13 of us spent part of last weekend in Streatley, by the Thames, staying at the YHA hostel. Most of us had arrived by around 6pm on Saturday, so we decided to spend the next hour or so taking a look around Goring (on the opposite side of the river), and sampling its 2 pubs. Shortly before 7:30pm we headed back to the hostel for our Christmas dinner, a 4-course meal that was augmented by the selections of one member who had to cancel at the last minute due to illness - although the extra plate never seemed to get any further down the table than Dave T. Starter, main course and dessert were followed by a fairly substantial cheese board (better than expected, even if some were disappointed by the lack of Stilton!) and tea or coffee. After dinner, most of us decided to adjourn to the neighbouring pub, which was remarkably quiet for a Saturday evening.
On Sunday, after a hearty breakfast (also included in the very reasonable cost), at around 10am 8 of us headed off from the hostel on a circular walk of just under 9 miles. We were very lucky with the weather, and our path westwards along the Ridgeway afforded excellent views of the Berkshire countryside. After around an hour, we headed back towards the Thames in a north-easterly direction, reaching the river at Moulsford where we stopped for lunch. After lunch, walking along the Thames Path, we covered the last 2 miles to Streatley fairly quickly, finishing the walk at around 2pm, after which we headed home.
Thanks to Anneke, Dave T, Derek, Emma J, Emma M, Jeff, Kate, Kim, Martin J, Prem, Roger and Steve R for joining me on this weekend away.
Report by Phil
I really enjoyed my last walk of 2011. The weather was dreamlike - mild, sunny and even the wind stopped for our lunch, which we had in the John Bunyan (Coleman Green, Wheathampstead) pub's front garden. I recommend it - seems to be in the middle of nowhere, the food is good and it is very welcoming.
The route I chose was scenic and we avoided any roads but less than 500m on some minor ones. Either the signs were very good or I was in a good form, but no deviation from the intended route to be reported! My new pedometer was more optimistic about the total length of the walk, but I have to trust more the OS map, which says we only did 15 miles.
Thanks to Priya and Don who joined me and even paid £10 for the privilege.
I would also like to thank all those who led or participated in the walks that I had the pleasure to join in. Happy New Year to you all!
Report by Marin
My legs are getting longer after these walks - Photo by Marin
A pub bearing the name of a puritan preacher - Photo by Marin
Yes, it really was like this - Photo by Marin
An oasis of sun - Photo by Marin
Happy New Year! - Photo by Marin
Gathering at Grasmere - Photo by Keith
Paul cave exploring above Rydal - Photo by Keith
Sunshine break on Loughrigg Fell - Photo by Keith
Steve and Carol at the top of Loughrigg Fell. Loughrigg Tarn forms the backdrop - Photo by Keith
Paul strides up Silver How - Photo by Keith
Fireworks above Windermere - Photo by Keith
Emma reflects on Waste Water - Photo by Keith
Despite Paul's appearance this is on top of England's second highest mountain (Scafell) in November! - Photo by Keith
Self-captioned shot - Photo by Keith
Approaching Cringle Crags in the sun - Photo by Keith
"There's too much friction" - Photo by Keith
Steve admires Ullswater - Photo by Keith
I've been tagged! - Photo by Keith
Emma and Ullswater from St Sunday Crag - Photo by Keith
Bambi makes an appearance at the cottage - Photo by Carol
Cottage below the cloud-line - Photo by Carol
Scafell summit - Photo by Carol
Simon and Helen consider base jumping - Photo by Carol
Herdwick enjoys sunset - Photo by Carol
Four rare breeds met - Photo by Carol
Autumn colours - Photo by Mathilde
Talking to a stranger in the woods at Little Common - Photo by Prem
Bye bye, we are off - Photo by Prem
Around another pond - Photo by Prem
The lucky number 3 - the horses matching the numbers of walkers - Photo by Prem
St Mary's Church - churchyard contains the mausoleum of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, Victorian engineer of the London sewage system - Photo by Prem
Windmill Museum - where Robert Baden-Powell wrote parts of Scouting for Boys in 1908 - Photo by Prem
Kate outside the first Thai Buddhist temple in London - Photo by Prem
Light and laughter - Photo by Prem
Make a wish - the 'Krathongs' would carry away your bad luck and bring forth your wishes - Photo by Prem
11 people joined me for bright and chilly start at Moor Park. After 30 minutes the dark clouds which had hovered ominously in the distance were chased away and we were bathed in glorious warm sunshine for the whole day. The golf course at Sandy Lodge was green and pretty and Oxhey Woods gave us a beautiful array of golds, reds and oranges as well as a collage of mushrooms and toadstools. After passing Pinner Wood Farm and crossing some meadows with horses grazing (thankfully this time they decided not to chase us) we reached the end of the first part of the walk - London Loop section 14 - at Hatch End. Continuing north-east via a shprt road stretch we entered Oxhey Lane golf course where we were bathed in yet more golden sunshine and admired the lovely autumnal views and expensive cricket bags. Then we crossed Grym's Ditch to enter the Harrow Weald conservation area where some of the group decided to break off to do a quick recce of the Grym's Dyke Hotel. We then continued along the pretty nature trail to emerge at the glorious viewpoint at Old Redding. Here most of the gang enjoyed their own sandwiches whilst taking in the view and a few of us went to the pub for a delightful grape-based beverage (or two!).
After lunch we continued north through Harrow Weald Common and then turned east again, crossing the Common Road into Bentley Priory Grounds. Here we left the London Loop section 15 to turn south and head towards Stanmore, crossing through the Deer Park where a few moments were spent 'fawning' the baby deer who were very interested in Simon and Jane's apples (a definite 10 on the 'ahh' scale). A few moments later we had emerged into the open space to be greeted by a few very friendly cows who were providing their own entertainment and then we turned south back into the urban jungle. After crossing the Uxbridge road we reached the last patch of green on the walk - Stanmore golf course which was crossed via the alleyway. From here we made our way via the 'Belmont Trail' (a disused railway line closed in the 1960s which used to connect Harrow and Wealdstone to Stanmore) down to Harrow Leisure Centre where a short walk past the houses led us to the finish at Harrow and Wealdstone station.
Many thanks to everyone for a very enjoyable and fun day. Total distance was 11 miles. Attendees: Simon H, Mary T, Brian F, Jane R, Kate, Brigitta, Phil, Hannah (new member), Michelle, Dave T and Marin.
Report by Helen W
It is a rare coincidence indeed, when the relevant tube lines are working and the weather stays dry in London but that's what actually what happened on Saturday, when five intrepid sleuths decided to sally forth on a not-so-secret mission. Our task, once we chose to accept it, was to locate and infiltrate the surreptitious world of cloak and dagger espionage.
Meeting outside the Tate Gallery gave us a good chance to take a look at the MI6 and MI5 buildings which are situated along the bankside. We found that one of these buildings is so private that it remains unnamed, then we discovered a deposited key and made up our own stories to explain its presence. We then proceeded to track down various addresses and safe houses where many famous spies lived and worked. We all applauded Brian when he found a delightful pastry shop tucked away in Victoria, there was time for a pleasant stop before continuing on towards St James' Park. There were strong rumours about a secret tunnel connecting two separate buildings which due to sheer chance were confirmed as true! We then crossed St James' Park where spies were believed to have met their contacts and discussed politics. We just used the time to reminisce about childhood days, when it was lovely to hear that Jeff also enjoyed 'lashings of ginger beer'.
Towards the end of our walk we visited Brompton Oratory, allegedly a favoured spot for Soviet dead letter drops. Rob was impressed with the architecture which he described as 'sumptuously ornate belied by its exterior'. To finish the day, we found the 'Café Daquise' which was a favourite watering hole of many a secret agent during the 1960s. It still functions as Polish restaurant today. As Genevieve was the only one willing to give 'pierogi' a go, the group decided that pancakes were the order of the day. Well done to Jeff for finding a delicious French style creperie. Kim regaled us with hilarious stories from times past as early Christmas lights began to illuminate the scene. When Brian's waffle arrived he said that he would have preferred the crepes as they were worthy of Sean Connery himself.
Report by Rob and Genevieve
7 of us met at Cliveden for our tour of the National Trust estate. The day started overcast however the sun came out later to show off the glorious autumn colours of the arboretum. We took in the woodland sculpture park, the riverside path, several fountains and statues within the many paths and leaf-covered tracks. After 2 attempts in the Maze we managed to reach the middle and then escape. Peter used his compass and GPS to no avail on the first endeavour. Deirdre and Jaya discovered the secret code through solving the riddle set by the guardian.
We then had our picnic by the Japanese water gardens. Brigitta and Claire had tried to enter the house for lunch but could not convince the concierge that they were hotel residents. We then wandered around the secret gardens, plus climbed up to the viewpoints over the Thames. We ended at the conservatory for an excellent cream tea where Kim told us some splendid yarns about her escapades with well-known actors, and Peter reminisced about his involvement in the Profumo saga all those years ago here at Cliveden.
Report by Brian G
Start of sculpture trail - Photo by Brian G
Viewpoint - Photo by Brian G
Cliveden terrace - Photo by Brian G
Topiary walk - Photo by Brian G
15 (yahoo!) arrived to explore Blackfriars, Whitefriars and the wedding cake church, and then walk 8 miles along and 100 metres up through central London to Parliament Hill on Sunday. We had brilliant weather.
We lost Jeff, we found Jeff - he was too busy doing his protest photography. Kevin found a stray girl who was looking for the Ramblers and next thing she was joining us. He had to go on set later. Jan arrived, a glow in her dark glasses, mac and tartans, whilst Brian G needed pegs to keep his eyes open and nearly fell asleep after a night on the razzle.
What a day of street walking surprises. Prem and Derek, Efisia, Mary T and Nina, all heartily taking it in. We witnessed the Shard construction (later to be our Mike-inspired group chant, replacing cheese for the photo shoot). We stroked Dr Johnson's cat. We studied a crypt and walked through a small religious ceremony before comtemplating a Dickensian mugging location, and the route of the once-putrid Fleet River.
Roxy Beaujolais provided the espresso break at the Seven Stars, a survivor of the Great Fire of London (not Roxy the proprietor, you understand). Brian F produced on location a photo of a miniature landscape (see pics). Jaintu and Dave T were there too. When we reached the top we had to stop and look at the kites and have our photo taken by some darling on the hill. What more can you say? Pub stop at the end and all's well that ends well.
Thanks to all you outlaws. Well, the 15 darlings of you that came.
Report by Jane
Dr Johnson's cat - meeow! - Photo by Jane
Camden Lock towpath - Photo by Brian F
Hill with a view - Primrose Hill - Photo by Jane
We made it to the view! Parliament Hill! Shard! - Photo by Jane
The Parliament Hill Shard stop - Photo by Brian F
The perfect weather, the lovely settings and the sight of the local peasants coming in their 4x4s to the village shop to collect the Saturday newspapers put me in a euphoric mood. Therefore, I took the first turn in the wrong direction. The lack of a proper OS map for the first part of the journey did not help, but it is not an excuse - I actually enjoyed being able to rejoin the intended route less than one hour later. Nobody noticed and the bonus was that we found out that Bayford is a beautiful village.
A former quarry (no hard hats), several woods, small roads and fields later, we stopped for lunch on a lawn in the centre of another lovely village - Bramfield. Across a hedge was an upmarket pub (hence, the word "pub" was removed from the name), where, on the sunny terrace, the local peasants were having their afternoon champagne panniers. Don't ask what this is - I only read what was written on the sun shades, I have not checked - we were there for serious walking (I thought), not afternoon drinking.
Anyway, after another hour of wandering through a treacherous wood, where even more experienced walkers than myself where misled by the meaning of the word "permitted", we ended up back in Bramfield, which is worth seeing twice anyway. By now, as it was becoming evident that some minor orienteering mistakes had been made, I had to confess and ask democratically if we should continue the route up north or whether we should shorten it. The unanimous decision, almost shouted, was "South!". With renewed enthusiasm and purpose, we walked back to Little Berkhamsted, now emptied of life, with 12 minutes to spare until the advertised finish time - 17:00. Exactly what it said on the tin. Last night I checked the actual route that we did on the OS website - only 18 miles. Leisurely.
Hopefully, I did not scare off our new member - Infinita, who chose this walk of all walks to join our group. I am entitled to say "our" - yesterday I paid the full new £28 fare, not the discounted one like some happy voters I know. Last but not least, I thank Erika and Dave who had the audacity to join me. It is not true that nobody loves me.
Report by Marin
Any idea where we had the first stop? - Photo by Marin
... or the best way out of here? - Photo by Marin
St Mary's Church in Hertingfordbury, where the time, despite what you're seeing, doesn't stand still (just the clock) - Photo by Marin
In Birch Green, happy to reach the home straight - Photo by Marin
Are you talking to me? - Photo by Marin
YHA Youlgreave in the Peak District National Park was taken over by HAWOG members past and present for the weekend for our final 75th Anniversary Event. We had exclusive use.
On Saturday all completed a 12ish mile walk from the hostel. We followed the signed Limestone Way footpath south over rolling hills taking in Robin Hood's Stride to Winster village in less than 2 hours for an early lunch. Unfortunately our early pace and the pub not being open until lunchtime meant an alternative was required. Brian G quickly spotted there was a pub further on route in Birchover which most would reach in about 40 minutes. Four though took a bit longer as they had gone AWOL in Winster, their punishment was a five minute lunch as opposed to thirty for the rest of us! Well deserved I think.
Post lunch and with most of our ascent completed for the day we enjoyed the higher views around Stanton Moor including the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. With our good pace continuing we reached Caudwells Mill Craft Centre which I had been told had an excellent cafe. A thirty minute stop for afternoon tea followed although some who wanted cake needed longer due to the wait to be served.
I made my customary navigation error following a track rather than the intended footpath shortly after leaving Caudwells. When the uncertainty appeared, a footpath was not visible to the eye up or down (there should only be one in the area we were walking) and I had to make a choice between two mounds to walk around. I ultimately chose the wrong one. The direction of the road we reached confirmed this so we corrected and headed on to our intended route and Stanton Hall. The village of Alport beckoned and we finished with a walk in the valley along the River Bradford back to the hostel.
Saturday evening and three courses were served for all in the hostel. The food and hospitality shown by the hostel staff throughout the weekend was excellent. The third course was a special 12 inch square cake emblazoned with our group's and the YHA's logos in full colour and rich in taste and texture. After dinner many went to one or more of the pubs in close proximity to the youth hostel.
Sunday and a number of different activities were on offer: the Tissingdon Trail and a cycle ride for some, a steam train ride for others, sight seeing around some of the many historic and cultural options nearby and an 8 mile walk for those who wanted more of the countryside.
For the 8 mile walk, we again departed the hostel where we headed north-ish over the River Lathkill and up and over to Haddon Hall. Again unfortunately we arrived too early for teas (note to self: must slow down) so cracked on to Bakewell in good time for lunch. We stayed for an hour which gave all enough time to eat, look around and try some of the famous local tarts.
After lunch the weather turned. On Saturday it had been cloudy, mild and dry. Sunday morning we had had some sun. But now the rain started and after a while, continued for the remainder of the walk. We continued south to Over Haddon and then down to the River Lathkill, but this time walking alongside it. Some lovely views were enjoyed as we saw the changing width of the river and the plants alongside it. All encompassed by the valley.
Those of us on the walk arrived back at the hostel just after 3pm, in good time for our journeys home.
Thank you all (36 of us) for coming on our biggest weekend away for quite a few years at the super cheap YHA group's price of £17pppn for bed, breakfast and 3 course dinner.
