ABOUT Oakleafe
Walking : Safety etc

This page may be LONG and with LOTS of INFORMATION ~ but, we have tried to cover here almost all of the regular questions.

For NORDIC WALKING information, please scroll down the page.

So, have a browse here, skim over ... and hopefully you will find that we may answer those matters for you;  maybe even more than once!  We have tried to combine and condense yet again from previous Club websites ~ having grown over previous 10 years or so.

HOWEVER : You will have to read through to locate the several DISCOUNT OFFERS from firms as INCENTIVES upon purchases ~ offered for members of one of our walking groups in either Surrey or East Sussex (and by association also from the west of Kent) !! 
Two firms currently have offers in place :  SIMPLY HIKE  & PARAMO

Some HISTORY : Back over 13 years ~ to our very Beginnings

Nigel Bentley : Walking events planning and management : WALK LEADER and NORDIC WALK INSTRUCTORIn the spring of 2003, as a Personal Trainer qualified to lead walking for exercise and fitness, Nigel Bentley arranged to lead the fortnightly walking group for his (then) local Caterham U3A (that stands for the University of the Third Age). 

The Caterham U3A Walking Group had been established for some time, but was at that point advertising for a Leader to arrange the events and lead them.  As a consequence of those walks, there was mention of our leading half-day walks on our Fitness website. 
And so, we started receiving enquiries along the lines of,  ... " Do you lead any half-day walks at a weekend? " 

These enquiries were sufficient in number to consider the need for half-day weekend events more carefully.   We also had many enquiries from folk who seemed to dislike their perception of a segregating approach in our then local Ramblers affiliated groups; or who had fallen out with such groups over other issues (not accepting well-behaved dogs being a typical comment we heard).

Early in 2004 we started planning the practicalities and launch of a new Walking Club, to be run under the overall business plan for our Personal Training in order to encourage exercise for folk out of doors. 
Our first Oakleafe Rambling Club walk was from Botley Hill, Woldingham, Surrey in September of that year,  By May 2005 we had over 15 walkers out for a VERY wet Saturday afternoon walk on Reigate Heath in the vicinity of the River Mole.  Then we realised that we had some serious walkers on our hands!!

By that time the Club had its own web presence, and the numbers of folk receiving the pre-walk bulletins had risen to more than 40 for most of our Groups. 
By 2016, between two counties and various activities, our mailing lists have grown to over 390 e-mail addresses. 

These are OPT-IN mailing lists and we do NOT share any email addresses.  There is also a simple system for UNSUBSCRIBING from our mailing lists. 

We are currently using our 2017-2018 data email-address lists, having invited re-Opting In through December 2016.
These new lists have been in use from the start of 2017 ~ and are hosted through our proxy account (secure) for marketing ... with MailChimp. 
We have been using MailChimp since Octoner 2016 for our mailing of briefings, although replies do come directly to us as usual.
We really DO want to only have interested parties on those lists, so each mailing has tracking codes within them so that MailChimp can give us current statistics at any point regarding opened or un-opened mails; and also of bounced mails
.   MailChimp do not monitor the opening or NOT pattern for addresses in the database register ... and after a while mails that are not opened will lead to that email address being 'Spring Cleaned' out of the database without recourse to us.
The faithful BLIND COPY addressing that we have been using for over 10-years in order to do it all ourselves and in-house, is finally being rejected by more and more of the big email providers ... as they see these as possibly being SPAM.  Sorry folks

Using the MailChimp tracking reports, and also looking at the take-up for Groups month-by-month, we will also be making some hard decisions regarding the future of specific groups.  The putting together of the walk plans, briefings etc are very time-consuming ... and if a particular group is not getting the support over a considerable period, then the future of that group will be questioned.  For example, our Oakleafe Sussex Singles group has (after over two years of events) was shelved in the latter part of 2016 season.  This has made space of a weekend for other groups to perhaps have more events available.

Since 2007 we have had a presence on the clubbz.co.uk website, relating to rambling and Nordic events in both counties.  

We still have an Oakleafe Group on facebook ~ and our plan is to revive using this a bit more in the coming season, if time allows!


