Scroll down to find out about:
1. Our Origins
2. Our Constitution
3. Our Objectives
4. Rights of Way
5. What to Wear
6. How to become a member
1. The Origins and Founding of the Society
The East Herts Footpath Society was founded in 1970 by Henry Barnes and his son John, together with a small and dedicated group of enthusiasts in East and North Hertfordshire to protect the local footpath network. This was to compliment the work of Len Dunford, with the adjoining Mid Herts Footpath Society, a group which had been in existence from the 1950s. The intention was to legally oppose the closure of Public Rights of Way, to report to the County Council the lack of signage, damaged stiles, wired gates, swampy green lanes and the obliteration of field paths by ploughing. To help clear overgrown paths and offer lead group walks. Through these actions it was hoped to preserve and extend the network; keep footpaths, bridleways and byways open and to actively encourage their use for the recreation and enjoyment of all. These are still our aims today, for although much has been done, footpaths are still at risk.
2. Our Constitution
The Society shall be known as The East Herts Footpath Society.
The objects of the Society shall be to work for and assist in:
a) the provision, preservation and protection of public rights of way over footpaths and other ways, in particular those in East Hertfordshire;
b) the preservation and enhancement for the benefit of the public of the beauty of the countryside;
c) the advancement of the education of the general public in matters relating to the foregoing objects.
Full membership of the Society shall be accorded to any individual aged 18 years or over who is in sympathy with, and has a commitment to, the objects of the Society as set out above and who has paid the annual subscription as laid down from time to time by the Executive Committee.
4. Executive Committee
There shall be an Executive Committee elected at the Annual General Meeting which shall consist of not more than 15 members. The Committee shall have the following powers:-
a) to co-opt other members (not exceeding 3 in number) as may be required to carry on the business of the Society.
b) to co-opt during the year a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, and such other members as may be necessary to fill occurring vacancies on the Committee, provided that the Committee shall never exceed more than 18 members altogether.
c) to elect every year a Chairman, a Secretary and a Treasurer, and such other officers as are required to carry out the day-to-day business.
d) to approve or reject applications for membership.
e) for good and sufficient reason to terminate the membership of any individual person provided that any such person shall have the right to be heard beforehand by the Executive Committee.
f) to adopt and issue standing orders or rules for the Society provided that they shall be subject to review by the Society in General Meeting and shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution.
The quorum for any Committee meeting shall be five members of the Committee.
As stated in Clause 4, the Executive Committee has the responsibility to elect every year (following the Annual General Meeting) the following:-
d) Such other officers as may, in the opinion of the Committee, be required to carry on the business of the Society, such as, for example, a Vice Chairman, an editor, or a person to take charge of clearance and other work in the field. Every such officer appointed shall hold office only until the next following Annual General Meeting, when a new Executive Committee shall be appointed.
6. Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of the Society shall be held during the first 3 months of the calendar year and never later than 31st March. The date is to be agreed by the Executive Committee and not less than 30 days' written notice of the date and place of such a meeting shall be given to members in general.
Every such General Meeting shall (amongst other business) elect members of the Executive Committee as set in Clause 4 and in addition the meeting shall appoint an Honorary Auditor to serve until the next following Annual General Meeting.
7. Extraordinary General Meetings
Extraordinary General Meetings may be called:-
a) by the Executive Committee
b) on receipt by the Secretary of a written request signed by not fewer than 20 paid-up members.
In either case, not less than 30 days' written notice of the date and place of such a meeting shall be given to paid up members and in addition they shall be provided with a statement as to the business to be transacted.
The quorum at a General Meeting of the Society shall be 20 paid-up members of the Society or such other number as the Society may in General Meeting from time to time decide.
Save as otherwise provided, all questions arising at any meeting shall be decided by a simple majority of the full members present and voting. Arrangements for proxy voting may from time to time be made by the Committee provided that no such arrangement shall be made with regard to Clauses 11 and 12. No person shall exercise more than one vote, notwithstanding that he or she may have been appointed to represent 2 or more interests, but in the case of an equality of votes the chairman of the meeting shall have a second or casting vote.
The Society shall maintain books of accounts for financial transactions during each calendar year and a statement of account, signed by the Treasurer and certified by the Honorary Auditor, shall be presented to every Annual General Meeting.
All cheques or Standing Orders which draw upon the Society's funds shall be signed by 2 of the signatories approved by the Executive Committee at their first meeting following each Annual General Meeting. These signatories would normally include the Treasurer, the Chairman, the Secretary and such other members of the Executive Committee able (by their geographical location) to expedite urgent payments. These approved signatories shall be authorised only until the next following Annual General Meeting.
Minutes books shall be kept by the Committee and the appropriate secretary shall enter in the minute book a record of all proceedings and resolutions.
Alterations to this Constitution shall receive the assent of two-thirds of the full members present and voting at an Annual General Meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting. A resolution for the alteration of the Constitution must be received by the Secretary of the Society at least 60 days before the meeting at which the resolution is to be brought forward. At least thirty days' notice of such a meeting must be given by the Secretary to the membership and must include notice of the alteration proposed.
Provided that no alteration shall be made to clause 2 (objects), clause 12 (dissolution) or this clause until the approval in writing of the charity commissioners or other authority having charitable jurisdiction shall have been obtained; and no alteration shall be made which would have the effect of causing the society to cease to be a charity in law.
