Our latest evening walk took place on a very sunny evening in Pinner. Twelve walkers followed the Pinner Association "10 walks around Pinner" guide north via Waxwell Lane, passing several 17th century farmhouses, Dee and Runi pointing out features on route. After a stop at the former Lilley villa, we continued through Metro-Land suburbs of Pinnerwood Park with rose gardens and manicured lawns. Then onwards to the lush meadows of Pinner Hill. We admired Pinner Hill House and the fine Victorian Pinner Hill Farm (very ornate timber and brickwork). We next climbed to the summit of Pinner Wood and the viewpoint from the Georgian Mansion of Pinner Wood House, busy with a marquee and many golfers enjoying drinks and the sunset from the 19th hole. Our route then descended south, passing Tooke's Folly and several detached villas on the private roads of this secluded quarter. Walk ended at Oddfellows Arms for drinks in the large beer garden where Mike, Vic and Sandy recounted tales of the society picnic last week.
Report by Brian
Six walkers met at Hurst Green station for this North Kent Walk. Our route followed the Greensand Way through the lush countryside of Kent with a few climbs to scenic villages of oast houses and red tiled clad farmhouses. Gino dived into some ponds to cool down and Gary (local resident) pointed out the landmarks. After some map reading trails (multiple paths through woodlands, very confusing) we arrived at Churchill's family manor, Chartwell. We had lunch at the National Trust terrace café overlooking the gardens. Karen found some good novels for the rail journey back at the secondhand bookshop. Our next climb was to Toys Hill hamlet (saved by Octavia Hill) which had stunning views south to the South Downs. We then found ourselves at the National Trust gardens of Emmets (Rob P insisting on the tea and cake stop in the tea gardens). We strolled through the rose and rock gardens before the final leg downhill. We reached the very picturesque town of Westerham, its large village green surrounded by coaching inns and tea shops. The green features statues of the local heroes Wolfe and Churchill. There was just time to visit the vintage Sir Winston's tea rooms (spam fritters on the 40s' menu) for tiffin before the bus back to the start.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Mark P, Karen, Julie and Gary.
Report by Brian
Seven HAWOG explorers departed the small but perfectly formed YHA All Stretton Bunkhouse just after 9am on Saturday. Good for our six sleepers but only sardines might have been happy if we'd maxed to ten sleepers - hurray for the rule of six then.
Across fields to reach our first up, The Lawley (370 metres) and tea break for 11ish. Then the long gentle down, back and up Caer Caradoc (459 metres) for lunch at one. And fleeces soon on because it was cold. But worth the 360 views as the sun was breaking through amongst the rocks. Ahead of schedule so I suggested a path past a Cwmns Farm with a cracking view of All Stretton through a valley and on to Hazler Hill (347 metres) with its trig point and mast. And the sun shining now, lovely afternoon. We arrived in Church Stretton town centre amongst the shoppers where some went to Berry's for refreshments. 14 miles in total I was told plus an ascent equal to that of Snowden - not bad! The Yew Tree pub in All Stretton was frequented for the second evening with all very happy with the food and service.
Sunday was a very cloudy day. We ascended Plush Hill which its usually great views across to yesterday's hills and beyond largely obscured. And then our slow, hour long, gentle up to and across the Long Mynd to reach the summit of the fourth highest hill in Shropshire at Pole Bank (516 metres). All chilly then as we were surrounded by the ghostly clouds only broken by the very few cyclists and walkers also out. Not the best day for a hike in the hills. We headed down for our last hill and rendezvous with Carol and Lochlan. The ghosts disappeared as we reached The Devil's Mouth and the Burway Hill (284 metres) so we saw the town again and yesterday's hills. Back to my place for lunch in the garden then a quick descent through the Carding Mill Valley and behind Nover's Hill to return to the bunkhouse for mid-afternoon. 9.1 miles.
Cracking weekend, thanks so much to Caroline, Jan, Mary, Sandra, Malcolm and Paul for joining Carol, Lochlan and me.
Report by Steve
Lunch on Caer Caradoc with The Lawley behind - Photo by Steve
Hazler Hill - Photo by Steve
Summit of Long Mynd, very wet! - Photo by Steve
The Devils Mouth - Photo by Steve
Five of us met at Hatch End Overground station at 10:30am in glorious morning sunshine. I went through the history and heritage of Hatch End, with some Covid guidance. Our first stop was a stroll down to the 14th century historic St Anselm church. With the doors ajar for morning service, some of us managed a brief glance at the ornate stained glass windows that have been so greatly restored. We then headed on to Harrow Arts Centre for our first viewing of Harrow Open Studios with the principal artist being a HAWOG member. With our early timing 10 minutes before opening, that allowed me to feed my walkers with some yummy victoria sponge cake. Humay promptly arrived after 11:00am and gave us a wonderful insight into his paintings and the shared artists' work that was also on display. A comfort break in the Arts Centre allowed all to appreciate the interiors of this glorious building and amenities with a peek through some highway artefacts and sculptures on our exit.
We then headed through the main Hatch End high street to see the telephone exchange and diverse restaurants. A turn off was made on to the lower grounds of Pinner Farm, leading us on to a beautiful hidden ravine and lower trails including streams. The River Pinn and forestry led us onto Moss Lane to see some of the new and old large homes. A final stop was made at a quirky and beautiful 15th century tudor home of a married couple whose paintings and sculptures were admired by us all. A brief stop was also made at the nearby historic out-buildings and cottages including an old petrol pump that had been beautifully restored by its current owners. A gentle stroll was made back on to Pinner Farm to take us back to Hatch End high street.
Thank you to my lovely fellow walkers, Angela, Carelle, Runi and Mark, who joined me on this picturesque and delightful walk.
Report by Alpa
A mix of old hands, newbies and "recently moved to Harrow" met on the green lawns outside Harrow on the Hill station for a ramble over the hill. After scaling the steepest part of the hill and admiring the views, I launched into my own ramble, trying to condense 2,000 years of Harrow's history into something relatively light which could be enjoyed by a group of people who had just lugged themselves up a very steep hill in the very strong sunshine! Never had the shady elms by the Peachey Stone been so welcoming as it was lovely to be in the cool there and wax lyrical about 3 of my favourite stories connected to the hill - how Mary Shelley had sat on a lake in Switzerland on holiday with Byron and had been inspired to write Frankenstein, how Byron's first wife had loathed him so much she kept her daughter Ada Lovelace away from poetry all her life and that Ada then went onto discover the fundamentals of computing and lastly to re-tell yet again the sad tale of poor little Allegra - Byron's second daughter who is buried in the churchyard somewhere!
Then "moving swiftly on" I thought it would be lovely to make the most of the beautiful green spaces over the hill, so we legged it off down Football Lane across the tennis courts and the small wood to the meadows where the beautiful long-horn rare breed cattle were grazing. On a June day the wildflowers looked fantastic and for all the world we could have been in Switzerland rather than yards from the Watford Road. We then headed back to the Green on the Hill where we partook of our packed lunches, watched over by Henry VIII. A watering hole stop was swiftly negotiated in the rather lovely marquee of the tapas bar Bar Eighty-Six where we were able to sit as a group and share more stories. Then all back to the Met line for a safe journey home.
Thanks to Marie, Jyotsna, Kevin, Esther, Dilly, Leena and Mum, Runi, Sandy, Angela, Carole, Cavelle, Rita, Paul, John and 2 other ladies for joining me on my local wander.
Report by Judith
Camping in Sussex always takes place in a heatwave and we were again bathed in glorious sunshine for the whole weekend. Twenty-eight campers pitched camp at Park Farm, by Bodiam Castle. Fuelled by Kent cherries and choc ices from the farm shop we quickly had our site in place with lots of new gadgets seen: Malcolm's rocking chair, Martina's new camping kitchen table, and more inflatable tents than ever. Tim P and Diane led the rescue party to retrieve Nitti and her car, Mark 1 and Mark 2 fitting the tyre. Brian led early arrivals on the riverside walk to Bodiam Castle, "the most romantic castle in England". We did a circuit of the wide moat, taking in the views. We ambled into the Castle Inn for cooling drinks of local Sussex beer by the riverside garden. Back at site, Tim B prepared the campfire. Some of the neighbouring campers joined our party around blazing logs on a clear night sky perfect for star gazing.
On Saturday the early morning blazing sun and Tony Blackburn awoke us early for mugs of tea and bacon sarnies. After kit inspection we set off on the walk following the Sussex Borders Path. The route took in hamlets of distinctive oast houses and apple orchards. At the picture postcard village of Ewhurst Green we admired the many red-tiled farmhouses and village pub (just too early to stop). At Northiam heritage railway station the restored carriages were now converted into holiday homes. Crossing the river Rother, we made it to the perfick village pub at Newenden. We took over the beer garden for cooling drinks and our picnic lunch. Route back was via meadows of buttercups, daisies and orchids. Under a sweltering sun the early summer hay stacks were resplendent as we crossed the weald. Turning a corner we happened upon a mystery miniature railway in a large garden, complete with signal box. Back at Bodiam Castle we detoured for lashings of pop at the Castle Inn before the final leg.
