26 HAWOG members met at the YHA hostel in Brighton for our December weekend away. The hostel was formerly the Royal York Hotel and is just a few yards from the Brighton seafront and pier.
The evening's planned activity was to walk down to the pier to watch the starling murmuration, followed by a walk along the beach front and a fish and chip supper. Unfortunately we arrived at the beach just a short while after the starlings had settled down for the night, but we were treated to a spectacular sunset as we walked along the beach to the now derelict West Pier. After our walk we headed into Harry Ramsden's fish and chip restaurant, spending quite some time in the establishment eating and drinking.
Saturday's walk leader planned the walk to start at 9:15 knowing that normally this means that we would actually leave at 9:30. Not this group of walkers - everyone had had breakfast and was ready on time. Our walk took us along the seafront in the opposite direction to the previous evening's walk, for a mile and half, at pace. Yhis must have had something to do with the freezing temperature with a clear blue sky and bright sunshine. After leaving the coast we headed gently uphill for another mile or so, taking in the fantastic views of the South Downs and Brighton in the distance behind us. Our route followed the Brighton race course so navigation proved not to be too difficult until we were less than 2 miles from our final destination. Unfortunately as we were making our way along the footpath it was blocked in several places by fallen trees. Battling on, we finally arrived at the Brighton and Hove stadium where a short walk took us into the small village of Falmer where we had lunch by the pond and visited the local church. We then made our way to the local pub for well-deserved drinks before taking the bus back to the hostel in plenty of time to catch the starling murmuration. Making our way down to the beach we waited patiently for the birds to arrive in small groups, which formed into a much larger group of thousands of birds, putting on a display, rapidly changing direction against another fantastic sunset before they dived under the pier, disappearing for the night. Unfortunately one of the group had felt unwell and had to leave for home early. They had they use of a single room and so Top Bunk Humay was there like a flash to fill the vacant room.
Saturday evening took us to the Cricketers for our evening meal. Although we were in Brighton on a Saturday evening in December food arrived with only a little delay.
On Sunday we split in to smaller groups, with some being lifted 450ft into the air on the 360 viewing platform to take in the views. Unfortunately the weather (rain) was restricting these a little. Others went to the Brighton Pavilion to explore the building and its art works whilst some visited the Lanes and its many shops. Despite the train strikes everyone managed to make their way home without too much difficulty, for a much deserved rest to recuperate from the weekend's activities.
Thank you to Rina, June, Humay, Mark, Hira, Jane, Jeremy, Nick H, Kokila, Jyotsna, Coogee, Con, Soraya, Laura, Claire, Christine, Anne-Maria, Joan, Janet, Anne, Sally, Kevin, Louise and Penelope for a fabulous weekend.
9 walkers braved the freezing wilds of Eastcote on this gentle suburban walk. Was lovely to meet newish members and old alike and hopefully they will feel happy to join other walks more regularly. We walked past the shops to the mock Tudor Cavendish country house in Roxbourne Park, past the site of HAWOG Tuesday tennis, crunching leaves through thankfully frozen muddy paths to Bessingby Park, Pine Gardens and Cavendish Park. We chatted to a local, who kindly took a photo for us before making our way to part of the Hillingdon Trail, following Yeading Brook. We followed the water's edge to Roxbourne Park and finally entered the nature reserve, eventually finding the elusive pond in the midst of the Rough as the area is called. We then left the reserve and once again entered suburbia, past a Hansel and Gretel bungalow to a mass lunch with hot drinks to defrost everyone after the morning's freezing temperatures!
Thank you all the walkers today for your good company and chat - Laurence P, Sarah T, Gertie, Efisia, Dean T, Tim, David L and Cathy O.
Five of us met at 6pm at All Saints church near Oxford Circus for this walk to get ourselves in the mood for Christmas. Before leaving we all had a look around this wonderful church which is Gothic in style. We made our way onto Oxford Street and into Carnaby Street to see the Christmas lights. All of the lights are great and interestingly I feel that several side streets and shops are also making a lot more of the lights and decorations. We walked onto Trafalgar Square and headed into The Chandos for a drink. After refreshment we carried on towards the river. As it was midweek it was not too busy which allowed us to enjoy the walk. We did a brief stop in Zedal (French restaurant in Piccadilly) to admire this beautiful gem. As we walked over the River Thames I have to say we all agreed that London really does look fabulous at the moment and we continued along the South Bank to Tower Bridge. I thought the Globe looked particularly nice lit up, and the changing lights on the top of the Shard give a great effect. We wandered around the Christmas Market at Hays Galleria and the stalls by HMS Belfast but decided to head back at 9ish as the temperature was dropping.
Big thanks to my all female crew for braving the weather.
On a sunny frosty morning eleven gathered by Ickenham village water pump and pond. Quite a few had already snuck into Ickenham Wetherspoons for a warming breakfast. 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 the Alan Bennett farce last week. The route took in Ickenham Marsh, Gutteridge Woods and Ten Acre Woods. We stopped at the outdoor gym halfway where Louise, Stephen, Jan and Soraya tried out the circuit training equipment. Part of the way featured ancient woodlands and involved duckboard sections over boggy terrain. The late autumn colours of the ancient woods were very vibrant in the sunshine. We crossed the Golden Bridge by the mystery farm. Lots of activity at the West London shooting grounds. Then onto Northala Park, lakes full of waterfowl and carp, then ascent to summit of the highest mound for views across west London. Our walk ended at the cosy Crown in Northolt village for a late lunch at the refurbished village pub.
Walkers were Brian, Rob W, Jan, Louise, Kevin, Soraya, Stephen, David S, Lesley, Jacqui and Gertie.
Eager walkers met on a bright fresh Sunday morning by Marlow station. After introductions we started our walk along the Thames Path, heading to Bourne End, admiring all the magnificent houses along the route, with an array of various boats floating. It was interesting to see the houses on the hilltop and the conversation geared around how, why... Crossing over a bridge, our path took us through National Trust Winter Hill, heading towards the viewpoint at the top, where we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the scenery. We enjoyed nice pies and mulled wine.
Afterwards we carried on through Quarry Wood, with brilliant, vibrant autumnal colours, nature at its best. Walking through crisp golden fallen leaves and tall colourful trees against clear blue sky. We made our way towards Marlow Weir over the bridge, admiring the view and All Saints Church. Final stop at The Donkey. Refreshments were enjoyed, with conversations and laughter.
Thank you to all who attended: Kumar, Simon, Rohini, Ann Marie, Hattie, Louise, Asha, David L, Kevin and Michael L.
11 walkers met at Alperton station on a gloriously sunny and clear autumn day. We welcomed a new Brian and introduced ourselves to each other, many people missing Luna, who was absent. We chatted as we made our way to the temple, entering via the tradesman's entrance, totally missing the front door that was open. Everyone admired the myriad deities and temple dancers carved on every available surface, including the ceiling, and mused on the symbolism of lotus flowers, shells and discus, the floodlit carved arches and chanting adding atmosphere as we went. We left the temple and made our way to the canal, being greeted straight away by a beautiful heron. We passed canal boats and the newly-developed canalside to a closed Horsenden Loaf, although we managed to find snacks of various heft, before we made our way to the nearby viewing point at the top of Horsenden Hill. We looked out for evidence of the harvest mice breeding program, to no avail. As we retraced out steps back along the canal, we happened across an open studio making innovative furniture made from recycled materials and an intriguing arrow-spinner. We had to drag Dean out after finding a kindred footballing spirit in the architect. At the station, the group separated into those who went home or wanted a mild lunch, leaving the rest to explore the delights of Ealing Road and the new international food court.
Thank you to David L, Brian Roman, Dean T, Mary, Judith, Gertie, Helen, Melissa, Simon, Jay H for accompanying me on the walk today.
Fantastic turnout for my walk - 22 braved the autumn weather! Though a little drizzly to start, the remainder of the day was dry. Regents Park was ablaze with autumn colour, in particular a ginkgo bilboa tree with stunning golden leaves. An early coat and zip issue meant we lost a small number of the group, though not for long. Once reunited we headed up to Primrose Hill. The view over London is, I think, one of the best. On down the hill toward Chalk Farm and beyond. Various small back streets led us to the lower slopes of Hampstead Heath where all manner of sporting activity was taking place. Onward to Highgate where we stopped by Highgate Cemetery, famed for the great and the good interred there.
Waterlow Park lays to the north of Highgate Cemetery and has a splendid cafe, where we stopped for lunch. There were too many of us to fit in the cafe but it was warm enough to sit out and enjoy the fresh air. We briefly enjoyed the view from the garden, which is a large vista of tree tops. This was a great photo opportunity for the group. Fully rested and fed we made our way to Highgate High Street with its quaint old pubs, cafes and bookshops. As advertised, we stopped briefly to pay homage to the late George Michael. Now on to Hampstead Heath, we stopped at Kenwood House with fine views over the heath and great toilets. Our last awesome viewpoint was Parliament Hill - slightly higher than Primrose Hill, so the view seems to encompass a greater expanse of the city. The Flask pub in Hampstead was at the end of the walk. However, it was very busy and we had to look further on. The King William IV proved to be a good option. A number of us had a few well earned drinks, with mulled wine now being served!
Thanks to all for joining me on a great walk and day out.
18 of us met at Blackfriars station and set off in search of our first gate. Because of extensive development there was not much evidence of a wall but various plaques pointing to the location of the gates kept us busy. A brief visit to the shell of the Christchurch Greyfriars Church and Gardens, and Postman Park, and we came across our first glimpse of the Roman wall next to a car park. We ventured into the car park to find a preserved part of the wall between the parking bays. Our next stop was at the fabulous church of St Giles in the Barbican where we found the tomb of John Milton, and Oliver Cromwell's wedding venue.
After lunch at the Barbican we carried on down the London Wall to discover Moorgate and Bishopsgate then began heading south towards the river where we found the wall nestled in a student accommodation building complete with a Roman morph. Further on the wall became much more prominent and impressive. We finished this part of the walk at the uncovered Postern Gate, just on the moat of the Tower of London. After crossing Tower Bridge we met up with Con who had been recceing a pub for a well deserved refreshment. After a short rain break the night drew in and made an excellent atmosphere for finding the Gillie and Marc bronze wildlife sculptures. Our night finished at the wonderful George Inn.
Many thanks to everyone who joined me on this very late organised walk.
4 of us met outside the Black Horse pub on a beautiful winter rainy day. As the weather was so bad and roadworks on the road we decided to go for a cuppa first in the Black Horse. After about 30 minutes we set off and never saw rain again. We proceeded down Maybank Avenue, passing Daniel's famous LNER football ground. We then proceeded to Horsenden Hill where we climbed up to the summit. We admired the many great viewpoints. We then went down the hill towards the Gruffalo Park where we met the fox, the mouse, the owl, the snake and finally the gruffalo. We then went to Horsenden Cafe and we had some nice sweet treats and coffee to prepare us for the next leg of our journey, and some had a bottle of the local brew.
We then continued back towards the Ballot Box pub via the old pathway, and proceeded then towards Sudbury Hill where we climbed up Piggy Lane and then went straight to the top of Harrow on the Hill. We then proceeded on to St. Mary's Church and we learnt all about Lord Byron and John Lyons. After the church we then proceeded down the hill and back to our starting point of the Black Horse where we all went in and had refreshments.
Thank you all for coming. We did just under 8 miles with lots of hills. Everyone felt rejuvenated. Hope to see you all again soon.
On a beautiful crisp autumn day 6 walkers met at Eastcote station, greeted by perfect blue skies and no sign of storm Ciaran. We chatted as we went past cafes, earmarking them for lunch. The walk carried on through Warrender Park, looking out for the fabled walnut trees as we entered Highgrove Woods and Nature Reserve. We talked about why Winston Churchill spent his honeymoon at Highgrove House, possibly because of the secret war-time code-breaking going on in the Pembroke Park Estate nearby. We then walked the Celandine Way to the Manor Farm estate in Ruislip.
After buying cakes and homemade lasagna from the ladies at the trading hut, we bid our farewells to one walker who lived in Ruislip. The others took an unplanned detour into Ruislip Woods rather than retracing their steps back to Blackhorse parade. We were delighted to find the pie and mash shop open, nestling incongruously in this old Tudor setting. No one was brave enough to have the beef pie, which looked lovely and homemade with the scary looking liquor made from jellied eels! Suitably refreshed, we carried on, past the shops to Eastcote station, looking forward to the next Friday Frolic.
Walkers were Soraya, new member Stephen S, newish member Maura, Tim P, Simon Q and Pauline M.
On a very wet Sunday morning 10 brave walkers met me at Baker Street station and we headed off to explore Regents Park. The weather wasn't cold but the rain was persistent and fairly unpleasant so umbrellas were purchased by some who had left theirs behind. We were delighted by some of the autumn colours in the park and saw the winter planting which, as always, was spectacular. We were unable to go in the secret garden (due to being waterlogged) but enjoyed the avenue and the rose garden, as well as the waterfalls, urns and statues. We then made our way on to Camden and after fighting our way through the tourists headed to the Wetherspoon's to "dry off" and most decided to stay put, rather than look around the market as the rain was still quite heavy.
We had a good break before making our way to the Grand Union Canal and I am pleased to say it brightened up for the last leg of the walk. We passed the old gasometers that have been turned into flats and walked around the regenerated Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square at Kings Cross. We carried on and some of the group peeled off at the underground whilst a few of us went for drinks in Barrel Vault in St Pancras.
A big thank you to all those who didn't let the weather put them off.
Five met on another sunny morning for this walk. Beaconsfield station benefits from its own café, so tea and buns for all at the start. We soon arrived at the wonderful Bekonscot model village, one of the first in the world, now preserved in a 1930's time warp. The model railway is the largest in UK and has a full-sized signal box to control the 6 trains running simultaneously. We ambled around all the towns and each of us noticed something extra as there was an amazing amount of detail. Viaducts; rock climbers ascending a hill; window cleaner waving at trains; level crossing gates open and closing for the express train. Over lunch we chatted to some of the stewards about Mr Dunne's redesign of the railway.
The walk continued through woods of horse chestnuts and beech trees. The colours of autumn were well on display. Around Knotty Green the allotments were full of pumpkins, and many carved versions were at the front porches of the detached villas. We met the surprise guest at the Royal Standard and admired the unchanged interior of this 13th century inn. Back in town we had time to browse in the amazingly fashionable charity shops in this well heeled town, including a vast second-hand bookshop where we found some railway gems.
Walkers were Brian G, Rob W, Jeff, Cathy and Mike Mc.
Friday evening saw 30 members make their way down to the YHA hostel in Lulworth Cove. Some of the early arrivals could not wait for the evening walk to Durdle Door, which is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic coast, and headed off by car. The weather was not at its best for these early arrivals. Whilst some of the group actually went swimming in Lulworth Cove, the later arrivals at the hostel made the short walk to Durdle Door after the rain had cleared to watch the sunset across the bay over the Isle of Portland in the distance.
Saturday's walk was to take us up to the abandoned village of Tyneham. The day's weather forecast was for some heavy showers so everyone was well prepared for the weather when we set off. We soon made our way up to the top of our first climb which gave us some spectacular views of the coast and countryside but we could also see dark clouds quickly approaching. As we made our way along the range walk, our first heavy shower of the day hit us but what we were not expecting was the strength of the wind and hail to be mixed in with the rain, so we took shelter in a small dip in the ground until the worst of the rain passed. Although it was very windy it was not cold and our waterproofs soon dried. Our walk to Tyneham involved several very steep climbs and descents but every one of these offered new views of the countryside.
Arriving in Tyneham we stopped for a well-deserved lunch break. The village had a fascinating history; it was abandoned during the war to allow for troops to train for the D-Day landings but after the war the residents were not allowed to return. Some of the group then took taxis back to the hostel, the rest headed back on foot, following the coast path, again having to make our way up some very steep climbs. When we arrived in Lulworth Cove the plan was to follow the beach back into the village but unfortunately the tide had come in, meaning that we had to do another very steep climb, but as we reached the top of the climb we were rewarded with another fine view, complete with a rainbow, before we arrived back at the hostel.
After winding down from the walk we then prepared ourselves for our evening meal in the pub, complete with Halloween costumes for the event, followed by more cake and drinks back at the hostel.
Sunday saw us check out of the hostel, where several members headed off home whilst others headed off to the Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic marine life, and Kimmeridge Bay, before heading home.
Although the weather had been quite changeable with some very heavy showers, at the time this did not dampen the spirits of everyone that attended. Many thanks to all for making this a memorable weekend.
Eight intrepid walkers met at High Barnet station at 10:00 on a delightfully sunny Sunday morning and were treated to a brief history of Barnet. Once a village in Hertfordshire, in 1965 it gave its name to the fourth largest London borough which was originally planned to be named "Northern Heights". It has the only battlefield site in Greater London, that being the site which commemorates the Battle of Barnet in 1471. This was a battle in the wars of the Roses. It is not known why the two sworn enemies, the House of Lancaster and the House of York, travelled 200 miles south to fight this battle. In later years, Barnet became known for its horse fair, from which the rhyming slang expression "Barnet Fair", meaning hair, is derived. Locals of a certain age still talk about "getting their Barnet cut", and many do in Barnet High Street, which appropriately enough, is blessed with a lot of hairdressers! We walked our way through King George V Field, the steepest hill on the route. Magnificent views over London were to be seen from the top. We then headed across Hadley Green, past a house once owned by the explorer David Livingstone, and through the wooded area of Hadley Common, which turned out not to be quite as muddy as had been feared. Once we reached the Great Northern rail line we took the "low road" towards Cockfosters, stopping off at Jack's Lake on the way. Unfortunately it's privately owned and parts are fenced off, so it was not possible to walk all the way round it.
Our lunch stop was at the Cockfosters end of the path which forms part of the London Loop, adjacent to the Cock Inn. For the return leg, we took the "high road" of Hadley Common, which took us onto a higher level through some footpaths which could often not be followed easily and were obstructed by fallen trees and tree roots. However, we made it to the Great Northern rail line without getting lost and descended the steps to the "low road" to reach Barnet High Street via the Western end of the common and Hadley Green. As a reward for our strenuous efforts, we rounded off the afternoon with drinks in the Red Lion pub, Barnet's finest.
Participants were David L, Runi, Jay, Marianne, Louise, Kevin, Rohini and Dean.
Storm Babet had passed and there were no train strikes or engineering works. The train arrived at Wendover with a number of walkers on board, unfortunately only 1 of these hikers was arriving for my walk. We set off with map in hand on our walk with bright blue skies overhead. As we made our way out of town and up into Wendover Woods the footpath split and there was a need to check the map, only to find that the map was now lost, so we would have to continue the walk without a map. Luckily the planned walk was to follow the Ridgeway Path to Tring which is reasonably well signposted. As we entered Tring Park we paused to take in the spectacular views across the open countryside.
Arriving in Tring we stopped for lunch, making good use of the coffee shop and M&S for supplies. Our return journey was planned to be along the Wendover Canal so again not that difficult without a map. As we followed the towpath we found that the path was diverted away from the canal due to the path being upgraded and had to divert through RAF Halton playing fields. Continuing on, we finally arrived at our start point well within the expected planned end time for the walk.
Many thanks to Sushan who had not walked 15 miles for quite some time and for keeping me company on the walk.
Ten walkers braved the grey and the rain to join me on my Totteridge wander on Saturday. My brother who was visiting for the weekend came along, which was a nice surprise. It started off damp and overcast but the murky clouds soon gave way to blue skies and a spot of sun that warmed the day. The jackets came off, the smiles came out and the dogs (Duke and Luna) led the way to Finchley Nurseries where we spent a leisurely hour checking out the quaint shops, the fish ponds and the dahlias and sat outside at the wooden tables waiting for our tea and coffee to be delivered by the cafe staff.
Those who came on the walk last year will recall how we were chastised by the Orange Tree's equivalent of Eva Braun for moving the garden tables closer together, well, Eva must have a sister who works at Finchley Nurseries because just as we began to tuck into our (home brought) sandwiches, as if by magic a woman appeared and told us in no uncertain terms that there would be NO eating of our own food in the cafe area and asked if we would go to a restaurant and bring our own food? As she was so rude I was going to remind her that this was 2023 and not 1939 but after spotting the fierce look in her eye and half expecting her to pull out a Luger pistol, I apologised and smiled sweetly. We slipped our sandwiches back into our packs and waited patiently for the drinks to arrive. Post lunch we headed back to the Orange Tree via Darlans Lake and reached the pub just as the heavens opened up. We huddled under the table umbrellas and enjoyed a post-walk pint before heading off.
Thank you to Paul, Rose, Melissa, Saria, Jotsna, Maya, Simon, Barti, Tim and Helen for joining me and making it a lovely day out.
On a crisp but beautiful sunny October morning, 11 intrepid explorers met, introduced and set off promptly at 11:00am to the start of a day out walking. Welcome to Phil L (new member from Meetup), and "long time no see" from other members. The introductions made, we set off. After (sadly, but essential) 10 minutes' pavement walking we entered the start of nature - green fields - where I noticed that the landlord / farmer had applied a new 'right of way', noticeable by a new detour, so need to check this further - new barbed wire and wooden posts, but still accessible - phew! Then to our first hill, where we hit the 1 mile mark, and a quick water break before adventuring forward into forest. This will be my bluebells spring walk. Now all warmed up, with sun and shelter under the trees, we encountered D of E groups. My plan was to sit after 3 miles to snack, which was where the D of E were based - how dare they? We sat nearby, refuelled, and set off. The forest was enchanting, with colours of autumn.
At the main lunch stop, there were debates on pub coffee, but all rehydrated and facilities were available. We chatted, then continued, now downward, missing Roald Dahl cakes by 20 minutes (Sunday trading). At 3:45pm, some went for a wander, some returned to station, some (the Secret Seven) went to the pub. We met up with Chilterns Ramblers, who tried to recruit us (great banter). I waved my blue HAWOG bag!
A splendid summer morning greeted our members some new and old, arriving at the Grapes Beefeater public house for the start of the Hayes Wander walk. Setting off along the Uxbridge Road for Minet Country Park, we decided to walk along the patch that follows, in part, some of the cycle route. We passed the under-used Hillingdon Cyle café and changing room facilities which now appear permanently closed. After crossing Yeading brook, we walked through the town centre exploring some of the history of the local industry of Hayes such as the EMI record factory, which pressed records for the likes of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Also some interesting facts were shared about the nearby Nestles factory, opened in 1914; made famous for producing instant coffee and chocolate, ceased production in 2015. After joining the Grand Union Canal at bridge number 200, we followed the towpath to arrive at the southern entrance gate to Stockley Park, where major blue chip companies like Apple, Sharp, Toshiba and Canon reside. The park was opened by HRH, the former Prince of Wales in 1986. Doing a lap of the golf course, we stopped near the A-suspension bridge, believed to have been built around 1984, for a group photo opportunity. We later rejoined the Grand Union Canal after exiting Stockley Park at Horton Gate.
Stopping to enjoy our packed lunches at midday, Simon spotted the actor Tom Holland with his grandparents doing some shopping. We later continued onto the Slough Arm of the canal, passing Packet Boat Marina. After crossing both the River Fray and the River Colne, we continued to Little Britain Lake, where we stopped to observe the wildlife. We then followed the River Colne up to Yiewsley Moor, then crossing the road onto Culvert Lane, where there still remains some splendidly maintained cottages dating back to 1860. We later continued onward to the Swan and Bottle public house where we left the towpath and headed the short distance up to Uxbridge High Street for a well-earned refreshment at the Good Yarn public house.
Thank you to Maura, Mick, Sally, Simon and Mimi for attending and making it a very enjoyable walk.
Twenty-two met on a very sunny warm morning at Black Jacks Mill tea rooms. Over coffee and bacon baps we watched the barges negotiate the lock. Our route was south along the Grand Union Canal to Harefield bridge. From there we walked to the 14th century village church. We visited the Commonwealth War Graves, immaculately maintained. Then into the church where a service had just finished. The verger explained that the flowers were from the harvest festival. The Jacobean memorials inside are very ornate, featuring many of the Newdigate family who were the leading landowners. We then walked past the almshouses to the village, stopping at the Georgian manor of Harefield House. Jeff confided that this was his workplace back in the day where he was a student scientific officer for the Air Ministry, all hush hush of course. Onto the grounds of Harefield Place, another Georgian mansion, now a famous hospital. We took in the restored stables block and views of the 1930's sanatorium buildings (south facing in a crescent to maximise sunshine into wards). Then Sadie (former nurse there) led us around the "healing garden" including a sculpture of Hartley Hare. We then descended via tracks back to the canal and completed the circuit back to Jacks Lock.
Walk ended with drinks on the garden terrace of the Old Orchard, very busy on such a sunny afternoon. Panoramic views across the Colne Valley, with Derek pointing out the beginnings of the HS2 viaduct (longest in UK) in the distance. Most then remained for a sumptuous Sunday roast dinner (well done Diane for bookings). On a perfect day out, many lingered for dessert, coffee, and many amusing anecdotes from Con and Joan at this excellent venue.
Walkers were Brian, Diane, Louise, Kevin, Joan, Con, Pat, Eve, David L, Jeff, Soraya, Derek, Prem, Humay, Marian, Nathalie, Gary, Teresa, Katherine, Sadie and Zoe.
