Eight very keen walkers met in Hambleden at the rear of the Stag and Huntsman pub. The weather was just about perfect, sunny and warm.
Off we went at an appropriate distance from each other, in fact for a few miles we were spread out. The pace became more leisurely as the day wore on. As ever in the Chiltern hills there were a number of hills, but, as I always say, you don't get the views without the hills. Ridge Wood and Great Wood provided dappled shade as we reached the plateau towards Upper Woodend Farm. We rested briefly and became aware of a slightly agitated woman who looked as if she was waiting for a bus, however she was a actually waiting for us to pass and was a bit grumpy. She was taking a herd of dogs for a walk. We passed through a field full of large bales wrapped in plastic, Dave enlightened us to how the bales are made - fascinating stuff and Mick followed on with the equally fascinating fact that a member of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), had been killed by an escaped bale. We couldn't think of suitable line from one of their songs to fittingly describe his demise. Here it is. Don't Bring Me Down... Bruce! Down into Gussetts Wood and on to Southend, where comments such as: "didn't realise we had walked that far" came forth. I guess that's what happens when you're locked up for a while. Freedom can be a heavy burden, like a fine wine, best taken in moderation. Summer Heath Wood and onto Summer Heath and then Idlecombe Wood, which on exiting gave a wonderful vista down the valley toward Turville. We climbed the opposite side of the valley and walked through a wildflower meadow full of buttercups, dandelions, clover and beautiful pink flowered marjoram covered in all manner of bees. Thanks to Aruna for identifying the marjoram. We lunched in a churchyard (can't remember the name) just north of Manor Farm. An idyllic spot.
Post lunch we were a little surprised by a short shower, though not unwelcome. Malcolm and a few others had a close encounter with a small herd of deer. We were soon in the village of Turville, famed for its TV appearances, too numerous to mention, then onto Fingest, equally charming. We had our last ascent up to Adam's Wood which led us to Skirmett the last of the chocy box lid cute villages. From here it was all flat along the valley bottom back to Hambleden. It was a truly scrumptious day!
Thank you to Aruna, Cynthia, Efisia, Dave, Malcolm, Mick and Phil for attending and the positive remarks regarding the route.
Report by Mike
We met at St Martha's Hill and following clear instructions we started our adventure. We headed on into the woods and wasn't long until we reached the Tillingbourne and an old mill stream. Gunpowder was manufactured in this valley from at least 1625 when the East India Company set up mills here until the end of the First World War. The remains of works of various dates stretch for two miles westward down the valley. We passed Colyers Hangar, an old coppice woodland - the wood was used to produce charcoal, one of the ingredients of gunpowder. Here we were very quiet as we just spotted a deer coming out of the woods. We carried on through the woods enjoying the shade from the beaming sun. We passed Postford Mill pond with some photo opportunities with the sun shining on the pond. Over the years there has been a series of powder, paper and corn mills in this area relying upon the Tillingbourne for water power. As we walked over the mill pond sluice we came across two large pigs baking in the sunshine. As the walk took us over some fields we came across some concrete foundation remains from the Admiralty cordite works which were built in this area in 1915 during the First World War. Here Dan gave us a bit of history about the Admiralty.
As we entered Chilworth gunpowder mills unfortunately our route was blocked off so we had to make a detour around the mills. The smokeless powder works were built in the 1890's and again Dan shared his knowledge of the smokeless powder. The works were controversial due to safety and environment concerns. William Cobbett, a journalist who visited Chilworth in 1822 was struck by the beauty of the whole valley and horrified by the industry that blighted it. He reported - This Valley which seems formed for a scene of innocence and happiness has been influenced by the Devil of making gunpowder and of bank notes. We carried on down Veras footpath and we came across the remains of an old rail track in the woods. As we were leaving the woods we could hear some galloping of horses, and unfortunately we had to enter the same field. They decided to block the kissing gate we needed to pass through. Dan used his charm to woo the horses away. We kept on passing the Bourne, a tributary of the Tillingbourne which is used for growing watercress. We carried on into another field of cattle that we had to pass through, thankfully they were too busy eating grass to even look up. We decided to have a water break and take in the stunning views. We spotted a kite flying over our heads.
We crossed over the railway line taking extra care as this was an unsignalled crossing. The walk took us back into the woods then out onto a cricket field which we were lucky enough to watch a game. We headed on past Albury Heath and decided to take a detour to Shere. We were not disappointed as the village is so quaint. We rewarded ourselves with some nice cold beers. We headed on back to our route to cross over the Tillingbourne and enter the woodland one last time. As we came out of the woods we had great views of the church that was built in 1840 by Henry Drummond. This walk took us through some woodlands, fields, a lovely village and spectacular views. Thank you for joining me on this magnificent walk.
Report by Diane
This Surrey Hills walk was on another scorchio day with perfect blue skies all day. Passing very impressive villas in Reigate we reached Reigate Heath with its immaculate golf course. We followed sandy tracks through the ferns and gorse to find the unique windmill with church inside. We took in the views from the club house, lots of golfers having cooling drinks on the terrace. We then followed the Greensand Way north with a tough climb up to the North Downs. At Colley Hill we had our picnic with panoramic views, the South Downs easily identifiable on such a clear day.
Our route then took in Walton Heath, the coal tax stone pillars accompanying us on the bridleway the whole journey. At Walton on the Hill village we stopped for tiffin at the tea shop (rather spiffing lemon drizzle cake) by the village pond. We then continued north on bridleways to climb to Epsom Downs. More great views as we walked across the famous racecourse, Wembley Arch easily seen. On such a hot day we were glad to find ice cream vans at the racecourse to finish this rarely done walk.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P and Sandra.
Report by Brian
Nine walkers met last Sunday morning near Chorleywood Station at 10:30am, for the Ch Ch Ch Summer walk. With a mix of new and old members we commenced the walk on a nature trail through Ch-Chorleywood common, rendezvousing with our final member as we emerged from the woods. Strolling through the Chorleywood House estate with ch-chatter in full swing we descended through the woods to join the Ch-Chess Valley path. The Chess river sparkled invitingly, welcoming us to the perfect Sunday amble. We soon arrived at the bottom of the rumoured hill that would take us to Ch-Church End. The group agreed the hill didn't look so hard after all, phew! With chatter on hold the ascent began and before we knew it everyone was feeling pleased standing at the top with elevated heartbeats. We stopped to admire the shiny views of the valley and beyond. It was here we talked about the steps of the Cha Cha Cha dance, with a short, YouTube inspired, demo by yours truly.
We continued through Church End, passing the orderly set of six Grade II listed cottages then through the well-kept yard of Sarratt Church. A gentle descent on open fields took us to Sarratt Bottom to rejoin the Chess Valley path. We caught a look at one of the cute alpacas living by the watercress farm. A slight drizzle started at which point some of us wondered if we had checked the right day's weather forecast, but it soon stopped. Unfortunately the watercress farm was no longer in production due to contamination some years back, however the river Chess gushed through it looking clear and sparkly. We carried on around Frogmore meadow nature reserve to our next stop, but a shower soon had us sheltering by some trees. There we discussed the virtues of the weather forecasters, agreeing that a certain broadcasting corporation had been pretty inaccurate. After our cosy but socially distant interlude, the skies brightened and we carried forth to our lunch stop in Latimer village. We sat by a tomb and memorial on the green, about which Michael shared some interesting history, relating to the Boer war. The tomb was where the heart of a horse was buried. The horse belonged to a French General who fought in the war.
