Mike Longbottom Memorial Ramble 17th August 2013.
The ramble in memory of Mike was such a pleasure to be on and was a resounding success. We all met at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre in Lambourn. This is set down a very long drive amidst the beautiful rolling landscape of Lambourn, everywhere you look is spectacular and the Eco Centre was a perfect setting for our start to the day. There were 23 scooters attending and 7 walkers. Also walking with us were Mike’s two daughters, George and Claire, and family friend, John, and much to everyone’s delight Quinzy, Mike’s lovely Labrador, was also there looking just as always – raring to go and full of life.
We started off the ramble with Robin leading and appropriately, as a further tribute to Mike, our backmarker for the day was Nomi – and of course, as many of us know she was delighted to be able to obtain Mike’s Three-wheel Tramper and so, in essence, Mike was with us as ever our faithful backmarker. We all thought of him before we set off and of all the amazing contributions he made to Disabled Ramblers.
We followed bridle paths with the wonderful scenery on either side of us, corn fields ready to be harvested and cattle, pigs, and sheep dotted about. With Autumn starting to make itself felt the foliage on the banks was showing the changing colours of the season, and was just as lovely as when first in flower. We had a few challenges on the grassy and slightly rutted paths, but we all coped very well and with the help of the volunteers and walkers all made it safely up to the famous and magical Ridgeway that snakes across the countryside. We had lunch at Segsbury Castle, a 30 acre iron-age fort some 2,700 years old and 700 ft high in the Lambourn countryside. Slight hiccup here, as the gate was supposed to be left unlocked for us, but all was well in the end after George managed to get in touch with the appropriate person who roared up in a Range Rover and unlocked the combination lock for us. Lunch was very windy, but in true Disabled Rambler fashion we all carried on regardless – until we had a very heavy shower. That really brought out the best in us, but we all still carried on with brollies up and waterproofs on, it really was great fun and nobody batted an eyelid.
Then the return trip was just as interesting and scenic, the paths were slightly tricky but gave us the chance to practice our skills at not tipping over!!!! Great fun. When we got back to the Eco Centre George and Claire had put on a very welcome spread, hot tea and sandwiches and other tasty food and we were all able to sit down and have a chat, look at photos of Mike and dry out a bit!
Stuart Kemp had arranged for a collection of donations in memory of Mike towards a plot of trees managed by the Woodland Trust. This would be in a wood selected by Mike’s family, its location would be unmarked, except by a Certificate of Dedication and a map which would be forwarded to George. The Certificate would record Disabled Ramblers regard and appreciation for Mike, followed by the wood name and county. From donations received on the ramble at least 30 trees would be dedicated. If anyone else would like to make a donation please send a cheque made out to The Woodland Trust and post to Jan Kemp, our Membership Secretary.
This was a very special ramble, and we had all been looking forward to it very much. The countryside is so unique and beautiful we would like to do a lot more rambling in the area and we sincerely hope to get back there next year to remind us, once more, of Mike and how valued he was by us all.