A small group of us set off from Chorleywood station and met the remaining group at the car park near the cricket club. As a distraction from the rain Malcolm suggested a tour of the wood sculpture park in the grounds of Chorleywood House. We headed down to the River Chess path and then walked up past Goldingtons to Church End. The house dates back to the 16th century, enjoys fabulous views across the Chess Valley and was one of the settings used for filming Four Weddings and a Funeral. We reached Sarratt and had a short break in the bus shelter.
We walked down to Sarratt Bottom and rejoined the River Chess. One of the locals took exception to the size of our group and we had a short exchange. Two of the group had to leave us earlier than planned as we reached Chenies. We continued on to Latimer and took a woodland route returning to Chenies. We passed the Red Lion which was open for business, and promised to come back for lunch when numbers allow. We returned to pick up a very muddy path by the River Chess. We finished our 10 mile route back at the cricket club.
Thanks to Dave, Dee, Efisia, Kate, Lesley, Malcolm, Mick, Mike and Sandra for joining me on the day.
Report by Mary
On a dry sunny morning we gathered by Ickenham village water pump and pond. Quite a few had festive hats and outfits, some had even grabbed a breakfast at Wetherspoons across the road. Our route was the Hillingdon trail which follows the Rivers Crane and Yeading Brook across country through Ickenham, Hillingdon and Northolt. We had a look around the Compass theatre where many of us had seen musicals performed. The route took in Ickenham Marsh, Gutteridge Woods and Ten Acre woods. Part of the way featured ancient woodlands and involved duckboard sections over boggy terrain. Judith pointed out the sloe berries on the bushes.
The noise of gunfire announced the West London Shooting Grounds, where we saw clay pigeons flying above in the distance. Shortly after we passed Lime Trees driving range and golf course, Janet providing a commentary on the golfers playing alongside the track. We reached Northala Park and headed for the mounds. Our ascent of the highest hill was rewarded with great views over London, the Shard easily seen on such a clear day. Our walk ended with our picnic at the park café, Jan and Liane sharing out the mulled wine and mince pies for a festive feast.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Jan, Janet, Jacqui, Tim P, Vic, Delroy, Anne, Liane, Cathy, Chris, Maria and Dee.
Report by Brian
Start of walk at Ickenham village - Photo by Brian
Ickenham Marshes - Photo by Brian
End at Northala Cafe - Photo by Brian
After a slight delay with an unforeseen drop of rain, 7 of us headed back up Welders Lane towards Ozzie's house and picked up the footpath at Chalfont Grove. The object was to bypass the farm but proved more of an odd 'get off my land' circumnavigation. We then headed east to at last move away from the humming power lines. A curious place to have a greyhound training track was our next destination but was fenced off, but we could still see the floodlights but no hare. Now things got trickier as we entered Oakland Park Golf Course, but Janet came to the rescue as a keen golfer and knew the layout, so we dodged some tees and found a gap in the hedge to find our way to Chalfont St Peter. Entering the village we stopped by Milton Cottage, 17th century home of John Milton of Paradise Lost fame, who moved here to escape the plague. As we ventured further into the village we stopped for a picture outside the Crown Inn, famous for being Captain Mainwaring's bank in Dad's Army. At the cafe across the road we stopped for coffee and cake and Mike's late 3 course breakfast.
A quick visit to the church and we were soon in Misbourne Valley, where a strange bird appeared in the wetlands. It turned out to be an escaped rhea! Many jokes about a participant on the previous day's walk were enjoyed, Mike being particularly inventive. The weather was starting to really improve but Alpa had a slip and reminded everyone that good footwear was needed at this time of year. Underfoot became better when we reached Chalfont St Giles, and a long uphill footpath through the houses to the outskirts allowed us to reacquaint ourselves with the woodland, passing a pond and back outside Ozzie's house on the way to the hostel.
My thanks to those who joined us for the walk: Janet, Linda, Chrissie, Christine, Elaine, Mike and Mark.
Report by Nick
On a bright Saturday morning 8 of us met at YHA Jordans for a hot drink while awaiting any last minute arrivals. Jeff didn't disappoint, so we headed off towards the home of the quaker village's most famous resident, the Prince of Darkness (Ozzy Osbourne), where we picked up the footpath to Seer Green, the cherry pie village. After a little help from OS maps we found the footpath between the houses that led us onwards to Hodgemoor Woods. With its leaf-filled floor and bare wood it was tranquil in the afternoon sun. After a break on a steep incline we shared stories of what might be the rules if we ventured to a pub. With the prospect of the light fading we changed our plans, going to Beaconsfield and continuing our woodland walk, and we weren't disappointed, the light dancing through the trees. After a few muddy interludes we found a spot on a fallen tree branch to take a lunch break, with the trepidation that it might give way any minute, and Jeff found out that the fear was founded.
On our way through Bottom Wood we encountered a horse and rider who encouraged us to meet him. His blanket had Hyde Park Stables emblazoned on it, and we were treated to a story of how he couldn't cope with the noise and confines and was retired to the country. On our last leg to Seer Green we saw a group of walkers with takeaway pub drinks. They encouraged us on up the hill to the refreshments but on arrival we managed to find seats but had to adhere to substantial meal rules to obtain alcohol. But a plan B had been organised and Rachael was waiting at the hostel with mulled wine and mince pies. Going via Jordans village we found a village warden's hut with old typewriters and other retro objects and a map of every dwelling. At the hostel we sat outside and recreated the HAWOG tradition of a drink and chat and of course Rachael's homemade mince pies.
My thanks go to Chris, Maria, Zoe, Jeff, Mark, Sughanda and Mike for joining me on this walk, and Dee who joined us at the end.
Report by Nick
Hurrah for HAWOG! It was so lovely to have two groups back together again for today's walk. I took the opportunity of using a pre-designed walk that had been cancelled in September due the restrictions. The walk across Harrow on the Hill was themed Hidden Nature, the theme chosen by the National Trust for the Heritage Open Day Festival in September 2020. The walk had been printed in the Harrow Hill Trust News, so our walkers had a souvenir to go home with!
On a gloriously sunny morning with beautiful clear blue sky, we headed past what remains of the forest which once covered Harrow to first visit the Church of Our Lady and St Thomas and the beautiful, secluded garden there. Pauline explained to the newer members that HAWOG often use the church hall there for social do's. We await a return to normal, so we can do those again! Then we moved up to St Mary's Church and saw the view across the Chilterns, Goring, and Windsor Castle. Pauline, Chrissy and Nitty had a good chuckle about Goring! We then went on to look at St Mary's Church and discuss the origins of it and then moved to the town fountain to think about how water had only started to begin to be piped to the Hill in 1855.
After all that history we thought we had better do some real walking and we headed off to take the beautiful walk across the footpath on Harrow School fields. Carefully avoiding the mud, we looked at the fields where normally the rare breed cattle belonging to Harrow School Farm are put out to graze - none there today - they were all in the warm! Emerging from the fields we entered Sudbury Court Drive and walked back up to the Hill. There we had some very good catering options. Those of us with packed lunches were able to sit on benches on the green and enjoy our lunch under the historic sign marking the entrance to Harrow. Others were able to have coffee on pavement tables set up for this. With many grateful thanks for their excellent company to Nitty, Jyotsna, Marian, Chrissy, Christine, Janet, Pauline, Jacqui and Delroy. It was lovely to see them all. Nitty summed it up - "it's made us appreciate life more!"
Report by Judith
We met at Croxley station on a bright dry morning, even though the predicted weather showed rain.
After introductions, safety chats and grouping, we set off to follow the path between autumnal coloured trees and a carpet of fallen golden leaves which was once the 'old railway line'. This was a very interesting walk with some amazing trees - there was one tree which had a sign embedded in its truck. We carried on towards Rickmansworth Aquadrome passing some very picturesque points, and an opportunity to pose for some group photos (as you do). The weather had vastly improved and of course the layers started to come off. We walked around Stockers lake and nearby was Stockers Farm. The farmhouse is a listed building. The area is also famous as the location of filming of children's favourite 'Black Beauty' TV drama. Plenty of wildlife to be seen around the lakes, home to ducks, swans and water skiers! We stopped at the café for our well-deserved lunch break. Some group members became guardians of a lovely little lost dog, luckily it had a tag and the members were able to call the owner who had forgotten the dog and had gone!
We then carried on walking along the Grand Union Canal, taking in the amazing views of the canal, towpaths, locks and magnificently decorated narrowboats, all unique. It was a wonder to see some beautiful water homes along the canal. Towards the end of the path we stopped at a lock and watched a narrowboat passing through. Here we also took a video of the group. Overall, the walk and the weather was just amazing and both the groups had thoroughly enjoyed the walk and of course the laughter, banter and reminiscing kept us all entertained.
Thank you to all that turned up for this walk: Mike, Chantelle, Elaine, Judith, Karen, Gabriela, Marilyn, Zoe, Mark, and of course Ian who helped with organising and ensuring that everyone got to the start point.
Report by Runi
On a spooktacular Halloween morning, six of us met outside the Queens Head pub in Pinner village. I began the walk with a brief history on the heritage of Pinner and its people. I pointed out the parish church dominating the village, and the memorial, and with the impending wet weather anticipated, advised walkers to explore at the end of the walk at their leisure. We then made our way to the beautiful Pinner Memorial Park taking in the gardens, pond, aviary, and museum. From there we took the Celandine Way, a scenic nature trail, to Eastcote House and the hidden walled garden. A brief stop at Eastcote House was made for refreshments. On our return we were welcomed with the autumnal showers as we made our way back to the village.
Thank you to all my fellow walkers. In the spirit of Halloween this was certainly filled with tricks (muddy paths) and treats (a medley of beautiful autumnal colours in the parks and trails).
Report by Alpa
We set off from Green Park in bright sunshine and soon skirted by our first palace, returning later for a closer look. St James's Park teemed with wildlife as we admired the black swans and pelicans. We got a closer look at Buckingham Palace and we walked up to Wellington Arch, admiring the architecture, before entering the Rose Garden at Hyde Park. It's a great space away from the crowds. Next stop the Serpentine and we got a table at the water's edge and had our lunch.
Next stop the Albert Memorial. It looked amazing in the sunshine, with a blue sky backdrop. We followed the Broad Walk past Kensington Palace and as we walked through Kensington Gardens the sun glistened on the Round Pond. The route continued around the Italian Gardens and then we walked by the Serpentine again, leaving Hyde Park to return along Piccadilly to Green Park station.
We finished at 3:00pm. I think the walk is closer to 8 miles but it's a great space in central London if you want to be outdoors with family and friends. We were joined by 3 new members, Gemma, Gerald and Laurence. Dave joined us and continued walking to Finchley Road on the way home. Gilly and Judith made up our 7 walkers. Thanks to Gilly for bringing along artisan breads for everyone.
Report by Mary
We started our adventure at Home Farm, which is a 338 acres of woodland and open grassland owned by the Woodland Trust. As we started our adventure we were pleasantly surprised at the gliders circling around and took a moment to enjoy the view. The route took us through some muddy fields, a couple of kissing gates and a few stiles, although these had gates which were easier to get through. As we approached All Saints Church, the autumn colours on the trees were magnificent with the stunning church and the sun beaming down. This was a great opportunity for our group photo and a quick water break.
We carried on through the village of Bradley and picked up the long distance Three Castles Path. This took us uphill to reach the woodland area which gave us a break from the rain shower just about to start. As we emerged into the fields we spotted some pheasants. These became a pleasant sight along the route. We decided to have our lunch stop and noticed the cricket pitch had been submerged with all the rain we had recently, we actually thought it was a pond at first.
All fuelled up, we carried on our adventure and picked up the Ox Drove Way. As we continued we noticed our path had become submerged with the heavy rain. We spotted a gap in the forest, so we climbed up to higher ground so that we could continue our journey.
Thank you to Dan, Coogee, Nick, Ellie, Bobby, Tim and Jude for joining me on this adventure.
Report by Diane
We met on an autumn morning in the village of Cropredy, a village which was the scene of the battle of Cropredy Bridge in 1644, a significant event in the English Civil War, where the parliamentarian army lost 700 men. With stunning views of the church we started our adventure. The autumn colours were amazing. As we were acknowledging how beautiful they were we spotted two deers running past us. We headed gently downhill into the village of Wardington, passing the postbox set in a brick structure, a great place for a quick water stop.
We walked alongside Edgcote House which was built in 1747. It was used as the backdrop to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice TV drama starring Colin Firth. This was a great opportunity for our group photo. As we crossed over the bridge of the River Cherwell we were looking out for a silver plaque mounted on a concrete plinth; unfortunately we couldn't find it, but we found a rope swing instead, where we found our youth and had a go on the swing, very enjoyable. As we left our childhoods behind us, Malcolm spotted the silver plaque. This marks the spot where a Wellington bomber crashed in 1945. As we read the plaque it was very sad to see so many young soldiers lost their lives, with only one surviving, aged 19. We carried on through a kissing gate, the only one on route, to everyone's enjoyment, but we had lots of opportunity to get our leg over on so many stiles.
As we passed the church of St Peter and St Paul, another fabulous church, we reached the village of Chipping Warden. This is where we joined the Millennium Way, just as the English weather had decided to change. The rain and wind started to appear so we headed for the trees to have our picnic.
All refreshed and on the move the weather did not dampen our spirits. We headed along some very muddy fields where we enjoyed some kites, and they even gave us a song. The walk took us past some lovely old oak trees and into some fields with live cattle. Much to our astonishment, they came charging at us, all 30 of them. Thankfully there was a very small electric wire between us. We walked / ran past them, and we all made it out safely. The next part of our journey took us through some more even muddier fields, the mud weighing us down. Thankfully we made it to the Oxford Canal. The Oxford Canal reached Cropredy in 1777. All mud kicked off, we started our final stretch down this lovely canalside and even spotted a kingfisher. Two lovely swans also came up to the side of the bank to say hello, and a lovely horse popped his head through the fence to say hello too. As we reached the lock, the rain was coming down quite heavily, but this did not stop us from talking to a couple on a canal boat and some of us helping them to get through the lock.
A very enjoyable walk with so many laughs on the way. Thank you to Dan, Janet, Humay, Christine, Malcolm, Chrissy, Sathish, Cynthia, Neha, Alpa and Mira for joining me on this adventure.
Report by Diane
Eight cyclists met on a sunny morning at Northala. Our route was nearly all traffic-free, first along the Grand Union Canal east to London. Along this section we noticed numerous examples of "amateur" boat building - some looked like a shed screwed on top of the base of a boat. We stopped for coffee and cake at the barge café at Little Venice. Then south to Hyde Park where we watched the Met Equestrian team practising at the dressage paddock.
Our route was then on CS3, the excellent segregated cycle path through Westminster and the City of London. At Parliament Square we took in a demonstration before cycling along the Embankment taking in the views. We then headed north via Smithfield, the unique exhibition of self-sacrifice at Postman's Park and St Johns Gateway (only remaining medieval gateway of London). We rejoined the Regents Canal at Kings Cross for the return leg. After a refreshment stop at Camden Market, we were struck by the debris loaded by the towpaths by the "magnet fishing" anglers. We used the "David Fathers" guidebook to find historic places on route, including the blue plaque for Guy Gisbon just before Little Venice.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Nick, Diane, Dawn, Tim P, Malcolm and Coogee.
Report by Brian
Start of ride - Photo by Brian
Aqueduct at Park Royal - Photo by Brian
Decorated barge - Photo by Brian
Buckingham Palace - Photo by Brian
Met Equestrian display - Photo by Brian
St Johns Gatehouse - Photo by Brian
The group met on a dry and mild, autumn Sunday. All the Chorleywood car parks were busy and the grounds of Chorleywood House seemed positively bustling. After grouping ourselves we headed off and soon descended to the calm of the Chess River. We soon came to the foothills of Church End, Sarratt and were overlooked by the white-rendered mansion, Goldingtons. The Grade II-listed mansion was a film location for Four Weddings and a Funeral (the reception for the first wedding where Charles (Hugh Grant) makes his best man speech). We climbed up the hill up towards Goldingtons to be rewarded by its beautiful views or rolling hills across the valley to Chorleywood. We then headed to the Cock Inn pub to stop for a photo opportunity, as opposed to get a coffee and use the facilities because they weren't open until midday! Here Shilpa and Neeta decided to carry on a different way as they knew the area.
Making the gentle descent to Sarratt Bottom, we were back on the Chess Valley path, and soon at the watercress farm. The cress beds were no longer in production, nor were the gates open for the ice cream shack. However they were advertising a nice self-catering holiday cottage, what a nice location. Along the route we met a number of other walkers as well as the odd cyclist, this section being no exception. We carried on the path to the nature reserve Frogmore Meadow, a site of special scientific interest for its range of grasses and wildlife. Crossing Chenies Hill Road we passed through Mill Farm where two handsome red-haired horses were galloping energetically around their fields, giving us a bit of a show. We continued west on the field path and briefly stopped at the tomb of William Liberty who died in April 1777. The chest tomb lies on the side of the path opposite the original site of the parish of Flaunden. The site contains the ruins of the original church of Flaunden. William was the local brickmaker and a free thinker who stated that he wanted to be buried alone outside the bounds of a church. We continued through the open fields, where the grazing sheep were plentiful and seemingly wondering what we were doing there.
