Photos & Reports for 2012

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group in 2012. We also have photos and reports from other years:

14 of us (including a few rather late arrivals) met at Berkhamsted station on a dry late December morning, heading off at around 10:30am. Having rained most of the last few days, the ground was rather muddy, but a couple of showers didn't appear until the later stages of the walk.

We headed north along the Grand Union Canal for a mile or so, before heading up to and then across Northchurch Common. Just above Aldbury, we headed back east and then south-east across Berkhamsted Common, reaching Frithsden Beeches at lunch time, where we found a couple of fallen trees and branches to sit on whilst we ate our packed lunches. A few of us spotted what we think was an alpaca whilst we were sitting there, but it was quickly gone.

After lunch, we continued south-east towards Potten End, crossing the extensive grounds of Berkhamsted Golf Club. We reached Potten End, only an hour or so from the end of the walk, in very good time, so some of sat on the village green whilst around half the group dropped in to Martins Pond pub.

After the pub stop, we headed south and then west back to Berkhamsted, reaching the station at around 3:30pm.

Thanks to Brigitta, Carol, David H, Erika, Humay, Jane, Jeff, Marin, Mary, Mike D, Neale, Paul and Steve R for joining me.

Report by Phil

Three of us met at Great Missenden station on Sunday. There were a few clouds in the sky but it was a dry, windless and peaceful evening, perfect for a pre-Christmas walk. We started our little journey at a pretty fast pace and managed to reach the half-way point of our walk quicker than planned. At 6:15 we were in Little Missenden and warming ourselves in the Red Lion. A sign on the door declared all passing through it brought happiness - some by going in, some by going out! Even if meals were not on the menu, even if they don't like muddy boots (as declared by another sign).... but maybe because it's Christmas, we were surprised by some really nice chips, sausages and black pudding provided free by the pub.

After our long stop at Little Missenden we started our way back with a nice sky and the moon showing herself among the clouds. About an hour later we were back at Great Missenden and decided to do a second pub stop at the Cross Keys before heading home.

Thanks to Paul and Keith for joining me on what was a lovely walk (and not as muddy as we feared it would be at the beginning).

Report by Anna

It was lovely to have Neil, Phil, Deirdre, Dave T, Marin, Pete and Mary join me to walk part of the Beeches Way, on this sunny winter's day. After setting off promptly at 9.30, the "magnificent 7" were suddenly stopped in their tracks by the sight of Mary passing us by in her car, proving that my decision, that no-one else was coming, was wrong. Sorry Mary, I could have waited! Next time I'll extend the grace period.

An inviting route along the canal led us to Trout Lane from where we could observe beautiful fishing reservoirs, until a bailiff kindly redirected us out of the private property I had led us into. Back onto the Beeches Way, and soon we were relaxing once again. As a complete contrast to the serene canal, we crossed a footbridge over the M25 which would test anyone suffering from vertigo and as Phil explained, would cause any sufferer to grip the railings in case they fell over the edge. On the contrary, Neil explained how much he liked the crossing, as well as how good it was to get away from Camden for a complete change of scene. Marvellous! As we passed Iver and came to Love Green, the romantic rural scenery took hold and the horizon opened out for us at Langley Park where we enjoyed a tea break.

Unexpectedly, we arrived at Black Park early and were able to take a whole hour's lunch in the sun. We aimed to return by dusk, and our pace did not slacken on the way back. Marin took a group photo at the Avenue of Friendship (ah) in Langley Park, and suggested it was akin to a glasnost-type road you might find just south of the Kremlin.

Thank you again for coming, and let's face it we were so lucky with the weather, and made it back around 3/4 hour earlier than planned and missed the rain! Thanks for the lift home and for making this a good day out.

Report by Jane

Although it appeared to look rather menacing early in the morning, by the time our walk began the sun was shining and it stayed that way until we were driving home in a light drizzle. We passed the watercress beds of Ewelme and stopped for a break outside Britwell Salome. I had promised a lot of mud and sure enough we encountered plenty just before lunch at Berrick Salome. The pub proved to be too busy to acquire any lunch so Brigitta was fed snippets from various packed lunches and Marin was delivered a glass of mulled wine from within, being too lazy to remove his boots.

After lunch two errant members, tired of the mud, foolishly decided to pursue their own path against the advice of the walk leader. This resulted in some gymnastics while they attempted to cross a deep water-filled ditch and the rest of us lined up, cameras poised, in case anything went wrong, but they proved up to the task.

We finished at the Waterside tea rooms at Benson just as it was getting dark. A most enjoyable day with lots of laughs and thanks to Erika, Brigitta, Efisia, Marin, Keith, Anna, Dave S, and Paul S for making it so.

Report by David H

18 of us attended the Christmas party at De Veres. The venue is set on the "Uplands", with impressive views over the Hughenden Valley. On arrival we gathered in the friendly lounge where Jane and Brian offered around their Herman fruit cakes (sequel to Jan's cake at Cliveden) as we made use of the generous free tea and coffee provided by the hotel. Late arrivals met us later for the free champagne in the bar before we ascended to the Chiltern dining rooms for the meal. The meal was very well received, we managed to arrange extra vegetables due to Liane's charm with the waiters. Jeff remarked that even his meal was up to his expectations and not delayed, perhaps a first for the millennium. The music was a mix of eras with fewer Christmas tunes than expected, afterwards we gathered in the lounge where Steve and Carol joined the group from another De Vere venue with Chiltern Ramblers.

On Sunday we enjoyed a hearty breakfast where Martina and Kim recounted tales of being woken at 4am by rowdy guests on the floor above. The hotel were still trying to track down the culprits when Derek and Prem crept into the dining area sheepishly. On the walk we took in the views of the frost covered Chiltern Hills. The route took in Hughenden Manor where Jan was rewarded with a personal tour of the Manor grounds from the game keeper. We found a very warm welcome at the "Harrow" pub for our lunch stop. They had reserved us an area and had a large selection on the menu. Afterwards we continued on the route with some steep climbs back to the Uplands highground. We finished back at De Veres for a final tea stop where we thanked Kim and Jan for finding the venue and arranging a great weekend.

Report by Brian G

Nine of us found our way to Kensworth, west of Luton, on a ridiculously muddy but thankfully sunny day. Positively hurtling past Holywell, Jockey End and Gaddesden Row to Bridens Camp for a somewhat earlier than anticipated lunch stop, we enjoyed our pre-ordered meals in the outdoor Hikers suite of the Crown and Sceptre pub. Complete with separate toilet and bar (sadly without our very own bar staff) we tucked into Sunday roasts and talk soon turned to lack of chocolate bars in pubs (missing a trick there) and changes in the law with regards to stalking.

Refreshed, we headed off again only to find somebody had left their walking poles behind, again. I had at this point started to consult, besides the map, my mobile with handy pictures of Dave pointing the way at strategic places. He had this, seemingly very clever, idea when doing the reccy but it turned out that one 'strategic' place can look very much like another.

Nirvana itself, which can be found on the map, turned out not to be that good. Totally devoid of bald-headed, orange-robed figures and not even a sign on the door. Past Flamstead, Jane nearly electrocuted a horse with Steve (typically) asking for a repeat performance. Neither Jane nor the horse were going to go for it though. Passing through Markyate we finally made our way back to Kensworth, a very long village indeed, everybody agreed.

Thanks to Anna, Dave H, Emma, Jane, Keith, Marin, Mary and Steve R joining me for this walk which felt longer than 15 miles thanks to the already mentioned copious amounts of mud!

Report by Erika

8 of us met on a very sunny morning at Cliveden. The clear blue sky lasted all day and allowed some excellent views over the Thames Valley from the viewpoints along the high ground of the estate. The sun shone across the river on the glorious autumn colours of the woodlands and the reflection on the river surface made for some perfect seasonal views upriver towards the Cliveden manor in the distance. We took in the woodland sculpture trail and the follies hidden in the leaf-coloured forest tracks before reaching the manor. Peter then used his suave charm to talk the manager into allowing us a tour of the hotel lobby and sumptuous banquet rooms. Mary and Jane took notes for a future HAWOG booking whilst David practised his radio skills.

We then had our picnic lunch next to the Japanese water gardens where Jan produced her huge Herman the German fruit cake. After the cake Vic led us into the maze where we lost Jeff and Harpreet and eventually found David in the middle as he was signalling the route via his extended aerial to everyone lost in the maze. On escaping from the maze Peter led us with commentary through the Profumo sights, the fountain, swimming pool and hidden pavilion. Dusk was approaching but, as planned, we had time to make it to the excellent orangery tea rooms. Nancy A could not make it, however Jane came to the rescue and kept up the cake theme by giving everyone jubilee-wrapped portions of her splendid icing-covered fruit sponge cake.

Report by Brian G

5 of us plus Monty attended the Chess valley walk on Sunday. The route took us through the grounds of Chorleywood House and gardens. We then followed the Chess river through Chenies village and manor house. We continued to Chalfont before crossing the valley for the return leg. We visited Latimer House and had a welcome tiffin stop at the Cock Inn at Church End. We needed our torches for the final section after dusk as the woods were shrouded in darkness. Monty led the walk at a fast pace, assisted by Paul. The mileage was checked at the end by Martin B using his GPS and was found to be 13.5 miles, so we had completed an extra 3 miles whilst following the planned route.

Report by Brian G

14 of us made it to the Argosy players Halloween performance of "Quarantine" at Ruislip Lido. The evening was suitably chilling but dry and perfect for the play. The train was packed as we received our briefing from the rifle-toting sentries clad in camouflage uniforms. We had to escape from the contaminated zone to reach the extraction point where the helicopter was waiting. The train line was shrouded in mist as the train made its way through the dense forests crossing barbed wire and then the remains of shot victims. We were then assaulted by the mutating figures of contaminated victims emerging from the woods who attempted to board the train to escape. After several incidents we made it back to base, where we were escorted to safety by the fearsome radio society delegation who materialised out of the mist.

Report by Brian G

Eleven attended my Walk into Winter in the Dark from West Wycombe at 8pm last night.

Weather was milder than expected, certainly the wind still present in the afternoon had gone. The full moon and largely clear sky meant we only needed our torches in the woods. We walked through three: Cockshoots Woods, Bottom Wood, and Hearnton Wood. We enjoyed plenty of gentle up and down on various Chiltern contours, mainly footpaths, before we reached The Boot pub on Bledlow Ridge about 10.30pm. Rehydrated, we finished the last three miles of our walk reaching the Golden Ball and mausoleum in West Wycombe at midnight plus twenty. Tea and cake followed at my place for some afterwards. Distance about 8 miles and a good pace.

