Rain, sleet, snow and strong winds failed to prevent 4 intrepid souls from meeting at Chesham station for the annual post-Christmas walk (several others had not unexpectedly dropped out at the last minute). We headed off on time at 9:45am, heading east and then north east to Botley. We then headed north west to Lye Green, from where we walked up on to the ridge, to walk towards Hawridge. Normally we would admire the all-round views from the top of the ridge but on this day, all we really wanted to do was to complete the most exposed part of the walk and get out of the wind, snow and sleet.
After descending from the ridge, we headed south west towards Ballinger Common, passing through a Christmas tree plantation whose trees, for once, had some snow on them. It was at around this time that the snow and sleet finally stopped and the wind dropped, so we had our lunch break.
After lunch we continued towards Ballinger Column, but I missed a footpath. By the time I realised that we were now on a more direct route back to Chesham, none of seemed to mind that the walk would be slightly shorter than advertised. We reached Chesham at around 3:00pm, having covered 11.5 miles in some of the worst conditions that I've experienced for a few years. We stopped for coffee in the town to warm ourselves up a bit before heading home.
Thanks to Arlene, Maria and Viktor for joining me.
Report by Phil
Buffet is opened - Photo by Brian
More surprise guests - Photo by Brian
We set off from Chorleywood station just after 10:00am and were joined by the final two walkers once we got to the Cricket Club on Rickmansworth Road. We set off towards the Chess Valley and the first point of interest of the day was a group of llamas enjoying a bonfire. This route gives you great access to the river and it's always good to get up close and see how clean it is. We reached Chenies and took a route through some farmland west of the village. We reached the Red Lion at noon just as the first drops of rain came down. The pub has had a change of management after 28 years and a refurbishment. The new management were keen to talk about their plans for walking groups. Nine of us sat down to a full pub lunch and the remaining four were able to sit in the bar area and order food there.
Sasha was a worthy winner of the Christmas jumper prize. We all gathered back in the bar after our meals and a few had to depart early. Some hours later it was time to leave the comfort of the pub and the mulled wine and head out into the rain. It was three miles back to the station and I don't think we lost any time as the light was fading fast.
Thanks to Mick, Christophe, Nathalie, Jeff, Emma, Brian, Dean, Sasha, Meiyn, Rachel, Rob and Mike for joining me on the day. We completed the easy route of 9 miles and had a good time in the pub.
Report by Mary
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Llama paddock - Photo by Brian
Snowy ascent - Photo by Brian
Views over Chess valley - Photo by Brian
Jackie, Anna and Ingrid joined Carol, Lochlan and me for my eight mile Golden Leaves and Greys Court Walk yesterday. Temperature a touch warmer than had been during the week - when walking - and dry apart from misty rain at lunchtime.
We departed Henley train station then posh roads to Henley College where we picked up our main footpath following a valley to Greys Green and a short north to Greys Court National Trust for early lunch; we arrived at 11.30am. Tea, packed lunches and a look around the house followed for two hours before we headed north for part two of our walk through woods to Bix and Middle Assendon for our only ascent of the day.
Along the flat for a bit and then into Henley Park where Lochlan joined us on foot until the town. We were back at the train station just after 3.30pm and before the dark. Thanks to all for joining me.
Report by Steve
An intrepid band of 18 eager Christmas fans arrived at YHA Jordans on Friday. Keen cyclists Rob and Brian braved the dark Quaker village on their bikes. Ozzy Osbourne was a reported neighbour but there was no sign of any headless bats. Humay and Roger got the party started with the Ashes, with both cricket and real fires.
After tasting the delights of the bottles donated from Martina's school Christmas Fair, Mike S sadly missed the magnificent breakfast kindly magicked up on Saturday by Cathy, Lara and Kim. Despite being 'tired and emotional' he managed to make it out on the geocaching walk with 10 other eager Inspector Poirots. This turned into 8 miles, including scrambling and tree climbing. No stone was left unturned as the team solved the mysteries on their walks.
Four of us walked around wonderful Seer Green, Chalfont St Giles and St Peter, including the gallops for race horse training. We walked along the Chiltern Way through the Misbourne valley on the way back, managing 7 miles before the urge to go home and inspect the secret santa presents overwhelmed us.
Brian delighted us with apple pie and cream at the hostel and Lara cracked out the first mince pies of the season. Rachel's Mrs Santa delighted and confused young Daniel as he received so many extra special presents. Father Christmas arrived after the turkey vindaloo was hoovered up. His knee became more shaky as one by one the good girls and boys received their presents. Karaoke followed along with Rob's Irish coffees. Liane and Kim led the girls in a rousing version of Summer Nights, whilst Tim got friendly down in the sand. A minor fire took place which Cathy swiftly extinguished with a pint of beer. Nick and Tim were the terrible twins in matching jumpers with matching Jack Daniels.
On Sunday, Brian and Rob were joined by a mysterious man on a bike and spent the day cycling away from him via Chalfont Common, Chiltern Open Air museum (Victorian fair on that day) and Denham village. Jeff succumbed finally to the geocache bug and joined Martina et al on the serious hunt for extra points. Liane, Humay and Jan indulged our inner child on Bekonscot Model Village, ohhing and ahhing over the miniature circus and coal mine.
Thanks to everyone for sharing this fantastic weekend with us. HAWOG do Christmas like no one else can!
Report by Jan and Martina
Walk in Seer Green - Photo by Brian
Fancy dress time - Photo by Brian
Santa has arrived! - Photo by Brian
Group photo - Photo by Brian
The day started bright, cold and sunny - wonderful winter walking weather. Seven of us started out from Cowleaze Wood then emerged to traverse undulating hills and a pleasant woodland path. At this juncture Nick temporarily left us and said he'd join us later. We continued to skirt around the Wormsley Park estate through meadows with red kites keeping us company. A long path through majestic beeches at Shortridge Wood and we arrived at the Fox and Hounds pub in Christmas Common for some welcome refreshment.
Nick rejoined us having gone on a 21st century treasure hunt with his phone. I was disappointed to see he wasn't wearing an eye patch and a bandana. Given that we were a little behind schedule, we cancelled the picnic stop and surreptitiously ate our packed lunches in the pub garden. One of our party was a little under the weather and had been struggling to keep up so she took a short cut back to the car park. We continued on our way through more beech woods emerging to a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside and we stopped for a photo shoot. We then walked around the edge of Watlington Hill with its atmospheric yew trees till we descended and found the Ridgeway, an ancient path traversed by humans for the last 6,000 years. A last stretch through variable terrain and a final push up the last hill till we arrived back at the car park. A great Chilterns walk, fine weather and good company. Many thanks to all who participated.
Report by Tim
I would like to thank Basia, Caroline, Miyeon, Nathalie, Nicky and Rachel for joining me on the Chess Valley walk. Several participants were joining the group for the first time. I am happy if this walk helps recruit new members.
We started the walk on time at Chorleywood station, crossing Chorleywood Common until Chorleywood House Estate, a beautiful old mansion shared into apartments. Then we reached the Chess Valley, going from small woods to meadows. The Chess Valley is beautiful, with sheep, horses, farms, small bridges crossing the River Chess.
As it was raining, we decided to look for a pub. Therefore, the walk was diverted to Chenies to stop at the Red Lion pub. This is a nice pub with good food and good service. We spoke about the festive lunch walk planned in December. The festive lunch will take place in this pub. Some said they would be happy to join this walk.
It was too late to go to Chesham before darkness fell. It was still raining, so we decided to go back to Chorleywood. Following the railway, we crossed a beech tree wood with beautiful autumn colours. Despite the rain, everybody was happy to have joined this walk especially those coming for the first time.
Report by Christophe
11 of us met at the Ballot box pub at 10am but unfortunately it was closed until later. So after a short wait for the others in the freezing cold, we soon got warmed up heading up Horsenden Hill with all the lovely sights and views. Everyone got a go at finding a cache, even if they didn't want to - yes, I was in charge, you go, Basia and Jackie. There was a lovely well maintained path all around Horsenden Hill but no, Nick decided to take us through every ditch and bramble he could find. I think I need to increase the level of difficulty in future (smiley face).
We had done about 6 caches with great results when we reached the top of the hill. The views of london were amazing. We then headed down to the canal to catch some more and look at the lovely barges. Nick decided to give Bobby a wash and Daniel tried to give Nick a wash - oops! We then found an amazing cache that was made and fashioned by a cache owner. Rachael and I declined to touch it. Thank you Ruben for saving us damsels. We then headed back to the Black Horse pub for a lovely dinner.
Thank you Nick, Rachael, Harpreet, Amber, Ruben, Jackie, Basha, Mark P and Mark B who joined Daniel and me, and a special thanks to Bobby and Ellie.
Report by Martina
The day if a bit cold was super for walking, bright and blue. We met at Beaconsfield station, some having taken the train, some driving. We left on time and headed out of town by path and into the leafy woods of Netherlantis and Browns; the paths partly obscured by the carpet of golden leaves.
We skirted around the bottom of Coleshill towards Winchmore. This was our first encounter of a truly disappearing path, as the farmer had ploughed the field, the path nowhere to be seen. The problem was the woods at the other end. The farmer had put a sign saying no path, but we thought we knew better and lunged headlong into the woods. It took just a little adjustment and we were on our way again. A quick breather at Winchmore Hill and then onward through more woods to Penn Street where we had a welcome lunch break.
After our picnic lunch the task was to skirt around behind Penn House and into Common Wood. Always thinking of the dark evenings, we upped the pace a bit which was a good workout for the lungs as there were a few steep little climbs here. Colours beautiful. From Common Wood to Pugh's Wood, we were then striding across open farmland. It was then we got to 'The Fords'. Whoever named that knew a thing or two. Huge areas of deep boggy soggy porridgy mud. Very difficult to navigate and we had one tumble. Mick sat down where he shouldn't have, but he was none the worse for it, while the rest of us did manage to bypass some of it after that.
Believe it or not the path then took us down through a few more woods, some newly planted and on into Forty Green and back into Beaconsfield. Because everyone was experienced, we finished at 3:30pm, an hour ahead of schedule; and still daylight.
Thank you everyone for supporting me on the walk: Paul, Phil, Humay, Christophe, Mick, Mike D, Deirdre, Anne, Emma and Tracy.
Report by Claire
HAWOG cyclists joined the Ealing Cycle group on a sunny bracing Sunday morning. We took part in a historical tour around West London. The main features were Bedford Park Garden Suburb and Brentham Village area. Bedford Park is considered the world's first garden suburb and continues to retain its identity, community spirit and unique character bequeathed by the inspiration and genius of its original founder and architects.
We had a coffee break at a new park café in the area before taking in other parts of the borough on the way to Brentham. The Ealing group ride leader was a local historian who pointed out the various architectural styles in the garden suburbs and explained how the concept evolved over time. We finished at a pub in the Brentham area for a late lunch where we met by chance the local MP who may join us for a future event.
Report by Brian
Start in Ealing - Photo by Brian
Stop for views of Bedford Garden Suburb - Photo by Brian
Cycling through Brentham Garden Village - Photo by Brian
6 of us met on a beautiful sunny morning at Goring and Streatley station. We soon hit the Thames Path, which for 3.5 miles follows the river and affords views of large Edwardian houses with beautifully manicured lawns on the opposite bank.
Our first point of interest was the impressive Victorian railway bridge which carried Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway. We cut inland, still on the Thames Path, through woods with occasional glimpses of the Chilterns and the river on either side of us. We came across some sort of wartime pillbox with a series of roped swings where Deirdre accessed her inner child! We left the Thames Path at a war memorial. We then crossed a greater variety of terrain / landscape including fields and farmland with livestock, which put Claire on cow / bull alert (she became paranoid on Mike's walk last week as a couple of longhorned bulls barred our way!)
By now we were following the Chiltern Way through Collinsend Common and Goring Heath, affording us delightful views with autumn colours in evidence. As we reached Mapledurham village we caught sight of a couple of red kites. Mapledurham was a delight - the house (1580) was imposing, with its bricked facade and water mill. Sadly we came on the wrong day - open on Sundays and bank holidays only(!). Apologies to the others as I promised a tea stop in the house! We did manage to have a look inside the church before heading back to Witchurch and Pangbourne.
I would like to thank Deirdre, Claire, Christophe, Tina and Tope for joining me.
Report by Humay
A few extra miles for anyone who joined me on my walks as well as an extra hour for all on my youth hostelling weekend in Shropshire at Wilderhope Manor. Nineteen of us in total.