Thanks to (girls) Anna, Anneke, Carol, Efisia, Emma E, Helen W, Jackie, Jan, Jane, Karen, Kate, Maria, Mary and Rita and (guys) Brian F, Brian G, David S, David T, Humay, Jeff, Jiten, Keith, Maher, Mark O, Martin J, Mike D, Paul S, Pete, Phil, Raj, Rich, Simon H, Simon S, Steve T, Tim K for joining me on another top group weekend away.
Report by Steve R
Group photo - Photo by Phil
Playtime for HAWOG boys and girls - Photo by Keith
Youlgreave Council cutbacks - Steve realises he'd wasted his time bringing his swimming trunks - Photo by Keith
I think you're lost, let me see that map! - Photo by Anna
What, no thumbs-up, Brian? - Photo by Phil
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil - Photo by Keith
Paul and Dobbin discuss this year's elderberry wine vintage - Photo by Keith
What do you mean we've not got a virgin to sacrifice? - Photo by Keith
Offerings to the wood spirits. That, or Christmas is getting earlier and earlier! - Photo by Keith
The Nine Ladies stone circle - Photo by Anna
On our way to Caudwell Mill Craft Centre - Photo by Anna
Arriving at Caudwell Mills - Photo by Keith
The cake! - Photo by Phil
On our way to Haddon Hall - Photo by Anna
Haddon Hall - Photo by Phil
Peruvian hikers - Photo by Anna
Regrouping under the viaduct - Photo by Keith
Railway cutting walk to Bakewell - Photo by Keith
Getting ready to cycle on 'The Tissington Trail' - Photo by Emma
Big smiles despite being covered in mud splash - Photo by Emma
What a weekend of wonderful weather! 9 of us set off from The Grand Union pub at Three Locks at 10:30 and arrived back later before 4pm much hotter and thirstier than when we'd set off. Unfortunately I may have called the start point Three Locks so apologies for the initial confusion as to the start point - if only that was the only navigational error! There were some pauses of various duration while I tried to remind myself to concentrate - I didn't adopt the Brace Position though so had to rely on the map, the walk description and fellow-walkers (the combination of which more than made up for my lack of compass). We saw barge life along the canal, St Mary's 12 century church at Old Linslade across from the canal and then, accidentally missing part of the canal towpath, lots of lovely trees, 'magnificent redwoods' in fact. We went through Rushmere Woods and the Oak Wood - full of Beech trees. I'm told Keith got his nuts in a twist; I couldn't possibly comment. The horses were out in good number throughout the woods - easily explained by the fact we were often on a bridleway...Lunch by the lake was eventually achieved via an(other) indirect route. I'm not sure the old brick boat house was worth the wait, the shade was welcome though. I was impressed with Jane's factor 85+ sunscreen - I only had factor 50 with me. Kilimanjaro necessitates a high factor for sunscreen - best of luck to Jane and Tracey for their climb next week. The afternoon saw us emerge from the woods across fields towards an imaginary ice-cream shop in Great Brickhill - that'll teach me to speak way too soon. And then back along the Grand Union Canal past Stoke Hammond and to Three Locks - I mean the Grand Union pub - for cold drinks and a cool down.
Thanks very much to Phil, Jane, Tracey, Dave H, Erika, Keith, Anna and Mark B for your company (and patience!)
Report by Helen C
Crossing the field - Photo by Anna
The Green Man of the Forest - Photo by Anna
An interesting place to sit - Photo by Phil
Heading through Oak Wood - Photo by Phil
Another interesting place to sit - Photo by Anna
Along the Grand Union Canal - Photo by Phil
Lake at lunchtime - Photo by Anna
Saying hello to a new friend - Photo by Anna
Group photo - Photo by Anna
Twenty one attended our New Members Walk today. Weather was brilliant: sunny, warm with some cooling wind on a late September day. We departed a little later than planned and headed north-west out of Berkhamsted along the Grand Union Canal leaving just after Dudswell. At Norcott Hall farm we were greeted by some very friendly alpaca, many came over to us for petting at the fence. From here our route was wavy north, up Tom's Hill and along the edge of Aldbury Common to our lunch point of the Bridgewater Monument.
After lunch we headed east and then north to Little Gaddesden; this took us barely 30 minutes. We had all been doing a cracking pace and lunch hadn't slowed it. Which meant we were too early to stop for a drink at the one pub on route. So we continued on and headed south to Ashridge College where we did stop whilst some cheekily asked to use the facilities there.
Post Ashridge we continued following south paths through Berkhamsted Common to return to our start point almost ninety minutes earlier than expected. Unheard of! And navigated live without a mistake by me. Almost unheard of too!
As always, thanks to all for joining me (prospective / new members) Alistair, Andrea, Anuma, Emma, Jane, Maher, Prisca, Tracey, Visal and (not so new members) David H, Deirdre, Efisia, Erika, Harpreet, Harvinder, Kevin V, Mary, Mark P, Mike D and Phil.
Report by Steve R
Along the Grand Union Canal - Photo by Phil
Efisia says hello to an alpaca - Photo by Phil
Lunch stop near the Bridgewater Monument - Photo by Maher
Group photo outside Ashridge College - Photo by Maher
Not quite the top of the world, but we had great views over Dorking, Denbies Vineyard (which surprisingly has even its own tram tour - not that fit people like us will ever need it), Westhumble and even London (the Shard, the Gherkin and other towers I cannot name).
The walk passed (at a good pace) through all sorts of terrains, including a dash trough an overgrown cornfield, and the weather was pleasant - warm, some sunshine and only 10 minutes of drizzle to oblige us to check whether we had the right equipment with us. At lunch at Polesden Lacey we agreed that they installed the greatest invention of modern times, which happens to be English (but I will not bore you with details).
Once again, I would like to thank Deirdre, Erika, Dave, Phil and Steve R for joining me on this very enjoyable walk.
Report by Marin
Show-off clouds trying to look threatening... - Photo by Marin
... but the walkers are too determined to be perturbed - Photo by Marin
North by Northwest revisited - Photo by Marin
Happy ending - Photo by Marin
A marvellous weekend was had by all 12, visiting the wonderful Quantock hills. We stayed in an old Scout hut near Over Stowey, which took a little finding but was fully equipped with all we needed - for £6 pppn!
Martina was nominated Chef of the Month and cooked up a storm of meals on the Friday and Saturday night, which was very welcome as the nearest town was 1.5 miles away. Friday night brought opportunity to show driving skills (or lack of them in some cases) using Brian F's flying helicopter, held together with a bra underwire donated by the girls. Giant genga nearly broke the wooden floor. Complicated card games ended in tears for Steve T. Further kerfuffles surrounding sleeping arrangements which ended in a throughly modern co-ed dorm in the small outside Gingham Palace hut, where Jan managed to outsnore Humay, Mick and Mike.
Saturday dawned with commis chef Mark frying a whole pig for him, Mick and Steve T, over the top of Martina who had been banished to sleep in the dining room. The weather came and went, drizzle followed by sun, followed by scudding clouds as we wandered through the woodlands over the Quantocks to Crowcombe. A 7.5 mile walk was punctuated by quad bikes rounding up wild ponies in the annual count, and massive pixies on red toadstools (this was the Coleridge walk after all). Unexpected home-made apple cake and tea were found in the Holy Ghost church, when we usurped a sponsored walk raising money for churches, and stole the cake before they arrived. Jane showed us the unusual carvings in the 14th century church on the end of the benches, which showed two-headed dragons being slayed by naked men. A leisurely pub lunch stop allowed Martina to regale the locals with tales. Brian G and others stayed outside for chips and encountered a very grumpy landlady whose husband was being regaled by Martina, and offered to come over later for a fiver. The afternoon brought a walk back over the Quantocks, through the Great Wood with purple and yellow heather to the horizon, and lush valleys. We made it home for 5 o'clock tiffin, with Jane's fab carrot, walnut and banana cake to contribute to the obligatory 5 a day fruit ration.
Dinner ensued with Mick and Humay helping set the table, and excellent washers-up Tim, Steve and Mike, showing keenness and willingness beyond duty. Evening brought out Brian F's guitar, and Mark "women wear these bras, but men don't bother with them", provided some special entertainment, by bringing new friends Magda and Gary along for the night for a singsong, before they had to fly off. Jan got a stick of rock as a present to remember the weekend. It brought tears to her eyes as she'd never seen one as big as that before. Humay and Jane attempted to rival the scouts who had been there before us, by creating a HAWOG poster to adorn the spaces on the walls. There weren't enough Quality Street wrappers to manage this though, so we had to make do with a HAWOG leaflet. Mike got the campfire blazing, as we all sang along to 'Magic Moments, filled with love'. Jeff became very emotional at memories of jamborees past.
Sunday brought a flurry of cleaning to restore the hut to better-than-found glory. We meandered up the coast to Burnham for a beach walk, with the tide coming in quickly whilst we took photos of the lighthouse. Fish and chips by the sea was enjoyed by all.
Many thanks to Martina, Brians F and G, Jane, Mike, Mick, Humay, Tim, Jeff, Steve T and Mark. So lovely to be with you all and thanks for the memories!
Report by Jan
Mark and Martina go for a record at Jenga - Photo by Brian G
It's that way - Photo by Brian G
We reach Xanadu, has he gone? - Photo by Brian G
More tea, vicar? - Photo by Brian G
Apple pie, anyone? - Photo by Brian G
Magda and Gary join the gang - Photo by Brian G
Martina and Jan, friends forever - Photo by Jan
Meeting with the Quantock locals - Photo by Jan
Campfire yarns - Photo by Brian G
Beach walk to the lighthouse - Photo by Brian G
I was joined by 11 others for part 2 of my Metropolitan branch line walks - Chorleywood to Moor Park. After ascending the hill from Chorleywood we criss-crossed fields and traversed the M25 by footbridge. We continued south through woods and farmland to emerge at the River Colne and associated lakes and reservoirs. After crossing Pynesfield Lake on a very pretty strip of 'island' flanked by water on either side we emerged at the Coy Carp pub, familiar to many of us. Here we took in a loop which took us alongside the Grand Union Canal for a way before heading up the hillside towards Harefield where we doubled back through fields populated by very inquisitive horses who took a particular like to the girls. The boys of course did the manly thing of running ahead and taking photos of us. Once safely over the style we headed back down where we joined the Colne Valley Trail alongside the reservoirs and then turned east to join the Hillingdon Trail across fields of corn and pockets of woodland.
Eventually after 8 miles we stopped for refreshment at the Rose and Crown pub where Simon and Mary ordered quite possibly the biggest ploughman's lunch known to man and Emma and Jaya shared their very tasty chips with the rest of the group. Refuelled we then headed across Woodcock Hill and through Bishop's Wood Country Park to Batchworth Heath where we were greeted by the 'picturesque' Prince of Wales pub proudly advertising their Exotic Dancers ... some of us in the group decided to apply but were sadly turned down. Continuing east from Batchworth we crossed more meadows and woodland to come out on the fringes of the plush Moor Park estate and Brian F pointed out the house where 'The Good Life' TV series was filmed. The walk finished with a meander through Moor Park private estate and woodland adjacent to the railway line. Total distance 11 miles.
Thanks to Amy, Anna, Brian F, Emma E, Jaya, Keith, Maria, Mark S, Mary, Phil and Simon H. Look out for the next instalment of Metropolitan line based walks.
Report by Helen W
The Grand Union Canal - Photo by Helen
Soaking up the sun - Photo by Keith
Looking across the Colne River valley - Photo by Helen
A field of prospective members - Photo by Keith
Our prospective new members join the walk - Photo by Keith
Safety in numbers - or are the girls line-dancing? - Photo by Keith
Amaizeing walk - OK the caption is a bit corny! - Photo by Keith
Mary's mega ploughman's lunch - Photo by Keith
Walk leader Helen feeling lightheaded at the end? - Photo by Keith
The additional entertainment - Photo by Simon
4 of us attended the bank holiday camping in the south Cotswolds. The campsite is a new one, located on an organic farm with shop and cafe on site. After trying out the excellent fare at the campsite cafe we walked into Cirencester and did a town walk. Cirencester (Corinium) was the second largest town in Roman Britain and was a very prosperous town in the Cotswold golden age up to the 16th century. The most impressive part is probably Cirencester park, a huge landscaped expanse designed by Pope and celebrating baroque geometry. It has been used in many costume drama films and is unchanged to this day.
Later in the day we found a pub in town for food before Vic led us to a karaoke venue where he demonstrated his expertise with a peerless James Brown medley.
On Sunday we did a walk including the enchanting villages of Bibury and Coln St Aldwyn. Both feature splendid manors of Cotswold stone, one of which is a very exclusive hotel where we managed to evade the concierge to explore the grounds. Rob discovered a very good tea stop at the W.I. hall where the lemon drizzle was especially spiffing. We toured the trout farm at Bibury and also the celebrated Arlington Row, a collection of weavers cottages. These were made famous by William Morris and captured on canvas by a Japanese painter in the 1890s. His work has caused large tours to the area from Japan ever since and indeed much in evidence today.
In the evening Genevieve and Rob prepared the barbecue, with lots of organic meats from the farm plus some extraordinary sole-shaped veggie burgers which had a unique taste. We then had the traditional campfire and many yarns involving jurisprudence, Ayn Rand and faces of Vitruvian proportions.
On Monday we explored the Roman remains at Cirencester. The Amphitheatre is just outside town and accommodated about 10000 spectators. We spent some time at the Corinium museum where the many antiquities from the Roman town are kept. The Orpheus mosaics are unique in Britain. Afterwards we gathered for a final cream tea at one of the fine tea shops overlooking the medieval marketplace and Abbey church.
Report by Brian G
Picnic by river - Photo by Brian G
Bibury village - Photo by Brian G
Arlington Row - Photo by Brian G
Vic tucks in early - Photo by Brian G
Campfire debate on litigation - Photo by Brian G
Amphitheatre at Cirencester - Photo by Brian G
Rather high yew hedge at Cirencester park - Photo by Brian G
On our walk, there were 14 of us in the group, including Renu and myself. Everyone had arrived by 10.40 and we had some one-off newcomers.
We commenced our walk by heading towards Osterley House, where Renu pointed out the design details of this Palladian architecture and Donald pointed out the Portland stone and the Doric columnar pillars. We walked towards the cafe, which was originally the stables, and Carola took some pictures at this point. Then we walked across the field, by the lake, on to the public footpath, over the M4 bridge, into the fields, passing 'The Plough' pub, we carried on to the Grand Union Canal. We walked along the Canal, pointing out the three bridges (Asha and Kamlesh explained the significance of the name) and the Asylum lock.
We stopped for lunch at 'The Fox' pub at 12.30 as per our schedule. Whilst most of us were under the canopy in the garden at The Fox, Kevin, Jasmine and Zubir went to have their lunch by the canal. I think, they got caught in the very short spell of rain during the lunch break. Few of us ordered food in the pub, Lorna had to literally wrestle for her soup, when I tried to claim it was for Asha. Mark had a long wait for his bread, though his ploughman arrived pretty promptly. David did not want to start on his food, in case it was my order. Jeremy would have liked crispy grasshopper, but this option was not on the menu. However, we all enjoyed our lunch, and Kevin even managed to squeeze in a short snooze.
After lunch, we headed back to Osterley, over the railway track, through the field, picking blackberries, noting the Pink House, owned by the Sultan of Brunei. We went though a very quiet and secluded part of the woods, which would have been very muddy, had it been raining. We headed towards Tentelow lane, crossing over to a public footpath, opposite 'The Hare and Hounds'. We were blessed with very pleasant and comfortably warm weather, despite the forecast of showers and thunder. We finished our walk at 3.15 and some of us stayed for coffee at the Osterley Cafe garden, where Ruth could not resist the temptation of scones and cream. There we ended the day by wrapping it up nicely with some photos and some jokes from a passer-by.
