From a modest beginning by the founders, a large, well organised group has developed, which has explored the whole of the mountain area near to the Costa Blanca, despite the lack of local information and waymarks. This is not, however, a group which follows well known and tried walks, but rather one which explores virgin territory, to find and plan its own ventures. Although the original officers have changed, the original triumvirate remains true:
An informal group of happy people who enjoy taking strenuous exercise in the magnificent Sierras of the Levante, formed to provide companionship on the mountains, sharing enjoyment and knowledge of the high places of the Costa Blanca.
The following advert appeared in the Costa Blanca News on Friday February 13 1987:
This advert was placed by William (Jimmy) Johnston. Jimmy and his wife Joy had retired to the Alfaz di Pi after a life time of working around the globe for the United Nations. Jimmy had been a serious mountain climber since he was a teenager and was a member of the Alpine Club by the age of 18. Even though his alpine days were over, his eyes were firmly fixed on the beautiful Sierras which over look the Costa Blanca and he longed to go and explore them with some like minded folks.
Meanwhile in Calpe, one of those ‘like minded folks’ had bought the Costa Blanca News and the hand of fate ensured that Kathy Stansfield should spot the advert, and point it out to her husband, Bob. Bob and Kathy had settled in Calpe in September 1986. Lifelong mountaineers, they had fallen in love with the Sierras during walking holidays and had decided that this was where they would like to spend time during their retirement. Bob had been a mountaineering instructor and national park warden in the Lake District.
Bob phoned Jimmy. They agreed to meet at the petrol station on the N332 near Calpe and they set off for the Bernia. Long before they had passed Pinos, they had discovered they had much in common, both having served in the British Fleet in the Pacific during the last days of the war and they had many mountain ascents in common.
MORE JOIN THE GANG
Over the next few months, the original founders were joined by many other kindred spirits and took their first steps on the great Sierras.
Derrick Ayrton – a Yorkshireman and his wife Maggie; Chris Betnick – German by birth, American by marriage; Joe Walton and his wife Eve; John McLean – a Canadian; Tony Shea from the West Country; Egbert & Irene Gieskes – a globe trotting Dutch couple.
These intrepid walkers aided by a book by local journalist and mountaineer Roger Massingham, set about exploring and discovering the beautiful Sierras which form the backdrop for the tourist destinations of Benidorm, Calpe, Denia & Jávea.
This happy gang of walkers, decided to finish their walking season at the end of May, with an ascent of Peñon d’Ifach at Calpe.
At 11am on the 26 May 1987, 16 of the gang reached the summit of the Peñon and decided to form the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers. Jim Johnston was voted in as President. Derrick Ayrton became the Chair and Kathy & Bob, as a result of their mountain log-book became joint-secretaries. It was unanimously decided that in would be an informal group rather than a formal Club. There was to be no membership, no subscription, no funds. Wednesday was voted as the day to walk and the secretaries were asked to prepare a programme of walks for the next season to start on Wednesday 7th October 1987.
PAST CBMW CHAIRS
1987-90 Derrick Ayton
1990-97 William Assheton
1998-00 John Hemmons
2000-01 Andrew Bennett
2001-03 Ian Riley
2003-11 Jon Lyons
2011-20 Carol Harbach
2020 Veronica Dunkley