Last night I accompanied some local Scouts on an night hike. It was raining, at times quite hard, and these young people had, to their credit, chosen to spend their Friday evening walking around the local area – getting outdoors rather than staying in. The annual district event took a route of about least 3 hours and included footpaths - across-country tracks – as well as some road-crossings. Each scout team of 4 had to be fully equipped and was assigned an adult ‘shadow’ to ensure their safety.
The team I was asked to shadow, whilst relatively inexperienced in hiking, had a very positive ‘go-ahead’ attitude but rather than push themselves to ’win’ the route and tasks therein, were interesting in ‘taking in’ the event.
Rather than push the group to ‘go faster’ or similar, I was very happy to oblige… and this approach had interesting results.
Night-time vision is very diferent from day-time and I – wearing glasses which fogged up with the rain and sweat – relied on the Scouts’ powers of observation to reinforce my own.
At one point, as we shone torchlights to light the path ahead, one boy shouted ‘stop’ .. ‘look out’! He had caught in the light, a lovely little frog sitting in the middle of the footpath. The frog, were summised, was likely to have been making its way from one of the very muddy and wet footpath, to the other and was transfixed by the glare of the torchlight.
As we got closer and closer to where we could have actually reached out and touched it – but we did not want to scare it further and do it any harm – it still remained there, totally motionless. Such a very small, fragile creature could very easily be squashed under one of one huge, chunky hiking boots.
We stayed for a few minutes to view the frog, taking some ’mental’ measurements and some pictures, to remember it – especially how small it seamed in the scheme of things – and just how fragile.
What struck me was just how caring the Scouts were; how inquisitive they were about why it was there, what kind it was and what might happen to it. In short, how vulnerable this representative creature was and how with one move we could show how much or little we care our natural world. And, without the observation of one astute Scout, we might have missed this chance encounter altogether!
This was a personal encounter, which could not have been had in front of the tv screen. It was a memory to cherish.
http://www.arc-trust.org/Our current activities include managing eighty nature reserves, working with schools, researching and monitoring species’ populations in the wild, and working with other wildlife organisations, and the public, to influence wildlife legislation relating to amphibians and reptiles.
http://www.froglife.org/ Works with volunteers, ecologists, government departments and the public to conserve the native amphibians and reptiles of Britain and Ireland.
Some good news: The Chesham Environmental Group http://www.cheshamenvironmentalgroup.org.uk/, of which I am a supporter, has received backing from the local Chesham Council, for the town to become part of the ’Walkers Are Welcome’ network. http://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/
We’ve even made the local pres!! (see below)
Chesham, the closest town to London which is also within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beautyhttp://www.chilternsaonb.org/, will be a first – first in the Chilterns and first in the South East – to become recognised with WaW status!
‘But walkers are already welcome in Chesham, aren’t they?’ was one local’s response…
‘Ah, yes, said I, but this will solidify Chesham’s position and enccourage walkers and all folk – inlcuding hopefully familis with children and sometimes pets, who already come ‘past’ the town, to perhaps dwell a little longer, benefitting the local economy and tourism . It will also assist in bringing some funds towards thew upkeep of our footpaths and promote the new Chesham Museum as an information point.
All good news!
* New WaW leaflet: http://walkersarewelcome.org.uk/pdf/WaW%20NationalLeaflet.pdf
* WaW idea in the local media: http://www.chilternvoice.co.uk/
The Story in local newspaper
What are the benefits
in the southern Chilterns which lies at the northern end of the Met Line, will be the very first town in the Chilterns to
Walking to boost the economy
Sep 15 2009 By Greg Burns
A CAMPAIGN has been launched in Chesham which organisers hope will give the local economy a huge boost.
Chesham Environmental Group (CEG) have set out to try and earn the town ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status town which they say will help boost its reputation and increase the number of visitors.
By attempting to earn the status, Chesham will become one of 31 towns across the UK to sign up for the scheme.
The rewards would see walkers from the other towns visiting Chesham and bringing with them trade and tourism.
Phil Folly, chairman of the CEG, said: “The Chilterns is such a beautiful place and so many people who come here just pass through without ever really experiencing what it has to offer.
“If we get this status then we will see lots more people coming to the town and bringing their trade to the local businesses in the area which can only be a good thing.”
The group need to meet certain criteria to earn the status which include securing 500 signatures supporting the application and endorsement from Chesham Town Council.
Henricus Peters, CEG secretary, said: “We already have about 250 signatures so are well on our way. The town council have also voted to support the scheme so we are confident that we will get the status.”Copies of the petition can be signed in most of the shops in Chesham, in the town hall or library.
For more information visit www.walkersarewelcome.org.uk.