History of Torbay Rambling Club
Torbay Rambling Club was formed in 1950 and is the longest established walking club in South Devon. A group of friends who walked together every 2 weeks realised that there was a demand for a regular programme of walks and social events. They formed a committee, decided on a subscription of 2s 6d and Torbay Rambling Club was born. A line drawing of Bowerman’s Nose, a favourite stopping off place on moorland walks, was chosen as the club logo.
Initially walks were held on Sundays, often on Dartmoor. In due course, Wednesday walks were added and also Friday evening short walks, ending up at a pub, during early summer.
An article celebrating the Club’s 65th birthday records that the annual subscription was only £7. Eight years later, thanks to communication moving online – new members are required to supply a valid email address – the subscription remains at £7 a year.
In 2017, the Club saw a surge in membership after the Committee agreed to take the Bay Walks ‘Progression Walks’ under their wing.
The Club was set to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2020, with special walks and events planned. Sadly, Covid put a stop to the celebrations. However, members carried on walking individually or in small groups, as regulations allowed, and were glad once normal service could be resumed.
The Club Today
Membership now stands at around 150. Walks take place on most Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Many are accessible by public transport.
A committee consisting of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Social Secretary, Safety Officer, Webmaster and three Walks Coordinators give their time to the running of the club which has given them such great experience of walking with others and exploring the lovely area in which we live.
Members are encouraged to volunteer to lead walks and about 30 are currently happy to do so. New walk leaders are supported by someone more experienced.
The Club website has been remodelled within the past year. As well as links to upcoming walks and the full walks programme, it features a Safe Walking Code, advice on clothing and equipment, photos of past activities and information about upcoming social events. Our social programme has included barn dances, a drumming workshop, meals, ten-pin bowling, a canoe adventure, coach trips and holidays. Ideas from members for new social events are welcomed.
The legend of Bowerman’s Nose, which features on the Club logo, tells of a hunter named Bowerman who was turned to granite by a coven of witches. The story goes that he was out hunting with hounds when they came across a circle of witches engaged in a magic ritual. An apparently clumsy hunter, Bowerman is said to have upended the witches’ cauldron, causing them to have to start their ritual over again. As revenge for this inconvenience, one of the witches turned into a hare and got the hunting party to chase her into a mire, where the witches surrounded Bowerman and his hounds and turned them to stone.
The granite spire known as Bowerman’s Nose is said to be all that remains of the hunter. In reality, the rock is the centre of a former tor which has eroded away to a profile that slightly resembles a human face. However, the legend makes a better story.