Saturday offered morning and afternoon walks, starting from and returning to Church Stretton, a lovely town a short drive from the manor. A brisk walk up the Long Mynd which offered no views as was foggy. But lovely views of the Shropshire Hills and then the town as we descended for lunch. Afternoon we ascended Caer Caradoc which was incredibly windy on top but we had the views. Then down to Comley, where some departed for the short cut to town, and five of us continued the full route to Cardington and then back to town for just after 5.30pm. The GPS said 17 miles, so a bit more than the amber intended. A few weary legs but well done to all who did the full monty.
Saturday evening, dinner at the hostel, some dressed for Halloween; some didn't need to. An evening of chat and drink.
Sunday, some went to Ludlow and its history. My walk was from the hostel, following a main path along the ridge taking in woods and down to lunch at Aston Munslow. Navigation was challenging in a few places when no signs of footpaths which the map and GPS said were there. So a detour from intended route. Then a rare event on my walks, a pub lunch! Two hours later we were on the march, a shorter route back to the hostel, but of course some ascent. A few managed a lift with a farmer in his carriage for the last field. Return just before the new dusk dawning at 5pm. Must have been 10+ miles, a bit more than the green intended. And I managed to carry my 10kg+ 16+ month old son Lochlan on the Sunday walk too. Not for much longer me thinks. Santa might bring him his first walking boots for Christmas; he already knows what a slacker is.
A cracking weekend, don't have the freedom now to do the 7 or 8 weekends away I did each year with HAWOG for many years, really enjoyed. We were lucky with the weather and the Shropshire Hills are stunning for walking.
Thanks to (girls) Emma, Jan, Lara, Maria, Martina, Mary, Nathalie and Rita and (guys) Brian, Daniel, David, Jeff, Nick, Paul, Rob and Rob W for joining Carol, Lochlan and me for the weekend.
Report by Steve
Spiral staircase up to dorms - Photo by Brian
Start of climb - Photo by Brian
Autumn colours - Photo by Brian
Afternoon teas - Photo by Brian
Views north from the summit - Photo by Brian
Steep descent with Steve in distance - Photo by Brian
Start of walk at front of the Manor - Photo by Brian
Ludlow Castle - Photo by Brian
We met at the café next to the main Burnham Beeches car park on a lovely autumn day for a combined walk with our friends in Plus. With Halloween coming up soon, it is lucky we were not superstitious, as there were 13 of us, and four dogs!
We walked through Burnham Beeches admiring the beautiful autumn colours and waterfowl on the lakes, and kicking the fallen leaves. Passing the iron age fort, the walk carried on out of Burnham Beeches across fields until we found the well-hidden Blackwood Arms where we enjoyed some welcome refreshments outside in the autumn sun. It was already prepared for Halloween with some very scary characters and so many bats and cobwebs it was hard to find the bar.
Once back to Burnham Beeches, we stopped to read about and explore Hartley Court Moat, another scheduled ancient monument, dating from sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries. Then we walked on to the little village of Egypt, crossing the Nile afterwards, which was rather less spectacular than some people had hoped. The pace was gentle, there were no significant climbs and the mud was not too bad. The walk was advertised as 6 miles, and excellent planning meant we were back at the start on schedule, GPS showing we had walked 6.1 miles. Most of us then gathered at The Royal Oak nearby for a most enjoyable roast, where we were joined by several other non-walkers.
My thanks to Brigitta, Chelmo, Chitto, Cody, Jackie, Liane, Li Sha, Mary Li, Marcellus, Matt, Meng Di, Mike, Nichole, Pamela, Richard and Rob for joining me for a most enjoyable day.
Report by Jeff
On a rather breezy day, 6 of us met at Tring station to experience The Big Country walk. Storm Brian had, thankfully, passed by earlier in the week and we had broken cloud and a little sunshine.
We followed the Grand Union Canal for a few miles where we saw a kingfisher and a marsh harrier. Then we left the canal and headed north into a rather annoying head wind.
All going well until we came across a field full of cows and their calves - taking the usual precautions we decided to walk quietly around the edge of the field. However, when we reached our exit point Mr Cow stood up and looked rather grumpy. Paul remarked on his impressive daddy cow credentials! The rest of us did a swift about turn and found ourselves having to scramble through a hedge, expertly led by Anne. So, we are now in a field full of horses galloping towards us, over the next fence we went and at last into the correct field. At this point I realised I had lost my compass, luckily I carry a spare and all was not lost.
As we approached Wingrave for our scheduled pub stop, we turned to admire the majestic view from the only hill on the walk. All rested and watered we pressed on towards Cheddington station. We needed to make good time to catch the 4:30 train, but the ploughed fields were slowing us down. By the time we reached the station, a number of the group had broken out into a trot - we arrived on the platform elated, assuming the train was a bit late, alas, tragically we missed the train by a matter of minutes. We caught the next one...
All agreed it had been a good walk. Thank you to Anne, Claire, Mary, Humay and Paul for joining me on a very enjoyable walk.
Report by Mike
7 of us met at Virgina Water car park on another lovely October day.
Our plan was to do 22 of all the traditional caches in the area. We first passed Smiths lawn where polo is played. We were stumped at the second cache as it was 30 feet up a tree. Nick tried to get up it but it was way too high and too flimsy to go up so with saddened hearts we left that one. We really need to invest in some rope or a ladder! We then passed the wonderful obelisk which King George II put up in honour of his son the Duke of Cumberland. The scenery and foliage is really outstanding and beautiful. Mark then went on to find the next one, which was his first. It was hidden down a tree trunk and took some finding. Then Mike and Christine found the next few. Nick then limbered up to complete some more and had to jump across some streams to catch the next few. The next was at the totem pole which was gifted by Canada to the Queen in 1965. Nick realised it was a multi but the cache was an ammo case which is so rare. Rachel was on the sniff and found it to all our elated joy, well mine really as I had heard about them but never found one before.
We then went to Botany Bay point and ate lunch to the most beautiful views overlooking the lake. We continued on for another two hours before stopping for refreshments in the local pub. We then went to the 'Cascades' waterfall. Amazing views and another multi cache worked out and found. Then it was Elle's turn so she is now called the geodog. We finished at 6pm with 11 miles done. We were all knackered but very happy. What a great day in the sunshine.
Thank you Rachael, Nick, Christine, Mick, Mark, Daniel, and Elle and Bobby, the dogs, for a lovely day.
Report by Martina
Six of us, Tracy, Hiyean, Christopher, Mike D, Angela and I met at Watford station on a gloriously sunny and warm autumn Sunday. We set off through Cassiobury Park, us walking next to and Monty dog swimming down the river. We were soon off the OS map and walking through the wild and woolly woods, by rivers and streams, until we reached the Grand Union canal. We proceeded along the canal, which was bustling with life, having good chats with each other on the way. We saw a few herons perched on branches waiting for their chance to grab a fish. We were lucky to find a little cafe still open with the fine weather and stopped for a leisurely mug of tea and our packed lunch, soaking up the sun, by the canal.
A little further along the canal we branched off to the Rickmansworth lakes. At Batchworth lake Monty dog managed to find a muddy ditch instead of a river, and came out a black dog instead of a golden retriever! This was soon remedied after another swim in the river. We observed two great crested grebes, cormorants and arctic terns on the lake. Tracy and Hiyean, now new-found friends, decided to head back at this halfway point, and the remaining four of us took a detour around the third lake and along part of the Ebury Way to vary the way back.
We joined the Grand Union canal again, and from a different perspective, noticed a cockerel crowing and a donkey in a smallholding. The lovely weather and walk was enjoyed by all. Thank you for coming and the interesting chats along the way. Hope to see you again on another walk.
Report by Paul
Our latest cycle ride was an easy 25 mile cycle ride through historic parts of central and west London. 5 of us met on a fine sunny morning at the Northala park café where new joiner David introduced himself. Our route took us along the Grand Union through North West London until we reached Little Venice. We stopped here for tiffin whilst admiring the views of the Georgian terraces around the basin. We then cycled via side streets to Hyde Park and the new shared space of Exhibition Road.
The well-signposted TFL Quiet Ways route took us to Battersea Park where he had lunch on the riverside. We returned to West London via the Thames Path (cycle way as well as footpath) passing the many looming luxury housing developments on the South Bank. Our final drinks stop was at the riverside Ship Inn at Mortlake, the view of the river was busy with lots of rowers out on such a fine day.
Report by Brian
11 of us met at the cafe at Langley Park at the start of the walk and after we all downloaded the free geocaching app and some instructions we were ready to go. We were blessed with beautiful weather and amazing surroundings.
Christine was the first to arrive and after settling in our two new members with a rendition of the hackka, we never saw them again! It was a little disappointment to have lost 2 before we had even started the walk, so with heavy hearts we started our walk and caching in the lovely Langley Park near Iver. The Langley Park Estate lies in south Buckinghamshire in the parish of Wexham. It is made up of the historic Langley Park, Black Park and the adjoining Rowley Farm. Langley Park is grade 2 listed parkland and has a variety of habitats for wildlife, including woodland, heathland and grassland. A variety of wildfowl can be seen on Langley Lake and the Arboretum has year round interest. From a royal hunting ground to extravagant pleasure gardens, the park offers great history and features. There were two series of walks that we could do and we got started on the first one. Martin was up the front with Arthur and Daniel and found it very quickly. There was lots of swag in the box to keep the kids, big and old, happy. The next one was a high difficulty one and Martina found it after a 20 minute search. We then all took turns to find the next 10 caches. Then the lovely Jeffrey family and Rujuta said goodbye and the rest of us decided to do the second series.
We continued in the scorching sunshine around Langley Park and found some great difficulty caches. Daniel even found an huge frog / toad with one of the caches which sent Martina and Rachael screaming. Mike then gave us some of his magic 'coffee' which helped with the nerves. We then found some 'odd' sorts of people foraging for mushrooms and advised them against but they only laughed at us. We ended up doing another 11 caches with Nick getting very lucky and getting many 'tricky' ones.
Thank you to Nick, Rachael, Christine, Mike, Martin, Emma, Arthur, Christopher, Rujuta and daughter and the two missing ramblers for joining me on my second treasure hunt.
Report by Martina
6 of us met up last weekend to walk the next section of the South Downs Way.
Saturday's 16 mile walk allowed us to burn off quite a few of the calories that we had acquired at a carvery dinner the previous evening. The morning's weather was rather poor, with strong winds and heavy rain buffeting us from the south, but the weather did improve a little in the afternoon. The walk started just after the fort at Chanctonbury Ring and took us over Annington Hill and across the River Adur. After climbing up Beeding Hill, the path continued over several more hills before descending to cross the A23, and then ascending again before finally reaching Ditchling Beacon. In the evening we enjoyed a Chinese meal at a restaurant that was only a stone's throw from our accommodation.
Sunday's 12 mile walk started from where we left off the previous day. The walk again took us mostly along the top of the South Downs, only descending to cross the A27, but this time the weather was much better than the previous day, even sunny(!), and we were rewarded with great all-round views. Both days' walks were finished in very good time.
Thanks to Amanda, Anna, Emma, Karen and Marin for joining me.
Report by Phil
Heading up Beeding Hill - Photo by Phil
Walking along the top of the Downs - Photo by Phil
Group photo at the start of Sunday's walk - Photo by Phil
Newhaven in the distance - Photo by Phil
Great views... - Photo by Phil
...all round - Photo by Phil
Crossing into the Eastern Hemisphere - Photo by Phil
10 of us embarked on the paddle streamer Waverley for the journey to Kent. Tower Bridge opened up to allow us to pass beneath it. Our voyage took in the many sights along the Thames estuary: Greenwich Maritime Museum, the Wapping waterfront, Woolwich Arsenal and huge expanse of Tilbury Docks.
We disembarked at Gravesend Pier for the coastal walk. The Saxon Shore Trail took us along the shoreline to the fort and old docklands. We took in the fine Georgian church and statue of Pocahontas. After exploring the heritage quarter of the town we returned for a late lunch on the riverside terrace looking across to Tilbury fort and the distant cruise liners heading out to sea.
Report by Brian
7 of us met today at Alma's beautiful café at the start of the walk and after we all downloaded the free geocaching app and some instructions we set off. We were blessed with beautiful weather and amazing surroundings. We started our walk and caching in Putney Common and found our first six caches. Nick was off the mark like a well trained greyhound and found the first two. Basia was next to find one and it was a particularly tricky one. We then turned around and saw the Lord Mayor's boat floating past us in its full regalia with 18 rowers. We then passed Fulham F.C. and noted Al Fahid's statue. The next two caches were found by Prem and Derek to the delight of Daniel as he found 10 Malaysian cents in it and declared 'I will buy you all ice cream' ahh. Rachael and I found the next three before stopping for lunch in a lovely pub called The Spencer.
