6 of us met at Berkhamsted station on a cold but dry and sunny morning. We headed off at around 10:15am, walking east along the Grand Union Canal for a couple of miles before heading south towards Bovingdon and west to Whelpley Hill (we couldn't see what hill they were referring to), stopping for a mid-morning break along the way.
Stopping for a packed lunch shortly before the village of Ashley Green, after lunch we headed into Hockeridge Wood and downhill into Northchurch where we once again picked up the canal for the last mile or so back to the station, which we reached in good time at around 3:15pm.
Thanks to Amanda, Andrea, Jackie, James and Marius for joining me.
Report by Phil
Arrival at hall - Photo by Brian
Buffet is open - Photo by Brian
Just two of us on my Greats and Gates walk today. Paul joined me for an 18-20 ish mile walk on a foggy day with limited views. No problem parking at the start point though!
From the woods in Great Hampden we headed north to Little Hampden and Dunsmore, taking in a mix of woods and some of the shorter rolling hills in the Chilterns. Then east down and across the railway line to Wendover Dean where we picked up the Chiltern Way heading north to Lee Gate and our lunch stop of Dundridge Manor.
The highlight of our discussion at lunch included Paul divulging to me that he had difficulty getting it up. It would rise and then fall away all soft. But he won't pay for someone else to do it for him because it costs too much for the pleasure it gives him. I said to Paul that I couldn't offer much in the way of advice as it's not something I've ever had a problem with myself. I suggested though that Candice Brown could do it for him. The Great British Bake Off winner 2016 must know how to make gluten-free bread rise and stay there.
Our return journey offered similar terrain to that on our way out. Mainly south paths now through Lee Common and Great Missenden where we stopped for quick tea; our only town on route. Finally westwards through more woods and back roads of Prestwood and more countryside and gentle hills to take us to Hampden Common. We skirted the eastern edge heading north just before dusk reaching our car and van for 4:15pm. No torch required, some new paths for me and a few views in the afternoon where some of the fog had lifted in places.
Thanks to Paul for turning up on time(!) meaning we departed at 9:40am. Unfortunately with only one attendee plus me a pointless walk in one respect as no "Brucie bonus" for me this time as "you get nothing for a pair". But "didn't he do well" and "was nice to see you, to see you, nice".
Report by Steve
9 of us travelled to Chorleywood and we eventually all found each other for the start of the walk. It was made all the easier by the sunshine and mild conditions. We headed down to the River Chess keeping a good pace as we hoped to be at the pub for noon. We headed west of Chenies and then returned to the village leaving the woods close to Chenies Manor.
We arrived at the Red Lion pub about 12:20 where we were greeted warmly by Dave. The landlord was not quite as welcoming but Emma managed to charm him, and Sunday roasts were suddenly back on the menu. Food and trimmings were divine and we enjoyed a leisurely two and half hour lunch in cosy surroundings with the sun streaming in. Jacky was very well behaved and no doubt enjoyed his doggy bag later in the evening.
We then completed the route back to Chorleywood station crossing the River Chess to pick up the route on the other bank. We finished at 16:00 instead of 15:00 but I think all agreed that our longer sojourn in the pub was definitely worth it. Distance on the day 9.4 miles.
Thanks to Brigitta, Dave, Deirdre, Emma, Jeff, Marin, Mick, Nathalie and Rodica for joining me on the day.
Report by Mary
Pre-meal drinks at Queen's Head - Photo by Brian
Lights on Pinner High Street - Photo by Brian
Party games at Daisy's - Photo by Brian
Decorations at Daisy's - Photo by Brian
7 of us met last weekend to start walking the South Downs Way.
The national trail is 100 miles long, and we started walking it from west to east, beginning at the statue of King Alfred in the centre of Winchester. We weren't able to start until around 10:45am on the Saturday, but the rolling hills and the dry (although not too sunny) weather enabled us to cover the 14.5 miles to reach the summit of Old Winchester Hill by around 3:30pm - perfect timing, as the sun was just starting to set. The remaining 1.5 miles to the end of the day's walk was covered by 4:00pm, meaning that we didn't need to use the torches that some of us had brought along. We got back to the B&B with plenty of time to spare before heading out for a well-deserved curry in the evening.
On the Sunday morning, our walk began at around the same time as the previous day, starting from where we had finished the previous day's walk. This walk was somewhat shorter at only 10 miles, but still took us until around 3:00pm to complete, as there was more descent and ascent, including the descent of Butser Hill and ascent through Queen Elisabeth Country Park. The weather was sunnier but also quite a bit chillier.
Thanks to Amanda, Anna, Emma, Karen, Marin and Steve for joining me on this weekend away.
Report by Phil
14 of us met outside Great Missenden station on a lovely dry autumn / winter day. We proceeded uphill to the church. Then after circling the church to admire the architecture and finding the correct gate in the fence to pass through, we walked across the fields to the steps over the wall. Crossing the fields into Mantle's Wood it wasn't long before we reached Little Missenden with its choice of pubs.
We stopped for lunch in the Red Lion, where they rather conveniently allowed us to have the entire out-building to ourselves. Some opted for the soup whilst others went for a full heartwarming roast meal. Suitably refreshed we continued on the walk starting uphill taking in part of the Chiltern Heritage Trail through scenic woodlands before turning off the trail towards Mop End. We continued on the path through Shardeloes Park and then into Amersham Old Town and home from Amersham station.
Thank you for joining me on the walk.
Report by Mark
Five of us set out on a wet grey Sunday morning, but as per the weather forecast, it soon stopped raining and the rest of the day was cloudy but dry. Paul clearly shared the opptomism of the BBC weather forecast, as he turned up in shorts!
The walk followed a number of well established routes: Swan's Way, Shakespeare's Way, Chiltern Way and the Ridgeway. Our first gradient went up Britwell Hill through a quite steep wooded section, where the leaf litter made a rather attractive cover. Autumn was still hanging on as was evident by long avenues of russet topped trees.
Our first stop was at St. Botolph's Church in Swyncombe. The morning service had recently finished as there were a small number of people in the church, Paul ventured to ask if it was OK to sit in the porch, it was. We drank our tea and coffee while remarking that the church had no bell tower, but did have one solitary bell on the front of the church which was operated from within the porch.
Fully rested we pressed on leaving the idyllic hamlet of Swyncombe and headed for the grand estate of Ewelme Park, where we were now able to see the wide expanse of Oxfordshire and Didcot power station.
Beyond Ewelme Park we picked up the Chiltern Way and then the Swan's Way which led us back to Watlington. Phil recorded the distance to be exactly 12 miles, the first time my string measuring method has tallied with digital method!
Thank you to Phil, Paul, Jeff and Mark, who turned out on a rather dull day.
Report by Mike
Stunning views - not - on my 20 mile Town and Country Walk yesterday. We mist the rolling hills and almost fog-got how wonderful the Chilterns are. Luckily we didn't get too short-sighted and let the close horizon cloud our views. Yes, the puns are worthy of The Sun - if we had had any!
We escaped High Wycombe town centre heading north following a footpath alongside a cemetery to reach the mast at Four Ashes. Which we saw very little of. Up and down hills with a white vista as we properly entered the Chilterns. Up Bryant's Bottom (ooh err) with a short look for the path down as it was obscured by building works. Then up Collings Hanger and more north-ish paths to our lunch stop, the St Mary Magdalene church. We had the generous-sized porch all to ourselves.
For me the best bit of the walk followed: walking through numerous woods from Great Hampden to reach the edge of Speen. Then Piggot's Wood which along with the rest was covered in lovely golden leaves. At our mid-afternoon break one of our party screeched "Do you want a ride, mister caterpillar?". One rather leggy one did but after ten minutes gave the idea the boot. Poor thing had been bitten in the face by a spider. Lucky escape I say! Onwards to touch Naphill village before we reached the Hughenden Estate. We took the lower path so near the church not the house. And then a steady walk back to High Wycombe train station which one of our party needed to get home.
Good 3mph+ paced walk, departed train station at 9:50am and arrived back at 4:20pm. Thanks to Emma, Maria and Phil for joining me today. Hopefully next time the views will be as good as the company!
Report by Steve
Eight of us met at the charming village of Hambleden in the heart of the Chilterns. The weather was perfect with a clear sky and hazy sunshine. We began our walk through the valley's meadows then proceeded through tranquil autumnal woodlands. My search for edible mushrooms along the way proved fruitless. The forest gave way to undulating hills and fields with magnificent views of quintessential English countryside, accompanied by red kites drifting on the wind.
We stopped for a packed lunch on a hill in Stonor deer park overlooking the scenic house and grounds. We wended our way back through groves of oak and beech, finally descending to the valley and an easy walk back to Hambleden where we finished a grand day with a pint in the beer garden. Many thanks to all who attended.
Report by Tim
15 of us met at Saunderton on a very sunny morning. We crossed several meadows with horses in the distance before coming to the charming village of Bradenham. We visited the ex YHA building, the church and manor house. The village was the setting for the Dirty Dozen film. Peter and Frances debated the cast list as we continued southwards. The route passed through beech woods, dressed in flaming gold and red autumn colours, all resplendent in the bright sunlight. Tim indicated the other trees found on the way plus the types of mushroom seen.
We reached Hughenden Manor where we had lunch in the very popular courtyard café. Nick and family joined us here. We visited the apple festival in the estate grounds. The gardens of the estate include orchards featuring many varieties of traditional English apples. We joined in with the apple pressing to make some excellent juice and some of us tried the mulled apple cider (rather spiffing was Jeff's verdict). Afterwards we climbed to the Disraeli monument on the hill for a stunning view over the whole valley and Wycombe in the distance. Our linear walk finished at High Wycombe for the trains back to London.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Bradenham church - Photo by Brian
Passing the manor - Photo by Brian
Red kite close overhead - Photo by Brian
Arrival at apple festival - Photo by Brian
Hughenden Estate walk - Photo by Brian
View from monument - Photo by Brian
The driving instructions were clear, but I did not read them properly before I left in the morning, I took a wrong exit from A1(M) and I was 5 minutes late. Once again I do apologise to Karen and Emma for the delay.
The walk itself was rewarding - it was sunny, the temperature was mild and the route was scenic, with great views over the hills and valleys. From Whitwell we headed north and we passed through St Paul's Walden, Hitch Wood up to Chapelfoot and then south west to Preston and Ley Green where we attempted to stop at the pub. The cooks were on holiday so we walked further south to Breachwood Green where we stopped for lunch at the local friendly pub The Red Lion. From there we headed south to Perry Green, which we did not reach in order to keep the length of the walk within the advertised length, and then east to the starting point. We did approximately 16 miles and the pace being good we finished just before 17:00.
Thanks to Karen, Emma and Paul for joining me on this refreshing walk.
Report by Marin
Admiring the romantic final approach for landing at Luton - Photo by Marin
Cider time - Photo by Marin
The flowery Red Lion - Photo by Marin
Lovely autumn weather and views were enjoyed by all who attended our group's 80th anniversary weekend away in the Peak District. We hired six rooms at YHA Ravenstor, a grand house once owned by a mill owner perched high up so he could keep an eye on his assets. The hostel has two long drives leading in and out of the woods that surround it. Bedrooms offered views above trees and hills and for some of us to the morning sunrise.
Friday evening (from Brian): Early arrival by rail to Cromford (birthplace of industrial revolution) with valley-top walk to Matlock Bath via Arkwright's pioneering mill.
Saturday, plan was a walk for all as we were a mixed ability group, 12 ish miles. We departed the hostel to the road east to Cressbrook along the river. Then our main ascent, north through the woods in Cressbrook Dale and a tea stop at the top. Nice views with the sun shining. We touched Wardlow village then broadly south east paths along Longstone Moor to Longstone Edge. A wait followed to allow those at the back to catch up. Ten minutes seemed to pass and when I saw others waiting at a gate behind us and one heading back I yelled "chop chop" to hasten them to join us. Unfortunately they weren't members of our group, turned out all our group had joined all at the front a few minutes earlier. What a Kermit.
Making good time I extended the route a little taking us east along Longstone Edge and then a cross path down and through Rowland village, where some procured homemade biscuits on sale outside a cottage along with other items. A few more footpaths took us to our lunch stop, the St Giles church at Great Longstone. After lunch we headed south to join the Monsal Trail, a disused railway line for cyclists and walkers. Through the Headstone tunnel and out for spectacular views above the Monsal Head Viaduct. We paused to savour the views and grab a few photos.
