Ramblers in North Herts take the lead on dog walks

PUBLISHED: 19:27 15 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:02 20 February 2013

Ramblers in North Herts take the lead on dog walks

Ramblers in North Herts take the lead on dog walks

New recruit at North Herts Ramblers, Sam Newby-Ricci, joins fellow walkers and their four-legged friends

Upon arrival at the Cross Keys pub in Gustard Wood, Wheathampstead, I was made to feel like one of the gang. There were 16 of us, accompanied by six dogs. It was decided that we would try a six mile walk rather than a less exciting three mile stroll.

And we were off. I immediately I discovered that one of the group had been asked to leave Holland and Barrett in Luton because they were believed to have been shoplifting there (completely untrue) oh the embarrassment, there had been a bit of a spat over who was going to lead the walk (resolved harmoniously) and everyone had decided what they were going to eat at the pub on their return (sausage baguette was firm favourite).

I had no idea what to expect. Yes the group was wearing walking boots completely necessary because of the swamp like conditions, yes they were wearing waterproofs and some even carried rucksacks. But were they the stereotypical Ramblers which the media often portrays? I dont think so.

This group was progressive. They recognised the fact that if the Ramblers were going to continue attracting members, they needed to offer walks which attracted new people.

I dont know why there arent more walks for dog owners, said one of the group. What I had started doing was walking the dog before I actually went on my walk with the Ramblers, then getting home and having to walk the dog again. It just didnt make sense. Now I have got the best of both worlds and both the dog and I enjoy the company.

New recruit at North Herts Ramblers, Sam Newby-Ricci, joins fellow walkers and their four-legged friends

GUMPTION. That was the first word that sprung to mind when I met Jenny Mason. A huge hug. A smile which made me feel like I was a long-lost daughter and a kiss on both cheeks.

You made it...were so pleased. Jenny is a driving force behind the North Herts Ramblers and even though she has only been a member for a few years, the impact she is having on the group is making ripples among walking circles in the area.

I was given a membership to the Ramblers as a gift and I was thrilled, said Jenny. I love walking and I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet new people. But then I found out that there was only one walk locally which I could take my dogs on. Rather than moan about it, I decided to do something about it.

Jenny subsequently implemented a programme of walks in the area which encourages dog owners and their canine pals to discover the countryside together.

And were not just attracting dog owners. Most of the time there are a few dogs, but we seem to be encouraging more walkers and younger walkers too, said Jenny.

So together with my height challenged Dachshund, Robbie, I agreed to meet Jenny and the North Herts Ramblers on a grey Saturday morning.

Anyone who knows me would have thought that the notion of me giving up my Saturday morning to pull on a pair of wellies and trudge through fields which can literally be described as just mud, would have laughed. But that is exactly what I did for two-and-a-half hours.

Owners are generally requested to keep their dogs on a lead during the walks and most importantly under control.

We dont want them to be a nuisance, said Jenny. We want people to enjoy the walk and not be intimidated by dogs running around and annoying them. Its about getting the balance right.

During the course of the walk, I managed to chat to most of the members. No subject was off limits we did celebrity gossip and the fact that Posh and Becks were rumoured to have looked locally at buying a place, we discussed the merits (or not) of holidaying in the Canaries and the feeling of dread when a parent received a phone call stating that their child is in police custody.

But most of all we walked and laughed. There was an intermittent shout from the front or back of the trail warning of cyclists or joggers or horses wishing to pass and dogs were quickly brought to heel.

Were really keen to get children involved too, said Jenny, who also works with a local youth centre, we need to make sure that we can appeal to younger ones, as none of us are going to live forever.

The North Herts Ramblers group currently has 77 members but is always on the lookout for more like-minded people to join in the fun.

As a Ramblers member you can take advantage of more than 38,000 organised walks throughout the country and you will be fully insured against any eventuality. And of course the Ramblers works to ensure that our footpath network is kept open and accessible for all.

Fancy joining the North Herts Ramblers?

Everyone is welcome to try out a walk for free. In February there are dog walks planned every weekend. For more details on the walks go to http://northhertsramblers.webs.com/

If you would like to become a member of the Ramblers, it costs just 31 annually for an individual membership and 41 for a joint membership. By joining by direct debit you can save 10 go to www.ramblers.org.uk/join for more details

Latest from the Hertfordshire Life