We then continued in the scorching sunshine down the majestic Putney Park Lane. This is a pleasant traffic-free byway with medieval origins and an almost rural feel that heads south from the Upper Richmond Road to Putney Heath. We done another 5 and some of them were really 'tricky'. Some of the people then caught the bus home and Nick, Rachael, Daniel and I continued on into Putney Heath for 4 more caches and ended up in The Telegraph pub to reminisce about the great day.
Thank you to Nick, Rachael, Basia, Derek, Prem and Daniel for joining me on my first treasure hunt.
Report by Martina
Nine of us set out from Tring station, shortly joining the Grand Union canal for the first section of this walk. Passing the many narrowboats moored on this section we were surprised to come across one whose owner had seamlessly welded a Volkswagen Touareg to one end. Chatting to the owner we learnt that although the boat can't currently be steered from the Volkswagen he is working on it!
Continuing on, we left the canal and soon came to our first uphill section of the day which led us to the gates of the Ashridge estate. Turning into the nearby woods, we navigated our way through a number of trees that had recently fallen when the tail end of hurricane Irma hit the UK. Passing through the pretty village of Aldbury we resisted the urge to stop at one of the two pubs and ascended to the Bridgewater monument, where we stopped for lunch. The monument was built in 1832 in memory of the third Duke of Bridgewater who once lived in Ashridge house. It is dedicated to "the father of inland navigation" because the duke became famous for building canals during the Industrial Revolution.
After a good rest we once again entered the woods and on leaving them, encountered a herd of bullocks blocking our path into a field as they sheltered from a heavy shower. Thankfully one of our group had experience of dealing with just such circumstances and was able to make a safe path for the rest of us townies through the herd. Shortly afterwards we saw the outline of Butser Hill against the skyline and heading towards this began our ascent. At the top we were rewarded with amazing views as we then followed the Ridgeway national trail back down into Tring and the train home.
Report by Dave
10 of us came along for the annual Open House walk last week on a fine sunny day in Hampstead. We welcomed along one new recruit and one surprise rejoiner. Our 1st destination was a conversion from a late 19C coachman's living quarters and stable; now this mews house combines an award-winning architect's studio and spacious light-filled maisonette. We discovered a Banksy at Belsize Terrace and then walked through tree lined Hampstead lanes full of Georgian terraces to the next venue. The Isokon Building is a Grade I listed residential block of flats designed in Modernist style with famous residents including Walter Gropius and Agatha Christie, described at the time as "an experiment in minimalist urban living". We had a guided tour of several flats including the penthouse and roof terraces. After visiting the Nordoff Robbins studios we found the Heath café for lunch, with Jan and Gilly finding scrumptuous food at the monthly farmers market.
In the afternoon Brigitta scooted ahead with Jackie to lead us across the Heath up to the summit of Parliament Hill for views over London and Highgate to the north. We descended to pass Goldfinger's unique Modernist home, before our final building. This was a stunning new-build open-plan studio house designed as a floating box with integrated gardens on each level and mesh screens for privacy and sun control. Owned and occupied by an artist we took in the gallery whilst exploring the house. Afterwards Pritti led one group to Keats House whilst the rest continued to Hampstead village for some rather splendid tea and cakes at a pavement café in this historic quarter of London.
Report by Brian
Banksy in Belsize - Photo by Brian
Mews conversion - Photo by Brian
Isokon House - Photo by Brian
Heath café - Photo by Brian
Parliament Hill - Photo by Brian
Teas in Hampstead - Photo by Brian
13 of us took part in the first Ealing Arts Trail last week. This is an open day arranged by the artists of Ealing allowing access to their studios to see the unique artworks being created by local artists right on their doorstep. It includes artists working in a broad range of media, including painting, printing, textiles, sculpture, mosaics, metal work, photography, ceramics, jewellery and woodwork. We started as always at the local Clock Tower café for coffee and cakes where all the new people (4 on their first walk) were introduced. We took in 7 venues on our 6 mile walk around the Brent Valley, Hanwell and the Brent Lodge Park. The highlights were the Little Blue Hut Studio in Hanwell; the Mosaics by the canal house; and Lilly and Rob's routine inside the Millennium maze. We finished with cordials and brownie cakes at Jessica's in her fabulously designed garden overlooking the Brent Valley.
Report by Brian
Start of walks - Photo by Brian
Art gallery - Photo by Brian
Brunel viaduct - Photo by Brian
Café at Bunny Park - Photo by Brian
For our rare journey out to the Cotswolds just 6 of us arrived on the GWR express at the wonderfully preserved Brunel designed railway station at Charlbury. We explored the scenic town with its medieval church and market place. Chris spotted a national journalist who was helping to arrange the bunting and banners for the welcome parade. It was not for us but for the Tour of Britain cycle race coming through that very day. We squeezed through the crowds lining the high street awaiting the arrival of the peloton. Leaving Charlbury we walked through part of the grounds of Cornbury Park. Impressive avenues of lime and plane trees guided us along the track. At Finstock we popped into a real ale festival where we tried several interesting brews. Rob took his last pint in the glass provided (guests have to buy their own pint glass) to sup whilst walking the next section. Crossing several lush green meadows full of sheep and cattle we took in the views of the Evenlode valley below. Arriving at the little hamlet of Ramsden we stopped for lunch at the Royal Oak inn. Our tables in the front courtyard looked along the ancient Akeman Street, the Old Roman road from Cirencester to St Albans.
In the afternoon we continued via paths and quiet country lanes through several hamlets of Cotswold stone to reach the prosperous market town of Witney. The majestic parish church sits at the base of the expansive village green lined by almshouses and coaching inns. We managed to find a tea shop still open for our essential afternoon cream teas. Taking advantage of the very good local bus service we travelled onto to Oxford for an early evening short walk around the Colleges and town squares of Oxford before taking the train back to London.
Report by Brian
Tour of Britain at Charlbury - Photo by Brian
Cornbury House - Photo by Brian
Evenlode valley - Photo by Brian
Real ale festival - Photo by Brian
Teas on Roman road - Photo by Brian
Hailey village - Photo by Brian
Witney market place - Photo by Brian
Oxford Castle - Photo by Brian
Well, more of one season as the rain kept up its drizzle throughout the day... however 16 people still braved the grey skies to join me on this walk and if the vagaries of Amersham transport links on a Sunday had been more frequent we would have had another 2 which was a shame, next time guys!
So we set off walking through Parsonage Wood down the hill to old Amersham village and had the first of our great rural views within 10 minutes as we left the wood behind. Amersham is always beautiful and at the moment it is particularly pretty with flowers and colour everywhere. Crossing over the River Misbourne we made our way towards the Georgian houses of Coleshill village. Ignoring the flint church and the pub, we continued through West Wood to Winchmore Hill village, number 3 of the day. The group was doing a cracking pace so we arrived earlier than I expected for our lunch stop, but it turned out to be fortunate timing as the threatening rain decided to join us at this point. We all took shelter in the Potters Arms, which serves very good cider. This turned into a hair dressing masterclass as we waited for the rain to stop and some of us left the pub even more beautiful than we were when we entered.
Leaving the flat green downs of Winchmore Hill we entered Priestlands Wood on our way to the next village, Penn Street and shortly reached its ponds. Stopping for the first group picture of the day, expertly orchestrated by Santosh, we paused at the flint Holy Trinty church before entering the largest beech wood in the Chilterns, Penn Wood. Joining Toby's Lane we walked through Beaumont End and down through glorious fields to Little Missenden and the very large gorilla standing guard outside the Red Lion pub there. On the homeward straight we passed the faded glamour of Shardloes Manor and its ornamental lakes before trundling through the cricket club back to Amersham. We were serenaded by live jazz music as we reached Amersham again, walking past the two "4 weddings and a funeral" pubs and back on up the hill to the station.
Thank you everyone for joining me and making it a great day despite the weather and hope to see you all on another walk soon.
Report by Emma
Fantastico turn out and day for my something-for-everyone day. We departed ten minutes after train arrived on time at Cholsey station and walked in lovely warm sunshine through the village to pick up our footpath out and across to the Thames. We followed the path and a little after midday had reached Wallingford in good time for lunch after a 3 mile walk.
The various options meant we arranged a meet time and point for the walk home to allow all to partake in events as the wished. Carol, Lochlan and myself had lunch in the park then visited the ruins of the castle - even with an OS map the castle was hard to find, mainly because hardly any of it remains - and then the museum. We saw various dancers in the town square which was busy and the centre for the BunkFest stalls and activities. Others did the same in different orders as well as travel on the steam train, which I think was diesel on the day (sorry guys!).
Only two joined Carol, Lochlan and myself for the walk back where we passed Agatha Christie's home, walked alongside the steam train line part way and then visited her grave (big stone just behind church) before finishing back at Cholsey station. Where I realised all of us arrived by car so could have gone direct to them instead! Walk back ~3 miles again.
Thanks to (girls) Carol, Ilona, Matilda, Mila, Rodica and (guys) Brian, Gary, Jeff, Marin and Rob for joining Carol, Lochlan and me for this event.
Report by Steve
Thames Path - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Wallingford - Photo by Brian
BunkFest dancers - Photo by Brian
Riverside Morris - Photo by Brian
Summit of castle - Photo by Brian
Festival grounds - Photo by Brian
Steam railway - Photo by Brian
Band on train - Photo by Brian
Wallingford views - Photo by Brian
Final cream teas - Photo by Brian
Camp was set that morning to welcome the weary travellers who were greeted with a glorious summer evening and unspoilt views of the Whitehorse rumoured to be King George to massage the ego of one of our own. A barbecue was the order of such a warm day with a camp fire to carry on the banter late into the night with the DAB radio.
After a relay to Lulworth Cove to meet holiday on the buses, we set off on an incredible coastal walk courtesy of Jan with Nick as back marker. Ditto the coastal retreat report. Saturday night it was decided to have another barbecue as the weather was so appropriate for it. Another round of guess the artist on the DAB radio around the campfire where Zoe carried on from Friday naming that tune only being outgunned by George again until reality dawned on us that artist name was displayed on the radio.
Ditto the Weymouth coastal report.
Report by Nick and Rachael
Report from the hottest event of the year - Weymouth August bank holiday.
The bank holiday started well with gorgeous sunshine cracking the flags on Weymouth beach. Jeff joined the crowd at the beach for blue ice creams on Friday, and in total 15 people booked into the bunkhouse with a further 9 people staying at Osmington Mills campsite. Rob and Brian took the less scenic route, and cycled Route 26 to Maiden Castle and Dorchester, whilst most of us participated in fish and chips in the picturesque Weymouth. Liane managed a tour of 'James', the resident warden's ensuite and escaped with only minor scars. Only one other casualty on Friday, when Eva came from London, spoke with George and then took the train back...
Saturday was a brisk start, with Cathy T and Shakespeare only able to provide Humay with a three course breakfast, leading James (Warden) to ask Mike - 'are you working for a catering company?'. Martina, Liane and Daniel had a boat trip around pretty Portland Bill, stopping to explore the harbour. The rest met with the campers in Lulworth Cove and completed the fabulous 12 mile path back to Weymouth, via Durdle Door, with jet skis galore buzzing under its arch. Cathy and Mike completed the most challenging part of the walk with aplomb, but then decided to stay in the prettiest part of the coast, leaving their lunches with Humay, which was to prove very helpful for Zoe who had left her sandwiches in the tent. Thanks guys! We had lunch sitting on the headland at White Nothe, with panoramic views of the coast from east to west. Passing by the helicopter taking off at the coastguard's huts, and the tangled handgliders in the bushes, we managed to make it to Smugglers Inn, only losing Jeff twice. Rachael and Ellie the dog came to the rescue and the campers decided to head home after cooling ciders. The rest of us managed to make it to the ice creams at Ringstead. We all made it back to the fabulous hand-made pie restaurant in the evening and Ric C also escaped Cathy's popcorn machine and met us afterwards for the enduring delights of the Black Dog pub. Pat Benatar herself was dancing for our delectation and dilatation.
Sunday was a slightly later start, and 7 of the campers met up with the hostellers again at the start of the Rodwell Trail, at the fabulous Billie Winters beach café, straight out of Point Reach. Nick did his best Patrick Swayze, and the two camping photographers had a field day. We cycled up the tiniest of tiny hills that Brian promised us did not exist, to the Heights hotel. After oxygen and mouth to mouth resuscitation, kindly volunteered by George, we had photos by the Olympic Rings over Chesil Beach. Enroute we bumped into the other half of the group, who were enjoying the pleasures of unspoilt 18 miles of Chesil beach before we all headed for the 'eat all you can so long as it's fluorescent' buffet on the Gurkha boat. More fun was to be had at the Weymouth music festival, where Basia managed to rescue the flower garlands from enthusiastic sailors. Neil led Zoe and Jan back to civilisation, deftly avoiding the Black Dog pub option for the third night to get us safely to the harbour. Brian and the Robs (W & C) stopped off at Brockenhurst for an 18 mile cycle around the baby donkeys in the New Forest. Mary and Natalie completed the cultural tour of Thomas Hardy country on the way back, and Debbie and Richard finally had an ice cream without having to share it with Daniel.