Being a Personal Trainer, Nigel has always been on the look-out for ways of making our walking activities more fitness-oriented for Club members and for clients of WINDOVER FITNESS ~ something  that would possibly combine discovery of the countryside with challenges and ways of improving cardio-vascular and muscular fitness ...

One of our Nordic walkers having just crossed a bridge over the River Ouse near Barcombe Mills (June 2012)During 2005/06 we set up our first Nordic Walking group in Surrey.  Nigel trained with NORDIC WALKING UK to qualify as an INWA (International Nordic Walking Association) Instructor, and he is still affiliated to Nordic Walking UK and BRITISH NORDIC WALKING.  Nigel is also registered with the Register of Exercise Professionals (Level 3 as a Personal Trainer for Special Populations : his speciality is exercise for Middle-years and Older Adults)

Nordic Walking is a Fitness Walking discipline which developed from the summer training for cross-country skiing.  There is much more to it than just walking with two trekking poles!!  The speed of the fitness walks is higher than our usual rambling events : probably approaching over 1 mile-per-hour faster across the whole of a two hour walk.  Participants also burn probably about 35% more Calories throughout the walk; AND use up to 90% of skeletal muscles.  Compare that with 35% for walking generally; 39% for running; and 70% for swimming!  
All those benefits ... with greater balance and co-ordination, and LESS stress to hips, knees and ankles.

We started our Oakleafe East Sussex Nordic Walking group in the autumn of 2007 : and now have a nearly 10 acre Training Park comprising a mix of two fields and an area of plantation woodland.  This is set in a valley through the South Downs within about 1 mile of Alfriston centre : with easy access to the Cuckmere Riverside walks and to the South Downs Way on Windover Hill.  Our Park is overlooked by the Long Man of Wilmington, the ancient hill drawing in the chalk > possibly a very early demonstration of Nordic Walking.

In 2010 we started our first summer-period Outdoor 75- to 90-minute Exercise Class of a Wednesday evening, based around Nordic Walking.  These classes : NORDIC FITNESS : were initially only in and around the Seaford area incl. Friston Forest ~ that was for 2010 and 2011.  The classes are held when daylight and weather permit.  This successful and popular format was continued on a much wider geographical territory from the programme of 2012 to 2016.  It will resume on 12th April 2017 (see under the EVENTS : E.SUSSEX  tab for more information about our programme range, still on Wednesday evenings.

Time constraints really precludes our setting this up elsewhere as yet.

North Downs Way near Tatsfield in Surrey, close to the Kent border.  This is close to one of the bases for our Sunday Surrey series walks through summer monthsBy 2006 we had 4 regular groups operating in East of Surrey, including our Nordic walkers, and the original U3A Caterham Walking Group.  At 2016 that is down to a weekend rambling group for fortnightly Saturday afternoons; and a WEEKLY Monday morning Nordic Walk and Ramble group for Caterham U3A (but open to all our walking group members).

In 2007 Nigel relocated the fitness business down to a new base in the beautiful Cuckmere Valley of East Sussex; and so, from 2007 we started developing our walking groups that are now under way in East Sussex area.  We originally had about 20 walks per year promoted through the publication EXPLORING EAST SUSSEX as then published by East Sussex County Council. 

For several years we also have run our NORDIC FITNESS class outdoors through the summer months in the local area along the South Downs : these have been on a WEDNESDAY evening* from mid-April to mid-September for the NORDIC FITNESS.
*For 2018 this series will move instead to a TUESDAY EVENING.

Oakleafe Dorset Walkers 2011 > a group of 15 walkers came together : 9 form the Caterham U3A; 4 Nordic Walkers; and some Surrey ramblers (picture c/o P&M Bown 2011)As noted in the last section, the age range amongst our walking groups varies hugely.  Equally, the speed of walking and the membership of particular groups does not necessarily reflect great variations by age or sex!  Individual abilities and limitations are catered for insofar as we possibly can. 