Our sincere thanks to Ruth, Lorna, Jasmine, Zubir, Mark, Kevin, David and newcomers Carola, Donald, Jeremy, Kamlesh and Asha for joining our walk.
Report by Neena
We were very lucky with the weather on Sunday. At various points the clouds looked a bit grey and threatening, but apart from a few drops, there was no rain of any note. The temperatures were comfortable, and on occasions the sun peeped out from behind the clouds, and it became rather warm.
Our walk commenced at about 10.50, to allow a few latecomers to get to the start point at Gloucester Green Bus Station. Oxford now employs a park and ride scheme, so several attendees parked at Thornhill, and got the courtesy bus into Oxford City Centre. The initial part of our walk took us through George Street, and into Broad Street. We passed the esteemed colleges of Balliol and Trinity, and beyond that passed the Sheldonian Theatre (where degrees are conferred), the Bodleian Library and Blackwell's Bookshop. We turned left into Park Street, at the junction with the History Faculty Library, past the King's Arms, the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Reading Room and the Indian Institute Library. We carried on past Wadham and Keble colleges, and entered the University Parks through Keble Gate.
We walked through the Parks, past the University Cricket Ground, and then had our first meeting with the River Cherwell. We crossed the bridge, and proceeded west along the riverbank for a couple of miles, through field, meadow and wood. Notable landmarks on the way were Cherwell Boathouse, where you can hire "punts", to glide along the river, the modern fa�ade of Wolfson College - a relatively recent addition to the university, and the Dragon School - the alma mater of Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame. We carried on further to "The Victoria Arms" where we stopped for Tiffin and some lubrication. We occupied some tables in the garden by the river. We were soon befriended by a very greedy goose - who enjoyed a mixed selection of delicacies ranging from banana sandwiches, dim sums, chips, magdalenas and shortbread. He was certainly a very persistent goose, and was a lot fatter when we left than when we arrived. Given the recent increases in tuition fees, I think he will represent a feasible target for some poor and hungry students when they return for Michaelmas term in early October. Keep safe my friend. The gardens and tables of the Victoria Arms will present a familiar sight to those "Inspector Morse" fans out there. Inspector Morse (John Thaw), and his sidekick Lewis (Kevin Whately) famously solved various clues to intrigue, murder and mayhem in Oxford, over a beer there, in the much missed television series.
We returned from whence we came toward the centre of Oxford, passing St Johns College - possibly the richest of all the colleges, Tony Blair is among their former alumni. We carried on past the Martyrs Memorial, the Randolph Hotel and the Ashmolean Museum to the delights of Worcester College, and its esteemed lake and gardens. We punctuated our walk with a stop for tea and cake, before carrying on to see Jesus College (Harold Wilson was an old boy), Exeter College (Richard Burton, Roger Bannister), and Brasenose College (David Cameron). Walked down Brasenose Lane to see the delights of the Radcliffe Camera (an English Literature and History Library), the Coddrington Library (part of All Souls), St. Mary's Church and Hertford College. We then bade farewell, people went their separate ways, some returning home, some shopping or doing more sightseeing before doing so. Your's truly found a nice leather chair, in a very acceptable watering hole showing Sky Sports, and watched United get three points at West Brom with a late Ashley Young goal. What a perfect day!
Report by Roger
9 of us met on a fine Wednesday evening at the Ruislip manor site. We explored the various buildings in the heritage area, including the 14th century Great Barn and the Manor House. We then headed east along the river Pinn through the Kings College playing fields. The whole area was owned by Kings College, Cambridge up to the 19th century. As we passed through the fields we came across a cricket match in progress and we stayed to watch one over featuring a run out and one boundary. The route then followed the Pinn, crossing it before we found ourselves at the Eastcote Barn House (site of the 1908 London Marathon checkpoint). We then followed the trail into Eastcote House gardens where there was a kaleidoscopic display of colours in the herbaceous border next to the Dovecote. After searching for the elusive Medlar tree we finished the walk once again at the Case is Altered in its splendid gardens where Peter and Paul debated the Monkees and related topics.
Report by Brian G
Arrival at the manor - Photo by Brian G
Bridge on the Pinn - Photo by Brian G
Crossing the playing fields - Photo by Brian G
Some fossils passing the time after lunch - Photo by Jane
Calves and thighs working well - Photo by Jane
A decent ascent for us chaps and chapesses - Photo by Jane
Glamping again - Photo by Brian G
Enjoying the sun - Photo by Brian G
Maiden Castle - Photo by Brian G
Mark starts the barbecue - Photo by Brian G
Jurassic coast - Photo by Brian G
Starting the climbs - Photo by Brian G
Descent to Durdle Dor - Photo by Brian G
Campfire yarns - Photo by Brian G
Walk leaders Efisia and Merce (pictured) assisted by Anna - Photo by Keith
Snow White and 2 of the 7 dwarves! - Photo by Keith
Merce (or is it Anna?) points the way - Photo by Keith
A romantic pause on the Beacon - Photo by Keith
Members enjoying the sun and a chat on the Beacon - Photo by Keith
Heading home - Photo by Keith
We met at Seer Green station on a sunny morning for this walk. Our route took us through the village of Jordans and then the grounds of Chalfont Grove to reach the river Misbourne at Chalfont St Peter. We followed the river to Chalfont St Giles where we enjoyed coffee and pastries (for which many thanks Erika and Dave!) on the green. Leaving the village, we climbed up into Philipshill Wood. The stretch of the walk through the wood was the only part I had not checked and so, rather inevitably, I got it wrong. We had a very pleasant walk through the trees but didn't emerge where I had expected. Phil's GPS and a passing dog walker confirmed what I had begun to suspect - that we had spent our time in the woods walking in a circle. Rather than venturing back into the trees, we therefore followed paths - and a lane full of horses and riders - to rejoin the river. After enjoying lunch in the sun, we followed the Chiltern Way across open farmland before turning south again to reach Seer Green. Thanks to all who joined me, who kindly forgave me for my errors in the woods, and who made this a very enjoyable day.
Report by Stephen C
For our third camping trip of the year we ventured to sunny Dorset at the newly opened Northdown farm campsite. 19 of us met on Friday where the usual game of reading the tent instructions took place. Brigitta found her pop up was super easy to erect (much longer to pack up as we found). New campers Anne and Patrick were luckily hosted by Martina and Liane. At the local pub we met some ex News of the World columnist who debated the future of Britain with Mark and Peter. Back at the site Helen and Simon started the camp fire, Brian F then led an Abba sing-song, helped by Dave T on the recorder.
On Saturday, Kerry led a 10 mile coastal walk along the Jurassic coast path. We descended to the beach at Osmington to do some fossilling in the boulders. Jane discovered some ammonites but we needed a chisel to prize them loose. We stopped on the beach at Ringstead before the big climbs from there to Lulworth. The coastal path climbed up vertiginous cliffs for magnificent views along the coast eastwards. Martina and Cathy enjoyed the exertions more than most as the sun beat down. At Durdle Dor the spectacular limestone arch framed several yachts gliding by. We reached Lulworth Cove where there was an ideally situated ice cream shop to help us cool down before catching the bus back West.
We found several scarecrows in the village of Preston next to the site (Archers fans will not need reminding that July is national scarecrow month). The winner was an uncanny doppelganger of Russell "Scarey" Crowe next to the old mill. Back at the site Mark and Steve arranged yet another great barbecue, the farm shop provided an excellent choice of burgers, salads, fruit and wine. Shep and Petra came along as dusk fell and they were very eager to try some of Jeff's sausages before they laid down next to our tents. Martina started the marshmallow toasting whilst Mick and Mark recounted some more campfire yarns.
On Sunday the hot sun woke us early; Derek and Prem prepared one of their legendary gourmet breakfasts whilst Mick and Liane again ventured off to try out the campsite cafe. Mark led Steve, Helen and Simon on a long coastal bike ride around the Isle of Portland and Chesil bank. Derek and Prem went windsurfing at the beach before joining the others in Weymouth for some crab fishing on the old harbour walls. The rest did a hike up to Maiden Castle, the largest iron age hill fort in Britain, with extensive earthworks and viewpoints over West Dorset. We then continued to nearby Poundbury (created by Prince Charles). However the town seemed to remind us of Royston Vasey and Prisoner-era Portmeirion. The town was deserted on such a fine day and eerily quiet with only the ubiquitous Argos catalogues (outside every doorway) to be seen. Later most of us enjoyed a final Dorset cream tea on Weymouth beach where we enjoyed the views out to sea and along the Jurassic coast stretching out eastwards to Purbeck.
Report by Brian G
We met at Great Missenden station at the slighter later time than originally planned due to engineering works on Chiltern Railways. Luckily Phil had realised the times I stated were incorrect and a last-minute email was sent on Friday afternoon to advise all of the changes. We set off around 10.20 with a call from David 10 minutes later; he had just reached the station by car and ran to catch us up....so this made six of us.
I had pre-walked the route a few weeks beforehand and was surprised how the fields had changed so much within those weeks, one now full of lovely yellow flowers, and a field of crops that were well below my knees had grown to as high as my shoulders.
We stopped for a few minutes for a look inside St John the Baptist church in Little Missenden which dates back to the tenth century, then set off again heading towards Penn Wood. On reaching our lunch spot in the village of Penn Street, some of us had a lovely pub lunch and others with packed lunches sat on the village green. Luckily the sun was out and it was a lovely warm day.
Setting off again we walked through the village of Coleshill. We discussed our likes and dislikes of the very large houses and who may live in them, maybe one of us.... one day!
We reached the town of Amersham old town in good time so stopped for tea and cake, Tracey looked up the cafe on her iPhone and it said it was world famous!. We all agreed that the cakes were fabulous, even though some of us could not manage one after our pub lunch. After sitting in the sun for a few minutes we then headed to Amersham station and the end of our walk. This was my first time as walk leader and I am glad to say we didn't get lost!
Thanks to Colin, David W, Deirdre, Phil and Tracey for joining me.
Report by Karen
Heading to Little Missenden - Photo by Phil
Emerging from Penn Wood - Photo by Phil
A few more weeks and the crop would be as tall as us! - Photo by Phil
Heading down into Amersham - Photo by Phil
A mix of old and new PW walkers gathered at Horton-in-Ribblesdale in bright sunshine to embark on the second section of Britain's most famous long distance path. We were joined on the first day's walk by Steve R (completing a missing section) and Carol. Little did we realise that we would have a Steve for company every single day... Emma was delayed and would meet us in Hawes so 9 set out from the Crown Hotel. Things began badly when I looked round to discover the entire group had disappeared from view southwards in the direction of Edale but after a minute or two they returned looking a bit sheepish (and I don't think Steve's presence was to blame) so we set out - northwards this time. The day was very leisurely, being only 13 miles, and we lunched in the sunshine above the High Cam Road. By evening we were all toasting "Pennine Way light" but the next day things changed dramatically.
We set off up Great Shunner Fell in heavy rain in the company of Steve no. 2 who was walking alone as far as Dufton. The terrible weather and steep climb proved a baptism of fire for the newcomers and there were some gritted teeth and miserable expressions as we trudged along. But after the summit the rain cleared up and we had lunch in the village of Thwaite prior to entering the Keardon Country Hotel for hot drinks. Rather than struggling to remove our sodden boots we enjoyed the use of an ingenious gadget rather like a mantrap which automatically snapped boot covers over the offending footwear affording a seamless transition to carpeted luxury. At Keld we said goodbye to Steve no. 2 and continued to our overnight stop at Tan Hill.
The Tan Hill pub is something of a legend, Britain's highest pub, and maybe one of the remotest too. The coal-fired chimneys needed a good sweeping - more than one night there and we may all have contracted emphysema. The atmosphere was very lively with a cross-dressing birthday boy, enormous Yorkshire puddings, gregarious staff, and Mary felt as though she was back in the Ireland she remembered "before everything changed".
The next morning we began unusually downhill and crossed the quagmire of Sleightholme Moor where the path was practically nonexistent. By lunchtime the rain was driving as hard as the previous morning and we were fortunate to find a purpose-built wooden hut with plenty of seating for lunch at Deepdale Beck. Here we met Steve no. 2 again by chance and continued together. We all thought the thunder and lightning in the afternoon the last straw, but that belonged to the raging torrent of Merry Gill which blocked our path and forced a diversion along the road. Although just 17 miles this day was the low point for most of us and we were all grateful for a day off in Middleton-in-Teesdale at the luxurious Brunswick House which served the best breakfast on the route by some margin.
On Tuesday morning the sun reappeared and we all set out in better spirits. For the next three days we were accompanied by Steve no. 3, who was walking the whole PW alone in 14 days, and had gone into a bog up to his neck on Sleightholme Moor. He was very lucky to have extricated himself by throwing himself backwards and reaching behind to grab at some tussocks of grass. This was the most scenic day of all as we followed the River Tees past Low Force and High Force waterfalls to our lunch stop at Cauldron Snout. By this day some of us were suffering badly with blisters and knee pain so the going became a lot harder for them. The rain started again in the afternoon but failed to dampen our enjoyment of the dramatic view of High Cup Nick, a perfect U-shaped valley, which led us down to Dufton YHA by 6.30pm after a 21 mile walk.
The penultimate day was the hardest climb across three fells to the highest point on the PW at Cross Fell, just shy of 3,000 feet. Mary's blisters, Anna's knees, Keith's gallantry and Simon's lay-in meant that just Erika, Emma, Rita, Steve no. 3 and I completed this day. The others took a tortuous taxi/bus journey via Penrith to Alston, while we walkers had a more direct route over what Rita described as a "silly hill". We stopped in Greg's hut for lunch, having completed the entire ascent in low cloud but emerged once more to driving rain along the corpse road to the village of Garrigill. With the weather battering us in the face we put our heads down and set a furious pace covering the 6 miles to Garrigill in just 90 minutes and were treated at the George and Dragon Pub to a warm welcome. No decorum here - we walked straight into the stone-flagged room and were ordered by the landlady to dry off in front of the blazing coal fire with Jack Diesel (he purrs like an engine) the cat for company, while she made us tea and a fabulous hot chocolate for Rita which included marshmallow chunks. Cheered by the warmth of the place we reluctantly dragged ourselves away and reached Alston at 6pm having completed another 21 miles.
Mary's blisters prevented her from joining us for the last day but the rest of us enjoyed a dry day for a change to our finish in Greenhead. This day was the only one where we nearly went astray and is known for being a navigational nightmare in places. We finally reached our destination at 5.30pm, the PW teasing us with a meandering path at the finish, to find Mary cheering us into the Greenhead Hotel bar, having said goodbye and good luck at Thirlwall Castle to Steve no. 3, who would finish at Kirk Yetholm the following Monday. Collected by our hosts from the hotel we spent an entertaining and somewhat "Fawltyesque" night at Bush Nook Guesthouse and wolfed down another cooked breakfast to fortify ourselves for the long sit down on the train home.
Many congratulations and thanks to all who came and made it a really enjoyable week. Mary and Anna in particular deserve a medal for extreme stoicism as they both walked in severe pain for a lot of the time without complaint, and Rita who completed every day despite feeling totally knackered on the last one - always with a smile. Thanks too to Steve Bond and Steve Brown for your good company. So just 60 odd miles left - we can't wait...