Many thanks to everyone for such a wonderful holiday and for all your company, which made it such a special time. Hope to see you again next year!
Report by Jan
Climb from Durdle Dor - Photo by Brian
Picnic view - Photo by Brian
Coastal path - Photo by Brian
Descent to Osmington - Photo by Brian
Smugglers Rest - Photo by Brian
Cycle to Portland - Photo by Brian
Portland Bay - Photo by Brian
Olympic rings - Photo by Brian
Group selfie on summit - Photo by Brian
Festival on the quay - Photo by Brian
Cycling in New Forest - Photo by Brian
We arrived at Whyteleafe on a fine sunny morning. Two recent recruits Suvi and Rakteen joined regulars Brian and Nathalie. Our route was on sections 5 and 6 of the London Loop. The first common was Kenley; the lush pastures still grazed by cattle. We then came upon Kenley aerodrome, notable for its WW2 mess huts and memorial. By chance a fly-past took place later in the day, we were surprised to see many bi planes and war planes from the 20s parade in formation overhead. After crossing Coulsdon Common we stopped for elevenses at the Fox inn. The next feature was the enchanting Happy Valley, crisscrossed by paths and walkers. Climbing through the open common of Farthing Downs we noticed the abundance of wild flowers on this high ridge section. Reaching the summit we stopped for a picnic lunch taking in the views of the central London skyline in the far distance.
Descending to Coulsdon town we then had a long climb to The Mount for more views. The brambles alongside the next meadows were full of blackberries just ripe for picking and scoffing so that's what we did. Around the next corner we came upon the vibrant and expansive lavender fields. The farm is always busy as visitors are allowed to walk between the rows of lavender; many groups were taking selfies, even some cyclists pedalling through. The farm has a large outdoor café so was perfect for our late afternoon cream teas (some having the unique lavender ice cream) to enjoy in this very scenic part of Surrey.
Report by Brian
Kenley airfield - Photo by Brian
Happy Valley views - Photo by Brian
Climb to Farthing Downs - Photo by Brian
Summit viewpoint - Photo by Brian
Blackberries galore - Photo by Brian
Lavender fields - Photo by Brian
5 of us met on a gloriously sunny morning at the Manor site. New recruit Tamsin on a restored Coventry Eagle joined regulars Brian, Jeff, Kerry and Rob for our latest cycle ride. We set off through the Ruislip Woods to the Grand Union Canal. Then due south passing the "alternative" protest site in the canalside copse where we debated the advantages of HSR with the agitators.
Our first tea stop was at Fran's Lock café, Tamsin now becoming aware of how tough the ride was to be. Onward through Uxbridge and Cowley passing several marinas full of expensive looking vessels before taking the Slough arm of the canal. Being the final canal to be built in the pre-rail era it features numerous aqueducts and pill box fortifications easily visible on the towpath.
We stopped for lunch in the terraced gardens of the Gurkha pub before exploring the landscaped parkland of Langley Park, another fine creation of Capability Brown. We crossed into the neighbouring Black Park traversing the network of cycle trails (lots of blackberry pickers out that day), with an impressive expanse of purple heather on the heath lands. After stopping for cooling ice creams on the lakeside café we ventured on to the back-lot border of Pinewood Studios (no filming that day).
Onward through Bucks hamlets we happened upon a lesser-known chapter of the local Angels (on mopeds rather than Harleys). We descended a steeply twisting off road track to Higher Denham before racing to Denham village. We arrived just in the nick to order some rather splendid lemon drizzle cakes to enjoy in the sunlit rose gardens of the historic parish church.
Report by Kerry
Start of ride - Photo by Brian
Meet the protesters - Photo by Brian
Fran's Tea Shop - Photo by Brian
Canal aqueduct - Photo by Brian
Lunch at Gurkha - Photo by Brian
Black Park Lake - Photo by Brian
Langley Park - Photo by Brian
Rose garden at church - Photo by Brian
Denham Golf Club - Photo by Brian
Just two of us including me for my Out Of Town walk today from West Wycombe. Veronika from Meet Up provided excellent conversation for the 33.1km distance. Apparently 14 from Meet Up had said they were coming and one was on route lost in Wycombe. I waited 5 minutes as no one had called me.
I'd walked most of the paths on the route before but managed to find a few new ones. We stuck mostly to my rough route, heading out to St Mary the Virgin church at Radnage were we stopped for tea for ten minutes while enjoying its excellent timeless views along a valley. Then through woods and up to Chinnor Hill and its views across Aylesbury Vale; we could hear the Chinnor to Princes Risborough steam train. Onwards and downwards to Bledlow old village and its beautiful houses and across to Saunderton where we stopped for lunch in the church.
After lunch, we criss-crossed the Chiltern train line and headed up to and through Loosley Row and then over and down touching the edge of Speen, enjoying views amongst the rolling hills of the Chilterns. We noted that we'd seen hardly any walkers so far; very unusual for a lovely almost perfect weather day for getting outdoors. From Speen we went up again and along Naphill and Downley Commons and their lovely woods. From Downley we had our final up to the Disraeli monument before finishing and down to West Wycombe, back about 5:15pm.
Many thanks to Veronika for joining me on this just over 20 mile walk today.
Report by Steve
Arrival time saw a Martina doppelgäaut;nger that fooled both myself and Brian in the adjoining campsite, good job he didn't start settling in. Hostile conditions were soon upon us and an impromptu party began in Martina's tent, others went into town to sample the pre-carnival nightlife.
Woke to more favourable weather along with the sounds of rebel radio rouser Brian spinning the volume. The radio, don't go near my horses, overheads and have you paid. We never saw Mrs Fiddler in Carry on Camping now we couldn't get rid. We set off in glorious sunshine only for the rain bang on 11am as promised. We ambled along the south west path with breathtaking views of the Jurassic Coast. First stop was Dancing Ledge a few snaps and snacks then after dodging the cows onto Winspit with its caves and views. Lunch was inside at the famous Square and Compass, no mean feat in itself to find seating for all. So welcome relief from the rain was a chance to get to know the group better over splendid fare. After a longer than anticipated break we set off for a slightly altered route to Kingston and the views over Corfe from the Scots Arms. We descended to Corfe where some headed for the steam train, others the pub. Evening saw an eventful barbecue in spite of the conditions in a makeshift party tent now in landfill. A river appeared under the camper and some of the tents sheltering with two dogs I felt like Noah.
Better weather upon us we headed for Durlston Castle, others onto Swanage and the Earthlights cafe. We met up in time for the majestic Swanage Carnival and music in the marquee afterwards late into the evening.
Those of us left headed for the Earthlights cafe and onto the front to crack on with the Carnival foot treasure hunt on a scorching day finding hidden parts of Swanage to boot.
Many thanks to stalwarts Brian, Martina, Daniel, Chris, Vic, Mark and Zoe, plus newcomers George and Linda.
Report by Nick and Rachael
After getting the bus from Guildford we gathered in Shere eager to start our walk. We explored the picturesque village high street before visiting Shere's magnificent 12th century church with its rather interesting history. We continued our walk heading towards the silent pool. As we neared the silent pool we got distracted by the nearby Albury Vineyard and tempted by the wine tasting. After looking at the rather murky waters of the silent pool we again got distracted by the Silent Pool Distillery and tempted by the various flavoured gins.
A steep climb up to the North Downs Way followed. As we neared the lunch stop at Newlands Corner the heavens opened with torrential rain, so we sheltered under the kiosk whilst getting some food and refreshments. We explored the visitor centre whilst waiting for the rains to pass. The bird feeder outside the window generated particular interest. The rains did not pass so we carried on regardless.
We followed the North Downs Way to the fabulous viewpoint at St Martha's on the hill. However, on this misty rainy day the views disappointed. With the rains still upon us we descended fairly rapidly to get to Guildford. We briefly explored Guildford castle, the grounds, and the bowling green, before wandering the high street where we found a little alley and a pub where we ended the walk with some much needed refreshments. Many thanks to Brian, Jeff, Brigitta, Topaz, Chris, Richard and David for joining me on the walk.
Report by Mark
4 of us did the Ruislip Woods evening walk; new joiners Jim and Tamsin joined regulars Brian and Debi. On a very sunny evening we climbed to the viewpoint at Haste Hill. Extensive views across the woods and golf course. We then crossed the golf course to enter the Ruislip Lido grounds, following the railway line to the beach area. We checked out the new San Remo cafe and centre (much enlarged on the former tea hut). On the beach the Canadian geese pursued us for food till they found another group.
We then took the bridle ways through Ruislip Woods to Eastcote, crossing the cricket field to end the walk with drinks in the popular garden of the Case is Altered. By coincidence another outdoor group had their meeting here so lots of tales and plans were swapped.
Report by Brian
View from Haste Hill - Photo by Brian
On the beach - Photo by Brian
The weather was good for walking - perfect temperature and no rain, despite some threats at lunchtime. The area is green and scenic but somehow not very popular with hikers - not only is the vegetation overgrown on some paths, but the signs are missing, fallen or hidden in the vegetation; finding them was an entertaining sport, and I did find most of them, but the biggest problem was that some fields which the actual paths were passing through were either closed or some of them populated by young bulls.
Trying to find alternate ways out added 1.9 miles to the intended 12. Daniel didn't complain.
The lunch at The Plough in Leigh was tasty and the service very prompt.
Thanks to Rodica, Monica and Daniel for joining me.
Report by Marin
Trying to find the path - Photo by Marin
Lost in the jungle - Photo by Marin
Happy walkers - Photo by Marin
See you next time - Photo by Marin
Our third camping trip of the summer took place on another fine sunny weekend in Sussex in the hills above Hastings. New campers Lilly and Sungandha together with returnees Martin, Emma and Rob joined the regulars Brian, Leo, Mike D, Martina, Carla and Jan. We also welcomed along the younger campers Arthur, Christopher, Amber, Reuben and Daniel. Freshwinds is a new site for us. Very well catered for family groups with working farm, alpacas, donkeys and rare breeds of pigs and rabbits. Jan and Carla went glamping once more, staying in a Shepherds Hut with great views across the Downs.
On Saturday we woke early to the sounds of the farm. Martin and Emma took the family to explore the beach and the fairy trail set up by the campsite. Martina led one group on a geo caching expedition to the beaches. Brian led the rest on an 11 mile coastal walk. We descended from the plateau to Pet Level Beach where there were long views eastwards along the coast to Dungeness. Leo and Jan had separated on route to take a more circuitous journey involving many woodland trails where they enjoyed the sunshine together. We followed the canal trail to the remarkably unspoilt medieval village of Winchelsea. The large parish church, original town gates and grid layout all remain unchanged. We found Spikes grave in the churchyard before having lunch in the tea gardens. We continued along the ancient trackways to Rye, another superbly preserved historic town. We explored the enchanting lanes leading to the town walls high above the River Rother. Just in the nick some of us gained entry to the church tower, climbing the precipitous ladder for stunning views from the tower roof. Some rather splendid cakes were enjoyed at the tea shop where a somewhat rhapsodic Jan rejoined us, quoting lines from Mapp and Lucia after her visit to Lamb House. Back at site a sumptuous barbecue was prepared by Mike D followed by more wine and marshmallows around the roaring campfire, Lilly and Leo providing most of the revelations under the clear night sky.
On Sunday our walk took us west through the spectacular Hastings Country Park, high above the beach. The last section is along the cliff edge with extensive views west to Eastbourne and beyond. We descended via the funicular to explore Hastings old town. This is a wonderfully scenic quarter made all the more evocative of olden times as today was "Dress like a Pirate Day". The whole town was full of swashbucklers and pistol toting buccaneers. We rounded off the weekend at this charming fishing town with fish and chips on the beach listening to the festival music and the parading bands.
Report by Brian
Extra guest at campsite - Photo by Brian
Meeting the glampers - Photo by Brian
Walk to Pett village - Photo by Brian
Winchelsea town wall - Photo by Brian
Church at Winchelsea - Photo by Brian
Teas at Rye - Photo by Brian
Rye old town - Photo by Brian
Camber Castle - Photo by Brian
Tales around the campfire - Photo by Brian
Heading east on coastal trail - Photo by Brian
View over Hastings old town - Photo by Brian
Pirate band parades - Photo by Brian
6 of us met up last weekend to walk the next section of the South Downs Way.
