LOWER Wharfedale Ramblers (LWR) were due to celebrate their their 50th anniversary in 2020 but like so many celebrations planned for last year, Covid regulations meant events had to be put on hold.

But with the lifting of restrictions celebrations are now planned for this September to mark this important occasion.

Lower Wharfedale Ramblers started life at the Old Bridge in Ilkley, in 1970, with a handful of members and no formal walking programme. Today LWR has around 400 members and offers five walking programmes a week, designed to cater for all levels of fitness and enthusiasm but the spiritual home of LWR remains in Ilkley and the celebrations are centred on the town.

Walking remains central to the celebrations. Normally the various groups walk on different days, starting from many attractive locations throughout the area. However on Tuesday, September 28, all five groups will hold their individual walks on the same day and all of them will commence in Ilkley. Their combined distance will add up to 50 miles. Each group will be led by an invited member who has given outstanding service to LWR over many years.

Throughout the two weeks commencing on Monday, September 20, LWR will be holding a photographic exhibition at the Clarke Foley Centre in Ilkley. The exhibition will feature photos by LWR members, highlighting the history of the group over the last 50 years. The exhibition will also feature the important work LWR carry out, on a voluntary basis, throughout the area, maintaining footpaths, stiles, gates and footbridges that benefit all walkers. The curator of the exhibition is appealing for anybody who has photos featuring LWR over the last 50 years to get in touch by email at: photos@lowerwharfedaleramblers.co.uk.

The highlight of the celebrations will be a reception and buffet at Ilkley Rugby Club on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 28. One of the guest speakers will be Colin Speakman, who as a member of the West Riding Ramblers Association was one of the founding fathers of the Dalesway in 1968.The LWR Co-Chair, Janet Williams said: “Whilst LWR has around 400 members, only about half of them walk on a regular basis. Many of the non-walkers have health and mobility problems but we want as many of our members as possible to feel part of the celebrations. We are hoping that some of the founding members of LWR will be able to attend. The reception is open to not only members but spouses, partners, carers and people connected with LWR. Ilkley Rugby Club has ample parking and disabled facilities.”

Admission to the photographic exhibition is free and tickets for the reception can be purchased by contacting: tickets@lowerwharfedaleramblers.co.uk