Report by David H
Arrival - Horton in Ribblesdale - Photo by Anna
Start! Departing Horton - Photo by Anna
Day 1 at Ling Gill Bridge - Photo by David
Into the mist - Tan Hill this way? - Photo by Anna
Mist clears - Photo by Anna
Erika approaches Keld in the sun - Photo by Anna
High on a hill... - Photo by David
Smiling in the sun - Photo by David
Passing a typical Yorkshire stone barn - Photo by Keith
Battling the elements - Photo by Keith
Dave's courtship ritual impresses Erika - Photo by Keith
Bridge by Keld waterfall - Photo by David
With Steve no. 2 at Keld - Photo by David
Mary enjoys Keld Waterfall - Photo by Keith
Tan Hill Inn at last - Photo by David
Group photo at Tan Hill Inn - England's highest pub - Photo by Keith
Crossing boggy moorland near Tan Hill - Photo by Keith
Near Middleton with "Guest Steve No. 2" - Photo by Keith
Freaky night at Tan Hill Inn - Photo by Anna
Some of us couldn't bear the sight of our standby walk leader - Photo by David
Ministry of Silly Walks declares our path flooded and impassable - Photo by Anna
From Middleton to Dufton - Photo by Anna
Keith explores Low Force - Photo by Anna
Low Force waterfall - Photo by Anna
Sunny now but the rain was on its way - Photo by David
Anna treads a scenic view - Photo by Keith
Rita "Highlighter" at High Cup Nick - Photo by Keith
Walkers dwarfed by the dramatic scene - Photo by Anna
High Cup Nick. A geography teacher's dream - Photo by Anna
Steed points out the Cumbrian fells to Purdey and Gambit - Photo by Anna
No chance - Photo by David
Cauldron Snout - Photo by David
Erika on Cross Fell - Photo by David
With Steve no. 3 on Cross Fell - Photo by David
Into Greenhead - dead tired but not buried - Photo by Keith
Emma spies Greg's Hut - Photo by David
Group shot - Alston YHA - Photo by Anna
It's all over 'til next year - Photo by David
8 of us gathered at Watford tube station on Sunday morning for my 22 mile circular walk.
We started promptly at 9:00am, walking down through Cassiobury Park and crossing the Grand Union Canal. We headed on to Chandler's Cross, then crossed over the M25. Shortly afterwards I made the only wrong turn of the walk - when reccying the walk, I had made the correct choice from 3 paths, but on this occasion I chose the wrong path. Thankfully it became clear very quickly that I had chosen the wrong path as a sign warned of mines! We backtracked and quickly found the right path to Church End, where we picked up the Chiltern Way down to and across the River Chess, and thence on to Chenies and Chorleywood. We stayed on the Chiltern Way until we reached Chalfont St Giles, where we joined the South Bucks Way. This took us south to Chalfont St Peter, where we had our lunch stop, having covered just over half the total distance.
After lunch we carried on along the South Bucks Way, before turning off to walk down to and across the River Colne at Harefield, where we stopped for drinks (including some free tea!) at the Coy Carp pub. From there we headed back along the Grand Union Canal to Cassiobury Park, pausing only for ice cream at Batchworth Lock. We returned to Watford station at around 5:30pm.
Well done and thanks to Anna, David, Erika, Keith, Maria, Marin and Rita for joining me on this walk.
Report by Phil
The Cha Cha Chain Saw Massacre? - Photo by Keith
Odd house development on the hill in Sarratt, which evoked to Erika the Madonna's conic bras. Later it was debated if there weren't too many pheromones in the area - Photo by Marin
A Watford FC Bumblebee doing something with a flower of Scotland - Photo by Marin
Only 15 miles to go - Photo by Marin
Enjoying free tea and paid ale. Which one do you think is better? - Photo by Marin
The Coy Carp Olympic team partially submerged under the treacherous Kitchen Showroom's rapids - Photo by Marin
Manufacturing ingenuity will bring an end to the recession - Photo by Marin
Love is in the air! - Photo by Marin
For our second camping trip of the year we returned to Sussex for another scorchio weekend at the new Waspbourne manor farm. The campsite is in an idyllic setting in the Ouse valley surrounded by ancient woodlands. 8 of us attended with 4 visitors joining us for Saturday. Carla and Mary are now camping devotees and Martina brought along her famous polka dot mattress once more. The campsite allows campfires and even provided old farm benches around the fire pits plus a picnic table for each group to use. Emma discovered the rope swings nearby and we saw several hot air balloons glide overhead as we set up camp. After a great curry meal cooked by Martina we gathered at the next door camp fire to listen to some music; folk and country songs were played and as ever Jan knew all the words.
On Saturday the sun woke us early and after a hearty breakfast we set off on the hike. We made our way to the Bluebell steam railway and after exploring the vintage station we took the train through the valleys and meadows of the Weald. As the train chugged along Derek and Prem appeared from nowhere in the corridor, Derek had had to leap aboard the train as it pulled out, Prem catching him on the footplate. Our route then entered the Ashdown forest, an ancient hunting ground full of heather and ferns with great views to the South Downs further south. After an ice cream stop for 99s on the heath we continued to the historic Nutley windmill. By chance the warden was just arriving and in his enthusiasm offered us a personal tour. We took in all the interior and mechanisms of the mill and the warden showed us how the windmill could be turned around by simple lever to catch the wind. We then climbed to the Friend clump viewpoint where we had our picnic and managed to lose Derek once more. Our route took in some shaded sections to shelter from the sun and we encountered the inevitable wedding at a village church before being stalked by a Duke of Edinburgh group. We had to race to get to Heaven before it closed; the famous Heaven farm tea shop where we arrived in the nick of time. We savoured the cream teas in the farmyard as several chickens and guinea fowl clucked away before us. Martin managed an extra scone and declared them rather spiffing.
As we arrived back at site we were welcomed by Brian F and Jane who had come down after doing the day walk earlier in the day and were enthused to extend the day to the maximum. Martin showed his prowess at barbecues with an expert use of matches and petrol, whilst Lisa helped Martina with starting the camp fire. Brian F brought his guitar along to lead the singing, we had a few visitors along who joined in and made requests.
Sunday was even hotter and our breakfast was a very leisurely affair. We stocked up at the farm shop for fresh eggs, excellent farm-baked bread and some splendid gooseberry and elderflower jam. We set off on the short walk to Sheffield Park Gardens, the nearby National Trust historic gardens designed by Capability Brown. We strolled around the luxurious collection of trees and shrubs coming upon the Monet Bridge and the wonderful vista of rare pink water lilies covering the tranquil lake. We climbed to the viewpoint where we were in time to take in 2 overs of the cricket match at the elevated pitch (setting for first England vs. Australia test). Afterwards we set out to the famous Griffin Inn, a 17th century inn with magnificent views of the Sussex weald from its sloping gardens. We enjoyed an excellent barbecue; lobster and sea bass were on the menu with very generous portions allowed. We stayed for ages in the sun-filled gardens taking in the views and planning our next visit to this historic and picturesque setting.
Report by Brian G
Catering all arranged - Photo by Brian G
Campfire yarns - Photo by Brian G
Breakfast in the sun - Photo by Brian G
Brief encounter on the Bluebell - Photo by Brian G
No room for Derek on the Bluebell express - Photo by Prem
Unexpected windmill tour - Photo by Brian G
Picnic with the locals - Photo by Brian G
Cream teas at Heaven - Photo by Brian G
Brian F leads the singing - Photo by Brian G
Sheffield Park Gardens - Photo by Brian G
I'm Chair! I'm Chair! - Photo by Marin
The Photographer - Photo by Keith
A very wet start through Preston Park - Photo by Mathilde
Nice weather for ducks at Barn Hill pond - Photo by Mathilde
Fryent Country Park - Singing in the rain - Photo by Mathilde
St Andrew's Church - Photo by Mathilde
Some interesting wild flowers by the side of Brent Reservoir - Photo by Mathilde
Brent Reservoir - Photo by Mathilde
All suggested captions censored! - Photo by Keith
At least one of us looked like they knew what they were doing - Photo by Keith
Girls - with moves like this how can you resist him? - Photo by Keith
On the appearance of a new team mate Anna looks less than encouraged - Photo by Keith
Volleyball as the sun sets - Photo by Brian G
12 of us met on a warm sunny evening at Pinner for our latest evening walk. Our route was the Celandine way which follows the River Pinn from Pinner to Eastcote via the hidden green spaces of the district. We passed through Pinner memorial park and West House (home for Nelson's daughter and grandson) before following the Pinn to the Long Meadows field with its poplars and ash trees.
We then came upon the Eastcote House gardens (the remains of the 17th century manor house). We strolled around the delightful herb gardens where Jane pointed out the various herbs and shrubs. Passing the 17th century coach house we headed north to reach the Case is Altered. As the evening was so warm we took some tables in the large pub gardens where some other members had already arrived. Some of us then had some splendid sticky toffee sponges and others listened attentively as Kevin recounted his latest filmography, one role surprisingly allowed him to keep his clothes on, but that's another story.
Report by Brian G
Pinner park - Photo by Brian G
Eastcote hidden gardens - Photo by Brian G
Eastcote house stable block - Photo by Brian G
Meeting ex members at the Case - Photo by Brian G
Luckily I had picked the hottest day of the year so far for our Ibstone Walk. 10 of us set off in glorious sunshine and just as we picked up the Chiltern Way we were in a field surrounded by poppies. We missed the turning for Northend and instead decided to head to Christmas Common which worked out quite well as this whole stretch was flat through woodland and some welcome shade. We had a brief stop in Christmas Common before heading to Pishill for our intended lunch stop. Again in search of some shade we found a lovely churchyard for our break before heading to the pub for some cool drinks.
We were seated outside but the waitress informed us that she was not allowed to bring the cutlery to the table so we pondered what H&S rule could possibly be behind this. After lunch we headed to Stonor startling some deer on the way. Most of them ran off but a baby deer was left behind and we could only watch helplessly as it charged against the wire fencing several times as it attempted to join the rest of the herd which it eventually managed. We walked on to Southend and Turville where we had a short stop. A final push and climb and we reached Ibstone just after 5pm having completed 12 miles.
Thanks to Amy, Brigitte, Carol, Dave, Emma, Erika, Mark, Patrick and Steve. Welcome to Patrick who was joining us on his first walk with the group.
Report by Mary
Wandering through the grass - Photo by David H
Wandering through the poppies - Photo by David H
Wandering through the wheat - Photo by David H
Wondering what it's all about - Photo by David H
Field of poppies - Photo by Mary
Lunch at Pishill - Photo by Mary
Pub garden - Photo by Mary
Spot the giant windmill - Photo by Mary
Team Turville - Photo by Mary
Turville village green - Photo by Mary
Wasn't quite sure how many to expect on this hot summer's day. 8 in total, Fay, Dom, Nickie, Lorna, Ruth, Jane R, Brian F and myself set off shortly after 11. After walking through an area of expensive houses, we got to the start of the circular walk at Shaftesbury Playing Field. With last year's walk having been the reccie, no extra distances were involved this time. Somehow went on the other side of the lovely wooded area towards Pinnerwood Farm. A horse rider very kindly held open the gate for our group to enter the riding fields. With the horses too far away, the first group photo was taken. Not sure why some were hiding behind others, camera shy?
At the top of the field, we followed the route indicated on the map, but in the opposite direction. Some found wild raspberries along the overgrown path. Other's legs got tickled by thistles, nettles and other thorny plants, yet being in shade was a welcome relief from the boiling sun. A bench under a tree, just outside the garden centre, provided an ideal resting place while waiting for people to visit the conveniences. We crossed Oxhey Lane at the traffic lights, back to wilderness and mistakenly almost marched through the middle of a farm. Should have remembered the route from last year.
It was up hill along the edge of the golf course and one new person found it a bit challenging. After another rest, and further along Ass House Lane, she was adamant not to continue with us. So we carried on with just the remaining seven. To our relief there were no pesky mosquitos along the stretch through Harrow Weald Common. We meant to go to the garden centre for lunch, but I, conveniently getting lost in the woods, brought us out by the car park view point being close to the pub 'The Case is Altered', which did nicely as a watering hole.
Passed Grims Dyke Hotel on the way back, across Grimsdyke golf course. A golf ball shot past us. Not sure why this path goes straight across the course. We exited by the club house, then turned left, then right into Royston Park Road. This pleasant residential street typifies Harrow's low density suburbs with mainly detached houses built around the turn of the century. Down The Avenue, then we were all departing homeward bound. For me it was another mile's walk home.
Thanks for all, new and old members, joining me on this hot, but nonetheless pleasant walk.
Report by Mathilde
Group photo - Photo by Mathilde
Local animals - Photo by Mathilde
One person did not want to carry on walking - Photo by Mathilde
Welcome shade - Photo by Mathilde
On our way to the garden centre - not - Photo by Mathilde
What a view - Photo by Brian F
Back from our pub lunch stop - Photo by Mathilde
Do they do cream teas here? - Photo by Mathilde
Grims Dyke Hotel - Photo by Mathilde
Bridge over Grims Ditch - Photo by Mathilde
8 of us met at Godalming on a fine Saturday morning. We did a short town walk via the historic mill and market. The free museum drew us in for the exhibition on Jekyll and Lutyens who both designed so many gardens and manors in Surrey. We then followed the River Wye path through meadows full of dragonflies and butterflies hovering lazily in the heat. Rob discovered another pillbox, the interior of which was in immaculate condition for once. Passing Charterhouse public school we climbed the ridge before the descent to Compton village where we stopped for cooling drinks in the sunny pub garden. As it was Surrey and Saturday there must be a wedding and as we came upon the village church (11th century) the wedding party all arrived. Jan and Genevieve did a running commentary on the dresses whilst Tim and Jeff admired the bodywork on the 1930 Penna.
We ventured on to the Watts Chapel, one of the hidden gems of the Surrey Hills. It is a unique fusion of Art Nouveau, Celtic, Romanesque and Egyptian influences. We had our picnic at the viewpoint above it, where Giles explained some of the history of the area. We continued on to visit the Watts Gallery. This reopened last week after being restored as a result of the BBC Restoration programme "A National Gallery in the heart of a village". It features some of the finest works of the unique Victorian artist G.F.Watts in a splendid Arts and Crafts setting. We chatted to some of the guides who explained some of the history of the artist and the gallery. Afterwards Jeff led us to the shaded garden café where the lemon drizzle cake was especially welcome.
Our route proceeded westwards passing Loseley Park, an Elizabethan mansion, setting for many period dramas. We reached the Wye River and took the riverside path on a leisurely final stretch. As the afternoon was heating up we could not resist the riverside café at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre at Guildford. We had some cooling drinks, watched the ducks gliding by and listened as Genevieve recounted some intriguing yarns about restoration projects, but that's another story.
Report by Brian G
Godalming tour - Photo by Brian G
Wedding at Compton - Photo by Brian G
Watts Gallery - Photo by Brian G
Jan blends in - Photo by Brian G
Looseley House - Photo by Brian G
Riverside cafe - Photo by Brian G
Six attended my Thirsty Smiles and a Curry walk.
Our route was a mix of countryside fields, woods, major and minor footpaths, rolling hills and valleys and canals. We departed 5 minutes late and had a mix of sun, cloud and dry until mid morning when we had a short, sharp downpour whilst we were in the open with no cover nearby. We were fairly wet by the time we had our wet gear on. Ten minutes later and the rain stopped and stayed away until after lunch which was a thirty minute stop at the church of St Peter and St Paul along the High Street in Tring. Ten or so miles done.