10 of us met outside the Black Horse on a beautiful autumn sunny day. We proceeded down Maybank Avenue passing Daniel's famous LNER football ground. We then proceeded to Horsenden Hill where we climbed up to the summit. We admired the many great views. We then went down the hill towards the gruffalo park where we met the fox, the mouse, the owl, the snake and finally the gruffalo. Most people didn't know the story and it was good to have Louise as our school teacher who knew the story very well. We then went to Horsenden Cafe and we had some nice sweet treats and coffee to prepare us for the next leg of our journey, and some had a bottle of the local brew.
We then continued back towards the Ballot Box pub via the old pathway and proceeded then towards Sudbury Hill where we climbed up Piggy Lane and then went straight to the top of Harrow on the Hill. We then proceeded on to St. Mary's Church and we learnt all about Lord Byron and John Lyons. After the church we then proceeded down the hill and back to our starting point of the Black Horse where we all went in and had refreshments.
Thank you to Heather, Louise, Kevin, Judith, Raj, David, Rob, Philippa and Joshna for coming. We did just under 8 miles, with lots of hills. Everyone felt rejuvenated. Hope to see you all again soon.
We met on a glorious day in October, the sun beaming down on us in Haslemere. Layers came off before the walk even began. Our walk took us steadily to Haslemere centre passing the war memorial and St Bartholomew's Church designed by the local architect JW Penfold. We followed the Greensand Way for four miles to Gibbet Hill. This long distance route follows the Greensand Ridge through Surrey and Kent running 108 miles from Haslemere to Hamstreet near Romney Marsh. After a couple of inclines, they seemed a lot steeper than I remembered from the reccie I did a few months ago. We came out at Devils Punch Bowl. This was our lunch stop, with the biggest Victoria sponge cake I've ever seen.
Not enough hills, so we decided to walk the Highcombe Hike of Devils Punch Bowl, adding on 2.8 miles, although we didn't read the route and were not expecting the descent which means the inclines had our pulses moving. A well deserved ice cream was much enjoyed. We bid our farewells to Prem and Derek who did amazing on those inclines. We continued on to Gibbet Hill, the second highest point in Surrey standing 272m above sea level. The hill takes its name from gibbet, a type of gallows that once stood there to execute criminals. The bodies were hung in metal cages to deter other criminals. Onwards to the temple of the Four Winds. This platform once housed an old hunting lodge, built in 1910 as part of the Witley Estate. As our chatting got underway we missed our turning (well, I did). Great navigation skills from Amanda, Anne, Malcolm and of course me to get us back on track. With refreshments before we bid our farewells.
Thanks to Amanda, Prem, Derek, Malcolm and Anne G for sharing this adventure with me.
On a fine warm Sunday morning 8 tough mudder troopers met at Rickmansworth Aquadrome for a 12-mile circular walk around 6 woods. After introductions and welcoming newish member Laurence, we set off towards Woodcock Hill where we joined the London Loop and into Bishops Wood Country Park then through Battlers Wells Farm then on to Copse Wood where we crossed the busy Ducks Hill road into the Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve. Luckily for us being a small group we kept up steady pace and we soon reached Mad Bess Wood. We read up on the history of this wood and about Mad Bess - she was the wife of the 18th century gamekeeper, a demented old woman who prowled the woods late at night looking for poachers. We hurried on, reaching Bayhurst Wood Country Park. We stopped to take a group photo and enjoy the lush scenery. With non-stop laughter and banter, some became part of the scenery. Well, what happens on the walks stays in the woods! Everyone agreed it was lovely walking through the golden carpet of fallen autumn leaves, and no mud.
We found a lovely picnic area, where we sat under tall trees eating our lunch, listening to birdsong and trying to identify the birds. Not sure how but the talk moved on to camels. Well at least no one got the hump! Well fed and rested, the tough got going and we continued our trail towards Harefield, stopping at St Mary's Church and the Anzac Cemetery, then picking up the Hillingdon Trail through to Hill End which took us to Cooks Wood where we saw galloping horses up close in Stockers Farm, famous for the filming of Black Beauty. We then walked on, crossing the Grand Union Canal, following the footpath. The Tough Troopers as expected continued on further for a well-deserved refreshment at the White Bear pub in Rickmansworth. The laughter continued, whilst Laurence and Saurabh explained the significance of the number 8 in chemistry.
Thank you to brave-hearts Mike, David L, Rohini, Laurence, Mark J, Kumar and Saurabh.
Our early autumn break took place in the Peak District National Park at the Derbyshire town of Hathersage. The EMR conductor (purple uniform matching the train livery) directed us to the Sheffield Tap to spend the time waiting for the connection. The Tap is a recreated Victorian station in the Grecian splendours of Sheffield station, and we supped on some local brews admiring the fountains and steel artwork celebrating Sheffield industry. Twenty-two of us gathered in glorious sunshine at the hostel and set off on the afternoon Derwent Valley Walk. Sandra welcomed her friends Kevin and Isobel (locals and very enthusiastic hikers and climbers) as first surprise guests. We skipped over the stepping stones including one leap of faith over a gap. The route took in the meadows, criss-crossed by dry stone walls, sheep gambolling in the sunshine. Sally led us to the free drinks and nibbles at the village pub (Aperol Spritz promotion), before our sumptuous curry meal perfectly hosted by Diane as always.
At the full English breakfast, we bonded with Nicholas, another surprise guest who had lent us (unknowingly) some milk for our tea on Friday. He is a very generous chap and announced, "no problem, at least you left me some for myself". All three surprise guests joined us for the 10-mile walk across the high gritstone edges and vast moorlands above the valley. Brian led the route which climbed from Hathersage and passed several stone manors and shooting lodges. We stopped at the towering granite tors, and found some carved millstones abandoned alongside the huge rock formations. After an unexpected ice cream break we climbed up the National Trust Longshaw estate. Tea and buns for all was just the ticket with great views across the Dark Peaks. New Kevin then led us along the White Edge path high above the Derwent valley, the moorlands extending for miles in each direction. We had our picnic at a rock formation with views and a helicopter circling above. We continued along the edge trail and then descended towards the valley. Reaching Calver we had a long wait for the bus so spent the time at the Eyre Arms where Diane led the chorus with "You'll never walk alone" on the jukebox. Malcolm set off on the extra 5-mile trek along the river while the rest took over the local bus. Back at base the Bakewell bunch told us of their town walk, the society wedding they gate-crashed and the livestock market where they nearly bid for a heifer. Our evening meal was at Little John Inn where we enjoyed a tip-top Yorkshire meal and were entertained by Jeremy's tales of crashing a tank during officer training. Back at base it was chocolate cake time, shared with Nicholas to repay his generosity with his milk.
Sunday saw Sally up with the larks: "I'm out now, I'm going to do things". Our walk was the Jane Eyre Literary trail, 4 miles around countryside surrounding the town. Charlotte Bronte stayed here and based many locations in the novel on local features. We stopped at North Leas, inspiration for the haunted Thornfield House, home of Mr Rochester, and Moor House where Jane found a refuge after her escape. Route also took in the 15th century church (grave of Little John (legend)). The walk ended as always at t' tea shop with some rather spiffing Victorian Sponge after another great holiday in the Peak District.
Attendees were Christine, Diane, Anne-Marie, Joan, Sally, Catherine, Sandra, Anne G, Hira, Geetha, Brian, Rob P, Malcolm, Jeremy, Valj, Mike D, Coogee, Claire A, Anne C, Louise and Kevin M, plus Kevin, Isobel and Nicholas.
For our latest cycle ride four cyclists ventured out to Oxfordshire via GWR Electrostars. The ride featured several picture-postcard Oxfordshire villages via a route based on traffic-free Sustrans tracks and quiet lanes. From Didcot (where we met the surprise guest) we took route 44 south with first stop at East Hagbourne. This village has an impressive medieval church and village green and was featured in early Doctor Who series. We took in the very colourful communal wild garden by the market cross and thatched cottages. We then passed the former railway station at Upton before heading west to a viewpoint over Oxford Plain. The Didcot Power Station no longer dominates the panorama and we could see Oxford in the distance. Whilst cycling through Harwell science complex (famous for post-war nuclear role), the awful signage for the detours kiboshed our progress until Nick rescued us with his handlebar-mounted GPS. We followed tracks through thickly wooded pine forests to reach East Hendred village. This is another scenic village, full of thatched cottages and welcoming inns.
We had Sunday Roast there at the pub by the medieval church. We then strolled around the village admiring the manors and well-kept gardens. We paid homage to Roy Jenkins at his memorial bench (was a resident from sixties onwards). We were ushered into the village museum (in former chapel for the monastery) for a tour and guide to the treasures within. As the village was so interesting, we stayed longer than expected so had no time for the other two villages - will add another ride to visit them all. Perfect area for cycling as mostly level with Sustrans tracks everywhere.
On arrival at our meeting point at the allotted time, I was surprised to see twenty five keen walkers raring to go. After a brief moment of basking in new-found popularity, and impressed by the group's sudden mass desire for a nature walk, twenty promptly left on a completely different London Underground walk. So .... six of us set out from Finsbury Park Station on a beautiful sunny morning and headed across the park to the start of the old railway line. Opened in 1867 between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace, it closed to passenger traffic in 1954, and freight traffic in the 1960's. It was used to shuttle empty tube trains until 1970. After plans to convert the entire length into a road were thwarted by local opposition, it was designated as a local nature reserve in 1990 and is the longest (and certainly the narrowest) in London. After 10 minutes or so we were caught up by our seventh stroller who had been delayed by late trains. Dodging the determined looking joggers and dogs aplenty, we engaged in a long debate as to whether the line was originally single or double track. The entire length is certainly a peaceful haven from the bustling suburbs above and below us as we alternated between high embankments and deep cuttings, numerous bridges reminding us that the masses were never far away. Graffiti 'artists' had been given a free hand at certain points and created some colourful and eclectic displays. The abandoned Crouch End station with platforms still intact gave the impression that time had all but stopped. The first and longest stretch ends with a tunnel which is closed for safety reasons, so we made our way along the busy Archway Road towards Highgate Wood. The beautifully preserved woodland dates back to Roman times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
After a short woody wander, we made our way to the bustling but cute Pavilion Cafe for lunch. Two of our party left after lunch for prior engagements, leaving five of us to continue through the woods and onto the second part of the railway line. Here, the route follows the contour of a steep hill, and affords fine views of an arc from Ilford to the City. After a short ascent across the grassy hinterland of Alexandra Palace, we arrived at the summit to see early queues forming for an evening concert - some sort of Indie Rock judging by the attire of the fast-assembling but ever-patient pimply youth. Walking around the Palace, we paused to take in the view which now extended from South Essex to the West End. Entering the main reception gallery, we took some time to look round the exhibition of old TV studio equipment - state of the art when some of us were kids! Descending via a different path, and briefly pausing for long-anticipated ice creams, we made our way through Hornsey to Queens Wood, the dark stillness providing a contrast to the hustle and bustle atop the hill. A brief circumnavigation of the wood spilled us out close to Highgate station and the end of our gentle but rewarding day.
Many thanks to Louise, Kevin, Marianne, Jeremy, Mark and Anne-Maria.
3 of us met on a beautiful sunny day outside the Black Horse pub. I brought my full walking kit to introduce everybody to items that you may need on longer walks: folding walking poles, water bladder, gators and what kind of foods you should bring. We talked a lot about the pace you should walk for different distances. We then started towards Sudbury town, venturing off down to an unfrequented park which is known as Helen's Park. I did some teaching on how to come up hills by lengthening your stride and when we got to the top we had beautiful views of London. After a short water break we continued on down from the park and we went towards Sudbury Hill, again lengthening our stride and trialling different walking speeds. We then had our second ascent up Piggy Lane, which takes you near the top of Harrow on the Hill. We descended down to the Black Horse where we had a lovely refreshing drink.
Congratulations to all who did the walk. I hope that you now have some confidence in your abilities to walk and I will be doing another one next week again. Then I'll be doing a seven-miler in about three or four weeks' time.
6 of us set off from Richmond Bridge under a dodgy forecast - but we barely got wet and ended the day in fabulous sunshine. Who would have thought? Tide End pub at Teddington Lock was first refreshment stop, then on past the cathedral-esque Landmark Arts Centre into Teddington then straight into Bushy Park. A quick focus on WW2 American military history in Bushy, across Cobblers Walk, and into the splendid Woodland Gardens, past Eisenhower's cottage (where the free world was properly saved). Then rain speeded us onto Hampton Court. The gardens there (free today) never disappoint. As an added bonus, the Banqueting House was open (due to this also being London Open House weekend), plus there was a game in play on the Real Tennis Court. This court has been in continuous use since 1625 when James III rebuilt Henry VIII's original court - pretty impressive.
After a stop at the Tiltyard Cafe we headed off for the final 3 miles of Thames towpath to Kingston Bridge. All rounded off nicely with a final stop at the White Hart.
Fabulous day and company - I was joined by Pei, Simon, Chris, Amanda and Nev. Thank you all.
7 of us met on a beautiful sunny day outside the Black Horse pub. I brought my full walking kit to introduce everybody to items that you may need on longer walks: folding walking poles, water bladder, gators and what kind of foods you should bring. We talked a lot about the pace you should walk for different distances. We then started towards Sudbury town, venturing off down to an unfrequented park which is known as Helen's Park. I did some teaching on how to come up hills by lengthening your stride and when we got to the top we had beautiful views of London. After a short water break we continued on down from the park and we went towards Sudbury Hill, again lengthening our stride and trialling different walking speeds. We then had our second ascent up Piggy Lane, which takes you near the top of Harrow on the Hill. We descended down to the Black Horse where we had a lovely refreshing drink.
Congratulations to all who did the walk. I hope that you now have some confidence in your abilities to walk and I will be doing another one next week again. Then I'll be doing a seven-miler in about three or four weeks' time.
This year's annual Open House London event was on another gloriously sunny day of this Indian Summer. Sixteen of us did the tour from Farringdon to Whitechapel visiting a record eight venues. Open House London is the annual festival of heritage and architecture where many private buildings open their doors to the public. After coffee at Pauls café, we entered the Haberdashers Hall, the first new livery hall in London; a new build yet its design evokes the medieval livery halls in the city. We then toured the St Barts history exhibition after viewing the Smithfield memorials to Watt Tyler and William Wallace. Next venue was the University of Chicago's Booth Business School. It has an impressive art collection; some members also admired and used the kitchen and drinks cabinet.
We walked east through the Barbican quarter via the high-level footpaths, the rays of the sun reflected in the skyscrapers before our arrival at Spitalfields. There we visited the Brady Centre, created by the Jewish community in 1935. Some had lunch there and others found a spicy venue at Brick Lane next door. Next was the Gilbert and George centre and its collection of unique works by the famous duo who live nearby. We nearly lost Derek and Jeff there but found them in the cellar gallery with Derek providing a very erudite commentary to the guides. We strolled through the Georgian terraces to reach the St Boniface German church with its striking post-war modernist design, and complimentary teas.
Passing the site of the famous Bell Foundry (1540-2017) we were invited into an extra venue. The East London Mosque was part of Open House this year and the guides provided a very instructive tour. The ladies dressed up in headscarves, Louise winning the prize for most stylish headgear. The tour ended with some jolly decent teas, cakes and chocolates in the reception area. Our last venue was the Tower Hamlets Town Hall created within the shell of the 18th century original Royal London Hospital. We were just in time to watch the cyclists' parade by in the "Glamour Ride" arranged via Tower Hamlets cyclists. The walk ended as always with cold drinks in the garden of the Blind Beggar where the surprise guest joined us.
Walkers were Brian G, Brian F, Mark A, Jeff, Soraya, Derek, Prem, Rob W, Mahendra, Coogee, Louise, Kevin, Raj, Anne Marie, Linzi and Jeremy.
On another scorcher of a day eighteen took part in the Denham walk and festival. We started with Denham Studios (location for many of David Lean's and Michael Powel's earlier classics). Then through Denham Garden Village and the Aerodrome (lots of light aircraft taking off just above our heads). Then to the HS2 Viaduct with its "skipping stone" design. We had ice creams and cold drinks at Jacks Lock café and then followed the Grand Union Canal south. Runi found a shortcut via the Colne Valley to pass through the Golf Course. We finished at the Denham Church Festival, the annual celebration of St Marys Church which has been the centre of the village for 900 years. Just in the nick to get burgers, Denham brews and elderflower cordials from the verger before the bell ringing and the Choir Concert. Quite a few surprise guests arrived to join us, both vicars and the locals for the famous church teas with some tip-top home-made cakes in the sun-filled rose garden of this delightful church.
Walkers were Brian, Runi, Diane, Louise, Kevin, Simon, David L, Chris, Peter, Soraya, Joan, Kumar, Rohini, Pat, Ian, Anna, Derek and Prem.
It was a scorching early evening setting off from Ruislip Manor for a scurry through the woods, circumventing the recently restored Ruislip Lido, taking in Britain's longest 12" gauge railway which runs much of the way around. The second part of the event took us to JJ Moons to rally for refreshment before heading off to the Tropic Club to hear the tribute band Straighten Out play two hours of classic Stranglers to a full and enthusiastic crowd. The sound quality was flawless with those crystal clear moog arpeggios and driving bass, perhaps the most defining qualities of this music and so many great familiar songs.
Thanks to Pete, Yin and Soraya for braving the heat on a memorable evening.
On another scorchio day of the heatwave five walkers completed the Herts villages walk. We followed the Ver Way from Watford, along a broad track shaded by landscaped lines of lime trees. We walked through fields of maize before coming onto the Neo-Gothic fantasy palace of Wall Hall. The home of JP Morgan and the US ambassador (Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK) it is now divided into apartments. The day was full of serendipity - first we arrived at the 13th century Aldenham Church to find its art festival in full flow. We admired the art works whilst enjoying some rather splendid Lemon Drizzle Cake in the nave. Aldenham village is very scenic and has often featured in period films as Elstree Studios is nearby. We then hiked across sunbaked meadows, the hay stacked in giant hay ricks awaiting harvesting. Serendipity moment two followed as the Hare Krisna shrine was fully open to passers-by - the following days were ticket only due to a huge pilgrimage festival.
The manor, temple and monastery were funded by George Harrison and have extensive gardens where we had our sumptuous vegetarian lunch (offered to all visitors thanks to the generosity of the Krisna movement). Route then followed wildflower meadows and a close encounter with frisky horses guarding the gate (detour required vaulting the fence). The final leg took in the very smart Elstree golf course, close to Elstree Aerodrome, with several light aircraft soaring above us in the blistering afternoon sun.
Walkers were Brian, Claire, Soraya, David L and Simon.
8 of us met for this bank holiday walk. Most were new to this area. We set off on time when it was a bit chilly, but it soon warmed up away from the wind. We went past Chenies and onwards, where there were a few sprinkles of rain. Luckily this stopped as we crossed the valley. After admiring the lovely views from the ridge, we stopped at Latimer Hotel for a picnic on the grass. No coffees unfortunately due to queues.
Walking back along the valley, we stopped to assist someone who had tripped over. Veronica proved well-equipped for medical emergencies. After nine miles, no one wanted to climb a further steep hill, so it was back to the pub for a drink or home. A lovely day with good weather.
Thanks to David, Elaine, Sven, Jay, Laura, Rohini and Veronica for joining me.
Nine of us met on a lovely August morning. As ever Hambleden was looking idyllic. We headed out eastwards behind the Stag and Huntsman pub and climbed the steep hill through Northcott Wood, resting briefly to enjoy the vista. Onwards across open fields with more stunning views many miles in the distance. By contrast, we descended into Heath Wood and enjoyed the shade of many very tall trees. We set quite a pace and before long were at Marlow Common and Bovingdon Green, then Marlow for our lunch stop. We picnicked in the park beside the River Thames, a very lovely spot. Some of us had ice cream, very nice indeed!
Off we went along the Thames Path toward Hambleden Lock. After a mile or so we bumped into another group member, Runi, walking with friends. After the initial excitement of the unexpected meeting, Runi informed us that the route was impassable due to the bridge being closed. Thanks to a good team effort we saved the day with a detour. A quick inspection of the map allowed us to proceed in our intended direction, but on the opposite side of the river. The new route proved to be a worthy option. We encountered a golf course with a number of creatures fashioned from odd pieces of wood (possibly drift wood, as they were smooth and curvy). A horse was quite popular with the group and photos were taken. The route then took us past the grounds of Danesfield Hotel, set in 65 acres of woodland. The route then took us through a strange tunnel, or a channel cut into the earth with a roof. I researched this later, but found nothing. We then found a group of goats which were very friendly - more photos! As if things couldn't get any better, we walked past a campsite situated on the banks of the river and saw all kinds of camper vans. On returning to Hambleden we retired to the Stag and Huntsman pub for refreshment.
This was a really enjoyable day, mainly thanks to the lovely people who joined me and the weather and the unexpected diversion. Thank you to Claire, Jo, Sarah, Humay, Jeetendra, Mick, Owen and Sean.
18 plus 1 surprise guest met at the Ocean Backpackers hostel in Ilfracombe ready for the planned bank holiday activities. After settling into our rooms we headed out for a tour of the town exploring the harbour area. The statue of Verity, who looks out to sea, provides thought-provoking debate as the statue is a work by Damien Hurst. We then climbed up to St Nicholas's chapel which provided excellent views of the harbour. After the harbour we made our way through town arriving at the oddly shaped theatre which resembles 2 cooling towers, finally having fish and chips high above the town watching the sunset.
Saturday's weather forecast meant that we needed to swap the day's planned activities for Sunday. We took the open-top bus from the conveniently located bus stop outside the hostel back door to Lynmouth, stopping for coffee before taking the cliff railway up to Lynton where we picked up the coast path out of town and into the impressive valley of the rocks. Several members felt the need to climb to the summit of one of these impressive formations. We then walked back into the picturesque harbour of Lynmouth where we spent the rest of the day before taking the open-top bus back to the hostel.
Sunday saw us split into two groups, one doing a circular walk which took us inland, finding that an off-road 4x4 event was taking place on the route. A local farmer gave the group a very informative insight to his life and his livestock. The other group had opted for the "easier" coastal walk into Combe Martin. Unbeknown to them the coastal walk from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin has some very steep hills. The two groups passed each other, with those taking the "easier" route bus back, whilst those doing the circular walk had the steep hills to look forward to as they made their way back to the hostel.
Monday morning saw several different activities taking place with some exploring the Victorian tunnels and beaches before taking an eventful and choppy cruise along the coastline. Others made their way back to Barnstaple for the train back, with Brian and Coogee feeling the need to hire bikes and cycle 15 miles along the Tarka trail, lunching at Instow beach.
Many thanks to Brian, Coogee, Diane, Penelope, Kevin, Louise, Tim, Mahendra, Kokila, Sally, Judith, Jyotsna, Anne, Sandra and potential new member Amanda.
On a scorching beautiful day, ten of us jumped on the Javelin train at St Pancras for our walk on the Kent coast from Dover to Deal. We passed under the majestic Castle, a fortress since Roman times, before starting the climb. We were soon walking along the footpaths above the White Cliffs of Dover with soaring views across to France. We stopped for ice creams at the White Cliffs centre and everyone's mobile then announced, "Welcome to France, roaming charges apply". One great advantage of the walk is that there are just 2 climbs. Once on the cliffs, the path is level, with great views along the coast towards Ramsgate. We reached the South Foreland Lighthouse on the cliffs. This was the location of Marconi's first ship to shore transmission.
We had lunch at St Margarets Bay, busy with swimmers on such a sunny day. Louise and Coogee entertained the locals with more yarns and tall tales. The climb to Kingsdown was soon accomplished and then the long descent north. We discovered a very suitable campsite for the future and then reached Kingsdown beach. The seafront walk then passed Walmer Castle, built in the Tudor era as the "Castles of the Downs". We reached Deal esplanade with its historic pubs, all festooned with very colourful hanging baskets. Next to Deal Pier we enjoyed a well-deserved fish and chip supper with Pimms after a jolly fine coastal walk in sunny Kent.
Walkers were Brian, Louise, Kevin, Coogee, Claire, Simon, Yolli, Saurabh, Martina and Daniel.
6 of us made our way to Hunstanton for the second weekend of walking Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path. We stayed on the Friday and Saturday nights at a hotel in Old Hunstanton. On the Friday evening we had dinner at a popular Indian restaurant in the town centre.
On the Saturday morning we set off at around 9:45am from Great Massingham. The route was quite straight and flat, so we were able to complete the 16.5 mile walk to the end of Peddars Way at Holme next the Sea by around 3:00pm, after which we walked about a mile along the beach to Old Hunstanton. In the evening we had a very nice meal at our hotel.
On the Sunday morning we started walking the Norfolk Coast Path, setting off from Hunstanton at around 9:45am, walking along the coast (with a bit of a detour inland) as far as Brancaster, a distance of around 10 miles. We reached the end of the day's walk at around 1:30pm, from where we headed home.
Thanks to Amanda, Dee, Jane, Karen and Malcolm for joining me.
