Five brave souls braved the changeable weather on Sunday. A sunny start gave us a boost as we set off from West Byfleet station after a brief pause to meet a new member Iram. We soon found the Basingstoke canal that led us on a cheery walk discussing the local wildlife and the canal boats. As we reached the River Wey Navigation Canal the weather took a turn for the worst as we took a turn to the south. Hoods and hats were the order of the day as we sought hasty refuge in a local public house.
Suitably refreshed we restarted the walk during a break in the weather and made it to Wisley in fairly short order. Not the best time of year for Wisley really, but we made the most of it and had a good look round all the amazing gardens, the bonsai, the waterfalls and the greenhouse being the most memorable. Our timetable forced us to leave and we made the return journey in good spirits depite the grumpy weather.
Many thanks to Diane, Jeff, Humay and Iram for braving the weather and for your wonderful company.
Report by Dan
First of all, sincere apologies to anyone who did turn up at Seer Green at the advertised time and found no walk leader. I'm afraid I missed the train and arrived an hour later to find that - unsurprisingly - nobody was there to meet me at the station. I thought I had better make the best of the situation and attempted the route that I had recce'd a few weeks earlier. The sky was blue and it seemed like Storm Jorge might give South Bucks a miss after all. The homes of Seer Green looked very pretty in the sunshine; the only sign that all was not well was a warning notice on a post box highlighting its role in an ongoing dispute. At the end of the village, I found my way blocked by recent flooding so diverted across a farmer's field. By the time I entered Hodgemoor Woods, the wind had picked up and it had started to hail. Rather than risk getting stuck, I reluctantly decided to turn back, leaving Beaconsfield and the Royal Standard of England for another time (and maybe with a few more people...). I would not normally wish this, but I hope that anyone else who was thinking of coming along on yesterday's walk had been put off by the weather predictions. If you did turn up, my apologies once more. Maybe it's a Leap Year curse? In any case, I am keeping my walk leader 'L' plates and think that, for the next time at least, I'll join someone else on their walk!
Report by Michela
We had 5 of us on the Herts circular bike ride. We met at the manor site with Kerry on his brand new spotless mountain bike. Once on the canal we noted several pairs of swans at various points, with other cyclists, joggers and walkers sharing the towpath. There was also a unique design on one boat with the body of a car having been welded to the stern of the vessel. We stopped for lunch at the Batchworth Lock café where Coogee recounted some more yarns.
We then followed the Ebury Way, Sustrans route 6, which loops around Rickmansworth and Watford. This trail is on a former railway track partly on an embankment, with good views over the canal and streams below. We then climbed on a detour to the summit of Merry Hill before off road descent to Carpenders Park. The fields were very boggy so lots of mud now on the new cycle. We then headed south via Oxhey Woods to climb to the very impressive Pinner Hill House. A late Georgian manor, it is now the club house for Pinner Golf Course. We warmed up at the 19th hole with some red wine and the free pastries provided, and took in the excellent views eastwards across the valley.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Coogee, Diane and Dan.
Report by Brian
After a bit of a nightmare getting there (London transport...don't ya luv it?), a bunch of HAWOGers met in Parliament Square on Saturday, where we perused a few of the statues around Parliament Square: Gandhi and Nelson Mandela amongst them, and of course our very own Winston Churchill, before moving on for a quick look at the outside of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament (fantastic architecture!), and then heading off to Somerset House. On the way, we passed by York Watergate which is where the banks of the Thames used to be, before the embankment was built. We arrived in good time at Somerset House. Unfortunately there were too many of us to go on the tour but, no matter, it was a good spot for a coffee break. It was lovely to welcome some new faces (and some old ones of course). On my wanders, as we stroll along, I like to grow out a 'bit of useless information' which, fingers crossed, some people found useful?
After Somerset House, we crossed Waterloo Bridge, ending up along the south Bank of the Thames, passing by Gabriel's Wharf and the Oxo Tower. This area is part of Coin Street community builders, who bought the land from the government many years ago for one whole pound sterling, before going to on build a social community on the land. That community is still running today. On the way to Monument we passed Blackfriars Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, and further along went over London Bridge to reach the Monument - built to remember the Great Fire of London. 300+ steps up, at the top of Monument, once you got your breath back and your eyes stopped watering, there were wonderful views of London.