Post lunch we headed westish out of Tring towards Buckland village and the Aylesbury Ring footpath north, with another short, sharp downpour on route, until we reached the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal walk. We followed this eastish, luckily having shelter at a disused pub along the canal during another short downpour, before departing at Tring Station. We headed back into the town centre for our second break there. Erika and David departed having cunningly left their car there earlier. With twenty miles or so done the rest of us went for a beverage in Costa Coffee - all the independent tea shops had closed at 5pm.
We intended to stay for 15 minutes but another downpour, which lasted thirty minutes, persuaded us to stay a little longer. Just after 6pm we ventured out again for the final third of our walk. Mainly south and west, and involving half a dozen ups and downs over lovely rolling Chiltern hills intermingled with a few houses and the odd pub. These are places were you can't see any modern life apart from the cars in drives and satellite dishes on walls. We paused to look at the grade 2 listed Pednor House before our final descent into Great Missenden, which is a bit of a tease as you can't see the town until the final five minutes. We arrived back at 9.20pm feeling very lucky with the day being mostly dry, a nice temperature and a mix of sun and cloud.
A few hugs and congratulations followed before we went to Suko Thai along the High Street for our well-deserved feed. Thanks to Anna, Keith and Paul S for joining me and completing the whole 32 miles (my estimate). After seven years of organising these longer walks, this is the last one I'm organising, so thanks also to all who've attended and completed since 2005.
Report by Steve R
"What do you mean we're lost? This is the start of the walk!" - Photo by Keith
10 miles and all of us are still going strong - Photo by Keith
"If you rub your hands really hard like this you can make fire" - Photo by Keith
Make up your own "corny" caption - Photo by Keith
And the winner of the knobbly knees contest is... - Photo by Keith
Nearing Tring and our 20 mile point - Photo by Keith
Nine braved the forecast and actual rain for my 20 ish miler walk.
We departed from Thame 20 minutes late to ensure the few latecomers could join us. It rained all day. Drizzle in the morning but mild turning heavy and colder in the afternoon. Certainly the worst day's rain I've experienced whilst walking in the Chilterns for a few years. And in June. We went through most of the villages I intended with one change due to my customary navigation error: I took the wrong path out of Moreton so we headed south to Tetsworth. I compensated later on by avoiding the dog leg of Nether Winchendon.
Lunch was at Ickford village around 1pm. We sheltered in a bus stop. By 4pm we had reached Chearsley for our mid-afternoon tea stop. The rain had been quite heavy for a while now and we were looking forward to some respite. Unfortunately the pub was closed during this part of the day. Ditto the village shop which does serve teas. And the village green was deserted too, which was a real contrast to my one previous visit which had been on a walk on a hot Sunday afternoon last year.
So we cracked on, in the rain, all the way back to Thame, reaching our car park for 6.30pm. And some warmth for my fingers once I'd got my car heating on! Thanks to (C2030s) Adam and Clare and (HAWOG) Anna, Keith, Marin, Paul S, Phil and Rita for joining me on this challenging (weather) walk.
Report by Steve R
I've walked for 20 miles (+) and all I got was this lousy picture - Photo by Marin
19 of us made it to the Thistledown campsite for the first camping trip of the year. New camper Carla impressed Simon and Mick with the speed of her pop up, whilst Martina's new tent required Jan, Helen and Peter to assist. Dem and Perek once again went "glamping", next time they are bringing a valet. We all met at the nearby 17th century coaching inn, for a very good value meal and some early yarns from Mark and Steve.
On Saturday the sun woke us early and after the usual faffing we left on our 10 mile hike through Woodchester Park, via a quick diversion as ordered by his lordship. Woodchester Manor is a haunted neo-Gothic mansion, and we stopped to admire the gliders passing overhead. Our route then climbed up to Selsey common where we stopped at a viewpoint for lunch. The clear blue skies afforded excellent views towards Malvern hills and South Cotswolds. In the afternoon we joined the Cotswold way trail and passed through several villages with honey-coloured stone cottages and impressive "wool" churches. We finally reached the Coaley Peak viewpoint and Neolithic long barrow sites. The views here were panoramic and we could make out the Brecon Beacons in the far distance. Bev, Olly and Archie spent the day exploring Adams farm nearby. This is the farm featured in Countryfile which was open to the public today. Dem and Perek meanwhile explored the manor grounds and did some trespassing until his lordship caught up with them (but that's another story).
In the evening Mark and Ian prepared another sumptuous barbecue, assisted by Mary, Carla and Jan. Peter and Simon then set up the campfire and we gathered around it to hear some more timeless yarns from Mark whilst Martina and Paul led the marshmallow toasting. On Sunday we made a leisurely start on breaking camp before some departed to nearby Malmesbury to visit the historic abbey. The rest did a tour of Stroud town before Martina led us to the famous Laurie Lee Café for a final Cotswold meal and some new yarns from Jan and Helen.
Report by Brian G
Meal at pub - Photo by Brian G
"Dem and Perek" at home - Photo by Brian G
Breakfast in the sun - Photo by Brian G
Woodchester Manor - Photo by Brian G
Picnic with viewpoint - Photo by Brian G
Coaley viewpoint - Photo by Brian G
Barbecue on site - Photo by Brian G
Campfire yarns - Photo by Brian G
Prem launches lantern - Photo by Brian G
10 of us met in the sunny car park of Bayford station where we were especially delighted to be graced with Marin's finest leather slippers - since he had managed to leave his walking boots at home! After a brief scramble through the bushes we emerged onto the golf course of Brickenden Green. Following the wood at the edge of the course we passed a very attractive lily pond and found our way onto the Hertfordshire Way. Across a few fields we reached the west corner of the ancient Broxbourne Woods - a haven of wildlife - especially famous for its badger population and the sight of many childhood wanderings. We traversed the woods via the bridlepath and saw many beautiful pine trees which Brigitta wanted to take home for Christmas. We eventually made it out onto the village of Goose Green adjacent to the equally pretty Hoddesdon Woods. Here we joined 'Ermine Street' - the old Roman Road where we saw a lovely family of pigs. We tried but failed to find the elusive bridlepath heading east into Hoddesdon Woods so a small adjustment was made to the route. Nevertheless we continued along the Roman Road to reach the Hertford Heath nature reserve, out of which we emerged unscathed, but in need of some refreshment, on to the village green at Hertford Heath. A quick tour of Haileybury College grounds was had whilst Dave and Tim's meals were prepared in the rather well-to-do College Arms public house. Sandwiches on the green for the rest of us was lunch and then we joined Tim and Dave in the pub for selection of beer, frothy coffees, posh crisps and designer pork scratchings.
Although it started to rain lightly it was still bright and breezy so we ploughed on through Hertford Heath and into Balls Wood heading back west. Marin was particularly impressive by managing to effortlessly glide through the woods on his magic slippers without getting muddy, and Merce fashioned a delightful rain coat out of a black bin liner generously donated by Jaya. Top prizes to Marin and Merce for being the best dressed. We emerged out of the other side of Balls Wood and crossed some gently undulating wheat fields complete with purring tractors, once again bathed in sunshine for a few moments. We continued heading west through more meadows, some containing herds of cows who seemed most disinterested in our presence despite chasing me two days previously when I had practised the walk solo. Eventually we crossed the railway and headed south through more woodland and fields adjacent to the railway line and out on to the village green at Bayford. A short walk along the road from the village to the station completed the 12 mile circuit. Many thanks to Marin, Mary, Tim, Dave W, Dave T, Mark, Merce, Jaya and Brigitta.
Report by Helen W
Dodging the golf balls on Brickenden Green golf course - Photo by Marin
Christmas trees in Broxbourne Woods - Photo by Marin
Haileybury College, Hertford Heath - home of the East India Company - Photo by Marin
A lovely village house, Hertford Heath - Photo by Marin
Merce and Marin model an alternative raincoat and footwear combo - Photo by Helen
Our last targeted New Members Walk attracted a good turnout of 15 people despite the grey skies at the start.
The walk departed ten minutes after two from Amersham train station. I took a new path (for me) down to Old Amersham where we checked the closing time of the tea shop (6pm) to ensure we knew what time we needed to return by. We then headed into Shardeloes Upper Park and followed the woods and power lines to our left. We reached the few houses in Mop End (if we had blinked then we would have missed them) and then took our main path to Little Missenden.
Unfortunately a little later along the main path I blinked - actually I was far too busy chatting to some of our prospective members - come on now, which one of you was it? - that I managed to miss the left bend in the path which meant we continued along the farmers track to the edge of a wood. An alternative view is that maybe the left turn wasn't signed and hadn't been reinstated by the farmer. That view gets my vote.
Anyway, with the path I was expecting not in front of me as I reached the woods (saving grace - I had been expecting us to get to a wood), I faced a choice (a) turn left and get everyone to leg it across the field (and crops) to reach the intended path or (b) turn right and take our chances that we could get onto alternative path into Little Missenden. There was a third option - follow tracks into the woods and take chance that they would lead us somewhere useful - but I quickly dismissed that option as not right to do with a group.
So option (b) was the better of the other two and we entered the village from the east rather than the west. But the pub (The Crown Inn) was closed for the afternoon, which made the decision about whether to stop for a drink there or in Amersham easy. We followed a well-signed path back to Amersham passing the grand Shardeloes house/mansion which was on our right.
Our last challenge for the day was to get 15 of us served teas in the small and busy tea shop in Old Amersham. The solution was for us to get takeaways and sit on the green across the road. This worked well as the sun was now shining which made a lovely end to a 7 and 1/4 mile walk.
Thanks to (prospective members) Chris, Marcello, Munira, Nishil, Sneha, Roxana and Xameerah and (members) Aparna, Deirdre, Jaya, Kevin, Nekane, Rohini and Sharon C for some good conversation on the walk - I look forward to seeing you all on another one soon.
Report by Steve R
Crossing the Solent to reach the Isle of Wight by car ferry and hovercraft made our journeys more expensive and more eventful than regular journeys on the mainland. We stayed in Totland YHA which was roomy and quiet with good facilities.
Three of the group crossed over on sunny Friday morning, enabling them to take a drive to Shanklin and visit a teashop there. The remaining members arrived later on Friday evening. We all shared a good fish and chip take-away in the YHA kitchen. Martina provided a welcome fruit juice or two.
For Saturday's walk we remained on the unspoilt west coast of the island. We took a bus to Shorwell, the start point of our 10-mile walk. This included a climb up to Limerstone Down for views across the island. All day we were battered by a very strong westerly wind off the Channel as we progressed along the ridge back to Totland via Freshwater and Tennyson Down. Just before the end of the walk we stopped in a pub for refreshments and a chance to relax our wind-tussled hair! Later that evening we returned to the same pub for a group dinner. Luckily for everyone it was not possible to extend the evening with more of Martina's fruit juice when we returned to the YHA because the kitchen was locked shut.
Sunday morning first involved a trip to see the outstanding mosaics at Brading Roman Villa. We then travelled to Rosemary's vineyard for a tour which included free wine-tasting and an extended teashop stop. So it was not until after lunch that most of us started our 3-hour walk around St.Helen's Bay near Bembridge. Jeff used this time to visit a 'steam train spectacular' which was unfortunately also spectacularly expensive. Later that evening we all went for another high-spirited meal in another pub. Around midnight Harvinder kindly guided us home in the dark using only his smartphone map app.
We spent Monday morning walking around the iconic Needles. Surprisingly we stumbled upon an exhibition there relating to the UK's 1960s role in the Space Race. It is remarkable that 50 years ago the UK was a leading contender in rocket technology. The isolated bay south of the Needles was used as a rocket testing site for rockets which later launched early satellites.
In the afternoon the group split as the rain began. Most of the group walked around the Medina Estuary, stopping for tea and expensive cake in Newport. Simon and Harvinder explored Quarr Abbey and the surrounding area. Martin and Emma headed for a fascinating tour of Osborne House, Queen Victoria's holiday home, where she died in 1901.
Thanks to all friends, new and old, for coming and making the windy weekend more than 'all Wight'! We look forward to many more weekends away.
Report by Emma E and Martin J
A relaxing day spent enjoying the woodlands of Ruislip and the annual Ruislip Woods Festival. A guided tour gave us a historical and nature overview of the area including the location of one of the few places that mistletoe grows. The festival had many attractions but new for this year was the ferret races which proved incredibly popular with the cheering crowds and especially Jane who won fursty ferret ale when the ferret she bet on finished by a whisker!
Report by Brian F
Learning to identify the shy Black Cap - Photo by Brian F
Thankfully not a wicker man in sight - Photo by Brian F
Nine attended our first May New Members Walk on Sunday.
My route was made up of mostly lesser walked paths starting with one out of West Wycombe to Bradenham village. We then headed up towards Lacey Green via a gentle ascent up Park Wood. We stopped at St John the Evangelist church for lunch and then went on to the Black Horse pub where the differences in the ladies and gents were discussed. The former was full of dolls and soft items whilst the latter had saucy jokes and pictures. And the drinks weren't bad either, the teas in particular were served in large teapot mugs.
Post lunch and the weather had cooled a little following the morning sun. We did a triangular route around Lacey Green taking us past a pub some of us had visited a few weeks before on a walk in the dark: The Whip Inn. We then started heading down and back towards Bradenham, again via lesser paths from which we took a route through Great Cockshall Wood and some steps down to and across the railway line to West Wycombe.
All came back to my home for tea and cake after our 11 mile. Thanks very much to (girls) Anna, Efisia, Jaya, Liane, Merce, Nekane and (guys) David W and Phil for joining me on this walk.
Report by Steve R
6 of us met at Dorking on a warm, cloud-free Saturday morning. All came by train and most had tickets, but that's another story.
We joined the North Downs Way and had a very early stop at Denbies where Jan persuaded the staff to do a morning wine-tasting session. After 5 bottles were sampled Lofty kindly offered to buy the best-judged choice for the picnic and we continued, eventually. The route took in great views south along the ridge, with a series of pillboxes encountered at one stage. We dropped down for a detour through Abinger village and Gomshall manor before we arrived at Shere. Our arrival was perfectly timed for the obligatory wedding at the 12th century church. We then had our picnic by the Tillingbourne stream, Lofty pouring the wine as Jan and Karen gave perceptive insights on the bridesmaids outfits.
We then headed uphill, stopping at the Silent Pool where our reveries were interrupted by the sounds of a biplane doing spectacular manoeuvres overhead. Our route continued along the North Downs Way up to the excellent viewpoint at Newlands Corner. The ice creams here were too tempting in the heat and we took in the views whilst Brian F outlined a new theory on why Agatha Christie staged her disappearance at this spot in 1926. Our route took in St Martha's pilgrim church on the summit, where Lofty was chased out of the church by the verger (but that's another story). We then descended to Guildford for the last leg and a quick detour to the Sputnik planters at Jane's insistence. David's GPS confirmed our route was 16 miles in total. We will schedule another North Downs section in a few weeks time.
Report by Brian G
Denbies Vineyard - Photo by Brian G
Silent pool - Photo by Brian G
Picnic with a view - Photo by Brian G
Enjoying the view - Photo by Jane
Wedding at Sheer - Photo by Brian G
Ice creams at Newlands - Photo by Brian G
Deirdre and I were joined by new member Sharon and Phil at Garston station. We set off from Garston at about 10:40 (rain had been predicted but the weather didn't look too bad). We made our way under the M1 through Brickets Wood, the UK's first naturist colony. We kept our eyes peeled but only bluebells and bluetits appeared.
Most of the walk was alongside the Ver River, lunchstop was at a secluded lovers tryst picnic area, followed by drinks at the Moor Inn. Over-confidence led to a couple of wrong turns, which meant that we managed a small hill on this otherwise flat walk. Lots of geese, ducks and their young entertained us along the way. An excess of honking from the island geese (heard but not seen) led Sharon to speculate that Nick Clegg was in there with the rest of the party.