Lunch beckoned and soon we had reached the grand old Latimer House, which made the backdrop for our lunch stop. Here we took in Latimer's fine views over the valley where a more swollen River Chess flowed below, and enjoyed our lunch. Latimer House was once home to the Cavendish family. The original Elizabethan house, where King Charles I was imprisoned in 1647 and King Charles II took refuge before he fled abroad, was badly damaged in the early 18th century and was rebuilt in 1838. After lunch we walked down to the bridge across the river for more photo opportunities. We carried on up the other side of the valley through the woods at the back of Little Chalfont. As we emerged from the woods we looked back at the magnificent views showing Latimer House nestled into the landscape. From one grand house to another - we soon reached the impressive Tudor Grade I listed building Chenies Manor House, once known as Chenies Palace. The Cheyne family owned the manor from 1180 and passed the house by marriage to the Russell family in 1526. Sir John Russell became the 1st Earl of Bedford, ancestor of all subsequent Earls and Dukes of Bedford. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were once visitors at the Manor.
Moving on, from a fine manor house to a fine public house, we emerged from the path right into the pub garden of the Red Lion. The group enjoyed some well-earned refreshments, as well seeing some of the cutest and furriest of dogs with their proud owners, as if we were at Crufts. We then took the return journey to Chorleywood via fields, woodlands and the Chess River and with a slight ascent to finish we were soon back at our cars. It turns out there were a couple more ascents than the one small hill originally mentioned. Soz!
I'd like to extend a warm thankyou to Alpa, Anna, Christine, Cynthia, Janet, Linzi, Naina, Nitty, Mike and Michael for your pleasant company on Sunday's walk.
Report by Aruna
Vic, Humay, Jill and her granddaughter Ava, Jyotsna, Judith, Harry, Shameen, Debbie, and I all met at Ruislip station. We set off up the High Street and Judith kindly provided directions for the more scenic route, via Ruislip Woods rather than walking via the road route. We walked around the lido and then stopped and had a leisurely lunch in the Water's Edge garden. Jill and Ava left to take a train ride on the narrow gauge railway that does a circuit of the lido. The rest of us carried on with the walk through the woods, Judith supplying some interesting facts about the lido and everyone joining in with some interesting discussions and comments about what is currently going on in the world at the moment.
Thank you everyone for a pleasant walk.
Report by Jacqui
Converging at Woking Park, this 18 mile ride saw us navigate a mile or two of the delightful Hoe Valley stream before we arrived at Westfield Common, bisected by various metalled paths. We encountered alpacas, sheep and horses as well as green finches and great tits and various feathered friends as we made our way past the heron at Chestnut Pond and the inland turn at Hoebrooke Close, which sent us towards Beech Hill and the Wey Navigation. We noted the New Inn as we passed the centre point of our figure of eight journey and pressed on towards the River Wey and Papercourt Lake. In good spirits we continued around Hungry Hill and decided to stop at Send Marsh where we were disappointed to find the Saddlers Arms closed due to the current situation.
Presently we found the New Inn and stopped for well-deserved refreshments where we noted the locals ordered 3 drinks at a time due to the popularity of the location. Here we also saw the kingfisher which flew directly down the canal behind Nick, who was facing away from the canal, so despite his efforts, never got to see it. Nearing the end of our journey we found the Hoe Stream again and in spite of two triple stiles in and out of Woking Cricket Club we found our way back to the start at Woking Park, where Diane was flabbergasted at the dexterity of the BMX and scooter riders in Woking BMX Park. A wonderful time was had.
Report by Dan
We met at Uxbridge station and twelve of us headed for the Grand Union Canal towpath by the Swan and Bottle in two socially distanced groups of six. It was a lovely sunny day and the towpath was not too busy. A leisurely walk over two bridges to switch banks with everyone chatting, getting to know fellow walkers and enjoying the activities on the canal. At Denham Lock we turned left into the Colne Valley Park and walked alongside the Colne River to the visitors centre where we took a short break. We then proceeded across Denham Golf Course to Denham village. We walked through the village admiring the beautiful old houses on route particularly the house with the river through the middle, Sir John Mill's house and St Mary's Church and stopped for a picnic lunch on the village green. Some of us went for a drink at the 600 year old Green Man public house which was very busy with people having Sunday lunch.
After our lunch break we headed back to Uxbridge, taking the turning after the church which led us to a different route via Buckinghamshire Golf Course towards the visitors centre, and passed Denham Court mansion. At the visitors centre we stopped for another quick break and then headed back through Colne Valley Park to the canal towpath. We noticed there was very little wildlife during this walk. You would usually encounter swans and ducks along the way. We saw just a few ducks near the visitors centre but no swans. Wondered if this was due to HS2 and wildlife had relocated. Our next stop was at the Swan and Bottle at the end of our walk where some of us stopped for a well-earned drink before heading home.
Many thanks to Christine, Harry, Helen, Shameem, Zoe, Chris, Maria, Delroy, Lesley, Linda and Colin for making this an enjoyable walk.
Report by Janet
We met on an autumn day with the sun beaming down on us. With the instructions in place we started our adventure. We first passed some black sheep, later in the walk we passed some grey, beige and white sheep too. Our walk took us past the old malt house with the inscription 'Prince of Wales'. A building on this site housed a shoemaker until 1881 when it became the village pub called the Prince of Wales. Our walk took us through a large crop of sweetcorn. Sadly they had been ruined with the present climate. The walk took us through some woodland and we passed some footprints of deer. As we passed, we stopped and admired the autumn colours which made some lovely views. We passed lots of bunches of mushrooms in the grounds. We decided not to pick any, but one of us decided to have some eating apples with the honesty box alongside.
As we approached the covered well, the present structure dating back from the 1800's which gives the village its name, we decided to have a lovely refreshing drink in the chequered pub garden. Off we went again and passed some old properties, some half-timbered and some thatched, one of which had some circular towers of hop kilns. Over the centuries the growing of hops played an important part of village life. In 1800 there were 141 acres of hops. As we passed over the village pond we returned to our start point.
Thank you to Dan, Chrissy, Malcom, Judith and Pauline for joining me on this walk.
Report by Diane
After leaving our cars at pre-planned locations, 4 of us met on a wet Sunday morning a short distance from our starting point, Ivinghoe Beacon. We paused for a short while at the summit of the beacon to pose for a couple of photos in the wind and rain. Unfortunately the views from this high point were somewhat limited due the weather. This is the northern starting point of the Ridgeway path, which we were going to follow for the day.
We headed off towards Tring, passing over Pitstone Hill, where we could just make out the windmill a short distance away in the village of Pitstone. As we made our way through Tring Park we paused for a short while for a mid-morning break. Continuing on along the Ridgeway we passed through Hastoe which is reported to be the highest village in Hertfordshire. On this day it was most probably one of the wettest, as the main road through the village resembled a stream. From Hastoe we had a long downhill walk through woodlands towards Wendover.
On arriving at St Mary's Church in Wendover, we sought shelter for lunch and to admire the well-kept grounds around the Church itself. Lana also took this stop as an opportunity to change her now soaked coat for a dry polka-dot raincoat. After lunch we continued on through Wendover, passing a row of houses waiting to be demolished for the HS2 rail link. We made our way up Bacombe Hill before arriving at our second peak which was the monument on Coombe Hill. Continuing on along the Ridgeway path we passed through the grounds of Chequers then onto Pulpit Hill, then arriving at Lower Cadsden. Here Dee was discouraged from using the rope swing on health and safety grounds. From here we had a steep uphill walk towards our final peak at Whiteleaf Hill, finally arriving after walking some 18 miles and making a total ascent of some 2210 feet.
Many thanks to Joanne, Dee and Lana for joining me on this challenging and very wet walk.
Report by Malcolm
There were 3 cyclists on our ride to the sea along Route number 1. This route is a Sustrans cycle route following quiet lanes and traffic-free sections across the East of England. We passed several scenic Essex villages and lots of arable farming including a huge mountain of swedes and spuds.
We reached the historic port of Maldon with its collection of medieval churches, coaching inns and Tudor-era marketplace. Decided to venture into the Georgian-era Blue Boar Hotel for lunch, left bikes and into the bar side for orders. "Sorry, we do not serve food" said the barman. So we crossed the courtyard to enter the hotel side (lavish Georgian interior intact) and rang bell for service. Expecting bow tied maitre d' when a doppelganger of the barman popped up. As he announced "already explained, no food" we realised this was no doppelganger but the barman multi-tasking. Luckily, we found every other venue serving food, so we had fish and chips to celebrate our arrival at the coast.
We explored Maldon, finding Thames sailing barges in the port (cream tea cruises enticing but too soon after lunch). After a detour to the tanks and howitzers at the military museum we headed north along route 1. At the charming hamlet of Little Braxted we stopped to admire the mill house, pond, manor and 12th century church.
Riders were Brian, Mike McA and Coogee.
Report by Brian
Essex manor house - Photo by Brian
Boar Hotel Maldon - Photo by Brian
Thames sailing barges at Maldon - Photo by Brian
Mill house at Little Braxted - Photo by Brian
Little Braxted village church - Photo by Brian
I met the brave troopers at Denham station at 10:00am on a beautiful rainy day. After briefing on Covid-19 safety and quick introductions, we went down the back of the station towards the Denham woodland. Due to the weather conditions of last couple of days, I decided on slightly different route. We walked through the woods along the golf course and through it, taking in the golfing atmosphere. Walked towards the Grand Union Canal. Short walk along the canal passing Denham Lock and Fran's Caf&ecaute;, then over the historic bridge towards the woodland path, continuing the scenic walk along the magnificent view of Broadwater Lake, well known for its boating and kayaking activities. Stopped to take in the scenery and more photo shoots! Carried on along the path stopping to take in the scenery, very different from summer yet enchanting views over the lake.
The sky was beginning to brighten up. Short walk along the road, then we turned towards the canal, walking and taking in the beauty of the canal as well as the canal boats that float along with other habitants of the great water. Yes, the sun was definitely trying to show up! Made our way towards the country park. Carried on through the golf course having the chance to see golfers at their best. Then on through the picturesque Denham village, passing the former Denham Film Studios, towards magnificent St. Mary's village church. The village has featured in films and TV programmes, and was also home of Sir John Mills. The weather had most certainly brightened up. Stopped at the renowned dainty country pub for a well-earned hot meal accompanied by a drink or two - what happens on the walk stays on the walk. All agreed on having had a wonderful time and the weather did not stop us having laughs, banter and enjoying the autumnal scenery.
Report by Runi
Six cyclists met on a sunny morning at Princes Risborough. Our ride was on a new route for the group just at the edge of the Chiltern Hills. We joined the excellent Phoenix Trail, a Sustrans track on a former railway, which was busy with cyclists, horse riders and joggers enjoying the good weather. As with all Sustrans routes it is full of sculptures, information boards and has old railway infrastructure left along the route. Reaching the historic market town of Thame, our local guide was Brian F who led us through the fine Georgian streets to the very impressive neo-Gothic manor house, the former home of Robin from the Bee Gees. The next-door medieval church has the grave of the musician, full of tributes today, facing his former home.
Over coffee and cakes in the old market square we took in the sights of the vintage bus festival, a fleet of charabancs and vintage Routemasters parading through this delightful town. Our route continued through scenic villages including Sydenham where Dean found his dream book, an autobiography of Bernard Manning, at a bookstall on the village green. After passing a large flock of red kites following a tractor, we came upon the heritage railway at Chinnor, with many original carriages on display. We then joined the Ridgeway for the challenging route back to the start.
Riders were Brian G, Dean, Tim P, Brian F, Nick and Malcolm.
Report by Brian
Level crossing on Phoenix trail - Photo by Brian
Phoenix trail sculpture - Photo by Brian
Vintage bus festival - Photo by Brian
Routemaster off the usual route - Photo by Brian
Bee Gees former manor house - Photo by Brian
Sydenham village - Photo by Brian
We met on a winter's morning, with Chrissy kindly offering to lead the other sub group, we set off on our adventure.
As the directions on our walk were not as clear as we would have liked, after lots of debating we managed to decipher the description and wasn't long until we were back on track to the ford we were longing to see. We weren't disappointed with the Old Mill, so picturesque. Unfortunately on this occasion we were not lucky enough to see any otters, but we did see a horse enjoying a paddle with its rider. As the English weather caught us by surprise the hat, gloves, winter coats and jumpers had to come off as the sun was beaming down on us. Just in time we spotted the Tally Ho where we had a lovely refreshing drink in the garden area. The walk took us through some lovely woods and grassland with lots of horses along the route. We finally stoped for our picnic and enjoyed the sun beaming on us as we ate.
Thankfully we were not lucky enough to see any adders, but we saw two lovely kites flying by and lots of kissing gates on route. Yes, I hear you all saying, not another one. As our adventure was coming to an end an incline took us by surprise and got us panting all the way home. Lovely to meet new people and catch up with others.
Thanks to Dan, Chrissy, Sughanda, Cristina, Janet, Christine, Linda, Tim, Ghazala and Binta for joining me on this adventure.
Report by Diane
The six of us met at Ealing Broadway station and made a start with Nat West's notable neo-Gothic architecture which used to be the borough's council buildings. We then proceeded to the blue plaque site of the old R & B club founded by Alexis Korner which featured the formation of the Rolling Stones and regular visitors Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Eric Burdon. Courtesy of Christ the Saviour school, we ascended to the roof to appreciate the views of the borough and London. We explored the neighbouring church, the impressive town hall and arrived at Ealing's jewel in the crown, the Regency period Pitzhanger Manor, refurbished to Sir John Soane's designs.
Then a pleasant walk through Walpole Park to South Ealing and the origins of this Queen of the Suburbs, a 420 year old house, the first Fire Station, an 18th century workhouse, two old coaching inns, a Welsh presbyterian church and Ealing Studios, the oldest working film studio in the world. We observed a blue plaque to Michael Balcon, producer of many fine films from the 40's and 50's. A final stop at the Edwardian clergyhouse and Christ the Saviour school where we enjoyed looking at the Punishment Register from the early 1900's and school photographs from the 1950's. The tour over, we returned to the 'Red Lion', drinking hole of many film actors, for drinks and some excellent Neopolitan pizza.
Many thanks to Rita, Rachael, Judith, Alpa and to Runi for providing additional commentary.
Report by Tim
A small group met on a sunny morning at Putney Bridge.
We first explored St Mary's Church (medieval tower) which was the venue for the famous Putney debates between Cromwell's Army Council and the Levellers. Our route followed the Thames Path passing many rowing clubs and groups on the river. We then arrived at Barnes village which has pavement cafes galore. After a browse in Barnes Bookshop we stopped for coffee and cake at the Olympic Studio cafe (Edwardian cinema then recording studio now a cinema once again). At Barnes church we happened upon a film maker wrapping up a filming session featuring Roger McGough, most efficacious. We continued, passing Barnes pond and riverside terrace with its regency architecture and several blue plaques. At Mortlake we visited the medieval church and, once again, the Bedouin tent inspired tomb of Sir Richard Burton (the other one). The walk ended, of course, with a final cream tea at Kew village tea shop.
Report by Brian
Eleven of us met beneath cloudless skies to make the most of the last summer day before the Autumn equinox. Strolling through Cassiobury Park over the ford and canal where we stopped for a quick group photo, we were soon on the Grand Union Canal. Mike, Humay and I were setting a blistering pace after waiting for a latecomer, so I reigned them in so we didn't have to jog to keep up.
Catching up with news from old friends and acquainting myself with new members, we were thrilled to see a flypast of three spitfires and a hurricane flying in formation, to commemorate the Battle of Britain, on their way back to base. Two large swans who had commandeered the canal path decided they didn't want their photo taken and proceeded to attack some of our members by pecking at them. Surviving that, we soon arrived at Rickmansworth aquadrome, where to avoid a mutiny in the hot sticky weather, I decided we should stop at the Lakeside cafe for refreshments. We then continued past Bury Lake with sailing boats enjoying the day. Entering Stockers Lake nature reserve we slowed to enjoy the birds observing them from the hide and spotted a great crested grebe. Sugandha kindly gave me some technical tips for my new camera as we enjoyed the magnificent vistas across the lake, a wetlands nature reserve and nesting area for herons in the spring.
Jane tentatively perched next to the canal near some Canada geese drifting on the water. Her lunchbox in hand, they approached and I was surprised and pleased to see the geese enjoying bits of apple she was carefully feeding them. Not wishing to outstay our welcome too long, we left the cafe and crossed canal and a river to the Ebury Way. Away from the canal and people, their was a wilder atmosphere as I spotted a heron near a house that seemed to be surrounded by a moat. We ambled along admiring the nature, enjoying chatting to old friends and new in one of the last glorious sunny days of summer. Rejoining the Grand Union Canal, and passing water skiers on Batchworth Lake, we were soon back at Cassiobury Park where four of us decided to have a celebratory drink as we'd not seen each other for six months and weren't sure of the next possible looming lockdown.
Thank you to Mike D, Humay, Mick, Brian, Elaine, Rita, Jane, Shaheem, Sugandha, and Aruna for joining me.