Eleven of us met at Green Park on a lovely sunny day and started our walk by crossing Green Park to Buckingham Palace. Several members of the group were surprised at the close proximity of Buckingham Palace to the Tube and were equally delighted to see the King was at home. We walked into St James's Park and took in the wonderful flower displays in the beds and started to look for pelicans and other birds which we were able to see. Once we had walked along the lake we crossed into Horse Guards Parade and as we walked through into Whitehall we managed to see a little of the Changing of the Guard. The walk continued up Whitehall, passing no.10 Downing Street and onto Parliament Square for a look at Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and the famous statues on the square. We crossed over Westminster Bridge and saw the "red" Covid 19 wall from a distance so we walked down to see this before starting our walk right along the South Bank. The area was busy but we managed to all stay together and once we got past the London Eye and National Theatre it began to thin out. The walk continued on to London Bridge, passing some street performers, the Oxo tower, Tate Modern and with great views of St Paul's.
Once we reached the Scoop, various members got food and drink from the local M&S. There were three young and emerging acts on at the Scoop and I think we could call it electro / digital music. Whilst this wasn't quite what I expected some of us stayed to the end and seemed to enjoy it. It was a warm, fine night and the venue remains a favourite of mine. As the night got darker the view of Tower Bridge and the Tower is truly breathtaking.
A big thanks to Brian for his knowledge and history along the way, and thank you to everybody else who joined me (you know who you are) on this very pleasant and relaxed walk.
The famous five took the Javelin railway from St Pancras to Hastings on a fine, sunny day on the Sussex coast. The walk started with a tour of St Leonards, the Regency resort created by James and Decimus Burton (the leading Regency and early Victorian architects). St Leonards became very popular with the arrival of the railway in 1845. The regency streets are full of pavement cafes, vintage stores and art shops. We browsed in a few, chatting to the friendly owners who explained how St Leonards had changed over the decades. We had lunch in the Buron-created gardens by the boating pond under the mock gothic folly of the Clock House, new boy Simon telling how it is living on an island.
Our walk continued along the sea front, lots of cyclists taking advantage of the recently created cycle superhighway to Bexhill. We took in the rebuilt pier now with a music stage and an absence of arcades. Coogee recalled the former music hall on the old pier as he often visited decades ago. Then to the Old Town with its labyrinth of twittens and courtyards. This was the original port based on fishing and smuggling. Time for a rummage in the antique shops and the miniature cinema with lavish interiors. We spotted the film locations for Foyle's War and then climbed to the castle viewpoint, with superb views as far as Eastbourne in the west. After walking on the higher country park we descended to the Stade, the unique fishing quarter. Hastings no longer has a harbour, and the fishing fleet is all beach-launched via winches. The fishing market and the huts are all original. We waved at the narrow-gauge railway and the steam loco chuffed along. Walk ended as always with fish and chips on the seafront after a jolly fine sunny day around Hastings.
Walkers were Brian, Jeff, Coogee, Bharti and Simon.
Our cycle ride took place on a perfect summer evening in Hanwell. First event as co-leader for Dawn who added some detours to Brian's route. After refreshments at the Fox, we cycled south on the Grand Union Canal, with herons, barges and lots of walkers on the towpath. The bumpy towpath was not ideal for Julie's very light road bike; Nick's e-bike of course took it in its stride. At Brentford Lock we headed east, passing the very extensive new developments on Brentford riverside. We then joined the newly opened section of CS9 through Watermans Park which has been transformed from its former state. Then to the new stadium and into Gunnersbury Park. Tim led this section up to the mansion and lakes. The park was full of walkers and locals on such a sunny evening. Then a mystery tour through South Ealing before the ride finished at the Grosvenor for cold drinks and jam doughnuts for all.
Cyclists were Brian, Dawn, Julie, Malcolm, Tim and Nick G.
It seemed that the best way to get to Tring under the circumstances was to drive. The train due to arrive at 10:10am had been cancelled which left at least three people unable to attend. At 10:15am with cloudy skies, we set off on what turned out to be a really nice walk. The first part of the walk following The Ridgway took us up through woods and grasslands to Ivinghoe Beacon, which is 233m above sea level. The views are wonderful there and as we had been walking for an hour and fifteen minutes, we had our first short break. The walk then led us down the Icknield Way trail skirting along farmland before going into a beautiful forest of very tall and straight trees. Hanging Coombe was looming and this is where the walk leader was also the back marker as the steep steps slowed my pace, and the rest of the group waited at Wards Hurst Farm. The farmland was open and green as we then skirted around woods and fields to reach Ringshall.
A walk along the lane, a lunch stop in the shade, (bypassing a pub off route at Little Gaddesden), we were soon across a golf course and walked Prince's Riding up to the Bridgewater Monument. A comfort stop there, ice cream and then downhill all the way to Aldbury where we joined the Hertfordshire Way back to the station. Ten miles in all, great company and no rain. What more could we have wished for.
Thanks to Rajinder, Phil, Deirdre and Diane for joining me, and I am sorry the trains let down Ellen, Ioana and Pei.
On another perfect summer's day by the Thames, eleven of us met by the Tower of London for our historical walk. The riverside was packed with tourists on such a sunny day. We noticed lots of new outside eateries. After crossing under Tower Bridge, we explored St Katherines Dock. This was the first of the London Docks to close, in 1968, due to containerisation of trade. We continued through Wapping, with many fine Georgian buildings and converted wharves. We passed the Hermitage pier with many 19th century sailing barges moored. Then viewed Tobacco Docks and looked for where Harold Shand (Long Good Friday) made his speech in 1979 about the Olympics coming to Docklands. Then north to the first Hawksmoor church, "St Georges in the East". This is a church within a church as the interior was razed in the Blitz and rebuilt in the 50s. Exteriors also featured in LGF where Harold's Rolls blows up. After some film referencing by Brian and Nick we then admired the Cable Street mural, portraying the events of 1936 where the Blackshirts were stopped by locals and dockers.
Back to the riverside and Shadwell Basin where there was a large market with music and a great variety of food stalls for our lunch stop. After more yarns from Louise, we set off through Limehouse and then caught the ferry at Canary Wharf. This ferry is the former Ford Motor workers' ferry from Dagenham, now serving to cross to the Hilton Pier. Now in the Surrey Docks we found the parklands formed from the former Russian Docks. The Surrey Docks area has been transformed into low-rise housing and green spaces. We climbed to the viewpoint at Staves mound and then continued to Greenland Docks. We finished the walk at the Moby Dick pub by the quayside where there was some improvised outdoor theatre followed by plain clothes police involvement. Derek remarked that it was certainly nothing like the works of Melville.
Walkers were Brian, Nick, Mark A, Lisa, Kevin, Lesley, Lawrence, Derk, Prem, Martina and Daniel.
Four cyclists made it to the annual open evening at Kew Gardens, a one-off event just for cyclists to explore the gardens and the features within. We admired the very colourful borders on the main avenue with entertainment from singers and a cycling juggler on stilts. We took in the mid-Victorian glass masterpieces of Decimus Burton and the Bamboo Garden. We gathered for the picnic at the viewpoint to Syon House. Hundreds of cyclists gathered there around the food and drink stalls. Sion provided Jaffas for all with Con sharing around the wine. We chatted with the Ealing cyclists (all on Bromptons). By fluke Sizi from the Ealing group recognised Sion and Con as badminton partners from decades ago, whilst Jeff compared his folder to the Bromptons. Our route continued to the Pagoda and the Japanese garden. This has a feature of rocks within a pool of gravel raked to represent the waves. We were invited at the Pagoda to be part of the publicity for the event so may appear on the Kew video page. Our last stop was the amazing "Hive", a giant-sized re-creation of a beehive with music recorded from the humming of bees.
Our cycle ride took in Sustran routes 4 and 61 plus the Thames Path. From Maidenhead we cycled along the canal along the well-signposted Route 4. This eventually led to the very fashionable village of Bray. Every pub / restaurant there seemed to display a Michelin star including Heston's Fat Duck. A wedding was in progress at the Hind Head. We then visited the Jacobean Almshouses with its extensive courtyard and colourful gardens. Route then passed the Eton Dorney Lakes with views of the former Bray Film Studios. We stopped for lunch at the Pineapple with its menu of every sandwich ever created.
Route 61 was route west, then we switched to Thames Path as the section towards Maidenhead is a bridleway. We approached Brunel's brick arch railway bridge, still carrying the GWR after 185 years, before catching the Elizabeth line back east.
14 walkers met at Pinner station on the start of a dry summer's day. After greeting new and established members we set off on our 10-mile walk along the Celandine route, Kevin leading the group. First we entered Pinner Memorial Park, one of the 6 Harrow parks awarded national green flag status in 2023. Next on we began following the River Pinn, passing through the allotments onto some woodland paths around the back of Pinner. Saurabh, having lived in the area, was surprised to find lovely hidden paths, passing by the flourishing Pinner and long meadows. Walkers getting acquainted with each other and chatting about past events and wondering how long it would be before the rain would make an appearance.
Our first stop was Eastcote Gardens for a quick comfort break and to pick up another walker. Now 15 of us continued on through the back of Ruslip where Malcolm and I chatted to a possible future new recruit who seemed interested to hear about our walk and the group programme. Malcolm produced a HAWOG business card, making us look like true professionals. On to Kings College playing fields with runners making use of the track and the morning's fair weather. We carried on to the next field to find a huge television screen, some pop-up food stalls, gazebo and crowds of local football supporters watching the FIFAs Women's World Cup football as we all looked across with interest from the distance. "Can anyone see the score?" said Dee, but all agreed that from that distance none of us could. We carried on, with a chance for a good group photo opportunity. Passing the Winston Churchill Hall we continued on to the start of the HS2 diversion where work was in progress, on through to Swakeleys Park. Now nearing our half-way point with bellies ready for our lunch stop and some liquid refreshments to satisfy us we made use of the many opportunities on offer. It was here that the weather changed and after lunch 5 walkers bid their farewells and headed for the station.
Onwards now with the rain set in for the rest of the afternoon no negativity did I hear from the 10 remaining stalwart walkers. Heading over the busy A40 bridge onto the open Uxbridge playing fields once again meeting up with the River Pinn, following now mostly residential streets and avoiding being soaked by passing cars we headed on through the St Andrews RAF estate and its many new builds with its Grand Hillingdon House and hidden Battle of Britain bunker in the distance. We headed on, passing by some very enthusiastic workers planting many new trees around the new housing estate, the rain making their job easier apparently. Finally we reached the end of the walk at Uxbridge station where Malcolm bid us farewell and continued his journey home along the canal towpath, the rest of us heading into the Fig Tree public house, formerly the old Uxbridge police station, for further liquid refreshments and delicious food supplied generously by Bharti and Simon and enjoyed by all.
Many thanks to Neil T, Chrissy, Lesley, Lily, Bharti, Simon S, Malcolm, Dee, Michael W, Sumita, Penelope, Saurabh and Pete for joining Kevin and me on our first led walk.
We headed on down to Herefordshire with pleasant weather to accompany us and reached Biblins nestled on the River Wye. It was time to start the fire and relax. Later the rain came and trying out the new gazebo we realised it wasn't totally waterproof. Luckily Mark had just the thing with decorating sheets, and we were dry. Mike joined us rather late and decided to spend the night in the car.
On Saturday there was no let-up in the weather so the decision was made to delay the kayaking until the following day and do the sculpture trail in Cinderford after breakfast at the cafe. This 5-mile walk contained many different sculptures and being adjacent to an old railway line had a theme. We then made our way to Monmouth for refreshments. The weather started to ease when we got back to the campsite for another evening in the gazebo.
On Sunday, with a very different forecast we headed upstream with the trailer full of boats and equipment. Unfortunately the launch site had a barrier so after some car shenanigans we agreed on Kerne bridge launch, adding a couple of miles onto the paddle. After a quick coffee break we were on the water and heading downstream in what seemed like kayaking rush hour. After a while the boats spread out and a very pleasant experience was enjoyed by all. After stopping at Symonds Yat for refreshments we had a surprise guest. My godson and his girlfriend had similar plans that day as they live nearby in Bristol. We returned to the boats for the next thrill which were the rapids, then a gentle amble to the campsite a short distance away. A sumptuous barbecue was provided by Chris and a pleasant evening around the fire.
On Monday we left the campground for another walk with the aim of climbing up to the Yat rock we had paddled around the previous day. The stunning views were appreciated by all. Back to the campground to say our cheerios.
Many thanks to Chris, Sally, Mark and Rachael for joining me on this weekend.
Ten walkers met on a very warm sunny day in Hatch End. After a big breakfast for some we visited the Neo-Georgian Hatch End Station, built in 1910 as an example of the railway company's Edwardian confidence. We then followed the London Loop to Grims Dyke Golf Club and then climb to Old Redding. Our walk went through the grounds of Grims Dyke House, one of the best examples of Norman Shaw's Country House style. The waiter was bringing morning coffee to residents on the lawn but too early, even for us. We carried on and came upon the Bentley Priory Estate. This has a fascinating history. First a medieval priory then, after the dissolution, a country estate. In 1788 Sir John Soane created the Neo-Classical Georgian Palace which remains today. The RAF took it over in 1926 and it became Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. In the last 10 years the estate has been converted to luxury housing with the museum created for visitors. David worked there during the Cold War and recalled much tension during the missile crisis. The museum presents all the history, with the Rotunda an art gallery style exhibition of the Battle of Britain story. The two Simons had not met before, but they climbed into a Spitfire mock up with new Simon (a pilot) donning the air ace's flying helmet. We had a leisurely lunch on the terrace with the sun shining on the Italian gardens and fountains. The walk continued on a ridge, and inside Stanmore Country Park we followed the trail to the stunning "London Viewpoint". The panorama is perhaps the finest in North London, where London is set out from Harrow Church in the west as far as Canary Wharf in the far east. At the station just time for three to jump on the Overground for Mr Jones' evening cycle ride to Russia Docks, but that's another story.
Walkers were Brian, Mark P, Lisa, David L, Humay, Dean T, Lawrence, Yolli and both Simons.
Report by Brian
Grims Dyke Hotel - Photo by Brian
Bentley Priory - Photo by Brian
Priory terrace café - Photo by Brian
Viewpoint at Stanmore Country Park - Photo by Brian
The day's railway walk was to the Cotswolds, a day of timeless villages, ancient churches, poetry and the Bamfords. The walk follows the river Evenlode; its soft, easy hills and fertile countryside inspired Tolkien's Hobbit Shire. First village was Bledlington, where we visited St Leonards, the 12th century church with surviving medieval stained glass. We stocked up with pastries and pop at the very well-furnished village shop. Every village in the region had thriving pubs and shops, so perfect for walking. The farmhouses on route, of Cotswold honey coloured stone, had dry stone garden walls which were festooned with colourful hollyhocks, rising up to greet all visitors. After bridleways and meadows we came upon the unique church of St Nicholas near Oddington. Described by Simon Jenkins as "hidden, like an old sea chest shoved away in the attic", it has Saxon origins, was enlarged in the Norman era and has never had electricity or heating. Its main treasure is the Doom painting (1340) portraying the Judgment Day and only rediscovered in 1913. Next stop was the Fox at Oddington where we were lucky to grab a table for lunch. The Fox is one of several local pubs now owned by Lord Bamford, the billionaire JCB magnate. The inn was bustling, with local cyclists rubbing shoulders with the well-heeled social set.
The walk continued to the delightful village of Adlestrop, made famous by the poem "Adlestrop" by Edward Thomas. The poem evokes a moment at the now vanished station where "no one went and no one came". Thomas was another First World War poet who died on active duty in France; his most famous poem was published three weeks after his death. We strolled towards Adlestrop Park, the Jacobean Palace bordered by cedars and oaks. Cotswold sheep watched our approach, their wool providing the wealth which created the treasures back in time. We arrived at the restored church where the verger was arranging flowers in the nave. With a voice of Celia Johnson, she explained the history of the village. Jane Austen had stayed in the grand vicarage (now Adlestrop House) and was inspired by Adlestrop Park to create Mansfield Park. The verger reminisced about walking from the station as a girl as the steam trains chuffed past. We found the GWR station board and original bench, rescued after the station was demolished, and in prime position now with the poem on a plaque. Nick was inspired to recite it from memory and explained that it was one of the works he taught Russian students at St Petersburg when on a Foreign Office mission. Our route back to Kingham took us to Daylesford Farm where we were flabbergasted to discover the scale of the enterprise. Lady Bamford has created a vase organic farm with shops, restaurants, a spa and glamping site. We had afternoon tea at the very elegant tea shop, after a tip top day in the Cotswolds.
34 campers had booked for this weekend camp but on the day the weather forecast was for rain and very strong winds. On arrival at site several members were unable to successfully erect their tents and decided to call it a day and return home. Friday evening's walk into Lymington was replaced with a drive into town to spend the evening eating and drinking.
We woke Saturday morning to find that the weather had greatly improved although still very gusty. 19 walkers left site for our day's activities, meeting up with Jan and Cara who were staying at a local B&B. The group headed off to our lunch stop which was Bucklers Hard, a small hamlet on the banks of the Beaulieu River with its Georgian cottages and museum. We were planning to take a river cruise from there but the strong gusts of wind led to the cancellation of all cruises for the day. After lunch we followed the footpath along the banks of the river into Beaulieu where we took on ice creams before visiting the National Motor Museum. As the day was getting on, the group split into two halves with one group taking taxis back to site and the remaining group walking the 5 miles back. Unfortunately those arriving back by taxi found that the wind had taken the communal tent being used for cooking and shelter, and had been blown into the fence and trees. This had to be sorted before being able to be used again that evening.
Sunday morning weather had improved further and the wind had dropped considerably from the day before making it much easier to pack the tents away although the group were challenged with packing away a pop-up tent. With instructions in hand Runi took charge of the matter and quickly pointed out that unless you follow step 1, steps 2, 3 and 4 would not happen and the tent would not fit into the bag. After breaking camp, the group drove into Lymington for a short cruise around the harbour. Our captain pointed out various sights and points of interest and for the return part of the cruise he obviously needed a break, leaving Christina to pilot us back, gently pointing out which side of the river we should be on and that we should also avoid the wooden structures in the harbour. Safely arriving back we picked up lunch in town before heading home.
The weather made it an eventful weekend but also a great weekend with great memories.
On another fine sunny evening 7 walkers met for pre-walk drinks in the popular garden of the Case is Altered. We caught up on recent camping adventures and new recruits to Tuesday tennis sessions. Our route took in Eastcote House gardens, full of colour as ever, Judith and Louise identifying many of the flowers. We then followed the Celandine Way along the River Pinn. Our route took in a hidden meadow and footpaths via quiet lanes. After a detour through Cuckoo Hill Park and the gathering at the Old Oak Tree, we arrived at Eastcote cricket fields where a match was still in play. Then back to the Case for post-walk drinks and much planning of future walks.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Penelope, Runi, Simon, Kevin and Louise.
3 of us met at Chorleywood station for this 10-mile circular walk. The weather forecast indicated some rain but we probably only witnessed a dozen drops all day! We started off across Chorleywood Common, taking a slightly circuitous route to give us the best views. After successfully dodging golf balls, it was onto Chorleywood House Estate and the Chess valley, with another excellent vista to the the north-east of the river. We crossed the water and climbed the hill to 'Goldingtons' house, the location for the first wedding in the 1994 film 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' (yes, almost 30 years old now). We were now at Church End Sarratt, our first pub, The Cock Inn, and the church that (apparently) featured in some of the Hammer House horror films of the 1960s. Next up was The Old Rectory, a very grand residence (too much so for a vicar these days methinks) with some interesting sculptures visible in the grounds. Another half mile and we crossed Sarratt Green, and passed another pub, The Boot. Next on the list of highlights was a (very) miniature pony and the Christmas tree farm, with lots of young saplings in evidence. Another half mile hike down and up both sides of a dry valley got us to Commonwood and The Cart and Horses pub. Unfortunately, this was not yet open, so we moved on to Chipperfield Common, passing Apostles Pond (12 lime trees, well, there were until the hurricanes of 1987; remember Michael Fish?) on the way.
On the common, we ate packed lunches whilst enjoying watching others go about their day; cricketers preparing for their match, early drinkers and eaters at The Two Brewers and a feisty dog called 'Edward'. After lunch, it was a quick jaunt to reach The Windmill and then we were on our return journey via a different route. Upon reaching Sarratt Green again, the fun fair was in full swing and The Boot was open. Hurray! We stopped for some refreshment, sitting outside in the sun at a 15ft carved tree trunk table. As we continued on our walk, we ignored The Cricketers pub but enjoyed more good views of the Chess valley. At the Chorleywood House Estate, we admired the Victorian house (originally built for the eldest daughter of the 9th Duke of Bedford) along with its sunken garden, ornamental pond, and red and white summer house. The final highlight of the day was the Memorial Tree with its many fine carvings of bugs, beetles and the like.
For our fourth camping trip of this excellent summer twenty stayed in sunny Sussex at Stubcroft Farm near Wittering beach on the Selsey Peninsula. We pitched camp in glorious sunshine to the sound of Boom Radio, with Prem offering around jam doughnuts for all. The three new campers Penelope, Hira and Jane admired Chris and Maria's new tent which is perhaps the largest seen in England since Glastonbury. Brian led the walkers on the short walk to East Wittering beach, the view stretching along the endless beaches to Brighton in the west and Selsey in the east. Walk continued to Bracklesham and scrumptious fish and chips at Billies beach café. Back at site, Nick and Kevin lit the campfire for long chats till the early hours on a perfect night for star gazing.
On Saturday the early sun and Boom Radio ensured we were up early for kit inspection and Penelope's South African breakfast. The exploding egg burgers were jolly decent, perfected on bush trekking in the northern Cape. Our 12 mile walk turned out to be 16 miles due to the number of inlets to walk around on the coast. We set off from camp and were soon walking through fields of barley. We were then buzzed by a Spitfire, circling overhead for most of the morning. At the bustling sailing port of Itchenor we admired the many thatched cottages including one with two hares sculptured in hay above the roof. Next was the stone medieval church, to find it festooned with bouquets for a wedding that day. The order of service was in the nave, so Martina and Brian sang out the first hymn "Morning has Broken" before the guests arrived. After coffee and cake at the quayside tea rooms, we jumped on the Itchenor ferry to Bosham Hoe. A short walk took us to Bosham itself, a picture postcard sailing town founded by Romans with an imposing Saxon church. The town is featured in the Bayeux Tapestry and was the location for Canute's episode with the tide. Lunch at the sailing pub with lots of dinghy yachts setting out to sea. Hydrangeas were everywhere in the towns and villages, a feat of colours in many front gardens. After returning by ferry, we walked along the coastal path, passing several impressive manors with south facing sun balconies. As the afternoon sun beat down we admired the many yachts sailing along plus the canoeists and paddle boarders. We finally reached Wittering Beach, the busiest of the beaches, where Bodleian Nick and Penelope disrobed to have a long invigorating swim as the others paddled through the waves.
Back at site Martina sparked up the barbecue with Jeremy providing tuck galore for a feast for all. Nathalie and Mark then lit the campfire and round the blazing logs lots of yarns were told with Gill recounting her years on the stage. In the early hours we witnessed the second coming of Nick G with his trusty tobacco tin rescued once more.
Sunday was another hot one as Boom Radio woke us early for another bumper breakfast. Our destination was the charming cathedral city of Chichester. Another Roman town, Chichester has intact medieval walls and surviving Bishops Palace as well as the 900-year-old Cathedral. After exploring the cathedral and its mass of treasures (including the Arundel Tomb celebrated by Larkin) we happened upon a peregrine crew outside. They were photographing the family of peregrine falcons nesting by the spire high above. The church fete was blessed with afternoon sunshine as we tried out the vintage swingball (harder than it looks) and life-sized snakes and ladders. Finally at the Cathedral cloisters buttery we enjoyed some rather spiffing home-made cakes after another great camping holiday in Sussex.
Campers were Brian, Gill, Penelope, Nathalie, Nick H, Kevin, Louise, Derek, Prem, Chris, Maria, Hira, Jane, Nick, Mark A, Martina, Jeremy and family, Laura, Matt, Daniel and Louie.
We all met up outside Uxbridge station at 10:30am but this happened to coincide with a meeting of Labour Party members who were preparing to canvas for the forthcoming Uxbridge by-election. Unfortunately a labour activist thought we were also canvassers and only realised when a political discussion started stating our views on Labour party policy. Unable to recruit any of them as new HAWOG members, we made our way towards the Alderglade Nature Reserve, following the Fray's river. Heading through woodland towards the Uxbridge Galleries, underneath the A40 where we saw the arches decorated with paintings, opinions ranged from graffiti to art but the multiple colours and expanse certainly made an impression. Moving on through the nature reserve we found sleepers which had been used on the original tube track in 1904 by steam trains when Uxbridge station was in Belmont Street. We then made our way to the Harefield Nature Reserve and walked through fields, seeing beautiful horses, a herd of cows and wildlife. Skirting our way round towards Denham Lock, we were told the only way across was to walk the 'plank'! Gingerly, one by one we crossed the canal and made our way to the cafe at Denham Country Park where we had lunch.