The Society may be dissolved by a Resolution passed by a two=thirds majority of the full members present and voting at an Extraordinary General Meeting convened for the purpose of which 30 days' notice shall have been given to members. Such resolution may give instructions for the disposal of any assets held by or in the name of the Society.
Provided that, if any property remains after the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities, such property shall not be paid to or distributed among the members of the Society but shall be given or transferred to such other charitable institution or institutions having objects similar to some or all of objects of the Society as the Society may determine and, if and in so far as effect cannot be given to this provision, then to some other charitable purpose.
3. Our Objectives
Keeping rights of way Open
One of the main objectives of the Society is to work for and assist in the provision, preservation and protection of public rights of way over footpaths and other ways, in particular those in East Hertfordshire. Footpaths can quickly become overgrown if they are not used and vegetation is not kept in check. So one of the Society's objectives is to walk each path and occasionally organise work parties to keep the growth back. In walking the paths, the Society keeps a check on the state of the styles, signing and gates, and whether changes in land use are affecting the right of way. Rights of Way can be appealed to the County Council for their extinguishment or relocation to a less favourable route for walkers. By walking the rights of way regularly the Society can show that the path is in regular use, can have an understanding of the impact of changes and oppose those changes which are detrimental to public use.
The Society is active in arguing against unwelcome changes and takes matters to court whenever a reasonable compromise is not possible.
Enjoying the beauty of the countryside
In Hertfordshire, we are very lucky with the quality of our countryside - neither too flat, nor too steep, but with enough variation to keep things interesting. So there is a good mix of woodland, pasture and river bank that makes every walk an adventure. There is small amount of common land, but most walks cross private land. The guided walks organised by the Society enable walkers to gain access to some of the County's best landscapes. Careful preparation by walk leaders ensures that rights of way are closely followed and avoids conflict with farmers and landowners who are trying to carry on their business.
Advancing the education of the public
One of the benefits of having a walk leader is the opportunity to learn about map reading and landmarks. In addition, on every walk there are generally other people who are knowledgeable about trees and flowers, birds and other signs, such as animal tracks, that an inexperienced walker might miss.
From time to time members organise walks over the number of long distance footpaths that criss-cross our country, including coastal walks. Sometimes these take the form of walking a different section once a month to complete the full length of the path, or members organise a walking holiday staying in B&Bs or other accommodation. This provides an opportunity to visit other parts of our country and enjoy some special landscapes - all with the friends that have been made on our regular walks at home.
4. Rights of Way
Maintaining access to the countryside
The Society examines proposed changes in the rights of way network, and comments are submitted to the local authority. The Society seeks remedial action in this way and, if necessary, through the courts and the Ombudsman. Where landowners are co-operative, the Society's volunteers work to clear overgrown paths.
What to look for when out walking
a) Signage - paths should be marked, signs should be correct and in good condition;
b) Stiles - should be accessible, in good condition with no barbed wire;
c) Blocked paths - gates should not be locked, paths should be accessible, with no obstructions;
d) Notices on the path (e.g. Private - No Access, Bull in field).
5. What to Wear
Keeping your feet dry
Lace-up boots are always best because they support your ankles, and should be worn with thick socks. There's an 'old wive's tale' that rubbing soap on your feet prevents blisters - it does seem to work! Gaiters are a good idea if the going is muddy or the grass is very wet. In fine weather, stout shoes or walking sandals are acceptable. Wellington boots are OK for short walks in muddy conditions - but they may come off if you get stuck.
Keeping yourself dry and warm
The weather can change, so even in the summer always take a waterproof anorak with you. At other times, take a waterproof coat that is warm as well and, if it is cold, wear a hat and gloves. If it is cold wear an extra layer that you can take off once you warm up and that you can put on again if you stop. If it is going to be rainy, waterproof trousers are best, jeans can get very uncomfortable when they are wet and take a long time to dry. Don't forget to take a back pack for extra clothing and other bits and pieces.
Looking after yourself
It's a good idea to take a walking stick, an extra bit of support is often useful. For a long walk, two sticks may be helpful. 'Norwegian' style walking needs a bit of practice, but once you have got the idea two sticks can be very comfortable.
Always take a drink, water is fine but in cold weather a thermos of hot drink is very comforting. It is a good idea to carry a snack, even on a half-day or evening walk. For a longer walk, make sure you have something substantial for mid-day.
Always carry a small first-aid pack, at least plasters and anti-septic cream, and for blisters a product such as 'Compede' to rescue blistered feet. Make sure that you warm the patch before you apply Compede, particularly if it is cold.
If you are walking alone, let someone know that you are intending to walk and where you will be going. Check that your mobile phone is charged before you set out so that you can call for help if something untoward happens. Take a map or a good set of instructions and follow your progress so that you always know roughly where you are.
Follow the Countryside Code, close gates behind you, don't leave litter and keep your dog on a lead if there is livestock about.
6. How to become a member of the East Herts Footpath Society
Membership of the Society is open to any individual aged 18 years or over. We welcome younger people on our walks, but someone over 18 must accompany them.
Prospective members must be in sympathy with or committed to the Society's objects as set out in the Constitution above.
The Executive Committee approves (or rejects) membership applications and may, in exceptional circumstances terminate a membership if there is sufficient reason to do so. In this case there is a right of reply.
New members should be familiar with the Countryside Code. Dogs are welcome to join our walks, but must be under control at all times, particularly when a path crosses a field with livestock.
Membership subscriptions are £6 per family per year.
The membership secretary is:
256 Hammondstreet Road
Tel: 07799 416614