Report by Paul
Joining Grand Union Canal from Cassiobury Park - Photo by Brian
Views over Stokers Lake - Photo by Brian
Lunch at aquadrome - Photo by Brian
Batchworth Locks - Photo by Brian
Our walk started at Cookham station, where this walk leader, me, was very nervous, but everyone there made me feel relaxed and Dee was very nice to lead the second bubble for me.
We started our walk towards the Cookham War Memorial with Dan, Diane, Dawn, Dee, Kate, Judith, Julia P, Julia G, Sarah and Dean, but we passed a lovely looking charity shop and there were some ladies who shop, and yes, they managed to buy two very nice dresses. Onwards we went past the Stanley Spencer Gallery, past a classic motorbike shop which lit up Dan's eyes. At this point we went on to the path that runs along the side of the Thames river where we came across a swing, which Dan was tempted to have a go on, but we agreed that he would end up in the water, so for a while Dee tried to work out a mathematical way he could, but thankfully we persuaded him not to.
We continued on the Thames Path, passing some beautiful homes and also the late Richard Dimbleby home on an island and past the lock where we entered Ray Mill Island, to look at the weir and stop for our lunch break. Some of us went for liquid refreshments at the Boulters pub, some had a picnic by the river, and others went for an ice cream lunch. Our afternoon walk was on footpaths in some beautiful countryside with us finishing back in Cookham, where most of us went for a drink at 'The Crown', and the ladies who shopped gave us a fashion show.
A big thankyou to Dan for helping me to understand the walking app and not getting lost on my first walk as a leader.
Report by Chrissy
Superb September sunshine saw seven sweltering cyclists sauntering south on Sunday. Meeting at the Unity Kitchen Cafe in the Olympic village, we exchanged various stories regarding our journeys to the start point and met newbie Ed from Meetup. We had a call from Tim who found the ice cream truck outside the West Ham United ground, so we left the cafe and went to meet him.
Passing the Olympic aquatics centre and the Olympic Stadium and the giant slide known as the Arcelor Mittal we all went looking for Three Mill Island as we passed under the A11, stopping briefly for a group photo at the aforementioned island. Brian pointed out that the TV show Big Brother was filmed in the nearby 3 Mills Studios. Following the Limehouse Cut in a south westerly direction we soon found ourselves at the Ropemakers Field after which we turned and made our way onto the Isle of Dogs and circled the impressive array of skyscrapers collectively known as Canary Wharf. Upon arriving at Island Gardens we stopped for a quick break before heading under the Thames to Greenwich via the popular foot tunnel. We stopped to admire the Cutty Sark and to catch our breath as the lifts into and out of the tunnel were out of action and we had to manhandle our steeds up and down the flights of stairs at either end of the tunnel. A short ride East along the river path and we were at the O2 Arena and then the Emirates Skyride cablecar. The journey then revealed various sculptures and artistic installations as we passed regenerated dockland areas and an industrial complex used for the importation and storage of various aggregates. The impressive glistening Thames Barrier was our lunch stop and another personal box ticked for me as I've wanted to get a close view of the architectually stunning barrier ever since it was built.
Our original intention was to return to the north bank of the river at the Woolwich Ferry a couple of miles east of the barrier but due to maintenance work being done on the day a hasty alternative was sought and we chose to ride the cablecars at the O2 which proved to be a much better option as there was a floating bar next to the disembarkation point. A refreshing drink or two and some spectating of the wakeboarders in the Royal Victoria Dock took place before we headed north towards the Greenway which took us west for the first time and quickly back to the start point in Stratford.
Many thanks to Diane, Brian, Coogie, Tim, Malcolm and Ed for your great company and for joining me on a most memorable ride.
Report by Dan
Start at Olympic Park - Photo by Brian
Three Mills Island - Photo by Brian
Cutty Sark - Photo by Brian
Thames Path from Greenwich - Photo by Brian
Waterside refreshments - Photo by Brian
Greenway Cycle Path - Photo by Brian
Nine of us met at the Cock Inn on a sunny morning.
We walked up to Chenies via a dip in the river, and admired the Manor and then proceeded along the Ridgeway and down through woods to the Chess valley where we saw a very large tent with religious music emanating. Then up to Latimer House for lunch in the grounds with pretty views over the valley.
It was now getting warm and we walked on towards Chesham but turned back when we reached a field of cows. Back up a steep hill to Latimer village where the front gardens were stunning and then an easy walk back in the valley to Sarratt, where some stayed on for food and drinks at the pub. We debated how this walk should be graded and easy to moderate seemed appropriate.
Thanks to everyone who joined me on this lovely walk.
Report by Rajinder
Twelve of us met at Golders Green station on a perfect day for walking with some shade and breakthrough sun.
We walked into Golders Hill park. This is a lovely park with a mini zoo, play area and cafe. The zoo is free and there is also a small butterfly house. We walked into the Hill Garden and admired the large Edwardian pergola which would benefit from some TLC but as Dan said its aged appearance adds to its charm. There were several photo shoots (probably amateur) and a degree of posing, but all agreed the pergola is well worth a visit, and lovely for weddings. We joined Hampstead Heath and carried onto Kenwood House which due to Covid 19 now needs to be booked but we stopped for a coffee and comfort break.
Dan and Diane showed us a viewpoint from Kenwood with fine views over London before we walked onto Parliament Hill via all the bathing ponds. Booking for all the ponds is now required but lovely to see them being used. The views from Parliament Hill are equally spectacular and there were lots of children flying their kites. The original plan for this walk had to be amended due to the current situation (pubs needing to be booked) but also unfortunately Hampstead station was shut, so Chris, Maria and Jacqui decided to visit Hampstead village and get a bus back to Golders Green and Asha decided to walk back to Cricklewood. The rest of the group voted to walk back via the heath and had the extra advantage of seeing Boy George's house which was pointed out by Gilly. The walk back to Golders Hill park was easy and allowed time for an unexpected visit to the zoo where we spotted deer, other birds and animals.
A special thanks to Asha and Gilly for their local knowledge and to Dan for his marvellous app which helped me out in getting back, and many thanks to Maria, Chris, Rita, Helen, Diane, Lesley, Cathy and Jacqui.
Report by Pauline
Seven of us headed off from New Malden, the Korean capital of London. At the end of a suburban road we came to some woodland and before we knew it were in a tunnel under the thundering A3. Then we had our first sight of the Beverley Brook which we then followed all the way to the Thames, about 8 miles away. The brook snaked through to Coombe, across some playing fields and then into the Beverley Meads local nature reserve and on into a wooded part of Wimbledon Common. This was a lovely stretch with the brook babbling away alongside us. From the lovely woodland, we emerged to cross the A3 again and enter Richmond Park through Robin Hood Gate. A well-positioned ice cream van did well and, thus refreshed, we crossed the Park alongside the brook. We spotted some massive fungi about the size of dinner plates.
After lunch we continued on, exiting Richmond Park through Roehampton Gate. The brook then snaked along to Palewell Common and Barnes Common, where we saw a beautiful memorial handmade bench. Further on we had a peek at the Old Barnes Cemetery with its Victorian graves creating an eerie atmosphere worthy of Hammer horror. We then wound our way through Putney Lower Common and suddenly there we were at Putney Reach on the Thames. We then headed like a rocket to The Rocket where suitable refreshments were imbibed on the outside terrace overlooking the Thames.
My thanks to Brian, Maria, Chris, Malcolm, Paul and Rob for their company on the trail.
Report by Anne
Diane, Dawn and I met up with Brian, Coogie, Malcolm, Tim and Ian at a quaint coffee shop near Hampstead Heath station before heading off on our day's ride.
The weather behaved itself and we were treated to some fine warm sunshine as we climbed across the eastern side of the ever popular Hampstead Heath and enjoyed the open spaces. Crossing the viaduct Ian pointed out that the area had been specially designed to attract kingfishers although none were apparent at the time. After some exhausting uphill cycling we were rewarded, at our first stop Kenwood House, to some amazing views across London and we studied an information board which pointed out various buildings on the horizon. Pressing on we enjoyed a few moments of downhill coasting and a little off-road stint as we headed for Highgate and the famous cemetery, where we discovered that it was no longer free to tour and decided against parting with the entry fee and shortly pressed onward on our journey. We passed George Michael's house and then passed through Shepherds Cot, an area used for all manner of outdoor activities including tennis and cricket. Next was the forbidding climb to Alexandra Palace. Just as the clouds built up we arrived at the top where we enjoyed lunch and the spectacular views from one of the highest points in London.
Suitably refreshed we took the disused railway route back towards Hampstead and were delighted to discover a rope swing. Reliving our youth, most of us found it irresistible and had to have a turn, with much hilarity and plenty of smiles and laughter. Leaving the disused railway I lost my bearings a little so we stopped at a delightful local hostelry for a quick drink while I hastily calculated a new route to get us home. On the way back we unexpectedly found a blue plaque denoting Peter Sellers' former residence which provoked some interesting conversation. On to the heath again, we entered from the west by the various pools and stopped to see the swimmers before finally arriving back at the station, tired but very satisfied, everybody agreed that an enjoyable day was had.
Many thanks to everyone for coming and to those that added their local knowledge which was an enormous help.
Report by Dan
Start of ride - Photo by Brian
Kenwood House - Photo by Brian
Views over the Heath - Photo by Brian
Highgate village - Photo by Brian
Four of us set out from Victoria station in good spirits as the drab South East London urban landscape gradually transformed into the verdant sun-kissed Kent countryside. On arrival at Eynsford, we were met by our fifth fellow traveller and commenced our walk.
Passing through Eynsford village, we stopped briefly at the 16th century parish church St Martin of Tours, of fine flint construction with an inscription on the clock face 'Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be'. After inspecting the ancient stone bridge and watersplash (plenty of water but sadly no splash) we ascended the hill and took great care crossing the railway line. From our vantage point we had views across the valley and fine Victorian viaduct. A Spitfire roared overhead, causing me to jump up and down, frantically wave my arms and generally behave like a 7-year-old. Once again on the valley floor, we passed by Lullingstone Castle where both Judith and Jill told us about the silk farm and butterfly house which occupied what is now the 'World Garden'. The Spitfire roared past again and I cheered loudly. After passing through Lullingstone Country Park, we happened upon Castle Farm, famous for its lavender, sadly now harvested for the year. The bines of hops however, were lush and ready for picking.
Our lunch stop was in the chocolate box village of Shoreham. Sitting with our picnics by the slow crystal-clear water of the River Darent (or is it Darenth, as both spellings were prominent in place names around the village), we were overlooked by the huge chalk-cut cross on the hillside, excavated as a war memorial in 1920. Once sated with pork pies and sandwiches (the gentlemen) and all manner of healthy concoctions (the ladies), we strolled to the hidden and rather magical tea garden for a cuppa. This strangely doubles as an aircraft museum, and had laid on an exhibition of WW1 memorabilia and re-enactment just for us (well, we'd like to think so), including a wrecked but very recognisable Fokker DR-1 triplane of 'Red' Baron Richthofen fame. Our walk recommenced along the valley, now occupied by the inevitable golf course, but also by a cricket match in full flow. The fielders spent some time chasing the ball, then chasing the Labrador which insisted on a grandstand seat in the middle of the pitch. The Spitfire roared past - I yawned "It's only the Spitfire, blimey that pilot must own an oil well". We entered the busy village of Otford, our destination. As if by magic, the first building was a marvellous tea shop, complete with a tea service adorned with camper vans ... where's Anne when you need her. Quote of the day as Brian gazed at his enormous slice of cake "I'm not sure I can finish this" .. you heard it here first folks!
Thanks to Jill, Judith, Sandra and Brian for joining me on a memorable day out.
Report by Rob
Eynsford Bridge and Teddy Bear - Photo by Brian
Cricket match below WW1 cross on hillside - Photo by Brian
Heading south to Otford - Photo by Brian
Tiffin at Otford - Photo by Brian
Ten walkers eventually joined me on this lovely Sunday morning for our walk from Sandridge to Brocket Hall and back. We had got to Coleman Green, and the family photo opportunity when I found the message that Sareen had arrived late to the departure point and was trying to catch us up, having no idea where we had gone. To be fair, I had not put my phone number on the emails, but we did leave at 10 minutes after the hour, and I had no messages before we left. The first stop on our walk was at the chimney remains of the cottage formally lived in by John Bunyan, who was the writer of the Pilgrims Progress, among another 60 works, and a preacher. He lived between 1628 and 1688. From there, now in contact with Sareen, we tried by remote control to get her to somewhere where we could meet up. That eventually happened at our stop, just after lunch at the Crooked Chimney pub. Unfortunately, the beer garden was closed because of staff issues so it was a quick comfort break and onward. Lunch was had by the lake in the beautiful grounds of Brockett Hall. This was once a family home left to Charlie Brockett by his grandfather when Charlie was just 17. Then it was in a bit of a state of disrepair. Charlie Brockett (Charles George Nell-Cain 3rd Baron Brocket is a peer, business owner and television personality) transformed the property into a hotel conference centre with two golf courses. By 1980 it was one of the top conference centres. However, Charlie got into a little trouble with the law in regard to Ferraris and insurance companies. Charlie became infamous for having to serve a few years in jail for his mistakes. This was big news at the time, and he was released from jail in 1998 having served just over two years of his seven-year sentence. Brocket Hall is still owned by him, and is currently on a long term lease.
We met up with Sareen at the Crooked Chimney pub, after lunch. She did very well finding us just with perseverance and Google Maps. Luckily, we were not too remote, and she had signal and lots of helpers on the way. The pub garden was closed due to staffing issues and so we were able to have a comfort stop and move on. I think my fellow walkers were a little disappointed with that, after all a pub spot is rather nice on a walk but this was not to be. However, there was great delight when without deviating from our route, we came across a newly opened brewery, and that was a welcome sight for all. We had a nice half hour there sampling the merchandise before heading back through bog, and log, woods, and the quiet road to Sandridge. We enjoyed a socially distant cuppa before heading on our various routes home.
Thankyou to Mary, Dolores, Kajeel, Sareen, Mick, Mike, Coogee, David, Deirdre, Humay for joining me on this walk.
Report by Claire
We were delighted to arrive on the Isle of Wight for the August bank holiday. We entered full holiday mode on the ferry across the ocean to a timeless magical island. The sun shone on us from the start and all the way through the weekend.
On Friday Brian made his intrepid way to meet the others in Shanklin on the 1930s electric train which luckily had paid its leccy bill. After serious shopping and admiring of thatched cottages and a priority Christmas shop for August bank holidays, we headed off. We arrived at the hostel in various different modes, some more energetic than others (Malcolm). After the essential fish and chips, this being HAWOG some made the town for the first spectacular sunset over the Atlantic.
On Saturday we were joined by an extra special guest, Duke. And his butler Tim P. Both delighted us with tales of derring-do around the island. We took a picturesque walk to Freshwater Bay and had to have ice creams as it was nearly 11:00 and people were famished. We continued to Brook Bay and bifurcated (less painful than it sounds). Ten went inland for an amazing 13 mile walk back to the hostel via several hostelries and viewpoints to end up at Tennyson Monument with 360 views of the ocean. We could see as far as Portsmouth in the west, the Solent and Porland in the East. The remaining 17 completed a 9 mile route to Brighstone in the glorious sun. Evening brought another orange / blue / purple sunset to gaze at with wonder. And watch the expert Sugandha at work capturing the beauty on film so we can remember our happy hols forever. The karaoke rounded off the night for most, with all kinds of everything reminding us of Hugh.
On Sunday Cathy and Mike's legendary breakfast blew the fuses three times until Bob the warden popped up and confiscated a toaster. Half went to Ryde for a trip along the steam railway, followed by four black kites swooping for the smallest dogs. We took turns walking ferrets and stroking owls. Why not. The hard core ladies walked up to Tennyson Monument to check out the spectacular views. We lost Liane within 500 yards of the hostel as everyone ambled along to Alum Bay to make jars of the different coloured sands as souvenirs. Dan and Diane took the James Bondesque chairlift up the ravine. Don't look down. After admiring the Needles, people headed off downtown for more sunsets, paella and banana splits. Ambassador, you are spoiling us! We packed up our walking boots on Monday and took a stroll around old Yarmouth town, vaguely identifying a castle, marched up the pier, yachting marina, and had final apple cake and coffees at pier tea shop, which was aptly named Gossips. Which is exactly what we did.
Thank you all for an amazing time. Too many people to mention but you were all fabulous and thanks for making this such a special weekend.
Report by Jan and Martina
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Views from cliff top - Photo by Brian
Freshwater Bay - Photo by Brian
After climb to Tennyson Hill - Photo by Brian
Views over the Solent - Photo by Brian
Steam railway halt - Photo by Brian
Yachts at Needles - Photo by Brian
Picnic on Alum Bay beach - Photo by Brian
Sunset over Totland Bay - Photo by Brian
The four intrepid womble-spotters met at Wimbledon station after a dark and stormy night. As they ascended the south face of Wimbledon Hill, the clouds started to disperse, heralding an afternoon which became increasingly dry and sunny. Eschewing the chi-chi delights of pretty Wimbledon village, they emerged onto Wimbledon Common. First stop was Rushmere Pond, the oldest on the common, where in Tudor times the locals kept their ducks and collected rushes to thatch their roofs. A heron and other wildfowl were spotted. Next came a thorough exploration of Cannizaro Park, surely one of London's most beautiful. The aviary contained an array of feathered songsters with technicolour plumage. We saw the splendid sunken garden, smelled the heady aromas of the herb garden and met the gardener who gave us sprigs of lemon verbena.