We do try to give a rough guide as to the number of stiles to be encountered (and we DO try to keep these to a minimum on each walk, so as to avoid lengthy delays whilst larger groups cross each obstacle).  This information is typically included in our last-minute briefing.  However, as stiles are not indicated on OS mapping, and their presence in fields that have been subdivided suddenly for livestock can increase by a factor of 2 or 3 times compared with those recalled when we look at a route last walked maybe many months before ~ so the accuracy of these guide figures is always going to be difficult unless we can literally walk the route for each one within a matter of days beforehand.

WHY do some folk like to walk in groups, to socialise  etc, and others just do not ?   It is evident over the years that we have been running the Club, that for many ladies it is a matter of security to like walking in the countryside in company rather than on their own.  Some people like to socialise and chat during their walk : for others a walk is a time of solitude.  Even that is possible in a group walk, but it is perhaps not always so easy.

Socialising : a walk can give an opportunity to walk and talk in twos and threes : as can the social time often enjoyed in the pub afterwards.  We have also had some good Social gatherings (our Christmas party 2009 being an example > where 22 people gathered : albeit in March 2010 due to the snows and ice just before the end of last year which caused a postponement in the planned Surrey gathering).

A Route to Follow ... with others :  for some folk it is a matter of having not to think about their route beyond getting to the start on time > giving over the walking route leadership entirely to the leaders on the day.

Time Constraints
It is also obvious that in most cases our members do not have regularly available the time to go on day-walks only.  For most years we have seen the numbers on our Daywalks being lower than those able to come out regularly for an afternoon, or for a morning.  However, for the last 6 seasons we have run a specific 5-part Daywalk series, usually tackling a specific Long Distance Path or linking some together to make an interesting route.  In 2016 our Daywalk Series had 15 participants across one or more of our events.  We also run some daywalks on a figure-8 shape ~ which allows folk to take part in either a morning, an afternoon, or the whole day.  We would be parking/meeting/lunching at the centre of the 8!

Our Club was founded in 2004 in the east of Surrey ~ with events mostly on the North Downs and the Wealden area immediately south of those DownsNOW : Our Club has several very active Groups in EAST SUSSEX ~ where we have been arranging and leading Walking Events regularly since 2007.

Our working base is now near Alfriston,
in the Cuckmere River Valley of East Sussex.  There we have access to some of the best walking in the South Downs.

The Club was founded by Nigel Bentley

Nigel is a qualified personal trainer; Nordic walk INWA instructor; nutrition consultant; and walk leader. 

Nigel has been leading a weekday Walking Group for the Caterham U3A in east of Surrey since May 2003.   That group is still thriving ~ and regularly has walking groups of from 15 to 25 ... or occasionally more. 
That group now meets weekly on a MONDAY MORNING.
Our Admin base is in the Cuckmere Valley, about one mile outside Alfriston, East SussexNo annual subscription for members, or "joining Fee" : instead we operate a pay-per-walk subscription system ~ and we keep the subs as low as possible to support our promotion activities, website and event planning activities on behalf of members.

The Club and related groups are all a part of the business plan for WINDOVER FITNESS and namely encouraging folk to be :  active, regularly, and to enjoy the out-of-doors when possible. 
For more information see :  www.windover.info
Our Events Diary is included as a separate page on this site, which gives basic details of forthcoming walks by COUNTY and type of event. 
Walks that are imminent have their own Briefing TAB visible once you have opened the main COUNTY : EVENTS tab
We send around an e-mail to our Group subscribers/members a shorter-form of BRIEFING immediately before an event.  This is usually 24 to 48 hours before a Walk.  This includes more detail about the walk route, numbers of stiles (approx) and weather information. 
We regret that it is not possible to offer this as a separate briefing to members by post, there are just too many walks going on in each month ...

ALL WELCOME : Our Walking Groups are summarised purely on the day their events are typically undertaken, and the likely type of walk. 
There is no further "segregation" : all comers are welcome
Friendly dogs are usually welcome on all our walks or rambles ~ with the exception of Nordic events (please discuss further if you wish to bring a dog with you to a Nordic walk)  
Please remember that we cannot guarantee assistance from other group members or walk leaders in getting dogs across stiles where there is no doggie-gate provided.

Dogs would usually be on a lead in deference to grazing livestock and to protect vulnerable wildlife at specific times of year in particular.