Thanks to Anna, Emma, Keith, Paul and Phil (HAWOG) and Abigail, Adam, Gary, Paul and Simon (Chilterns 20s30s) for joining me (both groups) on a wonderful evening.

Report by Steve

Not much of a pilgrimage, but a very enjoyable walk at a steady pace in a quiet and green area and with good company.

Steve might be right - autumn seems to be the most pleasant season in England - at least for walking. As proof, we were recompensed at the end with majestic views of not one but of three rainbows. Two short of an Olympic medal.

Apart from what you can find in Wikipedia, the only thing I can tell you about John Bunyan is that his pub is very good and has friendly staff. They even told us that we could sit at the outside tables even if we didn't order anything.

Thanks to Anna, Anuma (who heroically made it to the end despite terrible muscle pain), Emma M, Karen, Keith and Steve R for joining me on this walk.

Report by Marin

5 of us met at a very sunny Hassocks village on Saturday. This was another joint ride with Lofty's cycle group. 2 new cyclists hired new mountain bikes from the hire centre next to the station.

Our route took us via Clayton village up onto the South Downs bridleway. We had excellent views across Sussex towards the North Downs. Our route then had a fast descent towards Southease before a long climb to Firle Place. We then continued East before the final descent to Alfriston. We found the village tea shop still open where we enjoyed some excellent cakes in the sunny tea gardens before cycling to the station for the train back to London.

Report by Brian G

I should have called this the Peak District End-Of-Summer weekend as our weather was much more summery than autumnal. No rain, with a mix of cloud and a good deal of sun on the Saturday, and mostly sun and blue skies on the Sunday. Exceeded expectation and forecast.

On Saturday we did a 13 mile walk, my source for most of the route said it was 12.4 miles but as we had to walk a little from the hostel it was more. Fantastic route, starting with a short ascent to Losehill Farm, a down to north of Hope and then a long slow ascent to Crookstone Knoll, at 521 metres. We were along the southern edge of Edale Moor which we followed until we found a suitable place for lunch, with views towards Edale and Lose Hill, both later points on our route. Post lunch we took the more challenging Grinds Brook down to Edale rather than the path from the source which meant those arriving first had a 1 hour-plus tea stop! The cloud for this delay really did have a silver lining though as the last part of our walk - Lose Hill - was reached after 6pm with a beautiful sunset. So thank you to everyone who slacked! The last returned to the hostel near dark at just before 7.30pm in time for dinner.

The group walk on Sunday was around 8 miles, again from the hostel. The morning started misty but cleared a few hours later to reveal blue sky and warmth. It stayed like that for the rest of the day. This time a home-made route, the highlight of which was a trip to Castleton Cement Works - no, sorry, up Win Hill which was Carol's intended summit until she had to pull out at the last minute. We did pass through the cement works though, out of curiosity as we'd seen this huge chimney on Saturday and the path through it made for a good circular route. Pleasant walking, mainly flat until after midday when we could see Win Hill north of us. The climb was worth it, a small sharp ridge with panoramic views, lots of tourists and a few friendly sheep. We had lunch and returned to the hostel just after 3pm.

Our accommodation for the weekend, YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, is the YHA's newest youth hostel, with many rooms en suite and an excellent kitchen for self-caterers, probably the best I've used. Well worth a trip if you weren't one of the 29 who attended this weekend.

So thank you to (girls) Anna, Anuma, Debbie, Deirdre, Efisia, Emma, Erika, Harpreet, Jackie, Jane, Kate, Mary, Nekane, Sangita, Sharon and (guys) Abde, David H, David Mc, Dave S, David T, Jeff, Jiten, Keith, Paul M, Paul S, Phil, Rich and Tim for joining me for this wonderful weekend.

Report by Steve R

Eleven of us met on Sunday morning in front of Windsor and Eton Riverside station. After waiting for a few of the attendees, who were already in Windsor but in the wrong car park, we started the walk at 10.15am.

We took the Thames Path and started heading south, and not long after having started the walk we "adopted" 3 members of the Ramblers who we ran into, they couldn't meet their walk leader and asked if they could join us. A couple of hours later we had a little break as we were in Runnymede in front of the Magna Carta Monument, erected by the American Bar Association. Some of the group took the chance to learn a bit more about this historical place from the information boards.

Back on our travels we found what would be the only little hill of our walk, we were close now to our lunch point, though we almost missed it when I started taking the wrong path. Luckily for me I hadn't done the rekkie alone, and soon after taking the wrong way I heard a voice just shout to me "not that way!". Happily we arrived at Englefield Green where we had our lunch break which took a bit longer than expected as the pub took so long to bring the food for some of the group.

The sky started to darken, and rain seemed to be threatening... One of our Rambler friends decided to leave us as she was worried about the rain. The rest of us headed towards Windsor Great Park, where we were able to see a couple of deer (not as many as I would have liked!). We reached the statue of George III, and there, in front of us the Three Castle Path with Windsor Castle at the end.

Audrey, Deidre, Gwen, Erika, Mary, Dave H, Dave T, Jeff, Keith and Phil, and from the Ramblers, Alan, Alison and Claire - thank you all for joining me on what was, in the end, a day without rain!

Report by Anna

We met on a sunny Saturday at the Tattershall Castle on the Thames. We set off in 6 teams on the route around Westminster. The trail included the Cloisters (via hidden entrance) of Westminster Abbey, a WW2 air raid shelter, the roof tops of Westminster Cathedral, 2 public school courtyards and several Georgian terraces well away from the tourist areas. Some very unexpected answers were provided by the staff at Westminster Cathedral to one team, they had began to suspect the teams were part of an undercover newspaper campaign.

The winners were a joint UK/US team called "Mayflower". The team captain, by coincidence, arranged another treasure hunt this week in Kensington. We all met back at the boat where Coral distributed prizes and we stayed on deck to take in the great views of the South Bank and planned the next trail.

Report by Brian G

8 of us met on a very sunny Saturday morning in Kensington. Peter led us to 7 venues today all within easy walking distance. We started with Cadogan Hall where Carla was very impressed with the Indo-Saracenic elements. Mark and Derek led the tour around the Duke of York's HQ where both reminisced about their passing out parades. We had a very informative tour of Peter Jones department store including the rooftop Sloane Room, with free tea and biscuits on offer, as we enjoyed the view over Chelsea and Westminster. Peter joined the guide in extolling the virtues of JLP as an employer.

Kevin joined us at this stage and explained that he was delayed as he had bumped into Pierce Brosnan outside and had spent ages discussing stagecraft and his new role. We continued with the tour including Arts and Crafts church, art deco French institute and the mysterious College of Psychic Studies where Conan Doyle lectured many times. We continued on to St Columba, a Scottish church with a tower open just for one day giving great views over Central London. As we descended from the tower the verger invited us into the hall where free teas and cake were on offer once again. We choose some excellent lemon drizzle and Madeleine cakes and listened as Mark engaged in some illuminating conversation with the church assistants. The area is full of open house venues so we may return next year.

Report by Brian G

A perfect day for a good walk - sunny with only a few clouds and about 20C. Only one HAWOG member joined me, but it was the most competitive one (thank you mystery person for the company), so the pace had to be adequate. The route was scenic, until the final turn on the home run, which I made too late (the only navigational error to be mentioned). I am getting better - you should join one of my walks.

Report by Marin

4 of us met at the historic village of Hassocks for an exhilarating hike along the South Downs Way. Saturday was scorchio all day, the clear blue skies allowed panoramic views across the plain of Sussex towards the North Downs and along the coast to Eastbourne. We had a slightly later start as the leader elected to drive to the start and consequently arrived over an hour later than those who travelled via the fast, frequent and scenic train route through the wonderful Sussex countryside. Lesson for the future. The delay allowed the rest to look around Hassock village fair and we found some excellent lemon drizzle cakes, Jeff also discovered a very eclectic CD stall with some rarities on display.

Our route then took us uphill towards the Downs. We came across the obligatory village wedding at Clayton church (12th century) where a vintage Routemaster was hired for the wedding party to travel up to the windmills. We did the main climb up to Jack and Jill (the famous Clayton windmills on the ridge). We had some cooling drinks at the top and listened to a volunteer guide explain the workings of the windmill. After this the walk was on the ridge for the rest of day with very few ups and downs. We stopped for a picnic at the Ditchling beacon viewpoint. It is one of the highest points on the South Downs and today there was an aeronautical display with biplanes, gliders, WW2 aircraft plus many hang-gliders hovering overhead.

Our route east took in more views over Plumpton racecourse and the new Brighton football stadium before we began descending towards the historic town of Lewes. We had a walk around the historic High Street including the castle and priory. We then found a splendid tea shop to enjoy the cakes we bought earlier at the fair. This walk is by far the furthest from London we have done this year as a day event, however the fast frequent train service means it is easily organised and we plan some more in this area soon.

Report by Brian G

8 of us met in Marlborough last weekend, to walk the first part of the Ridgeway. 5 of us stayed at a B&B, with the other 3 staying at a nearby pub, both close to the centre of town. On Friday evening we ate at an excellent Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us by our hosts at the B&B.

On Saturday, after breakfast and a rather complicated car shuffle (necessitated by the fact that we were going to do a linear walk), we finally started our walk from the westernmost end of the Ridgeway at Overton Hill at around 10:00am. After the obligatory group photo, we walked for around half a mile before taking a detour off the main path to visit the stone circle at Avebury. This is less well known than the one at Stonehenge but is also larger (the village is right in the middle of it), and you can touch the stones (unlike at Stonehenge). We spent quite a long time walking round the circle before heading back to the Ridgeway at the point where we had left it, making a detour of over 3 miles. We stopped for lunch at around the halfway point of the walk, or at least the first shady spot after that - it was a warm and very sunny day.

After lunch, we carried on along the national trail, reaching Ogbourne St George midway through the afternoon. Some of the group were by now running short of water, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a drinking water tap (for use by walkers, according to my book) outside one of the houses in the village of Southend. After refuelling, we carried on to Fox Hill, which we reached at around 5:20pm, having walked a total of 20 miles. In the evening, we ate at a local Indian restaurant - the verdict was that we should probably have gone to the Thai restaurant next door instead...

On Sunday, 6 of us did a circular walk of around 10 miles, starting in Amesbury and taking in Stonehenge and Woodhenge, whilst the other 2 spent a more relaxing day recovering from the blisters acquired on the previous day (well, the ground was very hard!)

Thanks to Abde, Anna, Emma M, Karen, Keith, Marin and Paul S for joining me. I'm looking forward to doing part 2 next summer!

Report by Phil

Contrary to the plug for the hike 5 days earlier, the weather was kind of overcast most of the day, with a few spots of very light rain, but no real sunny skies.

