensive models (£300 or more) will also show you where you are on an Ordnance Survey map. Nowadays, owners of some smartphones may find that they can download an app offering similar functionality, albeit in less showerproof form.
How do I find the walk starting point?

The walk details on the Forthcoming Walks page or in the walks programme will give you a Grid Reference.

If you are using the website, click or tap on the Map button to see a map of the area, with the start point highlighted. The walk details will usually include a postcode, which you can put into your car's sat-nav so it takes you straight there.

If the Meet At point is in the middle of nowhere, the postcode will only take you to the nearest address, which may be some distance from the actual starting point of the walk.

Website users can also see a Satellite View of the area around the start point, which might jog your memory of its whereabouts, and Street View of roads in the vicinity, to show you parking possibilities.

If you are using a printed copy of the programme and you don't recognise the starting point from its description, you'll need to find the Grid Reference on an OS (Ordnance Survey) map.

Do you have a car sharing scheme?

Some other South Devon walking groups do have car sharing schemes, but these mostly rely on members living over a fairly small area, and on walks taking place on Sundays, when free parking is more readily available for cars left behind. We have reluctantly concluded that given the wide area over which our members live, and the number of our walks which take place on weekdays, it is best to leave our members to make their own arrangements between themselves. You will certainly see a number of cars arrive at each walk with several occupants.

Do I need to worry about ticks?

A tick is a small creature, not strictly an insect, which makes its living by sucking blood from other animals, including humans, that it latches on to and sucks blood from. After some hours, when the tick has had its fill, it drops off and climbs up a nearby plant, there to wait for its next meal to come along. Sheep and your dog are more likely to become victims of a tick than you are, but it's worth knowing what to do if you encounter one.

A tick can carry disease, and may pass it on to its victim, which becomes more likely the longer the tick stays in place. It's best not to try pulling it off by hand, as it may disintegrate, leaving part of itself inside you. You can extract it with tweezers, but much more easily using a plastic tool which pulls it out whole. These tools are available on line for about £5, and are very easy to use. For more about ticks, look here, and for removal tools look here.

Does the walk go ahead whatever the weather?

Cancellation of a walk is at the leader's discretion, in the advent of adverse weather being forecast, and will be notified to all e-mail subscribers a day or so beforehand. We are always looking at ways to improve how we notify walk cancellations to members who do not have e-mail. If you need to know whether a walk will be going ahead, you can always phone the leader beforehand.

What type of walk should I start with, A or B?

This depends on what distance you are used to. If you're not sure you can manage the length of an A Walk, try a B Walk first instead. You aren't tied to either group, and many of our walkers go on both A and B walks as the fancy takes them.

Will I be able to keep up with the other walkers?

Our guiding principle is that the pace of the walk is that of the slowest walker, so that no-one gets left behind. If necessary the leader will wait occasionally, for any stragglers to catch up.

What qualifications does the walk leader have?

Our walk leaders are ordinary members, who have concluded that there is no rocket science involved in leading a walk, and who have therefore volunteered (or been persuaded!) to help share the load on other walk leaders. Most of them have an occasional mishap, such as getting slightly lost, but will do their utmost to learn from any mistake. Our leaders do not have any formal training or qualifications, but they are given guidelines to work to, and will do their best to see that everyone has a good day out. You are reminded that you are responsible for your own safety.

Can I bring my ..?

Your well-behaved dog is welcome, unless stated otherwise in the programme. Please see the section about dogs on our Walking Guidelines page.

We'll be happy to see any children, grandchildren, partners or visitors you may care to bring along, as occasional guests. If they start coming regularly, we'll be delighted to sign them up as members. We expect anyone under 18 to be in the care of an adult, who should pay particular attention to their charge when we are walking on a road, or near a steep drop.

General Question Answer
What is the history of Newton Abbot Ramblers?

We started off as a small group back in 1978, and have grown steadily ever since, to the point where we now have around 400 paid-up members, a handful of whom have been with us almost since day one.

