Photos & Reports

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

After getting the bus from Guildford we gathered in Shere eager to start our walk. We explored the picturesque village high street before visiting Shere's magnificent 12th century church with its rather interesting history. We continued our walk heading towards the silent pool. As we neared the silent pool we got distracted by the nearby Albury Vineyard and tempted by the wine tasting. After looking at the rather murky waters of the silent pool we again got distracted by the Silent Pool Distillery and tempted by the various flavoured gins.

A steep climb up to the North Downs Way followed. As we neared the lunch stop at Newlands Corner the heavens opened with torrential rain, so we sheltered under the kiosk whilst getting some food and refreshments. We explored the visitor centre whilst waiting for the rains to pass. The bird feeder outside the window generated particular interest. The rains did not pass so we carried on regardless.

We followed the North Downs Way to the fabulous viewpoint at St Martha's on the hill. However, on this misty rainy day the views disappointed. With the rains still upon us we descended fairly rapidly to get to Guildford. We briefly explored Guildford castle, the grounds, and the bowling green, before wandering the high street where we found a little alley and a pub where we ended the walk with some much needed refreshments. Many thanks to Brian, Jeff, Brigitta, Topaz, Chris, Richard and David for joining me on the walk.

Report by Mark
The weather was good for walking - perfect temperature and no rain, despite some threats at lunchtime. The area is green and scenic but somehow not very popular with hikers - not only is the vegetation overgrown on some paths, but the signs are missing, fallen or hidden in the vegetation; finding them was an entertaining sport, and I did find most of them, but the biggest problem was that some fields which the actual paths were passing through were either closed or some of them populated by young bulls.

Trying to find alternate ways out added 1.9 miles to the intended 12. Daniel didn't complain.

The lunch at The Plough in Leigh was tasty and the service very prompt.

Thanks to Rodica, Monica and Daniel for joining me.

Report by Marin

6 of us met up last weekend to walk the next section of the South Downs Way.

Saturday's 19 mile walk started on the edge of the Queen Elisabeth Country Park, and took us across Harting Downs and Graffham Down, finishing on Bignor Hill. In the evening, we enjoyed an excellent Thai meal in Chichester (a vast improvement on Friday evening's disappointing Mexican meal).

Sunday's 15 mile walk started from where we left off the previous day, finishing just after the fort at Chanctonbury Ring.

The temperature on both days reached around 26-27C (in the shade, and there wasn't very much of that!), and the chalky surface of the path reflected the heat which made it feel even hotter, as well as being quite hard to walk on, so well done to Amanda, Emma, Karen, Marin and Steve for finishing both days' walks in such good time in such difficult conditions.

Report by Phil

Well the promised rain never arrived and Sunday turned into another one of those beautiful sunny days, albeit maybe slightly too hot for walking the 20 miles or so I marched the 5 intrepid guys who joined me. Luckily I had planned lots of tree-lined shady corridors, or as Marin described them "small dark places" along the way, which helped keep the temperature down. The fields are glorious this time of year with golden barley as far as the eye could see at one of our few high points along the route. There were a few vibrant fields of wheat too, but we all managed to restrain ourselves and not run through them, take note Theresa May.

Starting off from Rickmansworth station we passed the intriguing Masonic school for girls, no strange ceremonies on show, over the motorway and into the familiar Chess valley. Deciding we were too hardcore to stop at the Red Lion in Chenies we walked on to Chorleywood West, past several cricket matches and a couple of gorgeous meadows full of flowers and butterflies. Then through the Chalfonts, St Giles and St Peter, where we cleaned out the Portuguese café of all its custard tarts. Through the posh housing estate of Chalfont Heights, and under the motorway this time to our 'Sting, Fields of Gold' moment at the top of Old Shire Lane. Turning back for home we, walked through the water with lakes on both sides to the Coy Carp where we made the most of the shade, and a quick half pint.

Almost leaving Marin behind who decided to take a Sunday snooze, we completed the final section along the Grand Union Canal with the usual eclectic mix of life along its banks, including the giant monkey and a Tesco mooring station for aquatic customers. After a final sunny stop for ice cream at Batchworth Lock we made it back to the station we started from in the morning.

