Early Days of Essex-Herts LDWA Group

The first AGM of the LDWA took place in 1973 following the publication of a newsletter devoted to long distance walking which was first published in 1971. There were three current EH members at the first AGM. In 1974 Frank Duerden contacted LDWA members in Essex Herts area & subsequently the first EH meeting took place at his home in 1975. Fourteen people attended the first meeting & the Essex Herts Group of the LDWA was formed with a membership fee of 50p.

The first newsletter was produced in 1975 by a member who held the combined positions of Secretary, Treasurer & Newsletter Editor. The first group walk was on Sunday 23rd February 1975 & started at Maldon at 9.15am. There were about a further half dozen walks that year including a night walk in July.

The second newsletter appeared in April 1975 & the group now had grown to 27 members. On Sunday 8th June EH organised their first challenge event – The Forest Roundabout. In 1975 the first Downsman 100 was organised & EH managed to get seven finishers – a fifth of their membership.

The first AGM took place at High Beach on 3rd December 1975 when the subs were raised to 60p & a committee of six members in addition to the Secretary/Treasurer were elected. The Forest Roundabout was run again on 14th March & the first Blackwater Marathon took place in November 1976.

The group’s first weekend away was for the Three Peaks Walk in Yorkshire following an invitation from the Surrey & Kent groups to help fill the coach.

In 1976 six members completed the Cleveland 100 which took place with heavy rain & rough terrain. Only 41% of the field finished but 75% of EH completed the route.

In Dec 76 Newsletter No 7 was produced & in March 1977 a social evening took place at High Beach Village Hall.

In Newsletter No 8 it was reported that two members completed the 270 miles of the Pennine Way in six days thirteen & a half hours. One of the pair also completed a 100 mile road walk in twenty one & three-quarters of an hour. In July of the same year the 42 peak, 72 mile, Bob Graham Round in the Lake District was completed by another member within twenty four hours.

The group’s first long distance challenge walk ‘The Three Forests Way’ (60miles) was held on the weekend of 11th/12th November starting & finishing at Harlow’s Outdoor Centre.

In 1979 a lady member Essex Herts completed the British Three Peaks Walk which covers the traverse of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike & Snowdon & walking the whole distance between these peaks – 420miles in 7days & 31 minutes. Having done this she then, in September 1980 completed the End to End (Lands End to John O’Groats) walk, a distance of approx 840 miles in a time of 13 days 17 hours & 42 minutes (average of over 60 miles a day) - a time which has still to be bettered.

As you can see the Essex Herts Group has flourished over the years with many successful walkers & enthusiastic members. Join us and help us continue in the same successful way for many years to come.