Saturday's 19 mile walk started on the edge of the Queen Elisabeth Country Park, and took us across Harting Downs and Graffham Down, finishing on Bignor Hill. In the evening, we enjoyed an excellent Thai meal in Chichester (a vast improvement on Friday evening's disappointing Mexican meal).
Sunday's 15 mile walk started from where we left off the previous day, finishing just after the fort at Chanctonbury Ring.
The temperature on both days reached around 26-27C (in the shade, and there wasn't very much of that!), and the chalky surface of the path reflected the heat which made it feel even hotter, as well as being quite hard to walk on, so well done to Amanda, Emma, Karen, Marin and Steve for finishing both days' walks in such good time in such difficult conditions.
Report by Phil
On Saturday's walk - Photo by Phil
Waiting to start Sunday's walk - Photo by Phil
Fields of gold... - Photo by Phil
...and red - Photo by Phil
Chanctonbury Ring fort - Photo by Phil
Well the promised rain never arrived and Sunday turned into another one of those beautiful sunny days, albeit maybe slightly too hot for walking the 20 miles or so I marched the 5 intrepid guys who joined me. Luckily I had planned lots of tree-lined shady corridors, or as Marin described them "small dark places" along the way, which helped keep the temperature down. The fields are glorious this time of year with golden barley as far as the eye could see at one of our few high points along the route. There were a few vibrant fields of wheat too, but we all managed to restrain ourselves and not run through them, take note Theresa May.
Starting off from Rickmansworth station we passed the intriguing Masonic school for girls, no strange ceremonies on show, over the motorway and into the familiar Chess valley. Deciding we were too hardcore to stop at the Red Lion in Chenies we walked on to Chorleywood West, past several cricket matches and a couple of gorgeous meadows full of flowers and butterflies. Then through the Chalfonts, St Giles and St Peter, where we cleaned out the Portuguese café of all its custard tarts. Through the posh housing estate of Chalfont Heights, and under the motorway this time to our 'Sting, Fields of Gold' moment at the top of Old Shire Lane. Turning back for home we, walked through the water with lakes on both sides to the Coy Carp where we made the most of the shade, and a quick half pint.
Almost leaving Marin behind who decided to take a Sunday snooze, we completed the final section along the Grand Union Canal with the usual eclectic mix of life along its banks, including the giant monkey and a Tesco mooring station for aquatic customers. After a final sunny stop for ice cream at Batchworth Lock we made it back to the station we started from in the morning.
The usual arguments of which gadget is more accurate ensued, but since I was the leader my GPS version is the official one, 20.7 miles completed at around 3.5 to 3.2 miles an hour. Well done to Humay for completing his PB, Jim for walking most of it at great speed in some of the heaviest boots I have seen, Ian for travelling all the way from Oxford to join us, Phil for being back to his normal speedy self and Marin for being Marin and not arguing with me too much! Thanks for joining me everyone, you all made it a great day.
Report by Emma
One of many shady sections - Photo by Phil
Approaching Chalfont St Giles - Photo by Phil
Fields of gold - Photo by Phil
15 of us met at Eastcote for the latest evening walk. New joiners Kevin, Michael, Jim, Mike Mc and Mike L joined regulars Kerry, Brian, Colin, Zoe, Nick, Mark and Vic (together with 2 potential members, David and Doreen).
We passed through Roxbourne Park, following the Yeading brook path for part of the way. We came across a partly excavated early 20th century miniature golf course beyond the woods. We then continued along the Celandine Way through meadows and woodlands. We explored the grounds of Eastcote House and stable block.
The walk finished at the newly reopened Case is Altered in Eastcote where we were joined by many former members as it was by coincidence the monthly hawks summit. Lots of catching up so will anticipate more recruits joining soon.
Report by Kerry
Roxborough Park hidden golf course - Photo by Brian
Eastcote House - Photo by Brian
All gathered at the Case - Photo by Brian
Set off from Ibstone on the Chiltern Way heading towards Northend. Left the Chiltern Way behind in College Wood and took a more direct route south to Pishill. Had the first cooling sprinkling of rain of the day but it didn't last. Reached Pishill about 11:30 and took the Oxfordshire Way heading south to Park Wood and then on to Stonor Park. Stopped for lunch overlooking Stonor House and discovered what a great programme of events they have over the summer including outdoor cinema and proms in the park. A beautiful woodland walk led to Southend and then rejoined the Chiltern Way all the way into Turville. From Turville took the steepest track leading back to Ibstone and finished the walk at 2.45 pm completing about 11 miles.
Report by Mary
The second camping trip of the summer saw us return on another scorchio weekend to Holycombe campsite in the Cotswolds. Debutant campers Mary, Jilly, Diane and Ben joined veterans Brian, Jan, Carla, Tim, Martina, Mike D, Nick, Rachael and Mark. Holycombe is in an idyllic Cotswold setting within the moat of a Norman Castle. Jan and Carla went glamping this year in a lavishly furnished Mongolian Yurt with attached boudoir.
We set off on the evening walk to Wychford pottery and the funky Straw Kitchen café stocking up with cakes for Saturday. Mary and Jilly tried out the refreshing Cotswold Gin at the Norman Knight before the group had a very pleasant evening meal. We were joined for desserts by the campsite owner who chatted about his plans. Marshmallows were then toasted around the roaring camp fire, with the church bells ringing out on the quarter to lull us to sleep.
Saturday was another hot sunny day as we awoke to Glastonbury on Radio 2. The 10 mile walk was actually 13 miles based on the Marin / Steve calibration technique. Our walk took us through Cherrington, Todenham and Great Wolford, picturesque villages with the Cotswold honey-coloured stone shining in the sunlight. We had our picnic on the village green at Todenham under the shade of an oak tree, before walking like a Theresa through the waist high corn fields on the Shakespeare Way. At Cherrington we happened upon Trudies wonderful tea shop where we enjoyed cream teas and iced cordials in the garden and were joined by former members and locals Peter, Jane, Freddy, Mike and Li Sha. The route back to site took us over Margetts Hill with stunning views over the meadows, the sheep languidly grazing in the distance.
The barbecue was arranged by Nick, Tim and Martina with Diane providing the banana cake and Brian the apple pie. It was a clear blue sky and as just after the longest day the light stayed past 10pm as we lit the camp fire. The wine flowed and stories emerged from Jilly of being rescued at Glastonbury by Mr Eavis; from Jan of her misadventures on a yacht and from Rachael of her time as a coiffeuse to Mrs M.
After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday we struck camp. Mike D led a group to explore the Jacobean National Trust manor at Chastleton. The rest went to Sibford Gower for the annual Open Gardens festival. We explored the colourful and fragrant gardens, meeting the vicar and verger by the old manor house. We finished with exceedingly good strawberry sponge cakes at the village hall in this timeless corner of the Cotswolds.
Report by Brian
Arrival at site - Photo by Brian
Glamping Yurt - Photo by Brian
Cotswold Gin time - Photo by Brian
Meal at Norman Knight - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Cotswold views - Photo by Brian
Trudies tea shop - Photo by Brian
Walking like Theresa - Photo by Brian
Picnic at Todenham - Photo by Brian
Great Wolford - Photo by Brian
Barbecue time - Photo by Brian
Tim provides the camp fire - Photo by Brian
Henry at Open Gardens Sunday - Photo by Brian
Cakes at Sibford Gower - Photo by Brian
This Thames Path evening walk took place on another blistering hot day; being also the longest day it was perfect for enjoying the long hours of daylight along the river path from Kew Bridge to Barnes. We met on the riverside terrace of One over the Ait for drinks before setting off. 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 sweltering evening, George led us on a detour through Dukes Meadow Sports grounds where he is a tennis coach, Jan and Nick checked out the driving ranges.
At Barnes Bridge we crossed the Thames with great views upstream from the footbridge. Walking through the heritage area of Barnes village Rob pointed out the architectural features. We arrived at the common to take in some welcome cooling drinks in the front terrace gardens of the Sun inn in this very scenic corner of London.
Report by Brian
Very sunny on the Thames - Photo by Brian
Strand on the green - Photo by Brian
Barnes Bridge views - Photo by Brian
End at the Sun Inn - Photo by Brian
7 of us met on another scorchio Sunday in this heatwave summer, for the annual Open Square Gardens day. We explored ten gardens as part of our urban walk through Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia. All the gardens were splendidly maintained and several had newly installed sculptures and water features. Nick pointed out many of the unusual trees and shrubs on display. Most of the gardens had lovely tea and cakes on offer which we enjoyed in the shady seating areas. There was also music, a poet reciting verses, and a display of marionettes (the artist featured in "Oh What A Lovely War").
Our lunch was taken in the secret Bina Gardens, under the shade of a stunning Wedding Cake tree. The route took in the impressive architecture of these quarters; Derek providing his astute observations on the changing styles. At the Moroccan gardens at Rococo we met an EastEnders star who joined us on the tour. We finished at Eaton Square gardens with sparkling wine on the lawn listening to music from the band and the soothing sounds of the water fountains at this hidden gem.
Report by Brian
Earls Court Gardens - Photo by Brian
Marionette on show - Photo by Brian
Lupins and Dutch Gables - Photo by Brian
More cake at Bina Gardens - Photo by Brian
Under the Wedding Cake tree - Photo by Brian
Moroccan gardens - Photo by Brian
Meeting the soap star - Photo by Brian
Theatre in the park - Photo by Brian
A great crowd for the navigation workshop. A very hot and sunny day starting at Chesham station. After a coffee and quick introduction, we ventured out on to the surrounding farmland. Beginning with setting the map using features, direction and distance. Building on our learning using the compass and timings to end on pacing and bearings in the poor visibility of the woodland setting.
Despite the hot conditions, concentration remained high. We completed the session looking at the shapes of land features using contour lines and a card sort to consolidate the learning for the day. Lots to practice and encouragement to continue to increase confidence. I will be running future workshops to build on the learning and some night navigation workshops in the early autumn.
Report by Heather
Ten of us met at Hambleden on a lovely summer morning. The weather forecast was set for high temperatures and humidity, this proved to be correct. We set out at a brisk pace up Red Hill towards Lower Woodend Farm. While resting in the woods Claire announced that her supply of water was still frozen (having left it in the freezer a little too long) and was unable to get a drink. Team HAWOG put their formidable brainpower together and solved the dilemma by draining a little off into a bottle. The numerous hills were proving to be a challenge in the heat, however the views were truly superb.
Beyond Stonor we picked up the Oxfordshhire Way heading north toward our lunch break at Pishill. Taking a longer than usual stop to try and cool down we sat in the church yard to eat our lunch and were able to replenish our water supplies at a tap conveniently placed just inside the gate. It was too hot to worry about the possibility of getting a stomach bug! Marin and Rodica went straight to the pub for a glass of something cold. The rest of the group also went to the pub for a well earned drink.
I think we all agreed that this was a great day out, even in 30 degrees or so of heat. Well done to all, especially the ones carrying injuries...
Thanks to Anna, Claire, Deirdre, Emma, Rodica, Humay, Marin, Phil and Steve.
Report by Mike
Group photo: better with? - Photo by Marin
or without? - Photo by Marin
We had our annual summer garden 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 and pastries. We welcomed along around 35 new joiners and regulars. Lots were planning their first camping trip or navigation course with the group so was a good opportunity to meet and plan walks. The winning cake was made by Humay, Mike presenting the prize. Well done to Mike and Cathy for hosting the evening.
Report by Brian
The area is one of the most scenic in England - beautiful views over green valleys and hills with no major roads to spoil the mood with their noise. The experience was enhanced by the weather, which was perfect - sunny with rare clouds and a gentle breeze.
Despite doing a similar walk in the area 6 years ago, I managed to add some small extensions to the route before lunch, which we had at Granary Café in Polesden Lacey. Afraid of doing the same after lunch, I decided to take a more direct route north to the North Downs Way. Much to my surprise I did not lose the track in the woods at all and somehow I managed to cut one mile from the total length of the walk. The sudden arrival at the end was received with different feelings. Rodica, a bit out of breath due to the pace and number of hills and Steve, happy to be able to reunite earlier with his family, were relieved. Emma was a bit disappointed. I promise I will add an extra mile next time she has the temerity to join one of my walks.
All in all it was a refreshing day out spent in a happy atmosphere in an area we should come back to. Thanks everybody for joining me.
