Annual Report for 2018



Alan Lehmann (Chair), Jean Phippen (Secretary), Sue Hall (Membership Secretary), Graham Heap (Walks Organiser),  Sally Major (Treasurer),  Margaret Sweatman (Publicity and Group Meetings), Vivien Yule (Minutes Secretary), Wendy Muriel (Footpaths Secretary).


Chair’s Introduction

This year we have had a full complement of committee members, and Wendy Muriel has kindly taken over the role of Footpaths Secretary from Graham Heap, though Graham (thankfully!) continues as Walks organiser. As always I’m grateful to all the committee for their hard work. My three-year stint as Chairman will end at the end of the AGM. However as no one else has come forward to offer their services, I have agreed to continue for another year.


The group remains in a healthy state with regard to both finances and membership. We welcomed 17 new members this year and have provided a full programme in 2018. Apart from our weekly walks/strolls, we have organised three holidays, in Cyprus, along the second leg of the High Weald trail, and in the Cotswolds (see below for reports), a coach trip to Uppark, three Group Meetings with entertaining speakers, and a New Year’s lunch. Apart from the committee, thanks go to all the walk leaders, and to Robert Cheesman for organising the coach trip. Robert has informed us that he wishes to step down from organising future coach trips, so special thanks are due to him for the many trips he has arranged for us over the years.


Looking ahead to 2019, the spring holiday in Norfolk (organiser Sally Major) is booked up with 21 participants, as is the summer holiday to Northumberland (organiser Jeanette Swayne) – with a substantial waiting list. In the autumn Graham Heap will be leading the third and final leg of the High Weald Walk. As indicated below, three evening talks have been arranged by Margaret. We are also always on the lookout for members who are willing to lead walks. Walk-leaders are vital for the group to function, so if you think you might like to lead an occasional walk, do let Graham, me or any of the committee know.


Mountain Warehouse in Lewes now offers us a 10% discount on their products and the Outdoor Shop has done so for several years. Please take advantage of these discounts.


Treasurer’s Report    

Overall we have continued to maintain a healthy financial position throughout 2018. The group’s social events, outings and holidays gave an overall surplus of £181.


During 2018 we made a further donation to the Monday Group of £150.


For 2019 holidays we currently don’t hold any deposits, as those for both Norfolk and Northumberland have been paid over to Ramblers and HF Holidays respectively.


Receipts in Advance consist of £833 for New Year Lunch and £3,300 being deposits from Members for the Norfolk and Northumberland holidays. Payments in Advance represents £3,100 paid over to Ramblers and HF Holidays for said holidays – the difference of £200 having been paid after the end of 2018.


Income from book sales was £160 and from bank interest was £8


Expenditure on other administration costs, which include printing, publicity, insurance, group meetings and affiliation fees was £897. Income from annual subscriptions and interest, plus the end of year 5% transfer of £225 from the Life Membership Fund totals £823 giving a deficit of expenditure over income of £74.


Once again we have avoided the need to transfer any funds from our deposit account, which remains at £9,000.


Membership Secretary’s Report

Although some members decided not to renew their membership in 2018, 17 new members have joined during the year.

            Life Members: 2 new Life Members are included in the figures below:

                                                14 couples                                           28

                                                40 Singles                                            40

            Standing Orders: 4 new members are included in the figures below:

                                                8 couples                                             16

                                                21 singles                                            21

Other annual Subscriptions: 11 new members are included in the figures below:

                                                9 couples                                             18

                                                38 singles                                            39

            TOTAL MEMBERSHIP FOR 2018                                162

It is hoped that more members will complete the attached Standing Order Mandate for 2019 and return it to Sue Hall, Membership Secretary or Sally Major, Treasurer, to action and send on to your bank.


Walk Organiser Report

At the beginning of the year we had been suffering an unusually wet winter.  Unsurprisingly some of the walks had to be moved or shortened because of the mud.  Then there was the Beast from the East, which certainly had a distinctly chilling effect on the walks at the end of February and the early part of March.  The first walk of the summer programme was a memorably muddy walk along the Upper Adur.  One member lost a wellie to the sticky stuff and Anita lost a footbridge under the swollen river.  She assured us that the bridge had been there when she did the reconnaissance a few days before.  Very soon the hot dry weather arrived and one of the walks in July was cancelled because of the high temperatures forecast for that day.  A decision made easier after previous walks where the heat had become oppressive, making walking more of a chore than a pleasure.  Paradoxically, in the middle of the heat wave Gill’s walk following the Slater Trail had to be postponed for a week because of the wind and heavy rain on the scheduled Sunday.  Thereafter the weather did not seriously impinge on the walks during the rest of the year.  However further disruption of planned walks occurred firstly because of a broken stile and secondly because of cancelled trains when the bus replacement service was simply too inconvenient to use.  The greatest number of walkers on a walk was 26 on two occasions and one of the longer and harder walks attracted three members over and above the two leaders, not quite a record low for the group which was the four early birds who braved the elements to watch the sun not rise over Ringmer on the shortest day.  The average number of members on the walks over the year was 14.45, a number that has been pretty consistent for a number of years.  Once again I am indebted to our walk leaders who keep the group going and make my life easy by responding promptly when it is time to organise the next programme.