Back at site Tim B and Dan were in charge of the barbecue, Mike S bringing along tuck galore to make it all tickety boo. Around the campfire Coogee led the music with his ukulele, with Brian F and Mike S assisting on the guitar. Fireside yarns came from Nick; a fascinating account of Spandau Ballet, with Pauline recounting her experience of the perils of wax.
Sunday was another scorchio, Coogee brewing strong coffee for all from his vintage coffee pot. After striking camp Chris and Maria led one group to Hastings for a swim and sunbathing on the packed beach. Six went to Great Dixter to visit the magnificent gardens of the 15th century manor house. There was a wondrous summer display of kaleidoscopic colours amidst the yew hedges and red-tiled timber manorial buildings. Dee shared out her rather spiffing victoria sponge cake in the tea gardens of Dixter. Refreshed, some joined up with the Hastings crew for a stroll around the old town, via hidden courtyards, alleyways and pedestrian streets of vintage shops, book shops and pavement cafes. Just the ticket said Gilly, so we had tiffin there after a lovely sunny afternoon by the sea.
Campers were Brian G, Brian F, Tim P, Tim B, Mark A, Mark P, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Martina, Malcolm, Liane, Jan, Nick, Rachael, Pauline, Zoe, Vic, Nitti, Dee, Chris, Maria, Linda, Sugandha and Maree.
Report by Brian
A lucky 13 met at the canalside Fox pub on a very warm sunny evening in Hanwell. Early arrivals enjoyed cooling drinks and Alpa's chocolate birthday cake in the newly reopened beer gardens. Eventually we left the pub for the walk. Our route took in the River Brent trail through the country park. Tim B explained the re-wilding projects in Churchfields and along the Brent. For once Logan and Mi Fan did not dive into the river. We admired the many diverse locomotives racing across the skyline along Brunel's impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct. Most then tried out their puzzle solving skills to reach the centre of the millennium maze. After walking through the "Bunny Park" we came upon a cricket match in progress plus lots of golfers still playing in the long sunny evening. Our route back followed Hanwell heritage trail including several Georgian mansions; Jan and Dee outlined the features whilst Rob W and Tim P were in deep conversation about cycle component technology. Back at the Fox we regained our table for well-deserved drinks after a very popular evening walk.
Walkers were Brian, Tim P, Tim B, Rob W, Jan, Dee, Pauline, Alpa, Mike Mc, Dean, Julie, Lynn and Reena.
Report by Brian
Birthday cake at the Fox - Photo by Brian
Viaduct views - Photo by Brian
Brent River crossing - Photo by Brian
Five cyclists met on a warm sunny morning at Witham in Essex. Our route followed quiet lanes through the perfect cycling countryside of mid Essex. We arrived at the Templars-created Cressing Barns (original 13th century timbers) and the fabulous Tudor Gardens. The day was heating up as we strolled through the amazing collection of herbs (based on medieval text book) and colourful displays in bloom. At Braintree we had lunch in the market square, Mark and Jane ingeniously arranging a Chinese takeaway.
After lunch our route took in several sleepy Essex villages, with evocative names such as Great Sailing and Little Sailing. The settlements all boasted large parish churches and many thatched cottages. At Little Dunnow we stopped at the famous Flitch of Bacon (awarded to a couple who could prove that they had lived without argument for 12 months). We then joined the excellent Flitch Way, a former railway line converted by Sustrans into a traffic-free cycle trail. Near the end we happened upon the Raynes Station Café, the old station building housing the café with tables all along the former platform. Over coffee and homemade Rainbow Cake we enjoyed the views in the sunshine from the platform after another great cycling adventure.
Cyclists were Brian, Coogee, Deirdre, Mark P and Jane.
Report by Brian
Cressing Barns - Photo by Brian
Gardens at Cressing - Photo by Brian
Essex village - Photo by Brian
Church at Little Snoring - Photo by Brian
Flitch Way - Photo by Brian
Raynes station cafe - Photo by Brian
After a frustrating wait for two who had booked in, our collective mood soon lifted when we were entertained by the ring-tailed lemurs at Golders Hill Park zoo. We bought delicious ice creams and sorbets at the cafe kiosk, and sat at the benches by rhododendrons in bloom. We climbed the steps into the wooded heath extension, where we delighted in the impressive hill garden and Edwardian pergola with scented rambling roses. At Whitestone Pond we crossed into Hampstead Heath. The elegant 17th century Kenwood House, with its courtyard cafe, was our lunch stop, watched by a pair of jackdaws. In the afternoon, we walked around the Highgate ponds, and saw numerous swimmers in the men's pond. A climb to Parliament Hill gave us panoramic views of London. At Hampstead ponds there were again bathers in the water. Two of my party said their goodbyes at Hampstead Heath station; others chose a cafe or pub at that point, and the rest of us made our way to Hampstead tube station, via the house of romantic poet John Keats. So great that ten walkers, most new to us, were able to join me and Freddie.
Report by Gilly
Thanks to heavy traffic on the A40, there were delays with the 10:30 start. I was perplexed how I managed to turn up 15 minutes late when the group had arrived on time. We set off in fine sunny weather from the car park through Cowleaze Wood opening up to one of the first of our outstanding valleys views. Wending our way through groves of young oak and ash, we stopped for a while to appreciate the scene of red kites soaring at eye level and a flock of sheep resting in the midday shade. Continuing our walk on the edges of the Wormsley estate, we made our way through the impressive beeches of Shotridge Wood. It became apparent that the fastest of the group were straining at the leash to increase the pace with me in the middle pulling everyone together. We arrived at the delightful 'Fox and Hounds' for some liquid refreshment till the growl of hungry stomachs meant we could tarry no longer. More woodland of stately beech gave way to a westward scene of glorious Oxfordshire countryside and here we stopped for some welcome if slightly overdue lunch.
We then came to Watlington Hill with its atmospheric grove of ancient yew and paused to rest before the steep descent of White Mark. Our group traversed part of the 5,000 year old Ridgeway (the oldest continuously used road in Europe) till we came off for the last part of the journey on the border path of Shirburn Wood. The final ascent in the early afternoon heat was a bit of a struggle for some of us (myself included) while most of the party soared ahead. By the time we reached the stile, a herd of somewhat frisky juvenile cows had completely blocked our way. Undaunted, I waved them away and we crossed the field to reach the patiently waiting group. "Tim's the Cowmaster!" somebody yelled. Honour redeemed? Maybe.
Many thanks to Harsesh, Kalpna, Nirav, Dean, Sugandha, Aruna, Brian F, Simon and Kay for a fine day out.
Report by Tim
3 of us made our way to Wye in Kent for the fourth weekend of walking the North Downs Way. We stayed on the Friday and Saturday nights at a fairly historic pub with rooms in converted stables, and we ate at the pub on the Friday evening.
On the Saturday morning we set off shortly before 10:00am from Thurnham. The first few miles were fairly challenging, so it was a bit of a relief when the path opened out into a wider track with less ascents and descents. The weather stayed dry and sunny, and we were able to complete the 20 miles in good time, reaching the end of the day's walk in Wye before 4:30pm. In the evening we had a good curry at the local Bangladeshi restaurant.
On the Sunday morning we set off at about 9:30am from Etchinghill. It stayed dry whilst we walked although there were some fairly dark clouds at times. We reached the end of the 12.5 mile walk in Wye shortly before 2:00pm, after which we headed home.
Thanks to Karen and Amanda for joining me.
Report by Phil
Thirteen of us (including 3 on their first walk) met on another gloriously sunny morning at Egham. We headed along footpaths through meadows and woods, to reach the ever-delightful grounds of Virginia Water. We strolled through the expanse of the landscaped park with an avenue of redwoods leading to the totem pole by the lake. As the day was getting even hotter, we took advantage of the the very popular nearby ice cream van. We then did a circuit of the lake before entering the Valley Gardens. This is full of twisting paths giving dramatic views of the varied landscape. At this time of the season the vibrant colours of the rhododendrons are the main feature. They did not disappoint and we wandered along the paths, each corner revealing more displays of colours. We had our picnic in a clearing overlooking the valley, being joined by Rob W passing through on a cycle ride. Whilst taking in the views Linda and Anne extolled the benefits of campervans and Rob P outlined the geology of the parklands.
