Photos & Reports for 2007

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group in 2007. We also have photos and reports from other years:

8 of us did the walk on a cold yet sunny day. Congratulations to Tom and Anthea who managed to track us from the start through footpaths and woods to catch up - Tom used his scouting techniques of following boot marks and broken twigs.

The Beeches looked very good in the faint sunlight - the pollarded trees (many over 500 years old) were impressive, providing shelter for a few wild ponies seen in the distance. We found the 12th century moat and enclosure, and then came across the new tea shop (opened this autumn) where Steve N insisted that we stop. After this we crossed the marshlands via the new duckboard paths and found the "Druids Oak" - possibly 800 years old. We continued through the woods and then via meadows, passed the chancellors retreat Dorneywood House (closed). A quick visit to Littleworth village after which we came to the pub. There was an impressive menu and we had a lengthy stay here whilst Derek entertained us with some more fireside yarns.

Report by Brian

10 of us met at Ashridge forest yesterday for the Yuletide walk. The weather was dry and mild, we waited for the customary late call from Derek but there was none so we left nearly on time.

The route took us through Aldbury common and Ashridge woods - there were many paths through the woods, however the book description meant we could identify the route clearly. We spotted a herd of deer at one stage, they were hidden within the forest and quickly sped off.

Ashridge House was the main feature - it is a fairy tale type palace that is now a college - it was the site of a medieval monastery and a place of pilgrimage up to 16th century.

We reached the pub stop via a route across a golf course - we had to time the crossing to gaps in the play as it was a busy morning for golfers. After a generous lunch stop we continued to Ivinghoe Common via Witches hollow and took forest tracks to the Bridgewater monument. This is at the edge of the Chiltern escarpment and provides good views - a vast tree-lined avenue led back to Ashridge house as this was all part of the original estate. We ended the walk at the National Trust tea shop here, luckily still open as we had made such good time today.

Thanks to Mike for finding a new walking route.

Report by Brian

2 newbies (Anneke, Mark) and 6 not-so-newbies (Carla, Mathilde, Jeff, Phil J, Steve N, me) walked a home-made 7 mile route on Sunday afternoon in crisp winter sun. Clear blue sky, cool air, low sun, big orange glow, and the moon smiling across at the sun before sunset around 4pm.

Our walk started in Longwick, a village a few miles north of Princes Risborough. No ups or downs, just lefts and rights, or more correctly, easts and wests as Phil pointed out to me. We had horizontal views for miles. No doubt not quite the same horizontal views a few of you had last night after our Christmas party. Which is why you missed this walk. The only stumbling blocks we had involved sticky terrain with clumps of mud getting glued to our boots, quite a few ice patches and some waterlogged paths. We walked through a number of small villages and hamlets; north to Owlswick and then Kimble Wick, north-west along the Bucks Way to Moreton Farm, west to Ford village, and then south-east past Waldridge Manor back to Longwick. Total walking time just over 3 hours followed by teas in Princes Risborough. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Having just joined the group and never been on a guided walk before, I took the brave step of co-leading a walk with Humay in Rickmansworth. Humay was the promoter and meeter and greeter, and I was the guide who knew the lay of the land and where we were going.

I had some trepidation when I heard the weather forecast prediction of torrential rain and 65 mile an hour winds and asked Phil J to put it on the website that if that were to be the case the walk would be called off. Having just lost 4 and a half stone I feared a 65 mile an hour gust might blow me away.

My co-leader Humay met people at 10.30. I was 10 minutes late retreiving a better pair of walking boots and waterproof trousers from my flat in West Watford on realising the weather men had got it wrong so therefore I would be leading the walk after all. However when I arrived people were just parking their cars and in the process of arriving themselves.

I led the walk around the Aquadrome, Stockers lake, another lake and Spring well lake, going fully round the circumferences of these lakes and down the tow path to the Coy Carp. It was a showery day that perked up with sparks of sunshine as the day went on. We all got on together, having happy chats as we walked along and stopped occasionally for photo shoots. We saw small moutain ponies in a field. Kathy swung over a stream on a rope with a knot on it charmingly pulled by a Yorkshire Terrier belonging to a barge owner.

Stockers lake is a bird sactuary with a erons nest and a variety of birds such as Coots, Canada Geese and Swans paddling around on it. It is more barren and natural than the aquadrome. Springwell lake is equally wild and is used by a fishing society. When the sun shines and the sky is blue and the lake completely reflects it like a mirror - it is a beautiful sight to behold and we had glimpses of this though much better in summer of course.

Since we were wet and muddy the Coy Carp was a refuge as we sat by the fire and ate our pub lunch leisurely. The general consensus was to take a faster route back - we had covered 7.5 miles getting there. So we walked back directly down the tow path arriving at Cafe Nero just before darkness fell for some hot drinks and luscious Tiramisu. To Caffe Nero's door it was 3 miles, making it a 10.5 mile walk enjoyed by all. The walk was led by me, and arranged and supported by Humay, and those who came with us were Derek, Prem, Kathy, David and Andy.

Leading this walk gave me confidence to lead another and even lead this one again in the summer. I felt very accepted as a newcomer and had a lovely day.

Report by Rhiann

10 of us met on a rainy morning in Ealing. Kelvin said that his cycle computer forecast was for dry weather from 11 onwards... We headed north to the first feature - Ealing Abbey and monastery, consecrated in the early 1900s - probably the largest church now in the area. We then cycled through Brentham garden village and into Pitshangar park. Next stop was Perivale church, with its' 11th century foundation - the present building is 16th century.

We cycled past Perivale wood - Selbourne society own this private reserve - and then to Horsenden Hill farm. This is now the ranger post and information centre for the hill and woodland. As the rain was still falling we decided to stop at the Ballot box for a coffee break. After a short break we were glad to find the rain had stopped so we headed up hill to Sudbury Hill. From here we took in the private roads up to Harrow on the hill - steady climbing to St Marys on the summit. We took in the views and explored the graveyard and its memorial to Byron.

We were all pleased now that the climbs were over, and it was southwards downhill all the way. Next stop was Northala fields - newly opened. We cycled up the main "hill" - it has a sloping path which circles the hill in an illusory manner. From the top the clear skies afforded a great 360 degree view to central London and the North Downs. From here we took the canal path to the Black horse for the late lunch stop and the end of the ride.

Report by Brian

Zhang, Mark S, Katie, Geeta, Steve and I met up at on a cold damp morning by Watford Met line tube station for a 9 mile walk (to Rickmansworth) and 12 miles (to Watford). The choice of paths at a number of points necessitated compass work. We passed the boarded-up pub at Chandlers Cross; on previous HAWOG walks less than 10 years ago it was thriving. We crossed the M25 and walked into Sarratt village.

The village market had finished by the time we arrived and so we went to the Boot public house for lunch. The second part of our walk showed the delights of the rolling hills of the Chess valley. The different abilities and speeds of attendees was catered for by those going ahead stopping at major or uncertain junctions to enable those further back to catch up, including me. At Rickmansworth the opportunity to complete a few miles presented itself as the tube line to Watford was not direct. Four of us decided to walk the few miles back to our start point at Watford past Croxley Green, the canal path and Cassiobury Park. Many thanks to those who attended.

Report by David

Two teams entered for this years Roding's night orienteering competition. Team HAWOG1 consisted of Kate G and Carl, and team HAWOG2 was comprised of Martin J and Jun. This year's 5 checkpoint competition was most challenging, as the checkponts were scattered far and wide across Epping Forest.

HAWOG1 started first, with HAWOG2 30 minutes behind them. HAWOG2 found all the checkpoints and posted a finishing time of 5.5 hours. HAWOG1, unfortunately, found no checkpoints and failed to finish. Despite this, Kate and Carl both said they enjoyed taking part and would compete again next year.

I will inform you all of HAWOG2's overall placing in the 5 checkpoint event when the results are published.

Report by Martin J

We met at about 11.30 at Pinner tube station. We first went through Pinner Memorial Park and then ambled along the River Pinn for a while. Soon we felt peckish so stopped for a quick sandwich break in lovely Eastcote House garden.

We were lucky with the weather which, although not very promising early in the morning, remained dry all day - we even had a few sunny spells - and the trees were a glorious colour. As we followed a green corridor as far as Ruislip, it really felt like we were in the countryside!

In the afternoon we had a short stop at Bayhurst Wood in Ruislip for a well earned rest, and eventually got a free ride from Northwood back to Pinner and Harrow thanks to the rail replacement service!

It was a long walk and by the end of it we were all utterly exhausted but it was nonetheless a most enjoyable walk in excellent company.

Many thanks to Sue for organising it, and to Mathilde for volunteering to take photos! See you all for the next walk.

Report by Sophie

8 of us met on a sunny frosty morning at Cliveden. The clear sky brought the best out of the autumnal colours of the woods, and we had good views down the Thames valley from the Cliveden heights. We took in all the features of the parkland - several statues, the water gardens and the house itself. The orangery tea shop is so long that it easy to eat packed lunch undisturbed as Phil discovered. As we arrived early we once again missed the gate keeper so escaped the entrance fee.

Report by Brian

Wilderhope Manor proved a great venue for what is our group's biggest weekend away in years. A grand manor with thick walls, old wooden circular staircases at each end, a maze of rooms with small windows and high wooden beams, and original plumbing. Bath and rest rooms were good quality but sparse. And our room configurations meant girls and guys were at the wrong ends for their respective toilets. Not too bad for us guys though as we very kindly used the private public conveniences hired by Paul and Beverley and their two sons for their exclusive use. You really didn't feel like remembering which of the many consecutive unmarked doors led quickly to the loos at three in the morning when you knew their was a loo through the first door en route.

Anyway, 41 members attended the weekend. 39 arrived before 12:45am, Nisha, Kavita and Fiona arriving last after touring the motorways around Birmingham at night. All the best sights with HAWOG. The award though for most enthusiastic outdoor members goes to Magda and Phil. Arrived at 2am and unable to get in. Outside door locked, didn't know combination, no mobile phone signals, didn't know which rooms we were all in, and the windows were so small probably couldn't have hit them with anything anyway. No tent for these two though. Back seat in car for Magda, reclined front seat and a bloody good hiding for Phil I do believe. It wasn't just the sheep who were looking sheepish and a bit woolly on Saturday morning.