After lunch, with the sun shining again, we crossed over the river and made a gentle ascent to the woods on the other side. There we were able to look back at the majesty of Latimer House nestled in the surrounding rolling countryside. The phrase 'one day, lad, all this will be yours' came to mind. We continued onto Chenies and found ourselves admiring more grandeur at the pristine grounds of Chenies Manor. One day, one day. Then continuing on between the fields behind Chenies, and as if by magic, we came out directly into the garden of the delightful Red Lion pub. It would have been rude not to stop and so we all enjoyed a well earned drink.
Suitably quenched, we carried on to complete the final stretch, passing a busy cricket pitch and through a field complete with brand new metal kissing gate installed in the middle...but no fence. A suggestion was to take a photo of everyone queuing to go through the gate. After crossing the A404 we gently descended through Halsey's Wood skirting past the Chiltern hills golf course, and towards the tunnel under the railway which took us into Carpenters Woods. Here we took the final path to Chorleywood arriving back at the station at approximately 3:30pm having completed the 8 mile circuit.
A big shout out to all the walkers and thanks to Michael for assisting and giving the interesting talk in Latimer. Thank you Chrissie, Elaine, Gabriela, Hannah, Judith, Linzi and Shameem for your wonderful company, I enjoyed chatting with you all. I hope to see you all on another walk soon.
Report by Aruna
We started with a little history of the station and its Metroland history and then meandered up the high street with a trip down memory lane - see that Tesco Express, that used to be Woolworths, more importantly it was one of two cinemas from the 1930s. I saw Saturday Night Fever there aged 15. We then discussed the virtues of Woolies and John Travolta. Onwards towards the more ancient village of Rislepe. Introductions were made to residents from at least the 1800s in the church of St Martins in the Fields. We spent a little time looking the ancient cottages and buildings and onwards to the Manor Farm complex. We then criss-crossed our way into the greenery of the Celandine Route and using local knowledge we aimed for the top field. Harry had a bit of trouble at 'the big reveal' but we stuck together and everyone agreed it was well worth it. Across the fields and onwards just after Harry's stile. I was told at Clack Farm, no it's not a pigeon thing, it's a dovecote. We went full circle historically after admiring all the wildflowers en route and took in the modern wonder of HS2. Across the overgrown golf course, we got there to wend our way back to Metroland. Sadly the historical Orchard Hotel / pub was not open (next time). Six of us sneaked into the 'Smugglers Cove' for a well earned beverage.
Thanks to Judy, Deborah, Mick, Jacqui, Rachael, Julia, Harry, Michela and Judith for a super evening, and star of the day, biggest journey Rachael from East Dagenham.
Report by Zoe
I met the group members at Denham station at 10:00 on a beautiful sunny day. We started our walk after a briefing on Covid-19 safety and quick introductions. We went down the back of the station towards Denham woods. We walked through the woods along the Colne river. Plenty of sightseeing and activities taking place on the river, nature at its best. We headed towards the Grand Union Canal passing Denham Lock then over the famous bridge towards the scenic walk along the woodland path taking in the magnificent view of Broadwater Lake, with its boating and kayaking activities taking place. After a few photos of the group we carried on along the path, stopping for refreshments from the abundant of hedgerows full of juicy blackberries. After a short walk on the road, we stepped down to the canal path and took in the beauty of the canal as well as the canal boats that float along with other habitants of the great water. Plenty of nature to be seen, with the lush greenery at its best. We then stopped for a short break of well-earned tea and cake at Fran's Café. We carried on through to the woodland towards the country park and the golf course, passing the information centre, where of course you had to indulge in ice creams. Walked to the picturesque Denham village, passing the former Denham Film Studios, towards magnificent St. Mary's village church. The village has featured in films and TV programmes, and also has been the home of Sir John Mills. We ended up by the village green for our picnic in the sun, where we sat on the grass and enjoyed our chats and picnic with options of drinks from nearby pubs.
After our lovely picnic we headed back towards Denham station, and parted after a very enjoyable walk and the amazing bunch of lively, bubbly company who kept the banter and the laughter flowing just like the famous river Misbourne. A very big thankyou to Christine, Elaine, Christina, Sue, Alpa, Mark and Shameen. Thank you all for the support and the charming feedback I have received from you all.
Report by Runi
Our second camping trip of the season was a return to Wowo in sunny Sussex. After pitching tents Jan mixed cocktails for us before we set off on our evening walk in glorious sunshine. After crossing Waspbourne Woods and chatting to the vintage campervan restorers we arrived at the Sloop Inn. Most had excellent fish and chips in the riverside beer garden. Back at site fire starter Tim set up the camp fire and the campsite was soon filled with harmonies and music from the many camp fires around the fields.
Our walk on the Saturday was a 10 mile hike through very scenic Sussex countryside. We passed several historic farm houses and manors straight out of the "Darling Buds of May". Our lunch stop was at the village of Horsted Keynes where we toured the medieval church to see the monument to Supermac. At the Bluebell railway station (due to reopen in August) we happened upon a working party who invited us onto the platform for a quick tour of this fascinating station. Our walk continued northwards partly alongside the railway tracks. We ended at another fine Tudor era inn, the Cats Inn. On our return to camp Tim and Coogee cooked a spicy supper of chorizo, chicken and red peppers. Around the campfire Diane provided apple pie (M & S) and Dee, strawberries (M & S) as Tim recited his poem dedicated to Vanessa.
The morning sun and Gold radio awoke us early for Gilly to cook another full Monty camping-style fry-up. We ventured to the perfectly preserved village of Fletching in time for the verger to give us a tour of the Norman era church. Our walk took in meadows of Friesian and long-horned cattle. We came upon a village cricket match and fine half-timbered houses in the picturesque village. At the Griffin (another 16th century inn) we had lunch in the sunny beer garden with great views over the Ouse valley and Sheffield Park gardens. Some of us finished with sticky toffee pudding and ice cream to celebrate another great camping trip in middle England.
Campers were Brian, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Tim B, Dee, Jan, Chris and Maria.
Report by Brian
We met at the Manor Farm site on a fine sunny evening. As always we took a look at the historic manor house, motte and restored barns of this heritage area. We then followed the Celandine Way to the playing fields where many people were taking advantage of the warm evening to try out sports and jogging. We then entered the Ruislip Woods and followed the tracks to the Lido. The walk continued through the wooded path surrounding the lake. We reached the Waters Edge pub which was still open, so we took our drinks to the waterside tables to take in the sunset over the Lido, and reminisce about he time when Cliff, Melvyn and Una danced on the sands there.
Walkers were Brian, Julie, Judith, Mike, Jill, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
We met on a late sunny afternoon outside Watford station. Good to meet new faces and familiar faces, some returning to Cassiobury Park after over 20 years, some who will remain nameless living locally only just discovering the area, but great discovery! We walked past families enjoying the start of school holidays. We saw a few remaining poppies and set off for the nature area. Sadly, due to a tree falling onto the bridge it had been closed for safety, so Plan B - we walked along a different path to the canal. A bit of social distancing at that point, but not a problem. From the canal, we began to walk up to Lime Avenue passing North Herts Golf Club. Then to Whippendell Woods. Shady under the trees, but needed to keep eyes open for tree roots. We did the perimeter of the woods - just a few cyclists and runners - although options to delve in and out for future walks. One slight climb - all rewarded with shortbread at the top - someone thought I was joking when I said had it, but true!
