The Vanguard Way

66 miles from the suburbs to the sea

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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.


above - Alan Smith nowadays,

© 2009 Carl Roe

left - as he was,

© 2009 Alan Smith

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.

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© 2023 Colin Saunders