Dorset Group: A Retrospective
Looking back over 29 years of our stewardship of the Dorset Group
How the Dorset Group came to be
Having met up in the mid-1980s, Ivor and I discovered we both liked walking (though Ivor had never really done any - except on his rural postal round). I had been a member of GOC for one year, probably 1983, so was aware of the organisation. We joined up and attended a couple of Solent events. We realised that there were no groups in, or to the west of, Dorset, so we started our Wessex Group in 1988. Our first walk was from Badbury Rings. There were 4 of us from Dorset: Ivor, me and 2 others. Three Solent members came along to give us their support.
The early days
Things started slowly and double figures represented an excellent
turn-out. We linked up a couple of times with Wilts&Gloucs and soon
decided that Wessex was too vague a name, so we changed it to Dorset
Group. For the first few years, Ivor and I led all the events and my
first record of another leader wasn’t until 1993. Hard to believe we had
so much energy!
In 1993 we hosted the AGM (now the AOG) in Wareham and Ivor liaised with
the then chairman, David Ensor, to organise venue, catering and a
programme of events. Thankfully, we were blessed with fine weather, with
all of our walks taking place in the Purbecks. A couple of years later,
in 1995, we celebrated our 100th event with a tea after the walk in
Cerne Abbas. 1998 was the occasion of our 10th anniversary, with a
special tea with birthday cake in a member’s home in Uplyme (actually
just in Devon!)
Our first venture into camping was to Sidmouth in 1990, when apart from
Ivor and me, there was just one other couple. Despite this, we continued
an annual camping event in west Dorset, Devon or Somerset till 2007,
when we began to feel that our joints were no longer up to the
contortions that camping sometimes requires.
More recent history
In recent years we’ve managed to assemble a very able and reliable team
of leaders and we regularly get numbers in the teens, sometimes in the
20s and occasionally higher.
The Dorset Experience
During our time, we have done our utmost to give participants a full
range of Dorset experiences: we have dragged them kicking and screaming through bog, muddy farmyards, nettles, brambles, maize, barbed wire and floods to mention
just a few. We also hope we have opened up new horizons by visiting
places off the beaten track such as Shave Cross, Wootten Fitzpaine,
Sydling St Nicholas, even Quatre Bras and Egypt, not to mention Scratchy
Bottom and the Piddle Valley! To date, we have yet to explore Aunt
We relinquish our stewardship with the sense of a job well done over the past 29 years.
We now pass the baton on, with the group still in robust health. Chris Metz will be in sole command as from January 2018. We thank all our walk leaders and wish Chris lots of luck and enjoyment in the coming seasons. I plan to continue walking with the group occasionally. Ivor, though, feels that he can no longer manage the walks. He will no doubt be with everybody in spirit.
We have been delighted to receive a number of very appreciative comments and some of them are reproduced anonymously below:-
" I just wanted to thank you for all the incredible efforts you've put in for so many years for the group."
"I would like to say a big thank you..."
"You’ve both done a fabulous job with the group..."
" Thank you on behalf of all those people who, like me, you helped over very nearly three decades."
"I just want to say a big "thank you" for the work you have done in the organising of all the walks, that have given a lot of pleasurable days out for myself and others. When Keith and I moved to Dorset in 1999... GOC group proved to be the best move we could have made. Not only have we seen parts of this beautiful county that we would never have found on our own but made long term friends within the group and friends made via people associated with the members. Leading to many happy memorable days."
"..I am really grateful to both of you for the warm welcome I have felt since frequenting the Dorset walkers."
"Thank you for all you have done over the years, hope we will see you on some of the GOC walks in the future."
Best wishes and happy walking to all!
Ron and Ivor