A little window shopping at Blacks of Sopwell (for the ladies) allowed Phil to reach the top of the queue for his online proms tickets. On reaching St Albans Phil departed and the three ladies rewarded ourselves with waffles to die for at The Waffle House. The highlight of the day were the nesting ducks in St Albans Park. One parent was followed from the nest by 12-14 young. Amazing!
Thanks to Sharon, whose next career could be a comedian, and to Phil for joining us.
Report by Deirdre and Sharon
A small group of us attended the Ickenham evening walk on Wednesday, including potential new member Jockey. The 3 mile route took in Ickenham green and cricket pitch, then we followed the Celandine way through Ickenham woods and Swakeleys manor. We passed the hidden moat across the River Pinn. We then made our way to Ickenham manor and moat before finding the hidden paths in the twilight. We made a short stop at the Compass Theatre before arriving back at the pub to complete the circuit and meet some others who were too late for the start (no names).
Report by Brian G
At the start of the walk, not bicycle ride - Photo by Mathilde
In the shadow of a mighty bridge - Photo by Mathilde
Still pushing the mountain bike - Photo by Mathilde
Uphill struggle - Photo by Mathilde
Historical moments - Photo by Mathilde
The wonders of spring - Photo by Mathilde
The open-air watering hole - Photo by Mathilde
Inside the Doll's House on the Hill - Photo by Mathilde
Last orders - Photo by Mathilde
A day of blue skies and sun, and a forecast late Saturday evening temperature of 13c may have encouraged 14 others to join me on this walk in the dark.
My route was very much green and easy in distance, although I set the pace a little more sporty and was delighted that all kept up. And especially impressed that those from the Chilterns2030s - it was a joint event - did so as some had already done 12 miles earlier in the day.
From our start point of Saunderton station at 8pm we went north towards Saunderton Lee where we picked up the Chiltern Way. We could see the rays of the setting sun above the hills to our left ahead. The golf course and two crossings of the railway line led us to our sharp right turn towards Lacey Green (and our pub stop) which we had seen clearly for some time.
With light fading I missed the bend in the path towards the road, despite looking for it. After ten minutes walking I knew this and took us all across a tractor path back and towards the road, where we did meet the intended point. Torches on now (9.10pm) as too dark to see my map, certainly when amongst trees, and fifteen minutes later we arrived at the Whip Inn for our pub stop. The windmill behind it wasn't lit up. David looked up at the stars and wondered whether they would bring him a telescope or a washing machine.
We were entertained by the a very small dog as we sat in the garden: repeatedly barking randomly followed by moon walks that Wacko would have been proud of. We departed after a couple of drinks about 10pm. All had torches on now as no street lights. I headed towards a mast that marked the start of the path and then down through Callows Hill. We reached Small Dean Farm and the final part of our route, along a narrow road, and back to Saunderton station. We returned for 10.45pm, well ahead of schedule, due to the good pace.
Thanks to (HAWOG) Anna, David H, Erika, Keith, Merce, Phil, Steve C and (Chilterns20s30s) Adam, Carol, Michael, Nikki, Paul R, Paul and Trevor for joining me on this 6 mile walk in the dark.
Report by Steve R
Not one does, but eight does, for my 16 mile wander on the day of the Royal Wedding.
Carol, Kevin V, Marin, Paul S, Phil, Steve C, Steve N joined me for a 10am depart from High Wycombe train station. We walked around the Rye, passing a road that was closed to traffic for a street party, before heading up Deangarden Wood and countryside. I don't think we passed anyone from then until we skirted through Flackwell Heath, again seeing houses and pubs displaying flags to mark the day. We had a good view of the hills surrounding Wooburn Green before descending into the valley.
Lunch was about 40 minutes after which we went towards Berghers Hill where the route I marked on my map didn't quite tally with where I felt we should be going. After some thought, I realised it was because I had amended (added on) to the marked route when I first walked it last autumn. And hadn't updated my route afterwards. The amended route, the Chiltern Way towards Cookham, was then followed. We picked up the Thames Path, again seeing pubs and parties, and admiring those relaxing in their boats.
At Little Marlow we stopped for a drink at The Queens Head pub - we think it was a young Victoria - from which our route was pretty much north back to High Wycombe, taking in Bloom Wood and its surrounding valleys. We were back at the railway station about 4:20pm following an afternoon of sun and warmth. Thanks all for coming.
Report by Steve R
A local pub scantily prepared for the celebrations but with flashings appreciated by the connoisseurs - Photo by Marin
Wanderers not aware of what 2 billion people were watching at that time - Photo by Marin
Enthusiastically celebrating the Royal Wedding on the local green - Photo by Marin
Navy Seals in disguise, secretly planning - Photo by Marin
Some nervous customers doing a runner - Photo by Marin
Another type of flashing - Photo by Marin
A proper street party, to which we were not invited - Photo by Marin
18 of us spent 4 sunny days in the Brecons national park. Extra day thanks to a certain wedding. We stayed at Llwyn Celyn hostel - ideally situated, friendly staff plus gardens with views overlooking the Usk valley.
On Friday some of us stopped for a walk at Caerleon (Roman town) and explored the well-preserved amphitheatre, barracks and town walls. At Abergavenny we took advantage of a late street party to stock up on food, and Cathy T discussed the dress and related esotericism. The hostel was shared with a large scout group who tried to monopolise the kitchen; luckily Martina got very friendly with the scout master (but that's another story) and peace ensued. Mike and Elaine, ex-HAWOG members were, by chance, staying at the hostel and we caught up on recent news.
On Saturday we did the main hill walk, a circular route direct from the hostel. We took in the main peaks of the Brecons, Corn Du and Pen y Fan. As the day was cloud-free the views were excellent in all directions. The route back took in the Taff trail and an unexpected ice cream stall on the way. Back at the hostel we took advantage of the sunshine to have tiffin in the gardens. Mark, by tradition, supplied a giant Victoria Sponge which was soon shared out.
In the evening we met at Rorkes Drift Inn (Brecon is the headquarters of the regiment that served at the battle). Mike and Ian did their Michael Caine impressions to a stunned silence from the Welsh locals. Mary arranged a meal at Robertos, a splendid Italian restaurant, where Jeff explained his ashen face. Apparently just before leaving the hostel he had returned to his room from the shower, clad only in his designer towel, and found a strange man on his bed. In the dark he could not make him out and leaned forward, however his towel then began slipping; after Genevieve stopped screaming (that's another story) Rob emerged and explained the room swap.
Later, in the hostel, Liane kindly let us use her Cranium game and we played it each evening. Highlights included Bev's peerless impression of Rod Stewart; Rob's charade skills (Lionel Blair would be so proud); Kerry's sportmanship and Mary's (creative cat) sculpture of an igloo to everyone's astonishment.
On Sunday we had a mix of activities. Paul, Bev, Olly and Archie did rowing on the River Usk and a riverside hike. Kerry and Cathy S arranged canoeing on the Brecon canal for their group. Army group 562 (Oz, Steve T and Ian) took Mary on a training hike up the Western Brecon peaks with 3 summits reached. Brian, Martina and Liane went horse riding from Cantref, a half days' explorer hack up onto the Brecon hills with great views from the saddle. We did several canters on precipitous paths and saw several buzzards hovering overhead. In the afternoon most of us did a walk along Brecons 2 rivers before teas at the Cathedral at Evensong. Back at the hostel Olly and Archie played chess with their new friends Leah and Eliana. In the evening Steve and Kerry did a huge barbecue, Mark as ever providing the splendid Costco tucker.
Monday saw us take a slight detour to visit the 12th century Augustinian Llanthony Priory in the romantic secluded setting of the Vale of Ewyas. We climbed the steep hills of the valley to reach the Offas Dyke ridge and took in the extensive views as far as the Severn bridge. We hiked along the trail before descending for a final cream tea at the Priory teashop/bar, using the truncated pillars of the Priory as tables. Jeff supped on Reverend James and we took in the rays of the suns shining trough the columns of the Nave after another excellent visit to Wales.
Report by Brian G
Caerleon amphitheatre - Photo by Brian G
Start of walk - Photo by Brian G
Summit at Pen y Fan - Photo by Brian G
Route down - Photo by Brian G
Martina serves the cake - Photo by Brian G
Meal at Robertos - Photo by Brian G
Horse riding on hillside - Photo by Brian G
Cooling stream on the ride - Photo by Brian G
Cranium games - Photo by Brian G
Llanthony Priory - Photo by Brian G
Climbing up Offas Dyke path - Photo by Brian G
13 of us spent the Easter weekend in Penzance, 11 of us staying at the recently refurbished YHA hostel on the outskirts of the town and 2 at a local B&B. Those of us that arrived quite early on Thursday afternoon (due to the holiday traffic being much lighter than anticipated) decided to head in to the town centre, and thence to the seafront, where Merce took the opportunity to try some raw mussels (prised directly from the rocks!) and Emma M went for a paddle. On the way back to the hostel, Emma decided to sample the locally-produced ice cream, but got a rather larger helping than expected (or so she claims) - this may explain why she didn't join us for dinner at the hostel that evening.
On Friday, 11 of us did a circular walk of around 11 miles, starting in St Ives. We headed west along the South West Coast Path towards Zennor, a distance of around 6.5 miles. The day started in glorious sunshine, but unfortunately this only lasted until shortly before we reached our lunch stop at Zennor Head, making lunch a rather damp affair. After a short break at a conveniently located café in Zennor, we headed back to St Ives by an inland path, glad that we hadn't decided to do the walk in the opposite direction. In the evening, we ate at the local hostelry, the Pirate Inn, where the portions turned out to be quite substantial - of which you may find some evidence on the photographs page.
On Saturday, 7 did a 16.5 mile linear walk along the coast from Lands' End to Penzance. The walk should have started at around 10am, but actually started at around 11am as the bus from Penzance to Lands' End didn't turn up when expected - when one did turn up, it had an open top deck, which made for a rather chilly journey! 4 did a short circular walk between Lands' End and Sennen Cove, whilst 2 spent the day on the Isles of Scilly. Thankfully all those who had booked a place at a local Thai restaurant that evening made it back to the hostel in good time, and all were impressed by the food (especially Steve's starter!), although the level of service didn't quite match it.
On Sunday, 11 of us did an 8 mile circular walk around the Lizard Peninsula, the southernmost point in the country and rather less visited than Lands' End. The sun shone all day, and the lunch stop was perfectly timed to coincide with our arrival at Lizard Point. Lunch also provided an opportunity for some to try a Cornish pasty or Cornish ice cream (or both!). Meanwhile, the remaining 2 spent the day in St Ives. All dined at the hostel in the evening.
On Monday, we began the long journey home. Thanks to Anna, Claire, David H, Emma E, Emma M, Erika, Helen C, Jim, Mark B, Martin J, Merce and Steve R for joining me on a very enjoyable weekend away.
Report by Phil
Emma goes for a paddle - Photo by Phil
Group photo on the way from St Ives to Zennor - Photo by Anna
Phil laughs in the face of overwhelming portions - Photo by David H
Jim surveys the Cornish village from the cliffs - Photo by David H
Steve surveys the Cornish village from the cliffs - Photo by David H
Group photo on the way from Land's End to Penzance - Photo by Anna
On the way from Land's End to Penzance - Photo by David H
Group photo near Kynance Cove - Photo by Phil
Walking around the Lizard - Photo by Phil
Lizard Point walk - Photo by Anna
Merce's still smiling. She hasn't got her pudding yet. - Photo by David H
After an interesting meet six of us Amy, Clare, new members Sharon and Yasmin, Deirdre and I set off from Tottenham Hale station to the point at the beginning of the canal. From here we meandered along the canal until we got to our lunch stop at Ponders End....a Harvester's in a lovely country house slightly off the beaten track. However, this was not until two of our ladies feasted their eyes on starters of horses in a field, one which gave a good demonstration of the saying "hung like a horse". This made interesting lunch-time conversation for our ladies. After lunch we planned to go back and get a group photograph with this lovely white horse, however when we got there he failed to oblige. The pub landlord was a lovely gentleman who allowed us to eat our packed lunch on the premises.
From here we continued our 8-9 mile walk along the canal enjoying the view and the company. Plenty of girlie conversation along the way. Housewives of Orange county eat your hearts out! Finally we arrived at the Abbey where we each had our own experience of such a beautiful place and what it must have been like to be here in times gone by. The ceiling with its paintings of the signs of the Zodiac fascinated us all and we even learnt that some of us shared the same birthday! After enjoying the Abbey we stopped for afternoon tea, which was enjoyed by us all, we then headed back to Waltham Cross. Thank you ladies for your company and a lovely day, a good time was had by all.
Report by Deirdre and Sharon
Saturday was a beautiful day which felt, at times, more like summer than the beginning of April. Thirteen of us gathered at Guildford station to take advantage of the sunshine and left the city following the banks of the River Wey. Having followed the river for a couple of miles, we joined the North Downs Way and climbed through Chantries Wood - where it was possible to see some early bluebells - before reaching the church on St Martha's Hill. Here we had fantastic views of the surrounding countryside - there was some discussion of whether we could see as far as the South Downs - and we enjoyed an early lunch.
At this point, Brian and Jan left us in order to explore further sections of the North Downs Way. Those of us remaining dropped down from St Martha's Hill into the valley and then climbed again to reach Blackheath and its woods. Alas, the pub in Blackheath was closed but we found a comfortable place for a rest on the cricket ground which was being prepared for what we assume will have been the first match of the season. We then made our way back to the river and followed this to Guildford, having covered approximately 14 miles (as on all good walks, there is some dispute about distance; I'm told by others that using the mangled edge of a newspaper to measure is not an orthodox method but it works for me!). Thanks to everyone who joined me and made this such an enjoyable day.
Report by Stephen C
Lunch time, after finding that the pub was closed - Photo by Anna
Somewhere in Blackheath - Photo by Anna
Group photo somewhere else... - Photo by Anna
River Wye view - Photo by Brian G
Shalford Mill - Photo by Brian G
Climbing towards North Downs - Photo by Brian G
Picnic at St Marthas church - Photo by Brian G
Ice cream at Newlands Corner - Photo by Brian G
The weather was good and in the car park the HAWOGers seemed to overwhelm the others with their energy and determination. I was so enthusiastic in my brand new neon blue shoes that it took me one hour and the help provided by Phil's phone to find out that we were well out from the official route (the second edition of it, as I decided the night before to change it anyway). Fortunately there were so many paths in this area that I was able to find a good one up to the most important point of the day - the pub lunch. Point to remember - next time I have to check if the teetotallers have a grassy spot where they can have their lunch as well.
As we could not follow the initial route completely, an executive decision was made not to push the mapping luck too much. So we gave up the idea to reach Polesden Lacey and proceeded over some reasonably steepish hills back to the summit of Box Hill. A dissenter, whose name I will not mention, decided to break away. We have to find out where he lives.
The group held together enthusiastically and the pace was so good that we arrived early back at the starting point. This allowed us to enjoy the majestic views over Dorking and the surrounding area. It was an enjoyable walk and I want to thank to all the participants for joining us - Anna, Coral, Paul, Simon, Tim, Phil, Keith and Humay.
