Village Byways, the ongoing story, 2008 - Jan 2015

Marina Dewing’s short history of the CFS from its foundation in 1985 took the story up to 2008, when David Lane gave up the position of Chair after ten years, and Derek Ellis was elected in his place.  In his summary of events during 2007, David mentioned his on-going concern about the future of Calstock’s ever-popular Riverside Path, the celebrations to mark 100 years since the first train crossed the Viaduct, and the National Trust’s Mother Orchard, where the CFS had sponsored the planting of two heritage apple trees.

He expressed doubts about the future of the walks programme: with the loss of his wife June Derek felt unable to continue organising walks.  However, several enthusiastic members at once volunteered as leaders and a provisional programme was worked out for the year ahead.

At this AGM Linda Fowler took over as secretary from June Ellis, and remained in the role until January 2015.

At the next AGM in January 2009, Derek pointed out that it was the first time this meeting had been held on a Saturday, with a walk beforehand and a light (and delicious) lunch provided by members.  This innovation proved an instant success, and has been followed ever since.  Other notable events during 2008 included success for the Riverside Path: access was assured when the lease as a Permissive Path was renewed for a further ten years.  A heated debate about dogs on CFS walks ended with an overwhelming vote against from the members present.  This contentious subject crops up again and again, as did the need for a new up-to-date Map & Guide to the local area.

The following year saw another important innovation: the systematic monitoring of all the Public Rights of Way in the Parish on a regular basis.  John Tibbs set the ball rolling by arranging for local members to inspect the twenty paths in Gunnislake and report any problems.  The CFS can carry out minor tasks such as clearing brambles, but reports of fallen trees and so on are passed on to Calstock Parish Council.  Later that year John enrolled enough volunteers to check the twenty paths in other parts of the parish.  These inspections are greatly appreciated by the Parish Council’s Footpath Committee, just as the CFS is most grateful for the CPC’s donation towards its annual insurance premium.

At the 2011 AGM, Barbara Watts and Derek Ellis stood down; John Tibbs was elected as Chairman, with Frank Mears as Treasurer.  Later that year, the Society recorded the sad loss of John Rawles, one of the founder members and Chair from 1984-1995. During his reign several additional Rights of Way were designated.

The CFS moved into the modern era with a link on the Calstock Parish Council website giving details of our activities.  A distinctive logo was designed by Rob Shirra.  Marina Dewing produced a short history of the society’s first twenty years, and John Tibbs brought the Constitution up to date.  Both are included in a hand-out sent to new members.  Still on the modernisation theme, the Treasurer, Frank Mears, moved the accounts on to a spread-sheet and introduced electronic banking.

The rainfall during 2012 was exceptionally heavy, though all paths remained open, just. The Countryside Ranger confirmed that funds for rights of way were limited and emphasised the need for self-help in the way of repairs.  The AONB began a Heritage Lottery Fund project on Routeways, and research into the history of paths continued.  Linda went through the numerous files dating from 1984 to 2007 and compiled a sumary before sending several boxfuls of relevant papers to the Parish Archives.

On Christmas Day 2013 Calstock hit the national press when a fifteen-foot wide landslip occurred along Lower Kelly, cutting off the boatyard and about thirty residents. For a while there was a threat to the Danescombe Valley, with a demand for a road to be built there.  Fortunately for the network of Rights of Way, this did not materialise and the damage was repaired by April.

In his report, John Tibbs pointed out that the CFS had reached its thirtieth anniversary; since 1984 the Society had carried out its original aim of safeguarding the footpaths in the Parish and still continued this work.  Celebrations would be held in the summer.  The Society now had its own website, kept up to date by John; the public could report path problems here.  Walks were advertised on the website, by means of leaflets put out in Calstock and Gunnislake, and in the local press.

Work on the new Walks Guides had got under way, with nine walks sent in by members.  The sub-committee had decided on the format and had persuaded local businesses and places of refreshment to provide donations towards the cost.  The response was both enthusiastic and generous.  The nine leaflets, complete with maps, photos and essential information, were in the final stage before printing.  Much of the art work was carried out by Linda, whose brain had to be stretched to take in a new program, Publisher.  The walks guides are now all available to download on the CFS website, and have been widely distributed.  One way or another, most members had played a part in their production and it was good to see this project successfully achieved – albeit after years of discussion!

A new database, also provided by John, reduced the work-load for Linda and Frank.

There were more losses in 2014, with the deaths of Councillor Ian Kirk, always a good friend to the Society, and the former Treasurer and provider of chocolate cake Barbara Watts.  Luckily she had been able to come to the 30th Anniversary Picnic, held on Calstock village green on a fine day in August, along with other former officers and a large number of members.

The years 2008 to 2014 saw a steady increase in membership numbers, with fluctuations year to year.  The Society is grateful to all the ‘non-walking’ members for their support and work.  Also much appreciated are the walks leaders, who cheerfully take on the responsibility of finding and checking suitable routes, and guiding the walkers who take part.  The number of path monitors also fluctuates but volunteers manage to carry on this valuable work. 

Socialising is an important part of our activities, reflected by the buzz of chatter whenever we meet up.

The effectiveness of any group depends very much on the hard work and enthusiasm of its members.  The history of the CFS related above and in Village Byways, shows these qualities in action in all sorts of ways.  In return our members can enjoy the beautiful scenery and fascinating history of the Tamar Valley, in the company of friendly companions.

Linda Fowler - Secretary 2008 - 2015