Footpaths Secretary Report

Members have reported blocked or overgrown footpaths and broken fingerposts and stiles. These included a blocked and overgrown footpath in Laughton, a broken fingerpost in Rodmell, a broken stile in Chiddingly and another one in Upper Dicker. The reports were forwarded to East Sussex County Council or the South Downs Way Ranger. In all cases we received a speedy reply with a promise to rectify the situation rapidly. They clearly take our reports seriously, so please let Wendy or any of the committee know if you find anything amiss. It is particularly helpful to have the map reference if possible and a photograph.


Group Meetings Report

Last year, we had three group meetings. On February 28th, our Annual General Meeting was followed by three short presentations about the year’s holidays. Graham took us on a “Wander around the Weald” last April, Margaret showed slides on the Austrian holiday in June and Sally shared the Lulworth weekend in October with us.


On May 23rd, Andy Thomas explored the extraordinary phenomenon of crop circles with their intricate shapes which appear in fields around the world each year.  They defy total explanation - despite much debate and many imaginative theories that have been put forward to explain how they occur.


Our third meeting on September 26th was given by Bob Bonnett who talked about “Sussex Windmills” - their history, development and operation. Bob has volunteered to help with the maintenance and restoration of at least 3 Sussex windmills as well as visiting almost all of them. He was extremely well informed about the subject and encouraged the audience to comment and ask questions throughout his talk.


In 2019, we have three excellent meetings planned:-

         After the AGM on February 27th, Jean Phippen’s grandson Matt Eade, a keen photographer and wildlife enthusiast, is taking us on an Antarctica voyage.

         Carole and Paul Nicholson will be presenting “Wildlife in Africa” on May 15th.

         Daryl Holter, who works on heritage crime around Sussex for the police, will be explaining about his work on September 25th.


Do make a note of these dates in your diary.



The Lewes Tourist Information Centre keeps a supply of Walks Programmes and information about us. A walks report is sent every week to the Village News: Lewes section of “The Sussex Express”, which, on two occasions, included photographs from our walks. The reports also provide information about the next walk. Flyers providing information about the group meetings are displayed at the Information Centre and the Outdoor Shop and the meetings are also publicised in Viva Lewes and Lewes News.


Walks and events are publicised on our excellent website www.lewesfootpathsgroup.org.uk. There you can also find information about the group and interesting reports of previous walks, socials and holidays. Thank you very much to Dave Kibble for managing the website and keeping it up-to-date.


New Year Lunch

In response to concern about the drop in numbers attending this event in 2017 (down to 34), we undertook a survey among members to try and ascertain how this decline might be addressed.  Responses to the questionnaire suggested that more people might attend if the lunch were held in Lewes.  Many felt that this would be a more convenient location that would obviate the need to drive to the venue.  This applied both to Lewes-based members and those on a bus route to Lewes.

Accordingly, the 2018 New Year lunch was held at the John Harvey Tavern in the town centre – and it was gratifying to have 50 guests, the highest number for some years.  Feedback on the event was almost all positive.  People enjoyed the convivial atmosphere, the food and not having to worry about having a glass of wine.  It was really good to see a cross-section of members, old and new, including some who no longer take part in walks but were delighted to meet up with old friends on a social occasion.

As a result, it was decided to hold the next New Year Lunch at the John Harvey Tavern again, this being the only viable venue in Lewes that can accommodate the number we require. 