The usual arguments of which gadget is more accurate ensued, but since I was the leader my GPS version is the official one, 20.7 miles completed at around 3.5 to 3.2 miles an hour. Well done to Humay for completing his PB, Jim for walking most of it at great speed in some of the heaviest boots I have seen, Ian for travelling all the way from Oxford to join us, Phil for being back to his normal speedy self and Marin for being Marin and not arguing with me too much! Thanks for joining me everyone, you all made it a great day.

Report by Emma

15 of us met at Eastcote for the latest evening walk. New joiners Kevin, Michael, Jim, Mike Mc and Mike L joined regulars Kerry, Brian, Colin, Zoe, Nick, Mark and Vic (together with 2 potential members, David and Doreen).

We passed through Roxbourne Park, following the Yeading brook path for part of the way. We came across a partly excavated early 20th century miniature golf course beyond the woods. We then continued along the Celandine Way through meadows and woodlands. We explored the grounds of Eastcote House and stable block.

The walk finished at the newly reopened Case is Altered in Eastcote where we were joined by many former members as it was by coincidence the monthly hawks summit. Lots of catching up so will anticipate more recruits joining soon.

Report by Kerry
Set off from Ibstone on the Chiltern Way heading towards Northend. Left the Chiltern Way behind in College Wood and took a more direct route south to Pishill. Had the first cooling sprinkling of rain of the day but it didn't last. Reached Pishill about 11:30 and took the Oxfordshire Way heading south to Park Wood and then on to Stonor Park. Stopped for lunch overlooking Stonor House and discovered what a great programme of events they have over the summer including outdoor cinema and proms in the park. A beautiful woodland walk led to Southend and then rejoined the Chiltern Way all the way into Turville. From Turville took the steepest track leading back to Ibstone and finished the walk at 2.45 pm completing about 11 miles.

Report by Mary
The second camping trip of the summer saw us return on another scorchio weekend to Holycombe campsite in the Cotswolds. Debutant campers Mary, Jilly, Diane and Ben joined veterans Brian, Jan, Carla, Tim, Martina, Mike D, Nick, Rachael and Mark. Holycombe is in an idyllic Cotswold setting within the moat of a Norman Castle. Jan and Carla went glamping this year in a lavishly furnished Mongolian Yurt with attached boudoir.

We set off on the evening walk to Wychford pottery and the funky Straw Kitchen café stocking up with cakes for Saturday. Mary and Jilly tried out the refreshing Cotswold Gin at the Norman Knight before the group had a very pleasant evening meal. We were joined for desserts by the campsite owner who chatted about his plans. Marshmallows were then toasted around the roaring camp fire, with the church bells ringing out on the quarter to lull us to sleep.

Saturday was another hot sunny day as we awoke to Glastonbury on Radio 2. The 10 mile walk was actually 13 miles based on the Marin / Steve calibration technique. Our walk took us through Cherrington, Todenham and Great Wolford, picturesque villages with the Cotswold honey-coloured stone shining in the sunlight. We had our picnic on the village green at Todenham under the shade of an oak tree, before walking like a Theresa through the waist high corn fields on the Shakespeare Way. At Cherrington we happened upon Trudies wonderful tea shop where we enjoyed cream teas and iced cordials in the garden and were joined by former members and locals Peter, Jane, Freddy, Mike and Li Sha. The route back to site took us over Margetts Hill with stunning views over the meadows, the sheep languidly grazing in the distance.

The barbecue was arranged by Nick, Tim and Martina with Diane providing the banana cake and Brian the apple pie. It was a clear blue sky and as just after the longest day the light stayed past 10pm as we lit the camp fire. The wine flowed and stories emerged from Jilly of being rescued at Glastonbury by Mr Eavis; from Jan of her misadventures on a yacht and from Rachael of her time as a coiffeuse to Mrs M.

After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday we struck camp. Mike D led a group to explore the Jacobean National Trust manor at Chastleton. The rest went to Sibford Gower for the annual Open Gardens festival. We explored the colourful and fragrant gardens, meeting the vicar and verger by the old manor house. We finished with exceedingly good strawberry sponge cakes at the village hall in this timeless corner of the Cotswolds.

