With great weather on our side and 11 enthusiastic festive walkers we started at 11:00am and ended at 1:00pm. Sights covered included Arc House, Harrow Memorial, Harrow School and the quaint cottages on Crown Street. A well-earned stop at the Castle pub for refreshments followed on to St Mary's Church and Lord Byron's grave.
In attendance were Pauline, Julia, Janet, Sandy, Sarah and several new joiners.
Report by Alpa
4 of us met on a rather overcast Saturday morning at Chesham station for our annual post-Christmas walk.
We headed off promptly at 9:45am, immediately tackling the first hill of the day as we headed east towards Botley. We then headed north and later north west to get up on to a ridge that took us towards Hawridge. Our route then took us south west towards Ballinger Common, and included, appropriately enough, a Christmas tree plantation (although this year most of the trees had been cut down) and later our lunch stop.
We then headed east towards Chesham, this time avoiding Herberts Hole as it would have been far too muddy. We reached the end of the walk a little earlier than expected, at around 3:15pm.
Thanks to Amanda, Malcolm and Pankaj for joining me.
Report by Phil
We set off shortly after 10:00 from Chorleywood station heading across the Common to pick up 4 more from the car park adjoining the cricket club. The sun was out as we left the busy road behind and walked downhill to pick up the River Chess path. We headed towards Chenies all eagerly anticipating our Christmas lunch. We picked up the River Chess path heading west from the village and shortly met up with Jeff who easily spotted my high vis.
We arrived at the Red Lion at 12:30, and one of the group left at this point. Sorry I don't have the lady's name but she has recently moved to the Chalfont area so hope to see her join us on another walk. The newly reopened pub looks great, and we had a large table near the window and the sun was streaming in. Our meals arrived quickly, were really tasty and the Yorkshire puddings looked amazing. The beer choices were popular too. Aruna easily won the Christmas jumper prize.
We left the pub at about 15:00, still plenty of light as we headed back to pick up the river path. We saw some kestrels hovering overhead and spotted the llamas as we got back to Chorleywood. We took the quickest route across the common back to the station as the light was fading at this point.
Had a really fun day, will definitely put this event on again next year. Thanks to Aruna, Brian, Dave, Dee, Efisia, Jeff, Lindsey, Malcolm, Michael, Mick and Mike for joining me. We completed about 9 miles on the day, finishing at 16:00.
Report by Mary
Five of us met at 10:15 on a bright but chilly December morning outside Chesham station. We set off at a brisk pace in a westerly direction, quickly warming up as we made our way uphill out of Chesham town towards South Heath. After a couple of miles, we turned left and headed off in clockwise direction around the various villages on the outskirts of Chesham. We quickly dropped from our high point down through a small wood and into Herbert's Hole, then quickly back up the other side of the this steep valley towards little Pendor Farm, briefly pausing to catch our breath after this steep climb up the hill. We then continued onwards to Chartridge, crossing another steep valley on the way there. As we made our way through Chartridge, for some unknown reason most of the group decided to stop off and weigh themselves down with glass bottles of cider and apple juice from the Chiltern Ridge Cider Press who were more than helpful to help us do this. With these extra supplies on board, we continued on our way across another steep valley and up into Captains Wood, after which we stopped for a much needed lunch break to help lighten the load in our backpacks.
After lunch, clouds and light drizzle now replaced the blue sky, which we had earlier in the day. We made our way down into our fifth valley of the day at Pressmore Farm before rising up the other side and onward towards Lye Green. The terrain had now levelled off and was replaced with open fields, many of which had recently been ploughed, combined with the earlier rain, which had made some of these paths quite hard going. We stopped at the Hen and Chicks in Codmore for some well-deserved refreshments but being aware that the daylight was now starting to fade, we decided to continue on our way through the woods and fields finally arriving at our start point, just after darkness had fallen at 16:45, completing some 11.3 miles.
Many thanks to Jeff, Brigitta, Mike S and Ofer for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
Four of us met in Chenies on Sunday morning for 10:00am. The sunshine was an added bonus as we made our way along the Chess Valley passing Latimer House. We went through a farmyard before heading north to Ley Hill mainly through woodland paths. We made a quick stop at the Swan pub in Ley Hill which had a very welcoming roaring log fire. We continued through the golf course in Ley Hill and open farmland to reach Flaunden just after 1:00pm. The Green Dragon pub is closed for major refurbishment and we stopped at the Bricklayers Arms as planned.
After lunch we continued to Chipperfield Common and down to Sarratt. This is flat easy walking and we enjoyed the fading sunlight and the last of the autumn colours. We crossed the River Chess again on our way back to Chenies. Finished walking about 4:15pm having completed 13.6 miles.
Thanks to Brigitta, Malcolm and Mike for joining me. Jasper and Jacky kept us to a good pace.
Report by Mary
Our spectacular Christmas weekend took place in wonderful Lee Valley hostel.
Friday allowed 21 of us to arrive in style at the country lodge which was part of the hostel, which we had hired for our sole use. Festooned in all types of novelty outfits, dinner was provided by Jan, Liane and Martina. A surprise visit from Father Christmas interrupted campervan Anne's amazing mulled wine. Father Christmas soon sorted out the good from the naughty during secret Santa present giving. You know who you are! After pass the parcel which was won by little Dan, big Dan was the MC for the night and for once, no-one complained about the volume. A naughty elf stole Sandra's phone, so the best photos are lost in the cloud.
Saturday brought beautiful clear skies and gloves. Five intrepid cyclists headed north and skidded around the valley on the ice. Brian didn't let us down after finding the only hill in a 50 mile radius. It wouldn't have been a Brian ride without it. We also managed to squeeze in a tour around Waltham Abbey, with necessary cake stop. Everyone else joined Martina on a wonderful 10 mile walk around the 1000 acre park including art trail and lakes. A fabulous pub with fire and hot toddies captured several walkers and then the cyclists at Broxbourne whilst the rest raced home to attack the cheese board and compare / steal other people's last night's presents. We all made it back to the hostel in time for traditional festive dinner at ye olde Christmas curry house despite the enticing lure of the pub fire. Festivities included the long established argument over the bill, which was keenly anticipated and did not disappoint. Back at the hostel there was more frivolity and dirty dancing from Father Christmas again, who couldn't keep his hands off the HAWOG lot.
Sunday brought big Dan's birthday treat, breakfast at Wetherspoons. We all steamed home to put up our trees, having started Christmas properly.
Too many people to thank individually, but Martina and I would like to thank everyone for sharing this wonderful time with us. And a special greeting to Helen P who sadly couldn't make it and we hope will be able to come next year. It wouldn't be Christmas without you all!
Report by Jan
After some difficulties with public transport seven of us met on a fairly mild day by the Eleanor Cross at the front of Charing Cross station. Brian had a fabulous book which gave the history of iconic buildings along the river and so was able to keep the group informed throughout the walk. We crossed Hungerford Bridge and made our way along the south bank taking in the Festival Hall and the National Theatre. The walk was at a leisurely pace allowing the group to chat and we carried on towards London Bridge, passing the OXO Building and the impressive Shakespeare's Globe. We had a pit stop at Southwark Cathedral café but unfortunately Borough Market was closed. Nonetheless a coffee and a snack in the cathedral café were appreciated.
We headed off towards Tower Bridge and passed City Hall. This part of the river was preparing for the Christmas markets with lots of wooden huts being put up and the tourists in this area were evident. After going underneath Tower Bridge we found ourselves in the quieter Butlers Wharf and as we walked further along the river images of Bill Sykes and Fagin sprung to mind. This part of the Thames Path is being developed and we all thought an apartment overlooking the river here might be nice. We continued on the Thames Path, some of which was by the river and some on the road and whilst this part is quite industrial we found some sections with stunning views of Tower Bridge and back along the river. We ended our walk at the oldest pub on the river, The Mayflower, where the pilgrim fathers left in July 1620. As it was a Sunday it was very busy but we managed to get a drink before heading to Rotherhithe station. Some of the group had a quick look at the Scandinavian Christmas market before heading home.
Many thanks to Diane, Effey, Dan, Barbara, Helen and Brian for making this a lovely walk.
Report by Pauline
On this lovely wintery morning Malcolm, Santi, Pedro, and Mike D joined Mick and I for this fine walk along the Thames.
We headed off at around 9:10am along the Thames Path towards Cookham. The river was very high but thankfully not encroaching on to the Thames Path. The early morning mist over the river made for beautiful views as we passed by the autumn-dressed trees. From Cookham we followed the river up over the rise known as Winter Hill and looked down over the river which looked like glass at this point, the boats reflecting. Up and down through the beautiful Quarry Woods, a huge life-size elephant marking the entrance to a home along the way. A short bit of road before reaching Marlow. The time was only 11:00am, so early lunch in the sunshine. We had made great time.
We hit a lot of mud in the open fields once we left Marlow, which made the walking a bit harder, along the other side of the river. The birds and the raging river made pleasant walking until just prior to the Thames Yacht Club where we detoured slightly to a delightful pub, The Spade Oak, and enjoyed a pleasant hour, before walking another good hour back via Cookham and the Thames Path to the car park, our starting point. A wonderful walk, great company, no rain and all in all very enjoyable. I bet you wish you had come now as the time was only 3:20pm and we were on our way home to a well-deserved rest. 12 miles in all and thank you all.
Report by Claire
Five of us braved the chilly weather and dubious forecast as we set off from Petts Wood station. David, Coogie, Zainul, Diane and I picked up the London Loop and enjoyed a fresh autumnal walk through the National Trust owned Petts Wood and Hawkwood taking in the glorious array of colour and the unexpected warm sunshine. We came across a monument to William Willett, the chap who championed British Summer Time, originally he wanted to put the clocks back 80 minutes, by moving the clocks back 20 minutes each week for 4 weeks, not the hour we are used to now. Continuing on to Scadbury Park Nature Reserve the conversations included, amongst other things, mushrooms and wildlife as we encountered lots of green parakeets and various fungi along the way. The delightful ruin of Scadwell Manor with its enchanting moat was our next brief stop as we basked in the warm weather.
After a loop of Scadwell Park we headed to our 2:00pm appointment at the fascinating Chislehurst Caves. Arriving at 2:05, just as the heavens opened, we found that we'd missed our tour and had to wait an hour for the next one, which gave us a few moments to enjoy the museum and tea shop. Presently our guide brought the caves to life with stories of ancient rituals, ghostly hauntings, lots of interesting ancient facts and the use of the chalk mine caves as an air raid shelter in the Second World War, when 15,000 people lived in the caves. We also discovered that the caves had been used as a music venue in the Sixties, when groups such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Doctor Feelgood all played there.
When the tour had finished, Zainul headed for the station as the remainder headed for the Imperial Arms where we had a table booked for refreshments. Sampling the local fare we recounted the day and considered ourselves lucky to have had such good weather for the walk and although the rain did eventually catch up with us, we all enjoyed the day and were glad we came. A brief walk to Chislehurst station and we all said our goodbyes before heading home muddy, happy and a little bit tired.
Report by Dan
Well 5 of us met for this 12 mile walk, and the weather was OK, just occasional drizzle.
We started off at a brisk pace through the fields (crops now gone) so we stayed dry this time! We reached South Mimms then headed north through Redwell Wood and on up towards North Mymms. Yes, they are spelt differently. We passed a memorial to Lord Nelson's cousin, not sure why his cousin needed a memorial. Then we headed on towards our lunch stop in Colney Heath, the Crooked Billet pub. Unfortunately a tad early for Zainal to be served food but they relented thankfully.
After lunch it was off towards the lakes via the Watling Chase Trail, passing the serious anglers and reachin Willows activity farm which was busy as usual, with numerous children enjoying themselves. Then we passed through Broad Colney and back over the M25 and on to the home straight, passing Arsenal FC training ground, and as Phil pointed out Watford FC had a gigantic inflatable structure in the field opposite. We were not sure of its purpose. Anyway onward we passed through an aerodrome, the only evidence of this was a windsock and a chap trying to assemble a flying contraption. Finally after a few more fields we had come to the end of our journey.
Thanks to Claire, Zainal, Anne and Phil for accompanying me today. Finished in double quick time!
Report by Mick
We were greeted with a glorious day as we arrived at Hambleden, sunny, cloudless and not too cold. Ten of us (and Jacky the dog) set off across the village meadows and ascended the surrounding hill and its beechwoods with dazzling autumn colours.
My near fatal fascination with wild fungi was not appreciated by my fellow hikers and they quietly ushered me on. The day's temperature slowly rose and some of us walked without jackets in the late October sunshine. The few hills and elevated fields offered magnificent views of the Thames and surrounding countryside. A signpost by local landowners encouraged us to take a slightly alternative route but it was not to our liking and we'll stick to the old route through the young woods next time. We were accompanied by buzzards, red kites and pheasants on our way to Stonor Park where we stopped for a packed lunch overlooking the impressive estate and herds of deer.