After that, we headed to Tower Bridge where we enjoyed more views of London from the top, but even more impressive were the views down through the glass floor and the reflection in mirrors overhead. On the way out we visited the engine rooms and marvelled at just how clever those folk were, way back when the bridge was built. Post engine rooms, some people headed off home whilst the rest of us went to the Shard, hoping to get a drink on the 31st floor, but the queues were so long we decided on an ale or two from the pub around the corner.
All in all, a windy but pleasant day out, thank you for coming long. It was lovely to see you, new and old alike: Nadia, Nitti, Nikola, Louise, Ella, Pauline, Phuong, Dawn, Dan and Diane, Dee, Campervan Ann, and not forgetting, of course, Gilly and Freddy. I dont think there is, but if there is anyone I've forgotten, I'm really sorry, my only excuse is I'm over 60 now and my memory isn't what it was. See y'all soon.
Report by Coogee
Light rain had stopped by the time 14 of us met at Eleanor Cross statue in front of Charing Cross station. We paused to take a look at the original embankment steps of what was once a much wider Thames, and as we walked across Hungerford Bridge to the South Bank, the weather was already brightening up. I was using the wonderful Thames guide by David Fathers to explore another section of the Thames Path. This time we were south of the river in Lambeth. Our 7 mile walk took in the history of this part of London, and the spectacular changes in progress on the riverside. We walked up-river alongside Jubilee Gardens, and past the London Eye and the former County Hall. We stopped for views of the Houses of Parliament across the Thames, currently still under renovation. Our walk continued under Westminster Bridge, along Albert Embankment, and passing St Thomas' Hospital, we saw the historic Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Bridge and the Basaveshwara statue. We saw the MI6 building from the street side and from Vauxhall Bridge. The St George Wharf area was completely redeveloped as luxury flats. Further along, we had a close up look at the new US Embassy building, complete with moat and waterfall. Luckily Dan was familiar with the whole site of the imposing Battersea Power Station, and even located the dog-friendly cafe amongst the eateries there. Here we had good coffee and lunch.
Onwards, we explored Battersea Park, with its Japanese Peace Pagoda, abstract statues and boating lake. For most our walk concluded at the SE corner of the park, for easy access to Battersea Park station. Only Pauline, Helen, Tim and Brian chose to cross the splendid Albert Bridge with me, in search of ye olde English pub. We ambled along Cheyne Walk, reading blue plaques on the houses. At Sloane Square that pub was still eluding us. The Gloucester proudly proclaims itself "the only pub on Sloane Street". It was a round from Pauline and cosy seating upstairs.
My thanks go to Dan for sharing his knowledge of Battersea, to my deputy tour guide, Brian, who brought along his own Father, and to all attendees for your lively company.
Report by Gilly
Our first cycle ride of the year was an easy 18 mile ride from Uxbridge taking in the villages of Colnbrook, Poyle, Longford, Harmondsworth, Sipson and Harlington. Five of us met at the always welcoming Rusty Bike Café at Fassnidge Park. We followed the Grand Union Canal south to West Drayton. Kerry then led us on a detour to the heritage area of Drayton Green with Georgian manor house and old mill building on the river Colne. We then followed the Colne Valley Cycle trail to the Colnbrook roadside transport café featured in several crime dramas. We stopped for coffee at the historic coaching Inn of The Ostrich (founded in 1109) and acknowledged as the third oldest pub in England.
Cycling through Polyle and Longford (just under the flight path) we then headed alongside the high security fences of the immigration detention centre to reach the hidden hamlet of Harmondsworth. We saw the 14th century tithe barn, church and manor house before our lunch break at the Crown. Our route continued through the threatened villages of Sipson and Harlington, stopping to watch QPR training and Dean to explain about caplimism. We then cycled through the new Vinyl factory redevelopment in Hayes and back to start.
Thanks to Kerry, Dean, Diane and Dan for joining me on this ride.
Report by Brian
9 of us met at Amersham station on a damp Sunday morning, as we headed off towards our first village the drizzle stopped, and we quickly warmed up as we gently went up the long hill from Amersham towards Coleshill. These paths had become very wet, muddy and slippery, which was to become the theme for the day's walk. On arriving at Coleshill, we paused for a while to admire the windmill and to take some photos of this landmark before setting off towards Winchmore Hill. On arrival we stopped for a while on the green for a late morning coffee.