After lunch we continued to the Obelisk Lake and Windsor Great Park. Then through wildflower meadows and the former polo fields before the exclusive estates around Englefield. We then reached the summit of Coopers Hill and the always rewarding viewpoint at the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial. After resting in the relative cool of the cloisters we set off downhill passing Runnymede riverside. With a quick stop as always to admire the Ferraris we arrived back at Egham after another colourful walk in Surrey.
Report by Brian
Arrival at Virginia Water - Photo by Brian
Lakeside views - Photo by Brian
Entering Valley Gardens - Photo by Brian
Winding paths through gardens - Photo by Brian
Group together - Photo by Brian
Picnic in the valley - Photo by Brian
Coopers Hill Memorial - Photo by Brian
On a gloriously sunny morning seven of us arrived on the GWR express at the wonderfully preserved Brunel-designed railway station at Charlbury. Olivia and Imelda introduced themselves on the first walk with the group. We explored the picture postcard perfect town with its medieval church and market place. Leaving Charlbury we walked through part of the grounds of Cornbury Park, impressive avenues of lime and plane trees guiding us along the track. At Finstock we found the village shop open for extra provisions. Crossing several lush green meadows full of buttercups and dandelions we took in the views of the Evenlode valley below. The day was heating up so arriving at the little hamlet of Ramsden we stopped for lunch at the Royal Oak inn. Our pavement tables looked along the ancient Akeman Street, the old Roman road from Cirencester to St Albans. We enjoyed an extended break at this spot, watching horse riders plus a very smart Morse-style Jag pull up next to our tables.
In the afternoon sun we continued via paths and quiet country lanes through several hamlets of Cotswold stone, each featuring a Great War memorial on the village green with wisteria-covered manors facing the green. The walk ended at the prosperous market town of Witney. The majestic parish church sits at the base of the expansive village green lined by almshouses and coaching inns. Just in the nick we found a pavement tea shop for our final tiffin stop to celebrate a tiptop day walk in the Cotswolds.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Simon, Yolli, Cathy, Imelda and Olivia.
Report by Brian
Charlbury town - Photo by Brian
Cornbury House - Photo by Brian
Buttercup meadows - Photo by Brian
Royal Oak on Akeman Street, Roman road - Photo by Brian
Memorial at Delly End village - Photo by Brian
Crawley village - Photo by Brian
Tea shop at Witney - Photo by Brian
Friday saw us arriving at different stages due to heavy traffic. We stayed at the lovely luxury Elm Cottage campsite. All of us managed to pitch up before nightfall. We set up the club gazebo with the communal camping stove in the middle and the club flag flying high. Some of us ventured for the lovely fresh pizza served from the flaming pizza oven, while others created a feast of their own.
Saturday saw us up early with the smell of freshly cooked breakfast and freshly ground coffee. We headed on our first adventure of the weekend. We started at Delamere Forest, with the dedicated drivers of the weekend (thank you so much). The walk took us through Delamere Forest. Delamere means "forest of the lakes" and we were rewarded with the forest centrepiece, Blakemere Moss. This unusual lake is around 1km long and is a true haven for birds. I don't think I've ever seen so many. The walk saw us take up part of the sandstone trail, starting our ascent of old Pale Hill. When reaching the summit we were rewarded with views across seven counties. As we were steaming along, the walk finished relatively early, so we decided to go and watch a local polo match. With our chairs in one hand and drink in the other, we sat down to a lovely afternoon of entertainment. The evening saw us fire up the barbecues and a lovely feast was had by all. Then the ukulele came out and song began, only to be rewarded with passers-by saying "aah bless"; when looking around we could see why, with three tarts and a window-licking Mark. The laughter began.
Sunday saw us rising a little later than the day before, maybe something in the coffee that made us sleep. We headed on to our next adventure, the sandstone trail. This walk started at Beeston Castle, a 13th century castle perched 110 metres above the Cheshire plain on a rocky sandstone crag. The walk took us along some woodland paths of the Peckforton Estate and across farmland to Peckforton Castle, a 19th century country house built in the style of a medieval castle. In World War I the house was used to care for wounded soldiers and in World War II it was used as a hostel for disabled children that had been evacuated from London. The castle is now operating as a hotel. We were lucky enough to be able to have drinks in the courtyard. Both castles were visible for much of the walk, sitting high on the hills. We walked up the famous witches staircase. One can only assume that witches had very long legs and strong knees. After returning to the campsite and a little rest, we decided to do one more walk to Little Budworth and the surrounding area, followed on by a very well-earned pub stop. The evening saw us light up the barbecue, then the music and dance began, with everyone showing us their moves.
Monday saw us de-bunking for our final leg home.
I don't think I have laughed so much on a camping weekend so thankyou to Dan, Martina, Daniel, Coogee, Zoe, Sugandha, Tim P, Malcolm, Nitty, Jan, Liane, Nick, Mark and Tim B for making this such a special window-licking weekend.
Report by Diane
We have walked this route once before and because it was so popular last time we decided to organise it again. The start was scheduled for 11:00am at Croxley station but unfortunately the start was delayed by 10 minutes because the two leaders were caught in traffic jams caused by long queues at temporary traffic lights installed to give access to HS2 traffic. Our apologies to those walkers who were kept waiting for our arrival. There was a large group of 18 and after crossing the road and walking down a steep path we reached the Ebury Way. Up until 1950 this was a railway track running alongside the Grand Union Canal but was resurfaced to become the Ebury Way footpath. We then came to what was the railway bridge that we crossed and took the path to the aquadrome where there were plenty of opportunities for photoshoots in lovely, sunny scenic surroundings. We later stopped at the cafe and had lunch in the garden opposite. It was a beautiful, warm day and we all enjoyed sitting in the sunshine.
We then walked around Bury Lake where we saw numerous birds' nests with cygnets, goslings and ducklings as well as other species of baby birds. We then walked back along the canal to Batchworth Lock where we stopped at the shop for ice creams and saw the boat which we have chartered for July 18th. On the way back along the canal we saw a whole range of houseboats before arriving at the steep path where we started our walk. Fortunately everyone still had enough energy left to reach the top.
We enjoyed having Mark A, Judith, Michael L, Helen, Alpa, Kate, Linzi, Michael W, Esther, Angela, Dilly, Kalpna, Kevin, Vic, Naz and Mark on the walk with us.
Report by Ian and Runi
For our second evening walk of the season we met at Ickenham village green. After passing the former USAF base (now residential) we joined the Hillingdon Trail. This route continued through cricket pitches and meadows alongside the River Pinn. We detoured under the Chiltern railway to see some of the preparatory works for HS2, soon set to enhance the landscape. We then joined the Celandine Way and continued through wooded areas to the playing field. At Swakeleys we glanced at the exterior of the Jacobean manor before returning via Compass Theatre and fields around Ickenham Manor. Rachael caught up with us there before a few found a table in the beer garden of the Coach and Horses for drinks and anecdotes.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Runi, Dee, Kay and Simon.
Report by Brian
3 of us met at Hemel Hempstead station on Sunday morning; sadly a fourth attendee was unable to join us due to train problems. We set off at around 9:30am, heading down to the Grand Union Canal and then walking along it to Bourne End. From there, we headed south-west over the A41 towards Whelpley Hill and then on to Ley Hill. From there, we headed east to Flaunden and then south-east towards Sarratt. We stopped to eat our picnic lunches in a wood shortly before reaching Sarratt, but our lunch stop was curtailed by one of the many showers that we experienced during the day.
After lunch we headed north to Chipperfield Common, then north-west to Bovingdon, from where we returned to Hemel Hempstead station, which we reached at 4:00pm, having walked 19 miles.
Thanks to Karen and Malcolm for joining me.
Report by Phil
We alighted from the train at Manningtree for our Constable Country walk. Following the River Stour, we entered the Dedham Vale AONB with its buttercup meadows and gently flowing river. Several scenes were the inspiration for Constable, the landscape unchanged since his era. At Dedham village we explored the Flemish cottages and independent shops in the high street. After a tour of the majestic 15th century church, we had lunch at the Tiptree tea rooms facing the village square and church.
We then headed towards East Bergholt, passing many rowing boats gliding by as the afternoon heated up. East Bergholt is another charming village, thatched cottages painted in Suffolk salmon pink with Constable's studio now a museum. The medieval church has a unique feature, the bell cage, built in 1531 as a temporary expediency and still in use today. Our route descended to Flatford Mill with the classic setting for Constable's "Hay Wain". As the afternoon was now sunny and fine, we finished with coffee and cakes at the mill tea gardens watching the boats glide by at this timeless setting.
Walkers were Brian and Rob P.
Report by Brian
Debden Church - Photo by Brian
Boating down the Stour - Photo by Brian
Flatford, scene of "Hay Wain" - Photo by Brian
Warm welcome to new members Esther, Jackie, Sri and Olivia. Thank you for attending: Rita, Pauline, Pat and Runi.
