A proposal to put the Vanguards on the map with their own long distance walk of
some sort dates back to June 1968. By then, many Vanguards had taken part in an
annual 40-miles-in-one-day challenge known as the
Ridgeway Walk along the Wessex
Downs, and wanted to set up something similar themselves. Someone suggested
that the South Downs should provide an ideal venue, and arrangements were made
to test the route. Unfortunately this first attempt foundered when those who
had volunteered to undertake the survey failed to find each other on the day –
not a promising start!
Several similar ideas were put forward over the following years, without coming
to anything. It was not until 14th November 1978, at a club meeting
in the Marquess of Anglesey pub in London’s Covent Garden, that what is now
known as the Vanguard Way took its first breath. Club member Alan Smith
formally proposed writing a description for a walking route from East Croydon to
the aforementioned Fullers Arms, now renamed the Berwick Inn.
Aiming to be ready in 1980, the route would then celebrate not only the Club’s own 15th
anniversary but also the Ramblers’ Association’s special promotion, “Footpath
Heritage ‘80”, and (by linking three hostels) the Golden Jubilee of the Youth
Hostels Association. By this time, many Vanguards were keen and active members
of the RA and YHA.