Still making good time and with the intended route back simple along the Monsal Trail, some of us extended the walk by heading south and up to Brushfield and then High Dale. The latter was a little disappointing as in a narrow valley along the top; I had wrongly assumed it might be along the very top. We continued west to Priestcliffe where all but three departed to head back as the hostel was about a mile away directly north.
The rest of us followed west paths including the Pennine Bridleway to Chee Dale where we joined the River Wye. Lovely path along the river with close cover from trees and rocks most of the way. Treading carefully the name of the game as path very close to the River Wye. We followed the river for about forty minutes to reach Millers Dale and ten ish minutes later the hostel. Back by 5:30pm. My piece of string says route was about 17 miles, middle group did ~13 miles and the first group ~11 miles.
Saturday evening, some ate out at local pub, some ate in at the hostel and had our mains followed by our starters and then desserts. One or two hostel staff were a little bit dippy; always warm and welcoming but a bit hollow inside. Most of us ended up at the pub for a good banter to finish the day.
Sunday, different activities. Brian organised a cycle ride along the Monsal Trail. A few visited Haddon Hall, Ilam Hall and Bakewell and I led a walk.
Cycle ride (from Brian): Cycle ride along Monsal Trail from Blackwell Mill to Monsal Head. As day was so warm we stopped for ice creams at Millers Dale station. Passing through 3 tunnels on the route all well lit which helped to prevent collisions as many bikers on the trail. We climbed to the excellent Hobbs Cafe high above Monsal Trail viaduct with views across the whole valley from the cafe terraced gardens. First time on off-road bike ride for Martina and also for Daniel who much enjoyed his own trailer bike.
I organised a walk up Chrome Hill (425 metres height) in Derbyshire just outside the Peak District National Park. A route I downloaded from the internet. Starting point (Axe Edge car park) proved hard to find, we all missed it, was little more than a small layby. Some of the earlier paths also proved hard to find; clearly marked on my map, not at all visible on the ground with no stiles or signs and barbed wire fences and walls where the path should go. We took another path, slight detour up side of valley across another path which took us onto a better signed path and onwards to the well-signed permissive path up Chrome Hill. Great views, windy at times, we had lunch.
Part of the route back was also difficult, following a path high up along a valley at Moor Side, where we ended up along the top whilst expecting a path over the river. Back a bit, we saw the signpost we'd missed, followed the path and then ended up in a very sticky muddy splodge. It was up to Phil's knees in places. Impassable so headed up bank again to discover better path and a signpost. We'd come off the path again! I'm sure many others have made this mistake before, all for want of a few signposts at key points. After that we ascended the other side of the valley and back to Axe Edge 'car park' for 3:30pm.
Many thanks to the 17 who joined me for this celebratory weekend for our 80 year old YHA group: Efisia, Emma, Liz, Jackie, Jan, Mafe, Martina, Mary, Nathalie; Brian, Daniel, David S, David T, Mike, Nrinder, Phil and Tim.
Report by Steve
View from bedroom window of Saturday sunrise - Photo by Steve
Walk start from outside hostel on Saturday - Photo by Steve
Ascending Cressbrook before woods - Photo by Steve
Dinsley Dale arms in the air for tea at Tansley Dale - Photo by Steve
Nrinder and Mafe on stepping stones at Chee Dale - Photo by Steve
On route to Chrome Hill, our summit on Sunday - Photo by Steve
Last of the summer wine or last of the summer sun? - Photo by Steve
Olympic Stadium - Photo by Brian
Leaving Angel - Photo by Brian
Hitchcock statue at studio site - Photo by Brian
Lunch at Olympic Park - Photo by Brian
Race by velodrome - Photo by Brian
At Viewtube - Photo by Brian
3 Mills mill - Photo by Brian
Only five for my two walks taking in Waddesdon on Sunday. Warmer and sunnier than forecast, we departed Aylebsury Vale Parkway train station just after 10am getting onto footpaths within ten minutes. Our route was broadly west with a short up to Sheepcote Hill Farm and then paths heading north through the lovely Eythrope Park. We reached Waddesdon at 11:30 where three - Anna, Carol and Lochlan - stayed to explore Waddesdon Manor and grounds.
Phil and I upped the pace a little and followed a broadly diamond-shaped route with the high village of Ashendon marking our first quarter and where we stopped for lunch at about 1pm. After lunch we descended and followed a south west-ish path to the beautiful hamlet of Nether / Lower Winchendon; stunning old church and houses, and Nether Winchendon House, complete with request on hamlet noticeboard for volunteer gardener. A place untouched by time. Our third quarter saw us head north again toward Upper Winchendon village, nice but not as nice as its leafier neighbour. Our final stretch took in the quaint church at Upper Winchendon before reaching the edge of the Waddesdon estate to rejoin the others for 3:30pm. This middle bit was about 10 miles in length with some lovely views of Waddesdon at different points.
Our return to the train station required finding the footpath out of Waddesdon, not so easy as many of the fields had recently been cropped! Then a delay half-way back as Lochlan needed a feed and a bum wipe. Actually not the first time I've been on a walk with our group and someone needed a bum wipe. I remember one trip when someone was caught short out in the wilds in the Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland in 2008... Anyway we returned to the train station ten minutes before the train to Harrow departed, so all happy. About 3 miles each way between the train station and Waddesdon Manor meant total mileage about 16. Thanks to Anna, Carol, Lochlan and Phil for joining me on these walks.
Report by Steve
Five of us set off just after 10:00am heading east from Ibstone. The first woodland we entered was as delightful as its name, Twigside Bottom, with the morning sunlight streaming through. After a steep climb we were in Hanger Wood and we continued on to Lane End. Following a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we were walking in the right direction for our lunch stop. Most of us rested in the churchyard but Brigitta continued to the pub for her customary Sunday roast and we joined her for drinks in the beer garden.
With more than half the route still to cover and the pressure of an eagerly awaited episode of the Archers we tried to make good time. Another steep climb in Coombe Wood and then we were heading down to cross the Chiltern Way path with great views across to Turville. The remaining few miles took us north to our start point in Ibstone. We covered just over 15 miles on the day so a few more than the planned 12-13 and we finished just before 6:30pm.
Thanks to Claire, Deirdre, Nathalie, Brigitta and Jacky for joining me on this beautiful warm September day.
Report by Mary
There were four (including myself) in this this walk namely Roshana, Vian and Claudia, our three prospective new members. We walked through Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon Common, passing Wimbledon Windmill which was undergoing repairs. It was a pleasant day for the walk, not too hot and but some cool breeze. We saw dogs having a great time swimming in the lake. There were plenty of ducks and swans swimming in the lakes too, but only one man in his small boat fishing. As we entered Richmond Park we were looking forward to seeing the deer, but they were nowhere to be seen at first. Views of the Thames, Surrey Hills and Windsor were breathtaking. We all had packed lunch so had a small picnic in the woods. There were so many small picnics, birthday parties and family celebrations going on in the park. Perhaps that scared off the deer. As we were coming out of the park, before a big traffic jam, we were wondering what was going on and so carried on walking, as we approached the traffic jam we saw two deer happily sitting on the grass. What a sight! At first we thought they weren't real then on closer inspection we realised that they were! Some motorists stopped to take photographs, hence the traffic bottleneck. We ended Section 6 by joining the music festival near the Thames. After some dancing(?) we headed towards Section 7. At Syon Park we admired some very expensive cars and people dressed in national costume attending what looked like an upmarket wedding. We came across some mulberry trees - with edible low hanging fruit. The berries were so sweet, so we started to munch; our hands were covered in red and we ran out of water, so for the next ten minutes we had to walk with our hands hidden! Thank you for coming on this walk.
Report by Pushpa
When we started from Uxbridge station at 10:30 it was fairly overcast with quite a breeze.
The first part of the route took us along the Grand Union Canal towpath to Little Britain lake, where we joined the Slough arm of the towpath towards Langley. At Langley we joined the National Cycle Network route 61 to Windsor via Eton. The weather had brightened up a lot by this time, and after a short break by the Thames, we headed off towards Windsor Great Park.
Lunch at the Village in Windsor Great Park, and then we set off again towards Runnymede. After a short stop to see the Air Forces War Memorial, and to admire the view towards West London, we negotiated a steep, rough downhill track and then joined the Thames towpath towards Staines. From Staines the route followed a disused railway line, the old West Staines to West Drayton branch line. This is now a bridleway with a reasonable surface, and took us close to Poyle where we could do a bit of plane spotting. Returned to Uxbridge via Harmondsworth Moor and quiet roads.
Thanks to Avril and Eleanor for joining me.
Report by Derek
Ian, Lynn, Monica and I met at Princes Risborough station on a hot and sunny Saturday. Following our ascent and enjoying the view at Whiteleaf cross, we stopped for tea at the Plough in Lower Cadsden. We then moved on through the Grangelands Nature Reserve, where Monica pointed out some of the rare and protected flowers. Continuing on the Ridgeway Path we walked past Chequers and decided to stop for lunch at the Buckmoor End farm shop. The shopkeeper told us that PM Theresa May had visited the week before. After lunch we walked past Dunsmore village, up through the scrubland to the Coombe Hill Monument. We then descended to Wendover via Bacombe Hill. Three of us who were returning to London did a last minute dash to Wendover station, just making the train back, whilst Ian went for a pint at the Shoulder of Mutton pub.
Report by Nirav
18 of us made it to Dorset for the 5th camping trip of this great summer of camping. It was another scorchio weekend at Shortlake Farm which has an amazing location, sloping downhill to the Jurassic coast affording wonderful views out to sea and towards the isle of Portland. On arrival the organic farm shop sold cooling ice creams to enjoy whilst we set up camp. New converts to camping Sandra, Rob and Paul opened up the wine to welcome in new campers Louise, Mark and Kevin. Rubin and Amber had great fun with the swing ball game with Bobbie racing around to catch the ball. Nick demonstrated his rotating barbecue prowess whilst some others dined at the famous Smugglers Inn in Osmington reached via the coastal footpath. Later Dean with his trusty chopper was in charge of the camp fire.
On Saturday we were able to collect fresh pastries from the camp bakery for breakfast in the sun enjoying the great views out to sea. Brian led the main group on the linear walk eastwards following the SW coastal footpath. The clear blue skies allowed great views all day. Our route involved some tough climbs with a break at the hidden Ringstead Bay beach. We found a picnic spot at White Nothe point; high on the cliff top we had panoramic views east to Lulworth and west towards Dorset in the far distance. Harpreet spotted the iridescent green beetles which hover over the flowers along this coast. The afternoon route involved several big climbs and vertiginous descents looking down on secluded beaches far below with several yachts harbouring just out to sea. As the day was so fine quite a few of the group descended to the beach to sunbathe by Durdle Dor before ending at the beer garden in Lulworth for cooling drinks.
Martina led the rest on a sea fishing expedition and came back with a bumper catch of mackerel. These were cooked on the campfire for a gourmet supper served with salads and pasta prepared by Renee and Rachel. Around the campfire there was an erudite debate between bibliophiles Louise and Vic regarding the works of Ayn Rand, and Nick expounded again on his metaphysical theories.
On Sunday after a leisurely breakfast and listening to a Max tribute on Radio Solent we struck camp. Rob led one group on a walk via National Trust manors and country pubs. Leo led the cycle group on a stunning coastal ride from Osmington to the isle of Portland. We stopped for lunch at the beachside Billie Winters café serving freshly-caught fish. Under a perfect azure sky we watched the many wind surfers and kite surfers speeding across Portland harbour. We then climbed steeply to the summit of Portland with its 18th century fortifications and unique jailhouse café. The searing afternoon sun beamed down on us on the fast descent as we reached the exquisite Quiddles café for tea and cakes, overlooking the endless expanse of Chesil Beach after another great camping adventure.
Report by Brian
Arrival at site - Photo by Brian
Enjoying the view - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Picnic on the cliff top - Photo by Brian
Looking east towards Weymouth - Photo by Brian
Steep descent towards Durdle Dor - Photo by Brian
View towards Durdle Dor - Photo by Brian
Martina catches supper - Photo by Brian
Rachel in charge of barbecue - Photo by Brian
Nick builds up camp fire - Photo by Brian
Start of bike ride - Photo by Brian
Cycling on Rodwell Trail - Photo by Brian
Portland Harbour views - Photo by Brian
Leo finds the beach bar again - Photo by Brian
No male members of the group made the walk on Sunday, but I was joined by Mary, Nathalie, Emma and Deirdre. It was a lovely walk on a day when the weather was perfect, some sun, some cloudy times but comfortable for walking. We left about 10:00am, and headed north and east through woodlands and some amazing nettles, on our way towards Welham Green and Cuffley.