We met at Uxbridge station. It was great to see people braving the weather forecast. After introductions and safety rules, we set off towards Alderglade Nature Reserve. We walked by Frays River, then through the woody muddy paths where once lay the railway tracks of days gone by. The laughter and the banter was well underway. We made our way towards the famous Uxbridge Gallery. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and amazed at the work produced by talented graffiti artists. After looking around we made our way towards Denham, via the forbidden route as the gang were feeling very rebellious, which took us through the wooded area which was very rough with badger holes and ditches. The gang thoroughly enjoyed semi scrambling ending up by the fields towards Uxbridge golf course, passing the beautiful Harefield Place. We then walked towards Denham Country Park by the lakes, crossing the famous bridge. We went through the woods and saw some cows which were only brought there a few days before. We had a lovely lunch break: delicious fresh hot chips were enjoyed by all, these were not just ordinary chips, these were Buckinghamshire chips! Followed by special birthday melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, because we are worth it! Thank you Pauline.
The beautiful sun was shinning on us and every one agreed on extending the walk via the enchanting village, full of history, and which has an amazing show of different varieties of flowers and more famous rows of cottages with their wisteria in full bloom. We passed the houses of well-known names. We then went through the historic St Mary's Church often seen on TV programmes and movies. A bit of a history lesson took place at the resting places of well-known Denham families. We carried on by the golf club towards the canal. We saw the remains of a nest in a tyre tied to a canal boat which had coots nesting. We walked along the towpath with the sun glitzing on the river. Swans Da and Ma swam across, proudly showing us their little babbas. We headed towards Uxbridge, ending by the Swan and Bottle for our well-earned drinks. Some brief background history on old railway track, Harefield House, Gallery, Sir John Mills, and the Denham Massacre was given by Pat and Runi. All had great a grand day out and thoroughly enjoyed the walk.
Report by Runi
On a cloudy morning we met at Headstone Lane station and walked down to Headstone Manor Park. The park was serenely quiet and we were able to explore the wonderful wildlife and surroundings. We gently made our way to the medieval grounds' barn and museum. The museum and barns have been beautifully renovated and restored. The entrance to this historic gem was free and a great way to learn about Harrow's heritage. A brief coffee stop was made at the barn cafe. We then headed back via a loop to take in the bottom end of Pinner Farm where we were greeted by sounds of grazing cows and bulls. The picturesque scene was a delight and at times it was hard to believe we were within the metropolis of Harrow. A brief stop was also made at Harrow Garden Centre to appreciate the seasonal plants and flowers for sale. The walk ended at Headstone Lane station.
Thank you to fellow walkers Jyotsna and Camelle.
Report by Alpa
On a Wednesday evening, under the menacing grey clouds that were hovering above the car park, five risk takers, I mean walkers, emerged from their cars. Booted up and armed with waterproofs, we assembled at the ancient gateway to the Royal Standard of England pub. It was like an opening scene from a Tarantino movie. To complete the picture, we had a handsome labrador named Logan (Dean's mother in law's dog).
The Royal we set off down the darkened alley like Brindle Lane. With rain drizzling, we were braced for a muddy trot in the countryside. Soon we came to gates that opened onto the fields of Forty Green, where brightening skies greeted. With the fresh aromas of a wet spring wafting all around, we headed towards Witheridge Wood. It turned out Logan hadn't received the memo about refreshments at the pub. The country aromas got the better of him, and just far away enough from the path and Dean, Logan found himself in pie heaven, looking back at Dean knowing he should not, then wharfed! (Sarah, I did not see anything, I'm just saying). I couldn't stop giggling as Mick and Kumar were somewhat in disbelief of what they had witnessed. We headed over to Penbury Farm, then ascended into the fields around Penn Bottom. The skies completely cleared and caused us to break a sweat. We stopped briefly to enjoy the sweeping vistas and bask in the glorious evening sun. Onto Common Wood where we didn't spot any rhodys, some serious discussion ensued about the quality and standards of products from Lidl and Aldi. Whimsically, Mick shared a story of when he returned a new microwave oven that was responsible for setting fire to his eagerly anticipated pie dinner one evening after a hard day's work. Hungry, angry and with the oven still smoking, Mick stormed back to the offending store, and duly commanded the attention of the branch staff. Needless to say, Mick got his refund, as well as a few funny looks.
Creasing ourselves laughing, we paced along the tracks by Puttenham Farm, to get 'back before sundown' (that could be the title of a Tarantino movie). The tracks got exceedingly muddy, and unfortunately as leader, I had to trailblaze, which, by the way, the group were only too happy for me to do. Our boots, and Logan, would need a good hosing down later. No problem for Dean who was going to hand Logan, unchained and unwashed, back to his mother-in-law. Continuing through Penn village, we joined the Chiltern Way, which ran behind a row of desirable residences. More beautiful vistas followed, with sheep and little lamb grazing in the field, seemingly calling out at us. We breathed in the freshness, and drank in the beauty, before continuing onto the last leg of the walk, walking down Bayley's Bottom back to the car park. The reward, and a novel treat, was to enjoy sitting inside the famed historic RSOE pub. Ale, wine, chips and more stories flowed, while Logan took a well-earned rest. No chips for Logan though, because he had already eaten ... well maybe a couple of chips, especially with those eyes at Mick. Well, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the evening of hiking, joking and 'smoking pies' (another potential film title?) and spending time at one of my favourite pubs.
My sincere thanks to Tim, Kumar, Mick, Dean and Logan, for joining me on this sunny, royally fun evening. Hope to see you all again soon.
Report by Aruna
No-one can protest that there weren't enough tea shops! We started with one; we ended with one; and there were several visits in between. A sunny day and eight of us took part. We crossed the Thames at Putney Bridge, enjoying the wide views. We walked up river and then by the London Wetland Centre. Here Asha recognised TV's posh actress, Patricia Hodge, and greeted her like an old friend. Onwards to Barnes for the bookshop, the cinema, the Italian Cafe, the church and an al fresco operatic solo recital. Next stop Gail's Cafe, then Barnes Green with its duck pond. We then made the pilgrimage to the Marc Bolan rock shrine. Back on the Thames Path, some of us went to see the Bedouin tomb at Mortlake. Some said goodbye at the 5 mile point. Carole and Brian continued with me under Chiswick Bridge, to visit the grounds of the National Archives, and have coffee at Kew Gardens Piazza.
Thanks to Asha, Brian, Carole, Lynne, Mona, Monindra and Harleena for joining me.
Report by Gilly
Just three cyclists for this longer ride from Windsor Riverside to Richmond. We followed Sustrans route 4 throughout, very good signage all the way. After checking out the castle we cycled through Windsor Great Park until Englefield Green. We then climbed to the Coppers Hill memorial viewpoint. As the day had warmed up in the sunshine we had our picnic there. It was very quiet in the park with the memorial always tranquil and poignant. We then joined the Thames at Staines and followed the well-managed Thames Path all the rest of the route. Many impressive boat houses on the opposite bank, plus lots of heritage vessels on display. We rang the bell to summon the ferry from Shepperton to Chertsey. Final tiffin stop at Walton on Thames, busy with walkers, before final section from Hampton Court to Richmond.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P and Coogee.
Report by Brian
After many messages about the weather, 12 walkers met outside Great Missenden station on a clear Saturday morning. Introductions were made as we made our way to the first gentle climb. Wandering through first woods, quite surprised to still see so many bluebells. Probably due to shade of the trees, but awesome carpet of colour. Was nice to see people appreciate the colour and many photographs taken. A few ups and downs and views. Even Mike (using his scoring system) gave one view 9 out of 10. But we were lucky, a route mostly to ourselves and fabulous weather mostly. Good conversation and company.
Lunch a little later than planned at the Hampden Arms. Mike and I bagged by chance positions next to heaters. From some having soup or sandwiches, to fish and chips, service was fantastic, and as promised one of my camping rugs appeared, which a member "borrowed" and sat under both heaters, but looked all snuggly and warm, so was forgiven on this occasion. Banter and catch-up was had over lunch. Nice to be outside! Nice to support a local public house. From Mike having Guinness (in an Arsenal glass), to Brian trying (purely by error?) to put his name down on the tab as Dee, to a bottle of wine for Ladies who Lunch (and nothing wrong with that). One had chunky / meaty fish'n'chips. I was impressed. Then the final steps when the weather was a litle cruel to us, but could have been worse. We continued and I missed out on kissing gate dramas. Brian got out his little black book. We continued back past the abbey and (sadly) closed Dahl Museum where we all went our separate ways.
Thank you to Dorota, Liane, Diane, Dan, Mike, Brian, Judith, Janet, Chrissy, Christine, Jackie for joining me.