Report by Marin
View of Dorking with the huge Denbies Wine Estate in the forefront - proof of the benefits of global warming - Photo by Marin
Early polenta - Photo by Marin
The inexorable delight of map reading - Photo by Marin
Do HAWOGers still qualify as "young people of limited means"? - Photo by Marin
Great view of Polesden Lacey ... Only if you are there or use a proper camera, which wasn't the case with this photo - Photo by Marin
Tubular clouds - Photo by Marin
Group photo - Photo by Marin
Another majestic view which a smartphone camera cannot do justice to - Photo by Marin
Thank you for coming with us! - Photo by Marin
The first camping trip of the summer saw us venture to Blackberries campsite between Bath and Bradford. Debutant campers Chris, Zoe, Kim, Mark and Eliza joined veterans Brian, Leo, Jan, Tim, Martina, Sandra, Rob, Nick, Rachael, Paul, Bev and Louise (plus Daniel, Olly, Archie, Bobbie and Ellie). We set up camp in the sun helped along by Jan's wine and R2. New tents were in evidence this year, with more tables and director chairs than ever.
We set off on the evening walk to Brown's Folly. This gives stunning views over the Avon valley, Brian and Sandra managing to climb to the summit via crumbling precarious internal staircase. Martina, Louise and Daniel set off downhill for geo caching whilst the rest headed along the ridge and thence to Monkton Farleigh village. We stopped for drinks in the charming Kings Arms (originally a monastery), taking over the round table themed table and benches in the garden. Back at site we had a novel experience - an Indian take-away delivered to the campsite. Afterwards Tim lit up the campfire for the revels to commence led once more by Leo and Sandra.
Saturday was another fine day as we awoke to Tony's 60's show (RIP BM). Martina, Bev and Rachael ventured forth once more to discover geo caches. The rest set off on the 12 mile circular route to Bradford. We descended from the high plateau down to the River Avon. Then appeared an O.S. anomaly, no river crossing. The troll of the weir happened along (we were on his land). He suggested we try the weir. "Can one cross it?" "Lots of people do it, I often cross it and I'm 82". Prudence also happened along so we detoured to the next stop, Dundas Aqueduct, an impressive example of Georgian era civil engineering. We had lunch there at the canal side café. Onwards along the Avon canal towpath, fine views all the way. Passing a heron perched high above us we then saw a canoe dramatically capsize at high speed and applauded their dexterity. Avoncliffe aqueduct the next stop with cooling drinks in the terraced gardens, deckchairs for us to enjoy the warm afternoon and watch the swans and cygnets gliding towards the aqueduct. The canal path took us on to Bradford, a lovely Saxon era town full of stone tithe barns, mills, churches and mansions. Leo's group partook of some ale in town whilst the others had coffee and cakes at a stylish tea shop. Back at site Tim and Nick lit up the barbecue, lashings of ginger beer provided by Kim. We then had 2 campfires on the go, lots of tall tales and revelations, many elicited by the Captain Morgan Rum shared with all by Chris.
Sunday was a leisurely start, Paul cooking another huge gourmet breakfast for the family. Our walk today was the National Trust Skyline Walk along the hills surrounding Bath. The walk featured tree swings (Brian and Nick demonstrating their agility), climbing frames and assault course. We enjoyed the panoramic views over Bath before descending to town. Lunch as was at an 18th century café on the famous Pulteney Bridge. We then explored the Abbey and the delightful architecture of the old town. Happening upon the annual Boules festival on the main square; teams dressed in fancy dress competed on multiple courses. We joined the spectators for a rather splendid Pimms session in this most charming town.
Report by Brian
View from Folly Tower - Photo by Brian
Knights Templar table - Photo by Brian
Campfire tale - Photo by Brian
Current affairs at camping - Photo by Brian
Paul's gourmet breakfast - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Bobby guides us over the weir - Photo by Brian
Avoncliffe aqueduct - Photo by Brian
Canalside pub garden - Photo by Brian
Tithe barn at Bradford - Photo by Brian
Leo leads the way - Photo by Brian
5 go mad in Bath - Photo by Brian
Bath views - Photo by Brian
Pimms o'clock - Photo by Brian
5 of us met on a very sunny and warm morning in Hampstead for the cycle ride. New recruit George, joining returnee Rob and regulars, Brian, Jeff and Kerry. We had a mix of models, Royal Dutch Gazelle, folding bike, 2 hybrids and George's electric bike.
We climbed through impressive villas and new developments to reach Annesley Lodge, the Arts and Craft masterpiece of Voysey. We ventured next door to Craxton Studios where a violin recital was in progress, Jeff recognising the score. We climbed further north along cycle paths to Golders Hill Park with its mini zoo. After the long climb in the sun we stopped for welcome ice creams at the terrace viewpoint.
Our route then took in the interesting architecture of Hampstead Garden Suburb with its grand villas overlooking the Heath. We popped into St Judes, Lutyens finest Edwardian creation. The congregation were gathering over squash so they invited us to join them and indicated the stunning wall paintings by Walter Starmer. We then headed south to visit Kenwood House. An English Heritage wine tasting was on offer on the upper terrace so we tried some unusual samples whilst admiring the view over the lake.
We cycled along the ridge route to Highgate village, visiting the unique shrine to GM on the village green. After some cooling drinks at the Flask by the green we raced through a network of side streets to find the Park Walk. This Sustran path retains extensive railway heritage on the way to Finsbury Park. After picnic lunch by the boating lake we recommenced south to Clissold Park with its impressive Georgian Manor by the village church. Our route ended at the hidden Dalston Curve Gardens. This is a community created and managed oasis with winding paths through shrubs and flower beds. It is a very popular meeting venue for locals so we joined them for a final tiffin stop here amidst the foliage on another fine sunny evening.
Report by Brian
Voysey House - Photo by Brian
View from Golders Hill Park - Photo by Brian
Hampstead Garden Suburb - Photo by Brian
St Lukes on the hill - Photo by Brian
Climb from Hampstead - Photo by Brian
Kenwood House - Photo by Brian
Shrine at Highgate - Photo by Brian
Railway path to Finsbury - Photo by Brian
Clissold House - Photo by Brian
Tiffin at Dalston Curve Gardens - Photo by Brian
3 of us met at 9:45am on a sunny Sunday morning outside Waltham Cross station. Before starting the walk proper, we made a brief detour to Waltham Abbey church, and saw the spot where King Harold (who was killed at the battle of Hastings) is said to be buried. Returning to the River Lea, we began the walk, and were joined by 2 more walkers at Ponders End (one of whom had caught us up after a late start). We stopped for lunch at around the half way point by Tottenham Locks.
After lunch, we carried on along the river, passing Hackney Marsh and then the familiar sights of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the path got somewhat busier. After Bromley-by-Bow, we followed the Limehouse Cut, reaching the Limehouse Basin and the River Thames shortly before 4pm, having covered a distance of 17 miles. After a well-deserved stop for refreshments, we headed home.
Thanks to Anna, Nathalie, Rachel and Sasha for joining me.
Report by Phil
Prompt 10am depart from Chesham station for Amanda, Anna, Emma, Jane and myself for my Chesham Twentyish mile walk. A few wrong turns at the start until we got high of Chesham and heading north to Lye Green. Then newish paths for me at least, continuing north to Berkhamsted via Hockeridge Bottom wood and through the very posh roads to our lunch stop in the park.
After lunch, more new paths, again heading out through more very posh roads to cross the A41 on foot. No footbridge or underpass. The footpath goes across two lanes each way of national speed limit traffic with a break between the crash barriers in the middle. West ish paths for the next hour or so to Heath End and Cholesbury where we stopped for tea on the common and saw the windmill.
The Chiltern Way south westish beckoned which we departed around the Lee's to head eastish (had to be) passing Ballinger Common and then home via Herberts Hole and up to descend into Chesham just before five thirty.
The shock was the ish was negative as Emma's gadget said we did 19 miles. I'll cut myself a new piece of string before my next walk. Weather pleasant overall, sun, cloud and breeze, certainly not the hotter weather the forecast the night before suggested. Thanks all for joining me.
Report by Steve
6 of us met on a gloriously sunny evening for the first evening walk of the summer. We arrived early for some cooling drinks in the beer garden of the canal side Fox Inn. Recent joiners Jilly, Mary and Basia joining us with regulars, Brian and Vic plus prospective member Jelena.
Just after starting the walk we came upon a canal side jamming session taking place by Brent Meadows locks. We listened to the music and chatted to other walkers. The Brent valley path passed through Churchfields Park and alongside Brunel's viaduct. Lots of people were playing sports and walking in the park on such a fine evening. We ventured into the Millennium maze, Vic remembering the code from last year. We continued through the Bunny Park Zoo and into Hanwell heritage area, before taking quiet back streets back to the pub where some surprise guests joined us.
Report by Brian
Arrival at Fox Inn - Photo by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Musicians at the lock - Photo by Brian
Millennium maze at Bunny Park - Photo by Brian
Glorious day - the good weather (two very short showers and stunning cloudy sky the rest of the time) and the idyllic area asked for an improvement of the walking experience. So we decided to stop stopping during the walk. We even had drinks of water and a sandwich while walking and we stopped only when I went off course, which was less than usual. Either my map reading is improving or the continuous walking helps. OK, we cheated once or twice using Emma's magical phone but I was almost always right. The result was that we reached the end of the walk (19 miles instead of the advertised 18) in record time. We could have stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant but the fear of being late at a birthday celebration to which we were invited cut off this distraction. This must be the future of walking, we have to spread the word.
Report by Marin
Twelve of us set off from Otford station, coming quickly upon St Bartholomew's church, dating from the 12th century. A quick look inside revealed some interesting wall hangings and an unusual Easter crib scene. Moving along past a converted old school house and a medieval hall we picked up the Darent valley path, passing a pretty converted Oast house. Initial progress was slow with so many pretty buildings but we picked up the pace alongside the River Darent, although the very large scout troop(s) on their 21 miler soon overtook us. Lunch was at the Crown in Shoreham, a pub which was not so walker friendly. Shoreham's church of St Peter and Paul boasted a large wooden rood screen and a fabulous stained glass window by the pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Crossing the river to leave Shoreham we continued along to Lullingstone castle and Roman villa, where after tasting the local wines one checked out the Roman mosaics, while the rest of us indulged in some ice cream. The ford at Eynsford was tame due to the dry April but the tea shop was superb. We finished the walk at the ruin of Eynsford castle (still free to enter, although perhaps not for too long). A lovely castle with plenty left to the imagination.
Thanks to everyone for joining me on this interesting walk through Kent villages.
Report by Deirdre
Stepping back in time - Photo by Deirdre
Oast house ... where are the hops? - Photo by Deirdre
Stunning stained glass - Photo by Deirdre
Crossing the Darent - Photo by Deirdre
Eynsford castle...free! - Photo by Deirdre
Onward to the next castle - Photo by Deirdre
Vintage... Tempted to drive it away... - Photo by Deirdre
Four adults, one baby and two dogs attended part or all of my walk and visit to Hughenden Manor.
We departed West Wycombe just after 10am on our slightly amended buggy-friendly route as no one brought a buggy. So a few stiles allowed us a slightly better route out. After the railway line we were quickly ascending into Bradenham Woods which were remarkedly light on others considering the weather was a nice sunny spring morning.
Downley Common and woods before a short ascent to Hughenden Manor for lunch. Busy as expected but we'd brought packed lunches so no need to queue for ours. After lunch some went to find the Disraeli Monument - don't think I've been there so will have to include in a walk sometime in the future - whilst others went to the manor and then home via a more direct and very buggy-friendly route taking in Downley village.
Thanks to Nick, Rachael, Carol and Lochlan plus Nick's two dogs for joining me for this six-ish mile walk.
Report by Steve R
The location was perfect - the nearest path was located at the corner of the house, pubs, restaurants and Spar shop within 200m. The Old Post Office cottage has three en-suite bedrooms, a very well equipped and kitchen, all kept clean by a very energetic owner, Judith who was so kind to leave for us fresh homemade cookies and a bottle of wine. The father of Luci / Amazon Prime decided to make the Saturday walk a bit tougher adding high winds to the cloudy day. Sunday was sunny and windless, almost a summer day.
The walks were as follows: Saturday's walk was 16 miles long, with a total vertical ascent of more than 2000 ft. NW up the top of Lose Hill, W to Hollins Cross, N to Edale, SW to the top to Lord's Seat and E cross its Ridgeway, S to Old Moor NE to Castleton via Limstone Way and back W to Hope. Sunday's walk was 12 miles long, with a total vertical ascent of more than 1100 ft. N up to Hope Cross SW along Ladybower Reservoir down to the Weir and back E to Hope over Win Hill.
The food at The Old Hotel pub was so-so but that offered by The Curry Cabin was exceptional - we fully recommend this restaurant if you visit Hope.
It was a very enjoyable active weekend with a very pleasant group atmosphere - thanks Amanda, Karen and Paul for joining me.
Report by Marin
We had another large group for the annual open day at Perivale Woods. There was the usual confusion at the station as many groups assembling there - several exchanges of personnel from one side to the other took place.