We then forayed through Lady Jayne's Wood which contains many specimen trees from all over the world, but we were most impressed by the walnut tree, heavy-laden with its bounty. The water garden, Italian garden, pond and maple avenue came next, but we were unable to locate the statue of Haile Sellassie (a former local resident) which may be under renovation. Emerging back onto the Common proper, we headed for so-called Caesar's Camp, in reality an iron age hill fort. A listed national monument, some soul-less bureaucrat has allowed it to become the haven of Argyll-sock-wearing golfers who tee off on its ancient fortifications. Mark Twain would not have been impressed. We then traversed the woody interior of the Common, stopping briefly at the magnificent War Memorial en route to the Windmill. This is probably the most popular of the Common's sites, used in olden times not only to mill grain but also to watch the duels which were once a regular occurrence on the Common. We refreshed ourselves at the nearby tea room where the coffee and walnut cake was particularly enjoyed and the sprigs of lemon verbena came in handy for keeping wasps at bay.
Next we headed off to adjacent Putney Common across heathland which is a rare London habitat. We learned that the stag beetles are good and much endangered. But the moths are bad and will try to eat both humans and oak trees, eek. Then we took in Kingsmere, which despite being the largest of the local ponds was quite hard to find, and saw the second heron of the day. After this we took a compass-bearing south. With the scent of a pint of Ordinary in our nostrils, we headed straight for one of the Common's most popular watering holes. The friendly inn keeper responded positively to strenuous enquiries concerning the quality of his pies and, following his reassurance, Womble Spotters Pie and other comestibles were ordered. They more than met expectations, and everyone was very satisfied.
We covered about 9 miles in the end. Despite our best endeavours, no wombles were spotted - but then again, Uncle Bulgaria is probably shielding, no? My thanks to Julia, Sandra and Rob for their company on this most enjoyable exploration of Wimbledon and Putney Commons.
Report by Anne
I met the group members at Denham station at 10:00am on a beautiful bright day. Ten of us met and started our walk after a briefing on Covid-19 safety and quick introductions. We went down the back of the station towards the Denham woodland. After walking for about 15 minutes along the Colne River taking in the nature, the bridge we were going to cross was closed off, so off we trotted back. Did my best to confuse my lovely group. I decided on a slightly different route. We walked through the woods along the golf course and through it, taking in the golfing atmosphere. Thank you to Janet, being a golfer gave us bit of insight. After a quick stop for the facilities at the Denham Country Park, we carried on through the lovely park towards the Grand Union Canal. Short walk along the canal passing the Denham Lock then over the famous bridge posing at the top for the Famous Bridge Photo! Then over the bridge and towards the woodland path along continuing the scenic walk along with a magnificent view of Broadwater Lake, with its boating and kayaking activities taking place. Stopped to take in the scenery and more photo shoots. Having lots of laughs and banter. Carried along the path stopping for refreshment of the remaining juicy blackberries.
Short walk along the road, we turned towards the canal, walking and taking in the beauty of the canal as well as the canal boats along with the other inhabitants. It was lovely and sunny so the walk along the canal was very rewarding and enjoyable, passing other walkers as well as cyclists and our four-legged friends. We had a very short break at Fran's Café for cold drinks. Then back towards the Country Park for another comfort break. Carried on through the golf course, having the chance to see golfers at their best. Then on through picturesque Denham village, passing the former Denham Film Studios, towards magnificent St. Mary's Village Church. The village has featured in films and TV programmes, also has been home of Sir John Mills. We stopped at the village green, where we had our lovely picnic with the sun shining on us, with the continuation of the laughter and banter.
We all agreed that it was a very interesting walk as well as having good company and giggles thrown in. I let out few of my hidden skills (hidden as I did not know I possessed them, which are to remain within the group). The group was amazing, and I thank each person for joining and making the walk yet another memorable one. A massive thankyou to Judith, Shameem, Ian, Janet, Kumar, Chrissy, Julia, Harry and Pauline.
Report by Runi
Our fourth camping holiday of the summer was a return to the Malvern Hills, again in glorious weather. A record 21 campers stayed at the Orchard site, plus a surprise guest joined us for Saturday's walk. New campers this year were Kerry, Cathy, Mike Mc and family plus Vic (who had the audacity to ask the camp manager to help erect his tent).
On Friday afternoon we walked through the hamlet and strolled through fields of oats to the village of Colwall. We stopped for drinks in the manicured gardens of the ornate Railway Hotel and chatted to locals about Elgar and Morgan automobiles. Back at site Tim and Rachael led the foraging of the orchards harvest; blackberries, apples and Victoria plums were gathered in for supper. The campfire lit we gathered around in a vast circle as there were so many. Vic and Anne again the best singers; one person leant back to applaud and did a reverse somersault into the night.
On Saturday Tony and Cilla woke us early for the big breakfast cooked by Gilly and Coogee. Our surprise guest was Steve R, now living in the region. Brian G blew the whistle to round up the party and we set off on our 10-mile linear walk. The hike took in the majority of the Malvern peaks, along a ridge trail with some challenging climbs. Our first summit was the Herefordshire Beacon (an iron age hill fort). The 360* views were spectacular with that day's clear skies. As the Malvern Hills are surrounded by extensive plains the views are arguably better than from higher mountains. We descended to the welcome ice cream kiosk (the Damson and Sloe Gin was rather splendid). Our route continued north along the next range of hills. At Pinnacle Hill we had our picnic looking east to the Cotswold Hills (where we had stayed 2 weeks before). Our final climb was to the highest point, Worcester Beacon (425m), which had the best views of the day. On the horizon in the west we could make out Hays Bluff in the Black Mountains in Wales, 53 miles distant. We descended to Malvern for tea and cakes before catching the train back from the captivating mid-Victorian railway station, one of the finest in England. Back at camp Dan, Diane and Tim cooked a sumptuous barbecue by the cottage. Our musician around the campfire was Brian F with Martina winning much applause for her rendition of "Patricia" with accompanying dance.
Sunday saw Kerry and Cathy win the prize for best camping fry-up whilst Jan, Liane and Tim took the votes for most healthy breakfast with their harvested berries and fruit. After striking camp we spent the day at the very elegant spa town of Great Malvern. We chatted to parishioners leaving the service at the impressive late Gothic parish church "as large as a cathedral". We explored the remains of the medieval priory before walking through parklands and gardens to St Anns Well (the spring for the Malvern mineral water). Back in town we had our final tiffin break to celebrate our last camping adventure of the season.
Campers were Brian G, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Martina, Brian F, Tim B, Malcolm, Liane, Anne, Jan, Nick, Rachael, Kerry, Cathy, George, Vic, Mike Mc and family and friends.
Report by Brian
Arrival at camp site - Photo by Brian
Herefordshire Beacon summit - Photo by Brian
Looking along Malvern Hills - Photo by Brian
Lunch with a view - Photo by Brian
Worcester Beacon views - Photo by Brian
Great Malvern town - Photo by Brian
Malvern Priory gatehouse - Photo by Brian
3 of us met outside Amersham station on a slightly overcast morning. We set off promptly along the road downhill towards Amersham Old Town, where we picked up our first footpath which was to take us gently uphill for some distance out into the open countryside towards Mop End. As we made our way along this path we came across a flock of young pheasants. After passing through Mop End the terrain levelled off and patches of blue sky began to appear. The footpath took us into Holmer Green where a small navigation error took us in the wrong direction. After retracing our steps we picked up the correct path which was slightly overgrown, running between some garages and peoples' back gardens. We then made our way downhill into Haleacre Wood, emerging at Affricks Farm just outside Little Boys Heath. From here we could see our lunch stop in the distance and by now things had warmed up quite a bit. On arrival in Little Missenden we made our way to the Red Lion pub where we took advantage of the government's half price meal deal. After lunch we made our way along the River Misbourne back towards Old Amersham high street where we spent some time admiring the floral displays of hanging baskets and window boxes before making our way back to the station.
Thanks to Andrew D, first time walker with the group, and Pauline C on completing this 10.5 mile walk with me.
Report by Malcolm
Eight walkers met on a warm sunny morning at Lane End village green. Ola was on his first walk with the group. We headed south through commons and meadows before our first picturesque village, Frieth. We admired the church, old school and timeless cottages before finding an anomaly. Our progress was stopped at a Corbusier style flat-roofed villa. The owner was at the gate and explained it was the creation of a local artist who studied in France in the 20s. After a climb we emerged at a summit with stunning views over Fingest village. We descended and explored the impressive village church, St Bartholomew's, dating from the 12th century with a unique tower design. We ascended via lanes to Cobstone windmill (featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) for more excellent views over the valley and the picture postcard village of Turville below. We checked out the church and rectory (famous from Vicar of Dibley) and then had a leisurely lunch in the sunny beer gardens of the Bull and Butcher. Sunday roasts were served by a Gok Wan lookalike.
More gentle climbs and ascents before our fourth village, Skirmett. Passing the Frog we stopped at more delightful cottages; the Ramblers Cottage had a very colourful display including cosmos flowers and Japanese anemone (identified by Sarah). "No, they're our friends now" added Dean. We stopped for drinks at St Katherine's Parmoor (no sign of King Zog or the Templars) but did discover a new campsite. Runi, assisted by all, stocked up on sloes from the hedgerows. She plans to present her gin later in the year.
Walkers were Brian, Aruna, Runi, Dean, Sarah, Jacqui, Jenny and Ola.
Report by Brian
Outside Frieth church - Photo by Brian
Views over Fingest - Photo by Brian
Descent from Turville windmill - Photo by Brian
Turville village - Photo by Brian
Views over valley - Photo by Brian
3 of us met at Chalfont and Latimer station on a very humid Sunday morning. We set off promptly at 9:10am, heading first west and then south-west, reaching Coleshill, the first village on our walk, after around 5 miles. From there we headed west to Winchmore Hill. We should then have headed south to Penn, but a wrong turn meant that we first walked through the centre of a busy Tylers Green. After Penn we reached Forty Green, where we stopped to eat our packed lunches.
After lunch we headed on around Knotty Green and then east to Seer Green and then on to the last village on our walk, Jordans. From there we headed north around Chalfont St Giles back to Little Chalfont, managing to avoid any thundery showers and reaching the station in good time, just after 4:00pm.
Thanks to Amanda and Malcolm for joining me.
Report by Phil
We arrived at our meeting point and acquainted ourselves with each other. Following clear instructions we started our adventure. We passed the old mill and the "pepper pot", the 1814 octagonal town hall. We headed on up and just before we started the stairs leading into the woods, we were rewarded with some lovely views of Godalming. After we completed the steep stairs, we then continued onto the bridleway, which brought us out at Clock Barn Farm where we watched a horse having yoga lessons in the amazing picturesque stables. We continued our journey uphill towards Hydons Ball passing the kiosk, a plant cabinet for the underground reservoir. We reached the summit of Hydons Ball which was a great place to have our picnic.
We carried on with our adventure exchanging stories along the way. As we came out onto the fairway thankfully the golfers shouted four which stopped us in our tracks. We waited while the other golfers took their long distance shots, then we carried on with the golfers thanking us as we passed over. The walk brought us out to Mill Pond and Elton Mill which was built in the 1400's. Our walk took us through some woodland, steep climbs and the memorial to Octavia Hill at Hydons Ball.
Lovely to meet new people. Thank you to Dan, Leslie, Jeff and Caroline for joining me on this adventure.
Report by Diane
The guided tour of historic High Barnet has been described by attendees as a "top walk" and a "very enjoyable day out". After all, the Red Lion is where Samuel Pepys enjoyed some of the best cheesecake he ever ate! And Ye Olde Mitre Inn retains its character as a coaching inn, where Dickens imagined his Artful Dodger setting eyes on the orphan Oliver. This inn was our lunchtime respite from the heatwave, after our tour of the High Street, the almshouses of Wood Street and the inside of St John's Church. We touched the weathered whalebones, and strolled through leafy Ravenscroft Gardens. The afternoon was spent in Old Courthouse Gardens and its al fresco cafe.
Report by Gilly
Seven (out of eight) members assembled at Chalfont and Latimer station on a bright and breezy Saturday morning. We set off through the streets of Little Chalfont at 10:05am only for the phone to ring announcing Ujen's arrival. A combination of instructions over the phone and Dee backtracking meant he soon found us and we were able to set off with all present and correct.
Our route took us through woods down towards the River Chess which we crossed below the impressive brick facade of Latimer House. We made our first (and most gentle) climb up the hill before joining the Chess Valley Walk towards Chesham. This gave us a beautiful view of the ornamental lake below and across the fields. We swept down towards the River again on the outskirts of Chesham before taking a lovely old path which is totally covered by hedgerows. Our second climb brought us up towards Ley Hill, where we managed to briefly lose Ann and Linzi before, once again, Dee found them. A drink and loo break at The Crown at Ley Hill was very welcome before we set off across the common / golf course towards Flaunden.
Our steepest climb thankfully ended in some cool woods and we followed a mixture of paths and quiet country lanes around Flaunden towards Sarratt. We crossed a number of fields, where Dee and Jalpa had a close encounter with an inquisitive horse, until we arrived at our lunch spot under the trees between Sarratt and the Chess Valley. Three conveniently placed and socially distanced benches provided an ideal place for us to rest in the shade.
We then headed off through the woods past the Old Rectory, with its ornate gates depicting owls, and a topiary elephant in the garden. We were shussed passing the church at Sarratt as a wedding was taking place. A lovely old bus was parked outside waiting to collect the wedding party who we saw later having their photos taken. There were plenty of tables in the garden at the Cock Inn and everyone enjoyed a much needed cool drink before we set off again. We headed past Goldingtons, scene of one of the weddings in Four Weddings and A Funeral, and descended the steep path to return briefly to the Chess Valley Walk back towards Little Chalfont. The alpacas were in their field at Sarratt Bottom - very smart having recently been shorn. Soon after seeing them we crossed the river at the ford before heading up our final climb which brought us out in Chenies. We skirted Chenies Manor and then followed Ladywalk which overlooks the valley and gave us a lovely view of Latimer House in the distance.
We returned to Chalfont and Latimer station in gorgeous sunshine having completed 14 miles. Phil was our trailblazer throughout and congratulations to Jalpa on completing her first walk with the group. We were all very grateful that the weather favoured us with hazy cloud for much of the morning and a refreshing breeze throughout. Thanks to everyone for making this such a good day.
Report by Joanne
Our third camping expedition of this heatwave summer was a return to Hailes Fruit farm in the Cotswolds. Scorchio as always here, around 30 degrees and above for the three days for our party of 18 campers. We welcomed back Brian F to the group; Tim P on his first camping trip with us impressed all with his vintage ridge tent and wooden mallet. After pitching camp we walked past the Cistercian Hailes Abbey then climbed to the summit of Salters Hill for excellent views. Back on site we enjoyed fish and chips from the site café then Tim B lit the campfire, a mellow sunset framing the hills in the distance.
Freddie and the Dreamers awoke us early. Saturday was another blisteringly hot day for our 12 mile hike. Majority was along the Cotswold Way, our first ascent rising to Little Farmcote hamlet. Next to the majestic Dower House where we savoured some ice creams from the herb farm (the elderberry and gooseberry was rather spiffing). Our route crossed fields of barley resplendent in the sunshine. From Shenberrow Hill the Malvern Hills were easily recognisable on the horizon. We reached Snowshill, one of the gems of the Cotswolds. We had lunch and a siesta in the pub gardens, admiring an equestrian party arrive and tie their mounts to the rails. At the medieval church we happened upon the verger who welcomed us in warmly and reminisced about taking the steam train from the local halt to attend Cheltenham Ladies College back in the 1950s.
We crossed meadows of sheep and were surprised when another group of horse riders cantered by along the baked hard chalk. As the afternoon was even hotter we were glad of an unexpected drinks stop at Mount Inn at Stanton. We explored this picture postcard village, all houses built of Guiting Honey-coloured stone which reflects back the sun's rays. Our next stop was at Stanway House, a 17th century Jacobean Mansion, where we watched the village cricket game unfold in this timeless setting. Back at site we cooled down in the shade before Dan, Tim B and Mike D cooked a sumptuous barbecue for all. The singsong was led by Coogee on the ukulele and Brian F on the guitar. Anne and Martina entertained us with a soulful rendition of "Mountains of Mourne" with Tim P and Liane singing an evocative Cornish folk song.
Sunday saw Gilly and Diane cook the camping fry-up breakfast which was the occasion for Jan to celebrate her birthday with many cards and a special cake. After more rounds of tea we struck camp and ventured on to Broadway, another delightful Cotswold town with a high street of impressive manors, and coaching inns. At the market square and village green the day's attraction was a gathering of Mods, Dawn stepping forward to mount one of the Vespas. Our walk was to Broadway Tower, one of the highest points on the Cotswold Hills. After taking in the panoramic views over the Plain of Evesham we descended for a final, awfully nice, cream tea in shaded tea gardens after another tip-top holiday in this corner of England.
Campers were Brian G, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Dawn. Martina, Brian F, Tim B, Tim P, Malcolm, Liane, Mike D, Anne, Peter, Jan, Chris and Maria.