Report by Dee
Bluebell wood - Photo by Brian
Wild flower meadow - Photo by Brian
Hampden Church - Photo by Brian
Hampden House - Photo by Brian
Views across valley - Photo by Brian
Great Missenden heritage area - Photo by Brian
We met at the Manor Farm site for our first evening walk of the season. As always we took a look at the historic manor house, motte and restored barns of this heritage area. We then followed the Celandine Way through the manicured lawns of this very quiet part of Ruislip (more postbox knitted hats seen on the way). We then entered the Ruislip Woods and followed the tracks to the Lido. Rachael showed her knowledge of "Summer Holiday" by explaining how the film used the lido as a location and how she tracked Cliff and the Shadows back in the day. The walk continued through the wooded path surrounding the lake. We reached the Waters Edge pub where Dee produced her MandS coffee cake for all to share to celebrate the event.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Mike Mc, Dee, Hailey, Tim B, Rachel, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Five of us met this morning outside the Queens Head pub in Pinner village. I began the walk covering COVID guidelines and a brief history on the heritage of Pinner and its people. I pointed out the parish church dominating the village and memorial, and with the impending wet weather anticipated advised walkers to explore at the end of the walk at their leisure. We then made our way to the beautiful Pinner Memorial Park taking in the gardens, pond, aviary, and museum. From there we then took the Celandine Way, a scenic nature trail, to Eastcote House and the hidden walled garden. A brief stop at Eastcote House was made for refreshments. We were welcomed with some showers as we made our way back to the village.
Thank you to my fellow walkers: Harry, Jyotsna, Moni and Harleena.
Report by Alpa
Leaving home, with showers I had fingers crossed for the day ahead. From Pinner Station, in sunshine, we walked through the High Street towards the Oddfellows Arms and took an alleyway off Waxwell Lane. Crossing Pinner Green we turned towards the cricket grounds where one member, now warmed up, tried to shelter and discreetly remove her trousers and put lighter leggings on. Obviously a discussion started re removal of trousers. Typically a trio of youngsters appeared to play football, what timing! We protected her modesty. We looked at the heritage plaque and proceeded through side streets, discussing the style of the "new builds", until we entered the start of Pinner Farm area. Sarah tried to entice the horses in the neighbouring fields to pose for photos. Then the slight climb up towards Pinner Golf Club, with the promise of views, and a snack break on nature's seats. Bluebells were still about. Sarah found the best "seat", in the sun. From a snack of a chocolate bar with one, to sandwiches and scotch eggs with another. It was then discovered that two of the group had already eaten cake before the walk.
Malcolm impressed all with his Viewfinder app so we could identify the buildings seen. After a rest - one closed her eyes in the sun, restoring her energy - we set off again. We then admired the houses and gardens in Pinner Hill, and went by the clubhouse, which was busy as it was a beautiful day. To Oxhey Woods where Nitty recognised some sculptures she remembered from last year's walk. Linda noticed one I had missed in the past - grateful for that! Returning, we had to laugh as at one point "the boys" were on one side of the pavement and "the girls" were on the other. Now that's what I call social distancing. As we left the area, returning towards Pinner Green, one suddenly realised (as a driver) where they were. Passing Pinner Wood School we were offered hospitality from Christine, thank you for the offer. We headed back, where at Pinner Green, Dean went to retrieve the car. Malcolm continued to catch his train back. Nitty added to her miles by walking home. Sarah picked up a loaf from Wenzels for her mother, and I returned to my car via Pinner Memorial Park. An enjoyable day off. Great company. Lucky with the weather.
Thank you to Malcolm, Sarah, Dean, Nitty, Christine and Linda. Hope to see you again.
Report by Dee
Henley riverside was full of cycle groups and hikers at the cafe terrace enjoying pre-excursion refreshments as the boats sailed by. Our route was a loop around the villages and hills surrounding Henley. The bridleways and quiet lanes were perfect for off-road riding. Carpets of bluebells were seen in the woods alongside. At Highmoor we found the Rising Sun, with lots of space in the large garden. Table grabbed, we enjoyed an unexpected pub lunch with welcome table service.
After some on-road climbing, we had some excellent fast descents along bridleways and byways. Nick led us to the abandoned St James church near Bix village. As we continued we came upon a vast meadow of dandelions resplendent in the afternoon sun. Final section was a thrilling descent back to Henley and the busy riverside.
Cyclists were Brian, Malcolm, Coogee and Nick.
Report by Brian
Downhill track - Photo by Brian
Bluebell wood - Photo by Brian
Dandelion meadow - Photo by Brian
Pub lunch at Rotherfield - Photo by Brian
We met at Coopers Hill Lane Car Park on a lovely sunny day which turned out warmer than expected. The walk took us through some lovely country lanes passing Priest Hill Farm. We then came to some cobbled steps (50 in total) which represented one of the states of the USA. Each of the steps are said to represent the multitude of pilgrims on their journey to enlightenment. We then arrived at the Magna Carta Memorial which was agreed by King John in 1215. Runnymede was chosen as the meeting place to sign the charter as it was located on neutral ground. We continued on the Thames Path following the river to the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds where stopped for lunch at the cafe on site.
We then continued on the Thames Path passing the Queen Elizabeth statue (which looked nothing like her) through to the Bell Weir Lock, from there following the path through some lovely fields to a very steep hill. Our last stop was the Air Forces Memorial which is a tribute to those who lost their lives in World War 2.
Many thanks to Linda, Christine, Chrissy, Zoe, Runi, Sarah, Dean and Delroy in joining me on this very enjoyable walk.
Report by Janet
Despite persistent rain, six brave walkers plus Diane's delightful seven-month old Yorkie named Riley, met at 10:30 am on Chipperfield Common for the 11 mile walk. The weather forecast indicated that the rain would ease off around 11 o'clock, so we decided to delay the start for a while and take shelter at Blackwell's Cafandeacute;, opposite the church. At 11:10am we started the circular walk in a clockwise direction, crossing the Common to join the Hertfordshire Way at Top Common and walk the steady incline towards the adjoining Berrybush and Langley Lodge Farms. Through the farms, with thick smoke billowing from a bonfire, to the pastures beyond we encountered a herd of cows and a calf blocking the footpath. To avoid the cattle and with Riley on a lead, we took a ten minute arduous detour, negotiating two barbed wire fences and a ploughed field, before rejoining our intended route at Berrybushes Wood.
Here we paused to take photos of a magnificent display of bluebells and to observe a beautiful red kite perched in a nearby tree. Continuing round the edge of the wood, we made a steep descent to a farm track in the valley below before crossing and climbing the steep ascent to Little Westwood Farm and Bucks Hill House. After crossing a lane we made another steep descent, through a small wood to Bottom Lane before negotiating a steep incline towards Newhall Farm. With the hum of traffic on the nearby 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 carefully took the footpath that runs along the inside of the hedge adjoining the busy road and within fifteen minutes arrived at Covid-compliant Cock Inn at Church End for our lunch break in the pub garden. Here we spent around 45 minutes enjoying a drink, snack and a chat.
On leaving the pub we joined the familiar Chiltern Way, high above the Chess Valley, to continue our walk through the well-managed Sandfield Wood, Dawes Common and open farmland towards the horse fields at Rose Hall and Bragman's Farms. Following the Way for a short distance along a lane, we turned 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 we arrived at Belsize and the short climb back to our starting point at Blackwell's Cafandeacute;. Although the weather was rather dull and overcast a great walk was enjoyed by everyone, namely Michael, Runi, Kumar, Jackie, Diane, Danny and of course the amazing little Riley, who ran the whole 11 miles but in reality probably covered 15 miles!
Report by Michael
A mixture of newbies, regulars and surprise guests met at Tide Tables cafandeacute; terrace by Richmond Bridge. Rob W and Mona were passing through and chatted to us over coffee and pastries. Our route followed the Thames Path to Petersham Village. We admired the many mansions in this historic hamlet, including the corner villa reputedly that of Tommy Steele. Into Richmond Park we climbed to Pembroke Lodge (lots of Fallow Deer on the ascent). We climbed King Henrys Mount to view St Pauls through the telescope and took in great views over the Thames Valley. Mona's date cake was shared out as we took in the vibrant display of tulips. Rob P guided us through the park to reach Isabella Plantation. We strolled around the kaleidoscopic display of azaleas on display in this delightful enclosure; pink, red and purple were the dominant colours. We had our picnic by the lake, Carole and David explaining the history of the park and its features.
We continued through the park before crossing Ham Common, noting the splendid wisteria in bloom on the many manors around the village. After admiring the Jacobean majesty of Ham House, we caught the ferry across to west bank. At Orleans House (home of exiled King of France) we enjoyed a final tiffin stop in the stables cafandeacute; courtyard after another cultural walk.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Gilly, Malcolm, Rob P, Runi, Carole, David, Ivan, Wayne and Marian.
