The Ramblers organisation is celebrating its 80th birthday in 2015 – an opportunity to give thanks for a passionate campaigning group that has never minded stepping out to make a point
Its style belies its name, and always has done. This is not just a fellowship of bucolic codgers but a charitable countryside access group with a history, present and future bound up with passionate political activism. If it doesn’t look 80, this is because it keeps itself in shape; it has ever since its evolution from the largely communist movements of the 1930s.
Though membership is slightly leaner than it once was – the organisation lost five thousand during the worst of the recession – it stands at 114,000, each individual belonging to one of nearly 500 groups ranged across 50 regions. To anyone noting the irony of its small administrative staff being located in deeply urban Vauxhall, London, it will reply that it is sited on the Thames long-distance footpath. For most of its life it has been the Ramblers’ Association, only rebranding itself as the less formal Ramblers in 2009.