Report by Marin
Traffic jam on stepping stones - Photo by Marin
The group - spot the odd one out and the breakaway guy - Photo by Marin
If the summit is there, why are they walking the other way? - Photo by Marin
Relaxing on top of the world (Sussex area) - Photo by Marin
"With God on our side" - Photo by Marin
Democratic leadership in action - Photo by Marin
Along the yellow brick (dirt) road..... - Photo by Marin
Burdened by heavy thoughts - Photo by Marin
South American immigrants with very sought-after fleeces. And what is more, they do not eat swans! - Photo by Marin
Our 75th anniversary walk - A Walk Back In Time - on the first day of British Summer Time, was the best Sunday of the year so far. Temperatures were in the mid teens and there was lots of sun for my 16 ish mile walk through classic Chilterns countryside.
Departing Chorleywood tube station, we walked to and through all the villages visited by the first members of our group on our very first walk in March 1936. Starting with Chenies, then twice for Latimer as I stupidly failed to make the simple check as to which of the two north roads out the village we should have departed on. I realised ten minutes later when the west path I was looking for wasn't there. A detour was required at the next west turn which meant we arrived at our intended lunch stop, Ley Hill village, forty minutes earlier than planned. A small silver lining. We enjoyed the sunny weather on the large common and some went to the Swan pub for food and drink.
Post lunch, an hour later, I detoured the route again, deliberately this time, taking us back along the route we should have taken first time, along part of the Chess Valley. Well worth it, we had the sun in front of us as we walked though mixed terrain of small hills and woods. We reached Latimer (again) and then had to make one final detour (again deliberate) to get us back on my intended route and the village of Flaunden.
From there, we followed the Chiltern Way for a few miles to Sarratt village where we stopped for a good thirty minutes and a drink at the Boot pub. We sat outside in the late afternoon sun. Finally, we continued on the Chiltern Way which took us most of the way back to Chorleywood which we reached just after 6.30pm. Apologies to all for my schoolboy error at Latimer, I'll try and concentrate more in future. I think all enjoyed the walk though, and as David H said "we keep on turning up", so I must be doing something right (stunning personality... OK maybe not...).
Thanks to the twenty who attended - apologies if I've forgotten anyone - (girls) Anna, Brigitta, Carol, Delores, Efisia, Emma M, Erika, Jane, Mary, Nina, Nina and (guys) Brian F, David H, David W, Glyn, Keith, Marin, Martin S, Paul, me.
Report by Steve R
A local surprised by the influx of so many time travellers - Photo by Marin
One of the houses that saw the walk 75 years ago as well - Photo by Marin
Sarratt, still idyllic after so many years - I suppose, since I have never been there before, not even 75 years ago (despite my look) - Photo by Marin
11 of us met at Epsom station on a fine sunny spring morning. We set off southwards, climbing up to the racecourse where we stopped for the expansive views over the course and the Epsom Downs. We then took Stane Street, a Roman road now bridleway, on a undulating route towards Box Hill. We had one vertiginous descent from Mickleham Downs before stopping at the ever-welcome CTC cafe at Headley for pasties, teas and rock cakes.
In the afternoon we did a steady climb up to the North Downs Way and followed the ridge, with panoramic views to the South as far as the South Downs in the distance. No mishaps or punctures today as we headed north via Walton on the Hill back to Epsom and a cafe stop at the town square whilst waiting for the trains back to Harrow.
Report by Brian G
The weekend started on the Thursday for two of the group, Keith and myself, and we started with a short walk from Edale up to the top of Jacobs Ladder on the Pennine Way.
On Friday we did a 7 mile figure of eight walk on the Roaches (a rocky outcrop) so some scrambling was involved in climbing to the top to take in the views of western side of the national park. On Friday night we were joined by by the rest of the group: Erick, Brigitta, Cathy, Martina, David and Martin.
On Saturday morning we set off early from Hathersage hostel on our way, passing North Lees House, and resisting an early tea stop, we continued up to the base of Stanage Edge. By the time we had reached the top of the Edge the group was starting to get a bit strung out so we split into two groups with the advance party setting off along the top of Stanage Edge towards Crow Chin. Great views from the top. After a short break we returned to meet up with the rest of the group via a lower path and after scrambling back onto the top we continued along the Edge to Fiddlers Elbow and onto Hathersage Moor. After crossing the moor we scrambled down from Millstone Edge past the rock climbers, took a short break at the bottom to let some catch up and we were off through the woods. After a slight adjustment to the original route we headed towards Grindleford station then along to the bridge and on to the footpath along by the River Derwent, which took us back to Hathersage to complete the 15 miles.
On Sunday we headed out towards Castleton to walk the Great Ridge, a ridge walk from Mam Tor. About halfway along the ridge the fog cleared to reveal some great views towards the Dark Peak on one side and the White Peak on the other side of the ridge. On reaching the end of the ridge at Lose Hill ahead of schedule we decided there was time to go down into to the village for a tea stop so it was down into Castleton for tea and a look around the local museum, then back up to Lose Hill and the return walk to Mam Tor to finish a pleasant 9 mile walk.
Thanks to everyone for coming on the weekend.
Report by Steve N
Bear Grills eat your heart out! "A bit further to your right, Steve" - Photo by Keith
Martin prepares for a wild night out - Photo by Keith
Cathy leads the way out of Hathersage towards Stanage Edge - Photo by Keith
Brigitta and Martina - Photo by Keith
Ascending the Edge - Photo by Keith
Spot our wayward members (look for the little pink dot). - Photo by Keith
A second ascent of the Edge - Photo by Keith
Millstones become a bit of a theme - Photo by Keith
More abandoned millstones on our return to Hathersage - Photo by Keith
Misty start on Mam Tor - Dave spots a patch of sun - Photo by Keith
Striding along the Great Ridge - Photo by Keith
Definitely the best scones in England - Photo by Keith
Another joint walk: HAWOG and U3A, and a repeat of the hike from 4 months ago, though a different season and with smaller numbers. There were 7 in total including Xameerah, Chris, Lorna and myself from HAWOG. Spot on 10, a message from the photographers saying they weren't going to come meant that we could set off on time, but somehow my camera needed to be persuaded to perform.
Left the reins to Judy leading us through Rickmansworth to the start of the Ebury Way to gain some orienteering experience. Then we just followed a leaflet, kindly provided by a local library, along this 4 mile linear traffic-free path for walkers and cyclists along the route of a former railway line linking Rickmansworth and Watford. The line was built by Lord Ebury in 1862, and becoming the Ebury Way after the line finally closed in 1981. Acting as a 'green corridor' for wildlife and well away from the bustle of nearby towns and traffic the route passes through a variety of habitats, including open moor, scrubby wood, wetlands and water.
It was relatively dry under foot this time. Apart from some invasive green ivy, the trees without their leaves looked rather bleak. No wonder we missed the sculpture the last time, it was pretty unspectacular, just a direction sign, not even worth a picture. We made it along the route prescribed on the leaflet to Watford High Street Station with the lovely teashop right next to the station. The food and cakes were delicious. Thanks all for attending and the excellent company. Also thanks to Judy for taking a few photos.
Report by Mathilde
The Generation Game - Photo by Judy
River Colne - Photo by Judy
Green Corridor - Photo by Mathilde
Brown Corridor - Photo by Mathilde
Croxley Common Moor - Photo by Mathilde
Picnic stop - Photo by Mathilde
Signpost in need of maintenance - Photo by Mathilde
3 birds under a bird - Photo by Mathilde
Weeping Willows - Photo by Mathilde
On Saturday, 9 current members went along to join about 20 former members at the first of this year's anniversary events. Joyce and Mary had arranged the meal, a very good value carvery lunch beside the Ruislip Lido. Rob came prepared as he had brought along his Patridge-style large plate to pile it high. The former and current members exchanged tales about escapades at various hostels, it seem the curfew rules were strictly enforced in the 1950s. Derek and Prem were surprised to hear that faffing was common place even before they joined the group. William gave Genevieve some very pertinent advice about future conduct, and Brian F demonstrated his expertise with kites.
Report by Brian G
There was a good turnout (21) on a pleasant start-of-spring day for my Saturday walk just north of the Chiltern Hills near Princes Risborough.
The walk was for two groups: HAWOG and the Chilterns2030s. We departed Longwick shortly after 10am followed by what a few of us thought was one of the 118 guys; actually it was Paul S who had arrived late and was chasing to catch us up with his half waxed legs and short shorts. Anyone who wasn't quite awake certainly was after seeing that sight.
Our route out was west towards the hamlet of Ilmer and then Towersey. We went slightly off my intended route before Towersey, heading south a little to the Phoenix Trail via a very unused footpath in amongst trees. We exited the trees by clambering over some wire meshing which was particularly challenging for those with shorter legs - and fun to watch for those who don't!
We then headed north, all waiting ten minutes for Kevin who explored the derelict Grange Farm, apparantly "looking for an old woman who had been staring out of the window as he was concerned that she wasn't well". Now I've just realised that was a euphemism (quick thinking Kevin) but as I'd never heard it called "an old woman" before I didn't click at the time. I haven't quite worked out though why the ten minutes, and the unwell bit does concern me - it might put paid to that burgeoning career in modelling you have been working on for the past few years.
We passed Kingsey before reaching Haddenham and its church and duck pond for lunch. The ducks were well fed with one in particular doing a 'Benny Hill' when it greedily grabbed a whole slice of bread on its own only to be chased by half a dozen others (ducks, not us) for a few minutes. Post lunch, from Haddenham we headed north-east to Dinton before turning south-east along the Aylesbury Way to Ford for our mid afternoon tea stop at the Dinton Hermit Inn. The bar man had the biggest smile ever (not) on his face and one small kettle (it seemed) as many of us asked for a tea. Still we had thirty minutes as we were doing good time.
We finished by picking up mainly south paths through Owlswick before returning to our start point of Longwick. Total distance about 13 miles with some sun and blue sky for a few hours around midday. Thanks to (HAWOG) Anna, Brigitta, Cathy A, David H, David W, Efisia, Erika, Keith, Kevin, Mayette, Paul S, Phil and (Chilterns2030s) Adam, Adam, Anita, Carol, Caroline, Charlie, Mike and Paul for joining me for this walk.
Report by Steve R
Setting off from Benfleet - Photo by Erika
The A-Team. They don't give a damn about 'No authorised access' - Photo by Erika
Another unwise purchase - Photo by Erika
Boats, obviously - Photo by Erika
The Crowstone - Photo by Erika
Southend pier, the longest in the world - Photo by Erika
Insert your own bell joke here - Photo by Erika
Patch of blue sky just out of shot - Photo by Erika
Thomas Mann would have been so proud - Photo by Erika
Potential for "Singing in the rain" in Finsbury Park - Photo by Jane R
A setting befitting to local resident Edgar Allan Poe! - Photo by Jane R
Five On a Hike Together - Photo by Jane R
Joint first Gold medals for finishing at the Olympic Stadium! - Photo by Jane R
The Watford Marathon has caught us up again, and we are only walking! - Photo by Chris
Off course by only 100m! - Photo by Chris
Rest stop - Photo by Chris
Still only an hour to go until lunchtime - Photo by Chris
Outside the Windmill pub in Chipperfield. Fed and watered and homeward bound - Photo by Chris
8 cyclists met on Sunday at Heston village green. After waiting for Prem to finish faffing we set off on the ride heading west. We stopped at the site of Heston Aerodrome, where Derek reminisced about seeing Chamberlain giving his speech on his return from Munich. Our route was on a mix of quiet side roads and Sustrans cycle ways. We had a photo stop at Harmondsworth village, with its 3 pubs around the green. It was under threat from the 3rd runway plans now happily reprieved.
We then joined route 61 which was well signposted all the way to Windsor. It included the scenic Jubilee River cycle way, the Victoria neo gothic Ditton House and parklands, plus a quick stop at the Ostrich in Colnbrook (pub founded in 1106).
Joe led us on a tour of Windsor castle before we made our lunch stop at the riverside café selected by Colleen. Our route in the afternoon was Sustrans route 4 through Windsor Great Park before our final detour to the spectacular Royal Holloway College. This was inspired by Chateau Chambord and was described by Pevsner as the height of late Victorian design.
Report by Brian G
Harmondsworth village - Photo by Prem
Ostrich Inn - Photo by Prem
Eton College - Photo by Prem
Royal Holloway College - Photo by Prem
7 in total, including Fay, Derek, Prem and myself from HAWOG embarked on this short walk. With all the rain we had been having lately, we considered ourselves lucky for the relatively dry but windy weather.
Having taken the bus to Bushey, I arrived far too early and explored the village, taking a photo of our later watering hole, before heading to Kemp Place Car Park, where 1 prospective member was the first to join me, followed by several U3A members. A repeat of October's walk, but in a different season and with a different crowd. The 5 of us set off from Kemp Place car park, up to the High Street, turning left and across the graveyard of St. James Church, down the hill and along a path parallel to a stream, crossing Merry Hill Road and into the start of this rural and tranquil area in the middle of a built-up area. Got a phone call from 2 latecomers catching up with us. Great, my official photographers were present again.
The scenery at this time of year is very bleak and bare, hence Derek's fascination with my wooly hat produced some interesting close ups of the aforementioned item. Apart from some colourful red plants and flowering willows, there was not much in terms of flora a and fauna. The Hartsbourne stream made sure our boots were tested for water resistance, trudging through plenty of soggy mud. Left the Paddingstone Cairn, a pile of rocks for directional purposes, to our right and made our way to the next stile. A lazy wind along open exposed areas went right through us (not around).
The map, kindly provided by Bushey Library, was not required. Knew the route so well, in fact getting bored with it, that I told others it was the last time I was doing it. Crossing Merry Hill Road, a whiff of manure reminded us of where we were and may have stopped us from going for a pub lunch afterwards. So, the Red Lion pub didn't get any business from us. Thanks all for attending and the excellent company.
Report by Mathilde
Wind-swept walkers - Photo by Mathilde
The only flowers about - Photo by Mathilde
Oh so tiny we are next to the wooden giants - Photo by Prem
The house in the distance is not on the map - Photo by Prem
The gentle touch - Photo by Prem
Derek likes the woolly hat - photo by Derek - Photo by Prem
Hungry work, this walking lark - Photo by Prem
The bridge keeper - Photo by Prem
Into the woods - Photo by Prem
Horses for courses - Photo by Prem
Churchyard - Photo by Prem
Are you with us? - Photo by Prem
Ivy House in Presteigne was a perfect late replacement for the our original choice of YHA Beverley (flooded) for our New Members Weekend.
The only disappointment was that four others who had booked for Beverley could not make Presteigne. Of the eight who attended, seven arrived late (11pm+) on the Friday evening with rumours that those in Cathy's car had seen the sights of the East Midlands on route. Presteigne is just inside Wales on the border with Shropshire.
We were all ready just after 9am for our Saturday walk. Which was good as we needed the prompt start to fully enjoy the whole hour it took us for our ten minute journey to the start point of our walk: New Radnor. I must remember to check in future before setting out that the navigator can actually see the characters on the road map. Or get the braille version.
I was though really impressed with how well all managed the 12 mile route I had planned for Saturday. In particular the ascent before lunch when we reached our high point of Black Mixen (650m) around midday. We had lunch just inside Radnor Forest (think Narnia for setting). Post lunch we stayed up for a few more hours following a main path meandering in between valleys before taking our route down around the Warren Plantation wood. At the bottom was the Water-break-its-neck waterfall which we reached not long after 3pm and stopped for tea. Our final few miles took us up a little again before our return to New Radnor for 4pm. The day was cold but not bitter, except on the few occasions higher up when we had the wind.
Saturday evening we went to The Hat Shop restaurant in the town centre. The conversation flowed; it needed to as the heating in the restaurant was broke. So as much hot air as possible was needed - Cathy and Paul dully obliged. Funnily enough the restaurant hadn't mentioned the lack of heating when the booking was made less than an hour earlier.