Fully recharged, we walked further on towards Denham village crossing Denham cricket ground and the first of four pubs. Stopping to look at a mansion with tall golden gates, walkers contemplating whether HAWOG could buy it and we could camp there for free, finally making our way to St Mary's churchyard. There we learnt about the grisly murders that took place where three generations of a family were killed and buried in the graveyard. Following a stop at Sir John Mill's resting place, we then made our way to The Swan pub where we had drinks in the garden enjoying the sunshine. Some of us stayed on while others made their way back to Uxbridge through the churchyard and Buckinghamshire golf course.
Runi was the only lady on the walk and she was escorted by Simon, David, Peter, Alan, Mark and Ian (and she made the most of it). We were joined in the pub by Louise, Kevin, Judith and hubby. We hope you all enjoyed the walk.
On another warm sunny day, eight of us jumped on the Javelin train at St Pancras for our walk on the Kent Coast via the Romney Hythe narrow gauge railway. This narrow-gauge steam railway has a wonderful collection of locomotives including a scaled model of the "Flying Scotsman". Dungeness is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world and is classified as Britain's only desert. We found a suitable carriage and set off from Hythe, waving at the locals in their gardens backing onto the railway. After passing through sheep farms and caravan sites we reached Dungeness and the end of England. Our first greeting was the looming nuclear power stations.
After lunch at the station buffet, we walked to the Old Lighthouse (1760) and climbed the tower for superb views across the whole peninsula. Then onto the beach and the famous weathered beach huts plus abandoned fishing boats. After some directions we reached Prospect Cottage, the former home of the film director Derek Jarman. It is now a holiday let with Jarman's garden intact and maintained by locals. Back at the station our locomotive for the return journey was a Canadian Pacific class and it looked straight out of a John Ford Western as it curved into view. Back at Folkestone we strolled down to the harbour for fish and chips in the sun, with the big screen showing the last hour of the Second Test, after another walking day by the coast.
Walkers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Jeff, Coogee, Maryanne, Sonia and Smita.
6 of us made our way to Thetford for the first weekend of walking Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path. We stayed on the Friday and Saturday nights at a hotel on the edge of the town. On the Friday evening we had dinner at a restaurant in the town centre whose menu was built around the concept of cooking your own steak on hot stones, which we quite enjoyed - some are now looking for similar restaurants in the London area.
On the Saturday morning we set off at around 10:00am from Knettishall Heath. Peddars Way follows the route of a Roman road, so the path was mostly quite straight, and the occasional turn was welcome. The going was also quite firm, so our legs were aching by the time we reached the end of the day's walk 19 miles later in North Pickenham, but we still made good time, finishing at around 4:30pm. In the evening we had planned to eat at an Indian restaurant in the town centre, but the previous day Jenny had spotted a sign on the door of the restaurant saying that it was closed for 1 week for refurbishment, but with no indication as to when that week had started, or would finish, so instead we ate at the restaurant next to the hotel.
On the Sunday morning we set off at around 9:30am from North Pickenham, stopping for lunch in the village of Castle Acre, which was the only village on the path for that day's walking. Once again the going was quite firm and the path quite straight, with the only real turn coming when we left the path at the end of the day's walk to return to where we'd left our cars in the village of Great Massingham, a walk of around 13 miles which we finished shortly after 2:00pm, after which we headed home.
Thanks to Amanda, Jane, Jenny, Karen and Malcolm for joining me.
15 cheery walkers eventually gathered at Manor Farm library, chatting and pondering the confusing naming of Ruislip Manor station, which is in fact nowhere near the manor. We admired the buildings at the Manor Farm complex, including the Grade II listed Tudor Manor Farm House, with many original features remaining, including one of the oldest examples of domestic wallpaper still to remain on its original wall in England. We welcomed new walkers to the group, one all the way from the big apple! And another from the wilds of Ealing. The weather was kind to us and not too hot or cold as we walked through the suburban outskirts of Ruislip woods, following the river Pinn, with its wildlife and wild flowers. Louise and Kevin made notes of the route for their walk soon, as the HS2 works altered the route significantly, but gave Brian the opportunity to explain about gravel conveyor belts etc. much to everyone's interest. The walk continued along the route until it reached the more manicured parkland on the outskirts of Uxbridge, passing a water tower and also the Jacobean Swakeley's House, which Samuel Pepys is reported to have visited twice. We ended the walk in the pub with a bite to eat and drink before heading off.
Walkers were Dean T, David L, Heather, Louise, Kevin, Brian, Heather, Simon B, Teresa, Judith, Amerjit, Paulina, Sven, Sandra G, Soraya and Luna.
Three walkers met on another sunny evening at Northolt village green by the Crown. Simon had just joined and this was his first walk. We climbed to the 14th century parish church and then explored the site of the original manor house. Next onto Belvue Park which had not been mowed this year as it is part of the rewilding project. Onto the Grand Union Canal (Paddington branch) which we followed to Marham Fields. The new footbridge was almost complete to allow better access to the canal. We then crossed back to enter Northala Playing Fields, full of strollers on such a warm evening. We climbed to the summit of the highest mound (beacon installed for the Jubilee) for panoramic views as far as Canary Wharf and the North Downs in the distance.
Six of us gathered in the car park in rustic Hambleden village. The day was looking like another scorcher. The group were assured that they would be able to top up with water and borrow the loos at Stonor Park café, our halfway point. With a quick reminder to the formidable Kalpna that the rest of us had no intention of trying to break the world land speed record, we set off. The clear stream near the village was in full flow as we ambled across a couple of fields, then took a sharp right to enter Ridge Wood. In a series of flower strewn meadows and groves of woodland, we proceeded at a fair pace, stopping to observe the view of a red kite or an interesting building such as Roundhouse Farm. We traversed one field carpeted with wildflowers and enjoyed the magnificent views of the surrounding Chilterns countryside.
Descending the steep path to the little village, we entered Stonor Deer Park and sat in the welcome shade of a tree for lunch. We were entertained by the commentary from a medieval fair being held in the grounds. The downside was that, as we set off, the promised café with its facilities was closed because of the festivities. Putting a brave face on it, the group tried to conserve what water we had left. Fortunately, the second half of the route contained a great deal of shaded woodland. The mostly arboreal walk was surely at its best when we hiked through Great Wood, a beech forest so sublime, the group stopped for a while to appreciate the natural wonders around us. As we neared Hambleden there were two options to return to the village, the longer scenic route or the shorter partially road-walking way. We took a vote and decided that a glass of cold water ASAP was more of a priority. The journey ended with the group enjoying a pint of something very cold and refreshing. Always a great Chilterns walk with its mixed terrain and sylvan enchantments.
Many thanks to Kalpna, Vasu, Kumar, Simon and Yolli for sharing it.
Six of us met at the Clocktower Café in Hanwell Broadway. After some coffee and cake, we proceeded, chatting merrily. A slight deviation from the usual route found us ambling along part of the River Brent and joining the Grand Union Canal. The weather was perfect, sunny but not too warm. We stopped for a group photo and looking down the series of locks with its old Victorian cottage and trees, it's hard to believe we're in a London borough. We crossed a footbridge and made our way along a couple of suburban streets, coming to Tentelow Lane. The walkers were delighted to see an unremarkable alley open up to a huge field full of young wheat. Even those born and bred in the area were surprised. We traversed a lane to enter the scenic grounds of Osterley Park via the back gates. Stopping for refreshment at 'Stables', the park's café, we enjoyed conversation about Asian food and heritage while our two canine companions looked on hopefully for the odd titbit. Steve recommended an alternative route to Windmill Lane which took us around the lake. Then we left the busy road and turned into Long Wood, a small but delightful ancient woodland and nature reserve with running stream. Wandering through a couple of meadows and crossing the canal over one of the locks, we spent some time browsing at a small mini market at 'The Fox' pub. After fond farewells, we parted way.
Many thanks to Judith, Nitin, Lucie, Alice and Steve for an undemanding 4 miler in some of west London's nicest scenery and a lot of laughs along the way.
For our third camping trip of this excellent summer, twenty stayed in scorchio Suffolk at Brighthouse Farm. As always Louise proffered her awfully nice Lemon Drizzle cake for the early arrivals. Odell, perhaps the friendliest campsite manager we have ever met, came around to welcome us back. We pitched camp to the sound of Boom Radio, with two of the group checking into the sumptuous bed and breakfast farmhouse alongside. New gadgets this trip included Diane's specially designed camping table for her smartphone. Brian led the late afternoon walk in the heatwave to Lawshall village, passing fields of wheat and oats. We had fish and chips in the sun-filled beer garden of the Swan with hay bales set out for a wedding. Sandra mounted us on the bales to use the late evening light of the "golden hour" for a photo session. Back at site Malcolm and Kevin lit the campfire and soon we were gathered around the blazing logs for some erudite tales from the two Nicks.
On Saturday the early sun and Boom Radio ensured we were up with the larks for Coogee's strong coffee. Anneke practised her yoga moves in the sun, Dean and her swapping stories of Caplinism over a very healthy breakfast. Martina led the walkers on the day's walk. The 10-mile walk followed trails through fields of rapeseed, barley and poppies. Pub stops plus tours of local vineyards with wine tasting. Kevin, Louise and family did a cultural tour of Bury St Edmunds and its Abbey grounds. The others (fourteen) went on a 36-mile cycle ride through the lovely Suffolk countryside. We hired cycles including a tandem from Maglia Rosso, a busy cycle hub with repairs workshop, café and glamping units on site. Brian and Soraya volunteered for the tandem and, after practising techniques in the field, took off with elan. Our route was all on quiet rural lanes almost traffic-free, passing many scenic thatched cottages, painted in the timeless salmon pink colours of Suffolk. We arrived at Holy Trinity church, Long Melford, perhaps the finest Wool church and happened upon a cannon displayed outside the porch. The lady owner, dressed in 17th century Puritan army dress, explained that it was fund-raising day for the Clerestory windows. As Peter engaged her in talk of munitions the rest entered the majestic nave for some rather spiffing Victoria Sponge and teas served by the very friendly volunteers. We then had a tour of the medieval chapels and a demonstration of the organ, where Nigel allowed Dean to take over. Dean then filled the Gothic church with the sounds of the Godfather theme which stopped some visitors in their tracks. Then it was up the tower for stunning views from the rooftop before the verger allowed Soraya to try out some bell ringing in the belfry. We had lunch at one of the many inns along the mile long High Street, full of independent shops. Our route continued through hamlets before we reached the wool village of Cavendish. More pastel-coloured cottages and a just-so tea shop by the green, where a cream tea was just the ticket with the tea pots all uniquely designed.
Back at camp it was wine o'clock after such a long hot day in the saddle, as we caught up with the hikers. The sumptuous barbecue feast was prepared by Kevin and Louise with Rob on the tongs. Derek and Prem had their own soiree with glamping accessories at their designer tent. Nick and Malcolm lit up the campfire with Coogee leading the singsong with his trusty ukulele; YMCA was the favourite, with Jan and Diane leading the choreography.
Sunday was another day of glorious sunshine. With Boom waking us we struck camp with many rounds of tea and Louise's bacon baps. Our destination was Sudbury, the historic town made famous by Gainsborough. We toured the medieval streets and visited a cottage offering an open studio tour. The two ladies invited us in for lashings of squash whilst we admired the art works in the sun-filled garden. Then down to the meadows by the river where the cattle were taking shelter in the shade of the trees. As the afternoon sun beat down, we continued to the Gainsborough Museum where, under a noble mulberry tree, we savoured some final tea and cake after a tip-top camping holiday in rural Suffolk.
Campers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Laura, Diane, Martina, Mark A, Malcolm, Coogee, Soraya, Jan, Carla, Anneke, Dean, Nick G, Nick H, Derek, Prem and Peter, plus Daniel and Louie.
The annual midsummer sunset ride arranged by London Cyclists always takes place in good weather and yesterday's ride was again on a perfect summer evening. Around thirty cyclists assembled at Ealing, with lots of friends catching up over comparisons of the various cycles. Dawn was using her new cycle for the first time. As Nick arrived just in the nick we set off. Our route was via quiet lanes, cycle tracks, New Brentford and Thames Path through Syon Park, Richmond, and Ham House. The Richmond riverside was very busy with drinkers, walkers and sunbathers on such a sweltering evening. After a cycle through Richmond Park, we reached the summit of Richmond Hill where we joined the other cycle groups for drinks on the terrace. The clear blue skies afforded great views from Turner's famous viewpoint.
This cycle ride was along Route 1 from Chelmsford to Witham via Maldon. It is mostly on quiet lanes through the level scenic countryside of rural Essex. Confusing signage in Chelmsford and some hidden signs later, so glad we took along a compass. We cycled through picturesque villages with lots of thatched cottages and landscaped estates. At Maldon we explored the historic port with several medieval churches and Georgian buildings. We had a picnic lunch by quayside promenade which was full of yachts and sailing barges.
Maldon is a centre for boating trips along this coast and has many 19th century vessels to view. The route from Maldon was well signposted and passed meadows and surprisingly two pop-up coffee huts in remote areas. Final stop was the unique church of Little Braxted with its amazing interiors, created by an artistic vicar during the Arts and Crafts era.
Despite severe weather warnings of thunderstorms and heavy downpours, brave and keen HAWOG members turned up for the walk. Some had received my frantic email and FB updates regarding the cancellation of the famous Mandolyn Monday band, as it would not be wise to have electrical equipment out on the village green. Many disappointed faces, but to cheer them up, I told them the 'short' walk as advertised was now a 'long' walk. Lucky for me that pleased the walkers. The sun was shining on us as we set off. Having to change the planned route that I had originally decided, I went through parts where I had not taken the group before. Our route started from Denham station, with a long stretch towards Harefield crossing the River Colne, passing the river garden pub previously known as Bear on the Barge. We made our way through the woodlands and touching the HS2 development, we carried on following the Colne Valley Trail by Savay Lake, overlooked by a Grade 1 listed farm. We stopped to look at the scenic lake and the wildlife, a perfect spot for a water break and photoshoot. We carried on towards Uxbridge Golf Course and then trekked through the nature reserve, passing the bird hide, where some decided to go and have a look (I think that the noise we were making would had scared the birdies off). Back on the trail, again we passed the lake, going over the historic bridge, walking along the towpath and the lock. We made our way to the Riverside Café in Denham Country Park, stopping there for our picnic.
After resting and refuelling, we carried on through the fields, where the famous giant Denham car boot sale takes place, attracting thousands of buyers and sellers. We took the path towards the village, admiring various cottages and manor houses, then over the River Misbourne, towards the historic St. Mary's Church. Here we met more members who had come for the band, but nevertheless had a great time and enjoyed a drink or two. We carried on, as the group was more than ready for cool refreshment! We sat in the garden of one the many pubs, enjoying cool beers and cocktails. After saying our goodbyes, I carried on homeward only to meet another member who had turned up for the band, and spent time with him.
Many thanks to all that had turned up for the walk and still no sign of any thunderstorms: Kumar, Louise, Kevin, Penelope, Jackie, Rohini, Sadie, Prem, Derek, Elain, Karen and Jeff.
On a scorching beautiful day, nine of us jumped on the Javelin train at St Pancras for our walk on the Sussex coastal trail from Winchester to Rye. Winchelsea is an "Antient town", one of the original Cinque Ports. Built in the 13th century on the orders of Edward I, it is one of the best preserved medieval Bastide towns in Southern England. We walked through the original stone gateways and explored the captivating town with many fine Georgian streets. It was, by serendipity, Open Garden Day so we took in the very colourful private gardens. One had a former signal box as a lookout. After touring the unique medieval church and Spikes gravestone we had lunch in the New Inn, where the surprise latecomer joined us in the shaded beer garden.
As it was a scorcher, we detoured to Winchelsea beach for ice creams and views along the coast to Hastings to the west and Camber Sands to the east. Gill and Con sung some music hall seaside ditties whilst Colin led the rest for a paddle in the sea. Linda stayed for her channel swim and the rest walked through sunburnt meadows to Camber Castle. This is a 16th century fort dominating the Rother valley. We then reached the charming town of Rye. Rye is a medieval town suspended in time, with cobbled streets and ancient passageways leading to Tudor and Georgian architectural treasures. We explored the imposing church and the Ypres Tower which affords fine views along the coast. Jeff explained how E.F. Benson had created Mapp and Lucia in many of the historic buildings there. We then settled in the courtyard of the 15th century Mermaid Inn for fish and chips after a perfick day out in sunny Sussex.
Walkers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Jeff, Gill R, Con, Linda, Bharti and Colin.
6 of us met bright and early at Watford station for the annual Marathon Walk. We headed off promptly at 8:20am, walking down through Cassiobury Park to the Grand Union Canal, then walking north along the towpath, making best use of the opportunity to set a brisk pace, although we had to dodge more cyclists and joggers than I was expecting. Reaching Kings Langley, we headed west to Chipperfield Common and then Bovingdon and Ley Hill, where it looked as though the pub had closed very recently, depriving some of a possible opportunity to get a cold drink. From there I had a little trouble navigating through woods south of Botley, but we still reached Chesham in good time. Our route passed fairly close to the town centre, so some made a brief detour to get some more drinks. Unfortunately they probably didn't need to make the detour, as we passed a petrol station shortly afterwards, where we could probably have bought the same supplies.
Heading out of Chesham on the Chess Valley Walk, we found a shady spot for lunch. After lunch we continued along the Chess valley, passing by Latimer House and Sarratt Bottom, and then up through Loudwater and on to Croxley Green, where we found the annual Croxley Revels well underway. This provided us with a welcome opportunity to buy cold drinks and ice creams, or for one of our group to peruse the display of vintage bikes. We then headed back towards Watford, walking over Jacotts Hill and back into Cassiobury Park, reaching Watford station at around 5:40pm.
Well done to Asif, Jane, Karen, Malcolm and Saurabh for all completing the full distance with me.
7 walkers met on a boiling hot summer day, chatting casually waiting to see if there were any late-comers. The first portion of the walk passed through typical suburban streets, marveling at the very well-manicured gardens we passed along the way. There was much talk of why there would have been a windmill halfway up a hill and not at the top. We randomly were given cake and giant crumpets by a kind man at the entrance to the woods. Like members of the foreign legion, we were relieved to get under the shade of the ancient woodland trees with the unusually dry tracks. Luna ran off nose to the ground as usual, greeting fellow dogs and walkers with the same typical enthusiasm! We traced the railway track for quite a way, still under the cover of the trees to the hidden level crossing, passing quaint stations as we went. We then amused ourselves by trying to recreate various travel photos from mangrove swamps to sandy beaches. Luna had fun catching flying sticks from the dedicated dog beach, while we chatted in the shade.
We stopped for a while to have some refreshments at the café, people-watching the children enjoy the huge pirate ship and water fountains. Suitably refreshed, we headed back into the quiet of the woods, along a different winding path. We remembered that evidence of Bronze Age settlements had been found within the woods during archaeological excavations, occasionally brought to life by the medieval fair that is sometimes held there. The walk continued through the woods, until we once again emerged into suburban streets and made our way to another café for tea and lunch.
Walkers were Helen, Maura, David L, Brian, Dean, Simon, Soraya and Luna.
On another sweltering evening of this heatwave five eager hikers met at the canalside Fox pub. In the very popular refurbished beer garden, we enjoyed cooling drinks and censored tales of the recent camping trip. Eventually we left the pub for the walk. Our route took in the canal and the River Brent trail through the country park. We admired the many diverse locomotives racing across the skyline along Brunel's impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct. We then tried out their puzzle solving skills to reach the centre of the millennium maze; a scout group were using the Baden Powell method to the same end. After walking through the "Bunny Park" our route back followed Hanwell heritage trail including several Georgian mansions. At Hanwell Crossrail station we snuck in (no barriers) to see the restored heritage waiting rooms with GWR posters. Back at the Fox we regained our table to exchange memories of a current cabinet member and their time with the group.
Seven walkers met me at Baker Street next to Sherlock Holmes, and after a slow start with Prem and Derek in search of free coffee, we made our way to Regents Park. Prem was apologetic for making us wait and got teased all day as a consequence, but this was all in good spirits. We made our way around Regents Park, stopping at the fountain, rose gardens and the "not so secret" secret garden. The rose gardens were particularly beautiful and the fragrances on some were very pungent and lovely. We also went to look at the urn plantings up the avenue before making our way up towards Camden. It was a very hot day and therefore not an easy walk especially as we entered the zany and extremely busy Camden.
A couple of walkers decided not to have a lunch break and make their way onto Kings Cross possibly meeting back up with us later and Derek headed into Wetherspoon's for a rest. Runi and I went to the Hawley Arms for a pint and then a wander around the market and some food before meeting the group at the Amy Winehouse statue. We then headed onto the canal and walked up to Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square in Kings Cross where families were enjoying the fountains. Runi, Prem and I went to the Wetherspoon's in St Pancras for cocktails which rounded off this lovely walk with great company.
Eight met at the car park on what promised to be a "scorchio". We started at a brisk pace, working our way along the Ridgeway. Lots of sun, and we appreciated shade on this part of the walk. No rabbits - we must have been too loud and frightened them away. At the end of the Ridgeway there was a quick walk along a main road. Mary was in charge of health and safety so led us carefully along this stretch in her high viz jacket. Next we made our first ascent at Watlington hill and shortly after reached the 5-mile point at Christmas Common. We took the opportunity to have lunch under the shade of a tree on the verge - good call Mary.
We then made our way to the Fox and Hounds pub for a quick drink. At this point a few walkers had decided that the heat was too much for them and made a very wise decision to shorten their walk and head back. The rest of us continued towards Ibstone through woods, meadows full of sheep and, as promised, hills. We passed blankets of buttercups and daisies, a reminder of the beauty of a summer's day in England. My overused phrase of the day was "it's just up this hill and at the top the view is amazing". How they didn't smack me one eludes me. My fellow walkers were absolute troopers in the blazing sun and never once complained.
Thanks to Hira, Angela, Harsesh, Pragna, Rohan and Jaksha for joining us.
For our second camping trip of the year, fifteen campers returned to Sussex for another scorchio weekend at the Waspbourne manor farm (Wowo). The campsite is in an idyllic setting in the Ouse valley surrounded by ancient woodlands. We pitched camp to Boom Radio as the sun blazed down, with choc ices from the farm shop very welcome. Now it was cake o'clock with Louise presenting her awfully nice Victoria Sponge for all. Joan and Laura discovered the rope swings before Brian led a late afternoon walk through ancient woods to Sloop pub, a 17th century Sussex inn where we enjoyed fish and chips in the extensive beer garden. Back at site Malcolm and Kevin lit the campfire and soon we were gathered around the blazing logs. Fireside yarns included Nick's impersonation of Jeremy Paxman.
On Saturday the early morning sun and Boom Radio woke us early, and after Coogee's invigorating coffee we set off on the walk. It was a scorcher as we made our way to the Bluebell steam railway and after exploring the vintage station, we took the train through the valleys and meadows of the weald. We alighted at Horsted Keynes (station for Downtown Abbey and other films) as it was open day for the entire railway. We joined the tour of the signal box and the vintage carriages' shed. The volunteers showed all the workings of this very busy heritage railway, with some locos and carriages dating back to the 1880's. We jumped on the next train and soon all was dark as we traversed the half-mile tunnel on route to Kingscote. Time for more ice creams at Kingscote station buffet before the walk finally began. The route took in the very scenic Kingscote Valley, vineyards, medieval manors and sandstone rocks (busy with rock climbers). After the convoy of Duke of Edinburgh trainees passed by, we reached Standen House. This is an outstanding National Trust manor with very colourful hillside gardens. We had our picnic there on deckchairs whilst taking in the perfect arts and crafts architecture. Then time to explore the gardens and the many unusual sculptures on display. As the afternoon sun blazed down, we continued through buttercup meadows to East Grinstead for the Bluebell train back.
At camp it was wine o'clock, with cava and dips from Sally, and Dee and Diane offering the M&S summer wine. We had a surprise visit from Camper Anne, staying with the vintage VW campers in the very chic glamping field, the vast assembly of cream-coloured bell tents resembling a scene from "Ivanhoe". Soon the barbecue was lit up, Mark and Lisa cooking a particularly sumptuous feast. Extra points to Diane for catering for several. The campfire was soon blazing, with cabaret time from Jeremy, first showing how one can burn a whole branch and then gymnastics on the campfire bench. Coogee on the trusty ukulele led the singsong, with "Ernie" again the favourite.
Sunday was another scorcher, and our breakfast was a very leisurely affair. We stocked up at the farm shop for fresh eggs and bacon. We set off on the short walk to Sheffield Park Gardens, the nearby National Trust historic gardens designed by Capability Brown. We strolled around the luxurious collection of trees and shrubs, coming upon the Monet Bridge and the wonderful vista of rare pink water lilies covering the tranquil lake. We continued through the Palm Avenue and rhododendron parade, still full of colour in early summer. After viewing the cricket pitch (setting for first England vs. Australia test), we strolled through the afternoon sun to the coach house for a well-deserved National Trust cream tea after another jolly decent camping holiday at Wowo.
Campers were Brian, Diane, Sally, Malcolm, Mark A, Coogee, Laura, Mark P, Lisa, Dee, Louise, Kevin, Jeremy, Joan and Nick.