Halfway (Grove Avenue car park), previously seen ice cream van to my delight, sadly not today. Discussions then moved on to food and diets. A wealth of conversations: memories of the area, life, diets, the future. Entertaining dialogue. Returning to the canal, we stopped and watched the water (think old mill). Passed the closed cafe; Cha Cha also closed. But all chilled, and returned to the station.
Thank you to those joining me.
Report by Dee
This ride turned out to be a lot longer as all participants decided to add a loop and further fast descents. On a fine sunny day we rode 34 miles around the Chiltern Hills and Ridgeway involving climbing 2,600 feet over various ascents. The first section was from Princes Risborough along the Icknield Way before the climb at Chinnor. Then we followed quiet lanes to Christmas Common. We had lunch at the Fox and Hound, at the garden marquee, together with hay stacks laid out for a hoedown. Under the marquee Jeff and Tim had a very technical chat about Morgans and Defenders.
The first big descent was from Northend to Stonor Park, a 2 mile fast downhill section across open farmland then through woods. We stopped to admire the cricket match by Stonor and then cycled through Maidensgrove Common. Our route then was along a hidden network of bridleways under a lofty canopy of beech trees. After several more vertiginous descents we reached the Ridgeway for the long ride back to the start.
Riders were Brian, Jeff and Tim P.
Report by Brian
We met outside Amersham station on a damp and drizzly morning with some of the group making use of the local coffee shop for last minute refreshments before we set off. We quickly made our way along the road downhill towards Amersham Old Town before picking our first footpath at the bottom of Gore Hill. As we made our way up this hill the drizzle stopped and upon reaching the top of the hill we paused to catch our breath and remove our waterproofs. We continued on towards Coleshill taking in views of the windmill from both sides. After Coleshill we headed across open countryside towards Winchmore Hill where we stopped on the common for a quick coffee break. Our next port of call was the common at Penn Street where we stopped for lunch, where the local cricket club were preparing for their Sunday afternoon game.
After lunch we made our way around the cricket boundary towards the entrance into Penn Woods. By the time we emerged from the other side of Penn Woods at Beamod End the skies had cleared and the sun was shining and now quite warm. We followed the route of an old road which had been permanently closed to traffic in 2006. Given that this was once a road this path had become very overgrown with the hedges blocking our views. We emerged in Little Missenden and then followed the road through this hamlet where we picked up the footpath running parallel to the river Misbourne back into Amersham old town, where we then made the climb up the hill towards our starting point at the station.
Many thanks to the other walkers for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
Six walkers met on a warm evening at Northolt village green. Our first visit was St Mary's, the 14th century church on the hill. We then explored the site of Northolt Manor with moat intact. In Belle Vue park, Sarah pointed out the borage wild flowers. There are new wild flower corridors across the meadows on the park, created to assist the survival of wild bees. We joined the Grand Union Canal and continued to the footbridge. Currently fenced off, Pauline showed the rest how to squeeze through a gap in the fence. At Northala we ascended the highest mound for panoramic views to Canary Wharf, Wembley Arch and Heathrow. By chance we met Ian and Chrissie, former members, on their own perambulation. After exchanging news the group returned to the village for drinks at the reopened Crown.
Walkers were Brian, Malcolm, Pauline, Julie, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Six of us set off from Pangbourne, crossing the toll bridge with its chocolate box view of the Thames and Whitchurch village and picking up the Thames Path, conveniently wide for social distancing and shade. Some of us were sorely tempted to join some of the other swimmers in the river by the World War II pillbox. A steep climb upwards through Hartslock Nature Reserve, a site of special scientific interest with stunning views of the Thames at Goring gap was the high point of the day's walk. Congratulating myself on finding the correct entry point to the woods (missed on my recce) we stumbled upon a fallen tree which made a bench just perfect for a socially distanced lunch stop.
A wrong turn in the woods a little later meant we ended up doing a loop back to Hartslock Nature Reserve, where two scientists from the Natural History Museum were engaged in sweeping up the butterflies and insects in large nets, endeavouring to catalogue the biodiversity of the reserve, apparently one of the more biodiverse spots in the region - for our group of six an interesting reward for a wrong turn! Thus we returned via the Thames Path and Whitchurch, where the pubs were now open.
Thanks to old friends Catherine and Brian F, and newer members Anna P, Nishil and Binta on her first walk with the group for joining me on this lovely walk.
Report by Deirdre
It was a bright sunny day when we set off on our walk from Barnet Gate, joining the Dollis Valley Green Walk. We made good pace and it wasn't long before we reached Totteridge Common, where we marvelled at the so-called "long pond" just next to the footpath. Then heading downhill and across a few fields, we reached the tranquility of the Darlands Nature Reserve. We sat down next to Darland's Lake for a light, socially distanced lunch.
We continued on towards Woodside Park where we marvelled at some of the lovely houses, before again joining the Dollis Valley Green Walk. This was a popular destination with the locals and many families were out cycling, enjoying the good weather. Passing Totteridge and Whetstone and its green parks and open spaces, we briefly paused to marvel at some ducks in the stream, and there were yet more locals out enjoying the sunshine. Now on the home stretch we admired some of the people playing cricket on the Old Cholmeleian Sports Ground before we got back to Barnet Gate to finish. Total distance walked approx 10 miles.
Report by Mark
Our first camping trip of the year was another scorchio weekend in the Garden of England. Fallows Fields is situated within an orchard and our pitches were bordered by rows of apple trees. Glamping bell tents were everywhere on the site, we provided our own innovation with three inflatable tents. Nick was first to pitch and exclaimed "it's fully erect within seconds". Brian led the early arrivals on a walk around the perfectly preserved town of Sandwich. We followed the route of the town walls, passing many half-timbered houses and medieval churches. Maria pointed out a manor house featured in a recent reality television show. After fish and chips along the quayside we headed back to site to discover Martina pulling out of her pocket a conveniently pocket-size fire pit. Martina assembled the many poles and the netting to reveal a perfect fire pit inspired by Q. Over wine around the campfire various anecdotes were recounted: Dawn of her episode in a charity shop; Dan of his dance display at the Gents; and George of his time at a sauna in Cairo.
The early morning blazing sun and Tony Blackburn awoke us early for mugs of tea and bacon sarnies. Malcolm set off on his marathon cycle ride, from Sandwich to north Kent and back along the Viking Trail. The others did the walk from Pegwell Bay to Broadstairs along the coastal path. This route is mainly on the clifftop with panoramic views throughout. As the blue sky was so clear France was easily seen as well as the wind farms out to sea. We stopped for cooling drinks at the Edwardian Royal Pavilion at Ramsgate, finding tables on the balcony terrace looking down over the sandy beach and the yacht marina. The route continued north until we descended to Dumpton Bay for ice creams on the beach. At Broadstairs the Viking Bay beach was crowded with sun bathers and swimmers. After drinks at a beach bar we headed back to site. Diane, Rachael and Jan prepared a sumptuous barbecue before Daniel received his birthday cake. Around the campfire Coogee once again provided the music on his ukulele with Jan, Martina and Diane leading a rousing version of "You've lost that loving feeling".
Sunday was another hot sunny day, Gilly cooking a huge fry-up for us, using 3 gas cookers simultaneously, "I learnt from Floyd" she explained. After striking camp we spent the day exploring the vast expanse of Botany Bay. The expanse of golden sands is far less busy than nearby resorts. Chalk stacks and sea caves are prominent within the cliffs. We ended the walk at the Botany Bay Hotel for tiffin after a lovely sunny afternoon by the sea.