Report by Brian

This Thames Path evening walk took place on another blistering hot day; being also the longest day it was perfect for enjoying the long hours of daylight along the river path from Kew Bridge to Barnes. We met on the riverside terrace of One over the Ait for drinks before setting off. The towpath on Strand on the Green was crowded with lots of drinkers sitting outside the many pubs on this section of the path. There were also several canoe clubs out on this sweltering evening, George led us on a detour through Dukes Meadow Sports grounds where he is a tennis coach, Jan and Nick checked out the driving ranges.

At Barnes Bridge we crossed the Thames with great views upstream from the footbridge. Walking through the heritage area of Barnes village Rob pointed out the architectural features. We arrived at the common to take in some welcome cooling drinks in the front terrace gardens of the Sun inn in this very scenic corner of London.

Report by Brian

7 of us met on another scorchio Sunday in this heatwave summer, for the annual Open Square Gardens day. We explored ten gardens as part of our urban walk through Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia. All the gardens were splendidly maintained and several had newly installed sculptures and water features. Nick pointed out many of the unusual trees and shrubs on display. Most of the gardens had lovely tea and cakes on offer which we enjoyed in the shady seating areas. There was also music, a poet reciting verses, and a display of marionettes (the artist featured in "Oh What A Lovely War").

Our lunch was taken in the secret Bina Gardens, under the shade of a stunning Wedding Cake tree. The route took in the impressive architecture of these quarters; Derek providing his astute observations on the changing styles. At the Moroccan gardens at Rococo we met an EastEnders star who joined us on the tour. We finished at Eaton Square gardens with sparkling wine on the lawn listening to music from the band and the soothing sounds of the water fountains at this hidden gem.

Report by Brian

A great crowd for the navigation workshop. A very hot and sunny day starting at Chesham station. After a coffee and quick introduction, we ventured out on to the surrounding farmland. Beginning with setting the map using features, direction and distance. Building on our learning using the compass and timings to end on pacing and bearings in the poor visibility of the woodland setting.

Despite the hot conditions, concentration remained high. We completed the session looking at the shapes of land features using contour lines and a card sort to consolidate the learning for the day. Lots to practice and encouragement to continue to increase confidence. I will be running future workshops to build on the learning and some night navigation workshops in the early autumn.

Report by Heather

Ten of us met at Hambleden on a lovely summer morning. The weather forecast was set for high temperatures and humidity, this proved to be correct. We set out at a brisk pace up Red Hill towards Lower Woodend Farm. While resting in the woods Claire announced that her supply of water was still frozen (having left it in the freezer a little too long) and was unable to get a drink. Team HAWOG put their formidable brainpower together and solved the dilemma by draining a little off into a bottle. The numerous hills were proving to be a challenge in the heat, however the views were truly superb.

Beyond Stonor we picked up the Oxfordshhire Way heading north toward our lunch break at Pishill. Taking a longer than usual stop to try and cool down we sat in the church yard to eat our lunch and were able to replenish our water supplies at a tap conveniently placed just inside the gate. It was too hot to worry about the possibility of getting a stomach bug! Marin and Rodica went straight to the pub for a glass of something cold. The rest of the group also went to the pub for a well earned drink.

I think we all agreed that this was a great day out, even in 30 degrees or so of heat. Well done to all, especially the ones carrying injuries...

Thanks to Anna, Claire, Deirdre, Emma, Rodica, Humay, Marin, Phil and Steve.

Report by Mike

We had our annual summer garden party in the grounds of the church last week. On a fine evening on the hill Mike and Cathy set out a vast array of home made cup cakes, sandwiches, salads, tarts and pastries. We welcomed along around 35 new joiners and regulars. Lots were planning their first camping trip or navigation course with the group so was a good opportunity to meet and plan walks. The winning cake was made by Humay, Mike presenting the prize. Well done to Mike and Cathy for hosting the evening.

Report by Brian

The area is one of the most scenic in England - beautiful views over green valleys and hills with no major roads to spoil the mood with their noise. The experience was enhanced by the weather, which was perfect - sunny with rare clouds and a gentle breeze.

