now part of Gillingham Walkers are Welcome 

An informal group set up for those who wish to walk in the area of Gillingham, Dorset.

9th December 2016.  Annual Christmas meal

Our annual Christmas meal was again held at the Udder Farm Shop.  21 walkers and guests attended and a good time was had by all, with a superb raffle and a festive singalong.

Thanks are due to Michelle, Doreen and Jill for all their hard work.

3rd - 11th September 2016.  Gillingham Walking Festival

The Festival was again a great success, with walks of widely varying lengths and destinations (see Programme).  Walkers clocked up over 1650 miles by the end of the nine days, completing over 400 outings on 21 walks, many walkers taking part on most days.  Others challenged themselves to a longer walk than usual.

8th August 2016.  Annual tea.

This was again held at the Wine Bar when approximately 20 walkers and guests enjoyed a very tasty afternoon tea.

2nd July 2016.  Cancelled Saturday walk

Unfortunately no volunteer walk leader is available to lead this Saturday walk so it has been cancelled.

The group is hoping to recruit a few more walk leaders (the commitment need not be onerous - the usual rota calls for one or two Saturdays a year and/or perhaps 4 - 8 Mondays a year).

12th December 2015.  Annual Christmas Dinner

28 walkers and guests enjoyed an excellent evening at the Udder Farm Shop.  Thank you to our Social Team for organising this.  See Photo Gallery.

5th - 13th December 2015.  St Mary's Church, Gillingham Christmas Tree Festival

Once again the Group have entered a tree into this event.  Michelle, Doreen, Kim, Bridget and Margaret have done an excellent job of collecting items to fit in with our rural walking theme and decorating the tree so beautifully.  See the Photo Gallery.

22nd October 2015.  Skittles at the Football Club

Repeated by popular demand, 20 people turned up for skittles today.  There were so many moves, techniques and strengths that the England team would have been put to shame.  It was a really fun and jolly event.

8th October 2015.  Walking Festival Balloon Race Winner

The Walking Festival in September was launched with a balloon race which helped to raise funds to cover festival costs.
The winning balloon was found on Alderney, The Channel Islands. Purchaser of the winning ticket, John Essex,  will be enjoying a meal at South Street Kitchen.  Many thanks to SSK for generously donating the prize voucher

21st September 2015.  Anniversary tea

Twenty five walkers and guests enjoyed tea and cake at the Red Lion Restaurant to celebrate the Group's eleventh anniversary.

5th - 13th September 2015.  Gillingham Walking Festival

The Gillingham Walking Festival is the flagship event of our Walkers are Welcome Town initiative.

The 2015 festival was a huge success.  Held from 5th to 13th September, the programme consisted of 18 varied walks over 9 days with leaders from 9 different organisations.  Walks included wildlife and history meanders, short strolls and longer rambles including the 20 mile “Wincanton Challenge”

The festival is friendly and informal: most walks were free  and did not require booking.  Walkers just  had to turn up at the start on the Town Meadow and sign in.  And turn up they did - over 400 journeys were registered.  Many enjoyed  a cream tea or coffee and cake en route.

For pictures and comments see Photo Gallery and 

Thursday 13th August 2015.  East Knoyle walk followed by café visit.

Despite the threatened thunderstorms, a dozen walkers drove to the Windmill at East Knoyle where Sheila Messer led an excellent walk through woodland, and fields past Clouds House.  Thankfully, the rain held off although, unfortunately, the stunning views were somewhat obscured by cloud.  Everyone then moved on to the  Little Beggars Café, where  they were joined by a few non-walkers for tea and cake.  A good time was had by all.

14th July 2015.  Picnic at Heaven's Gate on the Longleat Estate

Ten walkers were fortunate with the weather and enjoyed their picnic lunches and a beautiful scenic walk to the Heaven's Gate escarpment overlooking Longleat House.  A hidden gem, everyone agreed that they will definitely want to visit this lovely spot again.

17th June 2015.  Skittles afternoon

A skittles afternoon was held today at Gillingham Football Club. 

"The skittles afternoon was good fun! We had enough people for two teams of six and a mix of men and women in each team.  We played for about three quarters of an hour, then had a half hour break for refreshments. We started the second half with renewed vigour! One person even managed a strike!!! Everyone enjoyed themselves and asked Doreen if we could play again later in the year, which she has agreed to organise.

Our thanks to Doreen and her helpers, Elaine and Margaret for a successful social afternoon."

18th May 2015 Afternoon tea at the Wine Bar

Approximately twenty walkers and guests enjoyed afternoon tea at the Wine Bar after the usual Monday walk.  (See photos.)

1st April 2015.  Gillingham Walkers now independant

Walking for Health have made changes to their accreditation scheme making half hour walks a requirement.  As there has proved not to be a demand for these in Gillingham, the Group has decided to become independant with effect from today.  No resultant changes are planned to existing Monday and Saturday walk formats. 