We enjoyed three holidays during 2018 and full details are posted on our website


CYPRUS 18 – 25 APRIL 2018

27 members of LFG flew from Gatwick to Paphos in Cyprus. We were met at Paphos airport by Graham and Sue Robinson from Bath and West and driven to the Aphrodite Beach Hotel in the north-west corner of Cyprus, close to the Akamas peninsula. Although it was midnight when we arrived, the very hospitable hotel staff provided a soup and salad buffet for us before we retired to bed. The following morning we were taken to Droushia, a village in the hills a few miles away and from there we walked seven miles through agricultural scenery in the hills above the hotel, ending up in the village of Kritou Terra. On the following walking days, the group split into two, the short walks being 5-6 miles and the longer walks 7-10 miles. On Day 2 the short walkers had a stroll along the beach to Polis, whereas the longer walkers were again taken up to Droushia, which was in the clouds with a howling wind – not what we’d bargained for! As we walked downhill back towards the hotel, the wind dropped and the temperature gradually increased. After that day, the weather improved – beautiful blue sky, temperatures in the lower 20’s and hardly a cloud in sight. Days 3 and 4 were spent exploring the Akamas peninsula. Day 5 was our day off from walking and we were taken on a coach tour visiting several sites on the island including a mouflon enclosure, where these rare mountain sheep-goats could be seen, and Kykkos, the (very overdeveloped) monastery where Archbishop Makarios started his career. We stopped for a delicious 10-dish lunch in the village of Phini, and later spent a short time in the picturesque village of Omodos for a bit of souvenir shopping, before returning to the hotel. The next day was another walk in the hills near the hotel before we returned to the UK on Day 7.


It was an excellent time of year for wild-flower enthusiasts. There were lots of bright yellow corn marigolds by the sides of the tracks, at least four types of orchids, wild gladioli and several types of rock roses (cistus) to name but a few. We saw many sheep and goats wandering across the hillsides. The sea by the hotel beach was pretty cold but a few stalwarts braved the waters after the days’ walking. Food at the hotel was excellent, as was the hospitality shown to us. All-in-all, a splendid trip, which was enjoyed by everyone.



Wander Round the Weald 8 – 11 JUNE 2018

Some 30 members of the group followed the High Weald Landscape Trail from Ardingly to Eridge Green for the holiday weekend that in 2018 was in the summer for a change.  This was a continuation of our walk along the first part of the trail the year before. We set off from Balcombe Viaduct and joined the trail near Ardingly reservoir, followed it though the college and then skirted Ardingly village before heading for West Hoathly by way of the valley of Cob Brook.  About half the group chose to partake of the refreshments on offer at the Cat Inn whilst the rest pressed on to Kingscote station on the Bluebell Line where an engine resplendent in its green Southern Railway colours steamed into view. The following morning we were again entertained by another blast of steam nostalgia before setting off for Forest Row and Heathfield.  The morning drinks stop was spent clambering over the huge Stone Hill Rocks with magnificent views of Weir Wood Reservoir.  The heat was becoming oppressive so after a somewhat taxing time walking through the outskirts of East Grinstead, crossing the Greenwich Meridian in the process, we enjoyed some easy walking along the shady Forest Way to Forest Row. Those of the group who carried on to Hartfield enjoyed some wide views across the valley of the River Medway, encountered some muddy cows with a, thankfully indifferent to our presence, bull, crossed the line of the Lewes to London Roman Road and managed to arrive in the village at precisely the same time that the coach arrived to pick us up.  The character of the trail changes to some extent after Hartfield becoming less hilly with more undulating farm land and with that many more stiles to clamber over.  At Buckhurst Park there is a perfect chalybeate spring just by the entrance gate from which they used to obtain their water.  It looked delicious in the heat! The day finished at Eridge Green where we set off from the following day for an easy walk back to Groombridge by way of Eridge Rocks, where the significance of the ripples in the rock strata was explained to us, and the valley of the River Grom to finish with very welcome drinks sitting outside the Crown Inn.  The countryside was very pretty, the weather was almost too good and the celebratory dinner at the end rounded off the holiday nicely.



Fifteen members went to the hf Holiday Hotel at Bourton-on-the-Water from Friday 28th to Monday 1st October. We all travelled by car and some of us stopped off at Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford on the way there. We looked around the beautiful gardens, had lunch and enjoyed a tour of the Queen Anne house with its contemporary frescoes that stretch over three floors of the building.  


The Saturday walks all started from Bourton and followed the Monarch’s Way to Clapton-on-the-Hill and returned to Bourton via the quarry lakes. Option 2 included Little Rissington and the third option went as far as Sherborne returning via the Windrush valley. There was time to explore the town and enjoy a cream tea.


On Sunday, the coach dropped us in different places but we all visited Snowshill where we enjoyed a drink in the pub before continuing to Broadway. On the option 1 walk, there was time to explore the lovely town and have a cream tea before the coach picked us up. Those on Option 2 also visited Temple Guiting.


On the way home, some of us stopped at Cirencester for lunch and a guided walk around the ancient market town. The guide was most informative and enthusiastic.