We had a welcome drink in the local at Cuffley just after 1:00pm, and ate our picnic in the church grounds just along from the pub in the nice peaceful surroundings. This was about half way around the walk. We then found the Hertfordshire Way and wound our way back via Northaw and Potters Bar to South Mimms. It seems, according to our electronic devices, that the route was about 16 miles, but fairly flat and we finished it without a grumble. The highlights of the day were the amazing nettles and brambles, but most of the route was fine. There were some lovely wild flowers, and the satellite dishes and communication tower at Brookmans Park were very impressive. So too were some of the houses. A lovely day. Thankyou to those who came.
Report by Claire
We met at Watford Junction station - Debbie, Gosia, Nicholas, Mark and myself. It was warm and sunny with a light breeze - ideal walking conditions.
We reached the Munden Estate via Orphanage Road and Radlett Road. Just past Munden House we met two ramblers who confirmed that the footbridge to Riverside Path was closed. We changed course and then via the Alban Way, public footpath, some briars, nettles and woods again connected with the River Ver. Stopping at Moor Mill we had a leisurely lunch.
Restarting we passed Frogmore Pits - staying close to the Ver we reached St Albans Park Street. Park Street is only 20 minutes from Moor Mill. The two pubs here, The Overdraught and Gate serve lunch but require prebooking. Following the signposts we reached the Sopwell area. Debbie kindly pointed out the well-known Sopwell Hotel. We reached the ruins of the old Sopwell Nunnery - this was an unexpected treat - it's atmospheric and relaxing. We rested here for 25 minutes and then boarded the St Albans Abbey branch line train for Watford Junction. The total walking time was about 3 hours 15 minutes.
A grateful thanks to my four colleagues. You all contributed greatly to this very enjoyable stroll.
Report by Steve T
Clearly this day would be all about quality not quantity, as five of us set out from the Bridgewater Monument to explore the wilds of Bedfordshire.
We had a warm morning with broken cloud and blue skies. The initial pace was quite brisk to make up for a slightly late start time. We headed north up to the Ivinghoe Hills and the Beacon. Resting briefly at the Beacon to take in the view and enjoy the marvel of model aeroplanes and kites which were wizzing around the sky. Leaving the hills, we went directly down from the monument to meet the Two Ridges Link, which connects the old Ridgeway with a newer bit to the north west. Passing through Ivinghoe Aston and then out into open countryside we found an abundance of crops all around us, broad beans nearly ready for harvest and wheat crops turning gold. In no time at all we found ourselves at the lunch stop in a pleasant village called Slapton. To our surprise, the churchyard was a hive of activity, there was a fundraising event to replace the church bells. The sign on the gate announced cream teas and all manner of delights.
We found a shady area beneath a tree for our picnic. I started my lunch with a cream tea, which was very pleasant, though a little stingy on the jam. Deirdre, Paul and Anna bought some fresh strawberries and cream, freshly picked that morning! We could have indulged in a barbecue or eaten a host of home-made goodies. There was also a makeshift bar, Paul thought he would try a Pimms which he said "Was not quite right". Maybe the good parishioners of Slapton were cutting it with something dodgy.
After getting a local to take a picy of us at the church we set out for the canal, a two mile section. Along the canal we came across a woman who was making rag rugs, the old craft of creating fireside rugs from recycled material. In fact my mum used to make them when I was a child. It also turned out that this woman was from Cumbria (for those who do not know me, I am also from Cumbria) what a coincidence!.
More fields full of crops, this time peas. Anna had never eaten the humble pea straight from the pod, she is now pea pod fan. The route took us back via Ivinghoe Aston, where we had a break from the heat with a drink in the local pub. Off we went refreshed on the final leg of the walk which took us close to the Ivinghoe monument but on the lower slopes to the east. The Coombe is a short stretch of woods which was now very welcome from the heat of the afternoon. A little further on and we arrived back on Ivinghoe Common and then a gentle stroll back to the monument where we began our walk.
A big thank you to Anna, Deirdre, Paul and Steve for joining me on a cracking walk, which was 15.8 miles, a little further than the original plan.
Report by Mike D
A lovely lunch break at Slapton - Photo by Anna
For our latest camping trip of the year 6 of us stayed at a new site for us, "The Orchard" in rural Suffolk, next to the historic town of Wickham Market. Nick for this trip used a new pop-up rather than his campervan. Martina and Anne cooked supper for the group on the campfire, Leo told us about his bouncing bike on the A13 on route (extensively mentioned in local travel reports).
On Saturday after having breakfast in the sun with Brian Matthews we set off. Anne led one group on a walk around Orford Ness, a huge bank of shingle built through "long shore drift". It is reached by ferry and is an uninhabited nature reserve full of wading birds. There are also remains of nuclear test sites from the Cold War era. Brian led the cycle group on a leisurely ride passing through sleepy villages with impressive medieval churches. Our route took in Rendlesham Forest and the ex-USAF Bentwaters airfield, now preserved as a museum and enterprise park. After lunch at Orford Castle we continued along the coastal track to Snape Maltings. This is a community hub with arts centre and concert hall (home of Aldeburgh festival). We enjoyed the extensive views from the balcony café. Leo discovered some more pubs to pop into on the way back and Dean came upon a magicians group in one garden with expected consequences.
Back at site Martina and Daniel were gifted with a rather splendid chocolate cake by the neighbouring family after helping with their tents. On another fine warm evening we cooked our usual stupendous quantity of meat at the barbecue including some excellent minted lamb burgers from the camp shop. Around the campfire the ubiquitous Alan (campsite manager) joined us to recount his yarns of extra-terrestrial encounters (the area is full of "unexplained incidents"). After more wine and ale Dean proffered his own anecdotes on the subject as we stargazed under a perfectly clear night sky.
On Sunday after breaking camp we travelled to the coastal resort of Aldeburgh. The beaches stretch along the coast with the famous shell sculpture attracting the eye. We took to the bikes once more to cycle the Sustrans coastal route north. Our last stop was for well-earned tea and cakes at Thorpness Lake on another sunny afternoon in scenic Suffolk.
Report by Brian
Arrival at site - Photo by Brian
Dean chopping away - Photo by Brian
Another top camp fire - Photo by Brian
Start of bike ride - Photo by Brian
Crossing the airfield - Photo by Brian
Orford Castle - Photo by Brian
Coastal track to Snape - Photo by Brian
Cake from the neighbours - Photo by Brian
Nick tries the barbecue bucket - Photo by Brian
Aldeburgh beach - Photo by Brian
Lunch stop at boating lake - Photo by Brian
9 of us met in Broadway last Friday for the last of 4 weekends of walking the Cotswold Way. 7 of us stayed at a B&B that was fairly close to the centre of the village, whilst the other 2 stayed at a local campsite.
On the Saturday, we all met up to walk the 13 mile stretch of the Cotswold Way from Cleeve Hill to Stanton. The weather wasn't too bad apart from the occasional shower, but progress was nonetheless rather slow in the morning. In the afternoon we split into 2 groups, and the first group completed the remainder of the days' walking fairly quickly, but we were rather disappointed to find that the only pub in Stanton was closed on Saturday afternoons!
In the evening we ate in one of the pubs in Broadway. The food was a little better than the Indian restaurant where we had eaten the previous evening (and the service was much quicker!), but some found the portions a bit small, even at Broadway prices!
On the Sunday, 7 of us walked the remaining 10 miles of the Cotswold Way from Stanton to Chipping Campden. Once again, an occasional shower in the morning didn't trouble us too much, and after an early lunch, the afternoon was much sunnier. We completed this final section of the national trail early in the afternoon, so we celebrated in style with a glass of champagne in a local hostelry, before heading home.
Thanks to Amanda, Anna, Emma, Karen, Keith, Kevin, Marin and Nathalie for joining me on this weekend away. Next, the South Downs Way!
Report by Phil
Belas Knap Long Barrow - Photo by Anna
Approaching Winchcombe - Photo by Phil
Cotswolds rolling hills - Photo by Anna
Approaching Broadway - Photo by Phil
The climb up to Broadway Tower - Photo by Phil
Viewpoint - Dover Hill - Photo by Anna
Happy faces - Photo by Anna
The end of the Cotswold Way - Photo by Anna
Celebration time! - Photo by Anna
This was a fascinating walk from quaint historic Hampstead via the open spaces of Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and Regent's Canal to the Fleet's outlet at Blackfriars Bridge. We saw the homes of the rich and famous, bullet holes fired from the gun of the last woman to be hanged, fabulous views from Primrose Hill, oldest pubs in London (complete with log fires and sawdust), Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop, St Pancras churchyard with its fascinating inhabitants, hidden gems of old alleys and squares and memorials to the high and mighty and to the brave.
Thank you again to Pamela and Derek.
Report by Avril
7 of us set off from Hatton Cross on Sunday to walk what for 4 of us was the last leg of the London Loop (150 mile walking route around the outer edge of London).
After all the rain, we were all feeling lucky that the sun was shining and it was dry. However, the floods earlier in the week left their mark on the route, turning some paths into rivers that we had to wade through! The walk started with planes and motorways but that was soon left behind and most of the walk was along tranquil canals and rivers. My particular favourite stretch was the Slough arm of the Grand Union with the Little Britain lakes. We found a nice spot for our picnic in Stockley Park by the fountains and lakes.
We made very good time and arrived at the Swan and Bottle pub in Uxbridge (the point where we started our journey of the Loop over 2 years ago) by about 3pm which meant we had plenty of time for our celebratory champagne and meal.
Thank you Sean, Nathalie, Emma, Jane, Phil and Dave for joining me on an enjoyable day of walking and well done to us finishers!
Report by Efisia
For our latest camping trip of the year 9 of us returned to Sussex to stay at Waspbourne Manor farm. The campsite is in an idyllic setting in the Ouse valley surrounded by ancient woodlands. New member Anne brought along her union jack tent and even newer members Nick, Rachel and family stayed in their luxury campervan. On Friday evening we took advantage of the pizza café on site and enjoyed the pizzas on the benches around our campfire.
On Saturday Martina and Daniel discovered the rope swings on site and tried out the bush craft courses. Brian led the rest on a 13 mile hike following the Sussex Border path. We reached the start via the charming Bluebell steam railway passing through very scenic Sussex countryside. Horsted Keys station is perfectly restored to 1920s décor and is seen in many films and series including Downtown Abbey. The first section of the walk was through the enchanting Kingscote valley. We walked through vineyards, rocky outcrops, via lakes and manors. A short detour through the scientology HQ at Saint Hill was curtailed by a friendly security guard. We had lunch in the picnic grounds at Kingscote station. The afternoon section crossed part of Ashdown Forest, an ancient hunting ground full of heather and ferns. Leo discovered 2 pubs on route where we had some cooling drinks in the afternoon sun.
Back on site we all partook of the free soup offered by Wowo at the village marquee. Mike D was in charge of the barbecue, the farm shop sausages and minted lamb burgers were rather splendid. The campfire festivities were extended till after 3am as we welcomed several guests from the nearby campers all bringing more wood and marshmallows for the campfire.
On Sunday our breakfast was a very leisurely affair with farm shop eggs and home baked bread. After striking camp Nick led one group on a walk to Sheffield Park Gardens, the nearby National Trust historic gardens designed by Capability Brown. Leo led the others on a mountain biking course at Deer Leap. The course involves lots of challenging descents and switch backs with a few jumps to overcome. Afterwards a few of us made it to Standen House (arts and crafts National Trust manor) for a final cream tea in this picturesque setting.
Report by Brian
Steam train to start of walk - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Wedding at Bluebell railway - Photo by Brian
Passing tree house - Photo by Brian
Free soup from village marquee - Photo by Brian
Mike starts barbecue - Photo by Brian
Arrival on site - Photo by Brian
Cycle challenge course - Photo by Brian
Campfire yarns - Photo by Brian
Lake by Horsted Keynes - Photo by Brian
Jeff, James, the two Jackies, Bertrand and I set off from Chesham station and walked through breathtaking scenery with distant views of fields full of poppies. This was by far one of my most favourite walks undertaken with the group. We saw beautiful manor houses and cottages. I even managed to buy some honey at a farm where we saw piglets, little baby goats and as Jeff called them "teddy bear" sheep, I guess because they were so fluffy and big. Excellent company I must say (not talking about the sheep), which meant that spirits were high.