Heading off again, we stopped for a photo shoot of a magnificent red mushroom, fly agaric. The mixed coniferous and deciduous woodland was a delight and we wound our way through field and lane and forest, descending steeply down the valley back to the delightful village of Hambleden where most of us stopped for liquid refreshment at 'The Stag and Huntsman'.
Many thanks to Claire, the two Mikes, Deirdre, Jeff, Efisia, Dave, Brigitta and Julie for a very enjoyable day out in the Chilterns.
Report by Tim
Very much a rain and shine weekend. Belting with rain when we arrived Friday evening. And belting with rain Saturday until lunch time when it got lighter and finally stopped mid-afternoon.
Main event for Saturday was to the Iron Bridge, its museums and Victorian village at Blists Hill. The drive was challenging with constant waterlogged roads. Some went around the Iron Bridge and lunched in the town; Carol, Lochlan and I walked up Blists Hill and visited the Victorian town. Old cobblers, chemists and post office amongst numerous other shops and businesses. Coal mining and a traditional fairground followed by a showing of the 1902 film "A Trip To The Moon". Black and white of course but kept our attention for its fifteen minute duration - well, it was near to Halloween. With the rain stopped we headed back to Iron Bridge, an hour's walk and back to YHA Bridges just after 5pm. A few brave souls (and soles) didn't go to Iron Bridge with us, instead venturing out in the rain on the Long Mynd - wet, cold with views of the grey.
Saturday evening, most ate at The Bridges pub around the corner from the hostel. Good food. The hostel breakfasts were good (this time), so I was told, and the hostel warden very friendly but I remembered my last stay there in November 2008 - South Shropshire - so wasn't chancing the dinner! Seriously YHA Bridges is a lovely old hostel - was in the first ever YHA handbook from 1931 - with decor still to match! No seriously it is authentic, basic in some respects but adequate with a cosy living room with open fire and lots of conversation. We had the whole hostel to ourselves.
Sunday was the shine. Blue sky. Frost in the morning. We did an eight mile walk from the hostel to Stiperstones reaching the rocky summits before lunch time. Glorious day for a walk. We used the extra hour to walk (departed hostel 8am winter time) rather than spend in bed. Finished the weekend on a high.
Thanks to the sixteen who joined Carol, Lochlan and me for the weekend.
Report by Steve
Eight of us met on this fine and fresh autumn Sunday morning. We set off through Chorleywood Common, going left at a crossroad of "rides" originally created in the eighteenth century as an avenue through trees, wide enough for two horse riders to pass each other. Walking and chatting merrily we passed the Black Horse pub and gardening allotments, through woods and along the road to Rickmansworth lakes, where my golden retriever Monty could at last let off steam. Off the lead he swam in the rivers and lakes. We laughed as we watched him do the 'doggy paddle'.
After a quick comfort stop at the aquadrome cafe we headed off down the canal to the outdoor cafe for scrumptious hot sandwiches and tea. Three of the group headed home with various aches and pains and the rest of us walked through Rickmansworth town centre emerging near St Mary's church where we picked up the footpath by the beautiful and meandering River Chess. Monty dog was thrilled at the chance of another paddle and leapt around athletically, splashing as he went. We walked across paddocks and fields, passing a man on horseback, and saw a pair of dead pheasants (male and female) locked together on the path like "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt. I imagined the poacher dropping them after being spotted by the landowner! Continuing along the Chess Valley Walk we detoured up the hill through the woods. Maple trees with fiery autumn colours adorned the path as we passed the historic Chorleywood House. Enjoying each other's company and ready for a pint, we stopped at the Black Horse pub. Fire roaring and with fine ales and cider we enjoyed a drink before it started to rain with perfect timing, after the walk had finished.
Thank you to Humay, Pauline, Jacqui, Dee, Marian, Debbie and Julie for your company and interesting chats.
Report by Paul
Brian, Dan, Diane, Freddy and I met up at Cockfosters station and headed to a nearby coffee shop for a spot of caffeine before we set off. That coffee shop is apparently quite often frequented by George Michael's dad (but he wasn't there that morning) so we took our drinks and headed back to the station where we picked up newcomer Joanna. It wasn't the best of weather, the ground was wet and muddy underfoot and the second I spotted her brand new shiny white trainers I knew they wouldn't be shiny and white for long. Just as we reached the park, after almost slipping over a few times, Joanna decided not to come on the walk. It was the right decision, no walk is worth breaking an ankle over. After waving adios to her the rest of us set off. Originally owned by the Sassoon family who are related to the Rothchilds, Trent Park has an interesting history. It dates back to the 14th century and once formed part of Henry IV's hunting grounds. During the war Trent Park House itself was used to house German prisoners of war. Later on it became part of Middlesex University before it was sold off to developers who are turning the building into 263 flats. With a nod to its past they are going to house a museum on the ground floor.
At the top of Trent Park, Phillip Sassoon installed an obelisk in memory of the birth of George Grey, Earl of Harold, who was the son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Its date says 1702... the problem being that's wrong, George Grey was born in 1732 which just goes to show you can't believe everything you read. So we pushed on. Looking forward to a pint in the Rose and Crown pub near Forty Hall, we were a little disappointed to find that it had closed down. Shame, apparently that place was owned by Dick Turpin's grandfather and dates back to the 1700's. Black Bess may well have been tied to the iron ring that can still be seen hanging from the pub wall. Bypassing the Rose and Crown we soon arrived at Forty Hall where, much to Freddie's joy, we met up with Gilly. We sampled some cider and would have had another but the proprietor said, "I don't want to open another wine box because it might end up wasted." I'm taking bets on her company going bust this year due to total lack of customer service! Just before we visited Forty Hall House, two Chinooks and a helicopter zoomed in overhead, low enough to make us think they were landing. I don't know who they were looking for but Brian made himself scarce. We did a loop of Forty Hall then headed back to the station. All in all, a damp and drizzly, but very nice day. Thanks for coming guys.
Report by Coogee
3 of us met on a grey but dry Saturday morning at Otford station to start the third weekend of walking the North Downs Way. We set off shortly before 10:00am, heading uphill on the longest and steepest climb of the weekend. We walked along the ridge for a large portion of the day, with just a couple of descents and ascents, and we were mostly protected from what rain there was by the fact that a good proportion of the day's walking was through woods. We completed the 16 miles in good time, reaching the end of the day's walk in Cuxton shortly before 4:00pm.
On Saturday night we stayed (and dined) at a fairly historic inn (albeit with modern bedrooms in annexes) in Thurnham in Kent, which conveniently would also be the end point of the following day's walk.
Sunday morning was also unexpectedly dry, and we set off promptly from Cuxton at around 9:15am. Starting with a long walk across the Medway Viaduct alongside the M2 and HS1, the walking then generally followed a similar pattern to the previous day, where we were mostly protected from the rain by walking through woods. Unfortunately the last mile or so of the walk was fairly exposed, and so turned out to be the wettest and windiest part of the walk, but we were nonetheless able to reach the end of the 12.5 mile walk at around 1:30pm, at which point we headed home.
Thanks to Amanda and Karen for joining me.
Report by Phil
On a fine sunny morning at Henley we joined other cycle groups at the riverside coffee shop. The Thames was crowded with boaters as we headed off to cross the river by the weir below Hambleden. After climbing via tracks Coogee led a detour to St Katherine's Parmoor where he once attended a writers retreat. The mansion, on a Templar estate, once belonged to King Zog and has been in several films. We then sped down a very rapid off road descent. Our route then took in the three picture postcard perfect villages of Skirmett, Fingest and Turville. We ventured into the Norman St Bartholomew church at Fingest and stopped for lunch at the Butcher Inn by Turville village green. Top views of the Vicar of Dibley church and the windmill on the hill.
We then climbed again to Ibstone before another fine descent through the woods to Stonor House. The woods were full of patridges, scattering as we raced by. Our final descent took us back to Henley where we happened upon the end of the literary festival (crowds out for book signing by Julian Clary). Just in the nick we made it to the impressive parish church for a jolly decent cream tea to celebrate the end of the ride.
Report by Brian
Ten of us met for my walk across north London. The weather was very kind and stayed dry during the entire walk, though the report was for rain by 4pm, so I was keen to get to the end by then.
We headed out of Baker Street station and into Regents Park, where we soon had a brief stop so Peter could take a photo of a very obliging heron. On past the Open Air Theatre and then London Zoo and to our first viewpoint, Primrose Hill. On reaching the top we turned to admire the splendour of the city. I think all agreed that with relatively little effort you are rewarded with a stunning panorama. On the lower slopes of Primrose Hill we encountered a farmers' market. The aroma of exotic foods was very tempting, but we had a schedule to keep so could not explore. We worked our way north towards Hampstead Heath and more greenery. Dave W was incredibly well informed about many things and points of interest, explaining the origins of the blue plaques across the capital (over 900 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them). We rested briefly at the sports fields on the Heath for a toilet break before making our way up the hill and past Highgate Cemetery. At the top of the hill we entered Waterlow Park where we had a lunch break at the cafe and met Gilly and Freddy who joined us for the remainder of the walk.
We sat outside to eat our lunch as the day was warm and pleasant. Peter (visiting from Germany) was very complementary about the walk route and said how much he enjoyed the variety offered by London. After lunch we headed up Highgate High Street and had a brief look at the former residence of the late and great George Michael, thanks to Gilly for taking us there. Downhill now to Hampstead Heath to Kenwood House and its majestic setting. The pace slowed a little as the hills and streets were taking their toll on the group. The final viewpoint at Parliament Hill was a treat! Kite fliers dog walkers and lovers of city life were all there. We had a group photo to remember such a lovely day. Three of the group left us at Hampstead Heath station, the rest went on to Hampstead tube station where we said bye to Gilly and Freddy. Dave T was keen to show us the final resting place of John Harrison, who created the marine chronometer which helped to resolve the problem of longitude. We visited the Hampstead parish church and the grave of John Harrison and also discovered that John Constable (famous painter) is also interred here.
Thanks to all who contributed to such a lovely day: Ava S, Gilly, Freddy, Helen, Jacqui, Laurianne, Olivia, Dave T, Dave W and Peter.
Report by Mike
Seven of us attended the walk, Michael W, Malcolm, Susan, Colin, Pat, Mark and me. The route was from Uxbridge to Langley Park which was 4.5 miles each way on an easy route, 4 hours total walking time. After leaving Uxbridge station we walked to Cowley Hall Recreational Ground where we crossed a small bridge over the Frays River. From there it was just a short walk to the Grand Union Canal. We were told that the canal was completed in 1794 and learnt about the barges on the river and how they were managed and the costs of mooring and buying. After leaving the canal we followed the path which crossed over the M25 and followed various footpaths alongside some very expensive and imposing properties. We arrived at the cafe in Langley Park and stayed an hour for lunch. On the way back Michael pointed to what appeared to be a very high tree which was in fact a disguised aerial mast. We could just see the antennae at the top but otherwise you would never know the difference. The forecast was rain for most of the day but apart from some light drizzle now and again we were fortunate that it held off. I hope that those who came along enjoyed the walk.
Report by Ian
When we all eventually arrived at Thurlby hostel we had the grand tour of this magnificent building. Once settled and chilled out we all decided to create a feast for a Queen that was devoured splendidly by all. We had a lovely evening chatting and getting to know each other.
On Saturday we started our day with cooked breakfast and polishing off the left-over buffet. Tummies full, we headed off into Stamford, the finest stone town in England. We were greeted by an amazing day with a festival of life in the times of the Georgian period, with many taking part in the delights of the Punch and Judy show, pony rides and watching the dancing and music. We visited the camping sites of the soldiers, unfortunately we had to say goodbye to continue our planned visit to Burghley House and gardens. Our walk took us through some lovely churches, with the town in the spirit of the Georgian festival. We saw some lovely horses and carriages as we strolled through the market and came across a steam punk submarine for some more light entertainment. Onwards we went and came across an amazing antique shop that never seemed to end. With lots of treasures found and bought we carried onto Burghley House which was built and mostly designed by William Cecil with amazing views right across the land. We stopped for light refreshments, and here we found out that 'eggs come from cows'. We ended our day at the lovely Horseshoe Pub. The food was outstanding and made even better with the company.
On Sunday some of us revisited the antique shop and Burghley House while the rest headed off to Peterborough to see the amazing Cathedral and the old church. We took a short stroll to Nene Valley Railway and watched the Flying Scotsman come steaming along. A few of us were lucky enough to get tickets to take the ride on the fabulous steam train although a few of us had to run to catch it.
Thank you to Helen, Zoe, Coogee, Tessa, Derek, Prem, Dan, Liane, Jill, Dean, Sarah, Sughanda, Brian, Jan, Martina, Daniel and Rachel for making this a fabulous weekend away.