We do ask you to PRE-BOOK with ALL of our walking events now, to avoid wasted journeys out to the start points; AND to avoid us having departed thinking that no-one else is coming if you are delayed a few moments later at start than anticipated.  It is also necessary to pre-register for Nordic events especially if loan Nordic Walking poles are required.

For some events that are particularly far away from our base, we do now occasionally stipulate a QUORUM, minimum number, for bookings for that event to go ahead.
Many (but not all) of our walking events in East Sussex are listed on local community websites and those for East Sussex County Council, the South Downs National Park, Wealden Walking Festival and the likeWe have a representative group on the clubbz website network, although this is not frequently updated; as well as the rambling.co.uk website.  Our facebook Group was for some time solely devoted now to our former SUSSEX SINGLES monthly programme ~ that will probably be reviewed in the New Year 2017 to instead offer two Club weekend rambles a month generally in Sussex ~ and the facebook group may be used if time permits to promote a wider range of events.


v   ALL DAY ?

Our Club's specialisation is for Half-Day walking events

We do offer  a few Daywalks each summer season > from May to September is our standard Summer project series of 5 daywalks that tackle either a long-distance path of some description, or at least an established route in the main.

Previous years from the Oakleafe Daywalk series projects :
In 2011 ~  Sussex Ouse Valley Way south to north (4 day-walks)
In 2012 ~  1066 Country Trail with the 1066 Downs Link path (4 day-walks).
In 2013 ~  The Wealdway from Eastbourne north as far as Tonbridge
(5 day-walks) 
In 2014 ~  Watersides Project of 2014 ~ started in Surrey in May, near the M25 from the lane outside WISLEY RHS and headed south via the River Wey Navigation path and the Wey-South Path, to conclude in September on the South Downs Way at Bramber in West Sussex. 
That series led directly into our next series :
In 2015 : Routes in East Sussex to Lewes
... from Bramber Castle initially via the South Downs Way to Blackcap Down and Lewes, followed by the historic JUGGS WAY, and other ancient routes into Lewes.
In 2016 : Sussex Ouse Valley Way from North to South ~ with an additional section around Ardingly Reservoir
In 2017 :  Three Reservoirs Splashed Across THE WEALD ~ with sections of the High Weald Landscape Trail (or Bewl Water Reservoir via Weir Wood to Ardingly Reservoir ~ circuits of each where possible)
Our dates for the
MAY to SEPTEMBER series dates for 2018 have been / will be :
Walk 1 completed on 20th May ~ Herstmonceux to Battle;
Walk 2 completed on 17th June ~ Battle to Hastings;
Walk 3 completed on 22nd July ~ Hastings Country Park to Rye;
Walk 4 on 12th August ~ Rye to Bodiam; and
Walk 5 on 16th September Bodiam to Wadhurst.


In Oakleafe groups we offer Subscription Walking rather than an Annual Membership. 

There is no joining fee or annual amount.

As a consequence, those who walk more frequently do contribute more to the costs of running and maintaining our website, our researches into new routes and so on. 

The briefing details do advise HOW to book in or pre-register for an event.  The other main element to consider is joining one of our e-mail briefing databases.


Our HALF-DAY events are priced with "per walk; per person (over 16)" subscriptions as follows : (these RATES have applied from NEW YEAR 2015

HALF DAY EVENT Subs Schedule from 2015   (SIMPLIFIED OVERALL) :

Guided Rambles, including Sussex Singles and Caterham U3A : all at £5 per head
Nordic Walks all are now at £5 per head
Nordic Fitness outdoor exercise classes at £5 per head

Loan NW Poles for a single half-day event :  £2 per pair of poles per event
Lost asphalt paws for the poles are chargeable = £10 per pair.