Anyway, Saturday morning came and 36 of us headed west in mild, dry and cloudy conditions. We followed the major Jack Mytton Way south-west for a few miles before exiting to Rushbury across two ploughed fields without the path marked and a disused railway line. From them on we took a variety of smaller paths to Hope Bowdler and its church, and our lunch stop half way point, Church Stretton. A nice village with many shop windows with displays of their wares. After a good hour for lunch we departed and followed the Jack Mytton Way all the way back for our return. Through Chelmick, Ticklerton and Eaton hamlets before reaching the edge of Wenlocks Edge which we climbed up to follow the ridge path home. All 36 returned home on foot completing the 15 miles before 6pm. Well done to you all.

The dining room in Wilderhope Manor had high ceilings and a huge fireplace. We were served from 7pm, the food was good quality and very reasonably priced, three courses for £9 each. Or 5 courses for £9 as I understand if your name is Pete and you ate Humay and Phil Mcs pudding when they departed for the rugby. "You what". The Snug bar downstairs offered good ambience and background music.

Most of us headed into Ludlow on Sunday, some for a walk in the woods on the towns outskirts, some for a look around the Castle and olde shops. There was an art gallery within the Castle walls plus an easy town walk via the river. Many met up later at the Cathedral (actually Parish church), highlights misericords. "Barney" gave a talk on wall construction and Rob one on medieval woodcarvings. People departed for home at various times during the afternoon. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Five of us had a pleasant Walk In The Dark on Saturday evening. Temperature mild, dry, and some starlight. We met for a drink at the Harrow pub at 8pm and departed high up from Piggots Wood in the Chiltern Hills, Hughenden Valley at 9pm. Through woods and fields overlooking the lights of houses close and distant. We walked into a field of cows, suddenly noticing them turning their heads presumably to see what the lights were. Nothing else about them moved initially, their torsos remained static. Then they started to follow us, at different tempos, every now and then a few gallops. They followed us to the corner of the field. Then one of us yelled "Bull". There wasn't. But it was funny. You couldn't really see or hear anything to suggest there was one though.

We reached our second pub for the evening, the Whip Inn, at Loosley Row, at 10:40pm. A busy pub with a beer festival. Might have got a few more takers had I known about it in advance. Our route back was easier to navigate with clearer path signs. Although the terrain contrasted sharper, more short, sharp rolling hills. We kept quiet as our path from Speen village went through the gardens of a number of locals. Mark and Julietta tooked some of the plentiful apples from the many low hanging trees we had to duck under. At Upper North Dean we had our last short steep climb of the evening returning to our car at 12:45am. 6 miles of walking fun. Really enjoyed, hope to put another one on the program soon. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Twelve members walked eleven miles in undulating Chiltern countryside on a warm and sunny day. We departed at 10:40am and headed east over hills to Downley Common and then through woods for lunch at Hughenden Manor. We sat outside in the grounds of the Manor on benches in memory of people from Harrow (coincidence). Our route then headed broadly north-west on the outskirts of more woods towards Naphill village where we saw a busy wooded adventure play area (ropes from trees, teenagers on bikes etc). We picked up one of the many paths through Naphill Common following compass broadly in the right direction to Bradenham Manor and its long walled boundary. Making good time we stopped for a drink in the Red Lion public house before heading north to Saunderton and our final path along the Ridgeway to West Wycombe about 4pm. The afternoon finished with tea and cake at my home.

Report by Steve

8 of us joined in the London cycle day on Sunday. Fine weather greeted us at Ravenscourt Park where we joined the start of the ride. We stocked up on the free fruit and Red Bull cans provided at the welcome tents, and joined the 1000s of cyclists following the well-signed route to St James' Park.

The route took in Hyde Park and the Mall and ended at the Hovis picnic site. About 40,000 cyclists were in central London - no cars on the Embankment or around Whitehall and the parks. Prem helped herself to 6 packs of free sandwiches, claiming they were for Derek and Andy who had lost us by the palace. As well as free Hovis sandwiches there were piles of free cycle gear and other items which Kevin tried to force into his rucksack.

Afterwards we continued the ride along the Thames, stopping for photos and viewpoints. Boris Johnson was spotted amidst the mass of cyclists, and Rob met some riders from previous cycle clubs. A great day for cycling in London, photos from Derek to follow.

Report by Brian

8 of us met at Trafalgar Square for the annual Open House day. We headed for the city first, intending to visit the Bank and Lloyds, however the queues snaked around the building for 400m so we decided to give them a miss. We got into the Guildhall much easier and joined a tour of the area including the Roman wall and amphitheatre. We then descended to a Turkish bath, followed by an ascent - 40 storeys in 20 seconds - to the top of the Gherkin. Excellent views today as cloudless sky, could just about see Derek and Kevin running across Tower Bridge to get to the start 1 hour late. We found a rare green oasis by St Botolphs church for our lunch stop. Jan was entertained by a Liam Gallagher look-alike (his words) who played U2 and Elvis requests. Afterwards we fitted in the Daily Express (art deco features), Somerset House and Marlborough House where Gina organised afternoon tea on the lawn in glorious sunshine.

Report by Brian

A perfect Sunday afternoon walk with Sue and Sam, Jackie and Christina, Kelly, Sim. We met at about 2:00pm in Waxwell Lane, Pinner, and immediately had to plaster on Jackie's factor 50 suntan lotion as the sun was really hot and blazing down on us.

We ambled along past Haydon Lodge, the Grange and Sweetmans Hall into Poors Field where the children had another stop to build up piles of grass and we even managed to identify the wild cherry trees in Long Meadow which we were quite amazed at!

Sam and Christina were full of energy and kept us entertained along the way. We had a few stops in the park and the children (including Sim) had a little play on the slide!! Unfortunately I didn't capture that moment.

By unanimous (grown up) decision we had a tech stop at the Case is Altered (fab pub on the Eastcote Road) had a drink and a light snack of lots and lots of crisps !! We then continued onto the park where the children had a good run around and play and the adults a great chat!!

We talked all the way but still admired the quaint cottages and stunning houses on the route. It really was a relaxed and tranquil afternoon with excellent company and good laughs. It was great to get back into a gentle walk and meet you all after being away for the summer. Thanks Sue for the organising, much appreciated.

Report by Carla

10 of us met on a very sunny fine morning at Hampstead Heath. We welcomed back Harpreet and Helena who had not been to an event for some time. Coral directed us to the Heath cafe where we had a short map reading revision. Then we split into 2 groups to follow the course. This took us over Parliament Hill - lots of kite flying today - and through lots of forest trails where the compass was called for. Patrick's team found all the points and ventured further to find some more on a 2nd course. We all met later for a picnic (except those with no food - no names). Afterwards some went swimming in the pool on the heath and the rest did a walk through Hampstead village and nearby areas finishing at Carluccis for cakes and pasta.

Report by Brian

6 current members (Caroline, Kim, Prem, Derek, Marcellus, me) joined 3 members (Joyce, Mary, Ralph) from our 1950s group on Saturday afternoon for our deliberately easy 4 mile walk in Black Park near Slough. The forecast sun did not happen; it remained overcast and was a tad chilly as the evening approached. We saw the Pinewood Studio's cameras shooting a film in and around the park. Probably not a Bond like Live and Let Die.

Again Joyce, Mary and Ralph told us more stories about the group, the YHA, the area and life many years ago. Cycling much longer distances on less comfortable bikes. The variation in hostel standards and chores that attendees needed to do. The greater use of public transport - cars weren't allowed at hostels until well into the sixties. And the group "did attract a few odd people". Some things never change. Live and let live.

Mary and Ralph mentioned they still have (they think) slide shows of events members of the group used to attend during the fifties along with other items of outdoor equipment from that period. Slide shows were one of the midweek hall events for members at the time. I have asked them if they would like to dust down their artefacts and tell current members about the group, the YHA, the area and life during the fifties one Thursday evening. These would be first hand accounts from past members now well into their seventies. Watch this space.

Someone else who should watch this space more closely is Dave T who walked round the lake and the visitors centre at 2pm and couldn't find us. 2pm Sunday. If you were thinking of buying Dave a Christmas present then a diary might be a good one.

Report by Steve

Many thanks to Mark H for organising another successful caving trip for group members. Seven of us (Caroline, Lenka, Dan, Dean, Mark H, Mike, me) plus John our instructor went down Swildons Hole, Priddy in Somerset.

We had all been caving once or twice before and this cave was a little more challenging than our previous adventures. John showed us a map of Swildons Hole, told us where he planned to take us, what to expect and about safety.

Two fleece jump suits and an over suit each later we were almost ready. It was a tad warm above ground with all that gear and more on. At the cave entrance we were given knee pads, wellington boots and head torches and packed the three small waterproof bags with minimal gear (ropes, ladders, spare torches, chocolate bars, water etc).

Swildons Hole involved a bit of everything; walking, climbing, crawling, jumping, squeezing through tight spots, getting wet, staring at the person-in-front's backside for ages while waiting for others ahead to move on. The rock formations are fabulous with many not-so-random and asymmetrical shapes; icicles, slopes, some wet, others with a surprisingly imperfect smooth texture. And nothing man-made apart from us and our belongings; there is no power and only one sign, presumably deliberately placed at an appropriate point in the cave (Wookey Hole 1.5 miles).

Most of the key points of our route had names: Old Grotto, Forty-Foot-Pot, Twenty-Foot-Pot, Double-Pots, Barnes' Loop, Sump 1, Vicarage Passage, Sump 2 etc. We went as far as Sump 2. Much of our route followed a stream which meant that we knew that we would get wet. We had to walk and crawl through water and under showers. Our clothing kept us warm but not dry which was as expected. Before long the inside of our boots were wet, the water would come out when we next crawled down a hole but before long would be wet again.

A sump is where the connection to the next part of the cave means going underwater. Sump 1 required us to swim 2 metres under a rock to get to the other side. We all did it. Not long and we pulled along the fixed rope connecting both sides. We had no plans to pass Sump 2; much longer at 7 metres I think, instead reaching it and then turning back. Total distance from the entrance to Sump 1 was 550m, and from Sump 1 to Sump 2 was 270m. Not sure of depth but I think it was around 30m. We entered the cave before 11am and surfaced around 3:30pm, a bit earlier than expected. No time for lunch, we had a few very short stops to eat our chocolate bars while in the cave.

Physically, we all found it demanding. Certainly involved different muscles. My legs were fine but I said hello to my shoulders for the first time in years. We had to jump down into a few pools of water, only from heights of a 3-4 metres but of course you get wet. Even more so if you don't manage to stay upright when you land. The ladder and ropes were used in a few places where grip and height were not options for ascending/descending on our own. We were all tired and hungry at the end.

Saturday evening for most of us was spent in a nice country pub being fed and watered. Dean showed us his love for mushrooms, he had them for breakfast, starter, main, and enquired about them for dessert (unfortunately no mushroom crumble). And not mushroom for anything else when he had finished eating too. We were starving.

