The Tower Handbook
An outing on which the main activity is ringing. Apart from that almost everything else can be varied: the location, the mode of transport, the duration. Outings can be great fun and you see the countryside as well. They can also be very tiring. Outings are excellent for getting to know one another better than you can in between touches in the tower.
Anyone can. You don't need to be a tower officer or a great ringer, but you must be reasonably organised, and have time to do the correspondence.
You need a map and lists of towers (Dove, An Atlas of Bells, Where's That Tower or Tower Base) and contact names and addresses. Get them from the local association report. The Ringing World Diary has secretaries' addresses. Allow plenty of time. People don't reply straight away, and one unavailable tower may mean you have to re-plan others too. Some people prefer to phone first and then confirm by writing. It can save time if the answer is a firm 'no'. It is courteous to send a stamped addressed envelope with your request. Some organisers also send a confirmatory postcard a week before as a reminder .
A few things can. Take precautions but you may still get caught out. For example:
Things don't normally go wrong, but people talk more about it when they do. A well planned outing is a very enjoyable event. You travel to new places, ring at new towers and see different sights. There is the challenge of navigation and the satisfaction of getting it right. Each tower is different, stairs and passage ways to get to the ringing room, the colour of the sallies, the go of the bells (see glossary), the length of the ropes, the sound of the bells, and the concentrated ringing (perhaps five hours total in the day). As well as the ringing you can look round the church and the village (providing there is time). All of you will have experiences to look back on for weeks after the outing.
Ringers have travelled by car, coach, minibus, cycle, foot, narrow boat, even a helicopter, and perhaps others we have overlooked. Travelling is part of the fun. If you travel by coach it is easier to socialise on the way, speculating on arrival times and tower spotting. Travelling by car is less communal but adds speculation about who will arrive last and who will get lost, seeing who is last and who is first at the towers. If you do lose a car en route, it could leave you short of ringers for a while, as well as worrying the organiser.
Travelling by bike will restrict the distance you can travel, and you will need to allow longer between towers. Don't assume everyone is fit. 10 miles an hour is a pretty good average for a cycle outing - without any hills. Choose your area so the distances between towers are not too great. And if you fancy an area away from your home patch, make sure there are train services that will take bikes to get you to and from the area.
Walking outings are slower still. You will visit even fewer towers, and need to choose ones that are quite close together, either adjacent villages or perhaps in a city with several rings of bells.
If you have a keen band, why not have different types of outing, perhaps a car or coach outing at one time and a cycle or walking outing at another?
Currently hosted on jaharrison.me.uk