Report by Diane
Six of us met at the restored station café at Peckham Rye on a very warm and sunny morning. Our Open House London day was to take in Peckham, Dulwich and Herne Hill area. Our first stop was the amazing waiting room at the top of the station. Built in 1863 it was a billiard hall for decades and then abandoned. We saw the progress on its restoration with a photographic exhibition taking place inside the vast hall. Our next venue was an architectural office created out of stationers with a carp filled pool to the rear leading to a garden for office lunches. After some visits on the way we went on a tour of a very quirky bungalow. Full of innovative touches it was featured on Grand Designs and includes a hidden mezzanine bedroom and a sliding bed over the bath tub! At the Quay House we took in the new apartments added onto a 1930s milk depot and took advantage of the teas and cakes there to have lunch in the sun filled garden overlooked by the beach huts.
We took the Overground (views from the viaduct) to Dulwich where we found the original Olympic velodrome still in use today. We then visited several conversions in the Herne Hill area, one of which appeared to have been created as an experiment in finding the most unusual materials to reclaim. After walking by the Salvation Army main HQ and the stunning Denmark Hill station we took advantage of the very sunny afternoon to stop in Ruskin Park. At the park caf&ecaute; Gilly shared out her rather spiffing homemade lemon drizzle cake and we reflected on another jolly day out celebrating London Open House. Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Rob W, Pauline, Peter, Gilly and Freddie.
Report by Brian
Blessed with some fine sunny weather Brian, Gilly, Rob, Sandra, Dean, Coogie, Diane and I set off on our coastal walk from Benfleet station with smiles all round. We passed Barge Gladys, a lovely little pub on a boat which we all agreed deserved more time than we had to spare, as we headed east along Benfleet Creek. Passing Hadleigh Castle and the mountain bike course we were all enjoying the splendid weather and our eyes were drawn to some radio controlled aircraft flying above us, one of which appeared to be a model jet fighter. The coastal path then led us past Leigh station and into the old town of Leigh where we perused the fresh fish stalls before joining the throng of the crowd at the regatta.
After sampling the entertainment of the bands and some light refreshment at the Peterboat pub we pressed on through the quaint fishing village and Fred had a quick paddle to cool off as we began the second half of our walk and left the creek and met the estuary and headed for Chalkwell. Baking in the sunshine, some partook of the local ice cream in an effort to combat the heat. With the famous pier now in sight we could see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and smell the fish and chips, then it was decided thst we should ride the new Axis ride at the Adventure Island theme park, so Coogie, Dean and I were spun around and upside down about 100ft in the air before we all walked along the pier and enjoyed another drink. After catching the train on the return journey along the 1.3 mile pier we went looking for a lunch of fish and chips and sat on the sea wall feeding the seagulls and reflecting on the day. Finally we walked up Pier Hill, enjoying the sunset and on through the high street to the station.
Report by Dan
The weather was amazing - warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze. The route was scenic and the leading was spot on - I did not make any detour from the intended route. From Burnham Green we headed north to Woolmer Green then east and south to Bramfield where we stopped for lunch in the garden at The Grandison. The service and food was excellent, except Paul's deep fried fish.
After lunch, we headed further south and west up to the Church of St. Peter in Tewin with the strange tomb of Lady Anne Grimston, and then north to the starting point, that was reached in time despite the stop for some sloe harvesting.
Thanks to Rodica and Paul for joining me.
Report by Marin
Seven of us met at Wendover station for a 12 mile walk on a bright and sunny Sunday morning. From here we set off uphill towards the hamlet of Dunsmore, where we took a short break to catch our breath. We then followed several footpaths through a mixture of open countryside and woodlands towards the first of our peaks at Whiteleaf Hill, taking a minor detour near the peak due to me not knowing my left from my right! We finally arrived shortly after 1:00pm, stopping to have lunch whilst taking in the excellent views from this viewpoint, which is high above the town of Princes Risborough.
After lunch we set off along the Ridgeway footpath towards our next destination, briefly stopping for drinks at the Plough Inn at Lower Cadsden, before continuing onwards along the Ridgeway path. Our route took us though the grounds of Chequers, then up through Fugsden Woods before arriving at our second peak at Coombe Hill. Again we stopped to take in the views. From Coombe Hill luckily it was then all downhill back to the station at Wendover, arriving back at the station with minutes to spare before the train home.
I would like to thank Martin, Linzi, Cynthia, Marin, Rodica and Dean T for joining Jasper and me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
A wonderful crisp autumn day took us around the sights of old Ealing. We started with Questors Theatre, a fantastic display of costumes from their shows, photos and drawings from local artists. We then visited the newly refurbished Walpole Park cafe to view a challenging exhibition on 'home', a moving and touching display of images which necessitated the first tea and cake stop to recover. We moved onto to several different houses and managed to sneak Freddie the dog into all of them, with one artist happily holding him until Gilly returned. After a trip to St Johns Church we headed to the Foresters pub via Julie's secret passage, via the oldest allotments in London. After a fisticuffs between Brian and Tim for the sizzling tiger we all shook hands, and met Roy for the second part of our trip, who was fresh as a daisy and revived our vigour. Amazing images, tea and cake were imbibed. Vic explored the intricacies of Pussy Riot with an artist who had hid them behind an Ercol chair. Maureen rounded us up and Sugandha was official photographer with intent to show her own photos in future. Rob pondered the cost of oil vs acrylic and decided to stick to Lycra. An auspicious day for all involved who were awakened to different realities seen through the eyes of many different artists.
Thanks to all of you for joining and the stimulating company. 15000 steps and 6 miles covered in the pursuit of knowledge.
Report by Jan
21 walkers met at the Ruislip Manor Farm for our Sunday morning walk. A lively food market takes place every first Sunday of the month so some of us stocked up on essentials (pastries and coffee) for what was to be a decent 5 mile sunny walk to our final stop and hearty pub lunch. One walker had mild regrets about buying quite so much jam which she then had to carry, but we agreed it would make the walk a genuine physical challenge. We admired the manor farm buildings - the great timber barn is probably the oldest of its kind in Greater London at 700-years-old - before heading through Kings College Gardens, across the River Pinn towards Ruislip Lido. A few families were enjoying the lingering summer sun on the 'beach', but most avoided the water because, despite the beautiful setting, it is apparently unsafe - shame! Not that we let the red warning flags ruin a good photo opportunity, of course. The Ruislip Lido stream train whistled past as we followed the track round through the woods and back to the Celandine Way. We crossed the recreation ground where Ruislip Rangers FC happened to be holding youth competitions. The teenage boys guarding the entrance were kind enough to let us cross the field without paying if we promised not to play football (sensing serious competition, no doubt). We wended our way along the River Pinn on a section of the Celandine Way with a stop at Eastcote Gardens, highly recommended and fragrant with summer flowers and herbs, before arriving at the Case is Altered pub.
There we were joined by one of Bill Nighy's offspring (allegedly) as well as Angou, swelling our ranks to a mighty 23. Sunday lunch was well deserved (even after the pastries) and an opportunity to socialise with current and new group members. Some of the group extended the lunch into the afternoon and took their drinks outside in the sunshine. Aruna and I felt lucky to have led our first walk with such a fun and friendly group - including Brian, our reassuring walking mentor, and Runi who was so helpful marking the back of the walk - and would like to thank: Humay, Elaine, Janet S, Karen Mc, Christine, Brenda, Rita, Liz O, Maureen, Zoe, Maneh, Helen, Shirley, Dawn, Julie C, Sue, Linda, Vic, Angou, Runi and Brian.
Report by Michela
Six walkers met at Eleanor Cross. The day was exceedingly hot so we took in shaded sections when possible. We crossed Hungerford Bridge and started the walk along the South Bank taking in the sights. After passing the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre, we climbed the yellow staircase to have a look at the roof terrace overlooking the Thames, still a lovely place for a quiet coffee or beer. We continued past Gabriel's Wharf where there was some "art on the sand" then the OXO Tower, Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe. We passed a couple of old pubs on the river but restrained ourselves until passing Borough Market and stopped for refreshment in the café in Southwark Cathedral. Two of the group went into Mass at this historic building. We then crossed London Bridge (which was the hottest park of the walk with blistering 32 degrees burning back on our head and necks) and made our way to Leadenhall Market. The market was quiet but The Lamb pub was preparing for a wedding party and the group enjoyed the Victorian architecture. We continued onto Old Spitalfields Market and stopped for lunch. The market was lively and we tried some Ethiopian Food which was interesting, before heading towards St Katherines dock with the iconic and beautiful Tower Bridge and the Tower of London in the background. The dock was busy and was preparing for the round the world yacht race. The heat remained intense and so it was into the Dickens Inn for a cool down and a beer. Everyone chatted freely and seemed to be enjoying the day. After our break we made our way back onto the South Bank, passing City Hall, The Scoop and HMS Belfast. We reached Hays Galleria where we had stopped for a last and well deserved drink at the Hornimans.
Thanks to Mark, Ian, Coogie, Diane (who ducked every photo) and Heather for a lovely day.
Report by Pauline
A band of merry bank holiday makers gradually meandered into Sheringham by various means of transport. Brian, Rob W and Dean took the high road on the heritage diesel, the Poppy line, to Holt and back with cab side views whilst the driver explained all the controls. They excitedly arrived back in time to eat fish and chips with everyone as the sun set on the windmills of our mind. And when Natalie saw Dean's wally in the chip shop, she had to have one too, trying to expand her knowledge of British culture.
Saturday brought an early start for 25 intrepid bounders. Cathy unfortunately hit the dirt 10 minutes into the walk, ruining her shorts and then destroying her walking boots in the process of getting clean. After a wash down, we took a beautiful 5 mile beach walk from Sheringham to Cromer past the wind farms out on the bright blue sea. After strolling along the prom prom prom for cockles and muscles alive alive oh, the lure of picturesque Cromer town was too much for some and they stayed on to wander the cobbled lanes. The remaining 15 cantered another 5 miles along the beach to Overstrand, to have tiffin overlooking the magnificent North Sea. We walked back to Cromer with the sun on our faces and golf balls bouncing off our heads from behind. Fore! Back in town Cathy dropped her coconut on little Dan's foot, and he needed much ice cream to forgive her. Dinner took place in various parts of town and we managed to offend a couple in the hostel who had sought peace and quiet, which they definitely did not get.
On Sunday Martina, Dan, Dan and Diane took an early steam train to Holt, feeling all fired up. Brian, Campervan Anne and Rob went to Wells for a walk along Holkham beach, allegedly the best beach in England, hoping to meet stars from the film Shakespeare in Love which was filmed there. The rest headed to Blakeney Point and everyone piled into the unsinkable (allegedly) boat for a trip to see the seals. They were less impressed by the boat load of tourists, as the temperature climbed steeply to 30 degrees and they had swimming to do. 12 of us stopped off at the National Trust lifeboat guy and walked back 5 miles along the beach to Cley windmill. This 18th century windmill is fully operational but has been converted to hotel and wedding venue overlooking the Broads. After checking the prices for Brian and Rob's forthcoming civil ceremony (too much) we visited an art studio with cafe by the reed beds for much needed iced drinks. We left Cathy, Shakespeare and Bev playing with Cathy's winky in the sea. Sadly it was claimed by the cold sea and deflated, never to rise again. Those who returned by boat witnessed road rage consuming Marston as several men lifted an anti-National Trust car which had been placed strategically to block the only road back to the hostel. Again we then spread around town for dinner and Sunday night brought the most amazing sunset to close the weekend. The night ended with an impromptu party supported by the Bee Gees which entertained the local fire brigade in their station but was not as popular with people sleeping in the upstairs bedrooms.
Monday brought goodbyes and a band of 5 visited Norwich Cathedral and Castle on yet another fab day. Little Dan led the way to show us how hula hooping in the cloisters of Norwich Cathedral should be done.
To Brian, Rob W, Rob P, Sandra, Mike D, Nick, Rachel, Chris H, Liane, Mary, Dee W, Campervan Anne, Mike S, Cathy T, Dean S, Debbie, Natalie, Big Dan, Diane, Little Dan, Paul G, Bev, Archie and Ollie. Thanks to you all, for a sensational weekend proving that the youth do not have a monopoly on fun and we are still more than capable of being banned from hostels.
Report by Martina and Jan
Three amigos alighted at Audley End for the day's Essex walk. We set off across bridleways, passing St Marks College to arrive at the Jacobean splendour of Audley End. We crossed the vast estate via the right of way path taking in Capability Brown's landscape. As the sun beat down on the golden meadows we reached the historic town of Saffron Walden. After viewing the alms houses and some fine late medieval mansions we were drawn in by music to a free concert in the park where we enjoyed an early lunch in the sunshine whilst listening to the ukulele band (Coggee providing expert pointers).
We then explored the historic parts of this remarkably preserved town, the main square with Italianate library; the impressive Gothic parish church; and the castle site. We found three of the four mazes, the medieval turf maze on the common and the challenging hedge maze in the delightful Bridge End gardens. We took advantage of the exhibition at Frys Gallery to see the evocative, perfectly English works of Ravilious (Eric and Tirzah). We then ventured to the cricket pitch next door to watch a few overs under a perfect blue sky. We finished at the vintage tea shop in town for some rather splendid Victoria sponge in this charming town.