This would have been a pretty uneventful hike, but for Steve getting caught two-timing.

Setting off westwards into Cockshoots Woods, the hike started with a hill. After turning north, we had a decadent 15 minute late morning tea / snack break at Saunderton Lee. A highlight soon after was seeing the metal sculptures - a bit kitsch but nevertheless fascinating - at Loosley Row. Then uphill again to look at the Loosley Row windmill. After following the Chiltern Way a short distance, we then followed Grimm's Ditch in a south-easterly direction, past Hampden House. At lunchtime we investigated the contents of my lunch box - which I hasten to explain were a tasty melee of rice, mixed veg, mushrooms, lime pickle and venison. The afternoon route took us through Speen, and Lower North Dean and across Naphill Common, where we picked up the same path as we took the Sunday before, to return to West Wycombe. After 18 miles and quite a few hills, we returned back to the car park at 5:30.

But, I hear you say, you haven't said anything more about Steve's two-timing! Well - as we were leaving the windmill, coming in the opposite direction were the Chiltern 20's to 30's group, of which Steve is also a member. "You're on the wrong hike. You should be with us" they cried. He's obviously a very popular guy!

Finally, this should more accurately have been billed as West Wycombe to Coombe Hill, part 1. You may be pleased to know that there will still be an opportunity to do the rest of the walk in the near future! Thanks to Steve R, Keith, Claire, Dave H, Erika, Mike D, Phil and Marin for joining me.

Report by Paul S

Six joined me for a sunny summer afternoon ~11 mile walk from West Wycombe taking in Hughenden and Bradenham manors. We departed about 1.40pm and started by checking West Wycombe House to see why the outdoor theatre had been cancelled for the evening. The statement just said "blah blah blah ... due to unforeseen circumstances ... blah blah blah". So none the wiser.

We had tea at Hughenden Manor before taking mostly irregular paths - as opposed to following the obvious book route - to Bradenham Manor. The woods challenged but failed to defeat my navigation and I found the path I had never done before to take the long route around. We returned to West Wycombe at 5.40pm. Paul in particular was delighted as it gave him an opportunity to at least know the start point for his walk this coming Sunday!

Thanks to Carol, Efisia, Erika and David, Keith and Paul for joining me for a lovely Sunday afternoon walk.

Report by Steve R

A great time was had by all in Beer in East Devon near to the border of Dorset, about 19 of us, some in the hostel, some brave souls camping out.

A sunny journey down on Wednesday, settling in to the hostel and we had a nice home-cooked meal there. Then a moonlit walk to the beach and stopped off for a quick drink in Beer social club. There were some lovely pictures of fishermen on the walls, and it is said that all the locals are descended from these fishermen. Time for some new fish in the genepool perhaps.

Thursday: Jeff, Mark O, Martina, Liane, Christine and Mary all visited Lyme Regis. Sun was scorching, Mary got burnt and I even had shorts on. Whilst queuing up for the mackerel fishing, some rather green passengers disembarked from the previous trip, so Mark and I ran away and left the others to find their sea legs. The evening brought a lovely meal, the freshly caught mackerel nicely baked. Mark refused to let me paint his toenails.

Friday: We went to visit the trams, all sorts of interesting colours, very quaint. Mark refused to get on the pink tram for personal reasons, then rain set in, and we ended up in the pub for a few hours. However we did a spot of otter-spotting. There followed a trip to Beer Quarry, where we were given a guided tour by a very knowledgeable geologist. In the evening, the two Brians were caught trying to steal a guitar from a local establishment which had been signed by the one and only Brian May (from Queen).

Saturday: Brought a coastal walk, about 6 miles, from Seatown to Charmouth, the sun shone for most of the walk, with some spectacular rain coming in from the sea, which was breathtaking. Great views from Golden Cap, as far as the Isle of Portland. One lone hostel-dweller called Mica joined us for the day's walking. A stop at the beach cafe followed and a visit to the fossil exhibition at Charmouth. We all went for a curry in the evening at a local restaurant.

Sunday: A walk of about 9 miles, on the coastal path and through some villages. We stopped off at a teashop, Martina fell asleep on the grass. We checked out the old working forge, and all the rather lovely items for sale there. Steve T went cycling and endured some killer hills. In the evening, we headed for Lyme Regis, where the Candles on the Cobb festival was taking place. The whole place was filled with people, the bay has hundreds of lit candles, and there was a firework display. We enjoyed a lovely meal, a lot of us partaking in locally caught fish.

Monday: A trip to Exeter for seven of the group, visiting the heritage area, the site of Roman walls and old settlement buildings. There was an informative tour of the cathedral which was free and interestingly the windows there were all built from Beer stone. Brian G was discovered by Christine and Mary in the crypt... whilst Mark O apparently hid from the verger in the belfry. Jeff went exploring and discovered the Pigorama. There were no pigs present, these were seen flying low over Beer trying to escape...

The hostel was clean and very well organised, no alcohol was allowed to be brought in, so Jan drank her wine from her tea flask. We had a visit from Gary, who appeared to be rather under-dressed and lurked in tents and random rooms in the hostel. A very polite chap though, until he was discovered sleeping in the corridor after a heavy night, he was sternly reprimanded by the wardens. Thankyou to all the group for such a wonderful trip: Brian G, Mark O, Ian R, Rick, Brian F, Martina, Liane, Mark D, Christine, Kim, Jan, Helen, Simon H, Jeff, Kathy, Kerry, Steve T.

Report by Liane

We met at Gloucester Green Bus Station at 11am. Made use of the much heralded Park and Ride system, by parking at Thornhill. As we were so close to the centre of Oxford we commenced with a visit to Worcester College quad and grounds. The gardens and lake were in tremendous shape, and preparations were being made to stage a wedding for one of the old members. Our route to the university parks took us up Beaumont Street and Broad Street. Notable landmarks included the Oxford Playhouse, Randolph Hotel, Balliol College, Trinity College, Sheldonian Theatre (where degrees are conferred), the Bodleian Library, Wadham and Keble colleges.

We entered the university parks through Keble Gate, and strolled down to the River Cherwell, passing the Parks Cricket Ground, where the university team play home matches. A nursery for many former test players. The weather was splendid, and the Cherwell was home to a profusion of punters and kayakers. Our walk took us along the banks of the River Cherwell for about three miles, past Cherwell Boathouse, Wolfson College, and meadows in bloom. Our journey took us to The Victoria Arms, a wonderful gastro pub, with ample outside space bordering the river. Many boats stopped and moored, so that tiffin and refreshment could be taken by those on board. We stayed for about an hour and a half, before commencing our journey back to Oxford.

There was an opportunity to do more sightseeing in the afternoon. We attended a picture gallery at Christ Church College, where the special exhibition was "Heroic Nakedness" - exploring the body through the eyes of Renaissance and Baroque Artists. Which was well worth the £3 entrance fee. We took in views of various other colleges Queen's, Merton, St. Peter's and Oriel to name but a few. Also viewed were the Coddrington Library, Radcliffe Camera and the Exam Schools. At close of play we stopped at a gastro pub in the heart of Oxford for tea. A grand day - only slightly dulled by the continued accumulation of runs by the South Africans in the test match, and Manchester City coming back from a goal down to win 3-2.

Report by Roger

A small group met at Leigh station on a very hot and sunny Saturday morning in North Kent. We walked through historic Leigh (pronounced Ley, we were told by locals) village with a quick view of the 15th century church before entering the parklands of Hall Place. The manor is private but has a right of way through the grounds with views south to the Weald of Kent. Our route visited several hamlets with impressive Oast Houses, some now converted into dwellings. Our lunch stop was the White Rock inn at Underriver where we had some cooling drinks in the beer gardens, plus had a try at the boules game provided for customers.

We then headed uphill following the Greensand Way trail into Knole park. The grounds were formed for a medieval hunting ground and fallow deer are still found throughout the park. There were expansive views from the high point towards the North Downs in the distance. We took advantage of the National Trust ice cream kiosk to partake of the locally produced ice cream as we rested in the shade. We then reached the magnificent Knole House, built in the 15th century with its 365 rooms and 7 courtyards. We explored the house in the time available however could only take in part of the huge palace. We then found our way to the teahouse for a spiffing Kentish cream tea in the the courtyard of the old brewery for the house. More walks are planned for this lovely area with so many historic places to visit.

Report by Brian G

On Sunday morning we met at the entrance to Kings Langley station car park, all ready to set off, waiting for Karolina and Darek as they had an emergency at work, holding back Marin, which gave Debby and David time to join us. Eventually starting off at 10:30, with a few drops of rain. We headed towards Chipperfield, then onwards to the Bell pub at Bovingdon, where we enjoyed filled ciabatta, chips and beer. During our rest I gave a demonstration of my hobby with my hand held radio.

After lunch we headed back towards Hemel, snacking from the hedgerows on blackberries, plums and broad beans! On the approach to Hemel we had some local guidance from Gwen and Audrey on the best way to the Grand Union Canal via the Fisheries pub. After that, it was a matter of following the tow path along the canal back to Kings Langley. At this point I let everyone walk on, as the route back was straightforward.

Debby managed to twist her ankle close to the end, so Dave went to the rescue - I steadily plodded back feeling quite tired, thinking that the walk was longer than 12 miles - rechecking the distance later using the map, it was more like 13 miles.

I would like to thank the team effort and support of my work colleagues Gwen, Audrey, Darek and Karolina, also HAWOG members Marin, Debby and David.

Report by David Ta

We arrived on Friday afternoon just as the sun was setting. Pete had chosen the best pitch and it was perfect weather for camping and far removed from the June downpour when the original camping trip had to be cancelled. After setting up camp we drove to Wantage to pick up a takeaway and when we returned Mark had started the camp fire.

Eight of us set off for Saturday's walk at 9:30. We were soon on the Ridgeway in search of the elusive white horse in Vale of the White Horse. We were standing on it but only had a clear view of it on the following day's walk. We headed on to our lunch stop in Childrey following the Ridgeway and some very overgrown paths covered in brambles and nettles. We had a welcome pub stop in the Hatchet Inn and decided to look at shorter routes back to the campsite to welcome our Saturday evening campers. We headed to Westcot and then to Kingston Lisle where some of us stopped at the Blowing Stone for a refreshing Magners. Helen and Simon headed back to camp. We were only about a mile from the campsite at this point but I somehow managed to take a wrong turn to Uffington and we had to be rescued by Martina so we completed about 11 miles. We had a barbecue on Saturday evening and later enjoyed another blazing campfire. The farmer was on patrol and took exception to us burning our own wood supply so we had to buy a bag of logs from him despite Mark's van being crammed full. We also had some visitors from Swindon, friends of Mark.

