A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The Vanguard Way can be undertaken as a series of day walks from London – and the accounts that follow will provide you with our version of this task in six installments. The route from East Croydon to Newhaven Harbour is officially listed as 66 miles in length but many stages require some off-route walking as well and, in 2004 and 2005, we walked over 71 miles. I wish we had used a taxi to get us to Woldingham’s train station at the end of our first stage; we certainly used one to get back at the beginning of the second. Edenbridge is easily reachable from the route but, in Forest Row, we needed a taxi to get us to a train station and back from one as well. The same is true if you stop in Blackboys, as we did – though fortunately both Berwick and Newhaven Harbour have train service. I used the Internet to look for the numbers of local cab firms; it would be useful to carry a mobile phone.
Uniquely, the Vanguard Way is the brainchild and love object of a walking (and drinking) club whose members have created a splendid route of their own. These useful ramblers maintain their own website at www.vanguardway.org.uk and this is where you need to start not only for a history of the venture but for all the useful instructions needed to follow the Way on the ground – with free materials here which you can download. To supplement written texts it is always useful to have the accompanying Ordnance Survey maps; in the large scale (two and a half inches to the mile) Explorer series these would be sheets 161, 146, 147, 135 and 123 for the Vanguard Way – which is marked with tiny green diamonds on the maps themselves.
I walked with my long-time rambling companions Tosh and Harold Lee. If you want fuller portraits of these unique individuals or if you are new to the walking enterprise you could also start by having a look at my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain – available form the publisher at AuthorHouse.com or AuthorHouse.co.uk or from any of the usual online booksellers. In any event, though some of the stages are rather lengthy, you will not find the route to be overly strenuous; it passes through a varied and colorful landscape and is well supplied with places of refreshment en route. Have a great time and you can let me know how you got on via our Contact Page.
Day 1: East Croydon to Woldingham – 10.5 miles
Day 2: Woldingham to Edenbridge – 11 miles
Day 3: Edenbridge to Forest Row – 11 miles
Day 4: Forest Row to Blackboys – 13 miles
Day 5: Blackboys to Berwick Station – 13 miles
Day 6: Berwick to Newhaven Harbour – 13 miles