The carpet of bluebells were in fine display as we followed the winding paths through the ancient woods - full of oaks, ash, hazel and many other trees. In the heart of the wood there was a display of nature studies by the Society and we met Jessica, the group's new artist, who was painting a new water colour by the tree house. After the walk we had teas and cakes at the newly opened Bluebell Centre before climbing up Horsenden Hill to the summit. After a descent through Horsenden Woods we finished with a late lunch at the Ballot Box.
Report by Brian
Arrival at woods - Photo by Brian
Path through bluebells - Photo by Brian
Towards centre - Photo by Brian
By Tim's tree house - Photo by Brian
Jessica at work - Photo by Brian
Tea at the Bluebell Centre - Photo by Brian
View from Horsenden Hill - Photo by Brian
This was an action packed 4 night weekend in Country Antrim. Most of us managed to take in the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast, where this unfortunate ship was built, as a prelude or a postscript to some truly fabulous walking. Accommodation was two adjacent cottages on a small estate between Portrush and Bushmills. On Friday morning, after a spot of car juggling at Portrush and at Bushmills, we set out from the picturesque fishing port of Portrush on the Causeway Coastal Path. This path took us from the village via coastal ridges and sandy beaches to the castle of Dunluce, a stunning medieval ruined castle, (occupied by MacQuillans, MacDonnells the earls of Antrim) built on the edge of a basalt outcropping connected by a bridge to the mainland on the coast, basalt being the prime feature of the coast. The Causeway visitor centre was the low point of the day, not worth the entry fee. Dinner was at the Bushmills Inn, fine dining for weary walkers.
On Saturday morning all eleven of us took in the main Giants Causeway heritage site (quiet after departure of any tour buses). This did not disappoint, hexagonal stepped formations, tall towers of basalt, and much more. Having visited 'the organ' and beyond we retraced our steps a little to ascend to the cliff-top and carry on along the Causeway Coast. The scale of this site can really only be appreciated by continuing the walk. The basalt formations extend for miles along this coast. Even the photographers took a rest as each corner revealed even better views, long sandy beaches, limestone cliffs with deep caves, afternoon tea by the beach at Ballintoy before the final push to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, arriving just two minutes too late to cross, although some might have been relieved due to gusty winds. An excuse to go back at a later date. Views of Rathlin island, Islay and the Mull of Kintyre completed the picture. A little bus took us to the harbour at Ballycastle, where the local Marine Hotel managed to fit us all in for some good food, with a bit of live music thrown in.
On Sunday morning saw a few of us sightseeing in Belfast, where in addition to the museums, both an Orange march and a military-style funeral were spotted. Eight of us took the ferry to Rathlin island, a nature reserve. Highlights were the RSPB reserve at the lighthouse, where puffins, cormorants, nesting ravens were all viewed with the help of the binoculars provided and the assistance of the enthusiastic RSPB volunteers. A bus trip back to the harbour, where the driver provided a free guide to the island and history and even deposited us in the best location to view the basking seals, was the icing on the cake.
A trip to Bushmills distillery on Monday morning completed the weekend.
Thanks to Catherine, Dave, Efisia, Emma, Jane, Jeff, Nathalie, Mary, Marin and Rodica for joining me and being such great company on this amazing weekend, when even the weather was in our favour.
Report by Deirdre
Portrush....the start - Photo by Deirdre
Follow the Causeway Coast Way (CCW) - Photo by Deirdre
Stepping out on the sands - Photo by Deirdre
Stunning views - Photo by Deirdre
Dunluce Castle - Photo by Deirdre
Taking a break - Photo by Deirdre
Reaching the World Heritage Site - Photo by Deirdre
Hang on to your hats! - Photo by Deirdre
To add scale - Photo by Deirdre
More basalt formations - Photo by Deirdre
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge - Photo by Deirdre
The ferry - Photo by Deirdre
Rathlin island - Photo by Deirdre
Basking in the sun - Photo by Deirdre
We made it! - Photo by Deirdre
We made it! - Photo by Deirdre
A wonderful walk was had between Ware and Waltham Cross. New friendships were forged and the beautiful natural environment added to the day's spectacular walk. We saw many ducks and swans on the River Lea as well as some truly beautiful houses along the New River which is not far from the River Lea. We were lucky enough to see a swan building her nest and sitting on 2 eggs. Lunch was enjoyed under the trees at The Crown pub in Broxbourne. Overall a walk that is highly recommended for the future.
Report by Lara
On Thursday one of our newer joiners, Jessica, arranged a very interesting art exhibition and talk. As part of the evening Jessica created a watercolour painting of a bluebell wood to show the techniques for painting in the outdoors.
At the event we also also welcomed Gurpreet, a fund raising volunteer from St Lukes Hospice who came to the hall to tell the group about the Hospice and their fund raising events.
Report by Brian
Start of event - Photo by Brian
Jessica starts water colour - Photo by Brian
Humay offers advice - Photo by Brian
Finished painting - Photo by Brian
A mixed group attended this sun-blessed location at Stratford upon Avon.
YHA Hemmingford House in Alveston had many attributes: ensuite rooms, a well-stocked bar, a games room, a restaurant and self-catering kitchen, lovely grounds and a large free car park. Although the hostel was a little way out of town, bus routes and local cabs did not cost too much to get to the start of the activities from the town centre. I would like to thank those who provided lifts in and out of town: Martina, Paul, Derek and Rachael (hope we did not take you guys for "Grant"ed, especially Rachael).
Good Friday saw the majority of us meet at the Garrick Inn, the oldest pub in Stratford, after frequenting different eating establishments. I thought I'd be "Bard" from here, although it turned out Not to Be, after ordering a pint of Shakespeare!
Easter Saturday: A "Villages near River Avon" walk took place starting and finishing at the Gower Memorial in the centre of Stratford. This 11 mile walk took us along a route following the River Avon (it had a certain Calling), and then onto several scenic villages, Weston-on-Avon, Welford-on-Avon and Binton. We stopped for a pint at the Shakespeare and at Binton Church we found an interesting exhibition dedicated to Captain Scott. Some of our party went outside stating "they may be some time". The return route took us parallel to the Avon, on the opposite side of the river, passing through peoples' back gardens, eventually passing the race track, nobody took a "fence", and then back to the town. Rachael went geo-caching for the day, and Martina and Daniel visited Mary Arden's Farm, returning looking a bit "sheepish".
All the Party bar one ate at the Pen and Parchment pub in the evening, although the pub had lost all of our previously confirmed menu choices. Obviously not "Set in Stone"! No problems though, people re-ordered "As You Like It", could have been a "Comedy of Errors"! Diana saw Julius Caesar, not a salad but a play at the Shakespeare Theatre.
Easter Sunday: Martina ,Daniel, Jan and Jeff went for a cycle ride along the Greenway. Paul, Bev, Ollie and Archie went for a tour round Shakespeare's houses. The rest went on a historical guided tour of Stratford, which was really interesting. Corny jokes were in abundance, although not when we visited Shakespeare's tomb, that would have been a grave situation! The Gelletts, Humay, Cathy and I ate home-made stuff at the hostel with the others going to The Bear in Stratford. Jeff said his curry was "PHAL". Birthdays with cakes happened for Bev and Derek over the weekend.
Easter Monday: Visits to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and the National Trust house. Afterwards met in town for planned boat trip, didn't materialise! Plans capsized! Met in Huggins Tea Room except Cathy who went for a McDonald's. She bought a world map, written by Charles Atlas!
Then home! Thanks to Cathy, Nick, Rachael, Jeff, Humay, Jan, Martina, Daniel, Derek, Prem, Paul, Bev, Ollie, Archie and Diana, who made this a fantastic weekend.
Report by Mike S
9 of us met on a gloriously sunny morning at Sunningdale. We headed through the village, stopping by the church which had cherry blossom trees in full flower. We continued into Coworth Park through the polo grounds, passing the manor where a wedding was taking place. Toodle pip said the sign at the lodge.
We then crossed to Virginia Water where we did a circuit of the lakes before entering the Valley Gardens. This is full of twisting paths giving dramatic views of the varied landscape, the vibrant colours of the azaleas were evident. We had our picnic by the monument at the viewpoint looking down to the lakeside.
Continuing past the Obelisk Lake we entered Windsor Great Park and then Englefield village where we stopped for cooling drinks in the shaded beer gardens at the Sun Inn.
Climbing now through meadows and horse paddocks we reached the summit of Coopers Hill and the RAF memorial. It has a dramatic setting on the edge of the hill and is designed as a chapel with a cupola reached by a spiral stairs. From the open balcony on the roof we took in the panoramic views of the Thames valley below. We headed south via Runnymede meadows to Egham for trains back to London. Returning member Daniel, plus new joiners Jilly, Mary and Sunganda plus two PNMs joined the regulars Brian, Humay and Mark.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Arrival at Virginia Water - Photo by Brian
Valley Gardens walk - Photo by Brian
Lunch stop - Photo by Brian
Colourful paths - Photo by Brian
Azaleas at Punch Bowl - Photo by Brian
Walk to Obelisk - Photo by Brian
Cooling drinks at Sun Inn - Photo by Brian
Coopers Hill Memorial - Photo by Brian
View over Thames Valley - Photo by Brian
Lovely spring-almost-summer weather for my Hams and Hills walk. Six of us with two legs plus one with four on the walk. Route broadly north from St Botolph's church at Bradenham, heading up for the first forty minutes to Lacey Green. Then Grim's Ditch and the Chiltern Way through some lovely woods for lunch at St Mary Magdelene church next to the glorious Hampden House. A place we've been to before for lunch!
Post lunch, our route turned more southerly across more woods and stunning views of rolling Chiltern hills. And then up another one of them, up to Piggots Wood and quickly down again to Speen village. The pub was no more but by chance there was an Easter Egg hunt village fare. Serving tea and cake which one of our party had two helpings of.
Doing good time, we headed south again from Speen to Walters Ash, alongside the RAF HQ and down through Park Wood and back to Bradenham. GPS said 12.7 miles including a small faff so well within the ish, in fact not much ish at all! Thanks to Brigitta, Emma, Mary, Bertrand and Marin for joining me.
Report by Steve
Nine of us met outside Uxbridge station on a pleasant Saturday morning. We walked through the crowded shopping precinct and then down alongside the Fray's River. Everyone was surprised how there could be such rural tranquility so close to the hustle and bustle of Uxbridge town centre. From there we crossed Uxbridge Common, stopping to look at the old water tower, now a private house. Then on to cross the A40 and into Swakeleys Park. We admired the Jacobean Swakeleys House in the distance, sadly rarely open to the public. We continued along the River Pinn, pausing to visit the medieval Pynchester Moat. Our walk now included parts of the Celandine Route, at just the right time of year, with many celandines in bloom. Then on via New Year's Green into the ancient Ruislip Woods, unfortunately a little too early for bluebells. We made our way into Harefield via the churchyard of the 12th century Harefield church, which John Betjeman considered to be the most exciting in Middlesex. Then through Harefield village and dropping down to The Old Orchard with its wonderful views of the Colne valley for lunch. That was nearly all we had as we were told they were not serving outside because of the risk of showers, but fortunately we we were able to find a cosy table inside. After lunch, we lost Miyeon and gained Fenella for the straightforward walk along the canal back to Uxbridge. Showers were forecast which perhaps put some people off, but although we saw some dark clouds it was dry for the whole walk and we had some lovely sunshine. Thanks very much to Rob, Monika, Lindy, Miyeon, Suri, Rakteem, Henriette, Fenella and Pinaki for joining me for an enjoyable day. Look forward to seeing you on the next one.
Report by Jeff
Great Western Railway did their best to deter people from joining this walk, due to essential engineering work there were no trains out of Paddington to Slough on this Sunday morning. Despite that, and the fact that the clocks went forward that morning, nine of us made it to the start point in Marlow. We were joined along the way by one member, who shall remain nameless, who forgot to put her clock forward!
We weaved our way through Marlow to pick up the Thames path and set off to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Thames. This section of the Thames is lined with an array of beautiful houses from all schools of architecture. There was even a house with mock turrets and battlements! Arriving by midday in Cookham we stopped for a short break, with some of the group opting to visit the Stanley Spencer art gallery and the rest repairing to the pub. Stanley Spencer is well known for his depiction of biblical scenes happening as if in Cookham. He described it as "a village in heaven" however at £4 for a small sherry glass of pistachio nuts in the pub, St. Peter must be making a fortune.