We woke refreshed on Sunday morning after a much quieter night on the campsite. Nine of us started Sunday's walk about at 10ish as we once again did a steep climb to join the Ridgeway. We arrived at Wayland's Smithy, a neolithic long barrow burial chamber. Unfortunately, it had a temporary resident so we were only able to take in the surroundings. Helen led the way as we carried on to the delightful hamlet of Compton Beauchamp where we stopped at the local church. From here we carried on to the White Horse in Woolstone. It was a perfect stop for Sunday lunch and we sat outside in the rose garden. We were treated to some vintage cars driving past while Helen did a reccie to find the waterfall. We could definitely hear it and we were soon rewarded with wonderful views! We made it back to the campsite after completing about 7 miles. Everyone stopped at the farmhouse where cream tea was promptly served at 3pm and we said our farewells. A special thanks to Mark for providing the barbecue, non-regulation firewood, table and chairs and many other supplies.

Thanks to Mark, Ian, Mick, Pete, Simon, Jan, Martina, Alex and Steve for joining us on the camping trip.

Report by Mary

13 of us met on a warm sunny evening at Northolt village for our latest evening walk. Our route took in the Northolt heritage area, 13th century churchyard and manor site. Jan and Derek helped to explain the history of the area to the new members present. We crossed Bellevue park to reach Northala where we ascended the highest mound for a spectacular view over London on a very clear evening. Martina pointed out the famous landmarks clearly identifiable on the horizon. We also saw the timber sculptures newly built on the mounds for the Olympic festivals. We then followed the canal footpath through meadows back to the start. We took advantage of the fine evening by enjoying some cooling drinks in the beer garden of the Crown Inn as David gave an illuminating lecture on radio transmissions, prompting many astute observations from Coral and Martin.

Report by Brian G

For our third camping trip of the year, 12 of us returned to Sussex for another scorchio weekend at the Waspbourne manor farm. The campsite is in an idyllic setting in the Ouse valley surrounded by ancient woodlands. The campsite allows campfires and even provided old farm benches around the fire pits plus a picnic table for each group to use.

Li Sha, Imogen and Mary Li discovered the rope swings over the stream as Mike and Jing Jing set up their huge tent for the 1st time. Later on, Kerry and Cathy set up the campfire as Gordon prepared another feast on his trusty barbecue. After dusk, Vic and Imogen led the singing around the fire to much acclaim from us and the next door campers. Kerry made several astute observations upon the spiritual nature of camping and the Olympics. Jeff meanwhile had ventured to Brighton beach to watch the opening ceremony on the big screen by the pier. He returned in the early hours to recount how he had, with difficulty, explained the cultural significance of Mary Poppins to a group of Moldovans on the beach.

On Saturday the sun woke us early and after a hearty breakfast including freshly baked bread and eggs from the farm shop we set off on the hike. We made our way to the Bluebell steam railway and after exploring the vintage station we took the steam train through the valleys and meadows of the Weald to the end of the line. Our route entered the Ashdown forest, an ancient hunting ground full of heather and ferns with great views to the South Downs further south. We stopped for lunch at the historic Cat inn in the picturesque village of Hoathley. In the sunny beer garden Vic gave a lecture on jurisprudence to Jing Jing. Afterwards we visited the 15th century Priest House with its colourful gardens, before climbing to Horstead and continuing back to the campsite.

On arrival back at site we made our way to the marquee for free leak and potato soup with roll. Shaggy had brought along his "Alan Partridge"-sized bowl especially for this. Mike cooked a wonderful meal for 5 over the campfire using the techniques he had just learnt from his Baden Powell camping cook book. That evening Gordon and Imogen led the singsong around the campfire before Vic followed with his James Brown medley.

On Sunday our breakfast was a very leisurely affair. Some went to the marquee to partake of the vegetarian buffet on offer. Kerry and Cathy led the walk to Sheffield Park Gardens, the nearby National Trust historic gardens designed by Capability Brown. We strolled around the luxurious collection of trees and shrubs, coming upon the Monet Bridge and the wonderful vista of rare pink water lilies covering the tranquil lake. We stopped for some cooling ice creams at the tea gardens. Gordon and Imogen went for a fast hack on horseback thorough the forest with several canters over the high grounds. Afterwards we set out to the famous Griffin Inn, a 17th century inn where we enjoyed an excellent barbecue in the sunny beer garden. Lobster and sea bass were on the menu with very generous portions allowed. We took in the panoramic views of the Sussex Weald and planned our next visit to this historic area.

Report by Brian G

Five of us met at Woburn Sands station and caught the train to the start of the walk, Bow Brick Hill. We headed towards Woburn village through beautiful woods of very impressive redwood trees on the first day of blue sky and sunshine in a long while! I had pre-walked the route a few weeks before so I was confused when we came out of the fields onto a different street in Woburn than planned, I hadn't even realised I had taken a slightly wrong route, we got our bearings and headed towards the village for refreshments.

The walk then took us into Woburn Deer Park, where we saw deer in abundance. We had our lunch in the park and then walked on towards Woburn Safari Park. From the footpath we could see elephants, bison, rhinos and wallabies, and without having to pay an entrance fee. We then headed to the small village Aspley Guise where there should have been another refreshment stop but unfortunately the pub is now just an empty plot! Then we crossed a cricket pitch and golf course to the finish.

Thanks all for joining me on this country walk without a cow, sheep or pig in sight!

Report by Karen E

A small group met at Hever station on Saturday in North Kent. We set off on the Eden Valley Trail following the signs to Hever village and its 15th century moated castle. The preparations were underway for a jousting tournament later in the day. The trail continued through undulating Kent countryside with views of Oast houses and ancient forests in the distance. We made it to Chiddingstone, a National Trust village with its own castle and 14th century church. We had lunch in the shaded gardens of the Castle Inn opposite the church. Afterwards we took a detour to visit the Chiding stone. The village has a timeless quality and was used as the setting for much of the film "Room with a View".

Our next sight was the splendid village of Penshurst with the original "Leicester Square", a 15th century collection of timber-frame cottages before St John Baptist church. As we arrived at the square a wedding was just finishing and the confetti was flying as the happy couple left the church. We then entered Penshurst Place, one of the best preserved fortified manor houses in England. We strolled through the extensive gardens with many features and fountains. As the sun had broken through we decided to stop for a splendid Kentish cream tea in the courtyard tea rooms. We enjoyed the teas and cakes as we took in the views of the rose gardens and the House. We plan some more walks in this area with its wealth of historic villages and great countryside.

Report by Brian G

7 of us met on a warm sunny evening at Greenford for our latest evening walk. Our route took in another section of the Capital Ring, through Horsenden Farm up to the summit of Horsenden Hill. The clouds had parted to allow us a great view south towards Surrey. We also saw the Shard through a gap in the trees, Martin recounting the light show he witnessed last week at its opening. We returned via Berkeley meadows and playing fields to the canal. The towpath was very quiet with just a few narrow boats passing by. The walk finished at the Black Horse where we found a balcony table overlooking the canal where some late arrivals joined us.

Report by Brian G

The bad weather forecast, some cancelled walks and a certain historic tennis match being played on the same day kept most of the nation indoors. But not six indefatigable walkers - Anna, Carol, Keith, Steve, Tim and Greg (new American member) joined me on this walk. They should have known better.

Soon after the start the clouds scattered and we were blessed with sunshine throughout. We headed north, passed through a quiet agricultural college, the picture postcard village of Hurley (did you know that a Hurley boy was put on trial for starting the 1666 Great Fire of London?), crossed the Thames, made a small mistake nobody noticed, crossed some woods almost perfectly and reached another picture postcard village - Hambleden - for lunch in the sunshine and teas from the local church fete.

Then we headed south and we crossed back over the Thames at the spectacular Mill End Weir. We continued along the Thames Path for a while and then went further south at a place I spotted exactly - Frogmill Farm. By the time we reached the vicinity of Warren Row, everything was pleasant and nice and I felt very confident. Too confident. Because I no longer the attention that I should have had to the readings on the map, everything went south, and not just literally. After the first mistake I somehow retrieved my directional senses only to lose them badly on a path south going that seemed never-ending. And at that time 1 mile felt never-ending. Either Steve seemed a bit sympathetic to my fate or I was losing my sense of sarcasm as well. We had to turn back through the muddy path and I did not dare to look back at the others. We reached the spot where I made the bad decision and somehow there were no other events until the finishing point, which happily was the same as the starting one.

Thank you all for (foolishly) trusting my navigational skills and I hope that the weather made up for the slight detour. But what are 20 miles for the young at heart?

See you next time!

Report by Marin

The weekend started with an announcement from a Planet Rock DJ telling Oz to come camping but unfortunately it was missed. Friday evening and a drop of the strong stuff was had by all except Emma to celebrate some good news. A banter of texts to those attending Mary's social evening continued late into the night and by 7am Saturday morning Martina could resist no more and forsaking her cosy bed arrived on site, breakfasted, pitched and was ready for the walk by 10am!

The campsite, situated within an enchanting woodland, was covered in a trot of foxgloves and for somewhere without electricity had all the required amenities, including hot showers. The walk on Saturday covered nine miles, passing beautiful wild flower verges and sweeping vistas of lush countryside surrounding Basingstoke. After arduously crossing a small pond Martin pointed out that the brolly he'd been tasked with holding was still on the other side and so its owner had no option but to cross again and retrieve it! One particularly muddy path made for a memorable twenty minutes as the organisers persevered whereas the lateral thinkers simply went around. By 2pm we arrived at the Fox Inn, Ellisfield for a hearty lunch, tea and ale. The landlord started up the fire which encouraged us to stay longer than we might otherwise have.

In the evening the campfire was soon roaring and a brand new gazebo funded by 'donations' erected. Martin showed his altruistic side by preparing food on the barbecue for the twenty or so people he must have been expecting but alas they never showed and even Brian G couldn't finish it all. Live music and stories passed until the embers of the fire faded and everyone retired to bed feeling content.

A leisurely breakfast on Sunday and only then when the sun finally appeared did Brian G's factor 50 make its first appearance. After marvelling over a slow worm found in the camping field, we drove to Selborne and spent the afternoon enjoying the Gilbert White's House and Garden, which is also hosting the Oates Collection marking the centenary of the Scott Antarctic Expedition. The Tea Parlour served a delightful lunch which we later walked off in the garden as Jane provided an educational tour of the flora, although the magnificent statue of Hercules appeared flat in comparison. Afterwards we visited the pretty church in Selborne which housed a cross-section of the yew tree from the grounds which died recently after surviving almost a thousand years.