James, Jeff and I had a last relaxed sit down together in the cosy gardens belonging to a Chesham pub / restaurant until Jackie (the one with four legs) decided to be off and chase a cat, luckily with a positive outcome to our huge relief.
Regards and hope to see you again soon.
Report by Brigitta
We had our 80th anniversary summer party in the grounds of the church last week. On a fine evening on the hill Mike and Cathy set out a vast array of home made cup cakes, sandwiches, salads, tarts anmd pastries. We welcomed former members from the 70s, 80s and 90s along with many current members. The winning cake was made by Rachel, Mike presented the prize after judging by the panel (Katia, Derek and Penny). Well done to Mike and Cathy for hosting the evening.
Report by Brian
Five of us met at Coulsdon Town station on a very rainy morning for what was for all but one of the group the penultimate leg of the London Loop. We walked the half mile beside the dual carriageway to Coulsdon South station where this leg of the Loop begins. After a further short walk through a residential area we continued across attractive countryside, with some great views of London. Climbing a double stile we came to a field full of lavender and learnt that this area of London was once the heart of the global lavender trade. Due to the weather there were few golfers out on Banstead Downs Golf Course, fortunate for us as the route wound around the tees and fairways. As we neared our lunch stop at Nonsuch Park, Henry VIII's hunting ground and palace, the rain cleared and we were able to sit in the grounds of the Mansion House to eat our lunch before taking tea and cake in the tearoom. After lunch, the sun came out and we continued on to the small town of Ewell where we peered through the door of the old village jail. From here the walk went through woods and then followed the Hogsmill River, where Jane found a friendly local who gave her a potted history of this part of the river. As we dropped down to Malden Manor for the end of the walk we passed St. John the Baptist church which gave the area its name the Saxon word 'Mael-dun'- meaning cross on the hill. Thanks to Efisia, Jane, Emma and Phil for their company.
Report by Dave
9 eager navigators met at a very warm and sunny Ashurst in the New Forest last week. Nigel, the trainer, led the group on a walk around the heathlands of the New Forest. He introduced the group into the basics of map reading and compass skills and also explained some of the history of the forest and how it is maintained. Lots of New Forest ponies strolled past during the morning. After lunch each person practiced their skills by leading the group via footpaths through the forests. After the training we enjoyed cooling drinks in the local beer garden where a brass band was performing to celebrate the Queens 90th birthday. We have added our next course for next month for members who need to learn navigation skills.
Report by Brian
16 of us met on another lovely sunny evening on the riverside terrace at Café Rouge by Kew Bridge. After drinks and introductions we set off on the walk along the Thames Path. Nick explained about the history of the local area. The towpath on Strand on the Green was crowded with lots of drinkers sitting outside the many pubs on this section of the path. There were also several canoe clubs out on this fine evening, Paul H outlined the basics of canoeing to the group. At Barnes Bridge we crossed the Thames with great views upstream from the footbridge. We walked through the heritage area of Barnes village to the common before stopping for drinks at the Sun Inn in the beer garden where Richard and Jan entertained us with more jokes and tall tales.
Report by Brian
15 of us travelled to Holycombe campsite for a fine sunny weekend of camping in an idyllic Cotswold setting within the moat of a Norman castle with a maze and stone circle next to the tents. The site has many glamping options including a tree house and yurts. Paul, Bev, Olly and Archie stayed in the large bell tent. Jan opened the wine on arrival to welcome the several new members along on their first HAWOG camping adventure. Tim was in charge of the barbecue and campfire again, assisted by Sandra the log lady.
On Saturday we set off on the 12 mile hike which took in parts of the D'Arcy Dalton Way. This is a scenic long-distance path through several unspoilt Cotswold villages built in the local yellow stone which lights up when sun touches it. Our first stop was the famous Rollright stones, a neolithic place of worship with an impressive stone circle ("the Kings Men"). We had a pub lunch in the beer gardens at Salford village where we were joined by Peter, Jane and Freddy and ex members Mike and Li Sha McA who were staying nearby. We restarted on the high trail with spectacular views over the Vale of Whichford. We explored the charming village of Little Compton and then Long Compton where we stopped for cooling drinks at the upmarket inn. We continued east through sunlit buttercup meadows passing some equestrian groups on the route back to site. In the Whichford woods Tim used his Sioux skills to lay a trail of wood signs for the latter group to catch up. In the evening we dined at the impressive Norman Knight Inn where new member Dianne (who grew up on a farm in the area) outlined the history of the landscape and local characters. Back on site Tim lit the campfire and Jan led the singing whilst Nick and Paul H had a very illuminating debate on the Nicaea Council before we all listened to some entertaining tall tales from Leo and Lara.
On Sunday after a leisurely camping breakfast we began to strike camp. We set off under clear blue skies for the walk. We reached Chastleton House, a National Trust Jacobean manor (and film location for Wolf Hall TV series) where we explored the astronomical garden and the croquet lawn. National Trust now provide sports equipment so we had a relaxed game of croquet watched by other guests. Our walk took us next to the very impressive Little Compton Manor House for the annual open day (by chance, that very afternoon). The enchanting gardens included fountains, topiary, rose gardens and swimming pools. Vic and Brian discovered the tennis courts where they played a few rallies before being praised by Mr. Reed who turned out to be the owner of the manor (and many large companies). After the walk we gathered for a rather splendid country tea on the lawn in front of the manor. Rob declared the Victoria sponge to be exceedingly good as we enjoyed the sunshine and the views in this very attractive area of the Cotswold Hills.
Report by Brian
View over manor - Photo by Brian
Arrivals gather over drinks - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Leo leads the way - Photo by Brian
At Rollright stones - Photo by Brian
Afternoon tea in Compton - Photo by Brian
Sandra adds to camp fire - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Chastelton House - Photo by Brian
Croquet on the lawn - Photo by Brian
Buttercup meadows walk - Photo by Brian
Little Compton Manor - Photo by Brian
Gardens of the Manor - Photo by Brian
Teas all ready - Photo by Brian
Tiffin in the manor gardens - Photo by Brian
Passing through Langley Park with its ancient trees, we then paused to admire the many rhododendra which were in bloom in the temple gardens before proceeding into Black Park. After a brief stop in the pub, we continued and were fortunate enough indeed to catch a rare glimpse of a steam powered steam roller trundling along the road near Iver Heath. We had a short break at the Little Britain Lake and then joined the Grand Union canal towpath for the final leg of the walk. Finishing in Langley village it was time for ice creams and congratulations all round. Total distance walked approx 12 miles. Many thanks to Henrique, Ruth, Akiko and Natsuki for joining me on the walk.
Report by Mark
Three of us met up at Acton Fields campsite in Langton Matravers on Friday: Paul, Renee and me.
Paul and I arrived earlier on in the day, pitched our tents and then did some shopping for the weekend before trouping off to Knoll Beach for a barbecue; we met up with Renee later at the campsite and thanks to Paul's research we identified a live jazz band over at Worth Matravers at the Square and Compass which we hiked to in dying light, enjoyed a lively evening, returning somewhat later on having met some fellow campers on a much easier route.
On Saturday the plan was to visit Chapman's Pool and St Adhelem's Chapel, a grade 1 listed building, however we did a circular route suggested by Renee and visited the chapel and lookout station at St Alban's Head and followed the coast around and in theory back in a circle, well that was the idea. Anyway we headed onwards and having seen my secret settlement remains via a hidden lower route around the head, next along the coast we came to Winspit which had old ruins and a myriad of caves and unusual rock structures freely accessible, where we stopped for lunch and finally on to Dancing Ledge and back to the campsite and then the local pub, retrieving the car at a later stage. So what for evening meal? Well it had been a hot sunny day and so energy levels needed to be supplemented substantially so we all settled for a Chinese three course meal which seemed to put us right, so the evening commenced and moved onto a live band bar and then another - leading to a rather late finish having met up with other friendly weekenders.
On Sunday morning we were awoken by an unsolicited tent sauna thanks to the hot sun and after breakfast we set off for another crack at Chapman's Pool - amazing scenery with vertical multicoloured rock strata and varied vegetation, we walked the length around to Egmont Point and Bight returning up past Chapman's Pool to the car park, via a very steep and challenging climb and onto our next scenic advenure. Well next was a quirky choice of mine - Corfe Castle bespoke walk, we walked from Castle Street past the graveyard and around the back of the castle and then onto the Castle Hill path up to almost the drawbridge but just as the end appeared to be in sight I explained that the path around the castle was a double one, the second was just above us skirting the foundations, a tricky technical path requiring precise footwork, a head for heights and a tolerance of nettle stings; arriving a while later after a heart-pumping adrenaline-filled circuit we arrived around the front of the castle and headed straight for the local inn, with fantastic views of the castle for some food and refreshments, the evening continued onto a social outing.
Monday was a visit to Tyneham lost village and a walk to Worbarrow Bay and up Worbarrrow Trout, followed by a trot to Lulworth, up around to Durdle Door, up on top of Durdle Door and down via the beach overlooking the Man o War in St Oswalk's Bay with a blood red sky chasing us along the beach all the way to Pinion Rock where we headed up Dungy Head and around to Stair Hole, a long day but spectacular views. Monday was limited to sightseeing as a we packed up a our tents and headed down to Swanage and had a full English breakfast on the sea front and then onto South Haven point to the National Trust car park and the entrance to Poole harbour and a lovely seafood restaurant with superb views. The last stop was near the Rempstone neolothic stone circle for views out over Poole harbour and out to sea before heading home.
Report by Leo
9 of us started the challenging 15.5 mile walk on Sunday, starting and finishing at the free car park of the Kings Head Hotel, Stokenchurch. 8 of us completed all of the challenges of this walk which included continuously steep and lengthy inclines, and lengthy fast paced stretches of flat paths walking at 2-3 mph.
We passed the Ibstone stone, the origin of which we still do not know, and wondered at the May flowers, fresh spring green foliage around us, and the blue sky and rainless clouds! The ground was at times slippery. We saw one deer in the distance and many red kite circling on airstreams high in the sky. Apart from the M40 we heard small airplane engines overhead although these did not disturb the natural peace of the day.
There were morning and lunchtime stops and we kept walking the whole afternoon. We stayed outdoors and did not visit any pubs and brought our own packed lunch and refreshments to last the day. We started at 10:00am prompt and finished at 4:30pm at the start point. The rain started just as we reached Stokenchurch.
Thank you to Ian, Geoff, Bea, Daniel, Olive, Dave, Paul and Marin. I am thinking of plotting a longer walk next time...even more challenging :-)
Report by Jane
6 of us made our separate journeys to the starting point of Fort William. This was a reunion for the 4 of us that had previously completed the West Highland Way (in 2014) which ends in the town known as the gateway to the highlands, and the train journey from Glasgow took us along much of that route. I for one was glad to be in the warmth of the little train this time as we passed through the bleak wilderness of Rannoch Moor.
The Great Glen Way is a 79 mile trail that follows the geographical fault line that runs from one coast to the other, crossing through 3 lochs that are neatly linked together by the Caledonian Canal.
Day 1 saw us set out to walk from Fort William to Gairlochy, the threatened rain and midges stayed away and most of us managed to take a short detour to Inverlochy Castle (built in 1280 by the Comyns clan). This was an easy start with the trail following Loch Lochy and the canal side. The looming presence of Ben Nevis presided over our first steps, and we quickly reached the engineering marvel that is Neptune's Staircase, a series of 8 locks at Banavie. Arriving at Gairlochy we decided to walk the extra 4 miles to Spean Bridge via the Commando Memorial which gave us our first elevation of the day. A secret garden door opened on to the hidden luxury of the Spean Lodge where we enjoyed the sunshine before dinner in the Old Train Station.
Starting day 2 we continued along the canal to Laggan Locks. We started with a boat of Sea Cadets at Gairlochy who were officially given permission to wave, and finished at The Eagle barge that also serves as a floating pub. Alongside many other regular walkers we would meet again and again throughout the week, we stopped for a celebratory drink. On the way we passed the site of one of the many clan skirmishes, this one known for being on such a hot day that fighting was undertaken in underwear, hence known as the Battle of the Shirts.