March 2015.  Saturday walk start times

Having temporarily changed the winter start times to 10.30 a.m., it has been decided to revert to 2.00 p.m. for the summer months, with effect from the 4th April walk.

7th March 2015.  Walk cancelled.

For the first time in ten years, the group had to cancel a walk as there was no volunteer available to lead it. 

January 2015.  Progress being made with "Walkers are Welcome" initiative

See dedicated page for Briefing.

Cancellation of Ramblers' Short Walks programme

Due to difficulties finding volunteers to lead these shorter walks and too few walkers attending them, the Ramblers have decided to cancel this programme.  They are still trying to find ways of broadening the appeal of the Ramblers and we will advise any news on this page.

3rd December 2014.  Christmas Meal

Thirty walkers and partners again went to the Udder Farm Shop for their annual Christmas meal and a very enjoyable time was had by all.  Ralph Jerram has decided to pass organisation of social events to a successor and  Sheila Messer thanked him for all his hard work over the past ten years.  He was presented with a voucher to be exchanged for a "Mystery Gift" (to be a personalised Photobook).  Michelle Collicott won this year's competition. 

Gillingham Walking Festival update

The Festival got off to an encouraging start on Saturday morning with 22 walkers taking part in a one hour easy walk on fields and pavements to the north of town.  Gillingham Walkers have since led two more one hour walks (7 walkers on Saturday afternoon and 31 on Monday afternoon) and a circular walk for 26 on Tuesday, ending at the Buffalo Inn for an Italian meal.  Walks led by other organisations have all met with enthusiastic support.

13th - 21st September - Gillingham Walking Festival

This new FREE event is an initiative by the Gillingham Health Forum and is being launched on the Town Meadow on Saturday 13th September 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., with over 20 walks of varying types and lengths being held throughout the week.  It is being run in partnership with this group - Gillingham Walkers - North Dorset Ramblers and Gillingham Local History Society, supported by the Three Rivers Partnership.

4th August 2014.  10th Anniversary Tea

To mark the group's 10th anniversary, a buffet tea for 45 people was held at the Wine Bar (where Mandy Sims did us proud).  Walkers past and present enjoyed a convivial couple of hours and Sue Hall, who is shortly emigrating to New Zealand after walking with the group since its inception, cut a celebration cake.  Souvenir photobooks were presented to Sue, Liz Reeve (founder member/leader) and Sheila Messer (founder member/leader/co-ordinator).  (See Photo Gallery.)

March and May 2014.  Ramblers' Short Walks Programme

The Ramblers have introduced a programme of shorter walks, which may be of interest to those who would like a slightly longer route than Walking for Health offers but are not ready for the Ramblers Groups' usual walks.

They have now released details of  the next programme - the flyer giving details should be accessible using this link. If you are unable to see it, please contact Penny, or the Ramblers themselves if you are interested.

The small print - This short walks programme is being offered by the Dorset Area of the Ramblers. New walkers are welcome to go along for a couple of trial sessions, but if they intend to walk with the group regularly they will need to join the Ramblers. Additionally, anyone who is under age or has health concerns should note the advice for vulnerable people.

For queries about the short walks programme or the Ramblers in Dorset more generally, please get in touch on 01202 315320 or at [email protected]

23rd December 2013. Extreme weather affects Monday walk

For the first time in nearly ten years, our hardy walkers were beaten by the extreme weather on Monday 23rd December!! High winds, floods and rain (and possibly Christmas preparations) kept all our walkers at home, with the exception of the Walk Leader (of course!) - on this occasion, Bob Messer - who duly called off the walk and went home. 10 out of 10 for effort, Bob.

7th - 15th December 2013.  St Mary's Church, Gillingham Christmas Tree Festival

Heather, Bridget, Sue F and Paulette did a fantastic job of decorating our tree and the Monday walk that week ended at the Church where the walkers enjoyed viewing all the trees.  See Photo Gallery for photographs.

4th December 2013.  Another successful Christmas meal

As last year, approximately thirty walkers and partners gathered at the Udder Farm Shop for a very enjoyable Christmas meal.  Colin Miles and Kim Candy won prizes for the best daft tie and decorative brooch. 

17th July 2013.  Fit Gillingham

Gillingham Health Forum's health and wellbeing event, held on the Town Meadow, attracted more than 300 people.  Our group were present, with considerable interest being shown and leaflets handed out.  Sheila Messer led a sample short walk in the early afternoon for a few hardy participants who were willing to brave the heat!! 

