|A much asked question in rambling circles. In response, here's a potted history of the
Vanguards Rambling Club.
Between Autumn 1964 and Spring 1965, a group of high-spirited young people got
to know each other by meeting regularly on the Sunday Ramblers' Excursions on
what was then British Rail's Southern Region. On 18th April 1965,
returning from the popular excursion to Axminster and Seaton in Devon (return
fare £1.30! - £1/6s/0d), there was not enough room to sit comfortably together
so they occupied the guard's van. The bonhomie produced in these unlikely
surroundings, aided by a bottle of Drambuie that appeared from someone's
rucksack, led to the formation of a rambling club called, naturally, the
Informality was the formula for the friendly spirit of the club: there was no
rush to elect officials or committee and it still flourishes in its original
form, without constitution or officials. There isn't even a membership fee as
such, although an optional subscription is paid by most members to cover
production and distribution of the monthly Vanguard News which contains
information of forthcoming events and other news.
The antics of the early years, inspired by well remembered visits to otherwise quiet
country pubs, earned the club some notoriety among other ramblers. Imagine
their horror when some unruly Vanguards were entrusted with acting as leaders
and rearguards of conducted parties which managed somehow to combine lengthy
walks and long lunchtime pub stops, both at a furious pace!
The Vanguards have mellowed over the years, but are still very active. Some have
become involved with such organisations as the British Walking Federation, Long
Distance Walkers Association, The Ramblers and Youth Hostels
Association, participating in committees, editing newsletters and organising
walking events. Two even managed to turn walking into paid occupations!
The Club holds a respected position in the world of challenge walking, holding the
record for the highest number of successful completions of the well known annual
Ridgeway Walk event (40 miles in one day along the North Wessex Downs).
Inevitably, the presence of both genders led to a substantial number of
marriages, and the passage of time has seen a second and even third generation
appear. In 2005, the club celebrated its 40th anniversary with a
busy programme of special events.