On another scorchio Sunday four cyclists met at the Aquadrome cafe for a longer cycle ride. Mileage turned out to be 30 miles for those who took a short cut (Abbey line train) and 43 miles for those doing the full route. We used Sustrans route 61, mainly traffic-free all the way to St Albans. First section was the Ebury Way around Watford then parklands and riverside tracks along the River Ver. Among the many allotments and scooter / cycle skate parks we were struck by one notable mansion, the arts and crafts-style villa with the sporting motifs around the facade. Refreshment stop at the Crown on the way, with lots of roast dinners in the garden but slightly too early for us. Reached St Albans with great views of the cathedral across the parkland. We cycled through the Roman remains before lunch at the park café. Lots of picnickers in the busy park on such a sunny day.
We then joined the second leg, the Alban Way, a superb cycle track following the former railway line from St Albans to Hatfield. Volunteers have recreated railway halts on many places along the trail. The most impressive is Nast Hyde where an enthusiast has rebuilt the platform, shelter, period posters and signals. Back at Abbey station some took the Abbey line back and the others did the full route back for a marathon 43-mile ride.
On a beautiful summer day ten met for the annual Harrow Art walk. A later start as two had run the parkrun in the heat early in the morning. As always it was cake o'clock at Daisy's where we viewed the first exhibition at West House. Then our walk to Pinner village area of Moss Lane and our second studio at the fabulous Tudor Cottage (sections date back to 16th century). The gardens were full of sculptures and art works by the owners (former film actors). We then followed footpaths to reach Headstone Manor Park. The sports area was busy with three cricket matches in progress. We had lunch at the Moat Café watching the smart wedding guests parade by to the Great Barn, on a perfect day for a wedding. Mary and Penelope gave an insightful commentary on the fashion on display. We explored the art, and the museum displays at the Manor House. We then headed north to Harrow Arts Centre where we visited the studios including Humay's exhibition. Judith talked Jonathan (artist in residence) into showing us his allegorical work on the poems of David Jones. Our walk ended back in Eastcote in a beer garden, packed due to the sunshine, where we heard the last sounds of the FA Cup final.
Walkers were Brian, Mary, Judith, Penelope, Jeff, Soraya, Rohini, Derek, Prem and Dean.
On a rather grey, overcast day 8 stalwart walkers met at Eastcote station for the fortnightly Friday Frolic. Luckily all those there knew HAWOG walks always arrange for glorious weather, which soon arrived, transforming the grey skies to blue. The walk soon left the shops and restaurants behind and entered the green tranquility of Cavendish Park with the mock Tudor Cavendish Country House, with its fragrant display of roses, which everyone stopped to appreciate. The spirit of adventure was strong and we investigated the bowling club with its seductive open door, before taking the alleyway path to Pine Gardens and then on to Bessingby Gardens and eventually on to Yeading Brook. We followed the tranquil brook, crossing to Roxbourne Park with its miniature railway. We continued along a wooded walk along the stream, making a mental note to bring a machete next time as it was quite jungly and overgrown. We burst out of the undergrowth, into the well-kept park, following the perimeter to the local nature reserve, Roxbourne Rough with birds such as the blackcap, bullfinch, chiffchaff and heron according to the information plaques. We didn't see any of the birds, but the air was definitely filled with birdsong, so we had fun guessing which call was which. We just skirted the perimeter of the nature reserve as the path was very overgrown to Bolton's Pande, a pond in the rough. We carried on the walk under the shade of the mature trees before emerging back into suburbia via a small, wooded area to make our way back to Eastcote station and stopped at the outstanding Francesca Cake and Coffee House for a lovely homemade lunch.
Walkers were Heather, Shirley L, Nita, Vito, Vera B, Pawlina, Daniel, Soraya and Luna.
Our Ickenham Walk took place on another warm sunny evening. We took in the historic village pond and water pump, plus the ancient church across the road. 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 saw the vast preparatory works for HS2 alongside the Chiltern line. We then joined the Celandine Way, the fields full of locals enjoying the 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 S, Judith J, Anne, Dean and Vaughn.
6 walkers joined me in Sarratt for this walk in perfect weather. It was especially nice to welcome back 3 previous attendees. We set off towards Chenies, admiring the pretty village houses. Everything looked very green and fresh. After three lovely beech woods, interspersed with views over the valley and hills, we made our way past Latimer House, now a hotel. Picnic lunch was in its grounds under a large tree where we could admire the views.
The more active had to drag the rest from their picnic spot to continue past the hotel and its bee houses. Then on to picture postcard Latimer village for more photos. Roses were in abundance. No luck today with the open ice cream stall - apparently its closed - such a pity. We did see alpaca, horses, cows and birds to console us. Then on to the final climb back to the Cock Inn, for farewells until next time.
An enjoyable scenic 9 miles done in excellent weather and fab company. Thanks to all who joined me and hope to see you again.
Thirty of us enjoyed four days of glorious sunshine in Snowdonia National Park. We stayed at Snowdon Ranger hostel. Its location is ideal as the Snowdon ascent starts from the front door and the hostel has its own station on the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR).
On Friday the early arrivals toured the Caernarfon city walls and the old city. Sally showed us the red-light quarter and we counted the hostelries in one street, fourteen at least. We joined the others by the magnificent castle at the harbourside pub terrace. The cold Welsh ales were tickety boo as we watched the yachts sail by on the Menai Straits. At the hostel most ambled along in the evening sun to the Cwellyn Arms for some excellent Welsh fayre. The lake by the hostel was the favourite wandering venue for the holiday, with the campsite on the far bank and circle of pine forests, all framed by the majestic Snowdonia mountains.
Saturday was a scorcher, and everyone set off for the ascent of Snowdon. Malcolm and Brian led the two groups on the Snowdon Ranger path. Our circuit was back via the Rhyd Ddu Path. These paths are far less crowded than the others and we were soon climbing in the midday heat with the views superb on such a clear day. Finally, we attained the summit where some joined the lengthy queue for the photo at the summit marker. We had a well-deserved extended lunch break there, taking in the magnificent views across the entire National Park as far as Anglesey to the north. The Rhydd Ddu descent was more challenging including some vertiginous sheer slopes dropping away from the path. Congratulations to Prem for having persevered on her own to make it to the top and back one step at a time. Back at Cwellyn Arms we enjoyed a thoroughly deserved cream tea and cold drinks to celebrate the climb.
Back at the hostel the late afternoon was heating up so Rachael and Dean ("I'm up for that") led Mark and Coogee for a swim in the cooling waters of the lake. Penelope and Soraya eschewed changing, and clad in hiking gear, joined the others for a long refreshing swim as the canoeists glided by. Louise and Pearl brought out the wine for all on a perfect evening by the lake.
Sunday was another scorcher with Malcolm and Jan leading half the group on an 11-mile (supposedly 5ish) walk from Beddgelert. Ten of us meandered along the valley and lakes to the National Trust Craflwyn Hall, and walked along the beautiful wooded valley with two lakes, steeped in myth. Its northern slopes rise to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) via the Watkins Path. The path gently rose past disused tin mines, sheep and an extraordinarily attractive cow, until eventually we arrived at spectacular waterfalls. We smiled wanly at youths tombstoning to their expected deaths with gay abandon, whilst we cautiously dipped our steamy feet into the bubbling brooks below. After ice cream and the odd local ale, we shimmied back to Beddgelert past the copper mines, and paddleboarders on the lakes. Gelert has been the site of many films including Ingrid Bergman's Inn of the Sixth Happiness, and Laura Croft, Tomb Raider. After much persuasion, because the pub was calling, the gang visited Gelert's grave (resting place of 'Gelert', the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great, who was unfortunately slain in error by his master - easy mistake). Joe sighed with relief at his much anticipated roast dinner (only four hours later than planned) and we all joined in with singing with the bango players on the bridge into the town.
Brian took the other half for a cultural day on the Ffestiniog steam railway and Portmeirion. Betty continued her fashion show with the day's ensemble being a khaki PLA outfit, ideal for the terrain. At Porthmadog harbour station the boys took in the collection of Victorian locomotives steaming up for the day's adventures. We all boarded the vintage carriage for the ride up into the hills. The narrow-gauge railway is perfect for climbing up the hillside, hugging the slopes of the valley and affording great views out to sea. We alighted for a walk at Tan Y Bwlch woods (called the Welsh rainforest due to the lush vegetation and landscape). Next destination was the unique village of Portmeirion, built as a Welsh Italianate fantasy. On such a sunny day the multi-coloured domes, towers, palaces, and arches were resplendent. We had our picnic on the terrace with the brass band entertaining the visitors with the Prisoner and Bond themes. After walking around the headland (superb views across the bay towards Cader Idris) we jumped on the sherpa bus to join the others at Beddgelert.
Back at the hostel it was last night party time, with drinks by the lake beach for a final sunset reflected in the waters. Then cabaret time with Coogee leading the sing-song on the trusty ukulele and some tense rounds of Gin Rummy and Scrabble.
Monday saw quite a few venture to Caernarfon to visit the Castle. Brian led the famous five on an off-road cycle ride from Beddgelert campsite. We crossed the railway twice and then climbed, before an exhilarating fast descent to Rhyd Ddu. Just time to fit in a rather spiffing final cream tea at the Cwellyn Arms with the WHR train tooting its whistle as we gazed up at Snowdon after another wonderful holiday in the National Park.
Leaders Brian and Jan, plus Malcolm, Mike D, Sarah, Dean T, Dean S, Coogee, Joe, Mark P, Derek, Prem, Humay, Rita, Leslie, Rachael, Pearl, Cathy O, Kevin, Louise, Soraya, Sally, Betty, Rob O, Anne Marie, Penny, Jyotsna, Simon and Yolli.
Seven walkers met on a perfect summer evening at Northwood for the Woods and Views walk. New recruit Vaughn had just found our details that afternoon and was so impressed that he came along and paid to join the walk. We entered the Northwood Hills meadows where a cricket match was in progress. We soon reached Haste Hill summit for inspiring views west over the woods and golf course. We then navigated our way through Ruislip Woods and the hard-to-find level crossing of the railway. Then joined the Lido footpath to arrive at the beach. We took in the views across the Lido, full of families and groups on such a warm evening. Then back through the woods, following the bridleway to Fore Street. Here we soon reached the Eastcote cricket fields and onto the Case. The beer garden was very popular, so we grabbed a table for cold drinks where Louise told us of seeing Bob Geldof and others at the festival and Peter explained about his munition store.
Walkers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Marian, David C, Peter and Vaughn.
On a sunny Sunday more than 20 people met up for the walk, to blend in with thousands of other people. Having got there a little bit early to check out what was on and where, I wandered round and spoke to various stall holders and assured them that I would be back with a group of people. The festival attractions were amazing with lots of live bands dotted around, all very different. The canal had a sea of barges all decorated in bright colours and had their own unique touches It was extremely interesting to see just how amazing these looked with the sun shining. The clear blue sky and laughter created a spectacular atmosphere. With a rough plan in head and key attractions, I made my way back to the meeting point. Walking through various tents and stalls, it all looked extremely different.
There were about 6 / 7 walkers were already waiting. Not long before more arrived. Whilst taking down names, a couple inquired as to who we were, and I showed them my back where I had tied the famous HAWOG tote bag. The couple had thought we were there to protest - whatever gave them that idea. I know we can be a bit rowdy at times. I explained the plan for the day and told the walkers about various activities, points of interest and eating places. With fingers crossed I also told them about the motorboat ride, to see if anyone would be interested, and to my great relief, all agreed they would like to give it a go. Result! So it was decided, to first make our way to the boating lake, having given strict instructions not to get side-tracked with stalls. We hurried on making our way through the festivities. As we rushed through, naughty me got distracted with a stall where I just saw the purple colour and stopped to chat, but I assured them that we would be back. At the boating lake, we were met with wonderful people who remembered me and said 'ah she is back'. They were quite shocked to see a large group all eager to ride the waves. Quickly organised payments and we made our way to be fitted with life jackets. The group looked very professional. The subject of the chatter was the size. We got divided into small groups and off we sailed. It was amazing; we were told a lot about the lake and its habitats. The opportunity to be able to go close-up to nests and see eggs or little ones was brilliant. Back on shore, we had hot drinks, home-made cakes and some even tucked into bacon butties straight from the barbecue.
We then made our way round to Bury Lake and through woodland and round Batchworth Lake. We carried on to the weir and made our way towards the canal and took the opportunity to visit the scouts tent with live band. The group enjoyed partaking in the local apple cider, beers, honey, cream teas, and of course hot chips. We had our picnic there whilst the band played on. Now it was free time (let off for good behaviour) to explore and check out festivities and all its offerings. Some members trotted off whilst some still enjoyed the cool drinks and the music. Finally the last few left the scouts tent to walk along the canal admiring the boats and enjoying dancing as we walked, with different bands entertaining along the towpath. All could be seen having fun, some with their deck chairs, some on the floor, some sitting with feet dangling by the edge. Made the canal walk a completely different experience. We carried on, passing the very vibrant morris dancers, choir, and stalls selling very unusual gifts and crafts. We made our way back to the main area by the big stage and beer tent. There various acts were taking place, singing and beats of the music could be heard. Our very own 'Dancing Queen' shone on the big stage with her excellent dancing - well done Chrissy and team. For some it was shopping time, deciding to go and look at the stalls again.
Back by the big stage it was Pimm's o'clock time, with mocktails and many different local brews to be had. Here we met up with more members, who were amongst hundreds sitting with their picnics, watching the acts, and enjoying a beer or two. A couple of us stayed and chatted away. At our table there was, as Brian pointed out, a Lemmy lookalike with vintage cigarette case, and a rock star lookalike, which fascinated him. Neil told us a very interesting story of a U-boat and his grandfather on the atlantic convoy. I was told by a very excited bubbly person that when she did her first walk with me, she met her dream man, still going strong, so never say never. Thank you to all those who made the journey despite transport issues, Brian having cycled from Northolt. However, Stockers Farm had plenty of spaces and I have spoken to the warden who had said they had opened several fields, facing the fantastic scenery of where Black Beauty was filmed many moons ago. Mark P, Ian, Mark A, Laura, Raj ,Nandu, Pat, Mike, Coogee, Neil, Mark, Anna, Simon, Yolly, Marianne, Theresa, Runi, Mike, M'Fan, Pam, Humay, Soraya and Brian.
On another scorchio day we travelled down on an SWR train to Wareham to try out the just opened heritage rail link to Corfe. Many passengers were on the platform waiting for the preserved DMU to arrive with lots of bells and whistles. Soon we were gliding through the Isle of Purbeck passing old sidings and carriages awaiting restoration. At Corfe we first explored the iconic castle protecting the region since Norman times. We all waved at the steam train chuffing along below the castle on route to Swanage. We then started the walk up to Knowle Hill and across meadows. Route took in several stone villages and viewpoints across to Poole Harbour. Many yachts and boats out on such a sunny afternoon. Just time at Corfe for a final cream tea at castle tea rooms before we jumped on the heritage train back to Wareham.
On a beautiful sunny day, 9 walkers met at Eastcote station for the fortnightly Friday Frolic with Luna. The more seasoned members welcomed the mostly new group, explaining how the walks work and what they could expect from their amazing membership. We set off chatting happily in the sunshine until we reached the beautiful gates to Warrender Park, a tranquil spot with its mature trees and vocal bird life. Luna as ever lived up to her name, running crazily in circles, playing with the other dogs as the two-legged walkers got to know each other. The walk then entered the peaceful and secluded High Grove Nature Reserve, following a meandering wooded path and the rather jungly pond and a solitary redwood. We recounted that the park and nature reserve were both part of the estate of Highgrove House owned by Lady Warrender. Lady Warrender and her brother were friends of Winston Churchill's mother, and Churchill stayed at the house during his honeymoon in 1900. We pondered having a honeymoon in Eastcote, before passing the former MOD site, that between 1943-1945, served as an outstation of Bletchley Park and now makes up the Pembroke Park estate and shows little sign of its important past. We then passed 'Pretty Corner' with its display by the Harrow and Hillingdon Geological Society that commemorated the Silver Jubilee in 1977, people unkindly noting that the display would be a great advert for a kitchen worktop company!
We also admired the mock-Tudor 'new cottages' across the busy road, with their timber porches with their turned balusters and fancy plaster work in gable ends. We then crossed the River Pinn and entered the Celandine Way at Fore Street. There were many spring flowers and the background of spring birdsong and the distant sound of people mowing lawns. The easy path followed the river, passing Ruislip Woods, Pinn Meadows, and various sporting tracks and pitches on the way. We passed three beautiful Modernist houses on Park Avenue, overlooking the woods, that are in very stark contrast to the surrounding traditional, brick and pitch-tiled roof, mid to late-twentieth century houses. We followed the tranquil river path until we reached the Winston Churchill Hall theatre, admiring the buildings in the Manor Farm complex. We had a brief self-guided tour of the Grade II listed Tudor Manor Farm House, with many original features remaining, including one of the oldest examples of domestic wallpaper still to remain on its original wall in England. We learned that Ruislip Priory on the site was once the administrative centre of the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, with one or two monks in white habits lived. Then we had a quick tour of St Martin's church, standing on the site of a smaller church mentioned in the Domesday book. Most walkers then retraced their steps along the Celandine Way to Eastcote again.
Walkers were Amerjit, Mary Q, Rashid, Gertie, Nita, Polina, Dean T, Vera, Soraya and Luna.
Six of us met at the car park in Great Missenden. The sky was blue, the birds were tweeting and all was well with the world! We followed the South Bucks Way north towards Dunsmore. Dappled woods punctuated by distant vistas (and HS2) were the main theme of the first half of the walk. The route was quite muddy and made progress a little slow, however, when we reached the lunch stop at Coombe Hill the mud abated and things improved. We sat and ate our lunch at the foot of the monument. The monument was erected in 1904, in memory of 148 men from Buckinghamshire who died during the Second Boer War. The truly spectacular views were the highlight of the day.
We could see a small hill in the distance, which is where we were headed next, Beacon Hill. We did not have to climb Beacon Hill, as the official route went around the base. All members of the group decided it was worth the effort. We all stood proud and slightly out of breath - well done team! Our next point of interest was Chequers, a grand mansion built in 1565. This is of course Rishi's weekend retreat (or as Mrs Rishi calls it, the garden shed). We were all quite surprised how the path cuts across, what is, the main drive up to the house, although security was tight. They had trained a bunch of cows to gather at the gate and look menacingly at us, and it kind of worked. A little further on we discovered a farm shop, a welcome break from the heat. Ice cream, dandelion and burdock. In a bid to catch the train we put up a valiant effort, though managed to get split up along the way! All made the end point.
This was a great walk on a lovely spring day. I think all enjoyed the route, even with the mud. Many thanks to my walking mates: Joe, Mary, Penelope, Rohini and Humay.
Our first camping expedition of the year saw 8 stay at the Chiltern campsite again. The site has stunning views over the valley as we pitched camp to the sound of Boom Radio. The mystery of the missing camp table was solved as it had been packed away (by unknowns) within camp kitchen pack. As it was soon "cake o'clock" Louise unveiled the ginormous Victoria Sponge for all. Runi led the short walk via tracks to the Boot pub. Fish and chips was the most popular choice at this very friendly hostelry. Meanwhile we discovered a mystery guest had visited as he had left some unique clues. Tim B was in charge of campfires, and we gathered around the blazing logs for campfire yarns including Tim B and his encounter with Midge Ure.
On Saturday Boom Radio woke us early for Coogee's strong coffee. Michael and Kumar arrived to join us for Runi's 10-mile walk. A very scenic route through buttercup meadows and sheep pastures, passing the villages of Radnage and Bledlow Ridge. We strolled past an impressive farmhouse and stables and a final climb to West Wycombe church and mausoleum on the summit. We had our picnic there with panoramic views over West Wycombe Park and the Hughenden valley. Red kites were a feature the entire weekend and they soared around the viewpoint.
We then explored the picturesque village of West Wycombe with its coaching inns and cottages. Tea and cakes were just the ticket at the Apple Orchard tea rooms. Our route back took in more hills and horse riders before the climb to 'The City'. Tim was again in charge of the barbecue, and we soon tucked into a sumptuous feast. Then came the swooping of the red kites who had spotted some discarded meat and launched rapid sorties across the camp field to find the treasure. It was a dramatic display of aeronautics just for the campers. Campfire lit, we gathered around for Coogee and debutante Soraya on the ukuleles, with Brian leading the sing song of "Ernie".
On Sunday the sun woke us early and over many rounds of tea we struck camp to Boom. We headed for Chinnor for the steam railway. At the station café we stopped for bacon butties and cheered the arrival of the steam train. Brian led the 6-mile walk along the Ridgeway. After climbing to the ridge, we took the chalk track eastwards. At a meadow full of sheep and lambs we waved at the steam train chuffing by. At Bledlow village we strolled past the manors and cottages with wisteria and rose gardens in bloom. We reached the ever-delightful Lyde Gardens and wandered around the water gardens with its tropical features. As the afternoon sun beat down, we stopped at the village green for a jolly decent Sunday roast at The Lions. We took in the views of this timeless village with the steam train's whistle ringing out in the distance.
Campers were Brian, Runi, Coogee, Dee, Tim, Soraya, Kevin and Louise, with surprise guests Michael L, Kumar and Nick.
Our first evening walk of the season started and ended at the Queens Head (established in 1540) in Pinner. Eight walkers followed the Pinner Association "10 walks around Pinner" guide north via Moss Lane and the East End hamlet cottages (15th century). Sandy pointed out the house of Two Ronnies and Con provided some profound reflections on diverse matters. We passed the perfect Metro-Land lanes with a stream passing through rose gardens. We crossed Pinner Park, passing the herd of dairy cows on the vast meadows. Our route took in hidden lanes of Hatch End where Louise took over to direct us to a lesser-known quarter and some unusual features. The walk ended back at the Queens Head for well-earned refreshments and confirmation from Joe and Kevin that no negative points had been earned.
Walkers were Brian, Louise, Kevin, Con, Joe, Sandy, Rohini and Neil.
We met in Wimbledon Park and rather appropriately TENN IS the number of walkers. We were hoping not to be COURT out by the weather; yes you guessed it, Mike was present. We followed the lake around to the road and ventured down to the Wimbledon championship venue. Some were happy to have a bag search and wander around the concourse. Luna was rejected and the security lady made quite a RACQUET about it to Soraya. Circling the perimeter we entered Wimbledon Common and wombled up to the windmill where we stopped for a break. Some rain appeared and we decided to make it a lunch break.
Luckily that was the only rain we saw and some decided to do the free windmill tour. After lunch we headed through Wimbledon Common towards Richmond Park, noticeably the wildness of the common giving way to the more orderly park. After an uphill climb we reached the Isabella Plantation with its beautiful array of rhododendrons, azaleas and camelias. Retracing our steps back to Wimbledon Common and over to Wimbledon village it was GAME, SET and MATCH with a well-deserved drink.
Many thanks to Mark, Mike, Jyotsna, Neil, Peter, Penelope, Laura, Jeff and Soraya for joining me on this walk.
Fifteen of us met up at Uxbridge station where Brian told us about the architecture and history of the station. Amazing that it was opened in 1904 and had steam trains running from the station. Just a short walk from there to the Grand Union Canal where we saw some luxurious houseboats, some bigger than my flat! Shortly after joining the Colne Valley Trail we were fortunate enough to meet R.G. Hughes, a local historian, author and musician (and potential new member) who gave us a lot of information about the places of interest on our route. It was a popular place for highwaymen (including Dick Turpin) to rob at gunpoint the wealthy people travelling to and from London. Although the many farms that were there were now closed we saw horses with tiny foals in the field alongside our path, and deer with fawns who all seemed very nervous and ran away when they saw us. Then a footbridge over the M25 which gave us a scenic view of the traffic below, followed by an attractive row of cottages with a garden and lake opposite. Arriving at Langley Park we walked between rows of trees designed by Capability Brown before arriving at the cafe for lunch.
Before leaving we visited the many flowers in bloom before we came to a Ha Ha bridge (yes that's what it's called) and the more inquisitive of us looked up the origin of the name. We went to the home and grounds of the Duke of Marlborough and despite our best efforts at banter the security guard at the gate would not let us past. We then retraced our steps until after eleven miles we rested outdoors at The General Eliott pub where discussions took place about whether a blackbird we heard in song was a recording made by the pub or a real blackbird.
Everyone did well walking the distance: David, Lesley, Brian, Mark, Soraya, Polina, Sven, Derek, Sven, Daniel, Saurabh, Prem, Jay, Jo, Runi (joint leader) and me.
Report by Ian
Meeting local expert in Iver - Photo by Brian
Idyllic garden by manor in Iver - Photo by Brian
Rhododendrons at Langley Park - Photo by Brian
Views towards Windsor in Langley Park - Photo by Brian
8 braved the threat of showers to visit the spectacular Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Alperton, marveling at the beautiful intricate yellow stone carved walls, ceilings and floor. Every corner festooned with figurines of deities and temple dancers, floodlit carved stone arches and respectful devotees. Figures from various religious corners entertained us as we guessed at the symbolism of the various statue elements. We emerged from the temple's quiet into the noisy contrast of Ealing Road and walked to the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal, relieved that the forecasters were wrong about the weather. We peacefully chatted along the canal, with its colorful canal boats and locals. We eventually came to Horsenden Farm, where the apple blossom made a beautiful picture of fruit to come. The proprietor of the Perivale Brewery came to show us his wares, which some bought, accompanied by various refreshments from the Horsenden Loaf. We then made the ascent to see the amazing panoramic view of London from the top of Horsenden Hill, spotting landmarks, before we traced our way through the woods and back along the canal to Alperton, where we sampled various edible and liquid delights.
