About our club
The Saturday Walkers Club (SWC):
- organises country walks in Southeast England, about an hour or so by train from central London - see this week's walks
- organises shorter evening walks in London during the summer months
- creates new walks which are available on this website to download and are free for non-commercial use
- wrote and maintains the 2 Time Out Books of Country Walks near London
The only rule about (Saturday Walker's) Club is bring a copy of the route.
- Membership of the club is free (apart from the cost of the walking books, or printing the directions).
- Anyone who uses our walks (even if they have never attended a club walk) is a member.
- The club itself has no leaders or officers, no membership fee, no bank account, and no legal existence.
The only rule about (Saturday Walker's) Club is bring a copy of the route.
- All club walks are free, and everyone is very welcome.
- The walks have no leader - they are self led. Every walker is responsible for themselves. Hence, everyone is expected to have a copy of the route (either the appropriate book or a printout)
- On a walk, it is perfectly acceptable for people set their own pace, or leave the main group.
- Anyone can organise a walk of their own, from either book, or from neither. They may have a theme, e.g. silent walk, children's walk. Walks must be open to all.
- Walks usually start and finish at train stations.
- Walks usually stop at a pub for lunch, and end at a pub or tea room.
The Saturday Walkers Club was started around May 1997 by Nicholas Albery, the author of the original Book of Country Walks. He devised a self-organising club without leaders. Walks took place according to a rota published in, what is now, Time Out Country Walks, volume 1.
People turned up on the walks because they had bought the book and worked out the train times for themselves (though a weekly listing in Time Out helped). The walks quickly became a big success, with as many as 40 walkers turning up in some weeks. This, of course, placed a strain on pubs and tea rooms, and soon 2 and later 3 walks a week came into existence, all based around the upon the book 1 rota. These were the vigorous, main, and relaxed walks.
Nicholas later made the original rota walk into a "Nature" walk so he could learn from Mike Taylor, a friend of his, about trees and birds. A problem was that whatever walk Nicholas did tended to attract a lot more walkers than the others: as all who knew him will attest, Nicholas had a magnetic personality, though he was also in many ways a rather shy and unassuming man. He had an infectious -almost boyish - enthusiasm, a fascination with meeting new people and finding out what made them tick, and unconventional views on topics ranging from the ideal size for a country to the joys of dental flossing. Woe betide walkers who did not follow the directions in the book closely, because Nicholas would never correct them. Instead he would gleefully let the group get lost and declare it an adventure.
Nicholas had previously set up a charity, the Institute for Social Inventions (ISI). The charity received royalties from sales of the walking book. In return, it provided administrative support by looking up the train times, and sending out a weekly email to several hundred club members
2001 was a crisis year for the walking group. Foot and mouth disease shut most footpaths from March to June, and for a while walk options were very restricted. When Surrey was the first county to re-open its footpaths, we spent five or six weeks doing walks there. In early July, a day after one of these walks, Nicholas was tragically killed in a car accident. The charity, now renamed the Nicholas Albery Foundation (NAF) continued his work. Its director was Nick Temple.
A year later, his creation was still going strong, but walkers were beginning to tire of doing the same book one walks at the same time each year. There had long been idle talk about doing a second book, and in late 2002 a group of walkers led by Davide Cooke and Peter Conway decided to do something about it. They asked the Nicholas Albery Foundation (the renamed ISI) to approach Time Out and got agreement from them that they would publish the book. 2003 - luckily a gloriously sunny year - was then a frenzy of walk researching and checking, with the latter involving almost everyone in the Saturday Walkers Club. Volume 2 finally came out in August 2004. The book is dedicated to Nicholas' memory, and its royalties continue to support his charities
In 2003, Andrew Murphy took over the running of the club's website. The "This Week's Walks" page enabled walk organisers to be able to communicate with everyone. When the club had lost the clerical support of the NAF (see below), a team blog was used so that several walk organisers could share the work of lookup up train times, and organising the various walks. About this time, regular Sunday walks started by a group of walkers from Brent Council.
