Photos & Reports

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group this year. If you'd like to contribute a report, please send it to the Webmaster, perhaps with some photos (with captions). We also have photos and reports from previous years:

This was an action packed 4 night weekend in Country Antrim. Most of us managed to take in the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast, where this unfortunate ship was built, as a prelude or a postscript to some truly fabulous walking. Accommodation was two adjacent cottages on a small estate between Portrush and Bushmills. On Friday morning, after a spot of car juggling at Portrush and at Bushmills, we set out from the picturesque fishing port of Portrush on the Causeway Coastal Path. This path took us from the village via coastal ridges and sandy beaches to the castle of Dunluce, a stunning medieval ruined castle, (occupied by MacQuillans, MacDonnells the earls of Antrim) built on the edge of a basalt outcropping connected by a bridge to the mainland on the coast, basalt being the prime feature of the coast. The Causeway visitor centre was the low point of the day, not worth the entry fee. Dinner was at the Bushmills Inn, fine dining for weary walkers.

On Saturday morning all eleven of us took in the main Giants Causeway heritage site (quiet after departure of any tour buses). This did not disappoint, hexagonal stepped formations, tall towers of basalt, and much more. Having visited 'the organ' and beyond we retraced our steps a little to ascend to the cliff-top and carry on along the Causeway Coast. The scale of this site can really only be appreciated by continuing the walk. The basalt formations extend for miles along this coast. Even the photographers took a rest as each corner revealed even better views, long sandy beaches, limestone cliffs with deep caves, afternoon tea by the beach at Ballintoy before the final push to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, arriving just two minutes too late to cross, although some might have been relieved due to gusty winds. An excuse to go back at a later date. Views of Rathlin island, Islay and the Mull of Kintyre completed the picture. A little bus took us to the harbour at Ballycastle, where the local Marine Hotel managed to fit us all in for some good food, with a bit of live music thrown in.

On Sunday morning saw a few of us sightseeing in Belfast, where in addition to the museums, both an Orange march and a military-style funeral were spotted. Eight of us took the ferry to Rathlin island, a nature reserve. Highlights were the RSPB reserve at the lighthouse, where puffins, cormorants, nesting ravens were all viewed with the help of the binoculars provided and the assistance of the enthusiastic RSPB volunteers. A bus trip back to the harbour, where the driver provided a free guide to the island and history and even deposited us in the best location to view the basking seals, was the icing on the cake.

A trip to Bushmills distillery on Monday morning completed the weekend.

Thanks to Catherine, Dave, Efisia, Emma, Jane, Jeff, Nathalie, Mary, Marin and Rodica for joining me and being such great company on this amazing weekend, when even the weather was in our favour.

Report by Deirdre

A wonderful walk was had between Ware and Waltham Cross. New friendships were forged and the beautiful natural environment added to the day's spectacular walk. We saw many ducks and swans on the river Lea as well as some truly beautiful houses along the New River which is not far from the river Lea. We were lucky enough to see a swan building her nest and sitting on 2 eggs. Lunch was enjoyed under the trees at The Crown pub in Broxbourne. Overall a walk that is highly recommended for the future.

Report by Lara
On Thursday one of our newer joiners, Jessica, arranged a very interesting art exhibition and talk. As part of the evening Jessica created a watercolour painting of a bluebell wood to show the techniques for painting in the outdoors.

At the event we also also welcomed Gurpreet, a fund raising volunteer from St Lukes Hospice who came to the hall to tell the group about the Hospice and their fund raising events.

Report by Brian

A mixed group attended this sun-blessed location at Stratford upon Avon.

YHA Hemmingford House in Alveston had many attributes: ensuite rooms, a well-stocked bar, a games room, a restaurant and self-catering kitchen, lovely grounds and a large free car park. Although the hostel was a little way out of town, bus routes and local cabs did not cost too much to get to the start of the activities from the town centre. I would like to thank those who provided lifts in and out of town: Martina, Paul, Derek and Rachael (hope we did not take you guys for "Grant"ed, especially Rachael).

Good Friday saw the majority of us meet at the Garrick Inn, the oldest pub in Stratford, after frequenting different eating establishments. I thought I'd be "Bard" from here, although it turned out Not to Be, after ordering a pint of Shakespeare!