Walkers were Marianne, Maura, David L, Neil T, Heather P, Brian, Humay and Soraya.
14 of us set off from Tide Tables Café at Richmond Bridge - Thames towpath, then across Petersham Meadows, into Petersham, then into Richmond Park. Perfect weather! And the climb to King Henry's Mound for the historic / protected view of St Paul's Cathedral was easily achieved. Then on to Isabella Plantation - deservedly popular - there was even a staged marriage proposal being set up by the most picturesque pond: a romantic pergola, cake with gold icing and "MARRY ME" in large lettering. I couldn't find any takers - ha ha. The azaleas were well on their way - spectacular, if a little late due to the cold April.
Lunch on the grass in the sunshine then onward: Ham Gate, Ham Common, then the approach to Ham House and Garden. We found the ferry - even if I did try hard to go the wrong way - thanks all! Most continued on back to Richmond, but some chose to take the Hammerton Ferry over to Marble Hill where John led us to the Orleans House Gallery tea shop - a great find - no queue and fab outdoor seating / cakes / coffee. A great end to a good walking day.
Thanks to all who joined me: Ania, John, Mark P, Rita, Hira, Amerjit, Pei, Linda, Charlie, Annika, Judith, Asha, Marianne, Yolly.
Eager beavers arrived in droves at YHA Haworth on Friday afternoon. Several keen locals on the bus spotted that we were tourists and provided considerable information (which was unsolicited but welcome) about the history of Haworth. The YHA Haworth hostel is a Victorian Gothic mansion that was built as the family home of a local mill owner. Inside the building the sweeping staircase, ornate painted glass, richly carved oak and plaster friezes hint at the building's opulent past. And everyone had a bottom bunk. Result. We then met with Claire who had arrived early in the day, and hence had insider knowledge of the town's unique topographic features, which she kindly / thoughtfully / wickedly did not mention to us when we set off gaily and innocently for our first walk / nail-biting adventure. We slid down the precipice behind the hostel to Oakworth station where Brian ignored the signs saying the station was closed, and shimmied over the fence to run up and down the platform waving his pink petticoat. This station was the location for most scenes in the film 'The Railway Children' and was the station managed of course by Mr Perks. Whilst using a crane to get him back over the fence we were joined by Humay and Tim. We followed the railway and then made tracks to Haworth High Street. After adjusting to the obligatory nose bleeds caused by the hills in the way (still no warning from Claire), we explored the Old School (where the Brontes sisters taught) and the church (late Victorian rebuild). The main Bronte Museum is based at the parsonage, their family home, although it was closed when we first arrived. So we went to the pub instead and sat on the chair that Branwell Bronte used when drinking himself into oblivion. The only son of the Bronte family, he tried supporting himself by portrait-painting, but this gave way to drug and alcohol addiction, apparently worsened by a failed relationship with a married woman, before dying at 31. His 3 sisters in the meantime wrote some of the world's best selling fiction, inspiring countless songs (Kate Bush) and films, in between cooking and cleaning and looking after him and teaching at the local school. Going home was less traumatic than coming but still involved grabbing hold on the way down the hill and steady breathing back up to the hostel on the other side. Two cake Tim enjoyed his second chocolate birthday cake of the day.
Saturday brought communal breakfast in the splendid dining hall. A well-fed 16 set out towards Pickets Well and then descended towards Hardcastle Crags valley. With its ravines, rocky crags and waterfalls it is a hidden delight for walkers and dogs. We gambled amongst bluebells in the wooded valley. Brian and Dean showed off their acrobatic prowess on the slippery steppingstones. They were slightly outclassed by Ellie the dog's nimble bounding across without even wetting a tiny paw. We stopped for coffee at Gibson's Mill which is now an arts centre with tea shop. We then climbed to the hilltop village of Heptonstall, bumping into Freddie Mercury on the way. He was hanging out at Slack Bottom. Going up yet another hill, Bharti showed us how to slip elegantly in mud from which she recovered immediately with style and grace. Arriving at Heptonstall, we saw the grave of the poet Sylvia Plath, and the grave from Happy Valley TV programme and a fantastic medieval church destroyed in a storm. After much needed black pudding stacks at the pub, we descended to Hebden Bridge with its many fine Victorian mills, alongside the Rochdale Canal. Formerly a bustling mill town Hebden Bridge reinvented itself from the 80s as an artistic hub. Many of the derelict mills are now community buildings and workshops. Much of "Happy Valley" was filmed there, and we nosed through strangers' windows to find the home of the main character Catherine. Time for some awfully nice lemon drizzle at the canal cafe. After realigning our chakras and buying pointless but much needed tat, we took over the bus back to Haworth. 10 miles completed and then sweets were purchased and those special hills were downed and upped again. Dinner was taken at the Fleece pub for most of us, except the posh people (Derek and Prem). We examined the photos in the pub, which was the base for the film crew of the Railway Children and had many photos of the film and the actors. The High Street which was full of gift shops and tea shops, was also the setting for the early scene in "Rita, Sue and Bob Too", which brought discussions of the practical difficulties of trying to engage in intimate relationships whilst in a car with friends looking on. Then we went down and up that hill again.
Sunday brought a 10-mile linear walk across the dramatic moorland scenery which inspired the Bronte novels, particularly Wuthering Heights. We followed the Bronte Way across Haworth Moor. We had a splendiferous lunch at Bronte Bridge gazing at the waterfalls. Malcolm felt no envy as he watched us eat whilst he dined on fine air. Whilst heading up the side of the waterfalls, Louise decided to practice mountain climbing without telling Kevin (or herself), and required a couple of firm hands on her extremities to get back on track. We then continued via moorland and trackways to the 3 Chimneys House (home of the Railway Children) and the stone stile. We arrived at Oxenhope just in the nick to become the Railway Children and wave our handkerchiefs at Joan, Bharti, Derek and Prem disappearing on the steam train, before draining the cags on the buffet carriage dry. We had a wonderful tiffin in the locomotive carriage before going for open mic at a pub in Haworth. Knockoff Coronation scarves were snapped up by us all, despite clearly not being made in the UK ('happy choriantaition'). Dinner was taken at Old White Lion hotel where images of Catherine Zeta Jones unusually stared down at us from the walls, until we learnt that some of the recent remake of Dad's Army had also been filmed in the town. After a rousing impromptu karaoke which led to the staff closing the door on us to protect the delicate ears of other diners, Dean finally took his tart home. We all went down and up that hill AGAIN. Last time.
On Monday those who missed the Parsonage Museum sauntered up and strolled through the shops. Nick, Rachael and Mike headed off to grab a pint with Amos at the Woolpack (when Emmerdale was still a Farm). Brian, Soraya, Humay, Derek and Prem jumped on the steam train once again to go to Saltaire. This is a unique model industrial town created to house the thousands of workers at Saltaire Mill, the largest factory in the world when opened in 1853. All created by the benevolent magnate Titus Salt, it is a World Heritage Site now. The mill is now an award-winning art gallery with permanent Hockney exhibition (local lad) and a vast vintage market. After viewing the art under Humay's expert guidance we had tiffin at Salts Diner with Prem enjoying yet another lavish dessert.
Many thanks to all for making this such a great weekend: Tim B, Claire A, Derek, Prem, Mike S, Rachael, Nick, Joan, Diane C, Humay, Malcolm, Elaine, Bharti, Anne Marie, Soraya and Dean. See you all for our next adventures!
After meeting at The Grapes pub and steakhouse in Hayes we set off for Minet Country Park. This park was once owned by the Minet family from 1766, and is now owned and managed by Hillingdon Borough Council. We followed alongside the purpose-built cycle track, later crossing over the River Crane, entering A312 subway while chatting about how great the weather was that day. Heading along the residential streets and the town centre we then joined the Grand Union Canal at Station Road, bridge number 200. After a short distance we discovered a coot's nest that had some brightly coloured young chicks in the nest. We were all pleased to see this amazing experience of wildlife. Following the canal towpath for about 1 mile, we arrived at the southern entrance gate to Stockley Park. We continued along the left path of the London Loop across Stockley Golf Course. After a brief consultation with our map, then heading west towards the impressive A-framed suspension footbridge in the Stockley Country Park, which passes over the A408 Stockley Road. We exited the park at Horton Gate, where we discovered information on the history of the "Cowley Stock" brick trail. We stopped for lunch at some benches, admiring the residential narrowboats, while eating our sandwiches and basking in some light sunshine.
After lunch we left the Grand Union Canal and crossed over onto the Slough arm branch, by the well-appointed Packet Boat Marina. We stopped to observe the feats of aqueduct engineering that carry the Slough Arm branch directly over the River Fray and the River Colne. We then continued along the London Loop up to Little Britain Lake, which we discovered dates back to the early 1930's. We stopped briefly to observe the wildlife that had settled there. We then followed the path to the right of the River Colne, which we observed was in full flow at about 4 knots. After reaching Yiewsley Moor, up to Culvert Lane, where there still remains some splendidly maintained cottages dating back to 1860. Later stopping for refreshments at the General Elliot pub, located at Uxbridge Moor; it dates back to 1878. We gathered our thoughts while looking out to the engineering works being carried out in the dockyard opposite. We later continued onward to the Swan and Bottle pub where we left the towpath and headed the short distance up to Uxbridge High Street to meet Maria for our final tipple and snacks in the Good Yarn pub.
Thank you to Deirdre, Mick and Neil for joining me on this walk, and making it a great day out.
Despite the predicted weather forecast of persistent rain, 11 keen walkers met at Rickmansworth Aquadrome on St. George's Day for this popular eight-mile circular walk. With light rain falling, we set off just after 10:30am down the canal towpath to Springwell Lock, where we crossed the canal to pick up and follow the Colne Valley Trail towards West Hyde, and join the Hillingdon Trail at Summerhouse Lane. The rain became heavier as we climbed the steep slope, through Park Wood, to Hill End for our scheduled stop at the excellent Mitchell's Village Kitchen Tea Shop for elevenses of tea and cake. Unfortunately, however, it was closed but luckily, by chance, we met the lovely lady owner, who informed us that the tea rooms re-open this coming weekend and will open throughout the spring and summer, every Saturday and Sunday ... Brian take note! The weather forecast now proved correct, as heavy rain began to fall. Plan B was put into operation as we hastily negotiated our way through two pastures of inquisitive dairy cows before reaching safety of a fallow field by crossing a narrow footbridge over a stream. Onward and up a slight incline, we passed the 'Police Horse Training Center' (note the American spelling!) before reaching the Rose and Crown pub at Woodcock Hill for hot coffee, drinks, and snacks to shelter from the rain in a covered children's area timber outbuilding.
Then surprise surprise, whilst taking our break, Nick turned up with his three pouches to join us for the remainder of the walk. After about 40 minutes at the pub and with the weather improving, we left to join the London Loop and continue our way through the northern edge of Bishop's Wood Country Park to Batchworth Heath, where we took a group photo by the historic pond. Crossing the very busy A404 London Road, we entered the grounds of the impressive Moor Park Golf Club and the impressive 18th century Mansion, to carefully negotiate our way across the surprisingly busy golf course by rigidly following the clearly defined white marker posts for about one mile, before emerging at Batchworth Lock. Here, with the walk virtually over, the party split up with some going to the local White Bear pub whilst others returned to their cars at the aquadrome for their journey home.
Although the weather was a little unkind to us, an enjoyable time was had by all and it is hoped to add this walk again to the programme in the near future. Many thanks go to all those members who turned up, namely: Michael L, Kumar, David L, Louise, Kevin, Mark P, Mark A, Ian, Diane, Ann, Zoe, and Nick + 3.
What a fabulous turnout to see the amazing Perivale Wood nature reserve and its bluebells in bloom. 17 of us met at Perivale station and proceeded to walk to the nature reserve. On entrance Daniel was given a quiz to fill in and he got a badge at the end and cake from Saurabh and Chrissy. We spent about 1.5 hours meandering around the paths and discovering the wildlife and shrubbery. The bluebells were out in full bloom with over 5 million (yes I counted them all). We then had some excellent cake and tea at the cafe.
Refreshed we headed for Horsenden Hill and on route we took a new path which has been made by the Friends of Horsenden Hill. They have restored a walking path to the west side and we could see the remains of a hamlet from the mid 18th century. By 1830 fourteen cottages had been built there for the poor. The cottages were neglected over the years. According to records, people with no money and nowhere else to live came to live there. With shared outside toilets, the cottages were regarded as Greenford's slums. The remains of the Perkins home can also be seen on the east side. At the age of 18 William Henry Perkin discovered the first ever synthetic dye - analine purple. We also passed the Ballot Box pub which got its name from being the polling station for the locals. We then ascended to the top of Horsenden Hill and the amazing views. And Brian was able to show us the many landmarks of London. Then head down to the Gruffalo path and visiting the snake (what snake is native to UK?), the owl and the fox and then the main man of the day - yes the gruffalo is real with big spikey tusks! We descended to the Horsenden Loaf for refreshments and lunch. This little area has grown in the past few years. They have a coffee shop, pizza oven freshly made (vegan options also), and a micro brewery. We were lucky enough to have some local musicians playing for us.
Thank you to all who came: Malcolm, Brian, Heddy, Yolly, Simon, Amerjit, Ann, Nicky, Jana, Chrissy, Judit, Jyotsna, Valerie, Bev, Saurabh, Martina and the best walk leader Daniel.
On a warm Sunday morning 22 people met at Rickmansworth aquadrome for a 12-mile circular walk around 6 woods. After a quick introduction from Angela we set off towards Woodcock Hill. Soon found the paths were wet and muddy. Carefully walking along the London Loop, and into Bishops Wood Country Park along Lockwell Wood, then through Battlers Wells Farm and on to Copse Wood where we crossed the busy Ducks Hill Road into Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve. 44 muddy boots headed into Mad Bess Woods, with a quick stop for Michael to tell us about the history of this wood and Mad Bess - she was the wife of the 18th century gamekeeper, a demented old woman who prowled the woods late at night looking for poachers. It is still reported today that drivers along Ducks Hill Road have seen the ghost of Mad Bess. Marching on as quickly as the mud allowed us, we carried on, tackling the paths which, by now, were extremely wet, muddy and slippery, perfect conditions for a mud bath, and looking at the eager walkers, it looked as though some already had! We reached Bayhurst Wood Country Park where we found a perfect spot for a well-earned lunch break, sitting under tall trees on logs and a rickety picnic bench.
After refuelling we continued our trail towards Harefield, picking up the Hillingdon Trail. Rambling through waterlogged fields, we decided to make a detour for a quick stop at The Old Orchard, where Martina and Daniel decided to stay for a break. We passed the historic St. Mary's Church in Harefield, the resting place for the brave soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), commemorated on April 25th every year since 1921. Michael gave a short talk on the bravery of these soldiers. We marched on the slippery slope on towards Hill End which took us to Cooks Wood where we saw galloping horses up close in Stockers Farm, famous for the filming of Black Beauty. We then continued, crossing the Grand Union Canal, following the footpath, where some walkers departed for Rickmansworth car park, while some continued for well-deserved refreshments at The White Bear pub where a table, was booked for 10 but luckily we were able to pull extra chairs. Gathering around, hands full of drinks, the chit-chat continued, mud being the main topic (don't know why!). Conversation then moved on to food after looking at the menu and seeing the delicious dishes being thoroughly enjoyed by many. The merry-making continued into the evening.
Thank you to the brave members who endured muddy paths and slippery slopes, and still laughing! Big muddy thankyou to Mary, Sandra, Rob, David, Kerry, Mark O, Dee, Michael, Martina, Daniel, Coogee, Louise, Kevin, Clare, Mike D, Kumar, Anita, Jeremy, Humay, Sadie and Angela.
5 started at the Black Horse pub on a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the chill factor was very low. After a brief instruction of how to keep up with the group and explaining 'back markers', we headed off towards Maybank Avenue. We passed the famous LNER football and social club where the lead walker Daniel will hopefully make his debut into Premier League football. We then headed down over the rise and into the beautiful forest and hill called Horsenden Hill. We then ascended to the top of the hill and could see panoramic views of the London area and we tried to figure out the landmarks which we could see in the distance. As we descended the hill to the gruffalo trail we found them all, the mouse, the snake, the owl, the fox and the gruffalo. It was a lovely sight to see adults reliving their childhood. We headed into the Horsenden Cafe and had a quick stop with some lovely coffee and locally produced cakes.
Then refreshed we headed back towards Harrow and made our ascent up through Piggy Lane and Harrow on the Hill (yes plenty of hills on this walk). We saw the famous Harrow on the Hill schools and local eateries. We visited St. Mary's Church where we read about the historic foundations of St. Mary's and John Lyon and we saw the signage of Lord Byron. Then off the hill through Football Lane across the fields and tennis courts of the private Harrow Boys School through the orchard and out onto Sudbury Hill where we all ended up back at the Black Horse pub where we had started, for a refreshing drink.
Thank you to the 4 members who came and made the day enjoyable and especially to Daniel for his amazing game of spot the animal which kept us all amused. 7 miles in all and lots of climbs. Well done to Penny, Saurabh, Malcolm and Daniel.
33 spent 5 fine days in Northumberland for Easter. We arrived on the LNER via the Royal Borders Bridge, Stephenson's spectacular viaduct crossing the Tweed, built 170 years ago. Berwick hostel is in a beautifully converted 300-year-old granary with direct access to the 16th century town walls. We did the town wall circuit on arrival and took in the views along the coast. Also spotted the many Lowry paintings on the circuit and the many star-shaped forts. Later fish and chips in town and we took over the 5th floor lounge where we cheered at the ceremonial opening of Mike and Cathy's tuck box.
On Friday Mike, Cathy and Rachael sped up to Edinburgh for a day out. Brian led the rest on the Berwickshire coastal path, 12 miles (in Scotland) from St Abbs to Burnmouth. The high cliffs afforded magnificent views of the coastline as far south as Bamburgh (50 miles). St Abbs Head is a great place for spotting marine birds. Nick and Kevin identified the hundreds of kittiwakes and guillemots nesting on the precarious ledges around the cliffs. Passing the lighthouse high on the cliffs we descended to the beach at Coldingham. Lunch break at the small fishing port of St Abbs before the section to Eyemouth. We saw the seals feeding in the harbour, ice creams for all, then some took the bus back. Rest carried on crossing the famous Eyemouth golf course and some challenging ups and down to Burnmouth. Diane arranged meals each evening, this one at a curry restaurant, before Jan and Sandra led the dancing at the Brown Bear where we delighted the locals.
On Saturday we all travelled to Lindisfarne via the causeway to visit the island where Christianity came to England in the 7th century. We trekked across the island to the fairy tale-style castle high on the rock. Many Lutyens features inside, with soaring views from the battlements. We visited the original priory, founded by St Aiden in 7th century. Anneke and Soraya then led us to the Pilgrims tea shop for rather spiffing scone puddings. Here Runi and Prem realised Derek had gone AWOL. "Where is Derek?", said Prem. Runi responded "he's with Zoe". Prem queried "OK, but where is Zoe?". Runi could only respond "She's with Derek". We then caught the timely bus before the causeway flooded to reach Bamburgh castle for the afternoon walk led by Rob. This took us along the expansive beaches where the castle dominates the coast from its stunning setting. Quite a few ventured inside the vast castle, featured in many films including The Devils, Ivanhoe, Elizabeth and recent Netflix dramas. In the evening most dined at Limoncello (quite a saga) and then Sally led us to the cavern venue (in the cellars of the Barrels). An excellent local band played, including the main songs of hometown band Lindisfarne.
Sunday saw a variety of activities. Michael L led his group on a tour of the Craster (fabulous kippers) and seahouses. Anneke led the hardy walkers on a coastal walk from Berwick to Burnmouth. Malcolm enjoyed it so much he walked back. The rest jumped on the TPE express to the history-filled town of Alnwick. Passing through the Pottergate we visited Alnwick castle (film setting for Blackadder and Harry Potter). Then onto to the amazing Barter bookshop, where close to half a million second-hand books are displayed. The shop features a permanently running model railway above the bookshelves and is celebrated for rediscovering the "Keep Calm" logo, now ubiquitous. We chatted to the owner in the open fire waiting room where she told us all about how the idea started and how it had grown. After tea and buns at the Alnwick gardens, we returned to Berwick by bus stopping at the picturesque fishing villages on the way. The evening meal was at the Queens Head followed by drinks at the Barrels and last night party in the 5th floor lounge. Crumpet for all thanks to Mike and Cathy, and much intellectual chatter.
Monday saw us hiring bikes from next door to follow the Sustrans route along the Tweed valley. This easy route took in some criss-crossing of the border. We made it to the Palladian-designed Paxton House where we enjoyed haggis rolls at the stable's tea rooms. Back at Berwick we bade farewell to Sally, Mark and Lisa who headed north. The rest jumped on the Royal Scot for the journey home and the many views from the train of the stunning Northumberland coastline.
Attendees were Diane, Jan, Anneke, Sandra, Judith, Laura, Sally, Runi, Linda, Ashima, Martina, Daniel, Joan, Zoe, Soraya, Michaela, Brian, Dean, Malcolm, Rob P, Stuart, Aloma, Penelope, Louise, Kevin, Nick, Rachael, Mike, Cathy, Mark P, Lisa, Michael L, Derek and Prem.
Our latest off-road ride was a challenging 22-mile circuit of the Chiltern Hills from Henley. After coffee at the popular chocolate cafe we set off and raced through the hamlets south of the town. Last month's heavy rain had flooded some of the back lanes so we had to try our luck and got some wet feet as a result. Passing several impressive village churches and manors we had some tricky descents and climbs before Highmoor village. We had a sumptuous Sunday roast at the Rising Sun, daffodils resplendent on the village green. Next was a steady climb to Park Corner, and the sun came out for our long fast descent on bridleways through farms and beech woods. We stopped at the St James Church ruins at Bix. The church became a pagan pilgrimage location after 1900 and featured in "Blood on Satans Claw". Then downhill back to Henley for tiffin at the market square.
When the phone went off "Where are you?" it appears one of the attendees from the previous day's walk was an hour early, so an hour spent in a certain coffee shop, that was karma! I was early as planned, with Louise and Kevin at 10:30am to 'meet and greet', knowing that a new member had messaged me on Saturday night, so I was looking out for a stranger. Diane brought a HAWOG bag to help identify us. We set off promptly, and passed a front lawn with gnomes. With young Daniel wanting to be at the front, I nominated him as co-helper. Learned lots about this 'Prime' drink - he listed all 8 flavours. Then on entry to Park 1. Kevin decided to keep a tally of all parks - will we do 8? Hence my photos, when not chatting. He had forgotten by the end of walk, phew! Talking and walking we came outside a member's family house, and he happily posed outside it. Onwards to another park, with a slight detour to what I call "the library", off Canons Lane, where books can be dropped off / taken for free - community-based. Daniel chose 3 books. Even 2 local members didn't know about it. We continued to Roxbourne Park, then behind Highgrove Swimming Pool to new housing where wrens used to decode in the war. A quick walk on part of the Celandine Way while one member collected lunch and the remainder continued to the walled garden for a comfort break and snacks.
Unfortunately another group got there before us, so our 30-minute break saw a long queue. One stayed to enjoy his soup and to get home to football, and we were joined by Zoe. Onwards and refreshed, we passed a cricket club where we sensibly decided to pavement pound for a few minutes to avoid water logging. Through footpaths and a hilarious stile - some went over it, some went around it, helped by a broken fence. Then via fields to Highview, and an alley to Daisy's in Pinner Park. I enjoyed my ice cream. Up Pinner High Street to Wakemans Hill where some departed, later to hear of their G'n'Ts enjoyed in Hatch End Moons. The rest of the group returned via Nower Hill School and left ways by the car park.
Thanks to Rajesh, Heather, Kevin, Louise, Mark O, Joan, Diane, Laura, Lesley, Kerry, Martina, Daniel, Rohini, Teresa, Saurabh and Zoe for joining me.
Arriving early with hot chocolate in hand at Croxley Station pre walk, I receive a mysterious message "We are having a candlelit breakfast!". Then 3 black Range Rovers with blazing 'blues n twos' zoomed past, what next I think? Is this an April Fool?. Thought about it. As it was early, met other members and waited. So at 9:55am I message back, stating "You have 5 minutes". At 10:00am 8 walkers joined me as we set off on our adventures (including these 2 April Foolers). After 10 minutes gentle pavement pounding we retreated behind Croxley Library / Red Cross via allotments parallel with local shops, then our first mud encounter, and made it successfully to Croxley Green, a vibrant green which hosts classic car shows and Croxfest. Then by Baldwins Lane, we walked in single file to a footpath through woods. The odd outcome was parallel to a residents drive, but we followed the path, as good walkers. After negotiating a stile not built for my height, the start of a team spirit was evident, also shown earlier as a member loaned Judith a pole (her words "in training pre-Berwick"). Thankyou kind sir! An abundance of fields awaited us. Cattle were seated and we spotted the first DoE group on their Bronze challenge. We exchanged greetings and overtook them to continue over the M25 bridge to the closed Boot pub. Posing for group photos outside the church, many recognised this location from walks with Runi, Malcolm and others, and we met a group of French ladies on route to Chesham. (Kevin and I thought they said they had walked from London - a few language barrier issues - but all parted with smiles, photos taken, and good humour. Quick water break with 20 minute warning to our comfort break inspired all on.