Sunday involved a variety of activities, the main one being horse riding following a late breakfast and depart, can't work out why we had not arisen earlier. Watch out for more caving opportunities, something I would like to do once or twice a year, good fun.

Report by Steve

The venue of the caving centre was ideal; it was in a secluded location, with a high wooded backdrop with the caves below, it was so secluded that many of us drove straight past the entrance a few times before locating it. The accommodation was basic but the essential amenities were all operational including the fire alarm even with no fire. The rooms needed a bit of an airing but after a while it was fine, the venue afforded complete freedom for the group and it was also within walking distance of Buckfastleigh. Unfortunately the museum was shut, but there were still a few exhibits and information within and outside of the centre.

A walking route for Saturday was planned on the Friday evening; this was a circular walk around a section of the River Dart valley approximately 12 miles, not including all the undulations! The start being a short car journey from the hostel via Ashburton. The walkers were John and Ania and her mother Barbara, Tom and Anthea, Jun, Amy, Mike, Paul and me. Beverly and the boys Ollie and Archie went on a separate day trip.

Saturday began warm and just became hotter and hotter as the day progressed, we all needed to be prepared with the lots of sun cream, water, sun hats and also plenty of bug repellant provided by Mike. We all gradually met up at the agreed start location at the car park of Newbridge Marsh not far from the village of Holne, we all trudged off at about 11am. There was some initial difficulty at first finding a clear path route but gradually this was more defined following the 'Two Moors Way' and onto the 'Dartmoor Way'. Footpaths on some of the initial sections were fairly steep and tiring, this was partly adjusting to the heat also. It proved to be a picturesque route with views down the river valley and also covering some of the moor land features. Quite a few photos were taken mostly of the Dartmoor ponies and their foals; they seemed quite at ease in the presence of people and were willing photo subjects. We all stopped for lunch sitting on top of 'Sharp Tor' amongst the rocky outcrops, it was an opportunity to cool down for a while and air our feet. We then had a further stop at Dartmeet Bridge, this is a popular tourist stopping point by the rivers edge, the atmosphere was very relaxed with people and dogs splashing around in the river and generally lazing around. So we joined in! The ice creams on sale there were more than welcome, some of us even wandered to the pub/restaurant for refreshment. (No names to protect the guilty). We were about at the half way stage of the walk, and when it was time to move on, I must admit it took me a while to get going again. We left the 'Dartmoor Way' path for our route back to the cars; this initially required us to cross a river section via large slippery stepping stones at irregular intervals within the river. Barbara was not keen on this route and disappeared; eventually John found her and helped her across, in some form of 18th century waltz they danced across the stones, to much applause! After passing through the oak wooded area and some further uphill sections, we must have all had a second wind as we were beginning to progress at a more steady pace. This was for me the best stretch of walk following roughly the contour of Holne Moor with fine views into the river valley and then crossing the dam at the picturesque area of the Venford reservoir. Following the route for a further couple of miles it was then a left turn at the road junction to Holne following the river back to the car park. We finished at approximately 6:30 pm.

All in all it was a good walk with variety and good views of the glorious Devon countryside and quite testing considering the heat that day. We all looked forward for some refreshment later checking out some of the local brews at one of the locals in Buckfastleigh.

Another bright sunny day, this time the group split to undertake various activities. Mike, with John, Ania and Barbara returned to where we had walked the previous day, whilst venturing further into the moor. Mike advised that once into the moor they spent quite a lot of the time laying down on the moor looking up at the sky. This seems a reasonable thing to do, relaxing in contrast to the previous day's exertions. Jun drove to the west side of the moors for a bike ride, she later advised that due to the stones on the tracks it was a bit bumpy so she kept to the road routes, the roads were not too busy, so all in all she had a good day.

The remainder of us set out to go canoeing picking up the canoes from Totnes, to travel upstream of the River Dart to shoot the rapids! After some brief instruction form the proprietor we set of in two canoes, Tom and Anthea in one, Ami and I in the other. The arrangement is such that the person at the front paddles and the person at the rear steers (with some paddling). In our canoe Ami steered whilst I paddled, she expressed some slight nervousness at first which she soon overcome whilst correcting my paddling methods. So after a few visits into the bulrushes and trees we were soon moving along with a bit more confidence. Tom and Anthea were progressing along like a couple of old hands, I had the feeling this was not Toms first time with the paddle. We were moving against the current which was quite gentle along this initial stretch of river, and quite relaxing with not too much paddling effort.

Tom was in his element, his American roots were beginning to show by giving some fine renditions of 'Way down upon a Swannie River' echoing down the banks of the Dart. Tom and Anthea also went side to side now and again to allow Anthea to check out and record the local flora. After contacting Tom for directions (via the mobile in a big waterproof bin in the middle of the canoe) we were later joined by Paul, Beverly and the boys, Ollie and Archie. We managed to find a suitable place pull in where we all met up for a bit of a break and refreshment.

The boys were in good spirits and looked to be enjoying the whole canoeing experience, so much so they wanted their Mum and Dad to go home by canoe instead of the car! After the break we all continued to head upstream. The steam train line followed the route of the river and every now and again you would hear a 'toot toot' then the steam train would pass by and the passengers would wave and we would all wave back, I would imagine to some constant amusement for the boys.

Along the route we observed as many as eleven kingfishers, or was it just one following us flying backwards and forwards! None the less it's still quite exiting seeing some wild life we rarely see normally at home. Anthea spotted a fairy garden along the bank in the middle of nowhere, complete with snow white and the seven dwarves. We don't often see these either! Further upstream the current was becoming stronger and was made worse by a feeder stream into river, this was to prove my undoing. Paul, Beverly and the boys somehow sailed through it whilst the rest of us really struggled to get through, going just side to side without making any headway. Paul later confided that he developed some sort of push along the river bottom technique with the oars. In the end Tom and Anthea manoeuvered their canoe to the edge of the river where it was reasonably shallow, then Tom got out for a paddle and pulled their canoe though the last difficult stretch. Ami and I followed suit.

We carried on a little way further, but I must admit I was whacked! Paul, Beverly and the boys headed back and after pulling up for a good rest we also followed them back downstream to where we started. It was a leisurely drift back just going with the flow of the current with little or no paddling, whilst taking the opportunity to dry off! Many thanks to Tom for organizing the canoe hire which proved to be an enjoyable day out and to Ami for putting up with my dodgy paddling. Also to everyone else for their good company.

Another bright sunny start for the day. After packing and tidying up, many of us wondered down in various groups to Buckfast Abbey. The grounds of the Abbey are quite large, consisting of the buildings associated with the Abbey, a produce shop selling various smellies and drink but no Abbey honey left! A water mill, rather large one and various gardens also a very large Abbey. I found the healing herb gardens to be most interesting, I have always believed that man's cures are growing around him. And women's too! The centerpiece of the Abbey was a rather modern, very large glass mosaic of Jesus located at the very rear; it captured the light perfectly shinning and radiating throughout the Abbey leaving the visitor with a lasting impression of the visit. After a walk through Buckfast in search of the elusive cream tea, it was time to head home.

Many thanks for a great time and good company till we meet again, and thanks to John for organising the trip.

Report by Ken

5 of us met at Windsor Bridge last Sunday morning to do a 14.5 mile walk along the Thames to Walton Bridge.

We set off at about 10:30am, hoping that the rain which had recently cleared up wouldn't return (it didn't). The route took us around the edge of Windsor Home Park (on the opposite bank), and towards Runnymede. The Magna Carta monument was visible from the Thames Path, but we couldn't see the John F Kennedy memorial. A couple of miles further downstream, we reached the halfway point at Staines Bridge, so we stopped to have lunch.

After lunch, we carried on downstream, finally reaching Shepperton Lock at around 3:30pm, where we stopped for some well-deserved tea and cakes. Heading off just after 4pm, we caught a small ferry across the Thames, to continue along the Thames Path on the opposite bank. We reached the end of our walk, at Walton Bridge, at around 4:45pm.

Thanks all for coming.

Report by Phil

The walk last Sunday went well - we were fortunate to have both good weather (only two brief showers!) and good company along the way. We were joined by seven members of the Croydon YHA Group; Olga, John, Barry, Lesley, Jeff, Anne and Keith, two friends of mine, Barry and Melissa (potential new members!!??) and twelve HAWOGians - Pete, Phil J, Kate, Tom, Anthea, Jackie, Richi, Andy, Steve, Nicky and Nisha (and me!).

The first half of the walk took us along the banks of the Thames, past salubrious boat and summer houses and though a beautiful wild summer meadow, resplendent in an array of colourful wild flowers and long grasses (Monet, eat your heart out!). Along the way, we could see Bisham Abbey, founded by the Knights Templar in 1139. We crossed Britain's longest hardwood footbridge, and under the shade of the chestnut trees, Harleyford Manor could be seen in the distance (claimed to be the original toad Hall in 'The Wind in the Willows'.

We had lunch in the spacious garden of the Flower Pot pub - their sausage, mash and gravy were particularly enjoyed by those who had it, apart from Richi, who hungrily waited for ages and ended up pulling a short straw, only getting half a Yorkshire pudding!!!

A wee short cut was taken to cut 17 miles down to a more comfortable 10 - 12 (not sure axactly how far we went!) by crossing the river early at a zig-jag Weir near Hambledon Lock. We paused to watch the river boats pass through and enjoy the flow of the river and wildfowl.

The latter half of the walk took us through shaded paths and a spooky, narrow tunnel, little forest areas, which was a welcome break from the bright sunshine.

Thanks to all who, came - it was a lovely day - I hope also we can have more events with the Croydon Group - let this be the first of many to come!

Report by Fiona

The annual Gloucester Volleyball Tournament provided our venue for a weekend of camping. We arrived at Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre just after 9pm thinking we might have to offer our services as spare players; we were not part of a team and spare players are always needed. We didn't need to, there was no mention made of volleyball by the stewards, instead we were greeted with clear instructions about campsite protocol and handed a black bag for our rubbish.

We pitched our tents during dusk. Martin had brought his new tent and it wasn't small. In fact it was so big children kept running over asking what time the circus started. Unfortunately we told them to say goodbye to the circus as Nelly the elephant had not packed his trunk. Actually it was Brian who had not packed his trunk, forgotten to bring along a vital part of his tent, meaning he was tentless. What a shame. So it's not just elephants who forget.