Spring 2013. Ramblers' new 3 - 5 mile walks

The Ramblers are introducing a new initiative of a programme of walks between 3 and 5 miles in length, which may be of interest to those who would like a slightly longer route than Walking for Health usually offers but are not ready for the Ramblers Groups’ short walks, which tend to be 5 – 6 miles.  At present they are offering one walk a month on this programme, but may increase the frequency if there is a good take-up.

The programme will be released in blocks of three months; those in March and April were in the Bournemouth area and May's was around Marnhull.  The flyer giving details should be accessible using this link.  If you are unable to see it, please contact Sheila or Penny, or the Ramblers themselves if you are interested.  The walk details for June, July and August will be available very soon.

The small print - This short walks programme is being offered by the Dorset Area of the Ramblers.  New walkers are welcome to go along for a couple of trial sessions, but if they intend to walk with the group regularly they will need to join the Ramblers.  Additionally, anyone who is under age or has health concerns should note the advice for vulnerable people.

For queries about the short walks programme or the Ramblers in Dorset more generally, please get in touch on 01202 315320 or at [email protected]

6th December 2012. Thirty attend very enjoyable Christmas Meal

Walkers and their partners gathered at The Udder Farm Shop Restaurant to enjoy good food and good company.  Everyone agreed the evening was a great success.  Thanks are due to Ralph for organising this, and all our other functions; the work he puts into this is greatly appreciated.

17th October 2012. Walk Leader Training

On Wednesday our Co-ordinator, Sheila Messer, held a training session at Rivers Meet for six newly recruited Walk Leaders, all of whom will be acting as back markers with immediate effect.

Thanks are due to these volunteers for agreeing to join our existing team of Walk Leaders. 

17th September 2012.  8th Anniversary cream tea

Twenty six people sat down to a Waitrose cream tea after the Monday walk, in celebration of another successful year.  Sheila Messer said that to keep the group running it is now essential that new leaders are recruited and was encouraged to receive positive responses from five walkers.  Training will now be organised at a time convenient to all.

July 2012   Ramblers issue new WfH logo

Record number of walks

In the month of April the Group went on seven walks!! - five Monday walks, the regular Saturday walk (commencing that month from Peacemarsh Surgery car park) and a walk around Duncliffe Woods to see the bluebells.

Gillingham Town Meadow - Press Release

A voluntary community group, Gillingham Town Centre Regeneration Action Group (RAG) has been formed as a result of opinion voiced during public consultations on future plans for the town.  They plan to start by improving the Town Meadow and we have been asked to help circulate their Press Release.  Do please visit these links: and to learn more of the plans.

Gillingham Walkers have been invited to join a "Pilgrimage Walk" on Wednesday 27th June 2012

Several walkers had a very enjoyable day, joining in this event.

The Ramblers is the new host for Walking for Health

With effect from 1st April 2012 Walking for Health will be managed by The Ramblers, working closely with MacMillan Cancer Support.

Natural England will not be associated with Walking for Health with effect from the end of March 2012

Natural England have advised us that they will no longer be managing the Walking for Health initiative and will be handing over to a new host with effect from 1st April.  They plan to announce during March which organisation this will be.

As part of this handover they will be writing to walkers asking permission to pass details from Outdoor Health Questionnaires to the new host.  If walkers have any queries about this, do please let us know and we will do our best to find the answers.

Closure of footpath from Peacemarsh to Wavering Lane

The Saturday walk on 7th January 2012 took Gillingham Walkers past the end of this footpath which they were dismayed to see had been closed for the second time, causing danger and considerable inconvenience to the local community whose only alternative was to use the busy B3092.  It seemed there was no immediate prospect of it being re-opened as the NDDC, Gillingham Town Council and Persimmon Homes were unable to agree on action but apparently had stated that on the previous occasion they had received no complaints about the closure.  Peacemarsh residents had now set up a "Save our Footpath" Facebook page and a petition, and Gillingham Walkers agreed that we should give strong support to their campaign.

UPDATE - Path re-opened on Monday 16th January 2012!!

NDDC and Persimmon have come to an agreement and the path has now been opened, much to everyone's delight.

January 2012 - Walk numbers thriving

Since the Group started its current register in March 2009, 127 people have joined walks on a regular, or a one-off, basis.

Twenty one people enjoyed January's Saturday walk - across fields to Madjeston, Eccliffe and Thorngrove - and twenty six walkers came along for the hour's walk on Monday 9th January!!

Gillingham Christmas Tree Festival, St Mary the Virgin Church

The Festival, which took place in December 2011, was well supported.  As on previous occasions, the group decorated a Christmas tree to help the Church raise funds for charity - see Photo Gallery.

Contact Details


Sheila Messer  01747 821269

email:  [email protected]


Penny Peat  01747 823774

email:  [email protected]

Social Team Leader

Michelle Collicott 07787 835046

email: [email protected]

Recent Photos