Report by Brian
Arrival at site - Photo by Brian
Breakfast on the go - Photo by Brian
Views from Farmcote Hill - Photo by Brian
Snowshill village - Photo by Brian
Lunch in the sun - Photo by Brian
Views over Snowshill - Photo by Brian
Stanton village - Photo by Brian
Stanway House entrance - Photo by Brian
Tim prepares barbecue - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Broadway - Photo by Brian
Final cream teas - Photo by Brian
Our latest Surrey Hills walk took place on yet another scorchio day of this heatwave summer. Gabriela came on her second walk and Caroline K was on her first walk with us. Regulars Brian, Anne, Sandra and Rob made up the party. We first explored the heritage of Godalming including the pepper pot town hall, medieval church and the Titanic memorial (long story). We then headed through tracks bordered with very unusual ferns and riverside paths. From the clearing great views of the Surrey Hills and the Hogs Back in the distance. At Compton we stopped at the Saxon-era church and the parade of picturesque cottages. Next was the unique Watts Chapel built by local artisans and designed by Mary Watts. Tuscan style cloisters with the chapel a vibrant Byzantine style display of terracotta. The interior a very elaborate celtic / medieval design.
Our lunch break was at the delightful tea rooms at Watts Gallery. We took advantage of the half price offer and took in the surroundings from our garden bench. Dessert was the Loseley ice cream from the famous palace on our route. After viewing artworks at the gallery we headed east along the Pilgrims Way (also North Downs Way). The afternoon was even hotter and we stopped for blackberries and elderberries from the hedges on the way. We then reached the River Wye. After watching some swimmers and divers into the river we stopped for some welcome cold drinks at a canalside pub garden at Guildford. As we took in the tranquil scene Anne told tales of gatecrashing wedding hoolies on Tory Island and meeting royalty in unexpected quarters.
Report by Brian
Arrival at Godalming - Photo by Brian
Titanic Memorial - Photo by Brian
Looking towards Hogs Back - Photo by Brian
Lunch at Watts Gallery - Photo by Brian
Escape from heatwave into Wye - Photo by Brian
Four keen walkers met outside Amersham station on a bright sunny morning. We set off from the station downhill towards Gore Hill, which was to be our first uphill climb. Upon reaching the top of the hill we looked back across the valley towards our start point in Amersham, noting that the station was at the top of a steep hill. We would have this to look forward to at the end of our walk!
As we made our way across the open fields towards our first village of Coleshill we had a good clear view of the windmill in Coleshill. We stopped for a short while by the village pond where one of the locals gave Dee a long and in-depth explanation as to why the water level in the pond was much lower than it should be. We then headed off following the Chiltern Way across the open countryside towards our next point of call, the common at Winchmore Hill, where we stopped for a short break. After Winchmore Hill we made our way to our lunch stop, the common at Penn Street. Whilst having lunch we watched the groundsman tend the cricket pitch ready for the weekend's game.
We then made our way through Penn Wood emerging at Beamond End. Having found that the path down towards Little Missenden was very overgrown a couple of weeks earlier we made a slight detour to the original planned route and took another path. Although this alternative route was still a little overgrown in places it did offer some great views across the valley and a clear view of Little Missenden below. On arriving in Little Missenden we stopped for some well-deserved drinks in the garden of the Red Lion pub and to view its collection of vintage motorbikes, farm implements as well as various artefacts from days gone by. We then made our way back towards Amersham, following the River Misbourne, leaving at Amersham old town where we prepared ourselves for the much discussed long climb back up towards our start point of Amersham station.
Many thanks to Dee, Judit and Joanne for joining me on this fine day's walk.
Report by Malcolm
Four of us met on a nice Sunday morning at Potters Bar station. After a swift coffee in the local McDonalds we set off on our bikes following the railway northwards towards Gobions Wood and Brookmans Park. Despite the nettles and the technical terrain the group made it to the Great North Road and shortly found the Northaw Great Wood where we enjoyed the scenery and some swift technical downhilling before Dawn came a cropper whilst attempting to negotiate some obstinate walkers.
Bruised but not beaten we soldiered on and decided to lunch at a local pub before continuing on through Botany Bay towards Hookwood and got a little lost. Thankfully a local farmer pointed us in the right direction and we soon found ourselves in the popular Trent Country Park and then Monken Hadley Common. Coogie left us at this point as he was near his home and we pushed on past the 20 mile mark to Hadley Green. Feeling the strain now, we persevered onward around Wrotham Park and back to Potters Bar where we enjoyed a glass of wine and a pint of cider as a reward for our endeavours.
Many thanks to Diane, Dawn and Coogie for making the day so memorable.
Report by Dan
Eight very keen walkers met in Hambleden at the rear of the Stag and Huntsman pub. The weather was just about perfect, sunny and warm.
Off we went at an appropriate distance from each other, in fact for a few miles we were spread out. The pace became more leisurely as the day wore on. As ever in the Chiltern hills there were a number of hills, but, as I always say, you don't get the views without the hills. Ridge Wood and Great Wood provided dappled shade as we reached the plateau towards Upper Woodend Farm. We rested briefly and became aware of a slightly agitated woman who looked as if she was waiting for a bus, however she was a actually waiting for us to pass and was a bit grumpy. She was taking a herd of dogs for a walk. We passed through a field full of large bales wrapped in plastic, Dave enlightened us to how the bales are made - fascinating stuff and Mick followed on with the equally fascinating fact that a member of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), had been killed by an escaped bale. We couldn't think of suitable line from one of their songs to fittingly describe his demise. Here it is. Don't Bring Me Down... Bruce! Down into Gussetts Wood and on to Southend, where comments such as: "didn't realise we had walked that far" came forth. I guess that's what happens when you're locked up for a while. Freedom can be a heavy burden, like a fine wine, best taken in moderation. Summer Heath Wood and onto Summer Heath and then Idlecombe Wood, which on exiting gave a wonderful vista down the valley toward Turville. We climbed the opposite side of the valley and walked through a wildflower meadow full of buttercups, dandelions, clover and beautiful pink flowered marjoram covered in all manner of bees. Thanks to Aruna for identifying the marjoram. We lunched in a churchyard (can't remember the name) just north of Manor Farm. An idyllic spot.
Post lunch we were a little surprised by a short shower, though not unwelcome. Malcolm and a few others had a close encounter with a small herd of deer. We were soon in the village of Turville, famed for its TV appearances, too numerous to mention, then onto Fingest, equally charming. We had our last ascent up to Adam's Wood which led us to Skirmett the last of the chocy box lid cute villages. From here it was all flat along the valley bottom back to Hambleden. It was a truly scrumptious day!
Thank you to Aruna, Cynthia, Efisia, Dave, Malcolm, Mick and Phil for attending and the positive remarks regarding the route.
Report by Mike
We met at St Martha's Hill and following clear instructions we started our adventure. We headed on into the woods and wasn't long until we reached the Tillingbourne and an old mill stream. Gunpowder was manufactured in this valley from at least 1625 when the East India Company set up mills here until the end of the First World War. The remains of works of various dates stretch for two miles westward down the valley. We passed Colyers Hangar, an old coppice woodland - the wood was used to produce charcoal, one of the ingredients of gunpowder. Here we were very quiet as we just spotted a deer coming out of the woods. We carried on through the woods enjoying the shade from the beaming sun. We passed Postford Mill pond with some photo opportunities with the sun shining on the pond. Over the years there has been a series of powder, paper and corn mills in this area relying upon the Tillingbourne for water power. As we walked over the mill pond sluice we came across two large pigs baking in the sunshine. As the walk took us over some fields we came across some concrete foundation remains from the Admiralty cordite works which were built in this area in 1915 during the First World War. Here Dan gave us a bit of history about the Admiralty.
As we entered Chilworth gunpowder mills unfortunately our route was blocked off so we had to make a detour around the mills. The smokeless powder works were built in the 1890's and again Dan shared his knowledge of the smokeless powder. The works were controversial due to safety and environment concerns. William Cobbett, a journalist who visited Chilworth in 1822 was struck by the beauty of the whole valley and horrified by the industry that blighted it. He reported - This Valley which seems formed for a scene of innocence and happiness has been influenced by the Devil of making gunpowder and of bank notes. We carried on down Veras footpath and we came across the remains of an old rail track in the woods. As we were leaving the woods we could hear some galloping of horses, and unfortunately we had to enter the same field. They decided to block the kissing gate we needed to pass through. Dan used his charm to woo the horses away. We kept on passing the Bourne, a tributary of the Tillingbourne which is used for growing watercress. We carried on into another field of cattle that we had to pass through, thankfully they were too busy eating grass to even look up. We decided to have a water break and take in the stunning views. We spotted a kite flying over our heads.
We crossed over the railway line taking extra care as this was an unsignalled crossing. The walk took us back into the woods then out onto a cricket field which we were lucky enough to watch a game. We headed on past Albury Heath and decided to take a detour to Shere. We were not disappointed as the village is so quaint. We rewarded ourselves with some nice cold beers. We headed on back to our route to cross over the Tillingbourne and enter the woodland one last time. As we came out of the woods we had great views of the church that was built in 1840 by Henry Drummond. This walk took us through some woodlands, fields, a lovely village and spectacular views. Thank you for joining me on this magnificent walk.
Report by Diane
A band of 14 new(ish) members gathered together for the very first hostel weekend of the year. We had secured the whole hostel so no rules or regulations applied to us - school was out for summer!
Initial arrivals on the train wandered around the quaint village of Goring, placing flowers at George Michael's shrine (Gilly and Jan are ladies of a certain age). Then we crossed the bridge over the Thames to Streatley and entered a brand new county and possibly country. Weather held up throughout the weekend but that didn't stop Rob C from lighting a camp fire on the hostel steps for a sing song that night. No warden for us!
Saturday brought a calm and chatty 11 mile circular walk via Pangbourne. After Anne tried to introduce a moment of culture by taking us to the house of Oscar Wilde and Bomber Harris, we then passed by Albert Steptoe's gaff on the banks of the Thames, which was either eerily derelict or just well loved. At Pangbourne we re-enacted the Monet painting by picnicking on the River banks with the great unwashed. Resident artists Humay and Anita shared painting stories and Freddie snoozed delightedly on Nitti's feet whilst she was blissfully unaware. Janet, Chrissy and Christine showed off their style as ladies who lunch. After plenty of essential faffing we made our way up the hill to the Whitchurch memorial to offer our thanks to fallen heroes. At the top of the hill all the gentle moaning stopped as we agreed the panoramic views made it worth the journey. Kites soared overhead and crickets cricketed. Horses swished and ladies glowed. Making our way through the woods to the beautiful Manor House, we were met kindly but firmly by the lady of the manor who directed us back the way we came. Zoe found us the correct path to the Catherine Wheel pub where we eagerly refreshed ourselves. A little too well for some. After a rousing rendition of T Rex greatest hits, Freddie the dog had to walk some of us home. Bang a gong. Mary also used all her orienteering skills and navigated the ladies back from the pub which was 50 yards away from the hostel and luckily didn't lose any en route. Liane rounded off the night with homemade rhubarb crumble for all.
Sunday brought a pleasant stroll led by Brian around the leper hospital and Wallingford castle. We managed to walk until 12:00 when a riverside pub called to us. The town was beset with fancy motors for us to admire. Cathy found us lunch in a sunny market square, where Gilly was serenaded from 4th floor by Romeo shouting "come on up blondie". She declined.
A very satisfying weekend and hopefully the first of many more hostelling trips for our new people. Many thanks to everyone for sharing a great time. To Brian, Rob C, Humay, Chrissy, Christine, Janet, Mary, Liane, Cathy O, Zoe, Nitti, Anita and Campervan Anne. As the immortal George says, Let's go outside.
Report by Jan
Georges House - Photo by Brian
First climb of walk - Photo by Brian
Picnic by Thames - Photo by Brian
Pangbourne village - Photo by Brian
Views over valley - Photo by Brian
Back at Goring - Photo by Brian
Walk to Wallingford - Photo by Brian
Boating by Wallingford - Photo by Brian
This Surrey Hills walk was on another scorchio day with perfect blue skies all day. Passing very impressive villas in Reigate we reached Reigate Heath with its immaculate golf course. We followed sandy tracks through the ferns and gorse to find the unique windmill with church inside. We took in the views from the club house, lots of golfers having cooling drinks on the terrace. We then followed the Greensand Way north with a tough climb up to the North Downs. At Colley Hill we had our picnic with panoramic views, the South Downs easily identifiable on such a clear day.
Our route then took in Walton Heath, the coal tax stone pillars accompanying us on the bridleway the whole journey. At Walton on the Hill village we stopped for tiffin at the tea shop (rather spiffing lemon drizzle cake) by the village pond. We then continued north on bridleways to climb to Epsom Downs. More great views as we walked across the famous racecourse, Wembley Arch easily seen. On such a hot day we were glad to find ice cream vans at the racecourse to finish this rarely done walk.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P and Sandra.
Report by Brian
Reigate Windmill - Photo by Brian
On Reigate Hill - Photo by Brian
Picnic at Colley Hill - Photo by Brian
Epsom Racecourse - Photo by Brian
Climb to the Epsom Downs - Photo by Brian
Nine walkers met last Sunday morning near Chorleywood Station at 10:30am, for the Ch Ch Ch Summer walk. With a mix of new and old members we commenced the walk on a nature trail through Ch-Chorleywood common, rendezvousing with our final member as we emerged from the woods. Strolling through the Chorleywood House estate with ch-chatter in full swing we descended through the woods to join the Ch-Chess Valley path. The Chess River sparkled invitingly, welcoming us to the perfect Sunday amble. We soon arrived at the bottom of the rumoured hill that would take us to Ch-Church End. The group agreed the hill didn't look so hard after all, phew! With chatter on hold the ascent began and before we knew it everyone was feeling pleased standing at the top with elevated heartbeats. We stopped to admire the shiny views of the valley and beyond. It was here we talked about the steps of the Cha Cha Cha dance, with a short, YouTube inspired, demo by yours truly.
We continued through Church End, passing the orderly set of six Grade II listed cottages then through the well-kept yard of Sarratt Church. A gentle descent on open fields took us to Sarratt Bottom to rejoin the Chess Valley path. We caught a look at one of the cute alpacas living by the watercress farm. A slight drizzle started at which point some of us wondered if we had checked the right day's weather forecast, but it soon stopped. Unfortunately the watercress farm was no longer in production due to contamination some years back, however the River Chess gushed through it looking clear and sparkly. We carried on around Frogmore meadow nature reserve to our next stop, but a shower soon had us sheltering by some trees. There we discussed the virtues of the weather forecasters, agreeing that a certain broadcasting corporation had been pretty inaccurate. After our cosy but socially distant interlude, the skies brightened and we carried forth to our lunch stop in Latimer village. We sat by a tomb and memorial on the green, about which Michael shared some interesting history, relating to the Boer war. The tomb was where the heart of a horse was buried. The horse belonged to a French General who fought in the war.
After lunch, with the sun shining again, we crossed over the river and made a gentle ascent to the woods on the other side. There we were able to look back at the majesty of Latimer House nestled in the surrounding rolling countryside. The phrase 'one day, lad, all this will be yours' came to mind. We continued onto Chenies and found ourselves admiring more grandeur at the pristine grounds of Chenies Manor. One day, one day. Then continuing on between the fields behind Chenies, and as if by magic, we came out directly into the garden of the delightful Red Lion pub. It would have been rude not to stop and so we all enjoyed a well earned drink.
Suitably quenched, we carried on to complete the final stretch, passing a busy cricket pitch and through a field complete with brand new metal kissing gate installed in the middle...but no fence. A suggestion was to take a photo of everyone queuing to go through the gate. After crossing the A404 we gently descended through Halsey's Wood skirting past the Chiltern hills golf course, and towards the tunnel under the railway which took us into Carpenters Woods. Here we took the final path to Chorleywood arriving back at the station at approximately 3:30pm having completed the 8 mile circuit.
A big shout out to all the walkers and thanks to Michael for assisting and giving the interesting talk in Latimer. Thank you Chrissie, Elaine, Gabriela, Hannah, Judith, Linzi and Shameem for your wonderful company, I enjoyed chatting with you all. I hope to see you all on another walk soon.
Report by Aruna
We started with a little history of the station and its Metroland history and then meandered up the high street with a trip down memory lane - see that Tesco Express, that used to be Woolworths, more importantly it was one of two cinemas from the 1930s. I saw Saturday Night Fever there aged 15. We then discussed the virtues of Woolies and John Travolta. Onwards towards the more ancient village of Rislepe. Introductions were made to residents from at least the 1800s in the church of St Martins in the Fields. We spent a little time looking the ancient cottages and buildings and onwards to the Manor Farm complex. We then criss-crossed our way into the greenery of the Celandine Route and using local knowledge we aimed for the top field. Harry had a bit of trouble at 'the big reveal' but we stuck together and everyone agreed it was well worth it. Across the fields and onwards just after Harry's stile. I was told at Clack Farm, no it's not a pigeon thing, it's a dovecote. We went full circle historically after admiring all the wildflowers en route and took in the modern wonder of HS2. Across the overgrown golf course, we got there to wend our way back to Metroland. Sadly the historical Orchard Hotel / pub was not open (next time). Six of us sneaked into the 'Smugglers Cove' for a well earned beverage.