Our DAY-WALK events are priced
"per walk; per person (over 16)" subscriptions as follows (rate unchanged) :  
Guided event £10 per head (unless briefing advises otherwise for particular events)

On the occasions when we run a three-quarter-day length event : the subs are pro-rata at £7.50


There are some fringe benefits for being a walking member of OAKLEAFE Rambling or Nordic Walking.  So, apart from the walks themselves, the planning and the company, for your EVENT SUBS you might also take advantages from the following that are offered to our Club members.  We do not have a Membership Card; so, if presenting in person, just take along an emailed event-briefing that the Club has issued recently to you ... and in return you will gain a special discount on purchases from these two suppliers :

TEN percent DISCOUNT offer is continued from 2015 through 2016 ~ offered by SIMPLY HIKE for online or in-store shoppers from the Oakleafe Rambling Club.Also quote that offer was emailed by Chris Corfield

Discount of FIFTEEN percent currently ... as our Club Discount offer is also continued through 2016 ... from Páramo including from the Páramo store in Wadhurst. 
This also covers the NIKWAX range from their store.

Quote that the offer was emailed to walking@oakleafe etc by TOM SNEE

Location : 

Páramo Village Shop, 1 Central Parade, High Street, Wadhurst, TN5 6AL

If you would like to go in one (or more) of our emailing lists for events, please let us know.  The briefings are now much shorter than before, as we include the main information on a single web-page (see Tabs) for a particular event ~ so the eMail serves as a reminder for an upcoming event.  The eMail is usually sent out about 24 to 48 hours before the event.  The web-page information is usually updated right up to the day of an Event

Our Opt-In Database for Email-Lists is differentiated usually in the following manner :

In East Sussex . . . do you only wish to participate  ?
   ...  at a Weekend. or a weekday, or both;             ?
   ...  in Rambles only; or Nordic Walks, or both.       ?

You can join one or all of the typical lists :
i.e. there is a list for Sussex Weekday rambles, and a separate list for Sussex Weekday Nordic Walks, but with a separate list again for the weekly Nordic Fitness classes through the summer on Wednesday evenings.

In Surrey it is simpler : we have one database for the Saturday afternoon fortnightly Club rambles; and another for the Caterham U3A Walkers.

About Email-lists & Security :
   we do not share email-addresses with any third party;
   we used to only send group mailing around using the Blind Copy method BCC ~ but that method is now being rejected by more of the large email providers, so we now send individual addressed emails TO subscribers ... one at a time ... MUCH more time consuming;

   there is an easy route to unsubscribe from a particular list detailed
     with each mailing as a Post-Script Note.

From a Daily Mail article of Tuesday 20th January 2015
Why a Walk with Friends is the path to Good Health :
This gave particulars of a study undertaken by the University of East Anglia (UAE) and reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  According to the study, the dynamics and cohesion of "walking in groups or with friends" gave rise to health benefits over and above those realised from walking on your own. 
This study was concluded from a review of 42 research projects undertaken with over 1800 walkers in 14 countries. 
The UAE paper reported benefits including the lowering of measures such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood cholesterol levels, body fat percentage and weight.  Walkers also experienced improvements in lung-power, overall physical functioning and general fitness ... and they were generally less depressed.

In the previous week, Cambridge University researchers had said a brisk daily walk of just 20 minutes could cut the risk of premature death by up to 30%.

MEETING TIMES (typically)
All afternoon walks now start at 2 pm, meeting say at 1:55 pm, unless otherwise stated.
Morning walks generally start at 10 am, meeting 5 minutes beforehand, unless otherwise stated.

BUT : the Monday morning weekly U3A events in Surrey and around will have a meeting time usually at the venue now of 09:45, so that we can hope to complete pre-ordering lunches ~ and then still start our walk by 10am.

Pre-booking is usually requested in our Briefings specifically to avoid wasted time planning and circulating details, waiting unnecessarily at the start venue, or leaving before someone arrives who is on the way.

Any of the pubs or venues listed above may be changed at the last minute in the current climate; where pubs have been closed at short notice with either landlords moving away, leases being broken or finance withdrawn.  SO, if you have not walked with us regularly and do not receive the email briefings about one day ahead, please DO contact us directly by phone or email to check those last-minute details.

MAPPING and Ordnance Survey References : Postcodes

The OS map references given for our meeting points can be entered into www.streetmap.co.uk ~ without spaces between the TQ and the numbers.  The site should give you a precise location map if you enter the OS reference exactly as provided in our briefing, and then use their SMART SEARCH facility.
We are using British Postcode system more generally as often as possible, now that more drivers have GPS in their vehicles which gives precise directions to our venue.