Pitching this new tent took ages, even with Brian who now needed a canvas over his head for the weekend. Of course you never start by reading the instructions. Brian kept asking "what colour's your pole?". Nothing pervy, the poles had different coloured tips relating to various orifices in the tent. Eventually we all got involved, holding and pulling various bits of tent into place. We caught the back end of the on-site bar and disco before joining the revellers heading back to the campsite for small hours conversation and beverages.

Saturday involved our group splitting into two for walking and cycling activities both starting from Painswick village, the Queen of the Cotswolds. We saw the 99 Yew Trees in the cemetery. Three cyclists followed a 30 mile route, part off road, along the Cotswold Way to Birdlip, south to Bisley, Stroud and Painswick Hill, with 360 degree views. The walkers followed a 20 mile route clockwise to Painswick Hill, through Popes Wood, Sheepscombe for lunch, then mostly south-west to Whiteshill, then Haresfield Beacon with views over the Severn Vale and across into Wales, before heading back through Edge. Good weather, excellent views, very panoramic in undulating terrain.

After return to the campsite and showering we headed out to Cheltenham for an Indian. Again we caught the back end of the music and last orders at the campsite and the front end of the rain around 1am. That put a dampener on some of the banter and music that had been coming from many tents the night before. So a little earlier to sleep; we were tired.

Sunday we all headed east to Bourton-on-the-Water for an 8 mile walk. We followed the River Windrush north-west to Lower Harford Farm before heading east to Upper Slaughter where we stopped for lunch. Our return was south-east along the River Eye through Lower Slaughter were some bought the organic ice cream and then back to Bourton-on-the-Water.

The camping was excellent value, at exactly zero cost for pitching and the on-site toilets/showers were modern as was the food (hot breakfast) and the evening entertainment (bar and disco). Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

About 35 turned up on a sunny early evening on Hampstead Heath yesterday. The majority were from Backabush, with a few from HAWOG. We split into teams of 3, and about half the teams did a 2km easy course and the rest did a 3-4km medium course. The heath afforded great views over all of London and was very busy with other walkers, joggers and even some swimmers. Some of the points were hidden in hollows and one was in a marshy area that was very elusive. Coral and Patrick once again showed their experience of map reading, and Jun Ma did very well at her first map reading event. We finished just as dusk was approaching and most headed to a heathside pub to swap stories.

Report by Brian

6 of us met at Walton Bridge on the hottest day of the year so far to do a 12.5 mile walk along the Thames to Richmond Bridge.

We set off promptly, covering the first 5 miles to Hampton Court Bridge in well under 2 hours. Here we crossed the bridge and started to walk along the path between the river and the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, by now all wearing hats to protect ourselves from the blazing sun. We managed to find a shady spot by the river for lunch, just short of Kingston Bridge.

After lunch, we headed for the bridge, where we crossed the river for the last time. Having passed a number of ice cream vans along the way, we finally succumbed on the way from Kingston Bridge to Teddington Lock. After a short break, we carried on to the lock. From this point onwards, we could see that in some places the path hadn't completely finished drying out after the recent floods. Passing Ham House, we reached Richmond Bridge after around 4 hours (plus breaks), a very good pace considering the weather.

Thanks all for coming.

Report by Phil

8 of us met in Ickenham on a fine evening. We took the Hillingdon trail alongside Ickenham cricket ground and playing fields. We then joined the Celadine way following the River Pinn to Swakeleys - just glimpsing the Manor House. Afterwards, we walked back to the Coach and Horses by the green.

Report by Brian

13 of us turned out for the Sunday afternoon walk. The sun shone, so it was a really pleasant surprise. After a bit of a faltering start we were eventually on the correct path. Thanks to David for his navigation aids. We stopped briefly at the Grim's Dyke Hotel before continuing on to Harrow Weald common, we then passed by Bentley Priory before stopping to take some pictures at the deer enclosure. Eventually making our way back to the start of our route and a stop at The Case is Altered. Everyone came along for a drink in the beer garden. A very nice Sunday afternoon. Clare joined us for her first walk with the group. Thanks to everyone for coming along.

Report by Mary

7 of us met at Wendover on Sunday morning to do a 12-mile circular walk through the Chilterns. We set off promptly at around 10:15am, covering the first 3 miles in just over an hour. We stopped outside a pub at Little Hampden Common for a few minutes - just long enough for Kevin to order and drink a cafetiere coffee !

After the brief stop, we carried on for another hour and a half or so, passing the proposed pub lunch stop in Whiteleaf, on the edge of Princes Risborough, and heading up to the top of Whiteleaf Hill to eat our packed lunches, with fine views over Princes Risborough and the surrounding countryside. Up to this point, the weather had been fine, but after around 20 minutes dark clouds appeared and it started to feel a bit chilly in our exposed position at the top of the hill, so we curtailed our lunch and headed downhill to continue the walk. Fortunately the dark clouds didn't develop into rain.

At around 3pm, we reached the village of Ellesborough, and were very pleased to find the village church open and serving very reasonably priced tea and homemade cakes. One or two of us climbed up the tower to survey the landscape. After an afternoon tea break which was probably longer than our lunch break, we headed for Wendover, which we reached at about 4:30pm.

Thanks all for coming.

Report by Phil

We arrived at the cider farm and were glad to see it was free of flooding. Our route was via the M3 and A303 which was rain-free and almost traffic-free !

On Saturday we took the West Somerset steam train to Watchet, which has an old style harbour with lighthouse, sailing museum and lots of pubs and cafes (in case of rain - there was none!). We explored the town, and after a quick stop at the award-winning Star Inn, we took the footpath from town up into the Quantocks. The highest point was Beacon Hill which afforded great views along the coast and over to Wales. We continued along the ridge path, finally descending a few miles south to catch the train back at a different station. The train back was a Butlins special which was going on via the steam line onto the mainline and Bristol. The guard explained that it was one of few trains running to Bristol as other lines had been closed.

On Sunday, glorious sunshine through the tents meant that everyone was up early, and after a Kerry-style fry-up, the group decided to cycle via canal to Bridgewater. We stopped by tradition at Maunsel locks for the cream tea, and explored Bridgewater Abbey and alms houses.

Report by Brian

I may be biased but the evening lived up to its' name, the evening sizzled!

The day started well, the sun shone and brought in a steady flow of HAWOGians, we then played the game of 'who knows Gordon Beale ?' !, as soon as the eponymous gentleman turned up. By now my main man, Simon of Salsa Secrets, had set the scene by playing a variety of tunes before turning on the salsa vibe. This was a prelude to him doing a Merengue warm-up which set the tone for the evening, as a majority of the guests enjoyed the twists and turns of the arm movements. Then followed a pragmatic line dance of basic salsa steps within a line dance format. By this time some of the salseros had turned up. Simon orchestrated those movements in partner form within a circle format/dance. This proved successful, despite Simon looking quizzically in Mike S' direction as he struggled with his orientation !!

Then a short break followed by part two of the circle dance, but this time with turns and spins, which caused merriment and twisted limbs ! However, the participation and enthusiasm remained high. Freestyle in salsa and Merengue followed, with experienced salseros dancing with the less experienced amongst other variables, anyway the place was rocking ! I went outside for some orthodox party banter/a breather and on my return and to my chagrin, I missed my friend Lynda leading a Charleston! Variety was indeed the spice as the last lap approached and Simon turned to some 50's jive - this is where Jan went from strength to strength, culminating in her leading the rowing in 'Oops upside your head' ! Is there anything that this woman can't do on a dance floor ?!

The immediate feedback told me that the evening's entertainment was a resounding success. I would like to thank everybody, and I mean everybody, as you all contributed; those of limited experience had a go, those of greater ability inspired the aforementioned. Those who didn't dance also assisted in other ways, taking the money, bringing food etc. It's like having a personal support system, so thank you all. I'd also like to thank Landmark Education.

I`ll be back!

Report by Humay

There were 14 of us on this camping trip, a joint event with Backabush. The campsite is on the edge of the Ridgeway just below Uffington Castle and the white horse chalk figure.

On Saturday we did a walk along the Ridgeway and climbed up to the castle - an Iron Age fort with great views in all directions. Marcella, the camp manager, delivered firewood on both evenings for our camp fire. We toasted marshmallows supplied by Etinnette and had music around the fire till late. As it was such a large campsite, there were no noise complaints.

On Sunday a few went horse riding near Farringdon - a 1 hour hack across the hills. The rest did another hike near Lambourne. We finished the afternon with a cream tea back at the camp site tea rooms - all home-made as the camp site is on a working dairy farm. The weather was fine with just a couple of showers.

Report by Brian

8 teams took part in our annual treasure hunt. This year it had a Tour de France theme. All teams had to go to the prologue route and get answers from the race. It was very crowded but we could see the riders coming through by Green Park. The route then took in the St James palace area, Covent Garden, Somerset House and Lincoln's Inn Fields.

All teams did very well and the results were very close. Teams from Barnet and Essex shared first place and took home the prizes.

Coral used her initiative to get help from the many policeman lining the route. One question was about the last performance by a famous musician in 1848 - Corals policeman radioed his base and passed on the answer : "We think it was Genesis". It was the first event for Kelly, Manish and Steve.

Report by Brian

6 intrepid cavers (Dean, Caroline, Lenka, Dan, Stash and myself) ventured forth to the Mendips for a great caving adventure. The skies were sunny and it boded well for the weekend. We all arrived at the caving lodge without incident (we even saw a badger run across the road in front of us), and settled down for some needed refreshments after the long drive.

We then retired to bed, but not for sleep..........??? As we were sharing with the caving club for the weekend, there was a good chorus of snores from some quarters (not from any of us though!) so not the best night's sleep! Saturday morning saw us all up early for a hearty breakfast in glorious sunshine, where we met up with John (our instructor) to get kitted out.

We then went caving in a cave called GB cavern. This was a 5.5 hour trip, with excellent rock formations, underground rivers and a lot of challenges to get through. It was a first time experience for 2 members (Lenka and Stash) and they were welcomed at the entrance with a 20 foot crawl through a wormhole with water in it to start them off! They did not seem put off though, and we continued to explore all the crevasses at the outer reaches of the cave, just to see how tight a gap we could get through. John, our instructor was also teaching us cave orienteering and map/survey reading, so we could probably take a trip soon without instruction in some of the easier caves.

A trip in GB cavern is not complete without going through the "Devils Elbow" an extremely tight wormhole in an 'elbow' shape, reached by climbing half way up a cavern wall and crawling through a crack in the rock, and it is filled with about 6" deep of water, which is damn cold!! This has been known to reduce lesser people to tears, and I think Stash will have it etched on her memory for the rest of her life *grin* but we all survived without incident, to return to the caving lodge and then to go Priddy for the local folk festival and a good meal and possibly a beer or 3 ;-) Needless to say, we slept very well that night!!!

