MAINTAINING LOCAL FOOTPATHS
Like Vegetation Clearance activities the Path Maintenance activities were suspended from March 2020 due to Covid. There was however one gate that remained to be installed. In early September 2021 some of the team that have previously installed gates were joined by some of the Vegetation Clearance team and replaced a stile with a gate on footpath HE69 (between Barham and Elham).
In September Membership Secretary Andrew Swarbrick was invited to visit the new gate which has just been erected in the woods at Palm Tree Down on the Elham Valley Way, along with Ian Perrott who has paid for the gate in memory of his Mother, Ena Andrews who passed away at the grand old age of 103 two years ago. Ena was born and brought up in the nearby village of Barham and loved the countryside around - indeed, Ian shared with us a poem written by Ena which expressed her nostalgia for the area as she knew it in her childhood.
The gate was installed in early September by members of our newly formed footpath working party, with the help and supervision of Averil and Steve Brice together with John Polden who used to lead the team before recently retiring.
Averil was until recently a key link between Ramblers, KCC and many local land owners and arranged over many years for many gates to be installed to improve footpaths and make them safer, more durable and more easily accessible. Averil and Steve have had to step down for health reasons, but had already obtained the gate materials and undertaken to see the Ena's Gate project through before Covid interrupted activities for over a year.
The Elham Valley Way was unfortunately blocked near the site of the gate by several fallen trees. Averil, in her inimitable style and in keeping with the excellent rapport she has always fostered with farmers and landowners, happened to meet the farm manager of a large local farm on the day the gate was to be installed. As well as seeking permission to take vehicles across a large field to access the site, Averil also managed to arrange for the manager to bring his chain saws to make short work of the fallen trees, thus removing the serious obstacles on this iconic Recreational Path at the same time as replacing the stile with Ena's Gate.
Whenever we use the footpath between Wingmore and Redoak in the future, let's spare a thought for Ena Andrews - and also remember with gratitude the indefatigable efforts of Averil, Steve and the White Cliffs footpath teams to improve and keep clear so many of the footpaths in our part of Kent.
Once the team have the information and necessary resources there is a group of willing White Cliffs Ramblers volunteers now able to re-start installation of gates to improve facilities on our footpaths.