Day 3 Laggan Locks to Fort Augustus, passing along the southern shore of Loch Oich, following the course of an old railway line and part of General Wade's military road. On the way we passed the beautiful Bridge of Oich and the loch keeper's cottage complete with a plaque commemorating the disembarkation of the royal family in 1958. Fort Augustus enabled the first sight of the vast deep blue Loch Ness. The volume of water of Loch Ness exceeds that of all the lakes and reservoirs in England and Wales and is sufficient to immerse the entire population of the world. We had dinner on the edge of the loch right at a point where all the winds meet so it was incredibly blowy.
Day 4 Fort Augustus to Invermoriston, the weather being clear, I opted for the high route taking us up to 560 metres of mountains and incredible views over the loch, including a good view of the horse shoe scree mark on the opposite side, legend has it the locals tried to capture Nessie with a bottle of whisky here. She grabbed the bottle but made off before they could ensnare her, leaving the mark on the hillside behind. Dropping down into Glenmoriston, the first sight of the little town is the beautiful Telford bridge. We ate that night at the Glenmoriston Hotel which as an old drovers inn on the way to Skye was responsible for the formation of the town.
Day 5 Invermoiston to Drumnadrochit. Turning past the leather goodies for sale in the Last Clog Shop before Skye we opted for the the high route again taking us up to the highest point on the revised routes of 710 metres above sea level. The climbs were hard going but the rewards at the top were great with the picturesque Troll bridge decorated by local children, and incredible views of the loch, mountains, forests and glens. Coming into Drum we were greeted by the most touristy "Nessie land" complete with tartan carpets and "living" haggis(s). The renowned Fiddlers Inn with its walls of whiskies and rather elegant glass Nessie water droppers was a welcome relief for dinner.
Day 6 Drumnadrochit to Inverness. At 18 miles the longest day on the route and still a fair amount of climb at 500m. Today followed the continued course of an old drover road, away from the Loch, so the only day where water was not in constant vision. Abriachan forest eco camp site provided pints of hot chocolate with marshmallows approximately a third of the way in, all the time promising they were "just around the corner" with a succession of hand-painted signs. Skirting around some inconvenient roadworks and crossing over the Ness islands amongst office and court workers we made our way to the triumphant finish at Inverness Castle!
Thank you to my co-organiser Mary for sourcing the most fantastic accommodation and eating options along the route, and my fellow walkers, Nina, Claire, Jim and Phil for their company over a fantastic 7 days!
Report by Emma and Mary
At the start - Photo by Phil
Neptune's Staircase - Photo by Phil
Caledonian Canal - Photo by Phil
Caledonian Canal - Photo by Phil
Loch Oich - Photo by Phil
Loch Ness - Photo by Phil
Finished! - Photo by Phil
We did about 15 miles starting in Nazeing, Essex and passing by Lower Nazeing, Claverhambury, Epping Green and back, in good, mostly sunny weather. The area is not as popular as Chilterns but is as close to Harrow and is worth further exploring. A pleasant walk in a green area - undulating paths, some of them poorly marked, nice views, a pub with excellent food (The Cock and Magpie in Epping Green) and most of all great company. Thanks Paul for joining Marin and me.
Report by Rodica
The Friday comprised of travel and settling in to the Eastbourne hostel. Jeff and I joined Martina, Daniel and "Aunty" Jan at the Crown and Anchor on the seafront. The fare was excellent especially the rack of lamb. The live music was equally good, the band played an initial set of lounge jazz classics until they threw in a Bob Marley number! The ladies had to leave for reasons of expediency, while the boys stayed to enjoy the second set which had the joint really jumping as young and old hit the dance floor.
Saturday morning brought 2 new arrivals, Monica and Nirav, who decided to do the walk ahead of us, as apparently they thought we would set too hot a pace! We were then joined by Nathalie, this made a foursome for our South Downs way walk. Martina and her little man went to the zoo. We took the bus to the Seven Sisters Country Park in order to start our walk. We headed south seawards, whilst walking alongside the Cuckmere River with its fascinating ox-bow rhythms we found our way to the coast. We headed east now on the famous Seven Sisters; the path was clearly set with spectacular and photogenic views of the undulating terrain offset by the cliff face. The path itself, by and large, afforded a comfortable march however this would be offset by a series of climbs which required a certain level of fitness. We reached our first major stop at the Berling Gap which had a National Trust cafe. Here we mixed our our packed lunch with a tea shop experience as there were some delightful confections! After our break we decided to venture on to the beach where we marvelled and contemplated the the breathtaking but fragile chalky cliff face. We decided to return to the coastal path and head to Beachy Head. More ups and downs allied with spectacular views out to sea. It was, however, easy to ignore the view in the other direction, inland, which comprised of rolling hills punctuated by lambs and their ewes. This prompted talk about our green and pleasant land and the ownership thereof. Our next stop was for a quick gelato at the lighthouse before our next objective, The Cliffs Edge pub, which required more climbs before our final break. The last leg required us to head northbound (inland) which for the first time we hesitated and the map had to be produced! Whilst cooing over a vast horde of rabbits we decided to leave the main path to go onto a bridleway in order to complete the walk.
I was able to rest before my second task of the day, feeding the troops! I was slaving over a hot stove, the others settled in front of the Eurovision Song Contest. Whilst I prepared chicken pilaff with apricots the others were attempting to work out where in the Mediterranean Australia was!
On Sunday we explored Eastbourne, the pier was our first stop. It seems that it was named after our esteemed commitee member Mike S! Food was again on the agenda as we brunched at an old haunt of Jeff's, an ice cream parlour / cafe where all the fixtures, fittings and decor were original down to the folding seats and lava lamps! Soon after we dispersed and headed back to the "Old Smoke". My thanks to Jeff (for all his efforts), Jan, Martina, Daniel, Nathalie, and our day trippers Monica and Nirav.
Report by Humay
11 of us met on a warm evening at Hanwell for our first evening walk this year. Our route was the Brent Valley path, which forms part of the Capital Ring. We walked along the river to cross under Brunel's viaduct (1836) before arriving at Brent Lodge Park ("the Bunny park"). There was time for a visit to the millennium maze where Cecilia led us to the centre and out using the secret code. We then walked through Churchfields and the heritage area of Hanwell with its Georgian cottages and village green. We met, by chance, local expert Paul S who explained about Marshall Amps and the links to Hanwell. We then returned to the Fox Inn where Richard entertained us once more with his repertoire of jokes and anecdotes.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Churchfields - Photo by Brian
Maze at Bunny Park - Photo by Brian
The Hermitage cottage - Photo by Brian
Glorious sunshine, sometimes accompanied by a nice breeze and clear views over Herts, Beds and Bucks, were the hallmarks of Sunday's walk. The route took us from Hexton to the pretty village of Barton-le-Clay, with its pretty old thatched houses and church. Given the choice of a very sharp ascent through the Barton Hills nature reserve or a slightly slower incline to the 'peak', our hardy group chose the more challenging option. We were rewarded by fabulous views over the counties. Lunch was an early one as we couldn't bypass the bluebell-carpeted Wards Wood, which also provided the best or even the only shade of the day. Onwards for another 0.5 miles, the old fashioned Lilley Arms pub with its lovely garden was just the place to quench our thirst. After lunch we made our way to Pegsdon nature reserve and Deacon Hill, via Telegraph Hill. Thus we ascended to 172m at Deacon Hill in glorious sunshine. Here we had good views of the Red Arrows display at Shuttleworth Airshow at Biggleswade, about 13 miles away, as well as the three counties. Shame we could not make out the messages emblazoned across the sky. Arriving back at our start point we were just in time to avail of the tea, fabulous homemade cakes and cream teas at Lavender Tearoom, Hexton Village Hall. Thankfully the ladies agreed to serve us though we arrived at just about closing time. What a great end to the day! Thanks to members Mary, Emma, Nathalie, Ian M, Monica T, Marin, Rodica, Derek, Avril and Claire for joining me and making this such an enjoyable day.
Report by Deirdre
They took the high road! - Photo by Deirdre
Group photo - Photo by Ian
Some shade! - Photo by Deirdre
Early lunch - Photo by Deirdre
Hiding from the midday sun - Photo by Deirdre
At one with nature - Photo by Deirdre
A carpet of bluebells - Photo by Deirdre
Three counties - Photo by Deirdre
Enjoying the view - Photo by Deirdre
There go the Red Arrows - Photo by Deirdre
Maybe 4 counties (+ Cambridgeshire?) - Photo by Deirdre
A group of 16 people started the journey from South Kenton station. We were blessed with good weather. Henrik, Avril, Derek and I were at the front leading the group and Paul and his bike at the back of the group, keeping the group entertained. Thank you for all your help on the day.
We walked through Preston Park and climbed up Barn Hill. Enjoyed great the view of Wembley Stadium. We took a group photograph behind lovely white blossom hedges and passed through Fryent Country Park. We visited the 12th century St Andrew's Church. We enjoyed walking through Welsh Harp reservoir, some of us took photos of those sailing boats and discussed the topic of sailing and cruise holidays. We ended Section 10 at Hendon Park and took a lunch break. Some of us went to Hendon Central for lunch and some of us enjoyed a packed lunch in the park. Three people said farewell and the rest headed for the next section. To our surprise we thought we would be walking through a concrete jungle, but no the walk was so pleasant and we passed through a small green oasis and then through a wild garlic field. Enjoyed the conversation of making garlic butter using wild garlic. We passed by some very expensive houses with lovely front gardens. We said adios to 1 person at East Finchley.
We entered 28 hectares of ancient Highgate Woods which probably date back to the last ice age. Adored the water from the drinking fountain. 2 more said goodbye to head to enjoy tea and cake at the eco-house and the remaining 10 headed for Queen's Wood. Upon arriving at Highgate station, instead of taking a replacement bus service, we decided to walk a further 1 mile to Archway station. Paul mentioned an interesting fact about that famous suicide bridge, where we uttered goodbye to him and his bike, leaving the remaining 9 at Archway station.
Report by Pushpa
23 of us gathered in Ambleside for the early May bank holiday break. The hostel is located on the lakeside and our dorms had a great view across Windermere towards the Fells. On Friday the early arrivals did a scenic walk from town to the Stock Ghyll waterfalls. There are several falls cascading down the wooded ravine. New member Sarah climbed a branch above the waters for photos. Back at hostel most of the group met up for dinner in the hostel restaurant bar beside the lake.
On Saturday Mike, Cathy, Bev and Archie went to Rydal and Grasmere for a Wordsworth literary walk. The rest of the group took advantage of the sunny weather to complete the Fairfield Horseshoe circuit, an 11 mile climb via 8 peaks from Rydal back to Ambleside. Last week's snow had covered all ground over 300m so our hike was more difficult than normal due to the deep snow on the ascent. Stan was the very diligent back marker as the group stretched out on the tough ascent. We made it to the summit of Fairfield (870m) for a lunch stop with perfect views on this day of sunny clear blue skies. The snow covered fells had an Alpine aspect in front of the Irish Sea clearly visible on the horizon. Our descent was quite tricky with the waters of the melting snow adding to the slush on the rocks making all steep sections very slippery. We had a 3m sheer drop to overcome to everyone's surprise (forgot to follow Wainwright's tip about a detour). Below the snowline the day was really warm and sunny. Brian ran the last mile to reach the Giggling Goose tea shop just in time to order for all, we enjoyed a spiffing late afternoon tea in the waterside garden of the tea rooms. In the evening Steve arranged a group meal at the Thai Palace restaurant before Leo led us to a pub with live music from a Tim Healey sound alike.
On Sunday the day was overcast and damp so we did various routes, Steve led a 15 mile walk with Nrinder and Stan. The walk started from the hostel in Ambleside following the road for a mile or so to Clappersgate. Then a cycle path along the River Brathay west to Skelwith Bridge where he headed south on the Cumbria Way past Tarn Hows taking in a mix of woods and gentle hills. Drizzle and rain all day so not a day for having your heads in the clouds! Lunch was at Coniston before heading north eastish along footpaths, country roads and more woods before rejoining part of our river path out to get back to Ambleside. Cornelia led the new members on a walk into Langdale valley for lunch at a great inn with wood fires to dry out. Paul, Bev and the boys took the ferry from next to the hostel to the wooded western shore of Windermere to explore the forest trails. Monica led a hike with Nirav, Jacqueline and Liz to the Stock Ghyll falls and the Jenkins crag viewpoints. The rest hired bikes at Broxhole, loaded them on the bike boat to the Ferry House quay for an off road bike day. We passed Beatrix Potter house with the crowds before climbing to Eshthwaite Water and lunch at another welcoming inn at Hawkshead. Leo entertained the locals with some tall tales by the wood fire. Our descent back to Windermere was a fast off-road trail, with Jeff showing prowess at negotiating the fast turns. In the evening Monica kindly cooked a meal for those at the hostel while most dined out at the stylish Zefferellis cinema restaurant. Mike and Cathy discovered another music venue where we gathered later to see the traditional pub drama with 2 locals being barred by the no-nonsense landlord.