Sunday saw a lazy return home via Cheddar Gorge, again in beautiful sunshine, and we are all looking forward to the next trip in September.

Report by Mark H

Even though the rain reigned during our week in Scotland, we still managed a variety of outdoor activities every day. 20 mile walks, climbs up the highest mountains and canoeing being among the highlights. Our accommodation, Feshiebridge Lodge, 5 miles south of Aviemore, was good quality. We had exclusive use of the whole lodge which comprised 3 chalets and a family flat connected via a central communal area. Each chalet had 4 bedrooms and modern kitchen, showers and lounge area, and was a bargain price at only £8 pppn. The lodge was next to a lake (Loch Insh) and the small village of Kincraig.

During the week we climbed, at various times, Cairn Gorm (Sunday and Thursday), the second highest peak in the UK Ben Macdui (Tuesday) and on our last day, Friday most of us headed over to Fort William to climb Ben Nevis. 19 of us reached the summit, all starting the climb just after 11am. Well done to (girls) Caroline, Fiona, Jackie T, Jolandi, Kathy C, Kim and (guys) Andy W, Dave T, Glyn, Jeff, Laurence, Martin S, Mike K, Mike S, Rob, Rich, Salim, Steve N and me. The first of us reached the summit about 1:30pm, by 2pm it was raining heavy and we headed down, reaching the Ben Nevis Inn at the base just before 4pm. Apart from that 30 minute downpour the weather was dry and mild. Special well done to Dave T for perseverance; he returned to earth about 11pm and our base in Feshiebridge Lodge just after 1am.

Our main walks involved (Monday) most of us pursuing a distance low level walk following General Wade's Military Road, a historic route that offered early depart points for those who did not fancy the full 20 miles back to Feshiebridge Lodge. We visited the ruins of Ruthven Barracks and walked through Inshriach Forest during the afternoon. Apart from a 15 minute heavy downpour about 5pm the day arguably offered the best weather. On Wednesday some of us enjoyed a mix of mountain walking and 'bouldering' and a route taking in the Reindeer Centre (rain dear would have been more appropriate - it did rain quite heavily for a few hours early afternoon) and Creag a' Chalamain were we stopped for lunch. The route also circled Loch Molich (by mistake for some!). And as the evening presented sun and dry, Salim and I decided to walk to Aviemore and then back to Feshiebridge Lodge, returning just before 9:30pm, a good 20+ miles in total. Other day walks encompassed Lochan Geal and Loch Insh. Six also went canoeing on Loch Insh.

More leisurely activities involved around 20 taking the 42 mile trip on The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig, a trip to Inverness for food and cinema one evening, and taking advantage of our free access to the Dalfaber Country Club for swimming and saunas.

As always there was plenty of good hearted banter, satire and jokes. Glyn demonstrated his verbal dexterity with some very dodgy impressions of South Africans, the Scottish, Irish and a Mancunian duck. Unfortunately the natural places for such talent no longer exist: most 'care homes' have long since closed and there are few circuses nowadays. As always Shakespeare delivered the corniest one-liners. And we all put the world and the group to right most nights as at least one of our chalets became the hub of activity for the many night owls amongst us. Soft and not so soft beverages flowed into the small hours.

The lodge warden asked about the aerial attached to a long cable over a number of trees from one of our chalets. It was David's, he had set up his amateur radio from his chalets lounge; funnily enough I hadn't put myself in that chalet... Had its uses though, we had no TV, internet and local radio stations due to our remote location. So at 11pm on Wednesday evening, immediately before returning to my own chalet of course, I asked David to use his wireless to find the local weather forecast. 8:30am the following morning we were greeted with "I have the weather forecast for Calais". Part of me still wonders whether there was some mix up with the words chalet and Calais. And of course we all witnessed "Orville", the duck, who sat neatly on the finger and was a bargain at only 50p. Not quite the real thing though, being yellow rather than green. We felt like ducking whenever we heard or saw it coming though.

On Thursday evening a variety of pictures and words (from cut out letters) mysteriously appeared in various people's rooms. Then more the following morning. Like a murder mystery game rumours and conspiracy theories abound as to who was responsible. I can exclusively reveal that I was the culprit who posted the first ones in Andy/Dave and Glyn/Pete's rooms. Whilst I could find pictures of the other things I wanted I could not find a picture of a duck so had to resort to cutting out letters to spell "Orville".

Many thanks to all who researched and organised various activities during the week, to all for cooking, cleaning, entertaining etc, to those who drove, and to all for the Blacks vouchers, much appreciated, I will put them towards a new waterproof map cover and gaiters. For the record, for those travelling on the minibus (9 of us), our total accommodation and travel cost (including petrol) was just over £140 each for the week - or £20 a night. Good quality accommodation, travel and outdoor activities in beautiful countryside really is that cheap; don't pay more. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Only hardy souls turned up at High Beech on Sunday. And surprisingly, there were several groups preparing for a thrash around the forest while we were waiting.

We joined up with EFMTB for the off, but either through unfamiliarity with the Forest, or plain old "just not good enough," they soon disappeared into the forest ahead of us.

So we spent the rest of the morning picking our way through the forest on single tracks, the rain having made the terrain from fairly muddy to extremely muddy. Yet it was all pretty challenging and enjoyable to negotiate through, with (obviously) lots of tree roots sticking out from all directions.

The bikes performed well and it was only the draining effect of biking through mud which brought about our finish earlier than anticipated.

Report by Martin

My request for people to contact me the night before our 30 mile Marathon Walk And A Curry resulted in loads of action. Calls, texts, at one stage even a carrier pigeon tapping at my window. The masses were lined up and previous maximum attendance of four was going to be comfortably smashed. Then my alarm went off and I realised it was all a dream. No phone action. Dead ringer. For love or money, only one person had called meaning three now expected at the start.

All arrived promptly including our one newbie, Michael L who wanted to try walking in some new areas. Welcome. We left the car park at Stanmore Common, Bentley Priory, at 9:30am following signs for the London Loop which took us back to the road. So within our first 10 minutes we had gone wrong. Heading back we picked up our intended route heading east and north under the M1 past Aldenham Country Park to the Hertfordshire Way. Footpath signs not too bad, a few paths overgrown though.

We reached Shenleybury despite more dodgy signposting (major path on right not signposted at junction, minor path on left is signposted). Our route into St Albans was much easier, simply following route to outskirts and then minor paths to St Albans Abbey station which we reached at 1:20pm. We checked the station just in case any joiners might be waiting. None were so we headed across the road to the Roman Town and had lunch.

Michael's knee was causing a few problems so he departed to head back while Steve N and I continued with the planned route. We went slightly off plan to cross the M10 and then back as intended reaching the M1. No way across, we went right and then left, yomping across a field of high crops to a road under the motorway. I can see now the path actually stops at the M1 and turns left (no signpost or evidence footpath though); presumably the original path went straight across before the M1 was built 50 years ago. I don't think any of the path had been walked since then either. I wonder why? We wisely elected not to pursue a path back along the other side of the M1 to get back on plan, instead just followed the road and then our path to Bedmond village.

We reached the River Gade about 4pm and followed south. At this point we were feeling quite smug. Nice weather for walking, pleasant climate, occasional sun. Then the applause started and the wine flowed. Rain gear on. One of us had some. One of us only had a light fleece. And it wasn't me. We reached our Cassiobury Park depart at 5:30pm. Good pace. Past Holywell and Watford to Oxhey Wood. In the woods the rain started to hammer down. Even the birds were acting disturbed, like bats out of hell.

The intermittent signposting continued; none upon entry to the woods, we used map, assumptions and compass. However upon crossing a road to other side of the woods, it all changed. Loads of signs for the London Loop. Whoopee. Steve remarked "they're spoiling us now". You took the words right out of my mouth. We continued east, through Harrow Weald Common past RAF Bentley Priory and back to our cars bang on 8:30pm. Tired, hungry and a little wet. Two out of three ain't bad. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Janice and Evelyn led a group including Beth, Marty, Ash and Mark on the circular Bentley Priory trail. It passed the historic Priory buildings (control centre of the Battle of Britain RAF campaign) and had fine views over the Hertfordshire countryside. They had time to say hello to the cows, rabbits and deer in the parkland before the return to the Case is Altered pub. A very enjoyable mid-week walk.

Report by Brian

Many thanks again to the BBN LDWA for inviting HAWOG to join its 20 mile Northants Walk last Sunday.

Three of us joined twenty plus others for a 9am start in Whitfield and a brisk paced walk. We averaged about 3 miles an hour as we only stopped for an hour or so in total and were back at the start by 5:15pm. I was impressed with the stamina and effort of some of the participants. Dodgy knees and arthritic joints were not barriers to a few of the seniors on the walk (and I'm not talking about Glyn and Mark O) and it proved useful for a quartet of girls preparing to climb Kilimanjaro later in the year.

The route encompassed a number of villages with stone walls giving us a very 'Cotswold' feel. We waded through loads of rapeseed forests, often huge in height; at one stage we thought we had lost Mark O before we rescued him from their clutches. One of them did manage to successfully swipe him for his insolence though. The weather was warm throughout the day with lots of sunshine. Tea and refreshments were available at the end from the cafe that was still open; it had been serving cooked breakfasts since before our start.

Watch this space for some more longer-distance walks. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Around 30 went to Pembrokeshire for the bank holiday weekend at the end of May. We stayed at St Davids hostel, around 2 miles from the smallest city in Wales, but only a short walk from St Davids Head and Whitesands Bay. The hostel was spread over 3 buildings of varying standards, and all the rooms were a bit on the small side. A few arrived at around 6:30 pm on Friday, the remainder at various times up to around 1 am on Saturday.

On Saturday, after a fairly late start, around 20 of us walked northwards around 12 miles along the Pembrokeshire coastal path. The path was quite rugged in the early stages, but we were able to make better progress after lunch, stopping for ice cream at Abereiddy, and finishing at a pub in Trefin, where some waited for lifts back to the hostel.

In the evening, most of the group congregated at the Farmers Arms, the only pub in St Davids. Dean also led a post-midnight walk around the St Davids headland with 3 others - they finally made it back by 2.30am - the previous night's orienteering training was well practised.

