KEEN walkers are being invited to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of an annual fundraising event, trekking across Dartmoor.

The Abbots' Way Walk was started in 1962 by Bill Ames and will be held on the first Sunday in October this year.

The Abbots' Way is a footpath across Dartmoor from Buckfastleigh on the east side of Dartmoor to Tavistock on the west side.

History suggests the monks used this route to go from Buckfast Abbey to Tavistock Abbey.

Founder Bill Ames had been a headmaster of an international school in Rhodesia and Ghana before returning to Devon in 1962 to take up the position of Tavistock and District youth officer.

He was passionate about outdoor activities as a way of engaging young people and it was around this time he started the Abbots' Way Walk as well as Whitchurch Pin Points and North/South.

Later David Ashley then Tony Bishop became Tavistock youth officers and continued to organise the Abbots' Way Walk.

In those days the event started at Buckfast Abbey and finished initially at the Youth Centre in Chapel Street, until it moved to Tavistock College in the 1980s.

After Tony, Jimmy James, Angela Ball, John Collacott, and John Olver were the organisers with the administration being carried out by the youth office under Pam Thurgood.

At all times the funds raised were used for youth activities in the area. These funds ran a financially assisted youth weekend for more than 15 years at the Dartmoor Training Centre with instructors from the Tavistock and District Outdoor Education Forum giving their time free of charge.

However, as a result of budgetary and organisational changes within Devon County Council in 2011, the running of the walk has now been transferred to the Tavistock and District Outdoor Education Forum.

The purpose of the forum is to provide, co-ordinate and promote outdoor activities for young people and adults in Tavistock and West Devon.

In 2011 the event finished at the Adventure Centre, Kelly College, which will again be the destination for the 50th walk this year on October 7.

The event can only be run due to the excellent support of the three Dartmoor Search and Rescue teams from Ashburton, Plymouth and Tavistock, who staff the checkpoint across the moor from Cross Furze's to Peat Cott, and the Dartmoor Radio Club who staff the checkpoint from Peat Cott to Tavistock.

The finish is handled by the Outdoor Education Forum assisted by Tavistock and Whitchurch Guides and Rangers and 1st Buckland (St Andrew) Scout Group.

Booking is required to enter this event.

Anyone who would like to take part should contact co-ordinator Peter Challiss by emailing [email protected]">[email protected]