Thanks to Judy, Deborah, Mick, Jacqui, Rachael, Julia, Harry, Michela and Judith for a super evening, and star of the day, biggest journey Rachael from East Dagenham.
Report by Zoe
I met the group members at Denham station at 10:00 on a beautiful sunny day. We started our walk after a briefing on Covid-19 safety and quick introductions. We went down the back of the station towards Denham woods. We walked through the woods along the Colne River. Plenty of sightseeing and activities taking place on the river, nature at its best. We headed towards the Grand Union Canal passing Denham Lock then over the famous bridge towards the scenic walk along the woodland path taking in the magnificent view of Broadwater Lake, with its boating and kayaking activities taking place. After a few photos of the group we carried on along the path, stopping for refreshments from the abundant of hedgerows full of juicy blackberries. After a short walk on the road, we stepped down to the canal path and took in the beauty of the canal as well as the canal boats that float along with other habitants of the great water. Plenty of nature to be seen, with the lush greenery at its best. We then stopped for a short break of well-earned tea and cake at Fran's Café. We carried on through to the woodland towards the country park and the golf course, passing the information centre, where of course you had to indulge in ice creams. Walked to the picturesque Denham village, passing the former Denham Film Studios, towards magnificent St. Mary's village church. The village has featured in films and TV programmes, and also has been the home of Sir John Mills. We ended up by the village green for our picnic in the sun, where we sat on the grass and enjoyed our chats and picnic with options of drinks from nearby pubs.
After our lovely picnic we headed back towards Denham station, and parted after a very enjoyable walk and the amazing bunch of lively, bubbly company who kept the banter and the laughter flowing just like the famous River Misbourne. A very big thankyou to Christine, Elaine, Christina, Sue, Alpa, Mark and Shameen. Thank you all for the support and the charming feedback I have received from you all.
Report by Runi
Our second camping trip of the season was a return to Wowo in sunny Sussex. After pitching tents Jan mixed cocktails for us before we set off on our evening walk in glorious sunshine. After crossing Waspbourne Woods and chatting to the vintage campervan restorers we arrived at the Sloop Inn. Most had excellent fish and chips in the riverside beer garden. Back at site fire starter Tim set up the camp fire and the campsite was soon filled with harmonies and music from the many camp fires around the fields.
Our walk on the Saturday was a 10 mile hike through very scenic Sussex countryside. We passed several historic farm houses and manors straight out of the "Darling Buds of May". Our lunch stop was at the village of Horsted Keynes where we toured the medieval church to see the monument to Supermac. At the Bluebell railway station (due to reopen in August) we happened upon a working party who invited us onto the platform for a quick tour of this fascinating station. Our walk continued northwards partly alongside the railway tracks. We ended at another fine Tudor era inn, the Cats Inn. On our return to camp Tim and Coogee cooked a spicy supper of chorizo, chicken and red peppers. Around the campfire Diane provided apple pie (M & S) and Dee, strawberries (M & S) as Tim recited his poem dedicated to Vanessa.
The morning sun and Gold radio awoke us early for Gilly to cook another full Monty camping-style fry-up. We ventured to the perfectly preserved village of Fletching in time for the verger to give us a tour of the Norman era church. Our walk took in meadows of Friesian and long-horned cattle. We came upon a village cricket match and fine half-timbered houses in the picturesque village. At the Griffin (another 16th century inn) we had lunch in the sunny beer garden with great views over the Ouse valley and Sheffield Park gardens. Some of us finished with sticky toffee pudding and ice cream to celebrate another great camping trip in middle England.
Campers were Brian, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Tim B, Dee, Jan, Chris and Maria.
Report by Brian
Arrival at Wowo - Photo by Brian
Sussex cottage - Photo by Brian
Climbing from valley - Photo by Brian
Roaring campfire - Photo by Brian
Village cricket match - Photo by Brian
We met at the Manor Farm site on a fine sunny evening. As always we took a look at the historic manor house, motte and restored barns of this heritage area. We then followed the Celandine Way to the playing fields where many people were taking advantage of the warm evening to try out sports and jogging. We then entered the Ruislip Woods and followed the tracks to the Lido. The walk continued through the wooded path surrounding the lake. We reached the Waters Edge pub which was still open, so we took our drinks to the waterside tables to take in the sunset over the Lido, and reminisce about he time when Cliff, Melvyn and Una danced on the sands there.
Walkers were Brian, Julie, Judith, Mike, Jill, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Celandine Route - Photo by Brian
Dogs go swimming in lido - Photo by Brian
Sunset on the beach - Photo by Brian
Pub at end - Photo by Brian
We met on a late sunny afternoon outside Watford station. Good to meet new faces and familiar faces, some returning to Cassiobury Park after over 20 years, some who will remain nameless living locally only just discovering the area, but great discovery! We walked past families enjoying the start of school holidays. We saw a few remaining poppies and set off for the nature area. Sadly, due to a tree falling onto the bridge it had been closed for safety, so Plan B - we walked along a different path to the canal. A bit of social distancing at that point, but not a problem. From the canal, we began to walk up to Lime Avenue passing North Herts Golf Club. Then to Whippendell Woods. Shady under the trees, but needed to keep eyes open for tree roots. We did the perimeter of the woods - just a few cyclists and runners - although options to delve in and out for future walks. One slight climb - all rewarded with shortbread at the top - someone thought I was joking when I said had it, but true!
Halfway (Grove Avenue car park), previously seen ice cream van to my delight, sadly not today. Discussions then moved on to food and diets. A wealth of conversations: memories of the area, life, diets, the future. Entertaining dialogue. Returning to the canal, we stopped and watched the water (think old mill). Passed the closed cafe; Cha Cha also closed. But all chilled, and returned to the station.
Thank you to those joining me.
Report by Dee
This ride turned out to be a lot longer as all participants decided to add a loop and further fast descents. On a fine sunny day we rode 34 miles around the Chiltern Hills and Ridgeway involving climbing 2,600 feet over various ascents. The first section was from Princes Risborough along the Icknield Way before the climb at Chinnor. Then we followed quiet lanes to Christmas Common. We had lunch at the Fox and Hound, at the garden marquee, together with hay stacks laid out for a hoedown. Under the marquee Jeff and Tim had a very technical chat about Morgans and Defenders.
The first big descent was from Northend to Stonor Park, a 2 mile fast downhill section across open farmland then through woods. We stopped to admire the cricket match by Stonor and then cycled through Maidensgrove Common. Our route then was along a hidden network of bridleways under a lofty canopy of beech trees. After several more vertiginous descents we reached the Ridgeway for the long ride back to the start.
Riders were Brian, Jeff and Tim P.
Report by Brian
On Ridgeway trail - Photo by Brian
Descent from hill - Photo by Brian
Lunch pub at Christmas Common - Photo by Brian
Cricket at Stonor - Photo by Brian
We met outside Amersham station on a damp and drizzly morning with some of the group making use of the local coffee shop for last minute refreshments before we set off. We quickly made our way along the road downhill towards Amersham Old Town before picking our first footpath at the bottom of Gore Hill. As we made our way up this hill the drizzle stopped and upon reaching the top of the hill we paused to catch our breath and remove our waterproofs. We continued on towards Coleshill taking in views of the windmill from both sides. After Coleshill we headed across open countryside towards Winchmore Hill where we stopped on the common for a quick coffee break. Our next port of call was the common at Penn Street where we stopped for lunch, where the local cricket club were preparing for their Sunday afternoon game.
After lunch we made our way around the cricket boundary towards the entrance into Penn Woods. By the time we emerged from the other side of Penn Woods at Beamod End the skies had cleared and the sun was shining and now quite warm. We followed the route of an old road which had been permanently closed to traffic in 2006. Given that this was once a road this path had become very overgrown with the hedges blocking our views. We emerged in Little Missenden and then followed the road through this hamlet where we picked up the footpath running parallel to the River Misbourne back into Amersham old town, where we then made the climb up the hill towards our starting point at the station.
Many thanks to the other walkers for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
Six walkers met on a warm evening at Northolt village green. Our first visit was St Mary's, the 14th century church on the hill. We then explored the site of Northolt Manor with moat intact. In Belle Vue park, Sarah pointed out the borage wild flowers. There are new wild flower corridors across the meadows on the park, created to assist the survival of wild bees. We joined the Grand Union Canal and continued to the footbridge. Currently fenced off, Pauline showed the rest how to squeeze through a gap in the fence. At Northala we ascended the highest mound for panoramic views to Canary Wharf, Wembley Arch and Heathrow. By chance we met Ian and Chrissie, former members, on their own perambulation. After exchanging news the group returned to the village for drinks at the reopened Crown.
Walkers were Brian, Malcolm, Pauline, Julie, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Wild flower meadow - Photo by Brian
Manor site - Photo by Brian
Northala Park - Photo by Brian
View from summit - Photo by Brian
Six of us set off from Pangbourne, crossing the toll bridge with its chocolate box view of the Thames and Whitchurch village and picking up the Thames Path, conveniently wide for social distancing and shade. Some of us were sorely tempted to join some of the other swimmers in the river by the World War II pillbox. A steep climb upwards through Hartslock Nature Reserve, a site of special scientific interest with stunning views of the Thames at Goring gap was the high point of the day's walk. Congratulating myself on finding the correct entry point to the woods (missed on my recce) we stumbled upon a fallen tree which made a bench just perfect for a socially distanced lunch stop.
A wrong turn in the woods a little later meant we ended up doing a loop back to Hartslock Nature Reserve, where two scientists from the Natural History Museum were engaged in sweeping up the butterflies and insects in large nets, endeavouring to catalogue the biodiversity of the reserve, apparently one of the more biodiverse spots in the region - for our group of six an interesting reward for a wrong turn! Thus we returned via the Thames Path and Whitchurch, where the pubs were now open.
Thanks to old friends Catherine and Brian F, and newer members Anna P, Nishil and Binta on her first walk with the group for joining me on this lovely walk.
Report by Deirdre
It was a bright sunny day when we set off on our walk from Barnet Gate, joining the Dollis Valley Green Walk. We made good pace and it wasn't long before we reached Totteridge Common, where we marvelled at the so-called "long pond" just next to the footpath. Then heading downhill and across a few fields, we reached the tranquility of the Darlands Nature Reserve. We sat down next to Darland's Lake for a light, socially distanced lunch.
We continued on towards Woodside Park where we marvelled at some of the lovely houses, before again joining the Dollis Valley Green Walk. This was a popular destination with the locals and many families were out cycling, enjoying the good weather. Passing Totteridge and Whetstone and its green parks and open spaces, we briefly paused to marvel at some ducks in the stream, and there were yet more locals out enjoying the sunshine. Now on the home stretch we admired some of the people playing cricket on the Old Cholmeleian Sports Ground before we got back to Barnet Gate to finish. Total distance walked approx 10 miles.
Report by Mark
Our first camping trip of the year was another scorchio weekend in the Garden of England. Fallows Fields is situated within an orchard and our pitches were bordered by rows of apple trees. Glamping bell tents were everywhere on the site, we provided our own innovation with three inflatable tents. Nick was first to pitch and exclaimed "it's fully erect within seconds". Brian led the early arrivals on a walk around the perfectly preserved town of Sandwich. We followed the route of the town walls, passing many half-timbered houses and medieval churches. Maria pointed out a manor house featured in a recent reality television show. After fish and chips along the quayside we headed back to site to discover Martina pulling out of her pocket a conveniently pocket-size fire pit. Martina assembled the many poles and the netting to reveal a perfect fire pit inspired by Q. Over wine around the campfire various anecdotes were recounted: Dawn of her episode in a charity shop; Dan of his dance display at the Gents; and George of his time at a sauna in Cairo.
The early morning blazing sun and Tony Blackburn awoke us early for mugs of tea and bacon sarnies. Malcolm set off on his marathon cycle ride, from Sandwich to north Kent and back along the Viking Trail. The others did the walk from Pegwell Bay to Broadstairs along the coastal path. This route is mainly on the clifftop with panoramic views throughout. As the blue sky was so clear France was easily seen as well as the wind farms out to sea. We stopped for cooling drinks at the Edwardian Royal Pavilion at Ramsgate, finding tables on the balcony terrace looking down over the sandy beach and the yacht marina. The route continued north until we descended to Dumpton Bay for ice creams on the beach. At Broadstairs the Viking Bay beach was crowded with sun bathers and swimmers. After drinks at a beach bar we headed back to site. Diane, Rachael and Jan prepared a sumptuous barbecue before Daniel received his birthday cake. Around the campfire Coogee once again provided the music on his ukulele with Jan, Martina and Diane leading a rousing version of "You've lost that loving feeling".
Sunday was another hot sunny day, Gilly cooking a huge fry-up for us, using 3 gas cookers simultaneously, "I learnt from Floyd" she explained. After striking camp we spent the day exploring the vast expanse of Botany Bay. The expanse of golden sands is far less busy than nearby resorts. Chalk stacks and sea caves are prominent within the cliffs. We ended the walk at the Botany Bay Hotel for tiffin after a lovely sunny afternoon by the sea.
Report by Brian
Sunset at the camp - Photo by Brian
Camping in the sun - Photo by Brian
Sandwich old town - Photo by Brian
Cliff top walk - Photo by Brian
Ramsgate marina - Photo by Brian
Edwardian pavilion bar - Photo by Brian
Broadstairs beach - Photo by Brian
Campfires all lit - Photo by Brian
Botany Bay beach - Photo by Brian
Debbie, Harry, Judith, Elaine plus prospective new member Nathan met at Pinner station.
We walked down the High Street crossing the road into Pinner Memorial Park where we passed the aviary and Heath Robinson gallery then made our way down West End Lane to the start of the Celandine Route. We passed Cuckoo Hill allotments and the River Pinn on our left through some woodland which sheltered us from the rain. We crossed Cheney Street into Long Meadow open space then across the wooden bridge into Eastcote House Gardens. We stopped to admire the flowers in the walled garden and to take photos. We then retraced our steps, walking back to Pinner along the Celandine Route, stopping briefly to look at some ducklings in the memorial park pond.
Report by Debi
Runi, Aruna, Alpa, Harry, Mark and I met at Uxbridge station at 11:00am. Attempting to take the most scenic route possible we walked through Rockingham Park in Uxbridge where we saw a large family of swans swimming in the River Fray. Two adults and eight very large grey cygnets were all swimming together. Shortly afterwards we reached the Grand Union Canal where we walked alongside a range of houseboats before we turned off and joined the Colne Valley Route which took us to a service bridge crossing the M25 where we stopped to watch the cars driving underneath. After about 30 seconds of viewing we continued along a path to a small row of attractive cottages and overlooking a small pond. We saw some big gates showing the name 'Delaford Manor' and could see on the other side a big palatial house with huge manicured gardens. The house was said to have once belonged to the late actor, Sid James. Continuing along various paths and small roads I pointed out a most unusual tree. It was very high, around 50 foot, and had no branches except at the very top. After asking the group if they could identify the tree I put them out of their misery by telling them it was made of plastic and disguising a high radio mast.
After about two hours we had walked about 5 miles and reached Langley Country Park where we stopped at the cafe and had a well deserved rest and lunch. Two of the group left us then to catch a bus back to Uxbridge and the remaining four retraced our steps back to Uxbridge station where we arrived at 4:00pm. We were lucky with the weather as it was dry and not too hot. I hope that everyone enjoyed their walk.
Report by Ian
The 4th of July saw the second of my bike rides. We met at West Drayton and swiftly found our way northwards along the Grand Union Canal to the Slough Arm. This was my favourite part of the ride and my ulterior motive as we swept past High Line Yacht Brokers and I struggled to maintain concentration as the distraction of so many narrowboats for sale almost had me in the canal on more than one occasion. We soon found our way into Langley Country park through fields of stunning specimen woodland and the "Old Man of Langley" (thanks Kerry for your bountiful knowledge of the area) not to mention the odd cow or three who were more than accomodating as we delighted in the lack of stiles thus far. Into Black Park and around the lake we enjoyed the view and were ready for lunch but I decided to try and cover another mile or two before stopping and I thought I'd hit the jackpot when we stumbled on the Fox and Pheasant, which unfortunately turned out to be closed!
Luckily they allowed us the use of their beer garden and we devoured our rations and discussed the conditions and the route as well as checking on the condition of a couple of hardy riders who took a little spill but managed to carry on regardless. Wild horses couldn't drag us from our route as we ran across country parallel to the M40 and fourtunately stumbled upon the Black Horse at Fulmer, a pub that was actually open. Needless to say, it was swiftly decided that we had earnt a brief respite and we partook of the local delights. Onward along the trail and we shortly arrived at the Pinewood film studios where we stopped for a moment and discussed various movies and heroes. From here the Slough Road took us to Uxbridge where we connected with the Grand Union Canal again and swept back to West Drayton station, a little tired but proud of ourselves and pleased with the day.
Thanks everyone for turning up and well done.
