Chairman's Message
                     Group Chair's Report

The winter of 2018/2019 hasn’t been a bad one by any means, but all keen walkers look forward to Spring with its longer daylight hours, generally drier and warmer weather and the countryside looking greener and more flower filled.  For me, spending time in the great outdoors with like-minded company is always invigorating but Springtime also brings a feeling of wellbeing after the long winter months and an enthusiasm to be outside and enjoy the green spaces we still have available to us, despite the ever-expanding new housing developments sprouting up in Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas. 
Of course, new estates springing up often spells danger, or at the very least obstruction or temporary closure, to our footpath network, and our Footpath Officer, Caroline, has been very busy of late dealing with a couple of issues arising from new developments, as well as a closed pedestrian railway bridge and footpath closures along the A421 near junction 13 of the M1.
But you can rest assured that most of the paths in our region are intact and waiting to be walked, so if you haven’t been out in a while, the emergence of Spring is a fine time to get outdoors, and we have a packed programme of varied walks and social events for you to enjoy.  There are the usual short and longer walks every Sunday plus fortnightly midweek walks, close to home as well as further afield; Karen MacLaren is back by popular demand with some evening walks for the longer summer days; Mike and Helen Shephard will have another engrossing Saturday London walk, Wendy Ley is leading more Saturday legs of the Capital Ring; we have two walks in May in association with this year’s Greensand Country Festival following a successful collaboration last year; and we also have what is sure to be an enjoyable midweek trip to Thame in June organised by Julian Chritchlow and June Ayres. On top of that we will once more be running a stall at the Leighton Linslade Canal Festival in July, and I will be putting out a call for volunteers to assist in due course!
On the socials front, we have our Spring Break to Worthing in May, a Chinese meal in June and a pub lunch in July preceded by a short walk. 
Talking of the Spring Break, this year’s holiday holds especial significance as it sees the completion of John Hartley’s Monarch’s Way project, with as many of the Group who may wish to come invited to walk the last legs to the finish line in Brighton with the original MW team, along with John’s walking boots and ashes.  It is bound to be an emotional but uplifting occasion. Later, at the end of June, also in John’s memory, we will be retracing the original 21-mile challenge designed by John back in 2008 - a good turnout for this would be much appreciated, especially as Linda Hartley has kindly agreed to lead one of the shorter legs, just as she did in 2008.
Wishing you Spring cheer and hoping to see many of you out walking over the coming months.
Andrea Deeley, Group Chair