Walkers were Brian, Jeff and Coggee.
Report by Brian
We met at Didcot station on a warm sunny morning for the Thames Valley cycle ride. Passing the GWR heritage railway centre we heard the steam locos chuff by. We followed Sustrans route 5 for most of the day. First village was Long Wittenden with many thatched cottages before we reached the Thames and the hamlet of Clifton Hamden and its unusual church overlooking the river. Our next stop was the ancient village of Dorchester on Thames (one of the first Christian centres after the arrival of St Augustine). Rather spiffing tea and cakes at the Abbey tea rooms with lots of guide books showing film locations in the village from Midsomer, Morse and Lewis. We continued eastwards and came to the historic market town of Wallingford. By chance there was a music festival in the Castle grounds featuring the town brass band and more fine cakes from the WI. We followed the Ridgeway bridleway south through hidden hamlets of North and South Stoke before arrival at Goring where we had final drinks by the riverside before trains back to London.
Report by Brian
20 walkers came to Vic's first walk for the group. On a sunny Sunday morning we set out on the Grand Union Canal and soon reached Denham Country Park. After exploring the park we continued to Denham village for lunch at the Falcon pub. We enjoyed a leisurely roast dinner in the beer garden where Derek and Prem told us about their recent globe trotting.
We then explored the very scenic village including a tour of the Norman church where Dean showed us the grave of the actor John Mills. We then did the return leg back to Uxbridge where many stopped for final drinks at the canalside Swan and Bottle.
Report by Brian
3 of us met last weekend for the second of 6 weekends of walking the North Downs Way.
On Saturday, we started walking from the viewpoint on Box Hill at around 10:00am. Heading east, we descended Box Hill, later climbing Colley Hill and Reigate Hill, before stopping for lunch in Merstham. The tough hills and the humid weather continued after lunch, as we continued eastwards over Gravelly Hill, Winders Hill and Gangers Hill, finishing at the top of Titsey Hill at around 4:30pm, a very good time for a distance of around 18 miles, although this paled in comparison to the 100 miles in 30 hours that many runners and walkers were attempting to complete along the same path as us, and on the same day. That evening, we stayed in rooms above a restaurant in Warlingham, dining in a very popular pub just across the street.
On Sunday, we started walking again from Titsey Hill at around 10:45am, although unfortunately we had to start the walk by repeating the strenuous climb up the hill that we had already done at the end of the previous day's walk. The day's walking wasn't nearly as hilly as the previous day's though, and we were able to complete the 12 mile walk in good time, reaching the village of Otford at around 3:00pm.
Thanks to Amanda and Karen for joining me.
Report by Phil
We were a small but perfectly formed group of 5 at Baker Street. We soon entered the tranquility and beauty of Regent's Park. We walked past the bandstand, the cafe and the open air theatre, chatting freely and everyone was blown away with the amount and variety of planting. We wandered around the rose garden and took in some of the statues and water features before heading into the hidden garden. We had a brief look around the small allotment garden before heading up to the avenues with their formal planting of urns. After this we walked up towards Camden Market, walking up Parkway and into Camden High Street. We located the Hawley Arms and agreed some free time for wandering around, meeting back on the roof terrace. As it was Saturday the market was heaving with people by the canal, eating every kind of food from around the world, in take-away cartons. The group met up and had a drink together before heading up the towpath towards Kings Cross. As we neared Coal Drops Yard everyone thought the conversions into flats of the old gas works were innovative and impressive. We had a brief wander around Coal Drops and also Granary Square before the walk disbanded. Four of us pushed the boat out (literally due to somewhat inflated prices) and had a drink in the Lighter Man by the canal before going our separate ways.
A big thank you to Ian, Jackie and the two Marks for making my first walk a real pleasure.
Report by Pauline
Friday: The small band that had travelled down earlier had now started to expand rapidly. Small pockets of people began to form around cars and tents and it was soon time to start the communal fire. The breezy conditions soon livened up a roaring flame and the evening was set. A few ventured off to the Square and Compass for the music at the Town Fair. Others were too comfortable renewing acquaintances and meeting new friends around the fire. We decided in keeping with the festival spirit to have our own live music with Formby impresario Coogee along with lyric sheets to boot. Vic's solo of "Where do you go to my lovely" went down with much gusto and acclaim.
Saturday: With R2 and Tony greeting the early risers and a surprised Brian after a forgotten gem Adam Ant was played we prepared for the days walk. Once kitted out we made our way to Chapman's Pool, only to find the footpath we needed seemingly blocked. A quick scout by Lol meant were heading for the beach earlier than intended. At the beach with the tide against us the only route possible was around the bay with an obstacle of rocks in the way. Once again Lol went on to assess the safety and with a thumbs up we followed. After crossing the footbridge and finding ourselves back on track we took a short break halfway up the hill to be entertained by a walker determined to fight the undergrowth and navigate the closed path. We then caught a glimpse of campervan Anne making her way around the inland route maybe not to be seen again today? It was then time to climb the near vertical Houns Tout and a well deserved rest at the top with rewarding views. Continuing on the South West Coast Path to Kimmeridge to our surprise we caught sight of our missing Anne and soon to be reunited we happened upon the Clavell Tower and its unique story of being moved away from the cliff without being dismantled. It also gave us the opportunity to view the nodding donkey of the Kimmeridge oil well, famous for being the oldest continuous oil pump in the UK. After a much needed ice cream break it was time to lose our scout Lol and we set off again through a 10ft maize field to the old village of Kimmeridge with its stunning thatches and garden ornamental designs. Not to be outdone was the Clavell Arms with stunning garden, excellent food and unusual bottle bar. It was here that others decided to hang up their boots. For the rest, we walked through the churchyard up the hill to Thomas Hardy Way and onto Swyre Head. The views both sides of the ridge provided outstanding views of the coast one side and Isle of Portland and Poole Harbour the other. Once we reached the official viewpoint we made our way to Kingston where we were treated to the amazing vista of Corfe Castle. It was at this point that Brian decided to investigate the church which was grand in size compared to the small but quaint village. The rest of us soldiered on back to the campsite via the Purbeck Way. Once back at the campsite it was revealed that Brian's walk was cut short by a returning taxi of HAWOGers. After such a rewarding walk it was time for the famous Bar-B-Skew Rotisserie for the meat and the legendary campfire. Music could be heard from the Square and Compass, where bands on the open air stage entertained crowds on a glorious hot day. It was now Dan's turn to provide the music classics for the campfire crowd.
Sunday: Once it was settled who was staying the extra night, the remaining walkers headed off for the short morning walk while others decided to visit Wareham on the way home as it was the only route out of the Isle of Purbeck. At Wareham swimmers were jumping from the 19th century bridge. The morning walk took us to St Aldhelms Head where a Norman Church invited us in to discover some wonderful stone architecture and unusual square design. Next we took a nose at the coastal lookout station and discovered this as an early radar site. A warm sunny walk along the coast brought us to the delights of Winspit with a rocky access to the sea and old stone mines now inhabited by climbers. It was then just a last uphill stretch to the Square and Compass for more music outdoors and much needed refreshment and an appearance by Anya the Irish Terrier pub dog on the roof.
Many thanks to Mark, Diane, Dan, Malcolm, Gilly, Peter, Brian, Martina, Coogee, Anne, Vic, Craig, Anna, Alessandro, Brigitta, Jeff and Lol, and non-walkers Hazel, Sue, Annette, Joolz, Pete, Eadie, Maddie, Louis, Dean and Daniel for joining us on this weekend.
Report by Nick
We met at Perivale station and started our walk through the parks of Ealing via the ancient Church Of St Mary Perivale A.D 1135. This walk took us through 4 different parks of Ealing. Who would've thought you needed a map to walk through some parks. We did! Unfortunately we didn't get to see the piano bench. We ended our evening at the Drayton Court Hotel with a great performance of Merry Wives Of Windsor. This has got to be the way to watch Shakespeare, with trains. The English weather - yes, the ponchos came out and even Freddy our mascot got to be in the play. Freddy wanted a part of the action. This play was a thrill to watch. Respect to the cast who had us laughing, tapping our feet and even breaking into song by the end of the performance.
Thank you to Julie, Brian, Ruth, Aruna, Tim, Pauline, Gilly, Freddy, Runi, Jan and George for joining me.
Report by Diane
6 of us met at Berkhamsted station on a sunny Sunday morning. We headed off promptly at 9:30am, walking along the Grand Union Canal towards Northchurch, then uphill to Northchurch Common and on to the Bridgewater Monument, where we stopped briefly for a mid-morning break. We then headed on to Little Gaddesden, and then north-east to Studham Common, where we stopped for lunch.
After lunch, we headed east and then south to Great Gaddesden, and then to Nettleden for a mid-afternoon break. We then headed south-west, passing through Frithsden, reaching Berkhamsted station at around 4:00pm, having walked just over 17 miles.
Thanks to Amanda, Anne, Karen, Malcolm and Mukul for joining me.
Report by Phil
Our fourth camping trip of this great summer was to the High Weald of Kent. Bedgebury was another new site for us and benefits from fine views across the meadows to the village of Goudhurst on the hill. The early arrivals walked through fields up to the village to check out the hostelries. Back at site Diane cooked another scrumptious chili meal for all and we then gathered around the campfire to sing along to Coogee's ukulele music.
On Saturday we set off on the High Weald Trail. By mid morning the clouds and drizzle had cleared leaving bright blue skies for our walk. Our route took in several orchards and vineyards in this garden of England. We also passed several converted Oast houses with impressive barns now hosting luxury vehicles. We reached the truly picturesque town of Cranbrook just in the nick as the church tower was open at lunchtime. We raced to the top for great views over the region before Jan discovered the church tea rooms still serving for a quick refuelling. We explored the outstanding windmill, the tile-clad cottages and the many independent shops in this busting market town. Our route continued via freshly cut hay meadows and fields of barley resplendent in the afternoon sun. At Gouldhurst we managed the second ascent of the day to the roof of the church, the highest point of the Weald. Our reward was panoramic views of Kent as far as the South and North Downs. We took over the rear terrace of the Star and Eagle for cooling drinks, and glanced admiringly at the lobster dishes served to diners. Back at site Diane cooked a hearty beef stew whilst Jan and Gilly were in charge of the barbecue and the salads. More music around the campfire with a fine clear night for star gazing.
Sunday was another scorchio day. After striking camp (teas and Radio 2 aiding the task) Rob C and Coogee set off on a tough mountain biking day in Bedgebury Forest. Rob led the route through challenging jumps, berms and vertiginous descents. Brian led the rest on a day out walking the estate and wonderfully colourful gardens of Sissinghurst. This was another Bloomsbury expedition following our Charleston tour last month. Sissinghurst is one of the finest gardens in England (designed by Vita Sackville West) and benefits from a central tower (our third of the trip) affording views over the whole estate. We ended with a rather splendid afternoon tiffin in the tea gardens of this jewel of the Weald.
New camper Felicity joined Brian, Jan, Rob C, Liane, Diane, Dan, Dee, Coogee and Gilly with Freddie.
Report by Brian
Brian and Dean were the cyclists on the Bastille Day cycle ride. On a warm sunny day we followed the Avenue Verte (AV) route (London - Paris) from Polegate to Eridge. The trains were busy with campers coming and going from the Brainchild festival plus some French visitors with whom we chatted about the Tour.
From Polegate the first half of the ride was along the superb Cuckoo trail, a converted rail line, traffic-free, flat and with lots of sights along the way. At Horam station (platform and sign intact) we stopped at the very well advertised cafe. After Heathfield the route was on quiet rural lanes with a long climb to the village of Rotherfield. Here we happened upon the annual festival in the large gardens of the Kings Arms. We enjoyed some English wine from the nearby vineyard whilst taking in the music and the fine views.
We continued north, finishing with an exhilarating fast off-road descent before Eridge. We stopped for drinks at the next door Huntsman, watching the Wimbledon final on the big screen in the garden (cricket world cup was on inside!) before catching trains back to London.
Report by Brian
Four of us on my Chesham Circular walk today. No radio required for me as I had company!
We headed east to Botley and then started our long mostly north east walk towards Tring Park. We stopped at eleven for tea at St Mary Church, Hawridge. Then past Tring Grange Farm to Wiggington (new village store and tea shop) before descending the steep woods on the south of Tring Park for our lunch stop.
After lunch, guess what, mainly south paths! Diagonal through High Scrubs and on to Cholesbury. Down the road turning off before Hawridge (we crossed the road the other way before lunch) and paths to Asheridge Farm. We stopped for tea about three at fresh cut grass along from Charteridge. South ish again, though Great Pednor Farm and the path past Hundridge Manor east to Chesham (nicer than the hedge restricting views of Herberts Hole). We reached Chesham by five, the one GPS said 21.2 miles. Weather mostly cloudy, temperature muggy, and not much ascent.
Thanks to Keith, Malcolm and Paul for joining me on this walk.