Report by Brian
Tide Tables at start - Photo by Brian
Pembroke Lodge view - Photo by Brian
Azaleas in bloom - Photo by Brian
Picnic by lake - Photo by Brian
Ferry from Ham House - Photo by Brian
We started where we ended part 1, close by Dollis Brook Viaduct. A short walk long a residential side road and then we entered Dollis Valley Greenwalk, following Dollis Brook south through Windsor Open Space, Riverside Gardens and under the A1, followed by under the A406. At this point we parted company with Dollis Brook, and followed Mutton Brook eastward. We detoured right onto the High Street for takeaway authentic kosher salt beef bagels and apple strudel.
After lunch, we resumed our walk along the brook and through Little Wood, then south through Big Wood, and along some architecturally significant roads of Hampstead Garden Suburb. We walked through Hampstead Heath Extension with its woods, before entering Golders Hill Park. Here we stopped for coffee and sorbet ice-creams at the cafandeacute;, and after seeing the gardens and the zoo animals, we made our way to nearby Golders Green station.
So great that Gabriela, Runi, Mark, Coogee, Marie C and Alpa all booked to join me.
Report by Gilly
A larger than expected group assembled on a sunny morning on the Starbucks coffee shop terrace by the Regents Canal. After coffees and welcome backs to the prodigals we set off. Using the excellent David Fathers guidebook our route followed the course of the Fleet through Camden to arrive at St Pancras Old Church. A Christian site since the 3rd century we found the grave of Mary Wollenscroft (flowers left as the day before was the anniversary of her birth in 1759). We took in the Eurostar terminal (river runs underneath) and several alleyways through the Gray's Inn quarter.
After lunch at pavement cafes at Clerkenwell Green we strolled through the medieval areas of St Johns Priory and St Barts. Managed to get a tour of the imposing Norman church, featured in many films and programmes. A chess club was playing multiple games outdoors in the courtyard of the St Johns Priory. We crossed Fleet Street and then St Brides before the Fleet entered the Thames by Blackfriars. The walk ended with welcome hot and cold drinks at the outdoor market cafes by Gabriel's Wharf.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Gilly, Zoe, Nick, Mark A, Mark P, Dan, Diane, Janet, Christine, Judith, Rob P, Rita and Maree.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
St Pancras Old Church - Photo by Brian
German Gymnasium - Photo by Brian
Chess club at the Priory - Photo by Brian
We met on a bright and breezy Saturday morning and after everyone had sorted out their parking we set off up the hill out of Chorleywood. We were soon off the road and on to the lovely woodland path alongside Philliphill Wood where we were able to admire the bluebells. We then descended along a sunken path where Linzi spotted some goats watching us from the grounds of Chiltern Open Air Museum. Our route then left the woods and skirted what used to be Newlands College. Part of the grounds are currently being used for filming a new Steven Spielberg film with masses of temporary structures, barriers and machinery spread about. The next obstacle was part of the HS2 works (more barriers and a re-routing of the footpath) before we walked down into Chalfont St Giles, past the churchyard to the village green where we stopped for refreshments courtesy of the local deli. After our brief stop we joined the Chiltern Way along the Misbourne Valley before climbing up the hill to Hodgemoor Woods where we wandered through ancient beech woodlands and more bluebells. We managed to temporarily lose some of our party who were happily taking photos of lambs in the fields and kissing passing dogs! Having reassembled we left the woods and arrived at the Harte and Magpies for an excellent lunch.
Our route back to Amersham was through open fields and included greeting some cute alpacas and a good view of the Coleshill windmill. Finally we took in the monument to the Amersham Martyrs, who were burnt at the stake in the early 1500s for protesting that the Bible should be printed in English. We arrived back at Amersham station with a couple of minutes to spare before the train arrived to take us back to Chorleywood.
Thanks to Dee, Malcolm, Linzi, Anna, Lesley, Mike, Dean, Sarah and Jackie for joining me.
Report by Joanne
A full quota of walkers, new as well as old faces, met at Osterley station on a Sunday spring morning with some bright sunshine but also a fairly cutting easterly wind. We firstly walked to the Osterley Bookshop around the corner which is a captivating place of character (in which some of us could have spent far more time) before proceeding to Osterley House where it was a popular decision to have an early coffee. We then set off in the Southall direction crossing the M4 and passing through Norwood Green and past Fuller's oldest pub, the Plough, before stopping to view the magnificent Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha Sikh temple in Southall. Several of the group entered the temple and were treated with great hospitality. The official lunch stop was at Southall Manor Grounds, Southall's oldest building where there was a good selection of ethnic food on sale within easy reach. The sunken pond and surrounding seating was an ideal location for a break.
Following lunch we passed the first of three old cinemas, now the Tudor Rose with its checkered history before walking past the second gurdwara temple, Southall's markets and the Himalayan Palace Shopping Centre with its splendid Chinese roof (another ex-cinema). We then passed the old horse market and the third (huge) ex-cinema, now Lidl, and entered Southall Park. We cut through to join the Glade Lane canalside park and headed west over and under Brunel's three bridges past the side ponds and numerous locks at Hanwell before the group split. Some headed for The Green and the pull of outdoor liquid refreshment whilst the others completed the walk heading through Elthorne Park and Water Meadow before saying goodbyes at Boston Manor station.
Thanks to all of you for your great company.
Report by Tim P
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Osterley House - Photo by Brian
Fields by Norwood Green - Photo by Brian
Sikh Temple - Photo by Brian
Picnic by Manor House - Photo by Brian
Former cinema - Photo by Brian
Grand Union Canal - Photo by Brian
Nine seasoned walkers turned up for the canal walk from Mile End to Little Venice. The weather was the star of the show, bright sunshine all day long. This was both a blessing and a curse, as there were many like-minded people along the canal: walkers, cyclists and those just happy to sit on the canal banks. We crossed the aptly named Banana Bridge (painted yellow) to get to the canal. While on the bridge we could see the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in the distance. We pondered a while over the Arcelor Mittal Orbit Tower, apparently it has a nickname but no-one could remember it. We set out at a steady pace. Our first stop was a scheduled toilet break in Victoria Park. Toilet queues not too bad, however the cafe queue was considerable and we decided to move on.
We met up with Diane, Dan and the gorgeous Riley (puppy) a little further along the canal. We had a slight detour at Islington where the canal enters a tunnel 1800m long. We just happened to encounter a pub with ample outdoor seating, so we had a welcome break from the day's heat. For entertainment we observed an irate citizen pleading with a parking warden. He looked like he was attempting to do star jumps, the warden didn't seem that impressed.
Next stop Kings Cross. This is now a vibrant hub where a large open space is great for lounging. Children frolicked in paddling pools, the adults not quite as confident with their new-found freedom. Onwards to Camden. We passed through as best we could, it was very busy. Then on to Regents Park with its glorious open spaces, gardens and lake. We had an ice cream. Back to the canal and a little Blue Plaque spotting: Guy Gibson of dam busters fame and Arthur Lowe for his role as Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. What a way to end a marvellous day.
Thank you to all who attended.
Report by Mike
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Hitchcock memorial - Photo by Brian
City Lock cafes - Photo by Brian
Busy Camden Lock - Photo by Brian
Crowded Granary Square - Photo by Brian
Blossom in Hyde Park - Photo by Brian
Four of us including Gabriela, Jyotsna and Harry met at Hatch End High Street at 10:30am in glorious morning sunshine. Our first stop was a stroll down to the historic St Anslem church and then on to Grimsdyke Park, home to Hatch End Rugby Club. We then headed through the back streets of Hatch End on to George V and cut through Pinner Lawn Tennis Club onto Moss Lane and saw the homes of Heath Robinson and Elton John. We then headed onto Pinner Farm through the lower trails including streams, the River Pinn and forestry, leading back to George V. We crossed over and carried on to Pinner Farm where the local cattle were grazing. We then headed to the back of Hatch End High Street to see the telephone exchange and award-winning fish and chip shop of Sea Pebbles. The walk ended at 1:00pm.
Report by Alpa
On a very sunny Sunday morning 10 of us gathered at Daisys for coffees and pastries. Newly reopened, the cafe's outdoor tables were busy with locals taking advantage of the fine weather. Our route was from "10 walks around Pinner" from the Pinner Association. We followed the Celandine Way through meadows, parks and wooded glades to reach Eastcote House Gardens. The walled garden was as delightful as ever, radiantly coloured tulips dominating the borders. No luck at second cafe here (staff faffing for England) so we pushed on through Eastcote fields to arrive at Kings Cafe in Ruislip sports fields. This cafe is old school, and we enjoyed lunch there, watching the many sports events taking place.
