Stroud Rambling Club – History and Activites
The Cotswold Area Rambling Club was founded in the 1920’s and the Cheltenham Rambling Club in the 1940’s. Both drew members mainly from Cheltenham and Gloucester. It was felt by the Ramblers Association (RA) that people in the Stroud area were not adequately catered for, despite the glorious countryside around Stroud, many miles of enchanting walks in the area and a population thought sufficiently large to support a seperate club. So, under the auspices of the RA, Stroud Rambling Club was founded in 1953.
Initially club rambles drew mainly upon members of the other two local clubs but gradually more Stroud people joined and the membership slowly increased. Although sponsored initially by the RA and with strong affiliations to national walking and outdoor activity associations such as the RA (through the local South Cotswold group), the Youth Hostel Association and the Holiday Fellowship, Stroud Rambling Club always has been, and is still today, a totally independent club with it’s own constitution and a membership committee who make all decisions concerning club activities.
Membership and Organistion
The membership of Stroud rambling Club has fluctuated quite a lot over the past 60 or so years from about 32 members in 1954 to a peak of about 300 in the early 2000’s. Currently there are about 150 members. The club is run on a day to day basis by a committee of 15 all of whom are elected at the AGM. The committee includes a Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer, plus officers responsible for the varied activities of the club such as booking and organising holidays, organising the distribution of meet programmes and maintaining the membership list. In addition there are officers responsible for specific activity sections such as cycling and caving, a footpath officer and publicity officer. The club appoints two Trustees whose job is to scrutinise the club’s affairs to ensure financial probity, both of whom are entititled to attend committee meetings.
An activity programme is produced on a quarterly basis and distributed to all club members. Committee meetings take place monthly. The AGM is held during November. All club activities are led by club members, any of whom can propose an activity on a particular date for consideration by the committee for inclusion in the club’s programme. All club meets are free to members with a car sharing arrangement and contributions towards travel costs.
The club’s primary purpose is to provide the means for local people to explore the wonderful countryside in the Stroud area. Therefore the basic, ongoing activity is to organise local walks led by club members on each Sunday throughout the year. The aim is to alternate day walks of about 10 miles with half day walks of about 5 miles.
However the club has extended the walks programme to include mountain walks (e.g to the Black Mountains or Brecon Beacons) to run in addition to regular local Sunday walks, mid week walks and evening walks. The club has also organised activities other than walking/rambling including cycling, caving, horse riding, climbing, canoing and multi-activity weekends. These activities are dependent upon members interests at any given time with the cycling and caving sections being the most durable.
Another aspect of the club is regular holidays and weekends away. These have included holidays abroad to Majorca, Switzerland, France, Germany, Lanzarote and Madeira, to mention just a few destinations, whilst holidays in the UK have included Jersey, Pembrokeshire, the Derbyshire Peak District, Lundy Island, the Lake District, Yorkshire and Cornwall. The club has a link with a German club based in Reutlingen with regular exchanges.
A further aspect of club activities is the regular social events organised including evening meets with speakers, a summer outing to, for example, National Trust properties and a trip down the Bristol Channel on the preserved paddle steamer Waverley, a regular annual Christmas meal plus occasional quiz or skittle evenings or barndances.
The name of our club ‘Stroud Rambling Club’ belies the extensive and ambitious activities that have been supported over the years. Of course, the extent and type of activities accessible through the club are wholly dependent upon the interests. abilities and committment of particular members at any given time; not all activities are available all the time. But the core purpose of giving local people the means to explore the beauty of the Stroud Valleys has always been sustained and the ‘icing on the cake’ of holidays overseas, mountain walks, social events and evening meets will continue as long as the demand is there.