Despite some challenging conditions spirits were kept high by the lovely people attending. Thank you Emma J, Martin J, Brian G and Martina.

Report by Brian F and Jane

13 of us met on a warm sunny evening at Hanwell for our latest evening walk. Our route was the Brent Valley path, which forms part of the Capital Ring. We had 1 prospective member and 5 members of Ealing group on this joint event.

We walked along the river to cross under Brunel's viaduct (1836) before arriving at the mini zoo (known to all locals since time immemorial as "the Bunny park"). There was time for a visit to the millennium maze where Jeff led us to the centre and out using the secret code. We then recrossed the Brent to watch the Hanwell cricket team playing their weekly match on the green, Brian F explaining the rules to Jan and Christella.

Our route then took us through the expansive golf courses still busy in the long evenings. We then passed through Hanwell heritage area before returning to the Viaduct Inn. Martin entertained us all as he displayed his extensive knowledge of the Olympics and forthcoming festivals whilst we enjoyed some cooling drinks in the sunny beer garden.

Report by Brian G

5 of us met at Great Missenden station, heading off at around 10:00am. We headed south towards Little Kingshill, following an alternative route to the South Bucks Way. Unfortunately this didn't quite go according to plan - we reached a farm, and there was every indication that a footpath went through it, but we couldn't work out where the path went, and staff in the stables seemed to want to direct us back the way we came, so we decided to take a detour around the farm, lengthening the walk a little (one of these days I'll have to lead a walk along that path in the opposite direction and see where the path comes out!).

We walked through Little Kingshill, passing a village fete that had yet to open, and carried on to Little Missenden. From there, we headed south towards Penn Wood. The first part of this path was undercover, and was conveniently timed to coincide with the only shower of the day. Unfortunately the second part of the path was really overgrown - some of the stinging nettles were so tall that even I risked getting stung in the face! After crossing Penn Wood, we emerged on to the village green at Penn Street, where we decided to stop for lunch.

After lunch, we continued on to Winchmore Hill, and then Coleshill, before heading down into Amersham old town, where we stopped for well-deserved tea and cake. Finally, we headed uphill to Amersham station, where the walk ended at around 3:30pm. Thanks to Anna, Dave H, Erika and Keith for joining me on this walk.

Report by Phil

Eight of us met at Hayes station and meandered down to Henley on the very well marshalled train service. After the initial hailstone start, which was throughly anticipated for June, the sun shone gloriously on the madding crowd. Over 70 races took place and we managed to picnic in a wonderful spot, close to a double decker bus serving Pimms all day. All kinds of colours of blazers were out in force and the women were also in Sunday best. Derek and Prem met us for the late afternoon races and we even managed a small walk of 1.5 miles to the start point of the races - so three miles in total to make up for the copious pork pies consumed. Thanks to everyone for coming.

Report by Jan

13 of us met early on a Saturday morning at Great Missenden station. We started the walk heading towards Prestwood and then north on the South Bucks Way at a "quite fast pace" according to some of the attendees. At mid morning we had a short break in the picnic area at the end of Cockfoots Wood. We were close to the half-way point of the walk. After passing through various woods (my worst nightmare of map reading), horse training track, open fields and even having the chance of seeing a very pretty, shiny old steam engine in the garage of a farm, we managed to arrive at Great Missenden at lunch time.

Two of the group went back at that point. The rest of us, after lunch, started the second part of the walk. The afternoon went well; we followed the South Bucks Way through Little Missenden, where after having had a sunny and warm morning, we had a little shower that luckily didn't last long. After rapidly passing through a field with plenty of young bulls, a train track, a couple of woods, lovely fields, meeting a farmer with his protest poster against the proposed HS2 railway through the lovely Chilterns, we arrived at the end of the walk at 4.30pm.

We finished at the Cross Keys pub in Great Missenden for a well-deserved drink. I couldn't have asked for better company to share with me that very special day! Thank you all!

Attendees: Carol, Efisia, Emma, Erika, Jane, Mary, Nekane, Dave, Keith, Marin, Mike and Steve.

Report by Anna

5 of us met on a fine evening at Ruislip. Our route took us through Ruislip and south to Ickenham village where we explored the historic church, the village pump and pond. We then cycled through the old grounds of Swakeleys manor, glimpsing the 17th century mansion across the lake. Derek stopped to chat to some locals whilst Jan did some cycle maintenance. We then crossed into Ickenham woods before heading into Harefield via private roads with some very impressive detached villas. We ended at the Coach and Horses with its large beer gardens, where Martin entertained us with his tales of the Orkneys.

Report by Brian G

We all met at the Kings YHA in Dolgellau on the Friday evening. Most of the group had just completed the first section of Offa's Dyke and were in various states of fitness.

Saturday

The main focus of the weekend was the ascent of Cadair Idris, a fine mountain, a little short of 3000ft in height. We were joined for the day by an old friend of mine, Bill, who lives in North Wales. The route up the mountain would follow the Minffordd path, this is on the south-east side of the mountain and required a short drive to the start point. On the approach to the car park it became clear that the view from the top would not be! A band of dense cloud hung over the summit. However, the forecast was not too bad and it remained dry for the time we were on the mountain. The route up the mountain was straightforward and followed a circular clockwise direction. The first section was quite steep and could only be done at a steady pace. Once we began to find level ground we rested at Llyn Cau, where Abde went to explore the lake. More up! and then onto the ridge where we had a brief tantalising view of the valleys below. We were overtaken by a number of super-fit individuals who like to jog up mountains... Why?

That evening we celebrated the mountain walk with a meal at an Indian restaurant, recommended by the warden. The quality of the food and price was very reasonable, but the super vivid colours of some of the dishes had us a little puzzled.

Sunday

As per the forecast it was wet. The activity planned was to walk from Penmaenpool to Barmouth via the hills to the north of the estuary. Simple task you may think! Please read on...

We parked at Penmaenpool and crossed the toll bridge then headed north up into the hills. The terrain was pleasant but very wet, quite boggy in places. The route took us up to the top of the hills where we had a view of the estuary in the distance. After some time we came to a farm which was directly in our way: two opptions here, a) nuke the farm or b) walk quite a bit out of our way to get back on track. We chose the hard option. Having gone north for a time, the path was located, however it was on the other side of a barbed wire fence and a fast flowing stream/river. We walked a little further to get around the fence but then had to deal with the river/torrent. Teamwork really paid off with the river/torrent crossing. Sadly we do not have pictures of this, but I can assure you it was deftly executed, and only a highly skilled HAWOG team could have achieved this. No-one went for a swim (although by this stage we were all so wet a swim would not have made things worse).

A great sense of relief swept through the group as we made our way south. Then the path vanished again. We found ourselves on the verge of a deep dark wood. The group split for a while to try and re-establish the path. The path was not forthcoming, so we climbed a gate and had a quick meeting where all decided to head for the nearest road and follow it to Barmouth. Once we arrived in Barmouth things got better/worse, not sure by this stage... Somehow I managed to drop the map and case in the gents toilets! (map retrieved, case put in bin). Emma left a walking pole in the pub and the only bus for some hours to come refused to move, the driver kept looking in the boot for some reason. We did find a good cafe with cake, tea, hot chocolate, and then had to wait for a taxi back to Penmaenpool. So the Sunday walk which ought to have been a gentle end to the weekend proved to be a bit of a challenge!

Funny, interesting and good stuff

Carol for rescuing numerous moths from the showers and running a fascinating survey into bunting, Steve being mistaken for a woman by the tea lady in the cafe, Phil for his perceptive insights into Barmouth town planning and Emma for her knowledge of popular, country and jazz music... and for being especially sympathetic about the wet walk. Abde for being a diamond geezer, and my mate Bill who said that we were a nice group of people. And, as Karen Carpenter said "we've only just begun..."

Many thanks to all who attended.

Report by Mike D

Seven of us completed around 70 miles of the Offa's Dyke path over 5 days at the end of May.

No rain if you ignore the few spits on the Thursday, and almost no train on the Sunday as we travelled to our start point. We needed to get two, changing at Shrewsbury, our first was delayed and arrived late for our connection but luckily as our connecting train was late too they dovetailed nicely so we arrived at our start point Prestatyn on time. We literally departed the first at 18:22 when the 18:20 we needed pulled in alongside on the other side of the platform. And no pain as temperatures fell from hot to pleasant throughout the week.

Terrain wise, the ascents were highest at the start of the week, peaking on day 2 (Tuesday) which was our hardest day and around 18 miles in length. We had lunch (Tuesday) at the Jubilee Tower which, at 1818 ft above sea level, is the highest point of the Clwydian Range. Thursday was our longest distance at close to 20 miles, but flatter so easier. The other days varied in distance between 10 to 14 miles. For me, Wednesday was the best day for terrain and views, more rolling hills than mountains, and for lunch we left the Offa's Dyke to ascend the Dinas Bran Hillfort for the best views of the week. Wednesday also saw us reach the Worlds End. We were a little disappointed that it didn't - no death, destruction or despair. Friday was our easiest day, all flat walking, we reached Welshpool, the end point of the first part of our Offa's Dyke walk, before 1pm where we all had lunch before going our separate ways.

Accommodation was good to exceptional, a mix of rooms in pubs to b&bs. Certainly the b&bs couldn't do enough for us, one in particular Fron Haul where we stayed on the Monday evening, was truly exceptional. We were greeted with a huge pot of tea served with china cups and two cakes each, had big rooms in a large country house with period furniture and top views, and our host had booked a table for us in a local pub and then collected from the pub those who wanted a lift back afterwards. And all for £33 each, which was about averaqe over the five nights.

Navigation was generally easy as the path was mostly well signed, but we all in three sub groups missed a small part of the Offa's Dyke path on the Thursday afternoon. The good signs as we descended Llanymynech Hill suddenly stopped and we all ended up on the main road from a smaller footpath, probably only missed 100 metres or so of the official path though.

Whilst we were lucky with the weather, the company and banter was all down to those of us going - and it all went well. Logistics worked too, all baggage was couriered from and to the correct places and all monies owed were spot on. And Phil and Tim's cars were still there when we returned to Welshpool on the Friday. Upon arriving on the Sunday Tim had been engaged by an irate Welshman who didn't want him parking along the road as it was "for residents only". It wasn't, it was a public road with no lines along it and very few cars, maybe we should have invited him to Harrow to see what busy parking is like. None of us of course made any jokes about this irate chap, the language he used (I think some of Tim's reply to him was in Welsh as some of his words aren't in the Oxford English) and what Phil and Tim's cars would look like on bricks. And no remarks either about Emma's love of all things wireless, that would be cruel, or her asking whether there was a tea shop coming soon - wouldn't those two then make her Mrs T? The 1:50k maps barely have enough information to navigate with and certainly don't have Costa's or Starbucks marked on them.