Report by Dan
Grand Union Canal - Photo by Brian
In Langley Park - Photo by Brian
Black Park lake - Photo by Brian
Fulmer village - Photo by Brian
Pub stop after the reopening - Photo by Brian
Pinewood Studios - Photo by Brian
We met outside The Green Man pub at the common in Denham. We set off on a lovely walk through woodlands and canal paths. I thought the walk was too short so kept taking people the wrong way to get up some steps. There was one most amazing neo-gothic bridge which was so thrilling we crossed it trice! Liane who has a keen eye for wildlife showed us a hidden heron and Daniel found beautiful blue dragonflies. Runi pointed out the lily pads in the middle of the river and Rachel found a baby frog. Whilst Bobby, Ellie and Frankie introduced us to the 'Dog dance' which taught us great balancing ability whilst trying to walk on a narrow path and not walk on a dog. Janet found a surprise of a pub just opening after lockdown half way round so of course we did our bit to keep the country going by having a swift half. First pub since lockdown so we were excited.
We then continued on our way with Nick taking a more direct route back to the start. We all sat on the common for lunch and Martina and Daniel went dumpster diving. Rachel then presented me with the amazing acrylic painting she did for her of Treyarnon Bay, a trip we had to cancel due to lockdown.
Thank you all for coming on my walk and meeting new people, thanks Rachel, Nick, Liane, Janet and Runi. Hope to see you all soon.
Report by Martina
On a warm sunny morning we left Cassiobury Park (the poppies still in bloom) and joined the Grand Union Canal. Strolling past The Grove estate we saw the golfers on the pristine greens. Using a 1975 OS Map (from our archive map store) had some disadvantages as the walk leader could not identify the M25 and many new conurbations alongside the Canal. We left the canal at Kings Langley and happened upon the perfectly preserved Ovaltine factory, its striking art deco facade now the home of a residential complex. We then walked across fields of wheat to reach the historic town of Abbots Langley. We had our lunch in the sunshine on the gardens of the medieval St Lawrence church; this was the parish of Pope Adrian IV, the only English Pontiff.
The bucolic meter reading reached new heights at the Ovaltine Model Dairy Farm, a perfect 1930s representation of a Sussex farm which was used in publicity for the beverage. The route then crossed tracks and meadows, wheat and barley glistening in the sun. We had a surprise when finding the Royal Entomological Society now based in the grounds of the former English Rose Gardens. Our walk ended at the ancient city of St Albans (Verulamium in Roman times) where we explored the impressive Roman town walls in the parklands.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Anne G, Dee, Joanne and Malcolm.
Report by Brian
Canal at start - Photo by Brian
Canal bridge - Photo by Brian
Fields of poppies - Photo by Brian
Former Ovaltine factory - Photo by Brian
Former Ovaltine model farm - Photo by Brian
Lunch at Abbots Langley - Photo by Brian
Walking towards St Albans - Photo by Brian
We had a wonderful walk on 1 July. After a happy half hour with the local outdoor rebels at the clock tower, Tim B took us through a secret passage to hidden Hanwell. Past the Green pub which was serving takeaway beer to worthy cyclists. A sign of British spirit in the face of adversity. We waved at canal boats going through the Three Bridges. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the bridges are a clever arrangement allowing the routes of the Grand Junction Canal, Great Western and Brentford Railway, and Windmill Lane to cross each other: road above canal above railway.
Onwards to another feat of engineering. The Wharncliffe Viaduct is a brick-built viaduct that carries the Great Western mainline railway across the Brent Valley, between Hanwell and Southall at an elevation of 20 metres. The viaduct, built in 1836-7, was constructed for the opening of the Great Western Railway. Tim and Brian regaled us with tales of childhood naughtiness behind the plinths before we headed off to try and break into the maze. Sadly we were too law-abiding to shimmy over the gate and the maze remained closed. The Hanwell zoo was next, and we heard the tantalising sounds of exotic animals over the fence (well meerkats and pygmy goats). Tales of the Bunny park ensued including the chickens which looked like Elvis.
A gentle meander around the Brent golf course back past St Mary's church returned us to the clock tower. Many thanks to Zoe, Harry, Tim and Tim, and Brian for a lovely summers evening.
Report by Jan
Arrival at start - Photo by Brian
Brunel's viaduct - Photo by Brian
Brent Lodge Park - Photo by Brian
We started from the Sarratt Cock Inn, and headed off past the church. Beautiful views over the hills at the start and some cows and then up to Chenies. Fields of wheat shimmered in the sun and we walked passed Chenies Manor and into the woods and on to the ridgeway from where we had views across the valley. Passed horses in the field and back into more woods. This part of the walk was quiet with not many walkers. Then we descended down into the valley, past old houses and across the River Chess where we saw swans and ducks on the crystal clear water. We headed up towards Latimer and joined the Chess Valley Walk which had more walkers. This part is very scenic and we followed the path up to the next set of woods and then headed back to Latimer House (now a hotel) where we stopped for a scenic picnic lunch in the grounds.
The sun shone down and warmed us up nicely. Then it started to drizzle lightly on our way to the very pretty village of Latimer where we admired the old houses and gardens. We then walked on past the Crystal Barn Farm which unfortunately no longer sells watercress due to water contamination, but we were able to see their four shorn llamas. Then we headed back up towards Sarratt, the Chess Valley becoming noticeably busier with walkers, and back to the starting point.
Thanks to Jenny and Tim for their excellent company on this lovely walk.
Report by Rajinder
We met in the picturesque village of Hambleden. Brian was desperate to get back to the village by 4:00pm for a cup of tea so I made an executive decision and cut out the fields by heading straight into the woods. We made our way through groves of beech and climbed a hill to appreciate a glorious view of the Thames and Henley. We proceeded through mixed terrain of forest, field and classic Chilterns hills. The weather was forecast to be dry and was mostly fine but we were waylaid by occasional showers. Dan forgot to bring his rainwear but ploughed on without complaint. After a steep descent, we came to Stonor deer park. We settled on the hillside and enjoyed lunch overlooking the grand Stonor House with its own chapel and a backdrop of fine English countryside.
We continued through a delightful woodland of rhododendron and mixed deciduous and conifer. As we emerged onto a quiet lane the heavens opened and we took a ten minute refuge under the trees. The sun soon appeared and we carried on. We began to descend towards Hambleden and enjoyed a last mile or two through a cathedral of towering beech trees. We returned to the village in good time and appreciated a cup of tea / bottle of Stella outside the village shop.
A fine day in superb Chilterns countryside. Many thanks to Brian, Dee, Aruna, Dan and Diane.
Report by Tim
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Cottage at Hambleden - Photo by Brian
Field of daisys - Photo by Brian
Climb from woods - Photo by Brian
View from Stonor - Photo by Brian
Villages through the woods - Photo by Brian
Brian, Coogee and Dawn met Diane and me at Denham station on an overcast Saturday morning. After a short discussion on the whereabouts of our sixth companion a text was sent and arrangements were made to meet up with Kerry later in the ride. We initially headed for Denham Country Park and then cautiously navigated our route across the fairways of Buckinghamshire Golf Club. We crossed a small wooden bridge over the delightful River Colne with its' gravelly bottom and long flowing plants waving in the current. This led us to Colne Valley Park (Denham) and Harefield Place Nature Reserve where some flooded quarries have been recycled to provide relaxing leisure activites for those seeking some time with nature. This was when Brian explained that the lovely HS2 railway will soon be part of the local landscape, how delightful! We met Chrissy (another HAWOG member) and some friends at that point too. It was about here the heavens opened and my phone packed up, so big thanks to Coogee for the loan of his iPhone which I used to navigate the rest of the ride. This was my first attempt at hosting a bike ride, so I should apologise for the amount of stiles I had included in the ride; after leaving the quarries we had four or five stiles to negotiate which left us a little drained and eager for lunch so we scooted through Bayhurst Wood Country Park and then Mad Bess woods where we stopped briefly to admire the open air chapel.
Ruislip Lido was our lunch stop and this is where we met up with Kerry, our sixth cyclist of the day who apologised for thinking we only do bike rides on Sundays. With spirits suitably replenished we crossed the miniature railway line and found ourselves in the lovely Copse Wood and then some welcome smooth roads towards Harefield where we spent a few moments at St Mary's churchyard and the Anzac memorial for Australian and New Zealand soldiers that succumbed to their injuries at the nearby hospital during the Second World War. Moments after leaving the memorial we found ourselves back at the station and at our journey's end. Lots of smiles and chatting as we said our goodbyes and Brian and Kerry rode home from there, while the rest of us relaxed into our cars.
Many thanks to Diane, Brian, Dawn, Coogee and Kerry for being patient with my navigational shortcomings and for making the day so great.
Report by Dan
Bridleway at Denham - Photo by Brian
Bayhurst Woods - Photo by Brian
Anzac Memorial in Harefield - Photo by Brian
We met in Bledlow Ridge on a lovely Friday evening with the sun shining down on us. We set off following the clear instructions set out by the app trail. We walked through the village before turning off into a large field and passing Lodge Hill Farm, carrying on passing Granary Barn where the views were breathtaking and our first kite was spotted. After a short stop taking in the scenery we headed on through another field which brought us to the Ridgeway national trail. Following the acorn signs we headed up a steep hill where the views were amazing looking over the Vale of Aylesbury, and spotting some more red kites. We all got involved in following the trail that took us off the Ridgeway and into some woodland, stinging nettles and all. Heading further into the woods where we came across a tyre swing, with everyone taking time out to enjoy. We carried on, passing Manor Farm Cottage where we again were lucky enough to spot more red kites. This walk took us through ploughed fields, an unexpected railway line and a building that used to house amateur boxing matches and the headquarters of a cigarette machinery company.
Thank you to Dan, Dee, Malcolm, Humay and Mike for accompanying me on this walk and for your help with the trail.
Report by Diane
On a blisteringly hot and sunny day of the heatwave, 5 of us met at Egham station. We welcomed back Anne and Paul on their first walks this year. After passing the Ferrari cars at the showroom we set off on the climb to Coopers Hill. We reached the summit and the always rewarding viewpoint from the Commonwealth Air Force memorial and the relative cool of the cloisters in the heat. We walked through very expensive lanes and the former polo field to reach Virginia Water. At the Saville Gardens we stopped for very welcome ice creams and cold drinks.
Our walk continued around the lakes of Virginia Water, passing the obelisks and totem pole. We had our picnic by the lakeside with Rob P bringing out his supply of cold drinks thanks to flasks and cool bags. We then explored the Valley Gardens with its rich mix of trees and vegetation. As the afternoon temperature was well over 30 degrees our speed dropped, luckily more ice cream kiosks were around in the parklands. Our route back to Egham was a first time attempt via bridleways and footpaths which proved rewarding in terms of scenery and varied landscape.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Anne, Paul K and Harry.
Report by Brian
Coopers Hill Memorial - Photo by Brian
Ice creams at Saville Gardens - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Virginia Water - Photo by Brian
Lakeside views - Photo by Brian
Railway to Egham - Photo by Brian
Our Ickenham Walk took place on another scorchio evening in bright sunshine. The village pub had take-away cold drinks on offer by the historic village pond and water pump. After passing the former USAF base (now residential) we joined the Hillingdon Trail. This route continued through cricket pitches and meadows alongside the River Pinn. We detoured under the Chiltern railway to see some of the preparatory works for HS2, soon set to enhance the landscape. We then joined the Celandine Way, the fields full of locals enjoying the very warm evening. At Swakeleys we glanced at the exterior of the Jacobean Manor before returning via Compass theatre and fields around Ickenham Manor.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Lorna, Humay, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Ickenham meadows - Photo by Brian
Five of us met at Rickmansworth station at 2:00pm on a perfect afternoon for a walk, warm with intermittent sun. I owned up to the fact I had come to do a "reccy" the previous Monday but due to torrential rain I returned home without checking out the route. Members of the group knew the area better than me and so it was a group effort in making our way around the aquadrome and along the canal side. We also spent some time on the quieter Stocker Lake. The area is very beautiful, with ducks and geese floating on the lakes, and feels very rural even though the tube is 5 minutes away. It was lovely to chat together and walk around safely as it was not too busy. We decided to make own way to the café for a pit stop and we found it open (with a long queue) but the toilets were closed! We sat for a while chatting and all had a drink whilst Harry had his picnic lunch before making our way back to the station just before 5:00pm.
A big thankyou to Cynthia, Debbie, Harry and Anna for a lovely afternoon.
Report by Pauline
3 of us met at Amersham station on a cloudy Sunday morning. We headed off promptly at 9:30am, walking through Amersham new town and down through Chesham Bois, where we crossed the River Chess and followed it towards Chesham. From there we headed west along Herberts Hole to Ballinger Common and Lee Common, and then south west to Great Missenden for our socially-distanced lunch stop.
After lunch we headed south to Little Kingshill and then east, following the River Misbourne, passing through Little Missenden before reaching Amersham old town, from where we headed back up to the station, finishing in very good time at 3:15pm, having walked almost 17 miles.
Thanks to Amanda and Malcolm for joining me.
Report by Phil
Six of us met at Ruislip Manor Farm, just as the sun started to emerge, for our walk across Kings College fields, through the woods to the Lido. Sadly the beach area where we had planned to stop for lunch is currently cordoned off. We decided to do a circuit in the opposite direction, passing a number of other walkers and their dogs. Information boards on the planets and solar system are posted all around the lido - apt for the solstice weekend. We arrived at Eastcote House gardens where we had our lunch with ice-creams and drinks from the cafe which has now reopened for takeaways. The walled garden was beautiful as ever - a source of inspiration for several of the group who have been gardening during lockdown!
Thanks to Anne, Chantelle, Rita, Runi and Tessa for your company, photos and a lovely walk.
Report by Michela
We met on a gloriously sunny summer morning at Isleworth for our second Parks and Commons Ride. New girl Dawn joined the regulars with her vintage Raleigh folding bike. Passing through Syon Park we stopped to admire the views of the Percy London House. The park was full of groups playing sports and picnickers enjoying the good weather. We took a detour to the Butts, heritage area of Brentford, where Nick Lowe's Georgian house was pointed out. We cycled past the old and new Brentford football stadia including all four pubs at each corner of the old stadium. We took a break at Chiswick House, with welcoming ice creams from a vintage Morris vehicle on the lawn in front of Lord Burlington's Palladian Palace. Our route then followed the Thames Path through Hammersmith and Fulham before our lunch stop at Fulham Palace Gardens. Coogee offered round the gob stoppers once more as we enjoyed the Thameside views.
We then crossed into Putney and followed Route 4 through Barnes (very posh shopping parades appeared to be busy) with several pubs offering take away cold drinks from outside tables. Fulham football stadium was being rebuilt with a new riverside stand just started together with a new riverside path (filling in gap on Thames Path). At Morlake we detoured to visit the tomb of Richard Burton (the arabist not the actor). The final leg was along the Thames Path back to Isleworth.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P, Coogee, Dawn, Dan and Diane.
Report by Brian
At Syon House - Photo by Brian
Strand on the Green - Photo by Brian
Chiswick House lakeside - Photo by Brian
Tomb of Sir Richard Burton - Photo by Brian
Six of us including Shakeel, Tessa, Lorna, Mark and Ian met at Hatch End station in glorious Sunday morning sunshine. Our first stop was a stroll down to the historic St Anselm church and then on to Grimsdyke Park, home to Hatch End Rugby Club. We then headed through the back streets of Hatch End and cut through Pinner Lawn Tennis Club onto Moss Lane, and saw the homes of Heath Robinson and Elton John. We then headed onto Pinner Farm through the lower trails including the River Pinn and forestry. We then headed to the back of Hatch End High Street to see the telephone exchange and award-winning fish and chip shop of Sea Pebbles. The walk ended at 1:00pm back at Hatch End station.
Report by Alpa
We met at the Black horse pub at 11 o'clock. We proceeded to walk past St Georges School and saw all the lovely paintings that the key worker kids had done. We then passed Churchill Hospital and started our ascent to the top of Harrow Hill. We were very lucky that the lovely historian Judith was with us. Judith was full of knowledge of all the buildings and what they were used for in past times. We then passed all the lovely shops up on the hill and Dan showed us the 'tuck shop' for the Harrow schoolboys. We then proceeded to go to Saint Mary's Church which is the highest point on the hill and Iwona showed us Byron's Monument. We then proceeded to Football Lane where we went down to watch the avid tennis players, and cross over back towards Sudbury and through two amazing woods which I have only recently found. Diane then saw the lovely longhorned cows grazing in the field. We proceeded on with our journey then to pass some allotments and go to the highest point in Sudbury where Tim pointed out various landmarks. We could see all the way from Stanmore Common past Wembley Stadium, amazing views.
Thank you all for making our walk amazing: Diane, Tim, Iwona, Judith and Tim.
Report by Martina
Our latest evening walk was the annual tour around the heritage area of Pinner village. We used the Pinner Association 10 walks book as our guide which included a history on each notable building seen. The most interesting were the East End Farm Cottages (15th century) and the Mosslane Cottage. Local experts Sarah and Dean T gave us an additional commentary including pointing out the house of one of the two Ronnies. We ended the trail at the Oddfellows (still closed).
