Moved by the Oxfam Cambodia Famine Appeal, a determined trio of pub regulars launched The Nightingale Walk in October 1979, when 13 walkers pounded the 26-mile 1948 London Olympic Marathon road walk from Putney to Windsor.
Two fundraising events at the opposite ends of the adrenaline scale – a parachute jump and church jumble sale – were to follow, but it was decided that walking was quite literally the way forward.
In 1981 a committee steered by Ken Tyler, Mick Carrucan and Andrij Cholij was formed. This set a demanding 46-mile walk from East Croydon to Brighton, in which 24 walkers took part and half finished, raising £2,400 – a massive achievement for the time.
With walker numbers increasing to 100 in following years the organizers decided that heavy lorry traffic on the route was too dangerous. Attention turned to a riverside walk, initially covering 35 miles from Windsor to Putney.
Under the new direction of Paul Jones and Martin Haire from 1987, the number of walkers and funds raised steadily increased. After tweaking the route to a 20-mile Hampton Court to the Nightingale Pub walk and 25 miles from Staines to Putney, it was felt that a shorter and more easily-monitored route was needed – free from the bulls around Chertsey fields dense Putney to Balham traffic!
So in 2005 the present 20-mile route from Walton-on-Thames to Putney was chosen. This has the benefit of a train station at the start, a towpath for most of the way and organized transport from Puney, and has been the route of The Nightingale Walk ever since.