The weather forecast for Sunday wasn't too encouraging but, remarkably, 10 of us gathered for a circular walk southwards along the coastal path. We reached the lifeboat station at St Justinians after a couple of miles, where 4 of the group decided to head inland towards St Davids, while the rest of us carried on along the coastal path, buffeted by the wind and braving occasional showers. Further on, we managed to find just enough shelter to allow us to eat our packed lunches, where we were joined by Mike S, who had managed to catch up with us. At the next footpath heading inland, 2 of us headed for St Davids, leaving the remaining 5 to carry on along the coastal path, 3 of them managing to complete the full 12 miles which had originally been envisaged. A few others from the group managed to do some cycling in spite of the bad weather. Most of the rest of the group spent the day in St Davids.

In the evening, some went to a pub a few miles away in Solva (and took part in a pub quiz which they just failed to win), some went to St Davids, whilst most spent the evening at the hostel, which included an hour-long game of Scrabble.

On Monday, 3 of us did a 1.5 hour horse ride, which included about 8 canters across Nolton beach in glorious sunshine. The horses were allowed to ride through the breaking waves in 3 groups. The riding school is probably the best yet - we spent about 45 minutes on the beach with great views along the coast. 6 of the group did the boat trip around Ramsey Island - many porpoises were seen diving alongside the boat, as well as grey seals, razorbills and many other sea birds. Afterwards 5 of us explored Haverfordwest castle. Another group took in Pembroke castle on the way back.

Thanks to everyone for coming.

Report by Phil

We gathered at Perivale station on a fine sunny evening. The walk went up Horsenden hill via canalside paths, reaching the summit via the golf course and forest-shrouded paths. There were excellent views over to Wembley stadium, and the city skyscrapers were clearly seen. Lots of people were on the hill in the good weather. We descended the hill on the north side and followed the forest trail to the Ballot Box pub - we chose to stay in the garden - still very warm plus the football was on inside.

Thanks to Jan for leading the walk.

Report by Brian

Two non-slackers from HAWOG joined fourteen from LDWA for a 20 mile Mid Bucks Bumble. Mark climbed out of his coffin at 6:10am, I resurrected at 7am, and we both met in good time to arrive for the 9am start from Great Horwood, south of Milton Keynes.

Weather sunny and warm, we commenced promptly and headed south following the Midshires Way past Addington and Claydon villages. Herds of cows followed us as they do and we saw some very unusual looking creatures, no not Brian G look-alikes, more like the sort of puppet that Bernie Clifton ( used to wear and use as part of his act. We walked around (literally) the very grand Claydon House remarking that you would need a good lottery win to own it and another to maintain it. Weren't quite sure who the ipity oiks were; we definitely were but what about some of the other forms of life we saw: visitors, or the gentry themselves?

We stopped for lunch shortly after 1pm and ten miles. Our afternoon session involved walking through fields with more cows that followed, horses that ran over to us and wild pigs. We arrived at Winslow around 5pm and were back at the start point in good time before 6pm. Thanks to Silvie for leading and LDWA for sharing their walk with us. It was nice to visit a part of the country I have never been to before. Many thanks.

Report by Steve

Seven of us slackers, as Steve would put it, opted for this gentler leisurely walk on a promising, bright Sunday morning of May.

At 11:15am we set off from the bare and exposed Virginia Water Station car park, and dived straight into a cool, shady emerald green woodland, following a meandering rusty red river. Soon, the well-preserved woodland path gave away to what was beginning to seem like a bit of a jungle-like obstacle course, especially for tall Phil. We found ourselves ducking under fallen tree trunks, bushes and walking by knee high ferns and hopping over muddy and slippery bits here and there. It was all good fun and just as Derek joked about us getting lost, we emerged onto a main road.

We had slight reservations venturing onto a public path running through a very private-looking golf course. You know how it is when you are just not sure that it really is a public footpath. Well anyway, we soldiered on to the annoyance of a few golfers; into a woodland again, and coming out onto the driveway of a very expensive looking property. What kind of jobs must people have to live in these places? We wondered outside the beautiful wrought iron gates.

A road sign with an image of a toad inside a red triangle caught our attention next. A toad crossing sign by a little stream!! Unfortunately we didn't see any toads to justify the existence of the sign. I suppose it was far too hot for toads to be out and about then.

We arrived at Virginia Water Park to have lunch by the lake. Just as we were tucking into our food whilst gazing dreamily into the lake, a lone swan swam up to us and decided to present us with a strange performance of burying its' head in the water and bobbing its' big white feathery bottom in the air. We were mooned by poultry! Just what you need to add to the tranquility of the surroundings.

After lunch, we went looking for the burst of colours I was expecting from the rhododendra. The sweet scent of the flowers was intense as we entered the garden. We could see splashes of colours here and there and some of the small winding paths were turned pink, purple, white and red from the fallen petals. But it was clear that we'd missed the best of the bloom by a week or two. Oh well, maybe we'll try and catch the spring colours next year. The walk finished with the group admiring the 100ft totem pole before we stopped at The Wheatsheaf for refreshment.

Thank you, Derek, Prem, Phil, Mathilde, and Kevin for your lovely company. Tom and I had a very good time. And by the way, Mathilde we did go home and use Google Earth to measure the distance of the walk, and it turned out to be 8 miles rather than the 6 miles we had originally planned!

Report by Anthea

4 of us met at Gilligans stables in north Barnet. Dean had organised a 1-hour hack across bridleways and meadows - we had good views over north London. The ride included 3 canters, and was a lot faster than at other stables - in part as no roads were involved - all across country.

Report by Brian

To summarize WET WET WET but not washed out.

The weather forecast for today did not look promising at all and true to its word the weather was a repeat of last years joint group Sunday walk.

I did my duty and waited outside the entrance of the newly opened National Trust Gateway visitors centre on top of Dunstable Downs. At this point it was not raining just over cast and pretty cold up there. I wondered if any body would turn up as the start time loomed closer. Then out of the greyness a few faces I recognised appeared, I was not alone. In total we had an even split with 3 members from HAWOG (Steve R, Brian G and Ashok) and 3 members from BYHA (Grahame P, Andrew C and Nazar). I was half and half having feet in both camps.

So the magnificent seven set off at a fairly fast pace to avoid getting too wet as the imminent rain approached. The morning section of the walk took us along parts of the Chilterns way passing through the villages of Whipsnade and Studham before descending into the Gade valley. What goes down must go up and after crossing the busy A4146 we were met with a protracted ascent out of the valley again and on to Little Gaddesden.

Lunch time was looming and I searched out a place to avoid getting soggy sarnies. I spotted a corrugated shelter in a field, may be there was straw to sit on but alas it was full of piles of mud and building materials. On entering Little Gaddesden I noticed DRY tables and benches under a huge tree in the garden of the Bridgewater Arms, definitely a good stop for lunch and I would not have thought the land lord of the pub would worry about us especially as it was tipping down. As a good will gesture we bought some drinks. Brian order some coffee and chips. A barmaid soon emerged into the rainswept garden with Brian's chips which put a smile on his face while the sight of the barmaid put a smile on the rest of our bedraggled faces.

Fed and well watered we set off for the return leg following parts of the Icknield Way Trail. Enroute to Dagnall we passed through Hoo Wood. Three weeks ago, when I reccied this walk, it was awash in bluebells producing a beautiful aurora in the penetrating sun light. From Dagnall we crossed the Whipsnade golf course, trying not to gouge out the sodden manicured fairways and then paralled the perimeter fence of Whipsnade Zoo where we saw many deer run past probably away from the paying visitors driving about in their cars. The final leg took us past the Tree Cathedral and on to the Dunstable Downs escarpment. The rain had now stopped offering us limited views of the London Gliding club below and of Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance.

The end was soon reached, much earlier then planned, the weather dictating a swift finish, especially Steve who one day will get done for speeding on two legs. Four of us warmed ourselves up with hot chocolate before returning home. Two hours later I could not be believe it there were blue skies and sunshine.

I would like to thank those brave venturers who turned up and maybe next year a different weekend will have to be chosen.

Report by Norbert

Twelve people turned up to do the walk on Bank Holiday Sunday at Perivale Nature Reserve, which is only open to the public once a year.

The sun came out, which was good - we followed a guided route around the reserve spotting birds, trees and wildlife. Sadly many of the bluebells had expired due to the hot weather of recent weeks. Tea and cakes were welcome afterwards. This was followed by a quick trip up Horsenden Hill to look at views over London and a pint in the Ballot Box pub.

Report by Brian

14 of us went to the Lake District, 10 staying at Borrowdale hostel (Longthwaite) and Paul and family at Keswick. Borrowdale is described as the most attractive valley in the national park, and the hostel is in the centre - on a riverside location with several pubs and tea shops within 15 minutes walk. All walks can be done direct from the hostel - cuts out most "faffing".

5 of us arrived early by train on the Friday (took the open-top bus for the last section, with views over the lake). We spent the afternoon on a local walk on the edge of the valley; 2 went cycling along a high bridleway over castle crag.

Saturday was the main hill walking day. 2 went on a route to Scafell Pike. The main group climbed Green Gable and Great Gable. Excellent views from the summit as it was a very sunny day.

On Sunday, we split into groups for various routes. 2 did more hill walking on other peaks. The budgie bikes from the hostel were used by 2 others for a long off road route via Wadenlath and a great riverside track. We also did canoeing on Derwentwater - very good value and lots of boats available. The main group did a hike through the valley and around the lake, which included 2 tea shops and some unforgettable yarns from Natasha.

On Monday, people stopped off at various places on the way back, Jan did a guided tour of the highlights of Preston. The hostel staff were excellent throughout, and hostel meals were very good with seconds offered (and taken).

Report by Brian

12 of us met at the Tides cafe by Richmond Bridge on a very sunny morning. We went through the basics of map reading at the cafe then started the walk alongside the river.

We entered Richmond Park via Petersham gate and then started on use of map and compass to find the checkpoints required. Kate took us on a detour to the "keyhole" over Pembroke Lodge, with a viewpoint to central London and the Thames valley - with a free telescope installed.

Natasha and Nicky quickly picked up the techniques of taking a bearing and the art of finding magnetic north. John and Mary were on their first walk, however they easily found the locations via map references. We had a picnic by the lake and relaxed in the sun. Lauren got us all energised shortly after with everyone taking part in her call and catch game with 4 tennis balls.

We then took in the south of the park and visited the Isabella Plantation. This was perfect timing as the Azaleas were in full bloom and the colours were vibrant. We took the river path back to the Tides cafe passing a band playing on the path - not sure how they had got the piano that far.

Report by Brian

The walk started with Glyn, Martin, Michelle, Alex, Mark, Steve, Cathy, Cathy, Derek, Prem, Kate, Carla and myself. We got underway from Rickmansworth Station at 10:35. We travelled down through Rickamansworth to Batchworth roundabout to pick up the towpath of the canal. This was a straightforward walk along the canal. Along the way Mathilde met us, as she started from Harefield and joined us before the Coy Carp pub as she wanted to have an easier walk. Part of the towpath was closed due to the subsidence of the bank so a little detour added a few yards.