Report by Steve
After arrival at Colchester station we explored the medieval Botolphs Priory before following the Roman walls which enclose this oldest city in Britain. The walls are intact for long sections and feature the Balkerne Gate. The guided tour of Colchester Castle (largest keep in England) included the rooftop gallery and an exploration of the Roman vaults below the castle. After walking along the riverside trail and gardens we reached the newly discovered Roman circus (stadium for chariot racing). It is the only one in Britain and was found as the result of the demolition of Georgian era barracks for redevelopment. We finished the day at Jacqueline's vintage tea shop by the Roman walls for some rather splendid Victorian Sponge Cake before catching the Greater Anglia trains back to London. Walkers were Brian and new recruit David.
Report by Brian
5 of us met at Pinner on a warm sunny evening for the latest evening walk. We first took in Pinner Memorial Park where new recruit Judith explained the history of West House. We then joined the Celandine Way and followed the River Pinn through allotments, meadows and riverside woodlands. The ground was firm and mud-free after the weeks of dry weather and we soon arrived at Eastcote House Gardens. We explored the walled gardens, a feast of colour at the time, and discovered the new features - a recreation of the layout of Eastcote House on the lawn. The walk finished at the Case is Altered where we met some surprise guests in the busy beer garden. On the walk were Brian, Humay, Michela and Aruma with new joiner Judith.
Report by Brian
6 of us met for this for this lovely walk. It started off a tad soggy due to overnight rain, and long grass to waist height added to the problem. Undeterred we headed off. Weather improving, we soon dried out, crossing rolling hills and classic English countryside, through Radley Park farm. Then there was slight confusion as to where the M25 underpass was, due to the fact that the field was now full of crops and the public right of way was obscured. Once through we then encountered the pretty village of South Mymms, then headed north through the woods and more fields to North Mymms. And then headed into London Colney where we reached our lunch destination, the Crooked Billet pub, a fine establishment with a good reputation for fine, reasonably priced food, although most brought packed lunches which we consumed in the very pleasant beer garden.
Suitably refreshed and after plenty of banter we headed off towards the lakes. I seemed to have lost my bearings somewhat (only had a shandy, honest). After a while we reached a consensus - thanks to Mike D for deploying the compass. We then reached the highlights of the walk, Bowman's Lakes, frequented by lots of serious anglers, with all the kit and paying to fish there, so I suggested that we tiptoed past so they might actually catch something! We then had a rest at a great viewpoint, observing the swans and geese. A very peaceful place.
Once rested we headed off on the final leg of the journey, past Willows activity farm, masses of giggling children and then through the photogenic village of Broad Colney and on up through woods and fields where we reached our old friend the M25, this time going over it instead. We then passed Watford FC training ground and on up through fields and through what appeared to be a microlight aerodrome. A few more fields and we had come to the end of our journey. 13 miles completed.
Attendees were Bea, Claire, Miles, Mike D, Dean T and me. Thanks for the good company and banter. A grand day out, no cheese.
Report by Mick
Our third camping trip of the season was another sunny weekend this time in Suffolk at a new site for us. We pitched site under a perfect blue sky, being welcomed by the geese and chicken who wander everywhere on this unique site. Alde Gardens is a tiny site with winding pathways leading through trees and herb gardens to the yurts, bell tents and the gypsy caravan. We explored the hidden glamping delights and some resolved to hire them next time. We then gathered the vintage bicycles (free to use) and set off on the evening ride. Following country lanes we reached Saxmundham and took in the market square and station. Back at site Diane cooked a wonderful chili meal helped by pasta and rice from the camp kitchen (honesty box). Around the communal campfire we were joined by the glampers, the dark sky perfect for star gazing.
On Saturday we set off on the bike ride, passing farmhouses painted in salmon pink (the colour of Suffolk). We reached the 12th century round tower church at Bruisyard and then stopped for a tour of Shaws Vineyard with offer of teas from the friendly owner. Along quiet rural lanes we cycled on to arrive at the exceedingly picturesque town of Framlingham. After coffee and pastries at the busy marketplace stalls we climbed to the very impressive 12th century castle. The castle walls are all intact and we toured the battlements via the walkway with great views over the flat countryside. After seeing the Norfolk (Howard dynasty) tombs at the imposing church we continued south. We soon happened upon a curious garden workshop full of railway carriages and huts being restored. The owner swopped lots of artisan expertise with Rob whilst explaining about the historic exhibits. We then stopped at the former Parham airfield, home now of the secret army museum. We joined Martina and Daniel at Redham village fete after they had arrived from their geocache walk. In the evening after meals at the campsite pub we were entertained around the campfire by Coogee's charming renditions on the ukulele. His hidden talent for music and singing got us all, campers and glampers alike, singing along to many classics, finishing with a rousing "Always look on the bright side of life".
Sunday was another hot day; Coogee and Dan arranging a spiffing fry-up breakfast with the farm-provided bacon, eggs and sausages. Diane had arranged a day out canoeing for us on the Alde Estuary. We cast off in our Canadian canoes to explore the very scenic marshlands and reed-bordered river. Avocets and egrets were spotted overhead with pleasure boats coasting by. Passing some more pink-coloured farmhouses we alighted at the Snape Maltings arts and festival site where, amidst sculptures by Moore and Hepworth, we enjoyed some cooling drinks by the quayside in this delightful county.
Campers were Brian, Rob, Diane, Dan, Coogee, Martina and Daniel.
Report by Brian
We met at the cafe by Orbit, the iconic steel structure in the Olympic Park, on what was forecast to be a scorchio day, with temperatures due to peak at 32'C in the afternoon. After coffee and greeting the newbies, we set off along one of the tree-lined, lanterns-adorned avenues of the park, passing West Ham Stadium. The Yankees and Red Sox were playing at Olympic Park, and so the merchandising shop had a long queue. We peered down at the spectacular feat of engineering that is the Carpenter's Lock, with its mirrored bridge above. Walking to meet the canal towpath, we had views of the Copperbox. Once canalside, we saw miniature figurines and plenty of houseboats, sometimes moored two abreast. New housing was being built opposite on Fish Island. We were now walking westwards along the Hertford Union Canal. At the lockhouse, we turned off into Victoria Park, to walk round the lake under shade of mature trees, and on to the grand marble Burdett-Coutts Fountain, set in formal rose gardens. From here we could see the old bandstand, and then we crossed over to the boating lake with Chinese Pagoda on one of its islands. Here we sat and had lunch. We saw the dog statues at the park exit, and as we returned to the towpath, we were now on the Regents Canal.
This section was very busy with cyclists and other walkers. Up some steps and we were immediately in the foodie favourite that is Broadway Market. We separated briefly to listen to buskers and buy our food and drinks and meet up again at the north end, just inside London Fields. It was Pimms o'clock for some of our party. We marvelled at the tall wildflower meadow, whereas the cut lawns were crowded with sunbathers and families having picnics. A cricket pitch had a game in progress. We saw how crowded the lido was on such a hot, sunny day. Leaving London Fields, we soon entered the pedestrianised Hackney Grove, which opened up onto Hackney's main square with the new Hackney Museum opposite the Hackney Empire and the Civic Hall in the centre. A joyful wedding scene was being photographed on the front steps. Not far up the High Street we turned off to see St Augustine's Tower and to enjoy the walled garden walk. St John's Church, dating from 1792, was in need of major works, so could only be seen from the outside. While Brian made a detour of his own to Clapton Square, and Dan needed a pair of sunglasses, the rest of us sought the cool indoors of the corner cafe. It was now the hottest part of the day and Sutton House was close by. We all went along the footway and turned onto Sutton Place with its preserved Georgian terraced houses, and there around the corner stood Sutton House, a hidden gem of the National Trust. There was plenty of free time for tea and cake and viewing the historic house and its breakers yard with caravan. Particularly appealing was the central courtyard, with its cool shade and wooden seating under a climbing wisteria.
Thanks to Mark, Diane, Dan, Brian and Freddie and newbies Jane and Kay.
Report by Gilly
The Thames Path evening walk took place on another fine evening. Being around the solstice it was perfect for enjoying the long hours of daylight along the river path from Kew Bridge to Barnes. The towpath on Strand on the Green was crowded with lots of drinkers sitting outside the many pubs on this section of the path. We happened upon an outdoor theatre production of "Salad Days" at Grove Park church and listened to some jaunty tunes from the church gardens. Onwards we passed several canoe clubs out on the river with joggers and cyclists joining us on the meandering route. At Barnes Bridge we crossed the Thames with great views upstream from the footbridge. Walking through the heritage area of Barnes village we noted the blue plaques and the many impressive villas on the riverside terrace. At the Sun Inn, a Routemaster was waiting by the village pond for the party tour to depart so as it left we took advantage of the lull to have our drinks in the now empty beer gardens in the very tranquil corner of London. Walkers today: Brian, Rob W, Gilly and Malcolm, with Freddie racing ahead.
Report by Brian
Our second camping expedition was another scorchio weekend, at the charming village of Alfriston on the South Downs. No repeat of the incidents on our last stay (post-wedding party fracas and the kilted Scotsman stealing into tents); the site this time was crowded with identical tents for the Duke of Edinburgh groups. Early arrivals ventured to Tavern on the Tye for some splendid fish and chips in the terraced gardens overlooking the village green and the medieval church. Back at site the campfire was soon roaring away, with extra blue flames via Martina's magic potion. Great night for stargazing and many campfire yarns from Dan and Peter.
On Saturday we awoke to glorious blue skies and the camping stoves were soon busy with rounds of tea and hearty fry-ups enjoyed with Tony on the wireless. Martina led party 1, Pete, Rachael, Craig and Daniel on a geocache walk of 10 miles via Litlington, South Downs Way and the vineyard. Brian led the main group on a 14 mile walk via South Downs Way and the Seven Sisters. We popped into Alfriston church and by chance happened upon a bell ringing session. Then south with a stop at a pop-up charity stall serving jolly decent elderflower juices. Then into the timeless hamlet of West Dean, with impressive medieval church, thatched cottages and unmanned village shop with honesty box. We then climbed past the meandering Cuckmere River and stopped for lunch at the summit before starting the Seven Sisters walk. This is an exhilarating and challenging cliff-top walk with panoramic views east and west. The steep ascents and descents were especially tough on such a hot day, however we were inspired by a Spitfire fly-past and the Birling Gap café in the distance. Finally we reached Birling for well-deserved cooling drinks and ice creams. Onwards to Beachy Head and vertiginous cliff views with para gliders soaring overhead. The final descent to Eastbourne was a doddle and we celebrated with ice creams at Eastbourne pier.
Back at Alfriston, the village was busy with the parish barbecue on the green; we chatted to locals and learnt the identity of the famous owner of the Tavern on Tye. Back at site Nick and Craig were in charge of the barbecues with Diane creating a sumptuous salad for all to share. We followed with Victoria Sponges kept from the summer party. Martina lit the campfire with Jan and Diane leading the singsong after dusk.
Sunday was another fine day and after striking camp we walked to the Clergy House (first National Trust building) for a tour of the 14th century dwelling and gardens. Bees were lazily flitting here and there on the lavender beds. We explored the impressive vegetable and herb gardens plus the orchards by the river. We had early tiffin at the village tea shop before travelling onto the Charleston House. This was the country retreat for the Bloomsbury Set with the wonderful gardens being designed by Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry. Anne toured the house itself and was struck by the vivacity of the décor and designs. We ambled around the sculptures in the rose and walled gardens. As the afternoon sun was heating up we finished with a final cream tea in the Charleston tea gardens in this historic corner of Sussex.
Campers this trip: Brian, Rob W, Jan, Martina, Nick, Rachael, Dan, Diane, Gilly, Craig, Peter, Liane, Mark A, Anne and Jacqui plus Daniel, Freddie, Bobbie and Ellie.
Report by Brian
For our latest evening walk 3 of us met inside Brooks bookshop and coffee shop. We discovered that it was the former TSB branch; the vault has been left in place and is now a book club meeting room. We headed north via Waxwell Lane, passing several 16th century farm houses on route. We then left Metro-land and entered the lush meadows of Pinner Hill. We admired Pinner Hill House and the fine Victorian farm house. Then the climb to the summit of Pinner Wood and the viewpoint from the Georgian Mansion of Pinner Wood House (now the golf course clubhouse). Our route then descended south, passing Tookes Folly and several detached villas on the private roads of this secluded quarter before our arrival back at the start.
Report by Brian
3 of us met on a sunny morning in Earls Court for the annual Open Square Gardens open day. We explored ten gardens as part of our historical walk through Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia. All the gardens were splendidly maintained and featured very colourful borders and several centuries old plane trees. Entertainment was provided by musicians including "Treblemakers", an acapella group. We had Pimms at Nevern Square before trying the croquet. The day finished at the Aga Khan's Ismaili roof gardens with tiffin to follow in the impressive exhibition room.
Report by Brian
A big hi-five to me on my so-lo High and Low Wycombe walk today. No takers other than me. Completed the 20 miles in very good time though, averaging nearly 4 mph on my own. Depart 09:30 prompt. Finish 15:40. No waiting at stiles or other points for the masses (I wish) to get through or catch up.