Report by Brian
Debbie, Harry, Judith, Elaine plus prospective new member Nathan met at Pinner station.
We walked down the High Street crossing the road into Pinner Memorial Park where we passed the aviary and Heath Robinson gallery then made our way down West End Lane to the start of the Celandine Route. We passed Cuckoo Hill allotments and the river Pinn on our left through some woodland which sheltered us from the rain. We crossed Cheney Street into Long Meadow open space then across the wooden bridge into Eastcote House Gardens. We stopped to admire the flowers in the walled garden and to take photos. We then retraced our steps, walking back to Pinner along the Celandine Route, stopping briefly to look at some ducklings in the memorial park pond.
Report by Debi
Runi, Aruna, Alpa, Harry, Mark and I met at Uxbridge station at 11:00am. Attempting to take the most scenic route possible we walked through Rockingham Park in Uxbridge where we saw a large family of swans swimming in the river Fray. Two adults and eight very large grey cygnets were all swimming together. Shortly afterwards we reached the Grand Union Canal where we walked alongside a range of houseboats before we turned off and joined the Colne Valley Route which took us to a service bridge crossing the M25 where we stopped to watch the cars driving underneath. After about 30 seconds of viewing we continued along a path to a small row of attractive cottages and overlooking a small pond. We saw some big gates showing the name 'Delaford Manor' and could see on the other side a big palatial house with huge manicured gardens. The house was said to have once belonged to the late actor, Sid James. Continuing along various paths and small roads I pointed out a most unusual tree. It was very high, around 50 foot, and had no branches except at the very top. After asking the group if they could identify the tree I put them out of their misery by telling them it was made of plastic and disguising a high radio mast.
After about two hours we had walked about 5 miles and reached Langley Country Park where we stopped at the cafe and had a well deserved rest and lunch. Two of the group left us then to catch a bus back to Uxbridge and the remaining four retraced our steps back to Uxbridge station where we arrived at 4:00pm. We were lucky with the weather as it was dry and not too hot. I hope that everyone enjoyed their walk.
Report by Ian
The 4th of July saw the second of my bike rides. We met at West Drayton and swiftly found our way northwards along the Grand Union Canal to the Slough Arm. This was my favourite part of the ride and my ulterior motive as we swept past High Line Yacht Brokers and I struggled to maintain concentration as the distraction of so many narrowboats for sale almost had me in the canal on more than one occasion. We soon found our way into Langley Country park through fields of stunning specimen woodland and the "Old Man of Langley" (thanks Kerry for your bountiful knowledge of the area) not to mention the odd cow or three who were more than accomodating as we delighted in the lack of stiles thus far. Into Black Park and around the lake we enjoyed the view and were ready for lunch but I decided to try and cover another mile or two before stopping and I thought I'd hit the jackpot when we stumbled on the Fox and Pheasant, which unfortunately turned out to be closed!
Luckily they allowed us the use of their beer garden and we devoured our rations and discussed the conditions and the route as well as checking on the condition of a couple of hardy riders who took a little spill but managed to carry on regardless. Wild horses couldn't drag us from our route as we ran across country parallel to the M40 and fourtunately stumbled upon the Black Horse at Fulmer, a pub that was actually open. Needless to say, it was swiftly decided that we had earnt a brief respite and we partook of the local delights. Onward along the trail and we shortly arrived at the Pinewood film studios where we stopped for a moment and discussed various movies and heroes. From here the Slough Road took us to Uxbridge where we connected with the Grand Union Canal again and swept back to West Drayton station, a little tired but proud of ourselves and pleased with the day.
Thanks everyone for turning up and well done.
Report by Dan
We met outside The Green Man pub at the common in Denham. We set off on a lovely walk through woodlands and canal paths. I thought the walk was too short so kept taking people the wrong way to get up some steps. There was one most amazing neo-gothic bridge which was so thrilling we crossed it trice! Liane who has a keen eye for wildlife showed us a hidden heron and Daniel found beautiful blue dragonflies. Runi pointed out the lily pads in the middle of the river and Rachel found a baby frog. Whilst Bobby, Ellie and Frankie introduced us to the 'Dog dance' which taught us great balancing ability whilst trying to walk on a narrow path and not walk on a dog. Janet found a surprise of a pub just opening after lockdown half way round so of course we did our bit to keep the country going by having a swift half. First pub since lockdown so we were excited.
We then continued on our way with Nick taking a more direct route back to the start. We all sat on the common for lunch and Martina and Daniel went dumpster diving. Rachel then presented me with the amazing acrylic painting she did for her of Treyarnon Bay, a trip we had to cancel due to lockdown.
Thank you all for coming on my walk and meeting new people, thanks Rachel, Nick, Liane, Janet and Runi. Hope to see you all soon.
Report by Martina
On a warm sunny morning we left Cassiobury Park (the poppies still in bloom) and joined the Grand Union Canal. Strolling past The Grove estate we saw the golfers on the pristine greens. Using a 1975 OS Map (from our archive map store) had some disadvantages as the walk leader could not identify the M25 and many new conurbations alongside the Canal. We left the canal at Kings Langley and happened upon the perfectly preserved Ovaltine factory, its striking art deco facade now the home of a residential complex. We then walked across fields of wheat to reach the historic town of Abbots Langley. We had our lunch in the sunshine on the gardens of the medieval St Lawrence church; this was the parish of Pope Adrian IV, the only English Pontiff.
The bucolic meter reading reached new heights at the Ovaltine Model Dairy Farm, a perfect 1930s representation of a Sussex farm which was used in publicity for the beverage. The route then crossed tracks and meadows, wheat and barley glistening in the sun. We had a surprise when finding the Royal Entomological Society now based in the grounds of the former English Rose Gardens. Our walk ended at the ancient city of St Albans (Verulamium in Roman times) where we explored the impressive Roman town walls in the parklands.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Anne G, Dee, Joanne and Malcolm.
Report by Brian
We had a wonderful walk on 1 July. After a happy half hour with the local outdoor rebels at the clock tower, Tim B took us through a secret passage to hidden Hanwell. Past the Green pub which was serving takeaway beer to worthy cyclists. A sign of British spirit in the face of adversity. We waved at canal boats going through the Three Bridges. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the bridges are a clever arrangement allowing the routes of the Grand Junction Canal, Great Western and Brentford Railway, and Windmill Lane to cross each other: road above canal above railway.
Onwards to another feat of engineering. The Wharncliffe Viaduct is a brick-built viaduct that carries the Great Western mainline railway across the Brent Valley, between Hanwell and Southall at an elevation of 20 metres. The viaduct, built in 1836-7, was constructed for the opening of the Great Western Railway. Tim and Brian regaled us with tales of childhood naughtiness behind the plinths before we headed off to try and break into the maze. Sadly we were too law-abiding to shimmy over the gate and the maze remained closed. The Hanwell zoo was next, and we heard the tantalising sounds of exotic animals over the fence (well meerkats and pygmy goats). Tales of the Bunny park ensued including the chickens which looked like Elvis.
A gentle meander around the Brent golf course back past St Mary's church returned us to the clock tower. Many thanks to Zoe, Harry, Tim and Tim, and Brian for a lovely summers evening.