Despite doing a similar walk in the area 6 years ago, I managed to add some small extensions to the route before lunch, which we had at Granary Café in Polesden Lacey. Afraid of doing the same after lunch, I decided to take a more direct route north to the North Downs Way. Much to my surprise I did not lose the track in the woods at all and somehow I managed to cut one mile from the total length of the walk. The sudden arrival at the end was received with different feelings. Rodica, a bit out of breath due to the pace and number of hills and Steve, happy to be able to reunite earlier with his family, were relieved. Emma was a bit disappointed. I promise I will add an extra mile next time she has the temerity to join one of my walks.

All in all it was a refreshing day out spent in a happy atmosphere in an area we should come back to. Thanks everybody for joining me.

Report by Marin

The first camping trip of the summer saw us venture to Blackberries campsite between Bath and Bradford. Debutant campers Chris, Zoe, Kim, Mark and Eliza joined veterans Brian, Leo, Jan, Tim, Martina, Sandra, Rob, Nick, Rachael, Paul, Bev and Louise (plus Daniel, Olly, Archie, Bobbie and Ellie). We set up camp in the sun helped along by Jan's wine and R2. New tents were in evidence this year, with more tables and director chairs than ever.

We set off on the evening walk to Brown's Folly. This gives stunning views over the Avon valley, Brian and Sandra managing to climb to the summit via crumbling precarious internal staircase. Martina, Louise and Daniel set off downhill for geo caching whilst the rest headed along the ridge and thence to Monkton Farleigh village. We stopped for drinks in the charming Kings Arms (originally a monastery), taking over the round table themed table and benches in the garden. Back at site we had a novel experience - an Indian take-away delivered to the campsite. Afterwards Tim lit up the campfire for the revels to commence led once more by Leo and Sandra.

Saturday was another fine day as we awoke to Tony's 60's show (RIP BM). Martina, Bev and Rachael ventured forth once more to discover geo caches. The rest set off on the 12 mile circular route to Bradford. We descended from the high plateau down to the river Avon. Then appeared an O.S. anomaly, no river crossing. The troll of the weir happened along (we were on his land). He suggested we try the weir. "Can one cross it?" "Lots of people do it, I often cross it and I'm 82". Prudence also happened along so we detoured to the next stop, Dundas Aqueduct, an impressive example of Georgian era civil engineering. We had lunch there at the canal side café. Onwards along the Avon canal towpath, fine views all the way. Passing a heron perched high above us we then saw a canoe dramatically capsize at high speed and applauded their dexterity. Avoncliffe aqueduct the next stop with cooling drinks in the terraced gardens, deckchairs for us to enjoy the warm afternoon and watch the swans and cygnets gliding towards the aqueduct. The canal path took us on to Bradford, a lovely Saxon era town full of stone tithe barns, mills, churches and mansions. Leo's group partook of some ale in town whilst the others had coffee and cakes at a stylish tea shop. Back at site Tim and Nick lit up the barbecue, lashings of ginger beer provided by Kim. We then had 2 campfires on the go, lots of tall tales and revelations, many elicited by the Captain Morgan Rum shared with all by Chris.

Sunday was a leisurely start, Paul cooking another huge gourmet breakfast for the family. Our walk today was the National Trust Skyline Walk along the hills surrounding Bath. The walk featured tree swings (Brian and Nick demonstrating their agility), climbing frames and assault course. We enjoyed the panoramic views over Bath before descending to town. Lunch as was at an 18th century café on the famous Pulteney Bridge. We then explored the Abbey and the delightful architecture of the old town. Happening upon the annual Boules festival on the main square; teams dressed in fancy dress competed on multiple courses. We joined the spectators for a rather splendid Pimms session in this most charming town.

Report by Brian

5 of us met on a very sunny and warm morning in Hampstead for the cycle ride. New recruit George, joining returnee Rob and regulars, Brian, Jeff and Kerry. We had a mix of models, Royal Dutch Gazelle, folding bike, 2 hybrids and George's electric bike.

We climbed through impressive villas and new developments to reach Annesley Lodge, the Arts and Craft masterpiece of Voysey. We ventured next door to Craxton Studios where a violin recital was in progress, Jeff recognising the score. We climbed further north along cycle paths to Golders Hill Park with its mini zoo. After the long climb in the sun we stopped for welcome ice creams at the terrace viewpoint.

