First Forest Free Walkers Complete 100 miles

Presentation of St Briavels 100 awards at the Speech House in the Forest of Dean
Presentation of St Briavels 100 awards at the Speech House in the Forest of Dean

The first group of walkers to complete the St Briavels 100 Long Distance Walk were presented with their badges in the Verderer’s Court, at the Speech House Hotel in the Forest of Dean on 18 January.  The badges and certificates were presented by Donald Johns, a Forest of Dean Free Miner. 

Throughout 2010, the walkers met at a new location each month and set out to face the challenge of completing a unique walk which would lead to them to becoming a ‘Forest Free Walker’.  The walks ranged in length from just under 10 miles to a challenging 16 miles and took place come rain or shine. The grand total distance was over 100 miles.  

The walks were not all based in the Forest of Dean; some were in the Wye Valley, just into Monmouthshire, while another explored Dymock for the spring display of daffodils.  All had a special theme, with intriguing titles including ‘Journey to Middle Earth’, ‘In the footsteps of Henry’ and ‘Milo’s Revenge’. Each one took account of the special wildlife and heritage that could be found along the way. 

The walkers registered with the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour Guides and every walk was led by a qualified Guide.  The 100 of St Briavels walks are the brainchild of David Ballard, one of the tour guides, who wanted to set up a walking challenge in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley that would provide participants with a goal and a chance to explore the wonders and secrets of the area. 

People join in the walks for a variety of reasons; to get fit, work off those winter pounds, and especially to find out more about the history and culture of the area. One was even sponsored to raise money for a local charity. 

Badge awarded for completing the St Briavels 100 walksThe walkers were not all human!!!  Paddy, the dog, completed all 10 walks and he now has a badge and certificate to prove it. It is estimated that he probably did at least twice the distance covered by his two legged friends.  

“The Free Miners of the Forest of Dean were part of the inspiration for the walks, hence the title, St Briavels 100.  Unlike the free miners, you don’t have to be born within the area; anyone over the age of eight can take part, male or female and you certainly don’t have to live or work here,”  explains Dave Ballard

“The walks are an on-going programme in 2011 and we have a few people that have already completed more than half of the 100 mile walking challenge.” 

If you would like to take part in the walks, have a look at the web site –  You can register there and the guides will look forward to welcoming you on the next walk.  Alternatively you can contact the Tour Guides on 01594888197. Each Walk costs £10 per head. 

This year ‘Poets Corner’ will take place on Sunday 13th March and will feature the famous daffodils of Dymock and the World War I poets that lived and visited locally.


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