The Vanguard Way

66 miles from the suburbs to the sea

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WHO ARE THESE VANGUARDS?

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 Vanguards.

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.

 

2009 Colin Saunders