South Bank Ramblers – helping to fund stiles and kissing gates in the South East
Since 2015 South Bank Ramblers Group has provided funding to help purchase and install five stiles and four kissing gates in three different areas covered by our walks programmes.
The first area was near Plumpton in Sussex where five stiles were installed during 2015.
The second area was near Alkham in Kent where two kissing gates were installed in late 2017.
The third area was near Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where two kissing gates were installed in early 2018.
Some of the money for doing this came from the proceeds of our group’s Associate Membership scheme and some we received from Ramblers “Walking Partnership” - our group receives up to £30 in rewards whenever someone books a Ramblers holiday and nominates South Bank as their group.
In the three areas where we funded stiles, we dealt with some fantastic local volunteer groups who coordinated the installations, liaised with the landowners and the county councils and then carried out the actual installations. These were - The Monday Group (Sussex), White Cliffs Ramblers (Kent) and the Chiltern Society (Buckinghamshire)
The Plumpton Stiles - Sussex - The Monday Group
In Sussex, we liaised with the Monday Group. This group has been helping to maintain Right of Way in Sussex for over fifty years. They even design and construct their own sturdy step-over stiles made of solid oak. Because members of the Monday Group are themselves walkers, these stiles are designed with a sensible height between steps, a top bar that lifts for easier access and also a post on one side to provide hand support whilst crossing. Some of the stiles even include a gate for dogs; these have a portcullis like structure on one side to allow dogs through without the need to be carried across by their owner.
On a rainy day in 2015, members of our committee went to Sussex and met Harold Rowling MBE, the founder of the Monday Group (shown in the bottom right of the picture wearing high-viz jacket) who showed them a few of the stiles.
In April 2016, a walk was included in our programme taking in all five stiles. As you see from the picture above our walkers all enjoyed trying them out!
The Alkham gates - Kent - White Cliffs Ramblers Group
The two Kent kissing gates were part funded by South Bank group, the remainder being funded by Kent county council. We liaised with a group of volunteers called the ‘Work Parties Group’ which is part of the White Cliffs Ramblers group. They work closely with Kent County Council to help maintain and improve rights of way throughout Kent.
Recently, members of our committee went to Alkham to meet Averil Brice, John Polden and Steve Brice of the Work Parties Group who took us on a very enjoyable walk which took in the two new kissing gates.
We are looking forward to including this same walk in one of our upcoming South Bank programmes.
The Chiltern Gates - Buckinghamshire - The Chiltern Society
The two Buckinghamshire kissing gates were part funded by South Bank group, the remainder being funded by Bucks county council. We liaised with the Chiltern Society. This is a high powered and influential charity with thousands of members and hundreds of volunteers dedicated to protecting and promoting all aspects of the Chiltern Hills AONB, in fact erecting gates and maintaining Rights of Way is only one small part of their activities.
The Chiltern society have developed a web-based facility within their web site called Donate-A-Gate. This makes it easy for individuals or groups to donate money and have a stile erected, either in their own name or to commemorate a friend or a loved one.
Under the stewardship of Stuart Gulliman, its founder, the Donate a Gate scheme has installed over 400 gates.
Our group has had two walks that visited these gates during May 2018, the first walk was just for committee members and the second was the Great Missenden to Amersham walk that was included in the March to June walks programme.
The gates are only about 2 miles from Great Missenden station and very close to the route of Saturday Walkers Club walk number 05 - Great Missenden to Amersham. This is an excellent walk and one which we have regularly included in our programmes.
As you see from the pictures, the original stiles were in reasonably good condition, however the Chiltern Society's ambition is, eventually, to replace all stiles with gates or kissing gates. This is part of their policy to increase accessibility for those wishing to use the footpath network, including those with restricted mobility.
Kissing gate construction and installation
All the kissing gates that we have part-funded so far have been made of galvanised steel. The decision whether to use wood or galvanised steel is usually reached after discussion between the landowner and the county council.
Some may feel that wood construction is more aesthetically pleasing, but galvanised steel is more durable, easier to install and requires less maintenance. Sometimes ordinary gates are used instead of kissing gates but these can only be used where there is no likelihood of livestock being in the adjoining areas.
Whatever the choice of stile, gate or kissing gate, the installation should follow certain standards.
Not surprisingly, there is a British Standard for Gaps Gates and Stiles - BS5709:2018 - (click to find out more) .
The South Bank Committee hopes that, funds permitting, our group can continue to support the efforts of volunteer groups in installing more stiles and gates in the areas where we walk. You can help by nominating South Bank Group whenever you book your Ramblers holidays.
Hopefully this will mean that we will encounter fewer of the more 'unusual' stiles like these:-
If you want to visit any of our South Bank stiles and gates then keep a lookout for stile/gate walks in our upcoming programmes, or you can visit them yourselves - they are to be found in the following grid locations:-
Sussex - nearest Station: Plumpton
Footpath Plumpton 13A at TQ 362 162
Footpath East Chiltington 41 at TQ 379 162
Footpath East Chiltington 41 at TQ 380 162
Footpath East Chiltington 41 at TQ 381 161
Footpath East Chiltington 41 at TQ 382 160
Kent:- nearest station: Kearsney
TR 2556 4114
TR 2652 4183
Bucks - nearest station: Great Missenden
SP 9185 0053
SP 9192 0076