Easter Saturday: A "Villages near river Avon" walk took place starting and finishing at the Gower Memorial in the centre of Stratford. This 11 mile walk took us along a route following the river Avon (it had a certain Calling), and then onto several scenic villages, Weston-on-Avon, Welford-on-Avon and Binton. We stopped for a pint at the Shakespeare and at Binton Church we found an interesting exhibition dedicated to Captain Scott. Some of our party went outside stating "they may be some time". The return route took us parallel to the Avon, on the opposite side of the river, passing through peoples' back gardens, eventually passing the race track, nobody took a "fence", and then back to the town. Rachael went geo-caching for the day, and Martina and Daniel visited Mary Arden's Farm, returning looking a bit "sheepish".

All the Party bar one ate at the Pen and Parchment pub in the evening, although the pub had lost all of our previously confirmed menu choices. Obviously not "Set in Stone"! No problems though, people re-ordered "As You Like It", could have been a "Comedy of Errors"! Diana saw Julius Caesar, not a salad but a play at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Easter Sunday: Martina ,Daniel, Jan and Jeff went for a cycle ride along the Greenway. Paul, Bev, Ollie and Archie went for a tour round Shakespeare's houses. The rest went on a historical guided tour of Stratford, which was really interesting. Corny jokes were in abundance, although not when we visited Shakespeare's tomb, that would have been a grave situation! The Gelletts, Humay, Cathy and I ate home-made stuff at the hostel with the others going to The Bear in Stratford. Jeff said his curry was "PHAL". Birthdays with cakes happened for Bev and Derek over the weekend.

Easter Monday: Visits to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and the National Trust house. Afterwards met in town for planned boat trip, didn't materialise! Plans capsized! Met in Huggins Tea Room except Cathy who went for a McDonald's. She bought a world map, written by Charles Atlas!

Then home! Thanks to Cathy, Nick, Rachael, Jeff, Humay, Jan, Martina, Daniel, Derek, Prem, Paul, Bev, Ollie, Archie and Diana, who made this a fantastic weekend.

Report by Mike S
9 of us met on a gloriously sunny morning at Sunningdale. We headed through the village, stopping by the church which had cherry blossom trees in full flower. We continued into Coworth Park through the polo grounds, passing the manor where a wedding was taking place. Toodle pip said the sign at the lodge.

We then crossed to Virginia Water where we did a circuit of the lakes before entering the Valley Gardens. This is full of twisting paths giving dramatic views of the varied landscape, the vibrant colours of the azaleas were evident. We had our picnic by the monument at the viewpoint looking down to the lakeside.

Continuing past the Obelisk Lake we entered Windsor Great Park and then Englefield village where we stopped for cooling drinks in the shaded beer gardens at the Sun Inn.

Climbing now through meadows and horse paddocks we reached the summit of Coopers Hill and the RAF memorial. It has a dramatic setting on the edge of the hill and is designed as a chapel with a cupola reached by a spiral stairs. From the open balcony on the roof we took in the panoramic views of the Thames valley below. We headed south via Runnymede meadows to Egham for trains back to London. Returning member Daniel, plus new joiners Jilly, Mary and Sunganda plus two PNMs joined the regulars Brian, Humay and Mark.

Report by Brian

Lovely spring-almost-summer weather for my Hams and Hills walk. Six of us with two legs plus one with four on the walk. Route broadly north from St Botolph's church at Bradenham, heading up for the first forty minutes to Lacey Green. Then Grim's Ditch and the Chiltern Way through some lovely woods for lunch at St Mary Magdelene church next to the glorious Hampden House. A place we've been to before for lunch!

Post lunch, our route turned more southerly across more woods and stunning views of rolling Chiltern hills. And then up another one of them, up to Piggots Wood and quickly down again to Speen village. The pub was no more but by chance there was an Easter Egg hunt village fare. Serving tea and cake which one of our party had two helpings of.

Doing good time, we headed south again from Speen to Walters Ash, alongside the RAF HQ and down through Park Wood and back to Bradenham. GPS said 12.7 miles including a small faff so well within the ish, in fact not much ish at all! Thanks to Brigitta, Emma, Mary, Bertrand and Marin for joining me.

