Members of the club examine the old engine shed at Radstock West

Members of the club examine the old engine shed at Radstock West, a relic of the former Bristol & North Somerset Railway, now incongruously marooned in a modern housing estate. the Somerset & Avon Railway was a modern enterprise, which no longer operates under this name; we believe it evolved into the nascent North Somerset Railway. (Jeff Vinter)

Can I walk on any old railway?

No – every piece of land is owned by someone. You can walk on any old railway that has been converted into an official path, but otherwise you need permission from the landowner. The situation is more relaxed in Scotland, but even there walkers are expected to respect landowners’ privacy and keep away from private dwellings.

Can I walk on an operational railway, e.g. on a day when there are no trains?

No – walking on an operational railway is always a criminal offence, even on Christmas Day when few, if any, trains are running.

What walks does the club organise?

These are described in ‘Upcoming Club Led Walks’.

Why are there sometimes several walks on the same day?

Each of the RR Areas organise their own walk programme. There is coordination with nearby areas, but the club does not allocate dates to areas and acknowledges there maybe walks taking place on the same day. Many of the walks take place on a Saturday, which limits the number of available days and there are several factors for when a walk can take place such as other commitments of the walk leader, permission from landowners and the club would prefer as many walks as possible to be organised rather than not going ahead as it coincides with another walk elsewhere in the country.

Can non-members join the club’s walks?

Yes – non-members can participate in club walks on up to two occasions per year. We would hope that by that stage they would choose to join the club. Join Online now

How much does it cost to join the club?

Our membership rates have always been extremely good value. Click on the link to see the current rates Join Online now

How long does membership last?

All subscriptions last a full calendar year from the date of joining.

Is there a branch of the club near where I live?

We have regional groups all over the UK. Each region is fairly large because there are fewer disused railways than there are footpaths and bridleways. Also, we are not the size of the Ramblers, so have fewer branches but with a larger geographical coverage. For further details, have a look in ‘Upcoming Club Led Walks’.

Why doesn’t the club advertise all its walks on the website?

The walks that we advertise here are a sample of those which use publicly-accessible routes, where extra walkers can be accommodated easily with little or no notice. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Some of our walks are heavily subscribed and have a limit on numbers, determined by factors such as the capacity of our lunchtime pub, the number of seats in our transport (especially if we have hired a vehicle), the size of the party that a landowner will accept, etc.
  • Other walks are over former railway land which is now privately owned. These require a large investment of time on the part of our walk leaders, e.g. to trace and negotiate with landowners. One of our aims has always been to respect private property, and for this reason we advertise walks over private land only via our magazine to registered members. Often, landowners are happy to accommodate an organised visit by a club such as ours which has a genuine interest; but, understandably, most are uncomfortable with anything that looks like an open invitation to members of the public on to their land.

We are immensely grateful to all those landowners who support us in providing fascinating walks, and fascinating glimpses into this country’s transport history. The number of historic railway buildings which they have saved is remarkable.

How do I get to club walks?

We have always made a consistent effort to get to and from our walks using public transport. To that extent, we have always been ‘green’ about getting there, and ‘green’ about what we do – which is making constructive use of billions of pounds’ worth of national assets which were scrapped as part of a sustained government policy which made economic sense, i.e. in terms of stemming railway losses, but was fundamentally destructive and wasteful. Where no public transport is available, our walk leaders arrange car sharing amongst participants, so that we can limit our environmental impact while pursuing our hobby.

Does this website accept advertising?

For example, would the club be willing to include a link to a commercial website advertising relevant products such as walking gear?

No – Railway Ramblers is a voluntary club whose committee decided many years ago to keep its website free from commercial content, including all advertising and sponsored links. The only exceptions occur when we use a free web-based service, such as a site search, where advertising links effectively are the price of getting the service for free. The advertising links are usually relevant to what we do, and members benefit from our very low membership rates.