I was hoping to get to the centre of Denham to eat but we stopped at the Horse and Barge as most agreed that this was a good point to stop. We continued back up the towpath towards Rickmansworth and at the Coy Carp pub Derek, Prem and Mathilde headed back to Harefield. The rest of us followed the Hillingdon Trail up towards Harefield and cut up past the golf course to Rickmansworth.

We stopped for a cup of tea and biscuits at about 16:30, finishing back at the station at about 17:00.

A very good day out, with excellent weather, no rain, and enjoyed by everyone who took part. Thank you to everyone who helped by attending and supporting this walk.

Report by Marcellus

What a great day for our walk, picture perfect blue skies and not a cloud to be seen! Swans graced the river, spring lambs gambolled in the fields and Red Kites saluted us from above. Everyone was making the most of this unusually hot April weather, including several cows trying to keep cool as they paddled in nearby streams.

Deirdre, Mark O, Cathy O, Cathy T, Tom, Andrea, Derek, Prem, Alex, Mathilde, Pete, Steve, Glyn, Sharon and Michelle joined me for a 9.8 mile circular walk.

After meeting up at Henley-on-Thames station we made our way down to the riverfront where we followed the towpath while feasting our eyes on the fit rowers getting some practice in. I counted at least 9 teams, working hard, glistening bronze skin... whoops I am getting carried away, back to the walk.

We passed Temple Island as we headed east to Hambledon Lock. After crossing the weir we turned left and away from the river to come out on the A4155 at Mill End, and our walk continued towards Hambleden village and refreshments.

Michelle has had a lot of bother with her back over the past 6 months and this was her first walk in as many months. She did extremely well, walking as far as she did, but in the end the pain became too much and she had to turn around and return to Henley.

On reaching the village we headed straight for the Stag and Huntsman. The drinks were a welcome sight, and went down a treat especially as the temperature was now hitting 27C. Some of the more naughty ones in the group got out their packed lunches, but the majority of the group queued to buy pub lunches. Plenty of laughter and banter came from our two garden tables and after lunch Prem, much to our amazement, produced from her backpack a Tommy the Tank Engine birthday cake complete with candles. Derek was celebrating his 21st birthday yet again! The cake was delicious and there was so much of it that one or two children sitting at nearby tables were able to join in with the celebration.

After prising ourselves away from the pub we had a look around Hambleden Church which was built around the 12th century. It was very interesting and, as a plus, very cool.

Continuing on our walk we turned back out of the village and uphill into Great Wood. Although we were all a little dehydrated by the time we reached the wood, the trees brought welcome relief from the heat.

On leaving the woods we made our way back to Henley, where it was put to the vote and agreed that we spend time at the pub rather than the tea shop. A good hour plus was spent in the rear garden of the Angel pub gazing out onto the water and watching the antics of amateur rowers out for the day, oars going every which way but most missing the water. A relaxing end to an enjoyable day.

Report by Kathy C

8 of us met at Ewelme on a glorious sunny Sunday morning. The dry weather meant all tracks were solid so the course was a lot easier than when done before in muddy conditions. We did 3 long climbs and excellent descents with no mishaps - I collided with a large branch over 1 track as my visor slipped but managed to somersault away from the bike....well thats what the person behind said happened.

We stopped for a long pub lunch at the Crown near Wallingford. The course took in sections of the Ridgeway and Icknield Way, and great views from the edge of the Chilterns. Thanks to Mark for arranging the event and for getting us all to arrive on time for once.

Report by Brian

Sixteen of us made the long trip to south Northumberland to enjoy the delights the Eden Valley had to offer. The hostel was very comfortable and well equipped. We were kept warm in the evenings from an open log fire in the lounge. The warden made an effort to learn our names as our breakfasts were served to us at the table.

On Good Friday we split into two groups, one for the strenuous walk and one for the moderate walk. The strenuous walkers made a good 20 mile hike along the Pennines, taking in High Cup Nick, an interesting geological feature, along the way. They were all looking forward to a well-deserved drink in a remote village pub towards the end of the walk, only to find out when they arrived that the pub had closed down years ago!

The moderate hikers in the morning completed a four mile circular walk of Dufton pike on the edge of the Pennines, taking in great views across the Eden valley, with the peaks of the Lake District distinctive on the horizon. In the afternoon another circular walk of about four miles was made across the Eden valley itself, starting and finishing in Dufton Gorge, a beautiful wooded gorge, but steep sided.. It was here, unfortunately, that Janice strained a knee ligament.

Bev and the boys had a great time at a local emu farm.

On Easter Saturday we arrived at Appleby station to take the train through to the Yorkshire dales. Nothing moving due to a power failure at Carlisle. Action plan B. Steve and Glyn had their own ideas and off they went. Paul, Bev and co went off in search of a steam train. The rest of us did a beautiful 12 mile walk out along the River Eden and back along the River Hoff. Gina and Brian made the most of the opportunity of coming across a caravan site to indulge in some ice cream, as indeed we all did! When arriving back at Appleby that evening, a tea shop visit was made to celebrate. Brian is a regular there now. Gordon had to depart for London and left us. Martin S did his own thing and went off on his bike in search of Sky. He only found another cyclist and they spent the day together riding the Pennines. They discovered just how hilly the Pennines are. Paul and co found the steam train and had a great time with the kids.

Easter Sunday involved doing what was planned on Saturday. Brian led a group out onto Pen-Y-Ghent. Great views from the top, if a bit windy. Evelyn led a group of 3 on a walking tour of Settle and woods nearby. Bev and the kids enjoyed going up and down on the train, enjoying the scenery. Steve and Glyn firmly had the bit for some distance hiking and completed a 26 mile hike. The two Martins enjoyed a fantastic bike ride along the Eden valley, virtually traffic free, managing 105 kilometres.

On Easter Monday we took it easy and visited the Eden Sculpture Park and tearooms in the morning, and Hutton-in-the-Forest country estate and tearooms in the early afternoon. We set off back to London at about 2.30pm.

The weather was good throughout the whole trip with Saturday and Sunday being extremely sunny. There were several good places to eat out at in the evenings too.

Report by Martin J

Our first medium length walk of the year (16+ miles) was attended by 6 people: 3 newbies (Charlotte, Sharon and Lawrence), 2 not-so-newbies (Julia and Martin J) and me. Blue skies and 16 degree sun made the walk and the day very pleasant, tee shirt weather. We departed Beaconsfield train station promptly after arrival of the 10:31am train. Our pace early on was brisk, taking us north through Penn and Winchmore Hill, and then east to Coleshill and onto Chalfont St Giles for lunch at 1:40pm. We managed to eat all our lunch ourselves as the ducks in the pond where we sat had presumably been fed closer to midday.

Our two legs were still going strong for the second leg of our walk which continued east towards the Chiltern Open Air Museum around Newlands Park. We left the Chiltern Way to head south crossing inside, and then out, of the M25 before touching Chalfont St Peter and Gerrards Cross. Our paths became less clear but the route to Beaconsfield was easy, just follow the A40 west towards the sun for a few miles. Sharon and I, though, pursued the intended route and found 2 isolated, deserted cottages (smashed windows, wild gardens, next to woods, overlooking beautiful Buckingamshire countryside) and then having to climb and yomp through wild bushes as our path was blocked by a big metal gate. Great fun. We caught up with the others half a mile before Beaconsfield station about 6:40pm. And then home, and for me some final s's at the end of a sixteen mile walk on a sunny, Sunday afternoon: shower, shovel-loads-of-food, sofa, sleep, szzzzz. The latter came very easy. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

About 25 met at Ealing town hall for the monthly Ealing ride. We had cyclists from the Ealing cycle group and HAWOG. We did a cultural ride taking in historic parts of Chiswick, Syon, Isleworth and Richmond. We ended as tradition dictates at the Osterley House stables cafe. Most of the group then took the canal path via Hayes and Greenford back to Ealing.

Report by Brian

The half dozen or so people who cancelled coming on the night hike on Saturday missed a perfect evening for a walk in the dark. In the end only 2 idiots, sorry people, went, Kate not wimping out at the thought of walking through woods and hills on a dark night just with me. We departed West Wycombe at 9:10pm and despite having walked the entire route the previous Sunday in daylight, I still managed to take a wrong turning early on in the woods on route to Wheeler End. Felt and then knew after a further 10 minutes that the path wasn't quite as I expected. But when leaving the woods and it being to our south, I had a pretty good idea we were a little too far north so we headed south until we picked up a path which took us back to the intended path. We reached the Brickmakers Arms pub in Wheelers End about 10:15pm and were impressed at its decor. Think old pub in village with farm, no street lights, common, a few houses, wooden beams, huge coal fire, stone walls inside, almost gothic and untouched effects, and full length rich blood red curtains. And as it was St Patricks day a few people dressed in silly hats with corny Irish records like "Do you want your old lobby washed down, con shine" by Brendon Shine playing in background. U2 would have been preferred.

We departed just before 11pm heading out of the village. I was amazed how poor my memory of the route from the previous week was. I know it's dark but I am sure there was a farm house there. There wasn't, it was further on, even though we were on the correct path. We passed another pub, the Dashwood Arms in Piddington, with lights and rock music blaring loudly. And I thought it was all quiet round here. Might warrant a visit sometime. We crossed the Oxford Road and headed north through Ham Farm to be greeted by a pony in a field as we climbed towards Cockshoots Woods. We went round the woods and down through Chorley Farm. Our last mini climb for the night was into Hearton Woods where we headed south along the Ridgeway Path back to West Wycombe Hill. Finished by 12:30am and with detours around 7 miles completed in 8 degrees mild temperature.

Report by Steve

14 of us had an excellent Meze meal at Van Antonios in Hatch End. Hermes and Neptune were guests of honour - the prize for best costume will be given next Thursday. Jenny came as a Greek shepherd and won the bronze medal.

Thanks to Coral for organising the event and Andy for the best belly dancing display West of the Bosphorus.

Report by Brian

8 of us, including 3 new members, (Steve R, Steve F, Phil, myself, Kim, Fiona, Gordon and Marcellus) set off from Wendover and climbed to the top of Coombe Hill (about 800 feet) where we enjoyed great views over the Chilterns, and two Red Kites (birds of prey). Heading South we saw Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence. Soon after this the heavens opened and it rained for most of the time. We carried on courageously, a few getting thoroughly soaked due to lack of rain trousers / good raincoat etc. We managed to last out to the lunch stop, where we took shelter in a church doorway and three of us in the pub. Outside a large camera crew were filming (I didn't take any photos due to poor weather and concentrating on navigating!)