Arriving at The Cricketers to a great welcome with our respect to overshoes / muddy boots off to use facilities, we enjoyed beverages purchased and ate our packed lunches. Two enjoyed parsnip and pear soup (note to self - must try next time). Now all re-energised, we set off for the next leg, after warning all of forthcoming mud. Safety first - take our time - all happy to continue. Behind George V playing fields, we encountered mud! Then another brief road walk, across M25 to Chandlers Cross. Prime Steak oozing with tempting cooking smells! Short muddy incline to woods where discussions were shared between Mark O and Kevin re what to eat at pub at end. "See what I have to put up with?" pipes in Louise. So I know what will be in their sandwiches tomorrow. But Mark O and his cooking, overhearing conversations, all laughter. Then the "final countdown", with less than 2 miles to go, mud, and at points routes simply water-logged.
It was challenging at the end but I would with huge respect thank (in no particular order) for teamwork, on a good day out exploring with like minded people, Jyotsna, Shilesh, Asha, Harsesh, Mark O, Judith, Kevin and Louise.
3 of us braved the rain and the winds to walk to the well-known Ivinghoe Beacon where the Icknield Way and the Ridgeway long-distance paths meet. Meeting at Berkhamsted station, we admired some of the nice big houses, and then set off through Northchurch Common, and then followed parts of the Icknield Way to the Bridgewater Monument. After a brief stop we continued and after struggling through some muddy paths we made the final climb up Beacon Hill to Ivinghoe Beacon. There, we paused briefly to admire the misty view, then descended before the cold wind became too unpleasant.
After finding a log in the woods where we could sit and have lunch, we continued through many more muddy paths to Ringshall and Little Gaddesden. We then followed the road to Ashridge House, where we visited the new Bakehouse coffee shop, apparently just opened in 2020, for a well-earned break. Then there was more mud, but at least by this time the rain had stopped, as we continued through Ashridge Park and Berkhamsted Common to get back to the train station.
Thirteen met at Princes Risborough for the steam railway walk. The station is shared between Chiltern mainline and Chinnor Railway so ideal for connections. As the whistles blew, we climbed aboard the heritage carriages for the scenic journey passing the Chiltern hamlets and cricket pitch on the way. At Chinnor we alighted from the steam train and walked to join the Ridgeway National Trail. On such a clear day there were great views of the Oxfordshire Plain below. We reached the sleepy village of Bledlow with its thatched cottages and the Carrington Manor. We toured the famous Lyde Gardens before a leisurely lunch at the Lions pub (good value Sunday roasts). The pub front garden was busy with walkers, cyclists and passing horse riders, with the sounds and views of the steam trains passing back and forth just below us. Con and Mark P entertained the locals with their tall tales around the fireplace. We then climbed along the Icknield Way footpath to reach the village of Horsenden with an impressive 14th century church. After walking alongside a ramblers group we were soon back at Princes Risborough where the steam train was arriving for the last run of the day.
Walkers were Brian, Joan, Mark P, Lisa, Derek, Prem, Con, Simon, Yolli, Peter D, Marianne, Martina and Daniel.
Five of us met in the White Hart Whitechapel and were joined by Jeremy outside. As the walk began we retraced our steps from the first walk but this time had the weather on our side which allowed us to finish the last sector in good time. We made our way to the Ten Bells pub, probably the most iconic landmark in the Jack the Ripper story, where we managed to secure a table upstairs to have a debrief.
Many thanks to Sally, Vito, Jeremy, Rachael and Mark for joining me on this walk.
11 intrepid stalwarts braved the drizzly weather wondering whether the snow would come again. We started at the spectacular Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Alperton, marvelling at the beautiful intricate yellow stone carved walls, ceilings and floor. Every corner festooned with figurines of deities and temple dancers, floodlit carved stone arches and respectful devotees. Members recounted stories from the Vedas and other religious texts as we went. We again braved the weather along the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal with colourful canal boats, passing a tree full of black long-billed birds until we came to Horsenden Farm. Possibly because of the Baltic conditions, the goats, chickens and even the proprietor of the Perivale brewery were not in evidence, but the Horsenden Loaf provided tea and delicious cake to give us energy for the ascent to see the amazing panoramic view of London from the top of a very windy Horsenden Hill. We then traced our way through the woods, along the canal to Alperton, where we sampled various edible delights.
Walkers were Laura L, Mark O, Kevin J, Kokila, Jyotsna, David L, Tim P, Lesley S, Sally, Heather P and Soraya.
On Sunday Heather welcomed six eager current and future walk leaders to our first training event of the year. Heather arranged a one-day workshop covering basic navigation techniques including: an introduction to maps, orientation of the map, determining the direction of travel, distance, and timings, identifying map features, basic compass use and route planning. Hopefully all participants will soon be adding their walk for the group.
Attendees were Anne Marie, Vasu, Neville, Smita, Kalpna, Rohini.
On a bright, mild Sunday morning I was happy to greet 17 walkers and one dog at Greenford station who were joining me for my first led group walk, from Greenford station to Little Venice. Once heads had been counted, we proceeded towards the popular Black Horse pub, only to discover that it was boarded up and probably destined to become flats or an Indian restaurant, which was very disappointing. However, unperturbed we joined the canal to start the walk. First sights were very pleasant, with a semi-rural feel, a tree-lined canal path, where black egrets were drying their wings on the top of tree branches. We also noticed many pretty and rustic canal boats, along with some very swanky ones and of course ducks, swans and the odd pair of coots on a nest. We walked several miles and got into our stride with vocal encouragement from Mefan the dog, as we enjoyed smalltalk and the company of friends old and new. One sight that caused confusion to some was the number of coconuts floating in the canal, which Hira explained were probably put into the canal as funeral offerings by Hindus from the surrounding area. Brian had a very informative map of the Regent and Grand Union Canal and eventually pointed out a rare aqueduct structure, built in 1925 and as we looked down, we saw cars below, as it was constructed over the busy North Circular Road. After this we noticed the scenery was becoming quite industrial and high rise, albeit still very colourful with decorative graffiti on every available surface. Nevertheless, this gave some of us the feeling we were entering slightly more sinister territory, but our fears were shortly allayed by the presence of two very friendly police officers, who assured us that the 'gangs' had left that area some time ago, so we continued our walk more confidently. As we came to Park Royal, Hira informed us that the McVities factory has a shop which sells rejected biscuits at a snitch, something to remember in future! As we continued our noses filled with many aromas from other factories in the area and this set our tummies rumbling just in time for our halfway point lunch stop at the Lebanese cafe Beit El Zaytoun, so 12 of us took our seats and others wandered along to the nearby pub 'The Grand Junction Arms' instead.
Lunch, or breakfast as it turned out, was a cultural experience, as many of us opted for something traditionally Lebanese rather than Malcolm's mushroom omelette, but when the dishes arrived, we weren't sure whether it was what we'd ordered so this caused a little confusion, but we got there eventually. I opted for a hummus which was covered in warm yoghurt and nuts along with a very tasty blend of freshly squeezed fruit juices which hit the spot. After settling our bill, we caught up the rest of the group and continued our walk, where we came to a well-placed bridge so I suggested a group photo to commemorate the occasion of my first led walk. After that, we carried on for several miles until we came across Dawn and her friend Tony who were joining the canal journey on their bikes so we promised to catch up with them at our final stop in Little Venice. Just a little further along we encountered the familiar face of Mark who had decided to meet us, having started the walk at Little Venice, for convenience, which was a very nice surprise too. Our walk continued and among other sights we passed some very interesting and quaint-looking Victorian houses on the opposite side which were built directly along the canal into the water and these appeared in stark contrast to the Trellick Tower, which appeared shortly afterwards on our right-hand side and Brian had knowledge of its Brutalist design. Several notable sights followed, including more graffiti, barges, canal life, other artwork, and an extensive cemetery which we discovered was the famous Kensal Green cemetery which holds some famous tombs, including Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, the famous civil engineer. We then came across the stunning St Mary Magdalene Church and cafe, where Mike requested a stop, so Joan was put in charge of Mefan. Shortly afterwards we discovered that we'd actually arrived in Little Venice. This is where we saw the perplexed face of Zoe who was hoping to take a fair walk towards us from Little Venice, only to discover that our timing was out, due to our pace and had arrived closer to 3pm than 4pm and were heading to a pub for some well-earned refreshment after our 10 miles.
At this point we said goodbye to some of our group and eventually arrived at the Waterway pub which had a very scenic view of the canal, plus a very agreeable and helpful pub manager who did his very best to accommodate the large group for some refreshment and rest before heading to an appropriate tube station to go home. Thank you to all who joined me on my first led walk and especially to Diane for suggesting this walk, where I was unlikely to lose anyone and for all your excellent company.
Walkers were Laura, Diane, Brian, Joe, Asha, Natalie, Olivia, Malcolm, Kevin, Joan, Louise, Prem, Marianne, Pam, Hira, Valji, Soraya, Mike, Derek, Mark, Zoe, Dawn and Tony.
An eager group of Ripper curious descended on the White Hart pub in Whitechapel and we appropriately sat under a mural of Martha Tabran, not one of the canonical five but considered an early victim. Starting outside the pub we entered the alley to our first historic glimpse of life in Victorian London, heading off to Spitalfields with more revelations and a pub stop in what is considered to be the inspiration for Diagonal Alley in Harry Potter. After more insight we reached St Botolph's Church and went our separate ways due to weather and rail problems on a very cold March night. Specific details of the walk are not revealed so as not to spoil it for future visitors.
Many thanks to Derek, Prem, Cathy, Imelda, Mark P, Lisa, Soraya, Con, Mike D, Dermot, Mandy, Dawn, Joan, Laura, Runi, Sarah, Vera, Edd, Jenny, Sharon, Paul, Kevin, Louise, Joe, Karen, Diane, Thelma and Mark A.
Five stalwart walkers and their novice leader met outside Theobald's Grove station on a chilly Saturday morning. My confidence being buoyed by being presented my HAWOG bag and having had a good breakfast at the Olympic cafe, we set off on the 15-ish mile walk. Less than a mile in, with Malcolm setting a blistering pace as he had a deadline for a slap-up fish supper, Kevin was struck down with an injury turning his ankle on the flattest towpath in London. With myself and others showing genuine concern, Louise pushed past to inspect the injury and declared that whilst the US Marine Corps may not leave a man behind, HAWOG certainly did. So we pushed on mercilessly, leaving Kevin to his fate. Fortunately for all those involved Kevin walked off the strain and caught the pack just in time to point out we were passing the Greyhound pub and that was a point to be deducted from myself (Kevin has devised an ingenious system where points are deducted from leaders for passing pubs, going up hills, getting lost, and giving inaccurate information). Louise helpfully chipped in that we'd passed the Wheatsheaf as well and I found myself two points down. Pushing on at a good pace Phil halted only briefly to observe the Camden Town Brewery, a personal favourite of his. When I stated I didn't much care for the beer, incensed the discussion turned to how many points you lose for walking past a brewery. Phil eventually settled on three. Marching ahead, calls came from Runi for a 'water' break as the weather improved and it warmed up.
Finding a suitable place to stop we all took some water, Runi's seemingly kept in a small metal flask she produced from an inside pocket. At this point we had kept up a pace well in excess of 3mph and I reassured the group that the lunch stop at the pub wasn't far. Setting off it was discovered that my stop at halfway wasn't quite halfway and we passed another pub, The Anchor of Hope - minus 1 point (fortunately for me no-one spotted Beavertown Brewery and I was not incentivised to 'point' it out). Runi made a case that going over a bridge constituted a hill and therefore a point deduction, but even Kevin dismissed this.
We stopped at The Princess of Wales, Lea Bridge, for a lunch break and I was suitably satisfied with a pint of Young's Original. Malcolm spotted an outside burger grill at the back of the pub and whilst eyeing the very large burgers, he was surprised to find an even larger rat eyeing him. So decided to settle for a packet of crisps. Runi returned her flask to her inside pocket and we set off on the final short leg to complete the walk.
It's six more miles.
But we've done eleven already.
I did this walk 5 years ago, it's 17 miles.
The next six miles was completed in belligerent silence as all members of the group were unimpressed with my inaccuracy on the walk description. Finishing at Limehouse station at a few minutes past 4:00pm the 17-mile walk was completed in just over 6 hours with approximately 45 minutes in breaks (Runi said she'd done 21 miles, but she was zig-zagging). With a weak smile I suggested I should get a point for completing the walk in at a 'brisk but not too challenging pace' as described. Reluctantly, I was awarded a point for this then deducted two. One for each additional mile. On final calculation I owe Brian G £10 for leading this walk. We went our separate ways on the DLR. Malcolm to his fish supper, Phil to a pint from Camden Town Brewery and myself, Kevin, Louise and Runi went off to meet up for the next (highly recommended) HAWOG event of the day. But that is an another story.
If you made it to the end congratulations!... of this report not the walk. Genuine thanks to Malcolm, Phil, Runi, Kevin and Louise.
We met on a crisp clean morning in Bledlow Ridge. This walk took us on the Ridgeway National Trail and it wasn't long before we had our first sight of the free and easy red kites that were reintroduced in 1989. The walk took us to Lodge Hill Farm. Thankfully the vociferous dogs were not about as we begun our steady uphill climb with magnificent views of the Vale of Aylesbury. With our navigation team we managed to miss the road walking and were welcomed by a lovely steep hill, taking us to The Boot pub. Here we had a scrumptious two course meal. By chance another member was out walking with her friends and booked in the same pub (small world).
Thank you to Joan, Nick, Malcolm, Sunita, Michael, Ellie, Bobby and Frankie for joining me on this walk and also to Runi at The Boot pub.
3 separate walking groups were meeting outside Chorleywood station. Gathering up our members, everyone was given a map showing the day's route, with the added bonus that if we did not get lost, a pub lunch would be waiting for us. Our first challenge was to head off in the correct direction and up onto Chorleywood Common. As we made our way across the common we noted how the different areas of woodland and open grass areas were shown on the map. Several members brought along compasses and these were used to find our way through Chorleywood House, across the River Chess and up into Sarratt, where we again crossed paths with the 2 other walking groups who had set off from Chorleywood station. As we made our way through Sarratt on various footpaths we then needed to look for a partially hidden path which was easily found, by identifying that pylon lines shown on the map crossed the road at the same point as our intended path. On reaching Flaunden we headed into the Green Dragon where a well deserved lunch was taken.
After lunch we started our return journey back across the River Chess through Chenies and finally arriving back at Chorleywood station with only a minor diversion from the intended route. Everyone felt that it was a good day's walk and good refresher of their map-reading skills.
The day's participants were Cathy, Kalpna, Harjit, Tej and Prassent.
On a chilly Saturday morning I arrived at Great Missenden station early to, by chance, spot Louise and Kevin for their pre-walk Costa breakfast. Then met a returner to the group, Mark O, in the warmth of the waiting room. By 10:40am as planned, we had gathered and introductions made and we were ready to set off. Some took the opportunity to use Odette's tea / hot chocolate facilities on the station. One member was delayed so we waited, then eagerly set off at 11:00am for our adventures. Pace was good, to keep warm. Passing buildings with architectural beauty, we began our first "undulating climb", pausing at the top. 1 mile to look back and appreciate the view, and a water break. Then through woods, which in one month will be a field of blue with bluebells. At noon, a snack break, with one member happily posing on the Queen's Chair, hence now to be called by me: Your Majesty.
We then continued - the woods had us watching our feet - to the bench- where we could spot our next incline. Crossing a busy road, we continued to our comfort break stop. I took out the map. One member realised he had worked locally a while ago. Then to the final leg, admiring the fields of sheep, lambs due in a few weeks. A few left us on the descent as they had parked in local area, by the abbey. The Roald Dahl cake shop was closed, so while 4 went to catch the train, some popped in to the Cross Keys public house where we encountered the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze group who we had met along the way. Great chat during the walk, great company.
Thank you for joining me: Vasu, Girija, Louise, Kevin, Phu, Mark O, Marianne, Harsesh, Pragna and Rohini.
Six of us were on the train from Harrow on the Hill and we met a further six at the library car park in the centre of Wendover. This was the first walk I've led in this area. The sun was out and we started our walk to the sound of church bells. We took the Ridgeway and soon had panoramic views as we looked back towards Wendover. We could also see the HS2 work off to our right. It was mostly open countryside as we headed to Lee Common. I realised at this point that I had got the pub stop location wrong but luckily we were only 15 minutes away. We found a lovely picnic spot in Lee Clump and then headed to the nearby Cock and Rabbit Inn. The pub is undergoing refurbishment and did not have a lot of seating inside. One of the group was not feeling well at this point and the pub landlord kindly offered them a lift to Great Missenden station. Medical emergency over, I was glad we had ended up in this pub!
Did a quick reroute for the next two miles to get back on my planned route. We headed north east to Buckland Common and then across St Leonard's Common where the footpath had been ploughed over. This took us to a descent through Hale Wood with the last spectacular view of the day. We then joined the easy Icknield Way back to Wendover. We finished just after 4pm having completed 13 miles.
Thanks to those who helped when the navigation didn't go to plan. Jay, Rohini, Anne-Marie, Aruna, Malcolm, Paul, Mike, Olivia, Mick, Rob and Sandra, it was a pleasure to have you on the walk.
On a bitingly cold February morning, seven walkers set out for a circuit around Ruislip Lido. We descended the bustling Northwood High Street before passing through the Gravel Pits and onto Links Way a.k.a. the Beverly Hills of Northwood. After deliberating on what mansion to purchase - should our magic numbers come up - we made our way into Poor's Field. Thankfully the field no longer resembled a Tough Mudder challenge and we all arrived in a respectable state at the Water's Edge pub for a swift one. Revitalised, I passed on my leadership duties to local expert Brian F, who led us deep into the woods. After staggering through dense undergrowth, we uncovered some World War II gems including an assault course and a target practice zone. We then discovered the remains of Battle of Britain House where American agents were trained for missions over occupied Europe during World War II. Sadly, the house burned down in 1984 and all that now remains is the staircase at the front of the house. After this fascinating local history detour, we completed a leisurely circuit of the Lido before heading back into Northwood in time for lunch.
Many thanks to all for a really enjoyable morning and hope to see you all again soon.
32 of us enjoyed a cultural city break in Cambridge. The hostel is located a few minutes from the train station and a short heritage walk from the historic centre of town. Most enjoyed a massive buffet fry-up both mornings. Brian led the late afternoon walk via parklands to Emmanuel College. We took in the courtyard and chapel, another creation of Christopher Wren who was prolific here. Diane then led us to the Bedouin restaurant for a superb Moroccan meal under canvas. Tagines were the favourite dish. Then Nick found a hidden-away back-street pub for drinks and songs.
Saturday walk was to Grantchester along the Cam. We visited the medieval church where there was a display for the detective show. Ambling through the village we admired the thatched cottages before arriving at the orchard. The tearoom (with deckchairs under apple trees) was first made famous by Rupert Brooke and the Neo Pagans. Michael told us of Brooke's life there and his "The Soldier" poem which foreshadowed Brooke's own death in the near east during the Great War. After coffee and cake galore, we set off back to Cambridge. Sally attended a lacrosse match at Jesus College, where her son was playing for an Oxford college on a varsity match. We stopped for lunch in the centre, many checking out food stalls at the marketplace by the Senate House. We explored Pembroke College with its baroque chapel and expansive gardens. Then past the "Gate of Honour" and Trinity College. We climbed the bell tower of St Mary's the Great for great views of all the colleges. Afternoon teas at St Michaels Church, now a café, with some rather splendid chocolate cake. Some had a free visit to the candlelit choral evensong at Kings College Chapel. This is the late Gothic masterpiece of Cambridge, its 15th century fan vaulting the largest ever constructed. After another sumptuous meal arranged by Diane, we took over the hostel lounge for a debating session to the early hours. Nick and Janet had a lively discussion on diverse topics, Anne recounting her latest trek across the Atlas Mountains.
Sunday saw us take a guided punt trip along the Cam. The guide expertly propelled us along the "backs" of the colleges where the architecture is at its finest. The sun shone warmly on the ancient stonework of Kings, Trinity and St Johns Colleges whilst the guide explained the traditions and mysteries of the city. By happenstance we met a former group member (from the 60's) at the hostel, and by fluke his wife turned out to be a bell ringing trainer for some of the group. Brian and Sally then led a walking tour of Magdalene and Jesus College (including the Pepys Library) before a final tiffin stop at a riverside tea shop after a very enlightening break at this fascinating town.
Attendees were Janet, Michael, Diane, Dawn, Chrissy, Christine, Soraya, Judith, Nick, Rachael, Dee, Runi, Kalpna, Catherine, Sally, Anne, Rina, Sharon, Brian, Coogee, Mark A, Humay, Stuart, Nishit, Joan, Laura, Kevin, Louise, Bharti, Martina, Daniel, Prem and Derek.
On another clear crisp, bracingly fresh day, 9 walkers met at Eastcote station for the third fortnightly Friday Frolic. The walk soon left the shops and restaurants behind and entered the green tranquility of Cavendish Park with the mock Tudor Cavendish Country House. Everyone debated the change of name from Pavilion to country house, agreeing it was related to the park's cricketing past. The walk continued through Pine Gardens and Bessingby Gardens till it reached Yeading Brook. We then crossed into Roxbourne Park with its miniature railway, although that wasn't running as it only runs in the summer months. A new member to the group knew the area well as they do Health Walks for the council and was able to add interesting details as we went. We continued along a wooded walk along the stream, following the perimeter of the park to emerge at the attractive park-keeper's cottage. We then meandered to the local nature reserve, Roxbourne Rough with birds such as the blackcap, bullfinch, chiffchaff and heron according to the information plaques. We just skirted the perimeter of the nature reserve as the path was very overgrown to Bolton's Pande, a pond in the rough. We emerged back into suburbia via a small, wooded area to make our way back to Eastcote station and stopped at the outstanding Francesca Cake and Coffee House for a lovely homemade lunch.
Walkers were Laura, Tim P, Dean C, Vera, Maura, Mark J, Kokila, Jyotsna and Soraya.
A fine body of 15 eager walkers and a dog set off on a walk along the Chess valley on another warm day in the Chilterns. We started off by crossing Chorleywood Common and passed through the attractive grounds of Chorleywood House, before making our way down the Chess valley to reach the river. The River Chess is a fairly small river, but has carved itself out an impressive valley through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As we strolled along the river, we received word that a further 5 people and 3 dogs had arrived late and were trying to catch us up, so we slowed the pace and dallied for a while around Sarratt Bottom - which was more pleasant that it sounds. Happily, our "Tardy Troupe" arrived after a few minutes and we all set off once again. We proceeded upstream at a leisurely pace, and we swapped banks, crossing to and fro across bridges and fords as the mood took us. The watercress farm seems to have shut down since last year which is a shame (bad timing as we have no veg in shops and I am sure they would have done well). By lunch we had reached Chenies, admiring the pretty village and lunching well at the Bedford Arms. Unfortunately, they were fairly busy and we did not think that they would cope with a party of 20, so we sat outside for an hour and enjoyed some snacks, real ales and the fine sunny weather.
We walked on, passing the impressive Chenies Manor House, before heading on to Latimer where we walked around the village and the De Vere's Estate and Hotel, enjoying the great view from its elevated position in the valley with many walkers sunning themselves on the sloping grass banks. From there, we crossed the valley again and headed to Little Chalfont where we got the train home. Remarkably I found myself a little sunburnt on returning home, so should have been wearing my suntan cream - clearly Brian has been right all along!
Thank you to everyone who joined me on the day, particularly Fred, who gave us an informed guided tour of the villages, and those that helped with the map reading and the dogs.
8 eager walkers met outside Princes Risborough station on a bright Sunday morning. The group quickly made its way out of town and onto the Ridgeway path. As we made along this path we took in the views of the open countryside and Chinnor in the distance, not fully appreciating that we had been walking gently downhill for nearly 3 miles, and on leaving this path we found ourselves having to make our way up a steep hill into Aston Wood, which was to be the furthest point from our start point. As we started our return journey we passed Hill Farm where we spotted several unusual birds, peacocks being just one breed of bird.
Lunch was beckoning as we made our way around the outskirts of Stokenchurch, looking for a suitable place to stop and eat. We finally found a suitable spot in Crowell Wood. The weather continued to improve and the afternoon was warm with bright sunshine, giving the group views from Radnage and Bledlow Ridge of the open countryside towards West Wycombe. From Saunderton we could see the windmill at Loosley Row and in the distance our finish destination.
Many thanks to Phil, Kevin, Louise, Joe, Kalpna, Paul and Jane for joining me on this 15-mile walk in the spring sunshine.