Mostly cloudy day, but muggy. Not ideal for walking. Brief stop morning and afternoon for water. Lunch on Chiltern Way in Bloom Wood. Didn't see many others. Paths all OK except for along M40 at Booker where new fence post being erected meaning one end (the exit for me) had high metal barriers(do not enter signs) which I had to squeeze past. Maybe the responsible person for the works couldn't see the clearly marked footpath signs or didn't care. I suspect the latter of course!
Hope to see some of you on my next HAWOG walk!
Report by Steve
For the first camping trip of the summer we enjoyed a very sunny weekend at Woodfire Campsite in Sussex. 18 of us camping plus Jan and Carla staying at the cottage on the estate. Woodfire opened last summer, it is set within equestrian farmland and has stunning views across to the South Downs. After pitching tents the early arrivals made it to Ambersham for the Cowdray Park polo match. We were impressed by the speed and dexterity of the riders and Freddie picked up a awfully dented polo ball. After dusk the new illuminated bunting lit up several tents, Mike and Martina lighting the campfire for marshmallow toasting courtesy of Dee.
On Saturday we awoke to glorious blue skies and bacon baps at the camp kitchen. Martina led Daniel and Carla on a geo-caching tour of the area, following the serpent trail. Jennifer used her navigation training to lead Susie and Humay on a walk via Selham to Petworth town. They managed to get into the National Trust estate for teas by the Palladian mansion. Brian led the main group on a 15 mile walk (detour to Graffan for ice creams) and a long climb to South Downs. Superb panoramic view from Heyshott summit with descent to the Unicorn (classic car show incl Bodie's Capri). After cooling drinks in the beer garden we explored the medieval church and were struck by the swooping housemartins darting in and out of the farmhouse eaves. Rob W amused a passing nun with a very salty tale about Captain Kirk. We reached Midhurst and explored this fine historic town full of Tudor and Georgian streets. Turning a corner we happened upon an excellent tea shop with outside seating in the town square. Refreshed, our route back was via Castle Mound, old rail tracks and buttercup meadows. Back on site Nick and Diane prepared the sumptuous barbecue as Radio Sussex played classic rock. As the sun slipped over the horizon Jan and Rob led the singing around the campfire: "The Quartermasters Store" and "Bless 'em All" were the favorites in tribute to the D-Day convoys seen that day heading for the anniversary embarkation point.
Sunday was another fine day. Waking to Mr Wright we struck camp. We headed to the Bignor Roman villa which features very well preserved mosaic floors. We were entertained by a gladiator show - real weapons and armour used. Diane and Humay tried out archery before we had lunch at the villa tea shop. As it was such a fine day some ventured onto Petworth town (another very historic town) for a walk with a final cream tea at the very jolly Tiffin teashop in this enchanting part of Sussex.
New campers Jennifer, Susie, Jackie, Malcolm and Dan joined regulars Brian, Nick, Mark, Mike D, Humay, Martina, Rob W, Rob C, Jan, Gilly, Diane, Anne, Dee, Carla, plus Daniel, Freddie, Ellie and Bobbie.
Report by Brian
6 of us met for the latest evening walk, via the Brent valley. Early arrivals had gourmet burgers at the Fox and swapped tales of the Hootie. We took the canal path, passing the series of locks before following the Brent River path to Churchfields Meadows. Brunel's magnificent viaduct framed the horizon; we viewed several new 345 EMUs speed by high above us. We then walked through the Bunny Park with Tim leading us on a detour through Brent Valley Golf Course. In Hanwell village area we admired the new 6 bedroom mansion by the green (previously derelict for decades). Last year was World Cup semi-final, today was Europa League final (televisions visible in front windows on route). Back at the Fox we had post-walk drinks and were entertained by more of Vic's encounters with the Master of the Rolls.
Thanks to Tim, Dean T, Jan ,Rob W and Vic.
Report by Brian
6 of us met at Princes Risborough for the bike ride. Our first stage was the Chinnor heritage railway ride to Chinnor. We had to move Ted to the luggage rack to make room for Coogee. At Chinnor we inspected the classic car show before setting off on the Ridgeway national trail. Some tricky descents on the baked hard chalk surface called for quick reactions. We popped into the famous Lions of Bledlow pub for coffees and took a look around the historic village. Then a long climb up to the Lacey Green windmill on the summit. A very friendly guide gave us the tour plus told us of the famous local residents.
Our route then took in Chiltern villages at Naphill and Hughenden. Red kites tracking our progress on the climbs and descents. Finally we found our way to the birthday barbecue (witnessed the first meeting for Freddie and Frankie), where we enjoyed well-deserved burgers and cooling drinks whilst catching up with current and former members.
New cyclist Nish joined regulars Brian, Dean, Coogee, Rob C and Jan.
Report by Brian
5 of us met at Radlett station and began our walk in the beautiful sunshine. We soon made the climb out of the village and into rolling hills and some forests. We walked about 5 miles to the outskirts of Shenley where we passed through a lovely cemetery where WW2 headstones were laid. RIP to all who died for us. We then passed Arsenal's football training area. After walking around the outskirts of Shenley, we then explored the village with the 16th century 'cage' in the middle of the town where drunkards would be put in for the night. We then had lunch in the White Horse pub before making our way back to Radlett. We then had a well-earned cake and tea. Thank you Suzie, Jennifer and Julie for spending the day with me and Daniel. We ended up doing 8 miles.
Report by Martina
A very handsome 13 of us set out to explore Aldbury, Marsworth and Ivinghoe. The weather was nearly perfect, light cloud cover and warm enough to remove coats, fleeces etc. The route followed the Grand Union Canal for a few miles, the high point being the Marsworth Reservoir, which feeds the canal. The reservoir is now a nature reserve with all manner of birdlife, swans in good numbers, one family making their nest by the canal. The views beyond the Reservoir are most pleasing. At Seabrook Lock we left the canal and headed east toward Ivinghoe Aston. On entering farm land we were presented with a sign telling us to disinfect our footwear! Apparently there is some kind of foot disease amongst the livestock. We all took it in turns to spray and dip our boots. A little adversity is always good for team building. We decided to stop for lunch at Grove Farm. The farm has a pick your own fruit facility, however we were a little early in the season as no strawberries evident. We picnicked on the edge of a strawberry field, which was very pleasant.
Not far beyond the lunch stop and we had a pub stop at the Swan in Ivinghoe Aston. We had a relaxing half hour in the, by now quite warm, pub garden. Onwards to the high point of the walk, Beacon Hill, the highest point of the Ivinghoe Hills. We ascended by the quickest but steepest route! It was a bit of a trial, but we made it. Out of breath, but all had big smiles on their faces. We were joined by a red kite which came quite close. A few of us pondered on the notion that it could smell weakness in the group and was merely waiting for stragglers to fall by the wayside. The views from Beacon Hill are truly stunning. We all rested a while and had a few pictures taken. We could see the route in the distance and off we went. The lower slopes of the hill is home to a number of skylarks, we saw several. A number of the group stopped to listen to a cuckoo! I have not heard one in many years and still have not! Need to get my ears tested. We followed the Ridgeway over Pitstone Hill and down into the Aldbury Nowers, a rather pleasant wood offering a little shade in the afternoon heat. Finally back to the station and the end of a cracking day.
A little mention for the legend that is Pete D, who has not walked with us for 5 years. Welcome back Pete. Thank you: Mick, Lotus, Malcolm, Synthia, Paul, Pete D, Jaishree, Shulpa, Dean, V P, Pritesh and Behavin. Appologies to VP, my iPhone saw fit to re-type your name into gobbledygook.
Report by Mike
8 of us met at the library on a warm sunny evening. We explored the Manor Farm site (Ruislip heritage area) and then St Martin's Church and the almshouses (16th century). Our route then followed the River Pinn across the playing fields, glancing over at the Moderne Houses on Park Street. Into Ruislip Woods we were glad to find all tracks dry and firm after the recent sunny weather. At the Lido beach we took in the views, the sunset reflected in the calm waters. We then circumnavigated the Lido following the well surfaced track next to the railway line. The evening was still light as we reached the Waters Edge on schedule for drinks and reminiscences of Cliff and Melvyn filming Summer Holiday on this spot in the day.
Thanks to Dean T, Sandy, Cynthia, Tim, Malcolm and returnees Maureen and Maree.
Report by Brian
We met on a fine sunny morning at Tide Tables by the riverside. Over coffee and pastries we swapped tales of encounters with notable actors; Brian proffering Mr. Jackson (at the previos day's Hootie) and Rob P with Mr. M. We then set off on the Thames Path, Bobbie, Ellie and Freddie getting acquainted again after the long gap since last summer's camping. We entered Richmond Park at Petersham Gate and then climbed to the viewpoint at Kings Henry Mount. Reaching the Isabella plantation we toured the gardens to view the stunning display of colours with the azaleas and rhododendra in full bloom. We had our picnic by the Thompson Pond with the kaleidoscope of colours reflected in the still waters. As it was such a warm day the park was full of cyclists, walkers and joggers.
We passed the Pen Ponds and White Lodge (home of English Ballet) to reach Roehampton Gate café where Gilly produced a rather splendid home-baked banana cake for us to partake of in the sunshine. The walk ended with a amble across Sheen meadows to the vineyard quarter of Richmond (very impressive mansions) and return to the riverside for trains back.
Thanks to Nick, Rob P, Gilly and Coogee for joining me on a jolly fine walk in the ever delightful Richmond Park and riverside.
Report by Brian
We started off in Clapham Common with an array of entertainment, live music by Hazel Dean and a talk from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Some enjoyed a massage before the off. We walked through Battersea Park passing the peace pagoda and entertainers along the way. We passed through many sights along the route including Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The Globe, The Golden Hind, Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral. Even the London Eye turned pink just for us. It was so surreal, I don't think I have ever seen London so peaceful even with 15,000 of us passing through. The company was amazing and you can always count on a song or two along the way. We carried on past the British Museum, through St James Park and Buckingham Palace then onto Speakers Corner. After a well-earned toilet stop we carried on around Hyde Park, passing Marble Arch, Kensington Palace and the amazing Royal Albert Hall. We witnessed the sun coming up as we were approaching the Natural History Museum and walking past the famous Harrods store. It was now morning and the sun beamed down on us as we walked along Cromwell Road passing Earls Court, finally reaching Sloane Square. By this time our legs and back were feeling the 21 miles we had just walked, but with another 5 still to go before we reached the finishing line. With a couple of caffeine drinks, protein bars, free hot chocolate and fruit, we set off on the final stretch. The caffeine kicked in and more songs erupted and before we knew it we could see the finishing line.
Thank you to Jan and the 14,998 that helped make this walk special. Jan and I managed to raise £734.60 and the overall event raised raised £3m for this great cause. Thank you to all who donated and your kind wishes.
Report by Diane
Five of us set off from Skirmett just after 10:00am. We made our way through Twigside Bottom Wood and before long did what we all agreed was the steepest climb of the day into Hanger Wood. Here we spotted some deer and noticed the rich carpet of bluebells. We crossed some farmland and then took a route through Mousells Wood, emerging with Skirmett in view.
Food and service was excellent at the Frog, as always. After lunch we headed west to Great Wood and before long had sight of the windmill over Turville. We took another long flat woodland path through Churchfield Wood and then headed north back to Ibstone.
We finished just after 4:00pm, having completed over 12.5 miles. Thanks to Dolores, Emma, Malcolm and Mick for joining me on this fantastic walk.
Report by Mary
11 of us met at Hatch End station for the walk to Stanmore. We got a bit lost at the beginning due to some conflicting signposts. The walk took us across some fields towards Carpenders Park via the garden centre. We then headed off across Grimsdyke golf club dodging the golf balls towards Harrow Weald common. At the common we stopped to admire the redwood trees and rhododendrons, passing through the garden at the Grimsdyke Hotel for a photo shoot by the azaleas.
We stopped for our lunch at Old Redding viewpoint with great views south before going for refreshments at the Case is Altered pub. We continued our walk into Bentley Priory, stopping to say hello to the roe deer that were being fed with carrots and bananas. We ended at our destination outside St John's Church in Stanmore, getting the bus back to our starting point.
Thanks to everyone who all who attended and helped out with directions at the beginning: Zoe, Aruna, Mark, Ian, Rita, Judy, Julie, Marian, Liz and Peter.
Report by Debbie
On Friday, we descended on the rather picturesque but remote Welsh Bicknor Hostel for a weekend of activity. At the reception when casually enquiring were told unexpectedly that the pub in English Bicknor was within walking distance. Considering the Black Bridge had been closed for so long this was a surprise, but our plans immediately changed to accommodate this into an adventure. Soon enough we were traversing the Black Bridge on our way to the Forge Hammer pub, which had its own microbrewery upstairs but even better, attached to the pub was River Spice, which we all agreed did the best curries ever. Fed and watered we headed back to the hostel to the unexpected announcement of Derek and Prem's anniversary, complete with celebratory cake. That wasn't the end of the surprises as Mike turned up at 3:00am, having seemingly taken 8 hours to get from High Wycombe.