Aim is to complete the remaining 108 ish miles around the same time next year (so late May, early June) which gives any of you interested in joining us plenty of time to complete the first bit. We'll be heading south from Welshpool to Chepstow and throwing the stone we each picked up from the coast in Prestatyn into the sea in Chepstow - as protocol says we must - so keep them safe please Claire, Emma, Dave, Jim, Phil and Tim and thanks for joining me for this stretch.

Report by Steve R

7 of us met at Egham on a scorchio morning. Genevieve and Rob had designed the walk around 3 memorials. We climbed along bridleways up Coopers Hill to reach the RAF memorial at the summit. This commemorates all air servicemen lost without trace in WW2. It is designed to resemble a cathedral with cloisters, transepts with chapels and huge windows overlooking the valley. We climbed the spiral stairs to reach the cupola and the open viewing balcony. We had superb views on this cloudless day, from Windsor Castle around to the Shard. Luckily, Brian brought his binoculars.

We then descended through woods to visit the JFK and the Magna Carta memorials. The JFK memorial is reached by climbing 50 irregular granite steps set out to resemble a pilgrimage. The 50 steps represent each of the 50 states of America, the acre of land where the memorial is situated has been ceded to America in perpetuity. We then headed across meadows to reach the Thames. As the weather was so hot we stopped at a shaded area by the river for our picnic. The river was very busy today with launches and passenger boats gliding past.

We followed the river to return to Egham. We then did a town trail visiting the alms houses and several historic houses before stopping at a pub. In the tree-shaded garden we enjoyed some cooling drinks as Humay and Rob entertained us with some yarns on a gloriously sunny afternoon. Genevieve listened in on conversations between medical students and what they wrote in their exams. Who would have thought that muscle fibres were so interesting? Welcome to Mark, a recent new member. We were also able to welcome a prospective new member, Coral.

Report by Brian G

7 of us met on a very warm sunny evening at Pinner for our latest evening walk. Our route was the Celandine way which follows the river Pinn from Pinner to Eastcote via the hidden green spaces of the district. We passed through Pinner Memorial Park and West House (home for Nelson's daughter and grandson) before following the Pinn to the Long Meadows field with its' poplars and ash trees. Jeff displayed his knowledge of local history as we passed through West End village.

We then came upon the Eastcote House gardens (the remains of the 17th century manor house). We strolled around the delightful herb gardens where Dalma pointed out the various herbs and shrubs. Passing the 18th century coach house we headed north to reach the Case is Altered. As the evening was so warm we took some tables in the large pub gardens where Jan and Martin entertained us with some ripping yarns as we enjoyed some cooling drinks.

Report by Brian G

16 of us met at the splendid 18th century Orangery tea house at Kensington Palace on Saturday, 4 teams joined up and set off on the route, some managed to negotiate obtaining Boris bikes to catch up with the others. The route took in Kensington Gardens, Hyde and Green Parks. The cycle routes were full of hundreds of Boris bikes today thanks to the good weather. One team ascended the Wellington Arch for great views across the parks. The route then headed south passing the 17th century Chelsea Hospital with a quick visit to the Army museum and the Berlin wall (long story) before reaching the Thames.

The riverside paths had great views of the Thames in the afternoon sun before the route switched north to visit Brompton cemetery and a hidden garden featured in a Dickens novel. After passing several interesting squares and churches the teams made it back to the Palace for results, answers, prize giving and some excellent cake in the elegant gardens of the tea house.

Report by Brian G

6 of us met at Watford station on Saturday morning for my marathon walk. We started promptly at 8:30am, heading through Cassiobury Park to the Grand Union Canal, which we followed north as far as Kings Langley. From there, we headed west along the Hertfordshire Way, along the edge of Chipperfield Common and then up to Bovingdon, where we stopped for a mid-morning break. We then headed south-west to Botley, and on to Chesham, which we reached at 1pm, having covered the first 13.5 miles in 4.5 hours.

After lunch, sadly we had to say goodbye to one of our group, the remaining 5 of us heading on down the Chess Valley Walk. We followed this path as far as Rickmansworth, from where we headed north-east to the green in Croxley, where we picked up some supplies for the last few miles of the walk.

We headed north across the green, and carried on the same direction until we reached Harrocks Wood, where we headed east until we reached Whippendell Woods. From here we headed south-east, back into Cassiobury Park and then back up to Watford station, which we reached at around 7:15pm.

Well done to Hannah, Karen, Marin and Steve R for completing the walk with me, a distance of just over 27 miles!

Report by Phil

Awesome. Covered in mud but exhilarated.

Some tough climbs and fast downhills. The leader took a blow to the head at one point from a low hanging branch that he totally failed to see. Thankfully the helmet took the full force and the only damage is a slightly sore neck from the jarring. A refreshing pint at the Waters Edge pub rounded off the evening and then back to the start by 10pm.

Thanks to Brian G and Martin J for joining me on a fun evening. Will definitely be organising another but probably when less muddy. Expect to sleep soundly tonight.

Report by Brian F

After 100 years of rain and gloom it was finally a brilliant sunny day. The air was incredibly pure and the vegetation was showing hundreds shades of green.

The walk itself and the company were highly enjoyable. Thank you Erika and Dave for coming out from your HAWOG retreat and joining me on the day and sorry for Phil, whose new walking boots proved to be tougher than expected so he had to give up half way, before putting in danger his marathon walk leading the following week.

As we didn't make more than 30 minutes of stops in total and the pace was very good, we finished the walk a bit early and we enjoyed a coffee at The Grandison in Bramfield.

Report by Marin

All 2 of us - Mark P was my walking companion for the duration - set off from Tring station at 10:30. At this point we discovered the station car park, not previously listed. We soon picked up the Ridgeway and started to climb steadily along hedgerows and some woodland until we came to an opening which led us to the picture postcard village of Aldbury. From here we headed back into woodland until we reached the Bridgewater monument, an imposing tower celebrating inland navigation. From here we continued steadily under the cover of trees for nearly 2 miles. When eventually our cover was broken the views of the Chilterns - for most part the climb was imperceptible - were excellent. We came to signs for the Beacon, the final stretch was in the open and noticably steeper, culminating in breathtaking and extensive views of the surrounding area. The return via the Ridgeway gave us an open vista until we descended under the cover of woodland. At this point we had lunch, at the three quarter point before returning to the station at 2:30, far sooner than predicted.

Report by Humay

We reached the campsite location at Berwick St James on Friday afternoon and got the tents up quickly due to the wonderful weather. No barbecue tonight as all the rations were frozen solid in the cold box. We visited a pub to keep warm.

The group survived the night, it was very cold. On Saturday, I led a 14 mile circular walk north to Larkhill and Salisbury Plain, skirting the Army Training Area then south to Orcheston and the old Saxon church, which was closed. South to Maddington and Shrewton and a small pub crawl - we visited the 2 public houses. We got back to HQ and I fired up the barbecue to feed the troops. We spent the night around the campfire with the British and Irish Land Rover clubs (who have real top-notch tents, Pete and I were most impressed). Brian G sang Boy Scout Songs which we all enjoyed.

After another freezing night with no fatalities, Sunday's walk was from the South. The campsite owner kindly dropped us off in Wilton, the start point. We headed up into the beech woods of Barford St Martin and Great Wishford - great views from Hadden Hill. We went down into Great Wishford and stopped for a coffee break at the 17th century church which has an old fire engine on display inside. We headed up a hill for more views of Stapleford village then to Berwick St James and a stop in the 17th century inn which has good real ale and a garden. We headed back to HQ and fired up the barbecue immediately to keep warm and cook food. Another night around the roaring campfire with the Land Rover groups. Brian G has ALCOHOL! (it must be cold). This led to Brian singing all his boyhood scout songs once again, he brought up Borat's man love as a way to keep warm!

Another freezing night, and the rain finally arrived - it was chucking it down. We had a group fried breakfast due to the dreadful weather. We decided to call it a day and head home to dry out the camping equipment.

The weather was not bad and the rain held off until Monday morning, but the east wind was cutting and it only had to be a slight breeze and it was freezing. It was a weekend that the cold box was not needed, I even put beer and wine bottles on the barbecue to warm them up. Thanks to the crazy campers who turned up for a cold weekend in the great outdoors: Peter D, Brian G, Kate, Martin and Ian R.

Report by Mark O

We spent the May Day bank holiday weekend exploring Dartmoor and the South West Coast Path, staying at the YHA hostel in Salcombe, a building whose grounds are given over to the National Trust during the day. We were really lucky with the weather, which was mostly dry, if not always sunny, for most of the day on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, we headed off to a spot just east of Yelverton, from where we started a walk on Dartmoor. We started by walking through woodland north of Burrator Reservoir, where we saw some Dartmoor ponies. We then continued eastwards across open moorland, after which we planned to head south-east to Crane Hill. However, thanks to Abde's GPS, we realised that we had instead been heading due east to Fox Tor, where we had lunch, so we retraced our steps a little before heading south and then south-west to Eastern Tor. We then headed west to the village of Meavy and then north to the start point, which we reached in good time considering that my unintended detour to Fox Tor had added around 2.5 miles to the walk, making a total of 14.5 miles. In the evening we enjoyed another good value meal at the hostel.

On Sunday, we all agreed to make the day's walk a little longer, so we started from the hostel, heading out to Bolt Head and along the coast to Bolt Tail (yes, really!), before stopping for lunch at Hope Cove. After lunch, we headed back across country to Malborough and thence to Salcombe, the last few of the 13 miles being accompanied by football commentary courtesy of Steve's portable radio. In the evening we headed into Salcombe, where we dined at the Victoria Inn. The ample portions were enjoyed by all, with the exception of Steve, who sadly wasn't even feeling well enough to finish his diet Coke.

Thanks all for coming.

Report by Phil

5 of us met at Sunningdale on Saturday. Our 10 mile route took us through Cosworth polo fields and Manor before reaching Virginia Water. We did a circuit of the lake and then entered the Valley Gardens. The gardens are full of twisting paths through the dramatic and varied landscape, majestic redwoods, rhododendron forests, totem poles and follies with viewpoints down to the lake. Jane identified many of the flowers and bushes. The colours were vibrant in certain sections, however the azaleas seemed to be coming into bloom a week or two late this spring.

