People of all ages are invited to take part in one of Maidenhead’s most enduring traditions when the annual Boundary Walk returns on Sunday, October 2.
Now in the 41st year of its current form, the roots of the popular charity fundraiser actually stretch back hundreds of years.
A sponsored walk organised by The Rotary Clubs of Maidenhead Bridge and Maidenhead, the event sees hundreds of walkers raising thousands of pounds for their chosen charities as they retrace the route of the old Maidenhead Borough. The traditional route is 13.1 miles but a new 2.5-mile ‘family route’ has been introduced this year to ensure the event is open to everyone.
Walking the main route harks back to the very origins of Maidenhead itself and the granting of a ‘Charter of Incorporation’ which brought the Borough of Maidenhead into being in 1582.
Afterwards it became a tradition for the Mayor to get beaters to drive square-headed nails into posts and walls along the boundary route, each bearing his initials on its head. So was born the tradition of ‘beating the bounds’.
By 1934 the boundary of the borough was marked by stones – many of which can still be seen today – and during the walk the mayor would tap each one with the ceremonial mace to ‘reinforce’ the boundary. Another informal tradition to evolve was to give a young boy ‘the bumps’ at each of the stones.
The last official ‘beating the bounds’ was in 1973, when Cllr Euphemia Underhill was Mayor, after which the tradition slipped into obscurity.
But in 1982 the Boundary Walk was revived by Rotary and the East Berkshire Ramblers to help mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of the charter and became the annual fundraising event we know today.
Originally held on the last Sunday of September, the date was changed to the first Sunday in October as it clashed with Harvest Festival church services. While other changes over the years have included a shift to online booking and sponsorship, the event remains at its heart an opportunity for people to walk in aid of their chosen charities.
Eddie Piekut, one of the organising team, said: “It’s a fantastic event. When you step out on the Boundary Walk you are following in the footsteps of generations of Maidonians and keeping alive a tradition that celebrates the origins of our town.
“But it’s also more relevant than ever as it’s a great opportunity to raise much-needed money for vital charities and community groups. Taking part in the Boundary Walk is a rite of passage that every Maidonian should do at least once.”
Both routes start and finish at Boulters Lock car park and follow fully signposted paths with checkpoints manned by Rotary marshals.
The event is open to everyone, though under-16s must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Entry fees for the traditional walk are £5 for adults and £1 for children. For the family route the cost is £3 for adults and £1 for children.
Registration for group of 15 or more is just £20 for the traditional walk and £10 for the family walk, if you register in advance by September 9.
For more details and to register see www.boundarywalk.org.uk
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