Report by Jan
We started from the Sarratt Cock Inn, and headed off past the church. Beautiful views over the hills at the start and some cows and then up to Chenies. Fields of wheat shimmered in the sun and we walked passed Chenies Manor and into the woods and on to the ridgeway from where we had views across the valley. Passed horses in the field and back into more woods. This part of the walk was quiet with not many walkers. Then we descended down into the valley, past old houses and across the river Chess where we saw swans and ducks on the crystal clear water. We headed up towards Latimer and joined the Chess Valley Walk which had more walkers. This part is very scenic and we followed the path up to the next set of woods and then headed back to Latimer House (now a hotel) where we stopped for a scenic picnic lunch in the grounds.
The sun shone down and warmed us up nicely. Then it started to drizzle lightly on our way to the very pretty village of Latimer where we admired the old houses and gardens. We then walked on past the Crystal Barn Farm which unfortunately no longer sells watercress due to water contamination, but we were able to see their four shorn llamas. Then we headed back up towards Sarratt, the Chess Valley becoming noticeably busier with walkers, and back to the starting point.
Thanks to Jenny and Tim for their excellent company on this lovely walk.
Report by Rajinder
We met in the picturesque village of Hambleden. Brian was desperate to get back to the village by 4:00pm for a cup of tea so I made an executive decision and cut out the fields by heading straight into the woods. We made our way through groves of beech and climbed a hill to appreciate a glorious view of the Thames and Henley. We proceeded through mixed terrain of forest, field and classic Chilterns hills. The weather was forecast to be dry and was mostly fine but we were waylaid by occasional showers. Dan forgot to bring his rainwear but ploughed on without complaint. After a steep descent, we came to Stonor deer park. We settled on the hillside and enjoyed lunch overlooking the grand Stonor House with its own chapel and a backdrop of fine English countryside.
We continued through a delightful woodland of rhododendron and mixed deciduous and conifer. As we emerged onto a quiet lane the heavens opened and we took a ten minute refuge under the trees. The sun soon appeared and we carried on. We began to descend towards Hambleden and enjoyed a last mile or two through a cathedral of towering beech trees. We returned to the village in good time and appreciated a cup of tea / bottle of Stella outside the village shop.
A fine day in superb Chilterns countryside. Many thanks to Brian, Dee, Aruna, Dan and Diane.
Report by Tim
Brian, Coogee and Dawn met Diane and me at Denham station on an overcast Saturday morning. After a short discussion on the whereabouts of our sixth companion a text was sent and arrangements were made to meet up with Kerry later in the ride. We initially headed for Denham Country Park and then cautiously navigated our route across the fairways of Buckinghamshire Golf Club. We crossed a small wooden bridge over the delightful river Colne with its' gravelly bottom and long flowing plants waving in the current. This led us to Colne Valley Park (Denham) and Harefield Place Nature Reserve where some flooded quarries have been recycled to provide relaxing leisure activites for those seeking some time with nature. This was when Brian explained that the lovely HS2 railway will soon be part of the local landscape, how delightful! We met Chrissy (another HAWOG member) and some friends at that point too. It was about here the heavens opened and my phone packed up, so big thanks to Coogee for the loan of his iPhone which I used to navigate the rest of the ride. This was my first attempt at hosting a bike ride, so I should apologise for the amount of stiles I had included in the ride; after leaving the quarries we had four or five stiles to negotiate which left us a little drained and eager for lunch so we scooted through Bayhurst Wood Country Park and then Mad Bess woods where we stopped briefly to admire the open air chapel.
Ruislip Lido was our lunch stop and this is where we met up with Kerry, our sixth cyclist of the day who apologised for thinking we only do bike rides on Sundays. With spirits suitably replenished we crossed the miniature railway line and found ourselves in the lovely Copse Wood and then some welcome smooth roads towards Harefield where we spent a few moments at St Mary's churchyard and the Anzac memorial for Australian and New Zealand soldiers that succumbed to their injuries at the nearby hospital during the Second World War. Moments after leaving the memorial we found ourselves back at the station and at our journey's end. Lots of smiles and chatting as we said our goodbyes and Brian and Kerry rode home from there, while the rest of us relaxed into our cars.
Many thanks to Diane, Brian, Dawn, Coogee and Kerry for being patient with my navigational shortcomings and for making the day so great.
Report by Dan
We met in Bledlow Ridge on a lovely Friday evening with the sun shining down on us. We set off following the clear instructions set out by the app trail. We walked through the village before turning off into a large field and passing Lodge Hill Farm, carrying on passing Granary Barn where the views were breathtaking and our first kite was spotted. After a short stop taking in the scenery we headed on through another field which brought us to the Ridgeway national trail. Following the acorn signs we headed up a steep hill where the views were amazing looking over the Vale of Aylesbury, and spotting some more red kites. We all got involved in following the trail that took us off the Ridgeway and into some woodland, stinging nettles and all. Heading further into the woods where we came across a tyre swing, with everyone taking time out to enjoy. We carried on, passing Manor Farm Cottage where we again were lucky enough to spot more red kites. This walk took us through ploughed fields, an unexpected railway line and a building that used to house amateur boxing matches and the headquarters of a cigarette machinery company.
Thank you to Dan, Dee, Malcolm, Humay and Mike for accompanying me on this walk and for your help with the trail.
Report by Diane
On a blisteringly hot and sunny day of the heatwave, 5 of us met at Egham station. We welcomed back Anne and Paul on their first walks this year. After passing the Ferrari cars at the showroom we set off on the climb to Coopers Hill. We reached the summit and the always rewarding viewpoint from the Commonwealth Air Force memorial and the relative cool of the cloisters in the heat. We walked through very expensive lanes and the former polo field to reach Virginia Water. At the Saville Gardens we stopped for very welcome ice creams and cold drinks.
Our walk continued around the lakes of Virginia Water, passing the obelisks and totem pole. We had our picnic by the lakeside with Rob P bringing out his supply of cold drinks thanks to flasks and cool bags. We then explored the Valley Gardens with its rich mix of trees and vegetation. As the afternoon temperature was well over 30 degrees our speed dropped, luckily more ice cream kiosks were around in the parklands. Our route back to Egham was a first time attempt via bridleways and footpaths which proved rewarding in terms of scenery and varied landscape.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Anne, Paul K and Harry.
Report by Brian
Our Ickenham Walk took place on another scorchio evening in bright sunshine. The village pub had take-away cold drinks on offer by the historic village pond and water pump. After passing the former USAF base (now residential) we joined the Hillingdon Trail. This route continued through cricket pitches and meadows alongside the river Pinn. We detoured under the Chiltern railway to see some of the preparatory works for HS2, soon set to enhance the landscape. We then joined the Celandine Way, the fields full of locals enjoying the very warm evening. At Swakeleys we glanced at the exterior of the Jacobean Manor before returning via Compass theatre and fields around Ickenham Manor.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Lorna, Humay, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Five of us met at Rickmansworth station at 2:00pm on a perfect afternoon for a walk, warm with intermittent sun. I owned up to the fact I had come to do a "reccy" the previous Monday but due to torrential rain I returned home without checking out the route. Members of the group knew the area better than me and so it was a group effort in making our way around the aquadrome and along the canal side. We also spent some time on the quieter Stocker Lake. The area is very beautiful, with ducks and geese floating on the lakes, and feels very rural even though the tube is 5 minutes away. It was lovely to chat together and walk around safely as it was not too busy. We decided to make own way to the café for a pit stop and we found it open (with a long queue) but the toilets were closed! We sat for a while chatting and all had a drink whilst Harry had his picnic lunch before making our way back to the station just before 5:00pm.