Not all of us are active walkers, which is just as well as it takes an awfully long time to get a large group over a stile! As members become less mobile, many of them continue paying their subs to enjoy our other activities, where they can stay in touch with their former walking companions.

The Past Walks Archive page of this website is a record of our walks from 1979 to the present, and currently has almost 8000 entries.

Our activities are co-ordinated by a Committee of around a dozen volunteers, each subject to re-election by members at our Annual General Meeting. Officers retire from time to time, usually after several years of service, and are then replaced by any paid-up member who cares to stand for election to the vacant post.

What insurance do you have?

We carry third party (civil liability) insurance, further details of which may be found in the Summary of Cover document provided by our insurer.

Technical Question Answer
What are an OS map and a Grid Reference?

Ordnance Survey was the name given hundreds of years ago, to a military scheme for mapping parts of Great Britain which were liable to civil disorder or invasion by the French, such as the Scottish Highlands and South East England. It went on to become a government department, and OS mapping has expanded to cover the whole nation, in great detail.

Any map will be either large scale, such as a street map, or small scale for a map of the world. Popular OS map scales are 1:25000 (larger scale) and 1:50000 (smaller scale). A 1:25000 map and a 1:50000 map are each printed on a piece of paper much the same size, but the 1:25000 map shows a small area of ground in great detail, while a 1:50000 map shows less detail but covers a larger area of ground.

OS maps are overlaid with numbered horizontal and vertical lines at intervals of 1 kilometre, to give us the National Grid, and the numbering of the lines allows a Grid Reference to define any point on the map.

A Grid Reference consists of two letters and six figures - for example, SX 872706. It works a bit like the index for a street map, where if the index entry for a road is followed by A3, then you look in square A3 for that road. You can use a Grid Reference to locate a particular point on an OS map.

The OS National Grid divides Great Britain into a number of squares, each 100km by 100km. Most of South Devon is in square SX, North Devon is mainly in square SS, and parts of East Devon fall in square SY.

Of the six figures, the first three tell you how far eastwards across the map from left to right your target point is. The last three figures are for distance up the map northwards, from botttom to top. To help you remember which set of figures is which, say to yourself "ALONG the passage and then UP the stairs".

Each OS map is divided into squares by the blue grid lines, and along the edges of the map, you'll see numbers for the lines, also in blue. For the example reference 872706, you'd be looking for line number 87 on the top and bottom edges of the map, and line 70 on either side of the map. As well as being at the edges of the map, the numbers are also printed at intervals on the map itself.

Now comes the tricky part. Having got to line 87 going from left to right, to reach 872 you need to keep going for two tenths of the distance from vertical line 87 to vertical line 88, and to reach 706 you need to keep going upwards for six tenths of the distance from horizontal line 70 to horizontal line 71. If you have an OS map which covers Newton Abbot, this Grid Reference should take you to the Penn Inn Roundabout.

There is also a Grid Reference 872706 in square SS, which turns out to be off the coast of South Wales, and there is another 872706 in square SY, but this one brings you out in the English Channel, just offshore from Lulworth Cove! Some six figure references in square SX do turn out to be real places on the ground in other squares, so you will need to be careful when omitting or assuming the letters.

What's a GPS and do I need one?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is based on a collection of satellites orbiting the earth, and spread out around the globe so that any point in the world can always receive radio signals from several of them at once. A GPS receiver is an electronic gadget about the size of a mobile phone, which can use these signals to tell you whereabouts you are, to an accuracy of a few feet or metres. Your position is usually given as a Grid Reference, or by an arrow superimposed on the display of a small part of an OS map.

As well as telling you where you are, a GPS can keep a log of all the points you have been at, each with a time-stamp, and from this it can tell you not only how far you've travelled, but also how fast. A GPS can also include an electronic barometer, enabling it to add an estimate of your height above sea level to each log entry, and thereby to tell you how much climbing you've done on a walk.