We stopped for lunch at the welcome Saville Gardens cafe where we sheltered from the drizzle. Jaya and Mark spotted several jackdaws coming onto the tables looking for crumbs so we offered the remains of a sandwich. The birds were so tame they almost ate from our hands. Afterwards we headed into Windsor Great Park, reaching the viewpoint after a short climb. We then descended along the "Long Walk" to Windsor. The route took in a circuit of the castle and a walk alongside the river, where Brian F led us to a cafe for tea, where we discovered that Windsor is surviving the recession well, judging by the tourist prices charged.

Report by Brian G

13 of us met in Ibstone a on bright Sunday morning. We were all keen get a quick start as rain was forecast for that day. We descended through Commonhill Wood and it was mainly woodland until we reached Lower Vicar's Farm and our first sweeping view of the Chiltern Hills. We then climbed towards Cowleaze Wood and from there it was a fairly gentle route joining the Oxfordshire Way which led us into Christmas Common but with another steep climb though lunch beckoned as well as the rain.

We had a lengthy stop at The Fox and Hounds where some of us sat outside but others enjoyed the open fire inside. After leaving Christmas Common we walked through Queen's Wood heading south-east to Turville Park Farm. It was open countryside here taking us up to Turville Heath and we then headed north back to Ibstone. We finished at about 4.15 pm and half of us went for tea in the Fox Country Inn. We completely missed the rain!

Thanks to everyone for coming, sharing lifts and forwarding on your photographs. Thanks to Emma J for sharing the stats from her app and confirming that we did 13 miles on the day. Thanks to Jan my co-host who walked the route with me earlier this year. I was joined by Marin, Emma J, Martin, Deirdre, Kevin, Mark O, Brian F, Brigitta, Claire, Mike D, Pete and Jan.

Report by Mary

It was a bespoke walk with the aim of enjoining the Mole Valley mid spring fields, cops and woods, keeping away from walking on roads and avoiding the temptations of pubs. And this is what we did.

The signalling in the first part was sometimes dubious and on a couple of occasions my enthusiasm overcame the attention that should have been paid to the map, but we did not stray more than a couple of hundred metres from the intended route.

The weather was good and I enjoyed the company and the walk. Thanks to Mark O, Ian (whose perfect map reading skills helped in moments of confusion) and Monica for joining me in this walk.

Report by Marin

18 of us spent 5 fine days in Northumberland for Easter. We all arrived via the excellent rail service, 3.5 hours to Berwick including the crossing of the Royal Borders Bridge, Stephenson's spectacular viaduct crossing the Tweed, built 160 years ago. The hostel was just opened last year, it's in a beautifully converted 300 year old Granary with direct access to the 16th century town walls. We did the town wall circuit on arrival and took in the views along the coast. We carried on to the lighthouse and the various forts around the walls before Dean led the way to Sallyport tea rooms for some spiffing lemon drizzle cakes.

On Friday we did the Berwickshire coastal path, 13 miles from St Abbs to Burnemouth. The high cliffs afforded magnificent views of the coastline as far south as Bamburgh (50 miles). St Abbs head is a great place for spotting marine birds. Paul identified the thousands of kittiwakes and guillemots nesting on the precarious ledges around the cliffs. At Eyemouth we had some excellent ice creams from "the best ice cream shop in UK", voted by locals? We then crossed the famous Eyemouth golf course with its "unplayable 6th hole". The golfers all managed to overcome the chasm between tee and hole despite us watching from the cliffs. We ended the evening as before at the splendid Barrels Inn, where Kim got to know the manager and Hayley demonstrated her electric cigarettes to locals.

On Saturday we all travelled to Lindisfarne via the causeway to visit the island where Christianity came to England in the 7th century. Brian led the walk around the island managing to visit the Priory (where Jan and Jeff managed some expert faffing at obtaining a discount). We explored the Castle on its inspiring location with its many Lutyens features. We had a talk from some historians and listened to some lyre playing (Archie had a go at the instrument after some tuition). Olly, Archie and monkey mascot met another monkey at the Pilgrim tea rooms where we enjoyed views of the harbour and coast. We then caught the timely bus before the causeway flooded to reach Bamburgh castle for the afternoon walk led by Martin. This took us along the expansive beaches where the Castle dominates the coast from its stunning setting. On the long bus back Cathy T once more provided provisions from her portable "largest tuck shop north of the Tyne" as we took in the coastal views. After a fine meal at the Meadows and after visiting the Barrels we retired to the hostel around midnight where we discovered Kathy C arranging one of her acclaimed pot noodle banquets in the 5th floor refuge. We looked out over the town from the roof viewpoint as we listened to the intellectual chatter from the participants.

Sunday saw a variety of activities. Martin and Emma completed a 13 mile trek along the Tweed valley and back via a converted rail path and some unorthodox routes across sheep farms. David, Debbie, Tim and Kathy C took a boat trip to the Farne Islands where they landed for a tour of the seal colony. They managed to see many grey seals basking on the rocks plus lots of puffins diving into the sea for fish. Most of us took the bus for a walk around Alnwick and the surrounding hills. Mary led the walk using her navigation training to good effect in the woods. We visited the famous Alnwick castle (film setting for Blackadder and Harry Potter) where a wedding was in progress. Mike S and Bev led a walk through the huge gardens finishing at the unique tree house tea shop overlooking the valley. Others made a detour to the excellent Barter bookshop, where close to half a million secondhand books are displayed. The shop features a permanently running model railway above the bookshelves and is celebrated for rediscovering the "Keep Calm" logo now ubiquitous. In the evening Humay arranged a great meal at Berwick curry restaurant before we visited the Barrels for the final evening. The Inn featured music and a lock-in, with Kim leading the bar staff on a dance marathon to applause from all guests.

Monday saw us hiring bikes from next door to follow the Sustrans route along the Tweed valley. This took in the Palladian-designed Paxton House, some criss-crossing of the border, another castle, plus a visit to the famous Honey farm at Norham. Jeff led the group to the unique Bus tea house, a converted Routemaster where we enjoyed tea and honey cake from the top deck gallery. We returned to Berwick for the train home and the many views from the carriage of the stunning Northumberland coastline.

Report by Brian G

Three of us met at Amersham station on the first cooler day after the last week's sunshine. We set off at 10.05 after waiting a few minutes just in case anyone else would show up!

The first few minutes of the walk took us through a few small walkways between houses before we got to the fields, we chatted about how pleasing it was to be out in the open countryside. After crossing a number of fields and a slight wrong turn, we had to back track one field until I got my bearings again. As we approached a golf course that we had to cross, Meeha and Jaya told a story of a close encounter with a golf ball on a previous walk, luckily the coast was clear so we picked up the pace and crossed the course safely. We came to woodland by the side of the course, covered in bluebells, and stopped to take a few snaps.

We reached Chalfont St Giles, our lunch stop, in good time and sat on a bench on the green to eat our lunch, the air was fresh so we decided not to stop for long, and set off again after we had refuelled.

Reaching the end of the walk by two o'clock, we calculated our speed and seem we kept a good pace through the 8.5 miles. We headed off home refreshed and ready for a hot bath and cup of tea!

Report by Karen

Ten of us set out on a fresh spring morning. All arrived on time, even though BST meant missing an hour in bed! We headed north out of Watlington, briefly following the Ridgeway. Then slightly eastward passing through Lewknor and on to open countryside. Dave went a little astray, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology (his whistle), we were reunited. This was perfect walking weather, warm and sunny with blue skies and a gentle breeze to cool us down.

We made good time and stopped at Park Farm for lunch. We picknicked beside a disused, but rather grand, church, or possibly chapel. The views into Oxfordshire were quite stunning, so stunning that Kevin went to sleep!

After lunch we picked up the Oxfordshire way and followed this until we reached the M40, where we turned south heading for Stoke Talmage. We then encountered a large field full of sheep and lambs. Marin was captivated by the sight, and keen to get many pictures. Or maybe he was thinking of dinner. The final few miles were very picturesque. We passed through the hamlet of Clare and then, descending slightly, we passed Clare Hill Farm where we had cracking views south toward the village of Pyrton. On the approach to Pyrton a kindly couple told us that the annual church fund raising bash was being held in the village hall. This was very timely, as a number of the group were in desperate need of tea and homemade cake. We were not dissapointed: cakes a plenty and free fill-up of tea! A number of the group bought whole cakes to take home.

Many thanks to all who attended.

Report by Mike D

18 of us met at a very sunny Dorking on Saturday. This was another joint ride with Lofty's cycle group. Our route took us via Heathland to start the climb up to Leith Hill. After a long ascent we reached the summit for some great views towards the South Downs. The tea hut within the tower was very busy today as the viewpoint was full of other cycle groups and hikers. We then continued our route via Holmbury Hill with some very fast descents alternating with climbs. Near Peaslake, Suzette (one of Lofty's group) led us on a detour through the "Golden Burrows" off-road course. This was an exhilarating series of precipitous descents with hairpin bends and jumps. Brian F did a spectacular leap at the final burrow and landed perfectly at the finish line.

We reached the scenic village of Gomshall and stopped for a late lunch at the riverside pub. We enjoyed the views from the sunny beer gardens where Lofty bought drinks for all to celebrate his birthday. We then set off on the final section via the villages of Abinger and farm tracks back to Dorking. We explored the historic high street with its 17th century Alms Houses before catching the trains back.

Report by Brian G

4 of us met at Park Royal for the canalside bike ride. Carla led us along the new cycle paths which pass through the former Guinness Brewery site, with a detour to visit Twyford Abbey. We then joined the canal and continued East, eventually reaching Little Venice where we stopped for teas. As it was now raining we decided to turn back at this point and continued along the canal to finally reach Perivale where we found shelter at the Horsenden Hill visitor centre. We did a circuit of the hill before descending back to the canal. Carla then folded up her Brompton, put it in her pocket and caught the train back.

Report by Brian G

A wonderful day's walking was had by ten of us on Sunday in early summer weather.

We left Stone village bang on 10am and with a quick 10 minute tea stop at the duck pond in Haddenham we reached Thame for lunch just before 1pm. We'd had the sun largely in front of us or to our left all morning and were in t-shirts before long. Post lunch and our terrain changed a little in that we started to get a little bit of ascent, it had been flat all morning. We passed through Long Crendon reaching probably our highest point of the day, Ashendon, for half past three and a stop at its local pub for a drink. We admired the views and again the blue skies and warmth as we headed out on the last third of our walk. We'd passed through some beautiful and quiet villages during the day but unknown to us, the best was yet to come.

Making good progress we reached Upper Winchedon village before the highlight of our day, walking through part of the Waddesdon Estate. Tranquil, untouched, views and miles away from modern life in many ways. Well worth a visit if you fancy walking somewhere different than the obvious Chiltern Hills options, and not much further distance-wise. We returned to Stone just after 6pm.