A big thankyou to Cynthia, Debbie, Harry and Anna for a lovely afternoon.
Report by Pauline
3 of us met at Amersham station on a cloudy Sunday morning. We headed off promptly at 9:30am, walking through Amersham new town and down through Chesham Bois, where we crossed the river Chess and followed it towards Chesham. From there we headed west along Herberts Hole to Ballinger Common and Lee Common, and then south west to Great Missenden for our socially-distanced lunch stop.
After lunch we headed south to Little Kingshill and then east, following the river Misbourne, passing through Little Missenden before reaching Amersham old town, from where we headed back up to the station, finishing in very good time at 3:15pm, having walked almost 17 miles.
Thanks to Amanda and Malcolm for joining me.
Report by Phil
Six of us met at Ruislip Manor Farm, just as the sun started to emerge, for our walk across Kings College fields, through the woods to the Lido. Sadly the beach area where we had planned to stop for lunch is currently cordoned off. We decided to do a circuit in the opposite direction, passing a number of other walkers and their dogs. Information boards on the planets and solar system are posted all around the lido - apt for the solstice weekend. We arrived at Eastcote House gardens where we had our lunch with ice-creams and drinks from the cafe which has now reopened for takeaways. The walled garden was beautiful as ever - a source of inspiration for several of the group who have been gardening during lockdown!
Thanks to Anne, Chantelle, Rita, Runi and Tessa for your company, photos and a lovely walk.
Report by Michela
We met on a gloriously sunny summer morning at Isleworth for our second Parks and Commons Ride. New girl Dawn joined the regulars with her vintage Raleigh folding bike. Passing through Syon Park we stopped to admire the views of the Percy London House. The park was full of groups playing sports and picnickers enjoying the good weather. We took a detour to the Butts, heritage area of Brentford, where Nick Lowe's Georgian house was pointed out. We cycled past the old and new Brentford football stadia including all four pubs at each corner of the old stadium. We took a break at Chiswick House, with welcoming ice creams from a vintage Morris vehicle on the lawn in front of Lord Burlington's Palladian Palace. Our route then followed the Thames Path through Hammersmith and Fulham before our lunch stop at Fulham Palace Gardens. Coogee offered round the gob stoppers once more as we enjoyed the Thameside views.
We then crossed into Putney and followed Route 4 through Barnes (very posh shopping parades appeared to be busy) with several pubs offering take away cold drinks from outside tables. Fulham football stadium was being rebuilt with a new riverside stand just started together with a new riverside path (filling in gap on Thames Path). At Morlake we detoured to visit the tomb of Richard Burton (the arabist not the actor). The final leg was along the Thames Path back to Isleworth.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P, Coogee, Dawn, Dan and Diane.
Report by Brian
Six of us including Shakeel, Tessa, Lorna, Mark and Ian met at Hatch End station in glorious Sunday morning sunshine. Our first stop was a stroll down to the historic St Anselm church and then on to Grimsdyke Park, home to Hatch End Rugby Club. We then headed through the back streets of Hatch End and cut through Pinner Lawn Tennis Club onto Moss Lane, and saw the homes of Heath Robinson and Elton John. We then headed onto Pinner Farm through the lower trails including the river Pinn and forestry. We then headed to the back of Hatch End High Street to see the telephone exchange and award-winning fish and chip shop of Sea Pebbles. The walk ended at 1:00pm back at Hatch End station.
Report by Alpa
We met at the Black horse pub at 11 o'clock. We proceeded to walk past St Georges School and saw all the lovely paintings that the key worker kids had done. We then passed Churchill Hospital and started our ascent to the top of Harrow Hill. We were very lucky that the lovely historian Judith was with us. Judith was full of knowledge of all the buildings and what they were used for in past times. We then passed all the lovely shops up on the hill and Dan showed us the 'tuck shop' for the Harrow schoolboys. We then proceeded to go to Saint Mary's Church which is the highest point on the hill and Iwona showed us Byron's Monument. We then proceeded to Football Lane where we went down to watch the avid tennis players, and cross over back towards Sudbury and through two amazing woods which I have only recently found. Diane then saw the lovely longhorned cows grazing in the field. We proceeded on with our journey then to pass some allotments and go to the highest point in Sudbury where Tim pointed out various landmarks. We could see all the way from Stanmore Common past Wembley Stadium, amazing views.
Thank you all for making our walk amazing: Diane, Tim, Iwona, Judith and Tim.
Report by Martina
Our latest evening walk was the annual tour around the heritage area of Pinner village. We used the Pinner Association 10 walks book as our guide which included a history on each notable building seen. The most interesting were the East End Farm Cottages (15th century) and the Mosslane Cottage. Local experts Sarah and Dean T gave us an additional commentary including pointing out the house of one of the two Ronnies. We ended the trail at the Oddfellows (still closed).
Walkers were Brian, Dee, Julie, Dean and Sarah.
Report by Brian
After a fight with the Station Car Park - Cynthia - we won! We then introduced ourselves and set off towards Cassiobury Park. I was delighted to see the colourful poppies had survived the recent wind and storms! Brian took a beautiful artistic socially distancing photograph. We then wandered through the Nature Reserve and followed the path to join the Grand Union Canal, admiring boats on the way. On the way, we discovered a homemade swing and relished childhood memories. I was impressed how all were willing to take up my challenge - "give it a go"! One member said after, "What a lark!". I think that said it all. We then met the young barge owner who set it up for his family, and he showed us how it was done "properly"! From the path we walked towards Whippendell Woods passing golf players and followed the circular route through the woods to our lunch stop, and to my delight... an ice cream van!
After lunch we took the path back and strolled through Cassiobury Park looking at the developments in kids pool area, local train, cafe and admired the "park your dog here" spaces. We ended back at the poppies, said our farewells and went our separate ways.
Thankyou to Rob P, Joanne, Cynthia, Harry and Brian for joining me.
Report by Dee
The 6 regular cyclists met at Isleworth on a sunny Sunday morning, with Nick presenting his new electric bike. Local boy Tim led us through old Isleworth passing 17th century alms houses. We then followed the west bank of the Thames with stops in the landscaped parks of Marble Hill House, Orleans House and Strawberry Hill House. The last one is the birthplace of the neo Gothic movement and we had our coffee break on the lawn, where Coogee shared out gob stoppers and pear drops for all.
We then cycled through Teddington and entered Bushy Park. Currently in all the royal parks, vehicles are banned, so walking and cycling in Bushy and Richmond Park is a more enjoyable experience. We had our picnic by the Diana Fountain and exchanged cycling chat with the owners of a folding electric tandem cycle - the first we had ever seen. Passing through Kingston we happened upon a famous street art installation, a row of tumbling red telephone boxes. We then reached Wimbledon Common where lots of people were out playing sports and ambling. We took tiffin at the Windmill, more gob stoppers plus apple pie for some, before our return to the start via Richmond Park.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P, Coogee, Nick, Dan and Diana.
Report by Brian
5 of us met outside Tring station on a slightly overcast Sunday morning. We started our walk by making our way down to the Grand Union Canal and then following the slightly overgrown canal footpath towards Cow Roast, where we then picked up the Hertfordshire Way heading gently uphill towards Wigginton. We were lucky enough to have spotted a deer in the very same barley field that we were in as we made our way along this path.