Walkers inspired by the creation of volume 2, continued to create new 'SWC/Free Walks', which are available online for free.
2007 was the 10th anniversary of the club and the first edition of the 'Book of Country Walks'. The club decided to embark on a program to update volume 1, which had no clear owner.
In 2010, many members of the club helped with the production of revised editions of both books which were published in March 2011
Today, the club continues to thrive. The website has 53 walks from book 1, 30 from book 2, and over 200 SWC walks, all available online for free with directions, GPS data and maps. We estimate that something in the region of 70 or 80 walkers turn up each week on the various walks.
Time Out Books of Country Walks near London
The club maintains both Time Out books, and collates updates for future editions.
- Volume 1 was authored by Nicholas Albery. (See below for a note on Nicholas and NAF)
- The book was published on 1st May 1997 with a red cover, and actively updated for several years by its author.
- When lunch on the original walk 3 became difficult to obtain, it was replaced by a new walk, Netley to Botley.
- Following Nicolas's death, blue and green editions followed, these were edited by NAF, with updates provided by members of the walking club.
- Following NAF's reorganisation, book 1 became neglected, with many of the walks needing updating
- In 2008, the walking club began the task of fully revising the walks. As Time Out had no plans for a new edition, they consented to the revised walks appearing on the club's website. A dozen or so people took part, and the task was completed in November 2010.
- In September 2010, after a long silence, Time Out contacted the club to announce a new edition. The book 1 team (Andrew, Marcus, Miriam and Sean) decided to use the existing revised walks as the basis for the new book.
- The new editions were printed in colour, with photos from the club's website, and new maps, on glossy waterproof paper.
- Volume 2 was written as a group effort by the Walking Club as a tribute to Nicholas following his death.
- The first edition of volume 2 was published by Time Out in summer 2004. It is now in its 4rd (2011) edition.
- It is being actively maintained by it original authors, with updates available on this website.
- In September 2010, after a long silence, Time Out contacted the club to annouce a new edition. As the more problematic walks had recently been revised, there was just about time for the book 2 team (David and Peter) to do a full walk check of each walk.
- The new edition has new maps, and photos from the club's website.
Since publication of the new editions in 2011, there has once again been a long silence from Time Out. Time Out have since stopped publishing guidebooks, although they have sold the rights to them on to a another publisher.
As of July 2019, there is no prospect of a new edition, or of a 'volume 3'.
SWC (Free) Walks
- After volume 2 was researched and published, many club members kept creating new walks
- There is no current prospect of a "volume 3", so for now, the walks are only available on the club's website
- There are currently 300+ walks
Nicholas Albery, ISI, NAF, and Natural Death Centre (NDC)
Nicholas Albery, the author of the Time Out Book of Country Walks Volume 1, and founder of the Walking Club, died in a car accident on 3rd June 2001.
During his life, he had set up and run several social initiatives under the umbrella of a charity he founded, the Institue for Social Initiatives (ISI). After his death, 'ownership' of the books and the walking club passed to the ISI, now renamed the Nicholas Albery Foundation (NAF). For several years, the NAF organised the walking club and updated to the book. The NAF sent out the club's mailing list, with several hundred members.
In 2005, the NAF had a reorganisation, and decided to concentrate on other projects and stop actively supporting the walking club and walking books. This lead the end of the administrative support in collating and sending a weekly mailing list. The club began to run itself, with several members sharing the task of updating the list of walks on the 'this weeks walks' page.
In 2009, after a difficult period, the NAF reformed again to concentrate solely on the Natural Death Centre (NDC) and rebranded itself as the NDC. It still receives the royalties from both Time Out books (including the new 2011 editions). In recognition of this it pays the club £250 per year for the hosting of this website.
Sadly, the other projects have now closed, including the GlobalIdeasBank.org, and DoBe.org, a forerunner to Meetup.com
The Natural Death Centre aims to support those dying at home and their carers and to help them arrange funerals.
Last Updated: May-14 by Andrew and Peter