Report by Steve
Nine of us met outside Uxbridge station on a pleasant Saturday morning. We walked through the crowded shopping precinct and then down alongside the Fray's river. Everyone was surprised how there could be such rural tranquility so close to the hustle and bustle of Uxbridge town centre. From there we crossed Uxbridge Common, stopping to look at the old water tower, now a private house. Then on to cross the A40 and into Swakeleys Park. We admired the Jacobean Swakeleys House in the distance, sadly rarely open to the public. We continued along the river Pinn, pausing to visit the medieval Pynchester Moat. Our walk now included parts of the Celandine Route, at just the right time of year, with many celandines in bloom. Then on via New Year's Green into the ancient Ruislip Woods, unfortunately a little too early for bluebells. We made our way into Harefield via the churchyard of the 12th century Harefield church, which John Betjeman considered to be the most exciting in Middlesex. Then through Harefield village and dropping down to The Old Orchard with its wonderful views of the Colne valley for lunch. That was nearly all we had as we were told they were not serving outside because of the risk of showers, but fortunately we we were able to find a cosy table inside. After lunch, we lost Miyeon and gained Fenella for the straightforward walk along the canal back to Uxbridge. Showers were forecast which perhaps put some people off, but although we saw some dark clouds it was dry for the whole walk and we had some lovely sunshine. Thanks very much to Rob, Monika, Lindy, Miyeon, Suri, Rakteem, Henriette, Fenella and Pinaki for joining me for an enjoyable day. Look forward to seeing you on the next one.

Report by Jeff
Great Western Railway did their best to deter people from joining this walk, due to essential engineering work there were no trains out of Paddington to Slough on this Sunday morning. Despite that, and the fact that the clocks went forward that morning, nine of us made it to the start point in Marlow. We were joined along the way by one member, who shall remain nameless, who forgot to put her clock forward!

We weaved our way through Marlow to pick up the Thames path and set off to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Thames. This section of the Thames is lined with an array of beautiful houses from all schools of architecture. There was even a house with mock turrets and battlements! Arriving by midday in Cookham we stopped for a short break, with some of the group opting to visit the Stanley Spencer art gallery and the rest repairing to the pub. Stanley Spencer is well known for his depiction of biblical scenes happening as if in Cookham. He described it as "a village in heaven" however at £4 for a small sherry glass of pistachio nuts in the pub, St. Peter must be making a fortune.

Leaving Cookham we carried on towards our lunch stop in Maidenhead, picking up our latecomer on the way. Lunch was taken in a café on the outskirts of Maidenhead, as it was thought that many of the finer hostelries in the area would be packed with families celebrating Mother's Day. Food arrived very quickly, alas it was not ours but another table 11? I took the last portion of fish and chips, depriving Teri, one of our American friends who joined the walk from Meetup, of this traditional British delicacy. However I was able to assure her that she wasn't missing much, as the fish might as well have been caught from the Thames.

Refuelled, we continued on, taking in the sight of Eton Dorney lake which was used as a venue for the 2012 Olympics. Eton College private property signs help to keep the riff raff out these days. Eventually the majestic sight of Windsor Castle came into view. As we completed the last section of the walk we saw a plaque that marked the spot where Eton schoolboys used to bathe in the Thames. Bathing was governed by strict rules, including standing behind a screen when members of the fairer sex went past in boats. Punishment for infringement of the rules, they were warned, would be severe. On arriving in Eton we crossed the bridge to Windsor and made our way to the station. Having about a 45 minute wait for the next train we took tea and cake in one of the multitude of cafés in Windsor station. Great Western had got their act together by then and trains were running normally back to Paddington.

Thank you to Anna, Emma, Brian, Natalie, Humay, Marzena, Nina, Teri and Robin.

Report by Dave

Five of us met for a not so prompt start to the walk. We set off from Ibstone Road and were soon walking through Twigside Bottom Wood following a very flat route before our first steep climb into Hanger Wood. We continued to Monsells Wood where we briefly veered off the main track. At this point we were fairly close to Fingest.

We reached Skirmett by 1pm for our lunch stop at the Frog. The pub was really busy so we had to take our seats in the beer garden and despite all of us ordering either lunch or drinks we were told it was very un-PC to eat our own food at the table!

Following lunch we took another climb through Great Wood exiting with views towards Turville and the famous windmill. We then headed west and our route continued through Idlecombe Wood. After a short descent we followed a track which took us back to Ibstone. We reached the start point by 4.30 pm having completed 11.8 miles.

Thanks to Emma, Marin, Merce and Rodica for joining me on the day.