From Wigginton we then headed in towards Tring Park where we then picked up the Ridgeway Path. In Tring Park we paused to look at and take photos of a couple of follies, one being a summer house where the front facade is designed to look like an ancient temple and another a short distance from there, a 50 foot high obelisk. Local legend says that it was built to commemorate a visit to Tring by Charles II and Nell Gwyn. We also took the opportunity to take some photos of the views across Tring and the countryside beyond from various viewpoints as we made our way towards Hastoe, which is one of the highest points in Hertfordshire.
After Hastoe we headed downhill through Pavis Woods and then passed through Tring and on towards Little Tring. By now the sky had become very overcast. We followed the footpath around Marsworth Reservoir and then around Tringford Reservoir where we stopped for lunch and to put on our waterproof jackets as it had started to rain.
We again picked up the Grand Union Canal and headed towards our next high point of Pitstone Hill. Unfortunately the views from this viewpoint were a little disappointing as there was rain in the air and low clouds in the distance. We then followed the Ridgeway Path back towards our starting point at Tring Station after completing some 13.5 miles.
Many thanks to Phil, Cynthia, Anne G and Paul S for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
For our first walk since the reopening we walked the Celandine Way, first exploring Pinner Memorial Park and the historic West House. We then followed the river Pinn through allotments, meadows and riverside woodlands. The ground was firm and mud-free after the weeks of dry weather and we soon arrived at Eastcote House Gardens. We explored the walled gardens, a feast of colour at the time, with Sarah pointing out the names of many of the flowers. We returned via quiet streets and alley ways, finding the cul-de-sac of Birchmere Avenue to be a display of children's street art to support the NHS. Walkers were Brian, Dee, Michela, Julie C, Dean T and Sarah.
Report by Brian
Five brave souls braved the changeable weather on Sunday. A sunny start gave us a boost as we set off from West Byfleet station after a brief pause to meet a new member Iram. We soon found the Basingstoke canal that led us on a cheery walk discussing the local wildlife and the canal boats. As we reached the River Wey Navigation Canal the weather took a turn for the worst as we took a turn to the south. Hoods and hats were the order of the day as we sought hasty refuge in a local public house.
Suitably refreshed we restarted the walk during a break in the weather and made it to Wisley in fairly short order. Not the best time of year for Wisley really, but we made the most of it and had a good look round all the amazing gardens, the bonsai, the waterfalls and the greenhouse being the most memorable. Our timetable forced us to leave and we made the return journey in good spirits depite the grumpy weather.
Many thanks to Diane, Jeff, Humay and Iram for braving the weather and for your wonderful company.
Report by Dan
First of all, sincere apologies to anyone who did turn up at Seer Green at the advertised time and found no walk leader. I'm afraid I missed the train and arrived an hour later to find that - unsurprisingly - nobody was there to meet me at the station. I thought I had better make the best of the situation and attempted the route that I had recce'd a few weeks earlier. The sky was blue and it seemed like Storm Jorge might give South Bucks a miss after all. The homes of Seer Green looked very pretty in the sunshine; the only sign that all was not well was a warning notice on a post box highlighting its role in an ongoing dispute. At the end of the village, I found my way blocked by recent flooding so diverted across a farmer's field. By the time I entered Hodgemoor Woods, the wind had picked up and it had started to hail. Rather than risk getting stuck, I reluctantly decided to turn back, leaving Beaconsfield and the Royal Standard of England for another time (and maybe with a few more people...). I would not normally wish this, but I hope that anyone else who was thinking of coming along on yesterday's walk had been put off by the weather predictions. If you did turn up, my apologies once more. Maybe it's a Leap Year curse? In any case, I am keeping my walk leader 'L' plates and think that, for the next time at least, I'll join someone else on their walk!
Report by Michela
We had 5 of us on the Herts circular bike ride. We met at the manor site with Kerry on his brand new spotless mountain bike. Once on the canal we noted several pairs of swans at various points, with other cyclists, joggers and walkers sharing the towpath. There was also a unique design on one boat with the body of a car having been welded to the stern of the vessel. We stopped for lunch at the Batchworth Lock café where Coogee recounted some more yarns.
We then followed the Ebury Way, Sustrans route 6, which loops around Rickmansworth and Watford. This trail is on a former railway track partly on an embankment, with good views over the canal and streams below. We then climbed on a detour to the summit of Merry Hill before off road descent to Carpenders Park. The fields were very boggy so lots of mud now on the new cycle. We then headed south via Oxhey Woods to climb to the very impressive Pinner Hill House. A late Georgian manor, it is now the club house for Pinner Golf Course. We warmed up at the 19th hole with some red wine and the free pastries provided, and took in the excellent views eastwards across the valley.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Coogee, Diane and Dan.
Report by Brian
After a bit of a nightmare getting there (London transport...don't ya luv it?), a bunch of HAWOGers met in Parliament Square on Saturday, where we perused a few of the statues around Parliament Square: Gandhi and Nelson Mandela amongst them, and of course our very own Winston Churchill, before moving on for a quick look at the outside of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament (fantastic architecture!), and then heading off to Somerset House. On the way, we passed by York Watergate which is where the banks of the Thames used to be, before the embankment was built. We arrived in good time at Somerset House. Unfortunately there were too many of us to go on the tour but, no matter, it was a good spot for a coffee break. It was lovely to welcome some new faces (and some old ones of course). On my wanders, as we stroll along, I like to grow out a 'bit of useless information' which, fingers crossed, some people found useful?
After Somerset House, we crossed Waterloo Bridge, ending up along the south Bank of the Thames, passing by Gabriel's Wharf and the Oxo Tower. This area is part of Coin Street community builders, who bought the land from the government many years ago for one whole pound sterling, before going to on build a social community on the land. That community is still running today. On the way to Monument we passed Blackfriars Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, and further along went over London Bridge to reach the Monument - built to remember the Great Fire of London. 300+ steps up, at the top of Monument, once you got your breath back and your eyes stopped watering, there were wonderful views of London.
After that, we headed to Tower Bridge where we enjoyed more views of London from the top, but even more impressive were the views down through the glass floor and the reflection in mirrors overhead. On the way out we visited the engine rooms and marvelled at just how clever those folk were, way back when the bridge was built. Post engine rooms, some people headed off home whilst the rest of us went to the Shard, hoping to get a drink on the 31st floor, but the queues were so long we decided on an ale or two from the pub around the corner.
All in all, a windy but pleasant day out, thank you for coming long. It was lovely to see you, new and old alike: Nadia, Nitti, Nikola, Louise, Ella, Pauline, Phuong, Dawn, Dan and Diane, Dee, Campervan Ann, and not forgetting, of course, Gilly and Freddy. I dont think there is, but if there is anyone I've forgotten, I'm really sorry, my only excuse is I'm over 60 now and my memory isn't what it was. See y'all soon.