On to Ruislip Woods, we followed the paths to the famous beach at the Lido. Here we met Rob W who was on a marathon cycle ride. The fourth cafe was busy as was the just reopened railway around the Lido. We continued through Ruislip Woods, Tim indicating some of the trees before Runi and Liane asked plaintively, "are we stopping for lunch?". Jolly good idea said all so at the next park we had our picnic (second lunch) stop. Route back took in quiet tracks and lanes of Pinner, stopping to admire the many knitted hats adorning the postboxes. Back at Daisys, some, no names, stopped for a rather spiffing tiffin to end the day.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Martina, Gilly, Liane, Christine, Runi, and all the Cathy's, J, O and T.
Report by Brian
Start at Daisys - Photo by Brian
Eastcote walled garden - Photo by Brian
Third cafe of the day - Photo by Brian
Ruislip Lido beach - Photo by Brian
Picnic stop - Photo by Brian
8 walkers met at Tring station on a bright sunny Sunday morning. Note to walk leader - Tring station has 2 entrances, next time he should specify which one to meet at. We set off along the Hertfordshire Way towards the village at Aldbury where we paused for a short while by the village stocks and pond for a few photos. We then picked up the Chiltern Way which rises steeply from the village through woodland up to Aldbury Common. We continued through the woods along the Chiltern Way where we came across a clearing giving clear views of the Bridgewater Monument, which was built in 1832 in memory of the third Duke of Bridgewater, who lived on the estate. We continued on our way along the path, arriving in Little Gaddesden where we picked up the Icknield Way. This trail took us down a steep hill though woodlands, where the ground was covered in a thick layer of wild garlic. At the bottom of this hill we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we continued on towards Ivinghoe Beacon. Instead of heading straight up the beacon we continued along the path to Gallows Hill where we stopped to take in the views of Dunstable Downs in the distance. We then headed up Ivinghoe Beacon where we then picked up the Ridgeway path and its views towards Pitstone Hill. After Pitstone Hill the path took us downhill all the way though woodlands with the finish of Tring station in sight less than a mile away. We arrived back at the station after completing 11 miles, with 15 minutes to spare before the train home was due to arrive.
Walkers were Phil, Mike D, Dee, Lesley, Karen E, Anne G, Brian F and Malcolm.
Report by Malcolm
Alpa, Judith, Marian, Michael, Runi and I met at a sunny Hatch End station - with a quick dash for a coffee. While we were fewer in number than planned, we gained two more walkers who asked us how to get to Old Redding avoiding the main road. Happy to oblige - we didn't charge for our services! They followed us at social distance. On the footpath through Grim's Dyke golf club, we passed the most modern landmark on our walk - a vaccination station. The greatest danger to us at that point was probably stray golf balls, but the golfers waited patiently as we passed. On through Harrow Weald woodland, we arrived at Grym's Dyke hotel via the gardens that Lady Gilbert (wife of one half of Gilbert and Sullivan) had designed at the turn of the twentieth century. Though it was tempting to stop for drinks on the terrace, which now appears to be open, we continued on to the viewpoint at Old Redding, however this is currently somewhat obscured while the car park area is being landscaped. The walk was a trip down memory lane for more than one of the group and Mike pointed out views that were familiar to him from growing up in the area. After Bentley Priory and the deer park (one deer!) we parted ways with Judith and Alpa at Stanmore Common. The remaining walkers took in the impressive houses of Little Common before heading down, past Stanmore Hall, to the broadway where we were lucky enough to find an outside table for a meal in the sunshine for before making our way home. Thanks again to all who joined me yesterday.
Report by Michela
Seven of us met at Rickmansworth Aquadrome on Wednesday morning. It was a lovely sunny day and after introductions we proceeded along Bury Lake, turning off at Stockers Lake entrance. We walked halfway round the lake enjoying the wildlife but not too happy about the number of midges. We turned off from the lake to proceed to the canal towpath but first stopped off at the weir enjoying the sound of the water. We entered the canal towpath at Springwell Lane and proceeded towards Harefield. We passed canal boats, two locks and Harefield sewage works where we noticed some interesting plants growing in the canal that looked like cabbage. We then reached the Coy Carp pub but did not partake in a drink. We then headed back to Rickmansworth Aquadrome for our picnic lunch.
We noticed a lot of the ducks were courting each other and saw some babies which was a lovely surprise for this time of year. We also admired some of the quirky gardens that had been created along the canal path. We had a picnic lunch at the aquadrome and walked round another lake before making our way home. It was also getting chilly as the sun had gone in.
Thank you to Janet, Linda, Chrissy, Alpa, Runa and Jyotsna for joining me on this very pleasant walk.
Report by Christine
We met at Watford station on a beautiful sunny day. The walk took us through Cassiobury Park nature reserve area, where the sun reflected beautifully on the clear water. We walked along the canal past "Molly's Cafe" towards the ascent towards Whippendell Woods. We passed golfers and dog walkers, notably 5-month old spaniels. Pauline was quick to hear, identify and spot the songs of the birds, including woodpeckers. I need more lessons here! Through the woods with bluebells emerging to the next wood, sadly just two alpacas but one posed for a photograph, if reluctantly! Returning through the next wood, our adventure continued as we "retrieved" a dog for a dog walker who needed to answer the call of nature - the dog walker, that is. Back to Whippendell Woods and returning via Cassiobury Park to our starting point. A good pace, 6 miles in two and a half hours.
Thank you to Pauline M for joining me. Hope to meet again.
Report by Dee
Five cyclists met at the Aquadrome cafe for the second ride this year. 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. At St Albans we climbed to the impressive cathedral dominating the historic town. We had our picnic in the Abbey gardens, missing out on Coogee's gobstoppers for a change. We then explored the Roman walls and remains. In the Abbey parklands two cricket matches were taking place.
Our route was then via very quiet lanes west through Bedmond and the picture postcard Ovaltine model farm (built in 1930, just for advertising purposes). We reached the medieval church of Abbots Langley and explored the interior. Paul thought he had found some well-deserved tuck left for walkers until he saw the sign "food bank donations". We descended to admire the Art Deco wonder of the Ovaltine factory, now converted to apartments overlooking the canal. Our route then was the Grand Union Canal where Kerry rescued a cockerpoo from the waters. The dog ran frantically away from the canal to join its owner high up the slope; the owners sent their thanks later via Facebook.
Cyclists were Brian, Malcolm, Kerry, Paul and Oliver.
Report by Brian
Ebury Way - Photo by Brian
St Albans Cathedral - Photo by Brian
Roman Walls - Photo by Brian
St Albans medieval church - Photo by Brian
Ovaltine Model Farm - Photo by Brian
Former Ovaltine factory - Photo by Brian
We met on a bright sunny morning in South Hampstead after a slight delay due to the Metropolitan line being closed. We set off in small groups to a first port of call, the shepherds well where the source of the Tyburn river rises from a spring. The next leg was to walk down to Swiss Cottage and a short trek along the canal to Regents Park. This is where we encountered the Charlbert Bridge which happens to be a viaduct for the Tyburn, and drains give away the conduit. Beautiful fauna and flowers surrounding the first view of open water after a spot of lunch in the company of birds including a friendly heron.
We set off down Baker Street, passing the Sherlock Holmes Museum and a talk on the conduit in Baker Street station. Continuing on to Marylebone we found the group had taken on an alternative quest, working out the flags of countries from little known embassies. Mark took a detour to find Wimpole Mews, famous for the 60's chiropractor Stephen Ward of Scandal fame. The winding lanes of Marylebone give a clue to the existence of a river all the way to Oxford Street. Jackie managed to harvest some left-over sausages from a street stall, slightly burnt but delicious. A very quiet Oxford Street found us outside Gray's Antiques where if allowed we would see an underground water feature that is part of the Tyburn. We carried on to the city border and found a Banksy and interesting talk on Charles II. The next destination was Shepherds Market which was on the banks of the Tyburn and famous for the May Fair, a notorious festival of debauchery. The next step was Green Park and Buckingham Palace especially poignant following the recent death of Prince Philip. This is where the Tyburn becomes the Kings Scholar Sewer and a worker once asked what it was like under there said "what was coming down was not by royal appointment". The last leg through Pimlico and our journey was done. Many thanks to the folks that joined me on a stellar walk.
Report by Nick
We met at Richmond station, with a short bus journey to start of the walk. It was so lovely to see familiar faces and finally get out and enjoy everyone's company while doing some exercise. After some debate Janet agreed to be the sub-leader, thank you.
This walk took us to Teddington lock and weir. Constructed in 1801 the lock and weir were the most recent effort to confine the river and stop its meandering. The weir meant that finally the tidal flow of the Thames stopped here. Over the last century this area has been associated with comic literature, most of us remembering the famous Benny Hill. Our walk took us past two lovely churches, one on the dirtier side of the road, the small one being the original parish church, the other being modelled on Notre Dame in Paris and billed as the cathedral of west London. We carried on through Teddington High Street, coming past some horse stables in a street of suburban semis. We passed the National Physical Laboratory where Robert Watson Watt, the inventor of radar, worked, as did Barnes Wallis and Alan Turing after his code breaking success at Bletchley Park. Our walk took us to the lovely water garden. This was to become our lunch stop, where we gazed at the swans taking flight.