Five eager cyclists met at the Rusty Bike Café for coffee and cheese toasties. Our ride was an easy 20-mile ride from Uxbridge to Burnham via Eton. We followed Sustrans route 61 via the Grand Union Canal and tracks through Langley. En route we passed several pillboxes and aqueducts on the Slough arm and some herons gliding by on the water. We crossed the Jubilee River via the timber footbridge and entered Eton College playing fields. We explored the charming riverside town and then joined Sustrans route 4 west. Our next stop was Boveney village to visit the 12th century church and medieval manor. Detour around the Eton College rowing lake as riverside entrance closed. Then to Dorney Court, with its manorial buildings and church, often used as a film location. Then late lunch at the Pineapple, ginormous sandwiches for all and a fitting end to the ride.
Cyclists were Brian, Malcolm, Nick, Derek and Prem.
On a bright and fresh Sunday morning, 25 very keen walkers were gathering at Rickmansworth Aquadrome, waiting in anticipation of the walk leader (who was battling with road closures and 4-way temporary lights and phone buzzing with a message from another walker in the same situation). Having arrived, I rushed to the meeting point, making a bee-line for the facilities. I found out that a few others had same the problem with traffic. In true HAWOG style they didn't give up. Heartfelt apologies were made. I then attempted to count heads but had difficulty with numbers (back to basics for me) and as usual, the walkers find it difficult to stand still. Finally reached a number when more walkers appeared. Back to counting, and with a little help from the group, we decided on the number 24. Warm welcome to new members.
Finally, we started along the Grand Union Canal towards Cassiobury Park. Passing the weir and several locks. Fancy / decorative canal boats sailed on. Lots of banter and laughter could be heard as the large group marched along, stopping to pose for photo shoots. Reaching the boundary of Cassiobury Park, I decided to take a slight detour to show the group a 'very historic old wooden hut' and walk through a deep muddy field. The walkers just loved it; I could see their 'smiley faces'.
Short stop at the park's Daisy's Cafe, refilled with hot drinks and acquiring another member who wanted to join us. We sat off again heading towards a slight incline and crossing West Herts Golf Course. Passing through a gate, we met up with another bubbly Wembley-based group of walkers. We carried on through the fields, with lovely scenery as we headed into the woods.
In Dell Wood we found a great spot for a well-deserved lunch break. Fancy chocolates were passed around by Louise. Back to walking, we carried on making our way by Waterdell Spring onto Croxley Common, carrying on via the church towards Croxley Hall Farm. We rejoined the canal and headed back. Some decided to head off towards the White Bear and some back to the aquadrome.
A massive thankyou to the most lively bunch of fun-infused walkers. The medal goes to in no particular order: David L, Kevin J, Joan, Michael L, Louise, Kevin M, Kumar, Jo K, Sean C, Marriane 1, Giulia, Lisa J, Laura, Pankaj, Chanda, Ashima, Angela, Aruna, Esther, Mark P, Ian W, Saurabh, Kerry, Marianne 2 and Runi.
On Sunday, Heather welcomed seven eager current and future walk leaders to our first training event of the year. Heather arranged a one-day workshop covering basic navigation techniques including: an introduction to maps, orientation of the map, determining the direction of travel, distance, and timings, identifying map features, basic compass use and route planning. Hopefully all participants will soon be adding their walk for the group.
Attendees were Sarah, Selam, Stuart, Tejal and husband, Sally and Harjit.
On a clear, crisp, bracingly fresh day, 8 walkers met at Eastcote station for the second fortnightly Friday Frolic with Fido, or in this case Luna. This was the first HAWOG walk for some in contrast to the seasoned walkers. Some were a little cautious about what to expect, but soon relaxed as we headed off via the shops and lovely houses on the way to Warrender Park. Luna lived up to her name, running crazily in circles, while the two-legged walkers got to know each other. The walk then entered the peaceful and secluded High Grove Nature Reserve, along the stream passing near the 18th-century Highgrove House, where Winston Churchill spent his honeymoon. Eastcote also housed an outstation of the Bletchley Park codebreaking outfit during World War II, although the area has now been developed and shows little sign of its important past.
The walk carried on to Fore Street and then quickly on the Celandine Way, although the small yellow flower where it gets its name was not in evidence yet. The easy path followed the River Pinn, passing Ruislip Woods, Pinn Meadows and various sporting tracks and pitches on the way. We emerged at Winston Churchill Hall theatre, admiring the buildings in the Manor Farm complex. At this point the lure of the shops in Ruislip High Street was too great for some and they left the group and the others intending to re-trace their steps along the river. Before we set off we had a quick tour of Manor Farm House, open by appointment only or on Duck Pond market days. Housed in a high-status Grade II listed Tudor building, with many original features remaining, including one of the oldest examples of domestic wallpaper still to remain on its original wall in England. Four walkers continued back to the Pie and Mash shop in Blackhorse Parade, deciding to stop for refreshments in Eastcote instead. We passed Eastcote House Gardens and finished the walk in a cafandeacute; for coffee and a spot of lunch.
Walkers were David L, Dean, Vera B, Heather P, Marianne, Kokila, Jyotsna, Soraya and Luna.
On a bright sunny Sunday 15 eager walkers met at Marlow station, all itching to get going. We made sure that Con took down everyone's name, counting several times just to make sure (joy of people moving around). We had a little banter about the famous Marlow Donkey pub, named after an old steam engine, which was used on the GWR line to Marlow up to 1935. As true HAWOG members it all starts with a pub. We started to make our way towards Higginson Park, realising that not all walkers were following. Having made phone calls and waited, we finally reached the park where some made use of the facilities and some got drinks. Setting off again, we made our way towards the 'the water', more famously known as the River Thames. There was plenty to see and it was busy with activities going on. Lots of boats to be seen, and great views as we walked on the semi-grassy path. Crossing through Hurley Lock to beautiful Hurley village. After admiring the surroundings, we headed off towards the traditional village pub, the Rising Sun (and the sun was definitely rising). Fully equipped with drinks and snacks, we sat in the garden enjoying the atmosphere.
Fully refreshed, we continued to explore and arrived at historic All Saints Church. Inside there was a plaque showing the previous vicars. The walk carried on, passing Monks Gardens at Hurley Lodge, with great views from the large iron gates. We then headed back towards the lock, crossing a wooden bridge, and continuing down the River Thames. A member pointed out 'the floating lounge'. Finally arriving back, after bidding farewell to a few, some went to check out the shops in Marlow High Street and the rest headed straight for the Marlow Donkey, where drinks and delicious hot food was enjoyed.
Many thanks to Kumar, Ann-Marie, Soraya, Humay, Jeff, Pam, Julie, Dawn, Con, Ashima, Meeta, Michael, Joe and Runi.
Eighteen gathered for coffee and cakes at Paul's in South Kensington on a bracing sunny morning. We followed the route of the film "Up the Junction" from Kensington to Battersea. First visit was the imposing Catholic revival of the Brompton Oratory, with its outstanding marble interiors. Then through some fashionable shopping streets including "The Map Shop". Then to the Bibendum building, an example of later Art Nouveau, now an expensive restaurant with offices in the former HQ of Michelin. Onto Sloane Square where the Holy Trinity was closed so we made up the time with the very varied street food market at Kings Road. Our Blue Plaque route continued through the mews and lanes, with Cheyne Walk providing several famous residents. Across Albert Bridge we entered Battersea Park and lunch at the cafandeacute; near the Pagoda.
Then onto the Power Station itself, now completely open to the public. Its cavernous turbine halls are now filled with shops, bars and exhibitions. The original Art Deco interiors preserved even the giant crane gantries, refurbished and now with entertainment platforms under the roof. We explored the various passageways and shops, some stealing into the cocktail bar surrounded by the original power station controls; dials and levers all intact. Our ascent to the top of the NW chimney was via Lift 109. The lift, all built with glass, is installed within the chimney shaft itself. It ascends, lit by neon lights, to emerge above the chimney top. The view from the lift at the top was panoramic, with Wembley Arch and Crystal Palace mast easily seen. All of London could be taken in from this unique viewing gallery.
Walkers were Brian, Kerry, Jan, Mark P, Lisa, Mark A, Soraya, Diane, Judith, Jeremy, Odeil, Joan, Karen, Subagh, Jeff, David S, Derek and Prem.
On the final Sunday morning in January 20 keen walkers met at Denham station for a 7-mile walk around Denham and Misbourne valley. With Runi as my partner in crime helping me to lead my first walk, we headed out of Denham station towards Denham Aerodrome where a few planes and a helicopter were getting ready to take off, Runi pointing out how beautiful the sunset is seen from here over the aerodrome. Following on to the North Moor Hill Wood Nature Reserve, which was once an old chalk quarry, a varied historical wood full of geological interest dating back to the 1600's. We worked our way through the woods, the paths fairly kind to us as fallen leaves covered over the mud. We had a phone call that Nick was joining us, so the group backtracked to meet him. After the slight detour, back on route we continued on to the Great Haling Woods, passing Denham Park Farm (the Marish), via some of Denham's private residential roads, looking at the superb houses with immaculately-kept gardens as well as admiring some fantastic lavish cars. Heading down through an icy path where Michael had tested out his ice-skating skills, the rest of us decided to take the muddy footpath beside it. We crossed over the wooden bridge over the Misbourne River, which led us back towards Denham, stopping for our lunch in the Caps Woods, sitting on a very long log surrounded by a golden carpet of leaves - the best way to enjoy lunch!
After regrouping we continued on the final leg into Denham village where we said our goodbyes to some, with the rest heading on to the historic village pub The Green Man for some well-earned drinks and catch-ups, and some enjoyed scrumptious roast dinner, coffee and deserts. One member took on the big daddy trio roast. The socialising carried on with drinks flowing and laughter, and had a surprise member joining us - very nice to see Zoe.
Thank you to Mike S, Michael L, Joan, Diane, Ed, Vera, Mike Mc, Brian F, Penelope, Christina, Poulo, Mark O, Humay, Kumar, Martina Q, Wailyee, Sadie, Nick, Rylee, Methane, Ellie, Bobby, Frankie, Kevin, Lou, Zoe and Runi for joining me on this walk.
Seven of us met at the start point, the Fox Country Inn in Ibstone. The venue is closed for refurbishment at the moment. We started our walk just after 10:00am and quickly descended into Penley Wood. We followed an easy path through the wood with the first views of the day opening to our left. We reached Chequers Lane and we could see the first climb of the day. Kalpna was not deterred and kept us all to a good pace. In Mousells Wood we spotted some deer in the distance. We continued on towards Skirmett and bumped into a large group of the Young Chiltern Walkers for the second time. We had our sandwich lunch in Skirmett before heading into the Frog Inn for a drink. A welcoming pub and we got seats very close to the open fire.
After lunch we had another climb through Great Wood. We were making good time as we headed into Turville. We stopped here for the usual photo opportunities - the Vicar of Dibley buildings and the windmill. We enjoyed more fabulous views as we left Turville and headed back to Ibstone. It is a fantastic walk with five or six steep climbs. We finished at 3:05pm having completed 12.5 miles and a pub stop.
Thanks to Dave, Efisia, Kalpna, Kerry, Malcolm and Mike for their chilled company on the day. I will of course return to this route.
10 keen cyclists set off late morning from Whitechapel, amazingly just a 40-minute journey from Maidenhead on Elizabeth line, on Lisa and Mark's first East End traffic-free explorer tour. Taking cycle superhighway CS2 along the Whitechapel, then Mile End and Bow Roads we passed by many historic places, in an area renowned for its political reformers as well as criminal gangs. Stopping at / incorporating the Blind Beggar pub, Booth statues (Sally Army), Captain Cook's home, Lansbury House and East London Suffragette monuments. Passing under the Millennium Banana Bridge, we reached the Gladstone statue at Bow Church before taking the the canal route to Three Mills gin factory, the oldest tidal mill in the UK. But unfortunately this, and site of the original Big Brother house, were temporarily blocked off, so we rode back towards the ABBA Voyage, an immersive avatar experience showing the band live as they were in 1977 for the entertainment of a 3,000 audience. Along Bazelgette's northern outfall (Greenway) we stopped for coffee and to warm up at the Brazilian-themed View Tube, built out of shipping containers.
Continuing, we noticed a WWII pillbox and tank traps overlooking Old Ford Lock and former Channel 4 Big Breakfast Studios which is now up for sale. Heading towards the open spaces of Eton Manor with its 80 football pitches, we looped around 'pro' cyclists in the velodrome and on the adjacent race course (an incredible Olympic cycling legacy that includes a BMX and mountain bike track). We threaded our way through the countryside along the Lea without losing anybody and arrived at our 2:00pm riverside lunch stop, the Princess of Wales, and Zen Buddhist Monastery.
Our return route took us through the Middlesex filter beds that were built in the 1800's to provide clean water for London, following a national cholera outbreak. Cycling south on the Lea Navigation we passed Here East, Stratford's Silicon Valley, and some riders zigzagged up to a footbridge and across to the Bohemian 'Hackney Wick', bristling with artisan studios. The footbridge over the A12 connected directly to Victoria Park, Britain's oldest public park, where we encountered BMXers and skateboarders on scary-looking pipes and ramps that were beyond even our very own extreme sporter, Nick. Back on our own wheels, we then hit upon the Bandstand, a latter-day meeting point for the suffragettes. After Victoria Park we joined and biked along the Regents Canal as far as the Mile End climbing wall and took the new crossing into Meath Gardens, housing estates and Cambridge Heath Road, arriving at the infamous Blind Beggar pub at 3:45pm. There Lisa negotiated all our bikes through the bar to the security of the beer garden. It was from there in 1966 that Ronnie Kray shot dead seated Georg Cornell and the bullet hole is still visible today in the wall by the TV monitor.
Thanks to all riders: Nick, Brian G, Diane, Dawn, Dagmar, Alpa, special guests Nigel and Andreas, and to the two Hawogers Jeremy and Mark A who, without bikes, joined us for a tipple in the pub.
On a cold crisp day, 11 walkers met at Eastcote station to start the first of the 'Friday Frolics' on alternate weeks, with the aim to have a casual ramble, chat, possibly go for a coffee or lunch before starting your weekend early. We lost one walker before the start as they headed off to join another walk, but it was lovely to say hello anyway. The rest of the group varied from returning members, to long-standing members, to those that had only been on one walk so far. There was a relaxed, happy vibe that took us into Eastcote High Street for a taster of the possible culinary delights for later. We passed through pleasant suburban Metroland streets to reach Warrender Park, the first chance for the dogs to get off lead, which was followed with exuberant running around, mainly from Luna. The walkers separated into two camps at this early stage: those who took the muddy as-the-crow flies route and those who chose the drier scenic footpath. We met at the entrance to Highgrove Woods and everyone was surprised at how peaceful and secluded it was and hard to believe you were only a few minutes from a tube station. We passed a rather green pond and the first redwood of the day as we meandered through the tree-lined path. On emerging, we chatted about Eastcote's code-breaking history in the war as we passed the Pembroke Park estate. We paused at 'Pretty Corner' to imagine why in times past there was a pond on the site called 'Guts Pond' opposite some pretty tudor-looking houses. From medieval times until the twelfth century, the majority of the population in Eastcote was engaged in farming and related trades. We passed the equally attractive cow-man's cottage on Fore Street, formerly known as Frog Lane, before entering Ruislip Woods. After a few footwear changes, we snaked through paths, skirting safely on the outskirts, before again emerging into civilisation.
We rambled to a small section of the Celandine Way only to be greeted with the disappointment of the Pie and Mash shop being closed. There was a possibly cautionary tale of the perils of overindulging in pie as the owners were opening late as they were at the hospital. Dean pointed out the old Middlesex County Council emblem on one of the oldest houses and regaled stories of this being the halfway mark in the 1908 Olympic Marathon. We continued to Eastcote House gardens for a comfort break and to admire the former herb and kitchen walled garden. Again we marvelled at how peaceful the atmosphere was, before admiring the large dovecot, deciding it was basically a large squab larder from times gone past. We again separated, with some walking on to the High Street and the pie-fanciers having a second go at the home-made delight. Unfortunately it was still shut, so we carried on to Eastcote High Street, vowing to return to sample the delights on the next walk. We passed several beautiful houses including one lived in by the Hungarian stained glass artist and painter Ervin Bossanyi who lived at no 22 Field End Road from 1937-1975. In the garden, there is a purpose built Crittal-windowed studio, where he may have worked on projects for Uxbridge station and York Minster, amongst other notable works. The walk ended in the interestingly named 'Bucket List Coffee', which caused much debate.
Walkers were Heather P, Maria, Tim P, Laura L, Kevin J, Vera B, Mark O, Dean T and Soraya, Luna and Pauline.
10 keen walkers met just before 10:30am at Chipperfield Common car park for this popular and varied 10 mile circular walk. The temperature was -4C with the ground frozen under foot but the weather was gloriously sunny and perfect for walking. Setting off in a clockwise direction across the Common, we joined the Hertfordshire Way at Top Common and walked the steady incline towards the adjoining Berrybush and Langley Lodge Farms. It was here that Diane received a call from Nick to say that due to a SatNav problem, he had missed our departure from Chipperfield but after a few more calls, we arranged to meet him at Bucks Hill, a little further en route. Through the farms and the cow pastures beyond, with no threatening cattle in sight, we skirted Berrybushes Wood before descending the steep incline to the farm track in the valley below. A steep descent invariably leads to a steep incline and this was no exception, as we climbed the sharp ascent to Little Westwood Farm and Bucks Hill House at the top. As we arrived at Bucks Hill, we met, not just Nick and his dog Ellie, but also Prem, who had joined him at Chipperfield, following similar SatNav problems. Leaving Bucks Hill, we made another steep descent through a small wood to Bottom Lane, before negotiating yet another steep incline towards Newhall Farm. With an end to any more hill climbing and the faint hum of traffic on the M25 in the distance, we then headed along a straight wide farm track for about half a mile to Micklefield Green. Crossing the busy Sarratt to Croxley Green road, we arrived at Church End, Sarratt for our lunch break in the garden marquee at The Cock Inn, around 12:50pm.
Unfortunately, the weather turned a little overcast but after a 45 minute break, we joined the familiar Chiltern Way, high above the Chess Valley, in sunnier weather, to continue our walk through the well-managed Sandfield Wood, Dawes Common. Here, purely by chance, we met the owner of the wood, who kindly gave us a brief history of her community asset and in particular drew our attention to an immature, tall western red cedar, planted by her family in the year 2000, to celebrate the millennium. Continuing across open farmland towards the horse meadows at Rose Hall and Bragman's Farms, we then headed towards Newhouse Farm, the outskirts of Flaunden and Black Robins Farm. From open farmland the countryside now changed to woodland for the final stretch back to Chipperfield Common. Lower Plantation and Woodman's Wood were negotiated before arriving at Belsize for the short climb back to our starting point on the Common, where everyone enjoyed a farewell drink in the popular Blackwell's Cafandeacute;. On arriving home, Michael realised that he had lost his gloves, somewhere between leaving the cafandeacute; and the car park but despite numerous texts to walkers and calls to Blackwell's, they could not be found. However, good news, he did find them, two days later ... guess where? ... in the GLOVE compartment of his car!
A great walk in great weather was enjoyed by everyone who took part, namely Michael, Louise, Kevin M, Joan, Diane, Ashima, Kumar, Julie, Gary, newcomer Keith, Nick G and Prem.
Keen to lead this walk, Brian G had stayed up late the night before planning a route. However recognising his already enormous contribution to HAWOG, the group managed to persuade him to instead let Brian F lead. The last time we did this walk one of the group disappeared. On hearing about this everyone hastily took advantage of the outdoor artisan food stalls on Wendover High Street to stock up on bread and cakes lest they become marooned in the woods. Fortunately after a beautiful morning walk this easy-going group arrived together at Wendover Woods Cafe to enjoy an alfresco lunch in the winter sun.
Suddenly a figure with bushy hair and beard emerged. Fearful it was the lost soul gone feral we were all set to point him at Brian G until someone realised it was Jeff. Having started with twelve we were now thirteen, the karma had balanced. After lunch as the group was cold the best way to warm everyone up was to make it appear as though the GPS had gone off course. We backtracked up a hill, took a different path and then climbed over a bank into a steep descent to rejoin the main path again. Fortunately nobody noticed or was any the wiser, so warmer we continued on our way. Arriving back at Wendover the group spilt into the cafe brigade and pub goers. One of the pub devotees decided to stay and undertake their own pub crawl of Wendover. For all we know they may still be there waiting for HAWOG's return. FOOTNOTE: The original "lost soul" had not become lost, is fine and still participates in group events.
Five cyclists met at the Rusty Bike Cafandeacute; on a cold bright morning. After coffee and warming cheese toasties we set off on the Grand Union Canal. Nick G delayed arrival due to miscounting number of wheels required. Detour through Denham Country Park before cycling through the historic Denham village. Then to the aerodrome where a single engine plane descended over our heads. Then bridleways through the thick woodlands before descent to Chalfont St Peter village.
Our lunch stop was Merlin's Cave at the ever-charming Chalfont St Giles. Our surprise guest joined us for a Sunday roast. Our route back took in the Chiltern Outdoor Museum and the luxury development next door. Malcolm explained that the museum is under threat so hope we can visit there this spring. Then a fast descent to Maple Cross and rejoining the canal. After the rains the towpath was difficult to negotiate so slow progress south. We stopped for photos at the HS2 works where the viaduct is soon to be erected, soaring above the canal.
Cyclists were Brian, Coogee, Malcolm, Nick G and Nick H.
On a beautiful sunny Sunday morning 19 walkers (including Riley, Diane's dog) and 5 new members, headed off from Canons Park station through the Spinney in Canons Park and the King George V Memorial walled garden. Due to heavy rain days before, we were met with a few deep mud challenges as we walked through Stanmore Country Park to the London viewpoint with wide panoramic views from Alexandra Palace in the east to Heathrow in the southwest, and over London to Box Hill in the south. After a brief stop we continued up Stanmore Hill walking around two Spring Ponds on Stanmore Common, in and out of the trees and narrow muddy paths, enjoying the tranquillity and each other's company. We eventually made our way from Stanmore Country Park to Bentley Priory Nature Reserve. We were ready for our packed lunches by then and a chilled break to relax.
Bentley Priory has a number of ancient woods. Growing there are hornbeam, midland and common hawthorn, birch, cedars, yew, and odd patches of laurel, and rhododendron. We waded through muddy ground in search of the master oak tree, the oldest tree in Middlesex. At one point, I thought it had moved! At last we located it and were all so appreciative to see close up this amazing master oak tree. Many photos were taken there. The tree is near a beautiful large pond. We headed through muddy woodland until we got to the lane leading down to the deer park and had our group picture taken.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the deer for the final stint of our trek out of Bentley Wood. We saw a young boy stuck in the mud, almost knee-deep, struggling to get out. We soon realised he was in need of some assistance from the HAWOG rescue team. Mission accomplished - phew! Now the final stint of our trek towards Stanmore High Street - 2nd challenge - a large herd of big-horned cows were blocking our exit. A few of us managed to walk through the gate until one smart cow noticed the gap and stood right in front of it and did not budge no matter what. Plan B, we had to climb over a wired fence a few yards away from the cows. We managed to get our group over the fence and we noticed a family with two young children desperately looking to pass through the gate. HAWOG heroes to the rescue again, we safely helped this family to get two buggies, kids and themselves over the fence. Finally, out of the woods we veered off to look at the beautiful old St John the Evangelist Church and nearby ruins. The name has been held by two churches: a red-brick church dating to 1632, now abandoned and in ruins, and its replacement, a stone church dating to 1850, which remains in use. Both buildings are separately Grade II* listed. Next we visited another amazing walled garden, Bernays Gardens, very near the High Street shops. Here we said our farewells and went our separate ways.
Thank you to all walkers who made this walk enjoyable and memorable: Tony, Sumita, Archana, Heather, Diane, Joan, Smita, Marian, Marianne, Dean, Alison, Kalpna, Sven, Laura, Jyotsna and Saurabh.
After a short delay with the train, 9 keen walkers met at Princes Risborough station ready for the group's first walk for 2023. We learnt that we had to be back by 4:30 as this would be the last train home due to industrial action. We headed off out of town towards Bledlow where we picked up the Ridgeway path. A light shower kept us cool as we made our way up Hempton Wainhill but as we reached our highest point on the day's walk, the rain stopped and we were treated to spectacular views across the Oxfordshire countryside. We carefully made our way along the Ridgeway footpath which had become quite wet and slippery in places as it made its way gently downhill towards the small hamlet of Cromwell. As we headed across the open countryside the skies opened again, only this time the rain was much heavier. After taking a slight detour for shelter, we decided that the rain was not going to stop and headed for our lunch stop at Sydenham.
Lunch was taken in a bus shelter which had been converted in to a community book store even though there was a perfectly good country pub next door which we could have used if we had more time. Lunch was kept to a short 20-minute break. As we finished our lunches the rain stopped and we continued on our way. As we passed a village farm, a herd of cattle gave the group puzzled looks and we in turn stopped to take some pictures. Our return route to Princes Risborough was along a disused railway line where we again had some stunning skies and a rainbow. As the path was a well made footpath and on the level, this helped us to keep a good pace going to ensure that we arrived back at the station with plenty of time to catch the return train home.
Many thanks to Mark, Kevin, Louise, Phil, Joe, Diane, Joan and Stuart for joining me on this 15-mile walk and completing the distance in less than 6 hours.