At the beginning of 2006, Stephen Colebrook, a member of Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers Association, started an independent unofficial group designed to attract younger walkers. He called it the South West Surrey Walkers, and the group ran walks and social activities aimed mainly at walkers below retirement age. The entry age of the group is generally between 40-60, although existing members of SWSW are not excluded when they go over this age.
The group swelled from a few walking friends to a group that attracts 20-30 at a time, with a mix of regular and occasional walkers. Although Stephen has now moved to Devon, the group continues, run by a group of current members.
SWSW is run as an informal group of friends who share a love of walking. There are no real rules and there is no membership fee. Although originally based around the Godalming & Haslemere area, membership now extends throughout and beyond Surrey with walks held anywhere within the county, or adjacent parts of West Sussex or Hampshire. The group is run almost entirely by email and this web site. To join, just to be put onto our mailing list and you will receive a frequent newsletter informing you of everything that is happening.
The regular walking activities of the group include a morning walk held on the first Sunday of every month, and a longer walk, held on the third Sunday of every month. The morning walks are normally 5-7 miles. The longer walks might be an extented circular walk, or a "figure of eight". The total length of these walks is usually 7 to 10 miles. Figure of eight walks average 4-5 miles in the morning and another 4-5 miles in the afternoon. The "figure of eight" concept means that you can walk just in the morning, just in the afternoon or all day. Once again the social side is emphasised as we usually try and get together to eat lunch in a pub wherever possible. Not for SWSW the traditional soggy sandwiches which seem to be adopted by many walking groups!
Everyone is welcome on an SWSW walk but you must be reasonably fit. Normally there is no need to telephone beforehand, just turn up at the start point, where you could find anything from a dozen to two dozen or more people. If you want advice before walking with us, just telephone the leader of the walk for that day. There is no need to make a commitment to the group, you can do just one, or any number of walks in the year. Come alone, or with your friend or partner and we'll make you very welcome!
New walkers are welcome, but it must be stressed walk leaders are NOT professional guides, but merely enthusiastic individuals who enjoy sharing their favourite walks with friends and like minded walkers.
Although fundamentally a walking group, members of SWSW value the social aspects of the group as almost
as important, and this is reflected in the mix of events available. Currently there are two regular walks
and one regular social event every month with other events being added from time to time - particularly
over the Christmas period.
There are regular social activities of the group - including a monthly pub quiz at The Plough, Horsell which is gaining in popularity. This event takes place on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.
We are not a "singles" walking club, but there are a large number of single people in the group - probably because walking with a friendly group is a good way to make new friends. But if you are married or have a partner, don't let that put you off - we have plenty of couples as well.
In June 2007 we had our first weekend break on the Isle of Wight, and during 2008 held a full week's holiday in mid-Wales and a weekend in the Cotswolds. In 2009 we organised a weekend in Dorset, a full week in the Peak District and another weekend to a different part of the Cotswolds.
In 2010 we had some great holidays, including a week in Dartmoor and a long weekend in Freshwater.
2011 has a long weekend in the New Forest in April, a week in St Ives in July, and a week in Snowdonia in August.
SWSW is an independent walking group but we do support the Ramblers Association and we encourage our members to join the RA individually, which has additional benefits - you can quite often get discounts off purchases from retailers with your membership card and many people say this quite often saves their membership fee each year!
We expect walkers to sign in on the day, to show assent to our tems and conditions, and so we may gather information about the locations of our walkers. For those leading walks, a standard blank list can be downloaded from here (right-click, and select 'Save Link As..." Click here to download