All fired up we continued through the lovely woodland garden, enjoying all the lovely colours just appearing. We ended at the pheasantry cafe, where toilets and hot drinks were much appreciated. We carried on through Bushey Park to the United States Army Air Forces Memorial and then onto the SHAEF Memorial. This is where the final stages of the invasion of France were planned, the first step in the road to end WWII. We carried on towards Heron Pond where we met lots of deer. We decided not to eat the caviar on this occasion. We passed Mutton Pond, then we found the water nymph Diane's fountain.
Thank you to Janet, Christine, Linda, Helen, Chrissy, Gilly, Chris, Maria, Martina, Judith, Elaine and Dan for attending this fabulous walk, it was really lovely to see you all.
Report by Diane
Six intrepid explorers met on a cloudy grey day at the Rusty Bike cafe in Uxbridge. Setting off at a good trot, we followed the canal towpath, dodging bikes with no bells and joggers galore. We noted all the workmen clearing the woods for the HS2 line which will completely change that part of London. Runi explained about the Denham graffiti art which was nearby. We passed numerous pubs along the way, which alas were shut, however this walk would be perfect on a sunny summer's day pub crawl. We stopped in Harefield at the bridge cafe near the Old Orchard pub. Jan was impressed by the carrot cake beckoning her from the window. Malcolm had his scotch egg.
After a 'Narrow Escape' (an aptly named barge) we passed the weir, with the pretty underwater cabbages and a proud mother duck with her ducklings bobbing about. Super cute. We continued onto Rickmansworth, with Anne discussing the virtues of Whisky Mac and Malcolm having his dessert (Snickers bar). We passed the Springwell Reedbed, the largest reedbed in London, home to the reed warbler. Talking of warbling, Jan gave us a quick rendition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Arriving at the Aquadrome, we had a second lunch at the lake. Jan and Liane indulged in a ginger wine whilst Malcolm had another scotch egg. We managed 8 miles in about 3 hours.
Thank you to Malcolm, Jan, Anne G, Mark P and Runi for joining me on this thoroughly enjoyable walk.
Report by Liane
Easter Monday saw nine cyclists assemble for the first cycle ride of the year. We departed the Rusty Bike cafandeacute; and joined the Grand Union Canal south. Our route then took in Systran's route 61 through farmlands and country estates of Iver and Richings Park. Derek tested his new electric cycle on the hills, sometimes even waiting for Prem. We made it to the elegant, landscaped grounds of Langley Park where we encountered Victoria Meldrew on a path. Our lunch stop was at the lakeside cafandeacute; in Black Park. New recruits Muneer and Simon debated the merits of carbon fibre frames with Kerry and Coogee.
We then headed west to the very impressive golf course of Stoke Park (the location of Bond's golf duel in Goldfinger). We visited the famous church (scene of Gray's Elegy) and the monument to the poet. Our route back took in Pinewood Film Studios and Burnham Beeches (detour to see the pollarded ancient trees). At the picturesque village of Fulmer the magnolia trees were in full bloom by the late medieval parish church.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Malcolm, Cynthia, Coogee, Simon, Muneer, Derek and Prem.
Report by Brian
Langley Park - Photo by Brian
Black Park - Photo by Brian
Lunch on lakeside - Photo by Brian
Grays Monument - Photo by Brian
Stoke Park House - Photo by Brian
Fulmer village - Photo by Brian
What a beautiful day catching up with friends. Some we haven't seen for a while. We set off from Turville with a spring in our steps. It could have been the cold breeze which made us pick up the pace. We had such an amazing day walking the hills of the Chilterns. We saw countless kites and two looking at Riley for lunch. Never saw Diane run so quickly. Our walk took us through lots of woodlands and Dan pointed out some deer hoofprints. We then stopped for lunch and Martina put on an exclusive table with tablecloth (as per Malcolm's wishes). We dined first class before continuing our journey. Tessa then found a wonderful handmade geocache of a hedgehog. We traveled through lots of amazing villages and sorry my friends all the closed pubs we passed, including a vineyard. Until we meet again when we can sample the delights.
Thank you Dan, Diane, Malcolm, Tessa, Liane and my right-hand man Daniel.
Report by Martina
On a distinctly chilly Saturday morning I met up with Cathy, Elaine and Zoe at Baker Street for a relaxed meander through Regents Park to Camden Market and then back along the towpath to St Pancras. Pauline had given me all sorts of wonderful advice for things to look out for but we still managed to go wrong. It was just so lovely to be able to meet up again and resume the conversations which had been cut short last December. I was recording the walk on Strava for step count purposes for a sponsored walk and the route clearly showed how we went round in circles a few times.
It was odd to visit a very restricted Camden Town Market where there seemed to be more bouncers than visitors - annoying they wouldn't even let us stop to finish our mid-morning coffees! We all marvelled at the scale of development in Granary Square, and were very happy to find some lovely public conveniences there. Then it was an easy walk back on the towpath to St Pancras where we saw a restaurant still with its Christmas decorations up. So glad to be back on the trail - looking forward to meeting up with others soon.
Report by Judith
On a very sunny Good Friday morning 9 walkers assembled by Boston Manor. Our route was intended to take in four parks on a 7 mile walk. However, on such a fine sunny day we extended the walk to 12 miles and seven parks. Our route took in Elthorne Park, Boston Manor Park (with Jacobean manor house) and Watermans Park before lunch. At an early coffee break in Brentford, we took in the classic car collection by the river, Martina engaging with the owner who invited us to the forthcoming formal opening. We had our packed lunch at Brentford marina (tables kindly left out by restaurants on the terrace), new recruit David fully occupied with football conversation, with Daniel, Liane, Jan and Gilly discussing haircare during lockdown.
Our route followed the Thames through Strand on the Green, Chiswick Riverside and Dukes Meadow. In the parks and tree-lined lanes we took in the apple and cherry trees, their blossom vibrantly colourful. The magnolia trees were also in full bloom in many gardens in this quiet quarter of London. Carole took us on an unofficial circuit of Chiswick Marina "I know some of the yacht owners" to admire the impressive vessels moored there. At Dukes Meadow the lawns were full of picnickers and people playing sports. Our route then took in the Palladian wonders of Chiswick House landscaped gardens including camelias, very colourful in wooded glades.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Martina, Liane, Delroy, Gilly, Karen Mc, David and Carole.
Report by Brian
Canal at Hanwell - Photo by Brian
Vintage cars at Brentford - Photo by Brian
Lunch on riverside - Photo by Brian
Strand on green - Photo by Brian
Chiswick Marina - Photo by Brian
Chiswick House - Photo by Brian
7 of us met at Kings Langley station on a chilly Good Friday morning, and set off fairly promptly at 9:40am, heading at first along the Grand Union Canal. We then headed east to Bedmond, and then to Sergehill, from where I had expected to find a path that would take us further east and under the M1, to Chiswell Green. However we couldn't be sure exactly where the path was because the farmer had ploughed the field and not left any clues where the path had been, so we took an alternative that ended up adding over a mile to the original distance.
We eventually got back on track and reached the edge of Chiswell Green, from where we headed north, walking past the former Gardens of the Rose (closed in 2017, apparently), and then into St Albans, where we stopped for lunch in the grounds of the cathedral. After lunch, some of us took a brief look in the cathedral before we headed south west out of town, passing some of the remains of the Roman wall. Returning to Chiswell Green and continuing south west, this time we were more successful in crossing back over the motorway as planned.
We then picked up the Hertfordshire Way, heading west around the edge of Abbots Langley, and then returning to Kings Langley, reaching the station at around 3:30pm. Thanks to Amanda, Ghazala, Karen, Malcolm, Rina and Ujen for joining me, and well done for completing the eventual distance of almost 16 miles in such good time.
Report by Phil
The first group outing after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed was attended by Liane, Diane and Dan. It was mild and sunny, making it ideal for a stroll through some of London's royal parks, to admire the trees in blossom in the Japanese tradition of Hanami. In Holland Park we visited Fukushima Garden and Kyoto Garden, with Japanese maples and koi pond with waterfall. We came across one of the park's peacocks. Nearby is the south west entrance to Kensington Gardens. We admired Kensington Palace, once the home of the late Princess Diana, with its view of the Round Pond. We enjoyed the Italian Garden with its fountains. We watched the hand-feeding of wild parakeets, and had our picnic by The Serpentine in Hyde Park. The Rose Garden delighted with fragrant, colourful beds of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. We left Hyde Park at the south east corner, walking through Wellington Arch and into Green Park with its avenues of tall trees.
Report by Gilly