Our route then took in the interesting architecture of Hampstead Garden Suburb with its grand villas overlooking the Heath. We popped into St Judes, Lutyens finest Edwardian creation. The congregation were gathering over squash so they invited us to join them and indicated the stunning wall paintings by Walter Starmer. We then headed south to visit Kenwood House. An English Heritage wine tasting was on offer on the upper terrace so we tried some unusual samples whilst admiring the view over the lake.

We cycled along the ridge route to Highgate village, visiting the unique shrine to GM on the village green. After some cooling drinks at the Flask by the green we raced through a network of side streets to find the Park Walk. This Sustran path retains extensive railway heritage on the way to Finsbury Park. After picnic lunch by the boating lake we recommenced south to Clissold Park with its impressive Georgian Manor by the village church. Our route ended at the hidden Dalston Curve Gardens. This is a community created and managed oasis with winding paths through shrubs and flower beds. It is a very popular meeting venue for locals so we joined them for a final tiffin stop here amidst the foliage on another fine sunny evening.

Report by Brian

3 of us met at 9:45am on a sunny Sunday morning outside Waltham Cross station. Before starting the walk proper, we made a brief detour to Waltham Abbey church, and saw the spot where King Harold (who was killed at the battle of Hastings) is said to be buried. Returning to the river Lea, we began the walk, and were joined by 2 more walkers at Ponders End (one of whom had caught us up after a late start). We stopped for lunch at around the half way point by Tottenham Locks.

After lunch, we carried on along the river, passing Hackney Marsh and then the familiar sights of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the path got somewhat busier. After Bromley-by-Bow, we followed the Limehouse Cut, reaching the Limehouse Basin and the river Thames shortly before 4pm, having covered a distance of 17 miles. After a well-deserved stop for refreshments, we headed home.

Thanks to Anna, Nathalie, Rachel and Sasha for joining me.

Report by Phil
Prompt 10am depart from Chesham station for Amanda, Anna, Emma, Jane and myself for my Chesham Twentyish mile walk. A few wrong turns at the start until we got high of Chesham and heading north to Lye Green. Then newish paths for me at least, continuing north to Berkhamsted via Hockeridge Bottom wood and through the very posh roads to our lunch stop in the park.

After lunch, more new paths, again heading out through more very posh roads to cross the A41 on foot. No footbridge or underpass. The footpath goes across two lanes each way of national speed limit traffic with a break between the crash barriers in the middle. West ish paths for the next hour or so to Heath End and Cholesbury where we stopped for tea on the common and saw the windmill.

The Chiltern Way south westish beckoned which we departed around the Lee's to head eastish (had to be) passing Ballinger Common and then home via Herberts Hole and up to descend into Chesham just before five thirty.

The shock was the ish was negative as Emma's gadget said we did 19 miles. I'll cut myself a new piece of string before my next walk. Weather pleasant overall, sun, cloud and breeze, certainly not the hotter weather the forecast the night before suggested. Thanks all for joining me.

Report by Steve
6 of us met on a gloriously sunny evening for the first evening walk of the summer. We arrived early for some cooling drinks in the beer garden of the canal side Fox Inn. Recent joiners Jilly, Mary and Basia joining us with regulars, Brian and Vic plus prospective member Jelena.

Just after starting the walk we came upon a canal side jamming session taking place by Brent Meadows locks. We listened to the music and chatted to other walkers. The Brent valley path passed through Churchfields Park and alongside Brunel's viaduct. Lots of people were playing sports and walking in the park on such a fine evening. We ventured into the Millennium maze, Vic remembering the code from last year. We continued through the Bunny Park Zoo and into Hanwell heritage area, before taking quiet back streets back to the pub where some surprise guests joined us.

Report by Brian

Glorious day - the good weather (two very short showers and stunning cloudy sky the rest of the time) and the idyllic area asked for an improvement of the walking experience. So we decided to stop stopping during the walk. We even had drinks of water and a sandwich while walking and we stopped only when I went off course, which was less than usual. Either my map reading is improving or the continuous walking helps. OK, we cheated once or twice using Emma's magical phone but I was almost always right. The result was that we reached the end of the walk (19 miles instead of the advertised 18) in record time. We could have stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant but the fear of being late at a birthday celebration to which we were invited cut off this distraction. This must be the future of walking, we have to spread the word.