After lunch, the relentless rain continued and we trudged through muddy paths sinking six inches deep or more. At this point I asked Fiona, a new member, if she was enjoying the walk, and was expecting complaints, especially as she didn't have waterproof trousers, but, to my amazement, she said she prefered the cool rain to the sun, and enjoyed the different textures underfoot. Just as well.

Shortly after, Phil suggested we come off the paths and take the roads for some relief from the mud, which we did, but soon found that the narrow lane we were walking up had turned into a river! 3 of the group couldn't stand any more (I don't blame them) so decided to take the short cut back to Wendover despite me trying to persuade them that it would soon be firm underfoot higher up in the woods. This was the case (as the rain soaked straight into the chalk) and they ended up missing one of the best parts of the walk, with lovely views through the woods. After a small detour (a missed turn - I was enjoying having an interesting chat with Kim and lost concentration) we got back to Wendover just before dark.

An enjoyable day despite the weather (although I expect there were a few blisters after the quagmire!). Good company and chats. Thanks to those who came. Hope to do another walk or cycle soon.

Report by Paul

8 of us took part in Marshall's navigation training weekend. 6 from HAWOG were joined by Andrew from Barnet plus Dan and Anthony from Backabush. The hostel bunk house had just been opened and was only 5 minutes walk from the village hall where the course was held. We studied map reading, use of a compass, assessing distances and contours in the classroom each morning. Then we walked up into the Shropshire hills to practise the new skills.

Everyone managed to find the check points (Derek and Kathy C even found an extra check point not on the map). We also learnt how to discover your location when you become temporarily misplaced - not "lost". Plus lots of useful techniques of mountain safety and planning walks. Coral made sure that Marshall issues certificates for everyone who completed the course. The next course is booked for July.

Report by Brian

A select bunch gathered at Telscombe hostel on the South Downs.

On Saturday, we did a 13 mile walk via local villages and churches, along the River Ouse and taking in the South Downs Way. We stopped at Monks house (home of Virginia Woolf in the 1930s - 40s). Jackie J, Marie and Jan prepared an excellent evening meal - coq au vin and veggie curry, and lashings of Badger beer for Jeff. Cathy T provided all the hi-fi and laser equipment and Gordon did an international dance exhibition. Jeff discovered he has a stalker (still unidentified?)

On Sunday, we bid farewell to the ever cheerful warden (living elsewhere) who helped us clear up. Then we toured Lewes town - castle and market areas including the final obligatory cream tea.

Thanks to Jackie J for coordinating the trip and buying all the provisions.

Report by Brian

Many thanks to all those who attended the Henrys/Pancake night. Jackie's pancakes were, once again, a culinary masterpiece and having consumed vast quantities we all sat down for the prizegiving. Alas, I have to report that the comments sheets were not retained so those who were not there will never know what was said about them, perhaps just as well....

Harpers and Queen Award - Best Social/Thursday Event - 'Henrys' 2006 - Jan, Jackie and Mike

ABTA Award - Best Weekend/Outdoor Event - Whitby - Brian

Party Pooper - Hopeless/Disorganised Social/Thurs Event - Tree identification on Harrow Hill - Brian and John

Hols from Hell - Worst/Most Troubled Weekend Event - Stow-on-the-Wold - Gordon

Committee Member Award - Brian and Jan

Regular Member Award - Jackie

New Member of the Year - Coral

Sportsman of the Year - Mike S

Sportswoman of the Year - Prem

The Bard Award - Eloquent e-mails - Coral

Spammer of the Year - Digital diarrhoea - Mark H

Best Map-reader/Navigator - Brian

Worst Map-reader/Navigator - Mike D

Belle of the Ball - HAWOG's own It girl - Jan (again!)

Most Eligible Bachelor - Best of a bad lot - Andy W

Valentine Award - A couple who were made for each other - Phil Mc and Magda

Autograph Award - Dead ringer for a star - John Palmer = Daniel Craig

Gone but not forgotten - Gary

You had to be there - The moment of the year - Conga through kitchen at Christmas meal

Report by Mike Mc

Thirteen of us (Mike D, Jan, Carol, Cinzia, Lucia, Steve N, Julia, John, Brian, Pete, Marcellus, Lauren and I) met at North Greenwich station to take the bus to the Thames Barrier, from where we began the second part of a walk along the Thames through London.

With Canary Wharf in the distance, we walked at a fair pace along probably the least inspiring stretch of the entire river, reaching the Millennium Dome after an hour or so, where we were joined by Kate. Continuing through another predominantly industrial area, we reached the Naval College at Greenwich at around midday. After another hour, we had more or less completed the loop around the Isle of Dogs, and we stopped for lunch. After eating our packed lunches outside, we headed into a nearby pub for warm drinks.

After lunch, the walk continued along the south bank, with the first bridge, Tower Bridge, coming in to view at around the same time that Canary Wharf disappeared from view behind us. We paused briefly to rest tired legs just before Tower Bridge, before continuing past Tate Modern, the Royal Festival Hall, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, with the obligatory tea stop just before Lambeth Bridge. Just one bridge further down the river, we reached the end of the walk at Vauxhall Bridge - the same point that we had reached three weeks earlier after walking from Richmond Bridge.

Thanks to everyone for coming.

Report by Phil

14 met up on a misty dry Sunday morning for this walk. 3 were new to the group - Eamonn, Liz and Sonia.

We followed the trail along Yeading Brook through Ickenham marsh, Gutteridge woods and Ten Acre forest. Christina pointed out the Oak tree in Ten Acres under which her wedding took place last August.

The day now brightened and we continued the walk in clear sunshine. We then took Sharvell lane to visit the Down Manor site, and to see the only remaining farm left in Ealing. We finished at Northolt village where Prem joined us for a pub lunch.

Report by Brian

Global warming showed its bright side last weekend with blue skies and exceptionally mild weather for our 3 days in Presteigne, Powys, Wales. Fourteen of us (11 girls, 3 guys and 1 child) stayed in 2 gorgeous cottages with 10 bedrooms, all modern conveniences for a total price of £21 - only £7 each a night. Deals like this really can be found occasionally at this time of year; we saved £50 by bypassing the middle men (cottages4you, welcome-cottages etc) and got a further 20% discount direct from the vendor.

It was T-shirt weather on Saturday, most of us de-layering within the first hour of our 12 mile walk from New Radnor north up Knowle Hill to the mast at the top of Black Mixen (650m). Same point as last year but via a different route, and our blue skies meant we could enjoy the views for miles. We stopped for lunch before entering the beautiful Riggles corner of Radnor Forest and continuing west toward Cowtod where our path turned distinctly south with a hint of east thrown in for good measure. We descended this path for about 3 miles to Crinfynydd before stopping to see the Water-break-its-neck waterfall. 1.5 miles north-east along the A44 took us to our cars just after dusk around 5:30pm with the route successfully completed by all 13 who started.

On Saturday evening, some of us had kebabs for dinner, no not from a Welsh equivalent of Stavros, but the sit-down-in-a-restaurant variety, with salad, rice, falafel etc and plates and cutlery. Others cooked in, and then sampled the local public houses. Channel 4 provided the late night entertainment in one cottage at least, with some of us watching the Bitter Moon film "...Polanski tale of obsessive lust..." and debating its vintage. We were wrong, the dainty Hugh Grant fooled us all; the film was released in 1992.

Our main walk on Sunday was another 12 mile circular route, this time from Clun just over the border in Shropshire. Only 4 of us alive and kicking in time today (Fiona, Jackie, Rich, me); weather and temperatures again fantastic. Our route commenced at the bridge over the River Clun and a walk around the ruins of Clun Castle. We picked up the Shropshire Way and followed it for about 4 miles, gradually climbing before stopping for lunch just before 1pm. We did not want to move, soooo nice lazing with views of rolling hills. 2pm came and went and so did we. We continued briefly on the Shropshire Way down to and beyond Three Gates before heading south on the Offa's Dyke through Mardu, Bryndrinog and the Clun Valley. We saw the remains of the Dyke. Our terrain undulated frequently, loads of hills, trees, plants and wildlife, and the bestist views. Our last climb for the day started around 4:15pm reaching our final summit, Spoad, just before 5pm. The sun had set and we enjoyed the gentle decreasing light of dusk for the next 40 minutes or so while we headed down to Burfield. Reminded some of us of that long golden Saturday in Eyam, June 2003, our big 22 mile walk, evening meal in pub, and reaching the hostel across wild fields around 10:30pm. February of course means shorter days and walks, and we reached our cars for 6pm after following the last stretch of our walk, the Jack Mutton Way. The walk was definitely more lamb though.

Food for the evening again varied, I took advantage of the Indian en-route home; others had fish and chips. Monday saw a variety of departure times, the owner was not strict about us leaving by 10am, and the drop in temperature and mist which greeted me (and I presume the others) upon our return home felt like when your plane touches down following that holiday somewhere warmer. Thanks to all for coming, and especially first time weekenders with HAWOG (Cinzia, Lucia, Natasha and Julie).

Report by Steve

Twelve of us (Mike D, Jan, Humay, Theresa, Gordon, Carol, Liz, Cinzia, Steve N, Kate, Paul and I) met at Richmond station for the first part of a walk along the Thames. We met up with a thirteenth walker (Lauren) at Richmond Bridge, where we began walking along the south bank of the river.

Walking at a brisk pace, we passed Syon House on the north bank and Kew Gardens on the south bank, dodging numerous joggers and cyclists along the way, reaching Kew Bridge after about an hour, where we were joined by Eamonn, the final addition to our group. Passing Chiswick, Barnes and Hammersmith Bridges, and Fulham football ground, we reached Putney Bridge shortly after 1pm, where we stopped for lunch. Some ate packed lunches by the river bank before heading in to a nearby pub as it was a bit chilly outside. Unable to get food in the pub, others went to a nearby sandwich bar.

After lunch, the walk continued along the south bank, passing Wandsworth, Battersea and Albert Bridges before reaching Battersea Park. By now, some legs were getting tired. Unable to continue along the south bank in front of Battersea power station (disused), we crossed Chelsea Bridge and continued along the north bank to Vauxhall Bridge, where the walk ended.

In 6 hours (including lunch stop) we had walked 15 miles, a great effort - it's the longest walk I (and some others in the group) have ever done. Well done to everyone, and thanks for coming.

Report by Phil