On Monday a few did the lakeside walk passing the remains of the Roman fort of Galava. Others crossed Windermere to walk to Wray Castle with its impressive location on a crag dominating the lake. As the morning turned very sunny Dean led a few of us south to Bowness for a boating expedition across Windermere. As we looked north it was surprising that just 2 days later the deep snow had virtually all melted on the hills. We arrived back on shore for a final cream tea at Bowness to celebrate our latest visit to the Lakes.
Report by Brian
Waterfall walk - Photo by Brian
View from hostel - Photo by Brian
Open-top bus to Rydall - Photo by Brian
Rydall Water - Photo by Brian
First stop on ascent - Photo by Brian
Steve's view waiting at first stop: Heron Pike - Photo by Steve
Big Foot meets Snow White? - Photo by Steve
Nrinder, Sarah and others descending at Rydal Head - Photo by Steve
Reaching snowline - Photo by Brian
Tough climb in snow - Photo by Brian
Fairfield summit - Photo by Brian
Riverside tea shop - Photo by Brian
Drinks by lakeside - Photo by Brian
Leo races through ford - Photo by Brian
Wray Castle - Photo by Brian
Many thanks to Olive, Ana, Mark, Shane, Viven, Paul, Zoe and Adrian for joining the walk. The weather was fine apart from one or two occasions when it threatened to rain. It was rather windy at times. We headed along the Thames and a short step climb from Petersham Meadows up to Richmond Gate. We expected to see some deer but they were nowhere to be found. Lots of people were out jogging and training probably for the London Marathon. We headed off to Pen Ponds where there were some interesting waterfowl - great crested grebes. A short tour of Isabella Plantation followed, and some azaleas were out but the camelias were past their best. Still the pond had some good colours and some took pictures of the pond with the azaleas and their reflection in the pond. At lunch at Pembroke Lodge there was plenty of seating and some nice views too. Olive dropped out after lunch as she lives in Ham. We gained Mark after lunch, having caught us up with his bike. He was very determined to join the group and had been circling around the park looking for us. We still had 9 in tow after lunch and headed to White Lodge with its brief history of the film 'Billy Elliot'. Just before heading to East Sheen Meadows we saw lots of deer - most unusual as they were red deer and not fallow deer which are the norm in Richmond Park. We did not see any fallow deer. The red deer were a treat. Hope all enjoyed the day, and hope to see you all again.
Report by Monica
Three of us set off at 10am. The rain had started and the weather for the day looked bad. So we decided to make it a bit of a challenge and set a good pace. We reached the canal within an hour and pushed on up through the lanes and bridleway to Felden where we stopped for lunch before 1pm. With 10 miles completed and refuelled we set off again heading along the Chiltern Way. The footpaths were muddy so we slithered along. The rain stopped for the last few miles and good weather broke out. We got back to Sarratt at 3:10pm. It was a good 16 mile leg stretcher, thanks to Steve R and Nik for joining me on a good day out with great conversation topics.
Report by Ian
The title is appropriate - it was indeed a much enjoyed weekend - thanks to Amanda, Emma, Karen, Monica, Ian and Paul for joining me in this adventure.
The Ffos Y Ffin cottage is well hidden within the rolling Welsh hills and the whole area is as remote as it can be on this island. The nearest pub was about half an hour's pleasant walk over the hills in Llanbister. The atmosphere was welcoming and the food was average on Friday and surprisingly good on Saturday.
When we woke up on Saturday morning it was snowing the way you would like it to on Christmas Day. Fortunately, by the time Paul finished his breakfast the snowstorm had stopped and the sun had started to shine. Which fortunately it did for the whole weekend there.
The Saturday walk (circular, west of Llanbister) was challenging in a way I did not expect - apart from Glyndwr's Way which is a National Trail which we followed for about 2 miles in total, most of the routes marked on the OS map are not marked and not maintained - in some parts the GPS confirmed we were on the actual route but there was no way of recognising it on the terrain. The GPS helped, but the up and downs of the hills, the mud and the overgrown vegetation slowed us down, so after 2/3 of the walk a democratic decision was made to cut it short, so we did only 17 miles in total including the walk to the pub and back. On Sunday we did a 10 mile circular walk to the east of the cottage, again on routes marked only on the map, but much easier to navigate. Both walk offered amazing views over never-ending hills inhabited apparently only by sheep. We only met 2 local walkers in the whole weekend - two men with their dogs.
The area has so much to offer for someone wanting to walk and relax far from the noise of the city - I hope I will come back some day.
Report by Marin
8 of us met at 10:00am on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning in Upper Shirley to start walking another section of the London Loop. After a short wait for the 9th person, we headed off, and fairly soon a short climb took us to a viewing platform on Addington Hills, which afforded good views of Canary Wharf, central London and Wembley Stadium. The walk then took us along Vanguard Way, through Selsdon Wood and later along the edge of Kings Wood.
After passing through Hamsey Green we reached Riddlesdown Common. As this was around the half-way point of the walk, we decided to look for a suitable spot to stop for lunch, and one of the group spotted a suitably-sized picnic bench. Unfortunately this was in a rather exposed location on the common and the chilly winds decided to pick just as we sat down, and the sun went in, so packed lunches were consumed more hastily than you might normally expect.
After lunch we carried on, crossing Kenley Common and Coulsdon Common, where we decided to stop for a mid-afternoon drink. This turned out to be a little more leisurely than anticipated due to the exceptionally poor bar service in the pub.
Eventually suitably refreshed, we were pleased to walk through Happy Valley before climbing up on to Farthing Downs, which gave us more good views as we headed towards Coulsdon South where we managed to reach the station just in time to catch the train home.
Thanks to Bertrand, Claire, Daniel, Dave S, Efisia, Emma, Jane and Nathalie for joining me.
Report by Phil
View from Addington Hills - Photo by Jane
Wood anemones in flower - Photo by Jane
Group photo - Photo by Jane
Heading down into Coulsdon - Photo by Phil
18 of us met at Beaconsfield on a sunny warm Saturday for the anniversary walk. The occasion attracted 2 esteemed leaders of other outdoor groups, Geoff and Rob, who joined us to celebrate the group's 80th anniversary. We also had many new members coming along for their first event. The route showed off the splendours of the Chiltern hills with a long morning climb through beech woods with viewpoints along the way. Rob (cartographer and geologist) outlined the geology of the hills and how they were formed. On the bridleways several horse riding groups passed us and Sandra explained about the equestrian tradition in the area.
We reached the very picturesque village of Chalfont St Giles around midday. The golden daffodils were in full bloom on the village green and lawns of the village. Passing the house of John Milton we found ourselves in the village centre where we were spoiled for choice as the village has 3 fine inns, bakers and a village store. Humay and Mark led some new members into the beer garden of the Merlin's Cave for lunch whilst the rest stocked up at the bakers for our picnic on the green by the duck pond. Geoff entertained us with several tales about ex members whilst Jeff added some more observations about the history of HAWOG. The afternoon saw us hike along the very scenic Misbourne valley trail. Sheep and cattle grazed leisurely in the warm afternoon sun on route and Etienne and Victoria stopped to feed some horses by the riverside.
We continued west via a heritage trail to reach Jordan's hostel. The timber building with hanging baskets looked splendid and we stopped for water and to reminisce about the HAWOG connections. Steve found a framed photo and memorial poster about Reg Dean, an intrepid HAWOG member who achieved 4000 overnight stays encompassing every hostel in the UK. We walked through the grounds to enter the famous Jordan's meeting house, founded in 1687 and associated with William Penn. We were welcomed by one of the Friends, who guided us around the mansion into the wood-panelled meeting room itself. She outlined the principles of the Quaker religion and its philosophy. We were then served with tea and biscuits in the house to celebrate our anniversary and HAWOG's work at the hostel over the years. After tiffin we continued the walk back to Beaconsfield for the train back to London after a very enjoyable walk in this historical part of the Chilterns.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Climb at start - Photo by Brian
Chalfont church - Photo by Brian
Merlin's Cave - Photo by Brian
Picnic by duck pond - Photo by Brian
Misbourne valley trail - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Jordans - Photo by Brian
Outside meeting house - Photo by Brian
Inside Jordans meeting room - Photo by Brian
Jordans was the favourite YHA hostel of Reg Dean, one of our group's most dedicated members. He wrote this article for us - Photo by Steve
The magnificent 17 arrived at historic Totnes in Devon in dribs and drabs on Thursday with a couple of stragglers taking their time and arriving Friday. After finding that the castle didn't open until Good Friday a few retired to the Tangerine Dream café, followed by a dash to a local hostelry to hear stories of smuggling and rum running on Thursday night. Mike S managed to get up close and personal with the locals when he hitchhiked a lift home in the rain, and a very friendly young lady offered him hospitality in her car. But then dropped him off at the hostel.
With Tim and Wilbert arriving on Friday, half of us took advantage of the fabulous sunshine to glide the 9 miles along the coast from Paignton to Brixham, taking in fish and chips, a fabulous ferry back to Torquay, finishing off with a fast sprint to catch the train home. Jeff managed to arrive back in Paignton before anyone, despite not knowing that we were racing for the bus! The hardy bunch crossed the moors at Dartmoor, a glorious 12 mile circular walk. Brian, Renee, Monica, Sandra, Louise and Elena climbed 4 hills and neolithic stones, returning via a waterfall and rapids for a cream tea at Ivybridge. Martina, Chris and Liane went wild in the country with thrills and spills in the wild west country park.
On Saturday, rain did not stop play. Several people took advantage of the finally-open castle, and the Dart steam railway to Buckfast Abbey. After participating in the famous tonic liqueur, made famous with winos in Glasgow, everyone was full of vim and vigour. The very keen on the other hand travelled 10 miles along the Dart Valley trail, passing the glorious Sharpham vineyard, and engaging in two pubs and one tea room due to excessive dampness as expected in a beautiful riverside woodland path. Daffodils and snowdrops produced several renditions of the lovely Dana. Much Easter cake was consumed by all. Martina et al participated in the round robin extravaganza of steam train, ferry and bus to make sure all possible travel options were fully explored and repleted. After dinner in the Steam Packet, several music lovers attended Andy Kershaw's fusion night at the art centre, whilst the less cultured took in the delights of 80s karaoke night at the Seven Stars, despite it being a private party. Wilbert was rescued from being locked outside the hostel by use of mobile phone and climbing over the wall.
Sunday brought the sad departure of Sarah and Sandhu, and Wilbert. The remainder took the ferry to Dartmouth, walking back the other way along the 12 mile Dart Valley Trail. Renee managed to persuade a local cream tea shop to reopen its doors for sustenance. Mary and Jan took the tonic at Buckfast Abbey and resisted the urge to join the monastery despite the fantastic homity pies offered in the café. Monica provided curries for 6 back in the sparsely provided hostel kitchen. Tim and Rachel managed to debate the range of ales without a fight, despite this being Devon.
Monday brought a trip around Narnia (a museum with eclectic taste in artifice, including Hitler's errie, homages to WW2 with air raid shelter, 50s B movies and other themed rooms). People eventually emerged from the 17th century house via its tunnel for full organic English breakfast before winding our way home.
Many thanks to the following for such a memorable and joyful start to 2016's holidays: Martina, Daniel, Christine, Mary, Liane, Sarah, Louise, Simran, Elena, Monica, Nirav, Wilbert, Mike S, Jeff, Sandra, Brian G, Wilbert and Tim.