Walkers were Brian, Dee, Julie, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
After a fight with the Station Car Park - Cynthia - we won! We then introduced ourselves and set off towards Cassiobury Park. I was delighted to see the colourful poppies had survived the recent wind and storms! Brian took a beautiful artistic socially distancing photograph. We then wandered through the Nature Reserve and followed the path to join the Grand Union Canal, admiring boats on the way. On the way, we discovered a homemade swing and relished childhood memories. I was impressed how all were willing to take up my challenge - "give it a go"! One member said after, "What a lark!". I think that said it all. We then met the young barge owner who set it up for his family, and he showed us how it was done "properly"! From the path we walked towards Whippendell Woods passing golf players and followed the circular route through the woods to our lunch stop, and to my delight... an ice cream van!
After lunch we took the path back and strolled through Cassiobury Park looking at the developments in kids pool area, local train, cafe and admired the "park your dog here" spaces. We ended back at the poppies, said our farewells and went our separate ways.
Thankyou to Rob P, Joanne, Cynthia, Harry and Brian for joining me.
Report by Dee
Poppies at Cassiobury - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Grand Union Canal - Photo by Brian
Ducklings by art barge - Photo by Brian
Crossing golf course - Photo by Brian
Return via Whippendell Woods - Photo by Brian
The 6 regular cyclists met at Isleworth on a sunny Sunday morning, with Nick presenting his new electric bike. Local boy Tim led us through old Isleworth passing 17th century alms houses. We then followed the west bank of the Thames with stops in the landscaped parks of Marble Hill House, Orleans House and Strawberry Hill House. The last one is the birthplace of the neo Gothic movement and we had our coffee break on the lawn, where Coogee shared out gob stoppers and pear drops for all.
We then cycled through Teddington and entered Bushy Park. Currently in all the royal parks, vehicles are banned, so walking and cycling in Bushy and Richmond Park is a more enjoyable experience. We had our picnic by the Diana Fountain and exchanged cycling chat with the owners of a folding electric tandem cycle - the first we had ever seen. Passing through Kingston we happened upon a famous street art installation, a row of tumbling red telephone boxes. We then reached Wimbledon Common where lots of people were out playing sports and ambling. We took tiffin at the Windmill, more gob stoppers plus apple pie for some, before our return to the start via Richmond Park.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P, Coogee, Nick, Dan and Diana.
Report by Brian
Marble Hill House - Photo by Brian
Eel Pie Island - Photo by Brian
Strawberry Hill House - Photo by Brian
Cycling in Bushy Park - Photo by Brian
Diana Fountain - Photo by Brian
Street art in Kingston - Photo by Brian
5 of us met outside Tring station on a slightly overcast Sunday morning. We started our walk by making our way down to the Grand Union Canal and then following the slightly overgrown canal footpath towards Cow Roast, where we then picked up the Hertfordshire Way heading gently uphill towards Wigginton. We were lucky enough to have spotted a deer in the very same barley field that we were in as we made our way along this path.
From Wigginton we then headed in towards Tring Park where we then picked up the Ridgeway Path. In Tring Park we paused to look at and take photos of a couple of follies, one being a summer house where the front facade is designed to look like an ancient temple and another a short distance from there, a 50 foot high obelisk. Local legend says that it was built to commemorate a visit to Tring by Charles II and Nell Gwyn. We also took the opportunity to take some photos of the views across Tring and the countryside beyond from various viewpoints as we made our way towards Hastoe, which is one of the highest points in Hertfordshire.
After Hastoe we headed downhill through Pavis Woods and then passed through Tring and on towards Little Tring. By now the sky had become very overcast. We followed the footpath around Marsworth Reservoir and then around Tringford Reservoir where we stopped for lunch and to put on our waterproof jackets as it had started to rain.
We again picked up the Grand Union Canal and headed towards our next high point of Pitstone Hill. Unfortunately the views from this viewpoint were a little disappointing as there was rain in the air and low clouds in the distance. We then followed the Ridgeway Path back towards our starting point at Tring Station after completing some 13.5 miles.
Many thanks to Phil, Cynthia, Anne G and Paul S for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
For our first walk since the reopening we walked the Celandine Way, first exploring Pinner Memorial Park and the historic West House. We then followed the River Pinn through allotments, meadows and riverside woodlands. The ground was firm and mud-free after the weeks of dry weather and we soon arrived at Eastcote House Gardens. We explored the walled gardens, a feast of colour at the time, with Sarah pointing out the names of many of the flowers. We returned via quiet streets and alley ways, finding the cul-de-sac of Birchmere Avenue to be a display of children's street art to support the NHS. Walkers were Brian, Dee, Michela, Julie C, Dean T and Sarah.
Report by Brian
On Celandine Route - Photo by Brian
Eastcote House gardens - Photo by Brian
Five brave souls braved the changeable weather on Sunday. A sunny start gave us a boost as we set off from West Byfleet station after a brief pause to meet a new member Iram. We soon found the Basingstoke canal that led us on a cheery walk discussing the local wildlife and the canal boats. As we reached the River Wey Navigation Canal the weather took a turn for the worst as we took a turn to the south. Hoods and hats were the order of the day as we sought hasty refuge in a local public house.
Suitably refreshed we restarted the walk during a break in the weather and made it to Wisley in fairly short order. Not the best time of year for Wisley really, but we made the most of it and had a good look round all the amazing gardens, the bonsai, the waterfalls and the greenhouse being the most memorable. Our timetable forced us to leave and we made the return journey in good spirits depite the grumpy weather.
Many thanks to Diane, Jeff, Humay and Iram for braving the weather and for your wonderful company.
Report by Dan
First of all, sincere apologies to anyone who did turn up at Seer Green at the advertised time and found no walk leader. I'm afraid I missed the train and arrived an hour later to find that - unsurprisingly - nobody was there to meet me at the station. I thought I had better make the best of the situation and attempted the route that I had recce'd a few weeks earlier. The sky was blue and it seemed like Storm Jorge might give South Bucks a miss after all. The homes of Seer Green looked very pretty in the sunshine; the only sign that all was not well was a warning notice on a post box highlighting its role in an ongoing dispute. At the end of the village, I found my way blocked by recent flooding so diverted across a farmer's field. By the time I entered Hodgemoor Woods, the wind had picked up and it had started to hail. Rather than risk getting stuck, I reluctantly decided to turn back, leaving Beaconsfield and the Royal Standard of England for another time (and maybe with a few more people...). I would not normally wish this, but I hope that anyone else who was thinking of coming along on yesterday's walk had been put off by the weather predictions. If you did turn up, my apologies once more. Maybe it's a Leap Year curse? In any case, I am keeping my walk leader 'L' plates and think that, for the next time at least, I'll join someone else on their walk!
Report by Michela
We had 5 of us on the Herts circular bike ride. We met at the manor site with Kerry on his brand new spotless mountain bike. Once on the canal we noted several pairs of swans at various points, with other cyclists, joggers and walkers sharing the towpath. There was also a unique design on one boat with the body of a car having been welded to the stern of the vessel. We stopped for lunch at the Batchworth Lock café where Coogee recounted some more yarns.
We then followed the Ebury Way, Sustrans route 6, which loops around Rickmansworth and Watford. This trail is on a former railway track partly on an embankment, with good views over the canal and streams below. We then climbed on a detour to the summit of Merry Hill before off road descent to Carpenders Park. The fields were very boggy so lots of mud now on the new cycle. We then headed south via Oxhey Woods to climb to the very impressive Pinner Hill House. A late Georgian manor, it is now the club house for Pinner Golf Course. We warmed up at the 19th hole with some red wine and the free pastries provided, and took in the excellent views eastwards across the valley.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Coogee, Diane and Dan.
Report by Brian
After a bit of a nightmare getting there (London transport...don't ya luv it?), a bunch of HAWOGers met in Parliament Square on Saturday, where we perused a few of the statues around Parliament Square: Gandhi and Nelson Mandela amongst them, and of course our very own Winston Churchill, before moving on for a quick look at the outside of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament (fantastic architecture!), and then heading off to Somerset House. On the way, we passed by York Watergate which is where the banks of the Thames used to be, before the embankment was built. We arrived in good time at Somerset House. Unfortunately there were too many of us to go on the tour but, no matter, it was a good spot for a coffee break. It was lovely to welcome some new faces (and some old ones of course). On my wanders, as we stroll along, I like to grow out a 'bit of useless information' which, fingers crossed, some people found useful?
After Somerset House, we crossed Waterloo Bridge, ending up along the south Bank of the Thames, passing by Gabriel's Wharf and the Oxo Tower. This area is part of Coin Street community builders, who bought the land from the government many years ago for one whole pound sterling, before going to on build a social community on the land. That community is still running today. On the way to Monument we passed Blackfriars Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, and further along went over London Bridge to reach the Monument - built to remember the Great Fire of London. 300+ steps up, at the top of Monument, once you got your breath back and your eyes stopped watering, there were wonderful views of London.
After that, we headed to Tower Bridge where we enjoyed more views of London from the top, but even more impressive were the views down through the glass floor and the reflection in mirrors overhead. On the way out we visited the engine rooms and marvelled at just how clever those folk were, way back when the bridge was built. Post engine rooms, some people headed off home whilst the rest of us went to the Shard, hoping to get a drink on the 31st floor, but the queues were so long we decided on an ale or two from the pub around the corner.
All in all, a windy but pleasant day out, thank you for coming long. It was lovely to see you, new and old alike: Nadia, Nitti, Nikola, Louise, Ella, Pauline, Phuong, Dawn, Dan and Diane, Dee, Campervan Ann, and not forgetting, of course, Gilly and Freddy. I dont think there is, but if there is anyone I've forgotten, I'm really sorry, my only excuse is I'm over 60 now and my memory isn't what it was. See y'all soon.
Report by Coogee
Light rain had stopped by the time 14 of us met at Eleanor Cross statue in front of Charing Cross station. We paused to take a look at the original embankment steps of what was once a much wider Thames, and as we walked across Hungerford Bridge to the South Bank, the weather was already brightening up. I was using the wonderful Thames guide by David Fathers to explore another section of the Thames Path. This time we were south of the river in Lambeth. Our 7 mile walk took in the history of this part of London, and the spectacular changes in progress on the riverside. We walked up-river alongside Jubilee Gardens, and past the London Eye and the former County Hall. We stopped for views of the Houses of Parliament across the Thames, currently still under renovation. Our walk continued under Westminster Bridge, along Albert Embankment, and passing St Thomas' Hospital, we saw the historic Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Bridge and the Basaveshwara statue. We saw the MI6 building from the street side and from Vauxhall Bridge. The St George Wharf area was completely redeveloped as luxury flats. Further along, we had a close up look at the new US Embassy building, complete with moat and waterfall. Luckily Dan was familiar with the whole site of the imposing Battersea Power Station, and even located the dog-friendly cafe amongst the eateries there. Here we had good coffee and lunch.
Onwards, we explored Battersea Park, with its Japanese Peace Pagoda, abstract statues and boating lake. For most our walk concluded at the SE corner of the park, for easy access to Battersea Park station. Only Pauline, Helen, Tim and Brian chose to cross the splendid Albert Bridge with me, in search of ye olde English pub. We ambled along Cheyne Walk, reading blue plaques on the houses. At Sloane Square that pub was still eluding us. The Gloucester proudly proclaims itself "the only pub on Sloane Street". It was a round from Pauline and cosy seating upstairs.
My thanks go to Dan for sharing his knowledge of Battersea, to my deputy tour guide, Brian, who brought along his own Father, and to all attendees for your lively company.
Report by Gilly
Our first cycle ride of the year was an easy 18 mile ride from Uxbridge taking in the villages of Colnbrook, Poyle, Longford, Harmondsworth, Sipson and Harlington. Five of us met at the always welcoming Rusty Bike Café at Fassnidge Park. We followed the Grand Union Canal south to West Drayton. Kerry then led us on a detour to the heritage area of Drayton Green with Georgian manor house and old mill building on the River Colne. We then followed the Colne Valley Cycle trail to the Colnbrook roadside transport café featured in several crime dramas. We stopped for coffee at the historic coaching Inn of The Ostrich (founded in 1109) and acknowledged as the third oldest pub in England.
Cycling through Polyle and Longford (just under the flight path) we then headed alongside the high security fences of the immigration detention centre to reach the hidden hamlet of Harmondsworth. We saw the 14th century tithe barn, church and manor house before our lunch break at the Crown. Our route continued through the threatened villages of Sipson and Harlington, stopping to watch QPR training and Dean to explain about caplimism. We then cycled through the new Vinyl factory redevelopment in Hayes and back to start.
Thanks to Kerry, Dean, Diane and Dan for joining me on this ride.
Report by Brian
9 of us met at Amersham station on a damp Sunday morning, as we headed off towards our first village the drizzle stopped, and we quickly warmed up as we gently went up the long hill from Amersham towards Coleshill. These paths had become very wet, muddy and slippery, which was to become the theme for the day's walk. On arriving at Coleshill, we paused for a while to admire the windmill and to take some photos of this landmark before setting off towards Winchmore Hill. On arrival we stopped for a while on the green for a late morning coffee.
We then set off for the common at Penn Street. The sky remained overcast but dry. This encouraged us to keep up a good pace as rain was predicted for later on in the day. Without stopping at Penn Green, we carried on through Penn Wood, and down and along a road which had been closed to traffic for 10 years which made a pleasant change to the boggy footpaths which we had become used to, and into the picturesque village of Little Missenden. Having arrived in good time we stopped for a very pleasant lunch break at the Red Lion. Whilst having lunch the sky opened up and it began to rain, forcing us to put on our waterproofs.
From Little Missenden we followed the river back towards Amersham pausing to stop to count the piglets in a field. The rain continued as we headed across the fields towards Amersham and not easing off until we finally reached town. We managed the long climb back up to the hill to the station with only a minute to spare before the train arrived for those travelling back by train. We quickly said our goodbyes and made our way home to wash down and dry out.
Many thanks to Mike D, Mary, Sarah, Dean, Pankaj, Martha, Dee and Mike S for joining me on this wet but quite enjoyable walk.
Report by Malcolm
On a very sunny wintry Saturday morning 23 of us met for coffees at the Tap (beautifully preserved Victorian era station pub) at Kew Gardens railway station. This included 5 new recruits who had joined at the NME 2 days before. We introduced everyone including those from the French language group who joined us for the walk. At Kew Green we stopped at the impressive Baroque era St Ann's church where the verger showed us the tomb of Gainsborough. A very keen Tim P joined us here straight from running the Parkrun at Osterley.
We crossed the Thames and continued on the Thames Path through the constantly changing riverfront of Brentford. After passing several looming apartment blocks (with naval design themes) we came across a working boatyard, the sparks from the welding seemed incongruous amidst the mass of redevelopments. The riverfront was filled with house boats and Dutch barges; plumes of smoke rising from the wood fires aboard.
We then entered Syon Park and took in the Palladian grandeur of Syon House. Our refreshment stop was at the London Apprentice in old Osterley village where we took in the features of this 17th century hostelry. We rejoined the Thames Path for the final section through Twickenham before we ended the walk at Tide Tables riverside tea rooms at Richmond.
Walkers were Brian, Anne, Aruna, Coogee, Dan, Diane, Gilly, Malcolm, Pauline, Rachel, Rob P, Rob W and Sugandha, plus new recruits Dee, Julie, Isabela, Nadia and Nadine.
Report by Brian
Sixteen new year walkers including new joiners young Daniel and his parents, plus Jasper the dog set off from Chalfont Latimer station on a cool overcast Sunday morning. This was a 7 mile linear walk to Chorleywood station through the Chess Valley.
Entering West Wood we descended the leaf covered hill towards the River Chess and Latimer Estate stopping on the bridge to look at the weir and a pair of resident swans. We then walked up the gentle slope towards the Tudor style mansion Latimer House, now a De Vere hotel, we decided it was rather too posh to stop for 'high tea'. Onwards eastbound towards the site of the former medieval village of Flaunden and the remains of the original Saint Mary Magdalene Church, which fell into disrepair in the late 1800s before being finally demolished in 1940. Jeff found us gathered here and continued with us. Rejoining the footpath our next stop was at the tomb of William Liberty, a bricklayer from the former village and relative of the founders of Liberty's of London, who died in 1777. It was his wish to be buried alone on the estate, but he was joined thirty two years later by his wife who died in 1809. Continuing along the Chess we skirted around Frogmore Meadows Nature Reserve and stopped at the watercress farm for a group photograph. Further down the path we passed a field of horses later upstaged by some beautiful furry friends, the Chiltern alpacas (native to Peru). Carrying on to Sarratt Bottom we ascended to the warm and welcoming Cock Inn for our lunch, when the sun poked out. At the pub we enjoyed a decent break and a very good lunch by a nice log fire.
Leaving the rustic setting, suitably filled and warmed up, we descended the steep hill down to the Chess valley before tracing our steps through the wood up to the Chorleywood House estate. On reaching the top we made a slight diversion to play spot the carvings in the enchanting Dell Wood, which are well worth seeing if you've never been there before. Finally we crossed the tree lined Common, bearing more wooden sculpts, arriving at Chorleywood station just before 3:00pm, where we said our fond farewells. Many thanks to Michael for helping and standing in for Michela who unfortunately had the bug.
Thank you to Malcolm, Humay, Mark, Vic, Janet, Elaine, Derek, Prem, Sarah, Dean, Sven, Polina, Daniel, Rita, Jeff and Michael for your company on this walk, it was most enjoyable.
Report by Aruna