Since its formation in 1972 (founders Chris Steer, Alan and Barbara Blatchford) the LDWA has grown steadily from 355 members to over 7,000 at present. That growth, recognition in 1985 as the Governing Body for Long Distance Walking and becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee in 1999 have not prevented the LDWA retaining the feeling of a family of diverse individuals united by a common interest in long distance walking.
The Newsletter, containing details of challenge walks throughout the country, was also started in 1972, became “Strider” in 1977 and is now a 100-page journal, published in April, August and December each year, with a print run of 7,000.
Local Groups are the life-blood of the Association, running led walks and other social events, organising Challenge Walks and running checkpoints on the Annual ‘Hundred’. The first Group was formed in 1973, also the first year of the ‘100’, and there are now 45 spread across the UK - although rather thinly in Scotland and there is no group so far in Northern Ireland.
Each Spring Bank Holiday Weekend sees our ‘flagship’ event, which entails walking 100 miles in 48 hours, being held in a different area (2003 West Yorkshire, 2004 Exmoor, 2005 The Chilterns, 2006 Northumberland, 2007 Mid-Wales, 2008 West Yorkshire, 2009 Wessex, 2010 Heart of Scotland, 2011 Shropshire) with the Local Group playing a leading role as organisers and other Groups ‘mucking-in’.
The first edition of the Long Distance Walkers’ Handbook was produced by Barbara Blatchford and published in 1980. The seventh edition was published in 2002 and this comprehensive Directory had details of over 600 Long Distance Paths. The task of preparing that edition for publication was undertaken by five volunteers. In 2009 a new directory, called the UK Trailwalker’s Handbook, was published in conjunction with Cicerone.
Similarly the Local Group Committees are composed of volunteers as is the National Committee of 12 members elected at the Annual General Meeting, held in a different part of the country over a weekend in March and including a choice of social walks.
Click here to view the LDWA timeline.