If you have a Sat Nav in your car, it uses those same GPS satellites to work out where you are now, and it may also be able to use them to tell you how fast you are going.

You don't need a GPS to walk with us, but you may find one useful if you'd like to keep a record of where our walks have taken you, or if you go walking with a friend and become unsure of where you are. Some smartphones have a built-in GPS receiver, and with the help of a suitable app, they can replicate the facilities of a dedicated GPS device. Just bear in mind that while GPS devices are usually showerproof, your phone may not be.

A GPS may take quite a lot of getting used to - several of us have a GPS, and some of us even fully understand all the buttons on the thing! Seriously, if you'd like help, feel free to approach any member you see using a GPS.

The club owns a basic GPS device, which is available for loan to any walk leader who is planning a route but who needs help in determining the Grid Reference of the starting point, or the walk mileage.

The log of points visited, once stored by a GPS, can be exported to your computer as a GPX (GPs eXchange format) file, and can then be superimposed on to a map, as a line joining all of the points, and thus showing the route taken. This is how we show the route overlays that are mentioned in the Advanced Find section of our Past Walks Archive page.

How do I learn to navigate using a map?

Attend one of the free courses run occasionally by our Wednesdays and Sundays A Walks Co-ordinator (Sarah) who will be pleased to tell you more. For a taster of what the course is all about, see the Navigation Course notes.

What are Latitude and Longitude?

The short answer is that they are an alternative method for directing you to the start of a walk, sometimes used on our Forthcoming Walks page when a postcode may leave you too far away from the meeting point. The long answer will not be as brief, and is included here only for general interest.

Imagine that you have made a journey to the centre of the Earth, which has been hollowed out for the purpose, and that you are standing there, looking at a vertical line which has been painted on the inside of the globe, from the North Pole to the South Pole, passing through Greenwich in South East London. If you are looking straight ahead, you should be able to see where the vertical line crosses the equator, just under 4,000 miles away, and by making up to half a turn either way, you should be able to see any other point on the equator. That vertical line is more generally known as the Greenwich Meridian.

If you tilt your head back 90 degrees (or lay on your back) you will see the North Pole, and if you lay on your front (or lean your head forward 90 degrees from standing upright) you will see the South Pole.

The angle though which you must move your head, from looking at the equator, to get it to the right level of tilt to see any particular point on the surface of the Earth, is called Latitude, and the angle though which you will then need to turn your head to get from the Greenwich Meridian to the place you are looking for, is called Longitude.

Latitude can be anything from 0 to 90 degrees, north or south, and Longitude can be 0 to 180 degrees, east or west. At the equator, one degree of latitude or longitude covers just under 69 miles, so smaller divisions will be needed to ensure that you get to the start of your walk. We could use either degrees and decimals (four decimal places will get you down to a little over 10 yards) or degrees, minutes and seconds (60 minutes = 1 degree, and 60 seconds = 1 minute) but we chose decimals, hoping to make things less cumbersome.

Longitude west of Greenwich is sometimes written as a negative number, to distinguish it from longitude east. For Newton Abbot Railway Station, Lat and Long will then be 50.5300, -3.5997 but this could be written as 50.5300° N, 3.5997° W or 50° 31' 48" N, 3° 35' 59" W using degrees minutes and seconds. You may also wish to know that at the equator, 1 minute of latitude or longitude is very close to 1 nautical mile.

Membership Question Answer
Why does it cost so little to join?

Our walk leaders and our officers are all volunteers. Now that we no longer post walks programme booklets to all members, our main cost is third-party liability insurance.

Do you offer any activities other than walks?

We certainly do. Have a look at our Other Activities page.

What personal information about members do you keep?

Your name, address, phone number and e-mail address are stored in our database, which is available to our elected officers for administrative purposes only. We also record payment of your membership fee, and your member number, cross-referenced to that of any spouse or partner.

None of the information we hold about you will be passed on to anyone else without your permission, unless we are required to do so by law. For more detail, please see our EU GDPR Security Statement.