Report by Jan
Start of Torbay walk - Photo by Brian
Climb to Brixham - Photo by Brian
Brixham walk steps - Photo by Brian
First summit - Photo by Brian
Moors trail - Photo by Brian
Busy on Dartmoor - Photo by Brian
Picnic on Dartmoor - Photo by Brian
Cream teas after Dartmoor - Photo by Brian
Meal at Steampacket - Photo by Brian
Loco arriving - Photo by Brian
Narnia museum - Photo by Brian
River cruise - Photo by Brian
Stepping stones on trail - Photo by Brian
Views over River Dart - Photo by Brian
Dart valley railway - Photo by Brian
Totnes hotel - Photo by Brian
The forecast was 16-19 but in fact it hit 28C on two days. The first day was food shopping and settling in to the apartment with a nice glass of red wine on the balcony, for all except a feral truant mobile phone which enjoyed the journey so much it wanted another plane ride but fortunately it was rescued before the end of the day. A wander about town later on took in a Spanish galleon and sights of the Santa Barbara castle, and no we did not walk up to it instead saved our legs for the next day.
Easy first day was a hike up to Calpe rock although we first spotted a very nice promontory somewhere along the way which we could not resist taking a hike out to. Calpe rock is a nature reserve with a couple of water springs and a partially complete 12th century fort at the case, there were numerous viewing points on the way up lined with pine trees, lavender and various other ground growths of which I have little knowledge, along with small lizards, with spectacular views and then came the tunnel, lined with ropes to keep you on your feet on the smooth limestone floor opening out into the way up. More ropes greeting up at the other end of the tunnel until we traversed to the guard post vantage point, viewing area out at the furthest tip stopping for lunch in splendid weather and surroundings with hungry gulls nearby waiting for an opportunity to poach some grub. Then onwards and upwards to the cima / peak where we were greeted by wild cats and more hungry gulls, the cats seemed more humble and so more deserved so I fed a kitten a piece of mini frankfurter (and it seemed strangely familiar with the taste; a large cat then came for a nibble, gently sauntering over to my outstretched hand holding a long thin frankfurter and suddenly gobbled it all down - greedy sod!).
Day two hiking was to Sierra De La Pila mountain starting out from the lovely La Garapacha 4* hostel - it was a scorcher of a day and as we ventured up into the pine forest above the town we saw strange looking nests in the trees - processionary caterpillar nests, which spit out a very unpleasant foam which we were keen to avoid. Onwards and upwards we soon (well not so soon) exited the pine forest onto a track where we stopped for refreshments and a snack before heading for the summit at 1264 meters where we were greeted by spectacular views from two peaks, before heading down the easy but longer undulating path through varied scenery back to town 7km, where we enjoyed very welcome refreshments.
The third hike - surprisingly the big one although it was supposed to be a day of rest with an easy path from 1010m to 1356m in Font Roja national park; alas it was not to be as the forestry had other plans and had shut the road; not to worry, we topped up our water on another ex-scorchio of a day and headed out from as close as we could get - 5 km across the top ridge across varied terrain, some like coral, some wooded paths and other limestone ridges, with panoramic views all the way. After a long slog we reached the summit and agreed to trot down to Font Roja church, information centre and fresh water fountain where we enjoyed refreshments at Masia La Mota mountain restaurant before heading back up and down to the start point. Helluva hike, returned to the car in fading light, some say darkness but I have good rods.
Next day was planned to be some sea caves for a picnic and an optional potter up Montgo but the Easter traffic was too much so we had lunch, a nice mixed seafood and chicken paella by the beach and onto another for some sunbathing followed by a coastal walk around a marine and nature reserve - Cabo Huertas, from San Juan to Albuferetta.
Last day hiking, the icing on the cake and the toughest hike of them all, the 6600 steps of the Vall de Lugar setting out from Fleix where we were surprised to find the car park full and then noted a traditional live band and local food available, of which we partook; so now the adventure begins down and up 4 gorges during the day, into prehistoric caves and immensely beautiful landscapes with each valley home to different flora and fauna, we passed and stopped by a very old hand-pumping water well and another which dated back to Roman times, it really was a glorious day and while we soldiered up the last few steps we saw another mountain same distance up again above and felt a little disheartened until we saw a village along the plateau - phew and as we strolled along a mountain track to the village we heard more jolly music this time an open air disco with food and drink, we happened upon a mountain party in Benimaurell at 700m, it was essential that we stretched our legs after a long day out so we did and partied on.
Report by Leo
It was indeed hilly around Hambleden, as the walk title suggested. But this did not deter our merry group. Twelve of us met in the car park behind the Stag and Huntsman pub.
The cool morning helped as we attacked Red Hill heading north west into the woods. Onwards towards Bosmore Farm, resting briefly to take in the views. As per the forecast the sun broke through the clouds, which, along with the numerous daffodils, made us feel that spring had truly arrived. We descended through the woods towards Stonor where a number of us were nearly flattened by mountain bikers. All we heard was a loud crunching sound as they hit their brakes. Claire was ready to do battle with her walking pole! Good job they rode off at speed...
Beyond Stonor we joined part of the Chiltern Way and then the Oxfordshire Way before arriving at Pishill for lunch. Some of the group ate in the churchyard, others went to the nearby Crown Inn. We all then met at the pub before heading off. North and east towards Turville Heath and a steady ascent. We paused yet again to admire the view down the valley looking towards Southend. I think most agreed that the day was all about the fantastic views, in fact, Mary gave the walk 5 stars! The last section took us up to Great Wood and then back down into Hambleden.
This was a really enjoyable walk, one which I will certainly do again. A big thank you to all who attended and respect to the young lady who managed the route after having spent the previous day watching the rugby drinking beer in a pub!
Thank you: Claire, Deirdre, Emma, Mary, Rodica, Olive, Daniel, Maciek, Marin and Paul.
Report by Mike D
Nine of us - Anna, Anna, Anne, Marion, Daniel, Jurand, Michal, Sam and myself met at Uxbridge station last Sunday at 10:00am for my first "guiding" walk. At the outset may I say that all the walkers I met on this venture were so pleasant and helpful.
Starting at the Frays River we got as far as the Aldergate Nature Trail when Brigitta called to say that she, Etienne and Jeff were waiting for us at the Swan and Bottle. Anne went back to lead the latecomers - thanks Anne! The rest of us proceeded more slowly through Uxbridge Common, over the A40 and into Swakeleys Park. Anne's group caught up with us by the River Pinn and we followed the river for a while. Crossing two roads we reached Ruislip Woods where we picked up the Hillingdon Trail.
Brigitta and Jeff left us on the far side of the woods. The Trail brought us in to Harefield. We had our lunch stop at "The Harefield" pub. The food and drink were fine and the staff were excellent. Marion left us after lunch to return home to Rickmansworth. Resuming our journey we soon emerged to a stunning view of the Colne Valley lakes. Shortly afterwards we reached Black Jack's Lock on the Grand Union Canal and took the towpath to Uxbridge. We stopped briefly at the Wide Water Lock where Etienne left us to catch a train from Denham to Marylebone. Passing the Denham tea rooms we soon reached the Swan and Bottle, Uxbridge and reached the station at 4:00pm.
The day was fine and sunny - walking conditions excellent apart from the Ruislip Woods which were a bit mucky. Once again thanks to everyone for their kindness.
Report by Steve T
Only three including me at start for this 19 mile walk. We headed north east to St Mary the Virgin church at Radnage, from there south east for a short distance before south west over the A40 and M40 and into Penley Wood. Away from the two main roads we could hear the quiet and enjoy some uninterrupted views of countryside without roads or cars.
South then to Ibstone and into Parsonage Wood where the lovely unexpected mild and sunny weather in morning had turned to cloudy and hail stones. Broadly south again took us to our lunch stop, The Barn at Turville Heath. Open and busy, run by a farmer, offering teas, cake, soup, goulash and a few other basics at very reasonable prices, and you can eat your own lunch there too. Worth a visit if you're on a walk or bike ride in the area; very little else.
My two comrades took a more direct route back after lunch, meaning an increase in pace for those of us left to complete the full 19 miles (only me!). Route south west a little more turning north ish past Turville Park Farm and then a lovely wooded valley through Fire Wood. East through Shotridge Wood then north at the Wormsley Estate to Wellground Farm where I stopped for refreshments. From there up through Bowley's Wood following north east paths to Stokenchurch. Afternoon weather a mix of sun and cloud, I was back at my car at 17:05.
Thanks to Marin and Ian (prospective member) who completed about 15 miles including quite a few ascents; well done guys.
Report by Steve R
Our first ascent, clear as mud from my phone camera - Photo by Steve
Morning view towards West Wycombe, far in the distance - Photo by Steve
One for the bonfire, now where's the other one... - Photo by Steve
The only photo when Steve is in second place - Photo by Marin
The shiny work of a local farmer - Photo by Marin
... and his small implement - Photo by Marin
Blending into the scenery - Photo by Marin
... at high speed (I don't dare to imagine his speed after lunch) - Photo by Marin
Getting farther and farther away - Photo by Marin
Locals enjoying early spring (not sure they know how early Easter is this year) - Photo by Marin
Even farther away - Photo by Marin
I'm smiling because I'm leaning on the pole - Photo by Marin
Afternoon view towards Stoner - Photo by Steve
You don't want that bird to look at you! - Photo by Marin
Waving at the leader, left 4 miles behind - Photo by Marin
Paul, Michael, Claire, bambi Jackie and I started the walk in Canons Park and as no-one apart from my cute little friend and I had ever seen Bentley Priory before, it gave me great pleasure to walk through it once more. The three loved it and even more so the lovely lunch we all much enjoyed in The Hare pub. Good food, good conversation, good company. All three aspects of importance met! After the well-deserved break we made our way towards Harrow through Oxhey Lane and enjoyed the afternoon sun as well as the great views over Harrow in the distance. We look forward to Claire joining us in the near future. See you all again sometime this year.
Report by Brigitta
Anna, Keith, Gareth and Marin joined me at the start in Kings Langley. We set off at a good pace along the country lanes to Felden. After a tea break we headed out into the countryside on the Chiltern Way footpath to Bovingdon. At Bovingdon the sun came out giving us false hope and after 10 minutes it disappeared. We lunched in the woods to shelter from the wind. The conversation was lively with the effect on the price of turnips if Europe split being discussed and at one stage Charles Manson was mentioned, VAT and other topics kept us entertained on the hoof. We stopped for five minutes at a pond in Chipperfield woods to relax and take in the view. Then we headed back to Kings Langley over the rolling countryside on the Hertfordshire Way. We reached the end just after 2pm and had a post-walk drink in the Old Palace. This was Gareth's first walk with the group. He left us towards the end of the walk to go and watch his football team. It was good to see old faces again and meet new ones. Thanks for coming, hope you join me on my next walk.
Report by Ian
9 of us met at Malden Manor for this stretch of the London Loop. We walked along stretches of rivers Hogsmill and Crane, suburban streets and through Bushey Park - the highlight in terms of views. We passed a number of interesting historical sights including the Coronation Stone (where the first English king was crowned), one of oldest bridges across the Thames and gunpowder towers. Though there were some muddy sections, we were lucky to have a dry and mild day for the walk with some bursts of sun.
Thank you to Anna, Keith, Jane, Emma, Phil, Nathalie, Dave and Stan for making it an enjoyable day.
Report by Efisia
7 of us arrived in Surrey for the first new members walk of the year. We set off through Milford village before entering the heathlands of the Surrey Hills. The area is mostly owned by the National Trust as this is where it was founded. The expanse of heather stretched to the horizon as we headed south. We had to divert away from some tracks due to waterlogged sections. Monica identified several birds seen amidst the heathland. We made it to the Three Horseshoes at the very picturesque village of Thursley. We found a table here for lunch to shelter from the drizzle. We then explored the 12th century village church and passed several manorial estate houses in the village.
We next headed south via the byway track to the east of the Devils Punchbowl. The Punchbowl is a remarkable natural highland basin which has been attracting ramblers for centuries. Some horse riders trotted past on the ascent to the summit. This eastern ascent is a new trail which in part follows the former A3 trunk road (now diverted via a tunnel) which has now been reclaimed by nature. At Gibbets Hill viewpoint we took in the views towards Box Hill and the South Downs in the distance. We continued on the new sustrans route around the rim of the Punchbowl with views across the thickly forested interior including the Hindhead hostel.
We reached the welcoming National Trust café before descending along the Greensand Way to Haslemere and the train back to London. New potential members Adam, Vish and Claus joined full members Jolanta, Deirdre, Monica and Brian today.
Report by Brian
Start of evening - Photo by Brian
Nathalie prepares pancakes - Photo by Brian
More arrivals - Photo by Brian
On a cold morning in February I was met at Great Missenden station by 7 enthusiastic hikers. Only 1 was a familiar face, but I was pleased that there were 5 potential members.