Report by Marin
Twelve of us set off from Otford station, coming quickly upon St Bartholomew's church, dating from the 12th century. A quick look inside revealed some interesting wall hangings and an unusual Easter crib scene. Moving along past a converted old school house and a medieval hall we picked up the Darent valley path, passing a pretty converted Oast house. Initial progress was slow with so many pretty buildings but we picked up the pace alongside the river Darent, although the very large scout troop(s) on their 21 miler soon overtook us. Lunch was at the Crown in Shoreham, a pub which was not so walker friendly. Shoreham's church of St Peter and Paul boasted a large wooden rood screen and a fabulous stained glass window by the pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Crossing the river to leave Shoreham we continued along to Lullingstone castle and Roman villa, where after tasting the local wines one checked out the Roman mosaics, while the rest of us indulged in some ice cream. The ford at Eynsford was tame due to the dry April but the tea shop was superb. We finished the walk at the ruin of Eynsford castle (still free to enter, although perhaps not for too long). A lovely castle with plenty left to the imagination.

Thanks to everyone for joining me on this interesting walk through Kent villages.

Report by Deirdre

Four adults, one baby and two dogs attended part or all of my walk and visit to Hughenden Manor.

We departed West Wycombe just after 10am on our slightly amended buggy-friendly route as no one brought a buggy. So a few stiles allowed us a slightly better route out. After the railway line we were quickly ascending into Bradenham Woods which were remarkedly light on others considering the weather was a nice sunny spring morning.

Downley Common and woods before a short ascent to Hughenden Manor for lunch. Busy as expected but we'd brought packed lunches so no need to queue for ours. After lunch some went to find the Disraeli Monument - don't think I've been there so will have to include in a walk sometime in the future - whilst others went to the manor and then home via a more direct and very buggy-friendly route taking in Downley village.

Thanks to Nick, Rachael, Carol and Lochlan plus Nick's two dogs for joining me for this six-ish mile walk.

Report by Steve R
The location was perfect - the nearest path was located at the corner of the house, pubs, restaurants and Spar shop within 200m. The Old Post Office cottage has three en-suite bedrooms, a very well equipped and kitchen, all kept clean by a very energetic owner, Judith who was so kind to leave for us fresh homemade cookies and a bottle of wine. The father of Luci / Amazon Prime decided to make the Saturday walk a bit tougher adding high winds to the cloudy day. Sunday was sunny and windless, almost a summer day.

The walks were as follows: Saturday's walk was 16 miles long, with a total vertical ascent of more than 2000 ft. NW up the top of Lose Hill, W to Hollins Cross, N to Edale, SW to the top to Lord's Seat and E cross its Ridgeway, S to Old Moor NE to Castleton via Limstone Way and back W to Hope. Sunday's walk was 12 miles long, with a total vertical ascent of more than 1100 ft. N up to Hope Cross SW along Ladybower Reservoir down to the Weir and back E to Hope over Win Hill.

The food at The Old Hotel pub was so-so but that offered by The Curry Cabin was exceptional - we fully recommend this restaurant if you visit Hope.

It was a very enjoyable active weekend with a very pleasant group atmosphere - thanks Amanda, Karen and Paul for joining me.

Report by Marin
We had another large group for the annual open day at Perivale Woods. There was the usual confusion at the station as many groups assembling there - several exchanges of personnel from one side to the other took place.

The carpet of bluebells were in fine display as we followed the winding paths through the ancient woods - full of oaks, ash, hazel and many other trees. In the heart of the wood there was a display of nature studies by the Society and we met Jessica, the group's new artist, who was painting a new water colour by the tree house. After the walk we had teas and cakes at the newly opened Bluebell Centre before climbing up Horsenden Hill to the summit. After a descent through Horsenden Woods we finished with a late lunch at the Ballot Box.

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

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

Report by Deirdre

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report by Dave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report by Rodica

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

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

Report by Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many thanks to Jeff.

Report by Mike