Sunday and all were again ready for our 9.30am start. Temperature noticeably warmer than Saturday. We headed out to Kington for our 6-8 mile make-it-up-as-you-go-along route. We'd agreed to aim to be back at our cars no later than 3pm. We picked up the Offa's Dyke path west for a while before crossing the A44 and heading north for the highlight of our weekend. The sun started shining intermittently as we headed up toward Rushock Hill to again pick up the Offa's Dyke path. We stopped for lunch next to some of the original Dyke amongst the best views of our weekend. With 5 miles done we finished the path around Bradnor Hill continuing on the Offa's Dyke down and back to Kington for 2.30pm. Our route back was very south and we had the sun shining in front of us and warm - exceeding expectations for the last weekend in January. And the computer said 8.1 miles - so on time and mileage (see I can do both once in a while).
I can say with complete confidence that all really enjoyed it and we may have a few good photos to challenge for front page on our website. Thanks to Mayette and Sharon (prospective members), Anna, Cathy and Rita (new members) and Paul and Simon (not new members) for contributing to another cracking HAWOG weekend. Another bargain cottage deal too as we paid £25 each (£12.50 a night) sharing twin bed rooms. Look forward to seeing you all on another event soon. Thanks for coming.
Report by Steve R
Sunbeams breaking through the clouds over New Radnor - Photo by Simon
View towards Shepherd's Tump - Photo by Anna
Water-break-its-neck Waterfall - Photo by Anna
Winter sun as we turn south - Photo by Anna
It was a pretty cold start to the weekend - Photo by Simon
Anna celebrates being almost at the top! - Photo by Anna
We all made it to the top of the opening climb - Photo by Simon
Anna and Sharon with Black Mixen ahead of them in the background - Photo by Anna
The eight of us at the summit - Photo by Anna
Frost-tipped heather. Very crunchy - Photo by Simon
A well-earned lunch break which we had to finish early because of the cold - Photo by Simon
Sharon and Simon in Radnor Forest - Photo by Anna
Sun on Saturday afternoon - Photo by Anna
Countryside around Kington - Photo by Simon
It was with much gratitude and surprise that I was greeted by 14 fellow HAWOG-ers (and one work buddy) on a crisp Sunday morning to join me on my first led walk. After a very prompt start at 11:15 we took the walk down through the woods and across the quaint churchyard of St Mary's to emerge in Amersham Old Town. After negotiating the road clogged with impatient Sunday shoppers heading for Tesco's we emerged unscathed onto the South Bucks Way (SBW) and headed off south-east, parallel to the Misbourne River. We had a little detour at the suggestion of Mary T to 'stretch our legs' a bit and went up the hill on the south side to look back down onto the river valley and it was pointed out by Bob where the new High Speed 2 Rail link would be built in a few years and which will sadly will change the tranquil valley forever. We continued round over some fields and back down to rejoin the SBW, everyone a few kilos heavier due to the mud boots they were wearing. After crossing several fields and farms we emerged alongside the rather luxurious residencies of the well-to-do of Chalfont St Giles and continued into the centre of the village. A quick step took us to have a look at Milton's cottage, and another photo opportunity preceded lunch at the Merlin's Cave pub where we were greeted with a range of tasty meals, albeit rather spread apart throughout our 90 minute stay. However the time was filled very well by tales of previous excursions from Jeff, unashamed plugging of his forthcoming Isle of Wight trip from Martin and much beer drinking from Simon! We continued onwards with full tummies over the hills and past the Chiltern Open Air Museum where Brian F shared his some tips on how to impress a girl on a date - by taking them round old buildings in the rain! We were joined for a short while by a beautiful redsetter dog and her owner before descending into Philipshill woods and finally ascending up into Chorleywood, from where it was the final leg back down to the station. Amazingly there was no rain throughout the day despite the foreboding forecast and a lovely time was had by all 16. A few more of us even managed to make it up the hill to Chorleywood common where we settled into the Rose and Crown for a couple more rounds of drinks! Thank you to Mike S, Mary T, Emma E, Martin J, Michael, Simon H, Brigitta, Steve N, David, Brian F, Jane, Lorna, Anna, Bob and Jeff. Look out for Part 2 - Chorleywood to....maybe Moor Park in the summer.
Report by Helen W
A group of ten people assembled at Rickmansworth station on Sunday morning. An ideal morning for a nice winter walk. Our route took us down to the aquadrome where we saw boats being sailed, kayaking, water ski-ing and a version of kayak water polo. There were many owners walking their dogs, and some rare beasts were seen - not really a connoisseur of the subject, so unable to furnish more detail. We joined the Grand Union Canal, and headed northwards along the tow path for about a mile, passing several houseboats, many of which appeared to be inhabited. We cut in to do a circuit of Watsonians fishing lake, and our route back to the Aquadrome took us along Stockers Lake - well populated with swans, geese and mallards. A brief tiffin stop was made at the café, where we gathered around a lakeside table to consume a sundry assortment of drinks and snacks, and catch up on all the latest gossip. Encountered a brief five minute rain shower on our final leg of the walk, back to Rickmansworth station (around 1pm), mere bagatelle for us outdoor types.
Report by Roger
Rickmansworth Aquadrome - Photo by Prem
Kayak Water Polo - Photo by Prem
Along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal - Photo by Prem
Houseboats on the Canal - Photo by Prem
More houseboats - Photo by Prem
Across the bridge near Watsonians Lake - Photo by Prem
Approaching Stockers Lake - Photo by Prem
Six braved the dry, grey and mild winter weather to join me on this walk from a book of routes from 1934.
We started by heading north-west towards Chartridge and then northish up to Bellingdon and its pub, the Bull. The pub involved a mile detour from the 1934 route, past lots of well-heeled homes. Unfortunately it is now a well-boarded-up pub so we headed back to our intended route, past a load of nosey ostriches, and an aim to stop at the next pub on our route, The Black Horse in Chesham Vale.
We reached this pub about 3:30pm and could see signs of life in its' car park and the pub itself - the lights were on. And there was somebody home when I knocked on the door. Result? No. Unfortunately, they weren't serving until 5pm, even when I mentioned there were 7 of us. So with 60% of the 1934 route done, we looked at the map for the next PH symbol. There was one - at Lye Green - which we would reach in about 20 minutes.
Now, I have done a few walks before where two pubs on the intended route have not been open. But I was on a hat trick here that I didn't want. So would the Black Cat pub in Lye Green be open? Good news. It was! After taking boots off and queuing for the loo - note singular - we all finally sat down at a table and basked in the warmth. Fleeces off.
With light fading, the discussion turned to torches. One of us - not me - mentioned with a bit of a saucy smile that she (oops) had a "special light". "Oh so have you now?". Well that was like a bone to a dog. So some of us barked the obvious nudge, nudge, wink, wink jokes. It turned out the "special light" was a camera with a strong light - so not quite as interesting as it could have been. Ideas put back in box and lid closed.
After Simon had had his second pint, we departed the pub with light fading for our final few miles. Heading south now, we touched the village of Botley before turning west along a very long, muddy, covered path, in the dark, which took us to the brow of Chesham. As we headed over the brow we finally saw the lights of Chesham and then went down towards the tube station for 5.30pm.
Thanks to (girls) Cathy A, Cliona and Rita and (guys) Kevin, Phil and Simon for joining me on this 8 + 2 mile route.
Report by Steve R
Striding purposefully away from Chesham - Photo by Phil
Can we all avoid that puddle? - Photo by Phil
Yes we can! - Photo by Phil
Nosey ostriches - Photo by Phil
We were 17 in all for our circular walk from Shiplake station. The day was bright and sunny and everyone seemed in good spirits as we set off about 10.15am.
The first part of the walk took us south and west along the River Thames. Not the pristine manicured look so often seen along the river but wildlife and a more rugged river bank made a most enjoyable walk. There were many geese on the river, herons and even a black swan. Met one couple with a few new puppies; still white even though the track was a bit muddy.
On reaching Sonning Bridge we stopped for first lunch in a pub garden; we had to wait 10 minutes for the barman to make some coffees but the stop was pleasant even if a bit cold in the weak sunshine. After a half hour break we headed up a small rise, along a muddy field to lovely views over Reading and into a small village of Dunsdan Green where a kind passer-by took the family photo.
On the bridleway up Taggs Lane we managed to encompass a local couple who walked and chatted with us for a while before we turned off. In an open field we did spot an animal we first thought to be a deer but after reconsidering it may have been a llama. He was literally bouncing over the field...so cute.
Following second lunch stop we were disappointed to find the landlord of the next pub had packed up and gone on holiday! Honestly! Not daunted we walked up to Kiln Farm the over the most beautiful field through some woods and back along the lane to Shiplake where we arrived before schedule and the pub was open! Say no more.
A lovely walk and thank you all for coming especially the two new girls Jasmine and Sharon plus Stephen C, Keith, Simon H, Kevin, Paul, Brian F, Merce, Jane R, Mary, Emma M, David H, Erika, David T. It was indeed 10 miles long. Thanks to Simon for confirming the distance with his phone tracking device and it just goes to show a bit of string around the OS map is not as unreliable as one might think!
Report by Claire and Jim
Pa tai ta - Photo by Claire
Oh Merce - Photo by Claire
We managed to pick up a couple of strays - Photo by Claire
The dangers of walking - Photo by Claire
Dave lost in the woods - Photo by Claire
Second lunch - Photo by Claire
Lunch at Shiplake Rise - Photo by Claire
Who's a tired girl then - Photo by Claire
Is that a fallow deer? - Photo by Jane
Watch out for the cats eyes! Road sign in Oxfordshire - Photo by Jane
A climbing plant, "Traveller's Joy" in a winter hedgerow - Photo by Jane
Winter walking - Photo by Jane
Had it not been for me being the organiser of the walk I probably would have preferred to stay at home. The roads were extremely icy in the morning. Felt my little car sliding round a roundabout. No harm done, got to the start point and so did 8 others, including Rohini, Derek, Prem and myself from HAWOG.
Set off after skating across the car park and making use of the pub's conveniences. The Lido was a pretty partially-frozen site with hundreds of birds congregating by the side of the footpath. Having left my camera at home again, Prem was declared HAWOG photographer and promptly shot more pictures of the wildlife staying behind while we continued along the path to the south of the lake towards Park Wood. Tried to stay away from the main churned-up ground of the bridle ways, testing my sense of orienteering. Followed the footpath routes of a 30-odd-year old road map. Paths were covered in leaves, not looking any different to any other ground, and trees at this time of year all look the same too. Made a bit of an alteration to my intended route in order to get back to firmer ground and fixed landmarks, round the golf course, back to the Waters Edge pub. It was too early for lunch so we went on an easy route right round the lake along the footpath next to the miniature railway line. No one fancied playing any games on the beach, but everybody seemed to enjoy the chats between U3A and HAWOG members. Lunch in the pub afterwards turned out to be exclusive to HAWOG.
Considering recent torrential rain, we were extremely lucky with the icy but sunny day. So thanks to whoever placed the order for good weather. Thanks all for attending and the excellent company.
Report by Mathilde
Ruislip Lido and wildlife - Photo by Prem
Catching up along frozen ground - Photo by Prem
Where is that path again? - Photo by Prem
Trees trees trees - Photo by Prem
Let's walk around the lake again - Photo by Derek
Bird party by the lake - Photo by Prem
16 attended our Try Us For Free Walk on Bank Holiday Monday in January.
The sky was bright and mixed as we departed Beaconsfield train station just before 11am. After ten minutes we were in countryside and walking through a golf course. One golfer paused as he "..wasn't used to so many people watching him..."; regardless we had the right of way as the footpath was clearly marked. We reached our lunch stop, Chalfont St Giles, by 12:15 where we had a full hour for lunch. With hindsight, probably a bit too generous.
Post lunch we started the main chunk of our walk, mostly following the Chiltern Way initially and gently uphill to the villages of Coleshill and then Winchmore Hill where we stopped for a break mid-afternoon. By then a few had been pondering how 3+4+5 could possibly equal 10, or if 50% of x equals 6 then how could the walk distance still equal 10 miles. The answer of course is they can't and that x was around 12 ish miles. The correct formula to use for the expected distance of my walks, as some of you know, is something like (x * 1.2) + 1, where x is the stated mileage. I guess a range, expected minimum and maximum, should really be stated rather than just a point value. The distribution of course would have to be positive (skewed to the right)! So not only a fabulous walk, but also some maths for some - though not for anyone who needs to use their toes to count in double digits.
With the afternoon mostly cloudy and the temperature dropping we cracked on to walk through dusk and reach Beaconsfield train station just after 5pm. So a few extra miles (~12) and minutes (had said finish of 4-5pm), hopefully enjoyed by all.
Thanks to (girls) Claire, Erika, Jaisha, Mayette, Merce, Miriam, Michelle and (guys) David H, David T, David W, Jim, Keith, Paul S, Simon and Steve N for joining me.
Report by Steve R
The benefit of publicity paid off on Sunday as a huge turnout of 62 cyclists made it to Ealing for the annual joint bike ride. We had cyclists from 6 groups along, a delay for the late arrivals allowed much fraternisation between the groups and comparisons to be made of bikes and accessories. Our route was an easy 22 mile course, mostly following quiet back roads, canal and river paths and cycle tracks through several new parklands reclaimed from tipping grounds and redundant industrial sites. We included a fast paced circuit of the Hillingdon cycle track, Derek leaving everyone struggling to catch up. 2 intrepid bikers also had a go at the Hayes BMX course and came out slightly muddy.
We ascended the Stockley hill for the viewpoint over Heathrow, the numbers of bikers meant we covered the mound with bikes and must have surprised the golfers playing nearby. Our coffee break was at the White House once again where some people got extra cake (no names). The route back took in Hillingdon village and manor site. The numbers meant delays at the various gates and crossing points so we omitted the Little Britain lake loop.
We took the canal path back for the final section, arriving at the Black Horse just before dusk. The majority of the group then took over the pub as we had timed our arrival to miss the rush. The pub did very well in serving us many roast dinners and other meals despite our extra numbers. Several stayed late as some other HAWOG locals turned up. Thanks to Steve N for being the backmarker once again and to Murray the marshal.
Report by Brian G
Group cycling through wood - Photo by Prem
Ascending Stockley hill - Photo by Prem
62 cyclists behaving like meerkats at the viewpoint over Heathrow - Photo by Prem
Stopping on the green at Royal Lane, Hillingdon for a while so we could miss the rush at 'Black Horse' pub - Photo by Prem
Despite the early start time I was delighted to find that there would be 10 of us on the first walk after the New Year. Thankfully with the snow gone the going was fairly easy and with the the sun shining we could all feel a premature sense of spring in the air. We set a fairly relentless pace as we followed the Oxfordshire Way from Fawley and stopped after 2 hours by the ruined church of St. James near Bix Bottom for elevenses. We continued gradually ascending to Nettlebed where we found a preserved kiln dating back to the turn of the eighteenth century; a last testament to the brick and tile industry which dominated the area from the middle ages until the early twentieth century.
We had lunch in Satwell and squeezed into the tiny pub, upsetting some of the regular diners by blocking the heat from the fireplace (it's a hard life in the country). The afternoon was very sunny as we passed the Tudor house of Grey's Court and descended through woods to Henley-on-Thames. Here we picked up the Thames Path and crossed the river at Mill End arriving back to the start point at 4pm having completed the 16 mile route in daylight. Thanks to all who came: Steve R, Phil, Keith, Simon, Claire, Jim, Mary, Paul and Erika.
Report by David H