We then set off for the common at Penn Street. The sky remained overcast but dry. This encouraged us to keep up a good pace as rain was predicted for later on in the day. Without stopping at Penn Green, we carried on through Penn Wood, and down and along a road which had been closed to traffic for 10 years which made a pleasant change to the boggy footpaths which we had become used to, and into the picturesque village of Little Missenden. Having arrived in good time we stopped for a very pleasant lunch break at the Red Lion. Whilst having lunch the sky opened up and it began to rain, forcing us to put on our waterproofs.
From Little Missenden we followed the river back towards Amersham pausing to stop to count the piglets in a field. The rain continued as we headed across the fields towards Amersham and not easing off until we finally reached town. We managed the long climb back up to the hill to the station with only a minute to spare before the train arrived for those travelling back by train. We quickly said our goodbyes and made our way home to wash down and dry out.
Many thanks to Mike D, Mary, Sarah, Dean, Pankaj, Martha, Dee and Mike S for joining me on this wet but quite enjoyable walk.
Report by Malcolm
On a very sunny wintry Saturday morning 23 of us met for coffees at the Tap (beautifully preserved Victorian era station pub) at Kew Gardens railway station. This included 5 new recruits who had joined at the NME 2 days before. We introduced everyone including those from the French language group who joined us for the walk. At Kew Green we stopped at the impressive Baroque era St Ann's church where the verger showed us the tomb of Gainsborough. A very keen Tim P joined us here straight from running the Parkrun at Osterley.
We crossed the Thames and continued on the Thames Path through the constantly changing riverfront of Brentford. After passing several looming apartment blocks (with naval design themes) we came across a working boatyard, the sparks from the welding seemed incongruous amidst the mass of redevelopments. The riverfront was filled with house boats and Dutch barges; plumes of smoke rising from the wood fires aboard.
We then entered Syon Park and took in the Palladian grandeur of Syon House. Our refreshment stop was at the London Apprentice in old Osterley village where we took in the features of this 17th century hostelry. We rejoined the Thames Path for the final section through Twickenham before we ended the walk at Tide Tables riverside tea rooms at Richmond.
Walkers were Brian, Anne, Aruna, Coogee, Dan, Diane, Gilly, Malcolm, Pauline, Rachel, Rob P, Rob W and Sugandha, plus new recruits Dee, Julie, Isabela, Nadia and Nadine.
Report by Brian
Sixteen new year walkers including new joiners young Daniel and his parents, plus Jasper the dog set off from Chalfont Latimer station on a cool overcast Sunday morning. This was a 7 mile linear walk to Chorleywood station through the Chess Valley.
Entering West Wood we descended the leaf covered hill towards the river Chess and Latimer Estate stopping on the bridge to look at the weir and a pair of resident swans. We then walked up the gentle slope towards the Tudor style mansion Latimer House, now a De Vere hotel, we decided it was rather too posh to stop for 'high tea'. Onwards eastbound towards the site of the former medieval village of Flaunden and the remains of the original Saint Mary Magdalene Church, which fell into disrepair in the late 1800s before being finally demolished in 1940. Jeff found us gathered here and continued with us. Rejoining the footpath our next stop was at the tomb of William Liberty, a bricklayer from the former village and relative of the founders of Liberty's of London, who died in 1777. It was his wish to be buried alone on the estate, but he was joined thirty two years later by his wife who died in 1809. Continuing along the Chess we skirted around Frogmore Meadows Nature Reserve and stopped at the watercress farm for a group photograph. Further down the path we passed a field of horses later upstaged by some beautiful furry friends, the Chiltern alpacas (native to Peru). Carrying on to Sarratt Bottom we ascended to the warm and welcoming Cock Inn for our lunch, when the sun poked out. At the pub we enjoyed a decent break and a very good lunch by a nice log fire.
Leaving the rustic setting, suitably filled and warmed up, we descended the steep hill down to the Chess valley before tracing our steps through the wood up to the Chorleywood House estate. On reaching the top we made a slight diversion to play spot the carvings in the enchanting Dell Wood, which are well worth seeing if you've never been there before. Finally we crossed the tree lined Common, bearing more wooden sculpts, arriving at Chorleywood station just before 3:00pm, where we said our fond farewells. Many thanks to Michael for helping and standing in for Michaela who unfortunately had the bug.
Thank you to Malcolm, Humay, Mark, Vic, Janet, Elaine, Derek, Prem, Sarah, Dean, Sven, Polina, Daniel, Rita, Jeff and Michael for your company on this walk, it was most enjoyable.
Report by Aruna