Report by Coogee
Light rain had stopped by the time 14 of us met at Eleanor Cross statue in front of Charing Cross station. We paused to take a look at the original embankment steps of what was once a much wider Thames, and as we walked across Hungerford Bridge to the South Bank, the weather was already brightening up. I was using the wonderful Thames guide by David Fathers to explore another section of the Thames Path. This time we were south of the river in Lambeth. Our 7 mile walk took in the history of this part of London, and the spectacular changes in progress on the riverside. We walked up-river alongside Jubilee Gardens, and past the London Eye and the former County Hall. We stopped for views of the Houses of Parliament across the Thames, currently still under renovation. Our walk continued under Westminster Bridge, along Albert Embankment, and passing St Thomas' Hospital, we saw the historic Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Bridge and the Basaveshwara statue. We saw the MI6 building from the street side and from Vauxhall Bridge. The St George Wharf area was completely redeveloped as luxury flats. Further along, we had a close up look at the new US Embassy building, complete with moat and waterfall. Luckily Dan was familiar with the whole site of the imposing Battersea Power Station, and even located the dog-friendly cafe amongst the eateries there. Here we had good coffee and lunch.
Onwards, we explored Battersea Park, with its Japanese Peace Pagoda, abstract statues and boating lake. For most our walk concluded at the SE corner of the park, for easy access to Battersea Park station. Only Pauline, Helen, Tim and Brian chose to cross the splendid Albert Bridge with me, in search of ye olde English pub. We ambled along Cheyne Walk, reading blue plaques on the houses. At Sloane Square that pub was still eluding us. The Gloucester proudly proclaims itself "the only pub on Sloane Street". It was a round from Pauline and cosy seating upstairs.
My thanks go to Dan for sharing his knowledge of Battersea, to my deputy tour guide, Brian, who brought along his own Father, and to all attendees for your lively company.
Report by Gilly
Our first cycle ride of the year was an easy 18 mile ride from Uxbridge taking in the villages of Colnbrook, Poyle, Longford, Harmondsworth, Sipson and Harlington. Five of us met at the always welcoming Rusty Bike Café at Fassnidge Park. We followed the Grand Union Canal south to West Drayton. Kerry then led us on a detour to the heritage area of Drayton Green with Georgian manor house and old mill building on the river Colne. We then followed the Colne Valley Cycle trail to the Colnbrook roadside transport café featured in several crime dramas. We stopped for coffee at the historic coaching Inn of The Ostrich (founded in 1109) and acknowledged as the third oldest pub in England.
Cycling through Polyle and Longford (just under the flight path) we then headed alongside the high security fences of the immigration detention centre to reach the hidden hamlet of Harmondsworth. We saw the 14th century tithe barn, church and manor house before our lunch break at the Crown. Our route continued through the threatened villages of Sipson and Harlington, stopping to watch QPR training and Dean to explain about caplimism. We then cycled through the new Vinyl factory redevelopment in Hayes and back to start.
Thanks to Kerry, Dean, Diane and Dan for joining me on this ride.
Report by Brian
9 of us met at Amersham station on a damp Sunday morning, as we headed off towards our first village the drizzle stopped, and we quickly warmed up as we gently went up the long hill from Amersham towards Coleshill. These paths had become very wet, muddy and slippery, which was to become the theme for the day's walk. On arriving at Coleshill, we paused for a while to admire the windmill and to take some photos of this landmark before setting off towards Winchmore Hill. On arrival we stopped for a while on the green for a late morning coffee.
We then set off for the common at Penn Street. The sky remained overcast but dry. This encouraged us to keep up a good pace as rain was predicted for later on in the day. Without stopping at Penn Green, we carried on through Penn Wood, and down and along a road which had been closed to traffic for 10 years which made a pleasant change to the boggy footpaths which we had become used to, and into the picturesque village of Little Missenden. Having arrived in good time we stopped for a very pleasant lunch break at the Red Lion. Whilst having lunch the sky opened up and it began to rain, forcing us to put on our waterproofs.
From Little Missenden we followed the river back towards Amersham pausing to stop to count the piglets in a field. The rain continued as we headed across the fields towards Amersham and not easing off until we finally reached town. We managed the long climb back up to the hill to the station with only a minute to spare before the train arrived for those travelling back by train. We quickly said our goodbyes and made our way home to wash down and dry out.
Many thanks to Mike D, Mary, Sarah, Dean, Pankaj, Martha, Dee and Mike S for joining me on this wet but quite enjoyable walk.
Report by Malcolm
On a very sunny wintry Saturday morning 23 of us met for coffees at the Tap (beautifully preserved Victorian era station pub) at Kew Gardens railway station. This included 5 new recruits who had joined at the NME 2 days before. We introduced everyone including those from the French language group who joined us for the walk. At Kew Green we stopped at the impressive Baroque era St Ann's church where the verger showed us the tomb of Gainsborough. A very keen Tim P joined us here straight from running the Parkrun at Osterley.
We crossed the Thames and continued on the Thames Path through the constantly changing riverfront of Brentford. After passing several looming apartment blocks (with naval design themes) we came across a working boatyard, the sparks from the welding seemed incongruous amidst the mass of redevelopments. The riverfront was filled with house boats and Dutch barges; plumes of smoke rising from the wood fires aboard.
We then entered Syon Park and took in the Palladian grandeur of Syon House. Our refreshment stop was at the London Apprentice in old Osterley village where we took in the features of this 17th century hostelry. We rejoined the Thames Path for the final section through Twickenham before we ended the walk at Tide Tables riverside tea rooms at Richmond.
Walkers were Brian, Anne, Aruna, Coogee, Dan, Diane, Gilly, Malcolm, Pauline, Rachel, Rob P, Rob W and Sugandha, plus new recruits Dee, Julie, Isabela, Nadia and Nadine.
Report by Brian
Sixteen new year walkers including new joiners young Daniel and his parents, plus Jasper the dog set off from Chalfont Latimer station on a cool overcast Sunday morning. This was a 7 mile linear walk to Chorleywood station through the Chess Valley.
Entering West Wood we descended the leaf covered hill towards the river Chess and Latimer Estate stopping on the bridge to look at the weir and a pair of resident swans. We then walked up the gentle slope towards the Tudor style mansion Latimer House, now a De Vere hotel, we decided it was rather too posh to stop for 'high tea'. Onwards eastbound towards the site of the former medieval village of Flaunden and the remains of the original Saint Mary Magdalene Church, which fell into disrepair in the late 1800s before being finally demolished in 1940. Jeff found us gathered here and continued with us. Rejoining the footpath our next stop was at the tomb of William Liberty, a bricklayer from the former village and relative of the founders of Liberty's of London, who died in 1777. It was his wish to be buried alone on the estate, but he was joined thirty two years later by his wife who died in 1809. Continuing along the Chess we skirted around Frogmore Meadows Nature Reserve and stopped at the watercress farm for a group photograph. Further down the path we passed a field of horses later upstaged by some beautiful furry friends, the Chiltern alpacas (native to Peru). Carrying on to Sarratt Bottom we ascended to the warm and welcoming Cock Inn for our lunch, when the sun poked out. At the pub we enjoyed a decent break and a very good lunch by a nice log fire.
Leaving the rustic setting, suitably filled and warmed up, we descended the steep hill down to the Chess valley before tracing our steps through the wood up to the Chorleywood House estate. On reaching the top we made a slight diversion to play spot the carvings in the enchanting Dell Wood, which are well worth seeing if you've never been there before. Finally we crossed the tree lined Common, bearing more wooden sculpts, arriving at Chorleywood station just before 3:00pm, where we said our fond farewells. Many thanks to Michael for helping and standing in for Michela who unfortunately had the bug.
Thank you to Malcolm, Humay, Mark, Vic, Janet, Elaine, Derek, Prem, Sarah, Dean, Sven, Polina, Daniel, Rita, Jeff and Michael for your company on this walk, it was most enjoyable.
Report by Aruna