On Saturday, we woke to find that Mike had found a novel place to sleep as he thought it was too late to go in the dorm. After breakfast we headed to Cannop Ponds to hire bikes and set off around a disused railway track aided by a forestry commission app, which gave us pictures of days gone by when the line was in use at set points along the route. After returning the bikes and finding our favourite destination pub closed we went back to the hostellery pub near the hostel. After sunning ourselves in the garden we discovered they were fully booked, so went back to the hostel and went for fish and chips instead. Meeting up again with our climbing friends, story swapping went on long into the evening.
On Sunday, all down to the water front to inflate the kayaks, and venture off down the river Wye to Symonds Yat, one of the most spectacular and scenic paddles in England. After messing about on the river we parked the kayaks away and a much needed drink and ice cream at the Saracens Head, which also did not have any food, a theme seemingly in this part of the world, so a unanimous decision was made to go back to the River Spice and a good decision it was too.
On Monday, after striking camp we all met up at Symonds Yat rock to see part of our journey the previous day on the river far below us.
Many thanks to Martina, Daniel, Derek, Prem, Mike, Mark and Rachael for joining me on this weekend.
Report by Nick
Our first evening walk of the season saw 10 of us explore the heritage area of Pinner village. We used the Pinner Association 10 walks book as our guide which included a history on each notable building seen. The most interesting were the East End Farm Cottages (15th century) and the Mosslane Cottage. Local experts Sandy and Dean T gave us an additional commentary including pointing out the house of one of the two Ronnies. We ended the trail at the Oddfellows where Dee and Dean recounted their encounters with Mr. John when still called Reg.
Report by Brian
16 of us met at Perivale station and proceeded to walk to the nature reserve. On entering, we were all given a quiz to fill in and badges were given out at the end to those whose detection skills were up to date.
We spent about 1.5 hours wandering the paths and discovering the wildlife and shrubbery. We then had some excellent cake and tea at the cafe. Refreshed, we headed off minus 5 (3 had left earlier as our wandering was too slow for them and 2 returned to the wonderful reserve, never to be seen again). Another 6 joined us at that time to make us feel happy again.
We headed for Horsenden Hill and en route found a pirates cove! We had some shenanigans on a pirate ship and some were walked off the plank! Then heading up to the Gruffalo Path and visiting the Owl and Fox we ascended Horsenden Hill, to the amazing views. Brian and Nick thought they knew a quicker way than the leader but were outfoxed. We descended to the Ballot Box for refreshments and lunch.
Thank you to all who came: April, Ann, Anna, Chrissy, Maria, Helen, Pauline, Sunny, Walter, Mark P, Tessa, Pete, Diane, Brian, Dee, Nick, Julie C, Zoe, Maureen, Matt, Derek, Prem and the best walk leader Daniel.
Report by Martina
Erica, Elaine, Brenda, Zoe, Mike P and I met on a glorious, record-breaking warm Easter Sunday, by Chorleywood Cricket Clubhouse. Humay phoned to say that, in his eagerness to get here, he had got on the Watford train by mistake. So, keen to get off, I decided to take a small detour to the planned route and meet Humay at Chorleywood station.
Walking across the common, we passed 'crossroads of rides', which are large tree-lined avenues, originally created so that horse riders in the eighteenth century could canter through with plenty of room. Delighted to meet up with Humay, we set off again across the common, passing the Black Horse country pub, a picturesque solitary building surrounded by meadows. We continued through a bountiful allotment, greeting a man working on his plot. Cutting through a wooded footpath with welcome shade we then headed down Berry Lane, chatting merrily with each other and enjoying the fabulous weather. We were soon back into nature as we walked past the lakes and rivers of Rickmansworth Aquadrome and headed down the canal for a welcome lunch stop by the locks. No queues and a delicious cheese salad sandwich and cup of tea for less than a fiver!
Suitably refreshed, we headed off through Rickmansworth, passing the historic Saint Mary's Church and the old Feathers pub. Crossing the road footbridge we passed another, more bijou Saint Mary's Church. The sun blazed as we chatted, walking past the meandering River Chess, across flowering meadows with horse paddocks, and past pretty country estates. We headed up past Chorleywood Manor House back to our starting point. I headed off home leaving my walking companions to enjoy a well-earned drink at the Black Horse pub.
Report by Paul
After a long journey for some and shorter trip for others staying locally, we all met up on Friday afternoon for drinks and homemade chilli. Some ventured on to the pub for live music. Particularly impressed was Mike who bought the band's CD.
Saturday morning saw another glorious sunny day and the walkers setting off for the day's adventure. Our first port of call was Hemmick Beach where after a brief stop we headed up the long climb to Dodman Point via Gell Point. The cross we reached was worded to welcome the second coming of the almighty. We set off for Cadythew Rock via Bow Beach, with incredible coastline views. Descending down to Gorran Haven we managed to keep the walking group together on a very hot day, so were pleased at the sight of the café at the bay. Here we caught up with Martina, Daniel and Rachael enjoying the beach. After being refreshed we set off again uphill after some confusing footpath signs to Chapel Point. By this time the group was beginning to spread out, some wishing to take a more leisurely pace and sightseeing. As this was a coastal path, there was no need for directions. By the time we reached Port Mellon Sands we were down to five but met up with trailblazing Dev. Dev and Kev decided to stay in Port Mellon, and we carried on to Mevagissy to rendezvous with Rachael and Martina once again at the Ship Inn and waited for the others to catch up. Once back at the hostel the warm evening made it possible to enjoy a barbecue with the added attraction of live music provided by resident HAWOG musician Kev. After a bread slicing accident the rest of the evening's catering was gratefully done by Dev, Rachael and others. More surprise guests arrived in the form of Ian and Chrissie, visiting family nearby.
Sunday morning was promising to be hotter than Saturday but with my hand needing treatment and others in various states of niggling complaints it was decided to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan by car, which also allowed everyone to plan their day to include among other things St Maws Castle.
Monday saw some visiting nearby attractions such as Charlestown Harbour and the Eden project on the way home. Some extended the holiday, travelling north. Rachael and I visited Falmouth to see Sir Robin Knox-Johnson recreate the entrance on Suhaili to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his round the world voyage.
Many thanks to Rachael, Martina, Daniel, Mike, Kathy, Davinder, Kevin, Jeff, Brigitta, Baishali, Michela, Anne, Alpa and Jackie.
Report by Nick and Rachael
I took the Met line from home to Acton Town on a mild spring morning. Arriving in Richmond I was pleased to see nobody had beaten me to the start point, great! I had time to catch my breath and order an Americano from the cafe. Within minutes, Nick arrived, then Brian and Diane who cycled from Northolt, soon to be joined by Rob W.
After our coffee and croissants the 5 of us set off along the Thames Path, enjoying the bird song and blossom along the way. Remarkably green areas for this part of town. Passing Marble Hill Park, Ham House and Garden and Strawberry Hill House and garden to reach Kingston Bridge, crossing the river to the north side. We followed the path to Hampton Court Palace where we made time to enjoy this marvellous building once occupied by King Henry VIII. Crossing the Thames again we made our way to Molesey stopping at Hurst Park to read about Garrick's Ait, the only island in England to be named after an actor. As we cycled the route we admired the superb riverside properties. We soon reached Walton Bridge where Rob recommended we stopped at a cafe for lunch and coffee, an excellent spot.
Passing Desborough and after noticing a really spooky house we soon took the ferry across to Shepperton, where Brian enjoyed a lesson in arithmetic given by the ferryman. We continued along our path following the river to Chertsey where Nick recited some old stories of past camping trips at the Chertsey caravan and campsite. We continued through Laleham and onto Staines, passing under the M25 to Runnymede where we visited the impressive Air Forces Memorial, climbing up the spiral staircase to the excellent viewpoint, spotting London landmarks and Heathrow Airport. From here it was a short ride through Windsor Park, passing the long walk with views of the castle, on to Windsor town where we completed a great day out with cooling drinks in the Royal Oak pub.
Thanks to Brian for his assistance with the route, and to Nick, Diane and Rob W for joining me on a wonderful day out.
Report by Kerry
10 of us met at Chalfont and Latimer station. It was a little overcast and a bit chilly but as we set off across the Chess valley towards Latimer the sun came out and it soon warmed up. As we made our way up the hill through the woods towards Flaunden, we were passed by several horse riders going the other way. We made a brief stop at St Mary Magdalene Church to catch our breath, where some of the group decided to pop in and have a look around. We then headed off across the open countryside towards Sarratt and were lucky to see a number of red kites flying overhead. Just before we arrived at Sarratt we admired the display of bluebells which were just coming into bloom in the woods. We then made our way to our lunch stop at the Cock Inn. This was perfectly timed as according to Jacqueline's phone app, there was a 40% chance of rain between 12 and 2. This rain and hail, although brief, did arrive whilst we were having lunch.
After lunch we made our way back across the Chess valley towards Chenies village, then passing the manor house and continuing on towards our final destination. Again this was timed perfectly as we arrived at the station a few minutes before the fast train back towards London. We said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.
Many thanks to Anne, Michael, Nigel, Nicoletta, Matthew, Aruna, Jeff, Jacqueline, Brigitta and not forgetting the 2 dogs Jasper and Jackie for joining me on this walk.
Report by Malcolm
Some started at Harrow on the Hill at their leisure - one sprinted across the platforms with seconds to spare - a great entry and unique ice breaker. Met some on the train and Malcolm with the delightful Jasper at Great Missenden station.
After a brief road path where we admired the buildings and unique "Book Share" in the shape of a bird house, we started our trail across fields, hills and kissing gates. As we climbed higher, we wandered through woods, with bluebells trying to emerge. We stopped to take in the views and admired sheep and lambs. Other walkers 'stole' the planned seating break after Little Hampden with a view, so we continued. Hampden House and Church were admired, with impressive features (open 11:15am on a Sunday if anyone is interested).
I led us towards our lunch stop at the Hampden Arms. By ringing earlier, the helpful landlady set aside a table for us. It turned into a food fest! All said great value food, from sandwiches to fish and chips to chilli prawn dish. When all were 'fed and watered', we continued the second leg of the walk. It took us via Bryants Bottom, Great Hampden Common and Angling Spring Wood, and we returned to Great Missenden to Roald Dahl Museum for tiffin at the museum cafe with Matilda and the Donald watching us from the courtyard.
To all who attended, thank you for a lovely day.
Report by Dee
Anna and Keith joined me for my Cadmore End to End walk today. First time since 1962 I think since I've had someone join me for one of my 20 mile walks. Actually this one was 23 by Keith's phone and 24 by Anna's. What's a mile or four between friends!
Cloudy when we departed the almost empty parking area at Cadmore End. We crossed the M40 and headed north past the Wycliffe Centre as was, now mostly demolished, presumably soon to be housing. Over the A40 and through The City and Cromwell Wood for tea stop. Heading west ish now and out of the Chilterns through Aston Rowant, Postcombe, across the M40 again and along to Adwell for lunch in a very old church in the very pretty hamlet.
After lunch, the sun started to appear and as we were in the flat of Oxfordshire we cracked on following the Oxfordshire Way to Pyrton where we discussed houses and whether those in the smaller houses in the village (small here means very nice detached) felt inferior to others in the larger houses (some absolute stunners in the village). Probably I think was our conclusion.
Heading east now, we ascended the hill to Christmas Common, then Blackmoor Wood (well signed), Hale Wood and a very sharp ascent to Ibstone House. A final flurry saw us reach Cadmore End at 17:45. For 23 miles and a 09:30 start that was a very good pace. Thanks to Anna and Keith for joining me and providing good conversation throughout the day.
Report by Steve
We had another large group of 10 including some new recruits on our latest afternoon walk. We covered Arc House, Harrow Memorial, Harrow School: the speech room, art academy and school chapel. Our walk also took in the playing fields of the School, the cricket ground and St Mary's Church, with views from Byron summit. We ended with a drinking stop at the Castle. Attendees were Alpa, Brenda, Bharti, Chris, Maria, Suchi, Ian, Mark, Dean T and David W.
Report by Alpa
20 of us met outside Greenford station, and we headed off with the sun beaming down on us. We walked up towards the Black Horse pub where we embarked on the tow path that would take us to Little Venice. We passed some lovely canal boats in all different shapes and size, some had lovely gardens and picnic tables on board them. We even came across an allotment right on the canal. We headed on towards our lunch stop with some members pointing out some interesting facts and landmarks along the way. There was a survival tank that had a head at the front like there was someone looking out from it. Beit El Zeitoun Lebanese restaurant was a great find with many trying Lebanese food for the first time. This was a lovely little addition to the walk.