Leaving Cookham we carried on towards our lunch stop in Maidenhead, picking up our latecomer on the way. Lunch was taken in a café on the outskirts of Maidenhead, as it was thought that many of the finer hostelries in the area would be packed with families celebrating Mother's Day. Food arrived very quickly, alas it was not ours but another table 11? I took the last portion of fish and chips, depriving Teri, one of our American friends who joined the walk from Meetup, of this traditional British delicacy. However I was able to assure her that she wasn't missing much, as the fish might as well have been caught from the Thames.
Refuelled, we continued on, taking in the sight of Eton Dorney lake which was used as a venue for the 2012 Olympics. Eton College private property signs help to keep the riff raff out these days. Eventually the majestic sight of Windsor Castle came into view. As we completed the last section of the walk we saw a plaque that marked the spot where Eton schoolboys used to bathe in the Thames. Bathing was governed by strict rules, including standing behind a screen when members of the fairer sex went past in boats. Punishment for infringement of the rules, they were warned, would be severe. On arriving in Eton we crossed the bridge to Windsor and made our way to the station. Having about a 45 minute wait for the next train we took tea and cake in one of the multitude of cafés in Windsor station. Great Western had got their act together by then and trains were running normally back to Paddington.
Thank you to Anna, Emma, Brian, Natalie, Humay, Marzena, Nina, Teri and Robin.
Report by Dave
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Marlow riverside - Photo by Brian
Colourful Thames Path - Photo by Brian
Crossing Thames at Bourne End - Photo by Brian
Cookham churchyard - Photo by Brian
Lunch near Maidenhead - Photo by Brian
Rowing club busy today - Photo by Brian
Path near Dorney Reach - Photo by Brian
View towards Windsor - Photo by Brian
Five of us met for a not so prompt start to the walk. We set off from Ibstone Road and were soon walking through Twigside Bottom Wood following a very flat route before our first steep climb into Hanger Wood. We continued to Monsells Wood where we briefly veered off the main track. At this point we were fairly close to Fingest.
We reached Skirmett by 1pm for our lunch stop at the Frog. The pub was really busy so we had to take our seats in the beer garden and despite all of us ordering either lunch or drinks we were told it was very un-PC to eat our own food at the table!
Following lunch we took another climb through Great Wood exiting with views towards Turville and the famous windmill. We then headed west and our route continued through Idlecombe Wood. After a short descent we followed a track which took us back to Ibstone. We reached the start point by 4.30 pm having completed 11.8 miles.
Thanks to Emma, Marin, Merce and Rodica for joining me on the day.
Report by Mary
The sky was overcast but the mild temperature and the daffodils clearly showed that spring is here with us. The old guard - Rodica, Marin, Nathalie and Monica - wasn't sure the four newcomers - Maria, Melissa, Jonathan and Richard, who were looking to join a walk called "Hertfordshire Way Hike" organised by a group from West London actually wanted to join us. After some clarification from the committee member, and a small charge of £5 per Meetup joiner we accepted them very warmly into our group.
The walk largely followed the advertised route. A detour around Sacombe House, where the building works closed the path and a change of pub stop because the proposed one had closed down were the only changes.
The old guard dined in style at The Anchor in Wadesmill. The food was excellent and the main waitress, Stephanie, offered some unexpected entertainment, better than a character form Catherine Tate's sketches, while the new bunch headed directly to the starting point's pub.
Lovely walk and very enjoyable atmosphere - thanks all for joining me.
Report by Rodica
Group photo with modern art and committee member in the middle - Photo by Marin
Proud leader - Photo by Brian
Looking for signs of alien life - Photo by Brian
Sacombe House - proof that the construction boom extended to the countryside - Photo by Brian
The best waitress ever - Photo by Brian
Listening to the committee new instructions - Photo by Brian
8 of us including 1 new joiner spent the weekend exploring Cardiff and surrounding countryside. We stayed at an independent hostel on the River Taff facing the Principality Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park. Very friendly hostel which offered free cider and pizza on Saturday night to all residents and the generous continental breakfast buffet was included in the price.
On Friday Martina led the early arrivals on a walk through the centre ending at a restaurant by the Cathedral. Leo and Nick arrived late and took in various entertainment venues with Leo arriving back just in time for an early breakfast at the hostel.
On Saturday we hired bikes for our circular expedition. Our route was along the Taff trail cycle path passing through the redeveloped Cardiff waterfront, the yacht marina and sculpture park. We climbed up to Penarth village to give us great views over the entire Cardiff bay with the Black Mountains in the distance. Helen did very well to negotiate the hairpin bends on the steep ascent whilst towing Daniel in the trailer. On the other side of the ridge we found a clifftop viewing platform looking across the Channel to the Somerset coastal resorts. We stopped for lunch at the restored art deco pier at Penrath Beach. We completed the cycle tour via the spectacular Bay Barrage (built 2007) with its Arts and Heritage trail showing the history of the coal and shipping trades. Leo as always discovered a hidden lakeside bar where we enjoyed some afternoon drinks with views across the Bay. In the evening, after the free cider and pizza, we found a traditional Cardiff inn for food followed by Roger leading a walk through the sporting history of Cardiff.
On Sunday we walked through the parks and gardens of the suburbs to reach the historic village of Llandaff. This was the original setting for the Christian settlement of Cardiff before the main town emerged. We explored the impressive cathedral, Bishops Palace and Village Towers before tiffin at the splendidly historic Jaspers Tea rooms. On arrival Jan rearranged the art works and Renee ended by buying one. We returned to Cardiff making our way though a very busy riverside park full of runners on a sponsored race. Our route took in a circuit of Cardiff Castle before Brian led the group to our final afternoon tea stop at the Gallery tea rooms.
Report by Brian
Rowing on the Taff - Photo by Brian
Outside principality stadium - Photo by Brian
Helen climbs with Daniel on tow - Photo by Brian
View over Cardiff Bay - Photo by Brian
Penarth Pier - Photo by Brian
Inside the pier - Photo by Brian
Cycling across the Barrage - Photo by Brian
Millennium Centre on the Bay - Photo by Brian
Llandarf Cathedral - Photo by Brian
Bishops Palace - Photo by Brian
We all stop for tea - Photo by Brian
8 of us were on this walk, including a few new joiners. Some came via GWR and the rest via the new Chiltern service. The train was very crowded, announcements in Japanese for the many bargain hunters alighting at Bicester Village.
We quickly found the Thames Path for the riverside walk. Some new developments were mixed with industrial heritage buildings. Beyond the town the Thames was busy with canoeing teams being urged on by their trainers running alongside. Our route took in the meadows and sports grounds of the Thames Valley before we headed back on the other bank towards Oxford.
We stopped for our lunch break at a pub by Magdalen Bridge. Carroll reminded us of the correct pronunciation of "Magdalen". We then explored the alleyways and quiet streets winding their way through the various colleges. Christchurch had a huge queue whereas the other colleges were quiet and allowed us a glimpse inside the historic quadrangles. We climbed the 99 steps to the top of Carfax Tower to have a superb panorama of the entire city. We then took in the Radcliffe Camera and the attractive squares around the Bodleian library before finding a traditional tea shop for our late afternoon teas.
Report by Brian
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Thames Path - Photo by Brian
Follys Bridge - Photo by Brian
New Rowing Club - Photo by Brian
Christ Church Meadow - Photo by Brian
View from Carfax Tower - Photo by Brian
Gatehouse to Oriel College - Photo by Brian
Radcliffe Camera - Photo by Brian
Seven of us were at the meeting point on Sunday morning. We left Chenies to follow the River Chess route westwards. We had a quick stop mid-morning and at this point Steve left to return to the car. Lochlan had completed his second walk with the group and we were delighted to have him along.
We reached Ley Hill at noon and then walked to Flaunden stopping at the 18th century inn, the Bricklayers Arms for lunch. Our afternoon route took us to Chipperfield Common, then headed south to Sarratt, a descent to the River Chess and back to Chenies. We finished at 4.30 pm as planned. This is a very easy route, we did 11.8 miles so shorter than the advertised distance as well as enjoying a lunch stop in the pub beer garden. Please support our rural pubs when planning your walks. Thanks to Emma, Mike, Mick, Steve, Carol and Lochlan for joining me on Sunday.
Report by Mary
Group all prepared with maps - Photo by Brian
Walking with maps - Photo by Brian
Snowdrops on the walk - Photo by Brian
8 of met at Reigate station for the first new members walk of the year. Melissa, Trudie, Peter, Georgia and Anontella were on their first walk with the group together with Brian, Jackie and Bertrand. We headed south to Reigate Heath which has a golf course, cricket field and horse riding tracks all sharing the open heathland. A short climb took us to the 18th century Reigate windmill which is now used as a church and meeting venue. We then commenced the long climb along an ancient trackway, Colley Lane up to the North Downs. At the summit of Colley Hill we enjoyed the panoramic views south as the skies were clear today. We then headed north-west venturing onto Walton Heath, a wild medley of gorse and bracken.
Our lunch stop was at the Blue Ball Inn at the picture perfect village of Walton on the Hill with its village pond and green. The pub had been recently restored and extended and we had a table on the gallery level overlooking the Surrey countryside south. After a leisurely lunch we continued up to Walton Downs, high above Epsom Racecourse with views north towards Surrey and the outskirts of London. The rights of way criss cross the racecourse and we followed the racing track around the summit of the hill to Tattenham Corner for the trains back to London.
Report by Brian
Start by Reigate Heath - Photo by Brian
Reigate Windmill - Photo by Brian
View from summit of heath - Photo by Brian
High vis on everyone today - Photo by Brian
Manor house by Colley Lane - Photo by Brian
View from Colley Hill on North Downs - Photo by Brian
Climb to Epsom Downs - Photo by Brian
View over Epsom Racecourse - Photo by Brian
24 of us met on a very sunny and frosty morning at the Clocktower Café. We took over most of the café as the 2 groups introduced each other over coffee and pastries. We set off once the latecomers arrived and followed the Brent Valley Path to the canal. From the canal path we crossed the GWR Brentford railway over a foot crossing. Lavinia then showed us the most scenic way to Blackberry Corner. The raised area afforded fine views on such a clear day.
We continued into the parklands of Osterley House. Rosie (volunteer at the House) gave us a talk on the history and architecture of the estate. We had a late morning tea stop here at the National Trust Stables café. A major feature film was in production with film crews much in evidence. Tim tried to discover the identity of the stars passing us in the blacked out limousines but the crew and staff were sworn to secrecy.
We walked north across the parklands and meadows towards Norwood Green. We had a late pub lunch at the Plough taking over the dining room and its fire. Nick's dogs made friends with some local dogs and Jeff made his customary dramatic arrival to join us for the second half of the walk.
Our afternoon route took in various hidden paths and tracks via the West Mid and Brent Valley golf courses. We explored the Brent Lodge Park and somehow resisted another café stop there. We continued under Brunel's GWR Viaduct to finish the walk back in Hanwell at the Viaduct inn where Jan and Richard entertained us with their repertoire of jokes and anecdotes.
Report by Brian
Start at Clocktower café - Photo by Brian
Crossing Brentford branch line - Photo by Brian
Blackberry Meadows - Photo by Brian
Tea break at Osterley House - Photo by Brian
Lunch at The Plough - Photo by Brian
Group photo on canal bridge - Photo by Brian
The weather was undoubtedly the focus of the day. As I drove up the M40, visibility was down to tens of meters and the rain lashed against the windscreen, but we HAWOGians are made of sturdy stuff...
Jeff was the other nutter to turn out on such a day, he had heard that a number of fine-looking maidens were intending to come along, he appeared distressed when it became apparent that I was all that was on offer!
We left Hambleden behind, uncertain of our future, the rain a constant companion.
Jeff was trialling a new garment, a waterproof cape. The cape not only covered himself but his backpack and so keeping everything dry. Jeff reported a good flow of air throughout and so no damp undergarments due to excess sweat. An all-round winner. I did think Jeff looked a bit like an umbrella and was tempted to use him as such, however I could not figure out what to do with the spare leg!
Up through Red Hill and the surrounding woods towards Stonor. It was very boggy and large pools had formed on the track. The route has a total of 8 fairly steep gradients which are manageable in good conditions, but today they were a challenge.
We stopped at Pishill Church for lunch. On approaching the church I suggested we say a little prayer to ensure the porch was not locked. Clearly someone was listening, not only was the door open, but there was free tea and coffee with a box of flapjacks (suggested 50p each). There was a visitors book beside the box of flapjacks, Jeff penned a suitable note of gratitude. There was also a whiteboard with a note from the previous walkers dated January 1st, apparently they too had a wet day.
So, onwards and upwards towards Turville Heath and Southend where our route went south until we reached Great Wood and our last ascent before the return to Hambleden.
This is a very good route with lots of variety and much to see, I shall be doing it again later in the year, I would urge all to come along and hopefully enjoy the day in better conditions.
Many thanks to Jeff.
Report by Mike