Thanks to (HAWOG) Carol, Emma M, David H and Phil and (Ramblers) Cathy, Linda, Luela, Margaret and Andrew for joining me for this 22 mile - that's what my piece of string says it is - walk in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire countryside.

Report by Steve R

We were blessed with a glorious day on Sunday. Nine people assembled at Rickmansworth station for the walk, and we commenced our journey with the walk down to the aquadrome. The genuine spring-like weather had brought forth a sundry assortment of casual strollers, dog walkers, joggers, and other pleasure seekers. The lakes also thronged with activity: water skiers, sailers and kayakers - but no swimmers.

We joined the Grand Union Canal at Stockers Lock, and proceeded southwards for a couple of miles, past the farm where the opening titles to the 1970's series "Black Beauty" were filmed. We passed a number of canal boats, which appear to be permanent habitations for their owners - quite a little community in fact. Our route took us down to Stockers Lake, and we did a circuit before commencing our route back along the tow path.

Returning to Stockers Lock, we were fortunate in being able to see a boat in the process of navigating the lock. We returned back to the aquadrome for tiffin, and basked at an outside table close to the lake. We were there for about half an hour when Paul G and family turned up, plus new addition "Monty", a Golden Retriever. Monty must be wearing "Lynx" after-shave - he pulled twice within a minute.

Report by Roger

12 of us met at Epsom station on a fine sunny spring morning. We set off southwards, climbing up to the racecourse where we stopped for the expansive views over the course and the Epsom Downs. We then took Stane Street, a Roman road now bridleway, on an undulating route towards Box Hill. We had one vertiginous descent from Mickleham Downs before stopping at the ever-welcome CTC cafe at Headley for pasties, teas and rock cakes.

In the afternoon we did a steady climb up to the North Downs Way and followed the ridge, with panoramic views to the South as far as the South Downs in the distance. We had one dramatic puncture but this was quickly repaired and we carried on through the picturesque village of Walton on the Hill. We had one long speedy descent passing some farms and racecourse training areas back to Epsom. We found a café in the sunny Epsom High Street for some splendid apple pie and coffees before catching the trains back to Harrow.

Report by Brian G

The advance party of 3 arrived Friday afternoon at the charismatic converted Kent Oast House which was our accommodation for the weekend. Nearby was a purpose-built outdoor Circuit Training course comprising a variety of vaults, leapfrogs and sit-ups, which certainly tested our fitness! Evening meal was at the nearby Wagon and Hale pub after which we repaired back to the hostel for ping pong and drinks, meeting up with the late arrivals.

On Saturday, 6 of us embarked on a 12 mile hike through the rolling North Kent countryside, picking our way along a variety of footpaths, tracks and bridleways. Reaching the North Downs escarpment about noon, we abruptly descended 180 metres down onto the Kent plain. Soon we stopped for lunch on the green in the pretty medieval village of Boxley, flanked on one side by the church and the other by the village pub. The afternoon saw the clouds clear and the sun shine through. Our route back took us via the village of Bradhurst. The lane passing under the M2 motorway on our map turned out to be blocked off by the M2 motorway. Pity they didn't put a sign up on both sides giving notice! We had to make the detour to cross, but the skies were clear and as the shadows grew longer in the late afternoon sun we arrived back at the hostel for 5pm.

We booked our evening meal at the Robin Hood pub (yes, a long way from Nottingham), but only 3.2 miles from the hostel as the flow cries. Using Martina's sat-nav (or should that be shat-nav) we went the long way round culminating in a Jeep-type safari up a steep track onto the North Downs Way. Bumping along the Way in the pitch black with only the headlights to drive by, Martina skilfully avoided the craters and potholes and we arrived at the pub with suspension intact.

Sunday heralded blue skies and bright warm sunshine. At the local ski centre we all rode the exhilarating Cresta Run, the UK's longest downhill toboggan run. Well done Jane for going the whole way without braking! The real fun, however, was saved for the snow tubes, where we were flung about and bounced from side to side hurtling downhill in a tube - great stuff! By afternoon it was T-shirt weather. We visited historic medieval Rochester to enjoy the vistas over the river Medway. After exploring the impressive castle keep and grounds we relaxed in tearooms for tiffin before departing for the short journey home.

The Medway Team comprised Martin, Emma J, Martina, Brian F, Jane, Marin. Kate and Paul M joined us for the Saturday.

Report by Martin

6 of us met at Dorking on a cloudy morning, recent joiners Anangi and Mark joining for their first walk in this area. Our route took us to the North Downs way, passing Denbies Vineyard before reaching the famous stepping stones crossing of the river Mole. We all managed this without falling in (Brigitta impressed locals by running across them). We then did the long climb up to Box Hill. As we reached the summit the clouds lifted for the views. There was a very busy duathlon at Box Hill in progress with many runners and cyclists doing circuits of the hill.

We then headed north via the Victorian fort and folly viewpoint at White Hill. After, we descended from Mickleham Downs to the historic village of Mickleham. We had lunch at the Running Horse pub (17th century coaching inn) with log fire and very useful boot covers for hikers. After having a look around the 12th century church Jeff led us into the village shop where we all selected some excellent Belgian chocolates from the displays.

We then followed the river Mole path via the site of a priory and Thorneycroft Manor. Jane and Jeff called into the manor farm to notify the farmer of a possibly sick bull seen on the way. The farmer thanked us and assured us that the bull was just "resting". We reached Leatherhead and Mark found a very welcome tea shop in the historic high street. We remembered the chocolates from earlier (intact) and enjoyed them with our teas before our scenic train ride back.

Report by Brian G

48 of us (including 11 from HAWOG) met at the Tattershall Castle on the Thames on a sunny Saturday. We split into 10 teams and set off on the route. The trail took in the Thames Path, the Temple area, the hidden alleys of the City and the St Barts Priory area with its 2 medieval churches.

Martina led one of the HAWOG teams and spent ages at the St Pauls protest camp taking detailed notes of their pallet base tent designs (she is determined never to be cold on future camping trips). Martin J led the other team and achieved a very quick time; he even managed to sprint to leap onto a passing Routemaster bus to shave some minutes off. Luckily he also remembered to pull Emma onboard as she was struggling to maintain her speed running alongside. To solve the literary clues teams had to visit Dr Johnson's house. The manager there was so pleased to assist teams that she resorted to putting up a sign outside "Treasure hunt answers are.... NO need to enter". Kevin used his inside knowledge of the film industry to answer all the film location questions. He impressed Jan and Prem by retelling the story of when he stood in as Hugh Grant's body double at St Barts Church for the wedding scene.

We all met back on the boat for answers and prizes. Afterwards Martina and Martin (the discount masters) arranged a well deserved Ruby for the HAWOG teams.

Report by Brian G

4 of us visited snowy York last week. The excellent train service got us there in 2 hours and we found our way to the hostel for a welcoming hot drink.

On a very cold but dry Saturday we explored the city, taking in sections of the Roman walls and the remains of the 13th century Abbey. Rob led us on a circuit of the hidden snickleways and their architectural features before taking a ramble along the Shambles. This is one of the best preserved medieveal shopping streets in Europe which includes a hidden-away Catholic shrine. In the afternoon we visited the Minster (largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe) and the Archbishops palace. We made our way to the famous Betty's tea rooms (modelled on interiors of the liner Queen Mary) for some of Bettys Fat Rascals before returning to the hostel.

On Sunday we walked along the river path passing York's own big wheel before finding the huge National Rail Museum. It was Harry Potter week and Kim insisted that we take a trip on the steam rail excursion on the train used in the films (now loaned to York as filming complete). We continued along the river to visit York Castle where a Viking re-enactment was in progress. We retired to an excellent restored river tollhouse now hosting a tea shop. We listened to Genevieve recount some more intriguing yarns as we watched the boats slowly pass below us as we enjoyed some very generous slices of Yorkshire tea loaf.

Report by Brian G

On Sunday, 6 of us gathered at Great Missenden station to start the 15 mile walk to Chesham. We set off promptly at around 10:20am, walking along the South Bucks Way and then the Ridgeway. Unfortunately the mist hadn't cleared by the time that we reached Coombe Hill, so we had to imagine the stunning vistas, and content ourselves with the fact that we could at least see the Boer War memorial on top of the hill.

From there, we carried on down the Ridgeway and through Wendover, stopping for a late lunch in Kingsash. By now, we were on the Chiltern Link path, which we followed the remainder of the way to Chesham, reaching the station in good time at around 4:20pm.

Thanks to Mike D, Brian F, Jane, Paul and Jason for joining me on this walk.

Report by Phil

A New Members Evening was held at the church hall on our monthly meet in January. Approximately 30 existing members turned up to greet prospective new members, and also to listen to information from the Cotswold Outdoor shop regarding the services that they offer for enjoying the outdoors.

A wonderful slideshow of photos showed old and new members the activities undertaken in the past, and what to expect from future events.

Tea and coffee were most welcome in the warm hall provided by Derek and Prem, as snow fell outside and Emma J, Helen and Jan spoke about their time in the group and explained why it means so much to everyone. Brian G updated everyone with future events and the Cotswold Outdoor shop offered advice on trip planning and equipment, together with an enticing discount offer for all purchases in January once registered.

Many thanks to everyone for turning up on a cold night to break in the new year HAWOG style.

Report by Jan

The starting point for this walk was a mobile network black spot (never checked!) so only fourteen of us managed to find the start point on the first Sunday of 2012, a cold bright morning (apologies to Mary). This walk took us through woodland (with a bit of navigational help from Mike D), round an iron age hill fort (Cholesbury Camp) which dated from about 300BC where we detoured into St Lawrences Church and examined the interesting assortment of unusual headstones. Our walk continued along the base of the valley much to Mike and Phil's disappointment, so to take advantage of the clear day with fine views we deviated from the plan to climb up and walk along the elevated ridge.

Lunch was in another churchyard, where we chanced upon the church warden who kindly opened up the church and gave some of us a tour. This was a tiny ancient church (13th century, if I remember correctly), which has a regular congregation of about 20 (I think). Very atmospheric, and popular for weddings. Sunshine kept the cold at bay (just) long enough for us to lunch.

Initially the views from the ridge were not as expected but on reaching the open countryside again we were rewarded by splendid views and a stunning encounter with a rare breed of cattle (please identify in the picture on web if you can!). The final leg of the walk took us through a working farm, complete with very loud farm dogs. We bravely faced them down (!). Thanks to Mike D and Marin for navigational support. Sharon made sure that no-one got left behind and we reached the start point with a little daylight to spare! Thanks to everyone for coming and making it a really nice day!

Report by Deirdre and Sharon