South Downs Way Annual Walk celebrates 40th anniversary

Footprints of Sussex is preparing for a summer party to remember, as the South Downs Way Annual Walk celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Organisers Keith McKenna and Sally Dench have ordered the balloons, chosen the cake and booked the hall, and more than 100 guests have already said they are attending.

Keith McKenna and Sally Dench celebrating the 40th anniversary of the South Downs Way Annual Walk. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks190040-1

Keith McKenna and Sally Dench celebrating the 40th anniversary of the South Downs Way Annual Walk. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks190040-1

They say the nine-day event in June is all set to be a special occasion and they are well into the planning, especially for the end-of-walk party.

Sally said: “We are a team of ten who wear these bright red shirts and walk the trail along with everyone else. To us, each of the nine days is a party in itself, we just love walking the trail and meeting new people every year and, of course, this should be a very special one.”

The annual walk along the full 100-mile length of the South Downs Way was started in 1980 by West Sussex County Council as a one-off event to celebrate an anniversary of walking charity The Ramblers.

It was so popular, it simply kept going and has taken place every year since, welcoming hundreds of people from all over the world.

Keith explained: “It’s the only national trail in Britain with an organised annual walk and that’s only possible because of the location of the South Downs.

“The whole trail is within the national park and passes through some beautiful countryside but, at the same time, is never far from an easy access point.”

The walk now has its own website, which explains how it all works, including the luxury coaches provided every day to get people to and from the trail.

This year’s walk will be from June 7 to 15 and there is a choice of four coaches passes, starting from Arundel, Chichester, Shoreham and Worthing on each of the nine days. Visit www.southdownsway.com for full details.

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