Report by Mary
The sky was overcast but the mild temperature and the daffodils clearly showed that spring is here with us. The old guard - Rodica, Marin, Nathalie and Monica - wasn't sure the four newcomers - Maria, Melissa, Jonathan and Richard, who were looking to join a walk called "Hertfordshire Way Hike" organised by a group from West London actually wanted to join us. After some clarification from the committee member, and a small charge of £5 per Meetup joiner we accepted them very warmly into our group.

The walk largely followed the advertised route. A detour around Sacombe House, where the building works closed the path and a change of pub stop because the proposed one had closed down were the only changes.

The old guard dined in style at The Anchor in Wadesmill. The food was excellent and the main waitress, Stephanie, offered some unexpected entertainment, better than a character form Catherine Tate's sketches, while the new bunch headed directly to the starting point's pub.

Lovely walk and very enjoyable atmosphere - thanks all for joining me.

Report by Rodica

8 of us including 1 new joiner spent the weekend exploring Cardiff and surrounding countryside. We stayed at an independent hostel on the river Taff facing the Principality Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park. Very friendly hostel which offered free cider and pizza on Saturday night to all residents and the generous continental breakfast buffet was included in the price.

On Friday Martina led the early arrivals on a walk through the centre ending at a restaurant by the Cathedral. Leo and Nick arrived late and took in various entertainment venues with Leo arriving back just in time for an early breakfast at the hostel.

On Saturday we hired bikes for our circular expedition. Our route was along the Taff trail cycle path passing through the redeveloped Cardiff waterfront, the yacht marina and sculpture park. We climbed up to Penarth village to give us great views over the entire Cardiff bay with the Black Mountains in the distance. Helen did very well to negotiate the hairpin bends on the steep ascent whilst towing Daniel in the trailer. On the other side of the ridge we found a clifftop viewing platform looking across the Channel to the Somerset coastal resorts. We stopped for lunch at the restored art deco pier at Penrath Beach. We completed the cycle tour via the spectacular Bay Barrage (built 2007) with its Arts and Heritage trail showing the history of the coal and shipping trades. Leo as always discovered a hidden lakeside bar where we enjoyed some afternoon drinks with views across the Bay. In the evening, after the free cider and pizza, we found a traditional Cardiff inn for food followed by Roger leading a walk through the sporting history of Cardiff.

On Sunday we walked through the parks and gardens of the suburbs to reach the historic village of Llandaff. This was the original setting for the Christian settlement of Cardiff before the main town emerged. We explored the impressive cathedral, Bishops Palace and Village Towers before tiffin at the splendidly historic Jaspers Tea rooms. On arrival Jan rearranged the art works and Renee ended by buying one. We returned to Cardiff making our way though a very busy riverside park full of runners on a sponsored race. Our route took in a circuit of Cardiff Castle before Brian led the group to our final afternoon tea stop at the Gallery tea rooms.

Report by Brian

8 of us were on this walk, including a few new joiners. Some came via GWR and the rest via the new Chiltern service. The train was very crowded, announcements in Japanese for the many bargain hunters alighting at Bicester Village.

We quickly found the Thames Path for the riverside walk. Some new developments were mixed with industrial heritage buildings. Beyond the town the Thames was busy with canoeing teams being urged on by their trainers running alongside. Our route took in the meadows and sports grounds of the Thames Valley before we headed back on the other bank towards Oxford.

We stopped for our lunch break at a pub by Magdalen Bridge. Carroll reminded us of the correct pronunciation of "Magdalen". We then explored the alleyways and quiet streets winding their way through the various colleges. Christchurch had a huge queue whereas the other colleges were quiet and allowed us a glimpse inside the historic quadrangles. We climbed the 99 steps to the top of Carfax Tower to have a superb panorama of the entire city. We then took in the Radcliffe Camera and the attractive squares around the Bodleian library before finding a traditional tea shop for our late afternoon teas.

Report by Brian

Seven of us were at the meeting point on Sunday morning. We left Chenies to follow the River Chess route westwards. We had a quick stop mid-morning and at this point Steve left to return to the car. Lochlan had completed his second walk with the group and we were delighted to have him along.

