Icknield Way Association

The Icknield Way Association is a non profit organisation formed to promote the Icknield Way. The aims of the Association shall be as follows, in so far as these aims are charitable in law:

a) To urge the official adoption of and completion of the Icknield Way as a National Trail linking the existing Ridgeway and Peddars Way National Trails
b) To promote and publicise the use of the Way and its amenities for the benefit of all users as appropriate.
c) To promote a body of informed opinion that will improve the enjoyment and knowledge of the Icknield Way

The Constitution was last updated at a the AGM in 2017 – link to constitution

The Icknield Way Association welcomes members to support our work – please see Join Us. We often have vacancies for Wardens along the route and would welcome any assistance. Wardens look after a section of the Icknield Way keeping any eye on the condition and raising any concerns. More details of warden duties.

The Icknield Way Association is led by a small group of volunteers who form the Executive Committee. More committee members are welcome to help spread the work, if you are interested please contact the Secretary. The details of the various roles are flexible but the current roles are described in this document.

Early Days of the IWA

The Icknield Way Association was formed nearly 40 years ago in 1983. The photos below are from launch of the Icknield Way as Regional Route on Friday 11th September 1992 at Balsham about at the middle of the Icknield Way. The official opening was performed by the then Chairman of the Countryside Commission (later to become Natural England). There is a stone like this at Balsham and at the start and end of the route, Ivinghoe Beacon and Knettishall Heath.

  • Sir John Johnson, Chairman of the Countryside Commission (on the right facing camera); Professor Thurstan Shaw, President of the Icknield Way Association (next to Sir John); Lord and Lady Long (opposite them) setting off in a pony and trap for Icknield Way, Balsham.

Sir John Johnson unveiled the Icknield Way Stone on the village green at Balsham and gave a speech.  He, and others from Countryside Commission including Sue Forsythe who was then seconded to IWA as Publicity Officer, were given lunch at the pub.  Later, at the AGM, John Trevelyan (Deputy Director of Ramblers Association) gave a talk.

Professor Thurstan Shaw was the initiator of the Icknield Way Association and path, right from the word go and also had the original vision for a Great Chalk Way.  He had got together a small group of (mostly) walkers from other counties including Ken Payne (then Secretary, Herts Ramblers Association) and Chris James heard about it from Ken.  Chris was then project manager for the North Herts. Countryside Management project and the Icknield Way passed through her patch.  Chris was, naturally, interested and wrote to Thurstan offering to help in whatever way she could.  Chris was invited to the first meeting of a steering committee at his house in November 1983.   Chris funded the first leaflet (which Chris designed) and the first guide book by providing council funding (from North Herts. project budget) to launch them .  The cost was later reimbursed when IWA had sufficient to pay it back. Chris James has continued her involvement in the Icknield Way Association ever since and is currently the Newsletter editor.

Sue Forsythe Associates were the Countryside Commissions contracted publicity agents and she was certainly very helpful and proactive when we were building up to the launch.  John Johnson was a really nice chap and very supportive of the Icknield Way, and the Great Chalk Way vision.  It is presumed that Thurstan must have contacted him and got him on board!

The Countryside Commission provided the Secretariat for the Icknield Way Forum which was formed of representatives from the six county highway authorities along the route, which met 2-3 times a year, quite often at the Countryside Commissions regional offices then in Cambridge.

Thurstan was Chair of the Association from 1985 – 1989, then became President from 1989 – 2013.  The first President (1985-89) was Baroness David JP – who Thurstan knew) .  So you could say that one of his roles was knowing the right people as well as being a respected archaeologist.  He attended many of the AGMs in the early days before he became unable to do so. There is more about Thurstan on the videos page.