Despite the cold, the sun was shining brightly as we set off through a somewhat slippery muddy path leading out of town. We were rewarded for braving the cold by great views from the many hillsides we climbed up. After leaving Bryant's Bottom we had a well-earned mid-morning tea break in Piggott's Wood.
Late morning we reached Bradenham and I realised that the 14 miles which I had planned were going to be exceeded if we followed the route I had in mind. After discussion, everyone agreed that we would carry on with the proposed route nevertheless. After another great view from near Slough Hill we pressed on to Bledlow Ridge. Packed lunchers sat on benches outside the church, whilst the pub contingent went into The Boot.
I had hoped for another great view from Lodge Hill, but sadly there were too many trees between us and the view. Then via Hemley Hill and Loosley Row to Lacey Green. At this stage the people with GPS announced that we had covered 14 miles. My legs agreed with the GPS. We had made good speed over fairly tough terrain. As we were at a bus stop 2 people decided to wait for a bus. The rest of us continued via Hamden Common and Denner Hill back to Great Missenden. We made a cracking pace and arrived back at the station at 5.20pm, having covered 20 miles.
Well done to everyone for covering the course at an impressive pace, and apologies to those who had to leave before the end of a longer-than-anticipated route.
Thanks to Darek, Maciek, Marcia, Morgan, Souvik, Harry and familiar face, Phil.
Report by Paul
A sunny morning walking away from Great Missenden - Photo by Paul
Sorry we're not stopping here (Bryant's Bottom) - Photo by Paul
Yes (and not sorry) we are stopping here (Piggott's Wood) - Photo by Paul
Eight of us enjoyed a wintery weekend in the Peak District, staying at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall.
On Saturday, we completed a 12/13 mile hilly walk (with a shorter option at ~9 miles). The route started at the hostel and quickly ascended to the top of the Great Ridge at Back Tor. We then walked along the Great Ridge to Hollins Cross and the windy summit of Mam Tor. We continued on high ground along Rushup Edge, with beautiful views of the Peak District hills on either side. At the end of the ridge we found a sheltered hollow for lunch. Starting out after lunch we joined the Pennine Bridleway travelling South East past Perryfoot, where we separated into two groups. Two of us enjoyed a walk past Eldon Hill quarry, and the rest took a longer route continuing on the Pennine Bridleway and then joining the Limestone Way. Everyone met up again on the Limestone Way near Castleton, in the deep gorge of Cave Dale, with views of Peveril Castle. Despite the wet, rocky path, no-one slipped up and we reached Castleton and then the hostel with plenty of time to relax before dinner at the local pub.
On Sunday, Valentines day, we woke to a beautiful blue sky and took the cars to the car park at Curbar Edge to start a 7/8 mile walk. The first part of the walk was along Curbar Edge and Froggatt Edge. Curbar Edge was very chilly in the wind (as an indication of how cold it was, Steve had to wear his long trousers). The mixture of colours of foliage, silver birch trees and the gritstone rocks on Froggatt Edge with wide views of the sky and Peak hills was great to see and a wonderful way to spend Valentines day. After Froggatt Edge we took a route downhill through a wooded valley filled with birdsong and had a packed lunch in a memorial park next to the River Derwent at Grindleford. The afternoon route followed close to the River Derwent on the Derwent Valley Heritage Way, passing through the village of Froggatt and Calver Mill. A valiant few walked back up the steep hill to the cars at Curbar whilst the rest enjoyed some time in a Curbar pub. The only snow of the weekend was a few flurries in our last hour in the Peak.
Thanks to Nihaad, Anna, Nathalie, Keith, Steve, Emma and Maria for joining me on this weekend and helping by leading a longer route on Saturday (Steve), taking photos, lending me their walking poles on slippery bits, etc.
Report by Carol
The Great Ridge - Photo by Anna
Admiring the views of the Peak District - Photo by Anna
Limestones and a bit of blue sky - Photo by Anna
Peveril Castle - Photo by Anna
Curbar Edge - Photo by Anna
Smiles on a very fine day - Photo by Anna
Froggatt Edge - Photo by Anna
Wide open skies - Photo by Anna
Curbar Edge in the distance - Photo by Anna
A last minute treat of snow - Photo by Anna
Deirdre and I started our walk on a fine windy afternoon. We took the Capital Ring footpath heading to Harrow-On-The Hill. Walking up the slippery muddy path we came across young Harrow public schoolboys dressed in their posh suits. We visited St Mary's Church and admired its rich history. We enjoyed great views of London and Greenford from the top of the Hill. Coming down the Hill we came across two young boys covered in mud from head to toe carrying a winning cup, I wish that I had taken their picture, I suppose that I was too busy watching them walk past us. We strolled past the Hill's pretty shop and admired their game of monopoly based on the famous Harrow School. We walked through Barham Park, which was once the grounds of Crab's House, passed on to the citizens of Wembley in 1937. Walking on we came across the Shree Sanatan Hindu Temple, which has taken so far £16m to build, and is still under construction. Located on 2.4 acres of land, it was built using ancient techniques used in Hindu scripture and lacks a metal core. The beautifully carved temple is made up of mixed stones imported from all around India. Inside the temple it is beautifully decorated with mesmerising carving and has many Hindu idols. We walked through the streets of Little India admiring the colourful cloths and food on display. We were not so hungry, I had an Indian dinner to cook and Deirdre lovely fish to cook, so we headed home.
Report by Pushpa
We arranged our first training event of the year at a cold but dry Richmond Park. 8 members came along to learn map reading skills. We had a theory session at the ever popular Tide Tables café by the river. Then the new members took it in turn to lead the group, following the OS map, through Petersham into Richmond Park. The park today was busy with red and roe deer, cyclists and a drone hovering overhead. We practised route-finding skills to find the Pen Ponds, White Lodge and finally Roehampton cycle café (very good baguettes today). After lunch the other new members guided us back to Richmond village for the trains back.
Welcome to new members joining as full members today - Jane, Richard, Adam and Ranjit plus potential member Elitte with existing members Chris, Elena and Brian.
Report by Brian
Start of course - Photo by Brian
Viewpoint in park - Photo by Brian
We set off from Northolt at 09:30, headed to the Grand Union Canal by the A40, and headed in a easterly direction along the tow path. Along the way, we met a member of our amateur radio fraternity in his narrowboat, it's a matter of reading the wire antenna and how it is connected. Making our way into inner suburbia, on the way to Park Royal, it was definitely My Old Town (Tom Lehrer) as there was a dead cat floating in the canal before we arrived at Park Royal, the highlight of our day. However did not spot any floating bodies - well it's that sort of area!
We stopped off for a pot of tea at the Grand Union Junction pub to warm up and dry out. By the time we arrived at Kensal town, Nehaad was a little tired. We counted bridges to Westbourne Park and walked her to the station. Afterwards we bumped into member of the canal trust and warned them of the dead cat coming downstream toward them! At Little Venice, we had tea and cake on the floating cafe. At this point the Grand Union heads towards Paddington with the arm heading up to the Regents Canal via the subterranean tunnel under the A5. Then we made our way to Camden. Krisz quickened the pace, past London Zoo, and eventually to Camden Lock, where we looked around the food stalls and market. Mornington Crescent. We could not get on the tube at Camden Town! Thank you to newbie Nehaad and prospective Krisz for joining me on a 12-13 ish mile walk.
Report by David T
18 of us left Chorleywood station on Sunday morning, feeling lucky as the rain from the previous night was clearing up.
Yet these litres of rain the days before meant the theme of the walk was still water, in its avatars the puddles and the mud. From the very start near the train station, where we almost had to run to avoid cars splashing us; to the road walk to the pub, where (surprisingly, not so cheery) members found themselves walking in water that was several inches deep.
Walking up via Chorleywood golf course, then going across the Chess River, at this stage a narrow stream, we encountered our first proper ascent to Sarratt via Church End, on wet and green grass. In Sarratt we stopped for a group photo in front of the post office / convenience store. That was just after Mary had highlighted the cute duck house sitting in the middle of the village pond (story doesn't say whether it belonged to the local MP or not).
More wet lanes and muddy wood walks later, we continued our walk up north until we turned back south towards the valley, at the farm after Rosehall Wood. As we were going downhill, we were graced with some gentle rays of sun. Shortly thereafter we encountered the deepest puddles I've ever seen, which, as previously mentioned, did not make my fellow walkers very happy. Well, it all builds up your resistance doesn't it, and we're not made out of sugar, as my grandmother used to say.
Stopping for lunch in Chenies village, some had their packed lunch on the green, while others hunted for food at the nearest pub. We gathered outside the Bedford Arms, a lovely yet posh country pub, where tea and coffee is served in china cups. They had assured me, when I called beforehand, that they were a walker-friendly pub, but it seemed some customers looked at us funnily as we wandered around in our socks and walking gear. Ah, bah! The staff were very friendly, anyway.
After lunch, and as 4 left the group to head back early, we headed up back to the hills across the Chess, a route which gave us some of the most beautiful views you can find around London, in my opinion. Rolling hills for miles, the River Chess, now a wide stream, at our feet, cute sheep with their little black heads, and not a house in sight! After enjoying those valley views and going downhill again, time was pressing as it was getting darker. We agreed to shorten the route, and go back via Chesham station instead of Amersham as initially planned.
This final stop in Chesham gave us the opportunity to discover a lovely tea shop: The Drawing Room, set in a 16th century building, which served delicious cakes.
Thanks to (members) Claire, David H, Emma, Erika, Ian, Jeff, Mary, Merce and Phil, and (newcomers) Andre, Christine, Jill, Kate, Mark, Stanislav, Tyra and Vesna for joining me on what was an enjoyable 10.5 mile walk. For my first time leading a countryside walk, this was a great baptism of fire! Thanks in particular to Emma and Mary for their advice on navigation.
Report by Nathalie
Our first ascent - Photo by Phil
Beautiful views over the Chess Valley - Photo by Merce
The old-fashioned post office in Sarratt - Photo by Nathalie
Twelve of us set out from Old Amersham on a bright snow covered morning. Initially heading south and up onto the hills where we had stunning views back towards Amersham. The trees were worthy of any Christmas card.
On this occasion we were joined by two lovely people from New Zealand. The conversation naturally led to mountains, which, strangely Amersham seems to be lacking. Then of course sheep, again we lost out on numbers (Tim did produce a decent joke involving sheep shearing, ask Tim!). Interestingly, Kylie told me that access to rural areas in New Zealand is only possible in national parks, you are not able to wander over farm land. How fortunate we are.
Regardless of frost and snow the mud was ever present. We all battled on, slip sliding our way through various wooded sections, where the melting snow dripped from the trees at a rate almost like rain. I think we were all grateful for the pub stop at Winchmore Hill.
Once again HAWOG members contributed to a very enjoyable walk, as did the newcomers to the group.
Thanks to: Anna, Daniel, Emma, Humay, Kylie, Marion, Merce, Nathalie, Steve R, Steven R and Tim B.
Report by Mike
A white start - Photo by Anna
Icing sugar landscape - Photo by Anna
Dancing on ice - Photo by Anna
Huddling up for warmth - Photo by Anna
Sadly I missed out on the £33m Lotto win - Photo by Anna
Magical woods - Photo by Anna
Lovely winter scene - Photo by Anna
Locals wearing their winter woolies - Photo by Anna
Final stretch - Photo by Anna
10 of us met at Hemel Hempstead for what turned at to be a nice day with a little sunshine. We set off from Hemel Hempstead station with a slight hill climb before joining the Chiltern Way. Then things started to get a little muddy as we passed through the many muddy fields on route to Bovingdon. We then continued to join the Hertfordshire Way heading towards Chipperfield. We made very quick progress arriving at Chipperfield around 11:45.
It was very early so the Windmill pub appeared closed, but after much discussion and debating we ended up having a coffee and very leisurely lunch at another place called Blackwell's Cafe bar.
The group then continued through the village of Chapel Croft and then on to Scatterdells Wood. The paths here were a lot less muddy which was a relief for all. We then tool the path around Shendish Manor towards Apsley. After negotiating the busy supermarket area we found the canal towpath which we then followed to take us back to Hemel Hempstead.
Thanks to Pushpa, Emma, Debbie, Richard, Merce, Henrik, Anya, George and Daniel for joining the walk.
Report by Mark