We reached Ley Hill at noon and then walked to Flaunden stopping at the 18th century inn, the Bricklayers Arms for lunch. Our afternoon route took us to Chipperfield Common, then headed south to Sarratt, a descent to the river Chess and back to Chenies. We finished at 4.30 pm as planned. This is a very easy route, we did 11.8 miles so shorter than the advertised distance as well as enjoying a lunch stop in the pub beer garden. Please support our rural pubs when planning your walks. Thanks to Emma, Mike, Mick, Steve, Carol and Lochlan for joining me on Sunday.

Report by Mary
8 of met at Reigate station for the first new members walk of the year. Melissa, Trudie, Peter, Georgia and Anontella were on their first walk with the group together with Brian, Jackie and Bertrand. We headed south to Reigate Heath which has a golf course, cricket field and horse riding tracks all sharing the open heathland. A short climb took us to the 18th century Reigate windmill which is now used as a church and meeting venue. We then commenced the long climb along an ancient trackway, Colley Lane up to the North Downs. At the summit of Colley Hill we enjoyed the panoramic views south as the skies were clear today. We then headed north-west venturing onto Walton Heath, a wild medley of gorse and bracken.

Our lunch stop was at the Blue Ball Inn at the picture perfect village of Walton on the Hill with its village pond and green. The pub had been recently restored and extended and we had a table on the gallery level overlooking the Surrey countryside south. After a leisurely lunch we continued up to Walton Downs, high above Epsom Racecourse with views north towards Surrey and the outskirts of London. The rights of way criss cross the racecourse and we followed the racing track around the summit of the hill to Tattenham Corner for the trains back to London.

Report by Brian

24 of us met on a very sunny and frosty morning at the Clocktower Café. We took over most of the café as the 2 groups introduced each other over coffee and pastries. We set off once the latecomers arrived and followed the Brent Valley Path to the canal. From the canal path we crossed the GWR Brentford railway over a foot crossing. Lavinia then showed us the most scenic way to Blackberry Corner. The raised area afforded fine views on such a clear day.

We continued into the parklands of Osterley House. Rosie (volunteer at the House) gave us a talk on the history and architecture of the estate. We had a late morning tea stop here at the National Trust Stables café. A major feature film was in production with film crews much in evidence. Tim tried to discover the identity of the stars passing us in the blacked out limousines but the crew and staff were sworn to secrecy.

We walked north across the parklands and meadows towards Norwood Green. We had a late pub lunch at the Plough taking over the dining room and its fire. Nick's dogs made friends with some local dogs and Jeff made his customary dramatic arrival to join us for the second half of the walk.

Our afternoon route took in various hidden paths and tracks via the West Mid and Brent Valley golf courses. We explored the Brent Lodge Park and somehow resisted another café stop there. We continued under Brunel's GWR Viaduct to finish the walk back in Hanwell at the Viaduct inn where Jan and Richard entertained us with their repertoire of jokes and anecdotes.

Report by Brian

The weather was undoubtedly the focus of the day. As I drove up the M40, visibility was down to tens of meters and the rain lashed against the windscreen, but we HAWOGians are made of sturdy stuff...

Jeff was the other nutter to turn out on such a day, he had heard that a number of fine-looking maidens were intending to come along, he appeared distressed when it became apparent that I was all that was on offer!

We left Hambleden behind, uncertain of our future, the rain a constant companion.

Jeff was trialling a new garment, a waterproof cape. The cape not only covered himself but his backpack and so keeping everything dry. Jeff reported a good flow of air throughout and so no damp undergarments due to excess sweat. An all-round winner. I did think Jeff looked a bit like an umbrella and was tempted to use him as such, however I could not figure out what to do with the spare leg!

Up through Red Hill and the surrounding woods towards Stonor. It was very boggy and large pools had formed on the track. The route has a total of 8 fairly steep gradients which are manageable in good conditions, but today they were a challenge.

We stopped at Pishill Church for lunch. On approaching the church I suggested we say a little prayer to ensure the porch was not locked. Clearly someone was listening, not only was the door open, but there was free tea and coffee with a box of flapjacks (suggested 50p each). There was a visitors book beside the box of flapjacks, Jeff penned a suitable note of gratitude. There was also a whiteboard with a note from the previous walkers dated January 1st, apparently they too had a wet day.

So, onwards and upwards towards Turville Heath and Southend where our route went south until we reached Great Wood and our last ascent before the return to Hambleden.

This is a very good route with lots of variety and much to see, I shall be doing it again later in the year, I would urge all to come along and hopefully enjoy the day in better conditions.

Many thanks to Jeff.

Report by Mike