All fuelled up, we then came across a skateboard park. We all stopped and admired until the passing narcotics were very strong and started to take effect. We also came across a young gentleman who was showing off his core skills doing exercises on a wire. So we muddled on and were amused that Elvis Presley even made an appearance. As we carried on along the canal we came across a mural on the wall that was made out of litter by the Stowe youth club and artist Kevin Herlihy. We took a long time debating on what we could see with the mural especially the alligator. We ended our walk at the famous waterside cafe, but because we were such a big group not all could get in. So we headed on to find a pub and enjoyed a well deserved local beer and wine.
Thank you to Coogie, Mike, Dean, Simon, Helen, Zoe, Bianca, Maria, Shilpa, Manvini, Brian, Sandra, Rob, Tessa, Marian, Rob W, Mary, Gilly and Freddy for making it an amazing walk.
Report by Diane
Start of walk - Photo by Brian
Canal path - Photo by Brian
Aqueduct over North Circular - Photo by Brian
Art work - Photo by Brian
Little Venice - Photo by Brian
5 of us met at Islington on a sunny, breezy day for the canal ride. The towpath on the Regent Canal was busy with teams of joggers, walkers and cyclists. Dean led a detour to see the blue plaque outside the home of Joe Orton. We stopped in Victoria Park by the Victorian café on the lake before turning south on the Mile End link canal. Climbing over the Banana Bridge we explored the Eco Park and the converted wharves in the rapidly changing quarter. Reaching Limehouse we admired the vessels in the yachting marina and the Hawksmoor church. We then headed south through the Isle Of Dogs beneath the soaring skyscrapers of the financial district.
Our lunch stop was the Island Gardens café before we scooted through the Greenwich tunnel to arrive at the Cutty Sark. We cycled around the Maritime Museum and Naval College and then climbed to the Observatory and great views from the summit. Following the Thames Path we took in the Thames Barrier and cycled east to jump aboard the free Woolwich Ferry where the heavens opened with a hail storm. Luckily we sheltered in the covered area on the "Vera Lynn" ferry before disembarking at Victoria Docks for the DLR back west. Cyclists were Brian, Dean, Kerry, Nick and Mike McA.
Report by Brian
Start at Islington - Photo by Brian
Canalside Café - Photo by Brian
Limehouse Basin - Photo by Brian
Canary Wharf still building - Photo by Brian
Island Gardens Cafe - Photo by Brian
Cutty Sark - Photo by Brian
Greenwich Naval Museum - Photo by Brian
View from Observatory - Photo by Brian
Mike and Cathy hosted another successful auction. Jan performed the role of modelling many of the items for sale and in explaining their provenance and quality. We welcomed along many PNM's and recent recruits to join the regulars. Sandi was especially assertive in bidding and went home with several quality purchases. This year we had a wider variety of goods to auction than before, including guitars, violins, fishing tackle, vintage tea set, luxury brand handbags and several antique lamps. We raised around £200 for the cancer research charity.
Report by Brian
Auction starts - Photo by Brian
Jan assists - Photo by Brian
Another successful walk with 12 people. We had great weather and covered Pinner Park, Heath Robinson Museum, Pinner village and historic church, Moss Lane, Old Rectory and the Barns. Great views from hill overlooking Pinner Farm. A great time was had by all and we covered 4- 5 miles. Walkers today were Alpa, Ian, Mark, Diane, Helen, Pauline, Maureen, Mariane, Francis, Rita and Rhianna.
Report by Alpa
Six of us turned up at the start near the café and after a very warming tea we set off. Three others decided it was too wet for them to join us. We took in the sights of Langley Park and then up to Black Park. These were the hunting grounds of the kings of olden times. The variety of trees and woodland was amazing. We managed to do 7.2 miles with two café breaks and had a fabulous time. Thank you to Malcolm, Jackie, Chris, Maria and Derek. The rain held off and the other three missed a great walk.
Report by Martina
Eleven of us met on a bright blustery day in Great Missenden. We wandered along the old high street, briefly pausing to admire the surrounds of the Roald Dahl museum. Next we climbed up the hill to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, where we found ourselves in the midst of a proper running event. Consequently, as we continued we were overtaken by the many runners on their way across the fields. After passing a few farmhouses and some fields, we entered a very overgrown path into Mantle's Wood. We found our way through, and continued down a more well trodden path. Soon, we crossed the railway bridge reaching Little Missenden for a well-earned rest at the pub.
Next, our route took us along Toby's Lane, past Mop End, and around a few more woods. Nearing the end, we joined the South Bucks Way to take us into Amersham Old Town. Some lingered for a while in the fabulous old pub, whereas others opted to head straight up the hill to get the train back home. Many thanks to Neeta, Shilpa, Malcolm, Helen, Lindsay, John, Hannah, Lau, Peter and Eva for joining me on this walk.
Report by Phil
3 of us met at Hemel Hempstead station on a very windy Sunday morning. The walk started promptly at 10:00am, and we headed west along the Grand Union Canal for the first mile or so, then through Bourne End and south west over the A41 and across country, with the wind in front of us for the first 5 miles. There was some shelter from the wind as we approached Ley Hill, and from there we headed south-east towards Flaunden, stopping at the bottom of a hill to eat our packed lunches where there was some shelter.
From Flaunden, we headed north to Bovingdon. We eventually decided not to stop for a break in the village pub, but when we reached the church, we stopped for a few minutes to go in and listen to the pianist - I think that he was testing the acoustics rather than practising. The last 3 miles took us back to the station, which we reached shortly before 3:00pm.
Thanks to Karen and Marin for joining me.
Report by Mark
We had 8 along for our city break in Bristol, staying at the harbourside Bristol YHA right in the centre of the city. The early arrivals jumped on the ferry boat outside (Gromit was the mascot on the bow) to glide along the floating harbour passing the converted wharves, yachts, SS Great Britain until the final stop at Nova Scotia. After drinks at this 18th century sailor's tavern we walked back via Spike Island for fish and chips at a harbourside inn.
On Saturday we did a circular walk through the Harbourside, Clifton Village and the Old City. Our first stop was the M Shed, a converted wharf now exhibition centre and rooftop gallery with views across the harbour. We then boarded the "Matthew", a replica of the ship taken by Cabot to discover Newfoundland. Rob W and Coogee stayed on board to converse with "Bob" the guide, catching the others at the Undefall Yard (more shipping exhibits). Jan (former resident) then led us through the charming streets of Clifton village where we stopped for lunch by the market square. Then uphill to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of the last works of Brunel. We crossed the bridge for stunning views along the Avon Gorge. After a detour to Brandon Hill and views over the central city area, we stopped for tiffin in the Old City by the university and museum quarters. Rachael arranged a very unusual evening meal at the Za Za Banquet, an all-you-can-eat wonder with a smorgasbord of choice from tex mex, to sushi to mediterranean and lots more.
On Sunday some joined the Bansky and Street Art tour led by a fellow artist. We saw the major Banksy works and many others (some just finished the day before) plus learnt lots about the culture of this capital of street art. Later "Bob" emerged to give us a tour of the SS Great Britain, the revolutionary steam ship created by Brunel and now a permanent exhibit here. The train travellers also took in Brunel's original Temple Meads station before catching the new electric expresses back east.
Thanks to Nick, Coggee, Rob W, Jan, Rachael, Martina and Daniel for joining me.
Report by Brian
Start of walk at Cabot statue - Photo by Brian
On the Matthew - Photo by Brian
Gromit ferry - Photo by Brian
Clifton Suspension Bridge - Photo by Brian
View over Avon Gorge - Photo by Brian
Brunel exhibition - Photo by Brian
SS Great Britain - Photo by Brian
Banksy street art - Photo by Brian
Breakdancing religious art - Photo by Brian
We completed 13.5 miles last Sunday. Starting from Ibstone in light rain we took a few woodland paths which provided some shelter. We reached Pishill before noon and had our packed lunch in the local churchyard before heading to the Crown Inn. This was closed for refurbishment so we continued on our route, planning to stop at the visitor centre at Stonor Park.
After a few miles we reached the magnificent Stonor Park. The property has been occupied by the Stonor family for the last eight centuries. The visitor centre and café were closed for the season. We stopped to chat to the local Hillingdon group in Southend. Decided to have a pub stop in Turville which we reached just after 2pm. Had a leisurely hot chocolate stop in the very welcoming Bull and Butcher. After Turville we had a steep climb, enjoying fantastic views and lots of sightings of red kite. We finished the walk just after 4.15pm. Thanks to Emma and Mick for joining me.
Report by Mary
Thanks to those who came on Saturday. A lovely group of six enjoyed our beautiful day out in Guildford and Shere. We met a beautiful horse along the way who joined for a group photo, and a bonus of some beautiful sunshine which we enjoyed at our first stop at St Martha's church where we enjoyed the views at our first snack break. We all enjoyed our ice creams in Shere as a reward for our efforts.
Report by Sandra
River Wye at junction with North Downs - Photo by Brian
Equine farm on Downs - Photo by Brian
St Martha on the Hill - Photo by Brian
Early catkins - Photo by Brian
Newlands Corner viewpoint - Photo by Brian
The walk on Sunday had a great turnout thanks to the weather. 13 of us met at Rickmansworth - Mike, Dean, Dee, Malcolm, Chris and Maria, Aruna, David, Shilpa, Cynthia, Michael and Jackie.
We stopped for lunch on the lawn of Latimer House. There was a 'Private Property' sign but it was hard to take it seriously as it also said 'No Peeking'. On the outskirts of Chesham we had an unplanned detour due to my missing a turn. Thanks to Mike who had an OS map, came to the rescue and got us back on track. We finished up at the Queen's Head for a well-earned drink having clocked up 11.8 miles.
Thanks to all for a lovely day.
Report by Jennifer
Thank you for joining me on the live music social event of the month. It was a very good turnout, with four new recruits who enjoyed learning about the group from new and existing members. Many enjoyed the lovely home cooked food which was great value for money. We enjoyed a wide selection of beverages on offer, some experiencing new and exciting spirits served with juniper berries. The live band were excellent, playing songs from the 70's, 80's and 90's with a lot of us engaging this on the dance floor.
Report by Diane
On Sunday, five of us met up at Mill Hill East station for the start of our Barnet Loop walk. Along with myself and partner in planning, Deirdre, there was Natalie, Mick and Mark.
It was spitting when we set off but the sky soon cleared and there was even a slice of sunshine doing its best to break through the clouds. The winding brook has a gravel / tarmac path running alongside it so the first stretch of the walk was nice and easy. Surrounded by overhanging trees, and passing a few small bridges, with each step accompanied by the tinkle of running water, it's easy to forget that this place is only ten miles from central London. We passed Finchley tennis club and allotments, crossed the park where families were playing on the swings and slides, then continued on, following the brook all the way to Totteridge Lane where we turned left and headed uphill to the Orange Tree pub. Just as we arrived there it began raining quite hard but by then we were ensconced at a table having coffee and soup.
The afternoon took in expanses of hay meadows, woodland and a lake, coupled with some heavy mud and the notable loss of the iconic Medical Research Centre (famous for Nobel prizewinners and Batman Begins!) from the skyline (to be replaced by the £0.5 million Ridgeway Views apartments). We took a detour to view Mill Hill village and its famous public school and St. Paul's church (founded by William Wilberforce, sadly locked) before heading back to the station.
Thanks to all who braved the cold to join us on this rural yet suburban walk.
Report by Deirdre and Coogie
We started off at Headstone Lane station and went through Pinner Farm. Sadly none of the animals were out. However the sun was out and we walked on clear pathways. We then made our way down through Moss Lane and visited the village church and Pinner Memorial. We walked at a relaxed pace and the group opted not to have a tea break. I shared my local knowledge with the group about Pinner, the village, churches and traditions. We then gradually looped back to the station. The walk ended promptly at 4pm. A great turnout of 8 people including 2 on their first walk.
Report by Alpa
Just 3 of us on the Herts circular bike ride. A very cold but sunny day with ice on many of the ponds and streams on route. At the manor there was a busy food and craft market so we had coffee and cake before the start. The canal route was mostly ice free but there were a few sections where we slowed down to avoid a plunge into the canal. We noted several pairs of swans at various points, with other cyclists, joggers and walkers sharing the towpath. We stopped for lunch at the Batchworth Lock café after exchanging pleasantries with a pair of walkers on the subject of cycling etiquette when sharing a bridge.
We then followed the Ebury Way, Sustrans route 6, which loops around Rickmansworth and Watford. This trail is on a former railway track partly on an embankment with good views over the canal and streams below. We then headed south via Oxhey Woods to climb to the very impressive Pinner Hill House. A late Georgian manor it is now the club house for Pinner Golf Course. We warmed up at the 19th hole with some red wine and took in the excellent views eastwards across the valley. Thanks to Diane and Kerry for joining me on this ride.
Report by Brian
On a cold but sunny day, nine of us set out from Uxbridge station to walk sections 12 and 13 of the London Loop. Our first section followed the Grand Union canal for most of the way and was easy walking, although care had to be taken as many icy patches remained. We saw a number of runners taking their morning exercise, swans gliding majestically by and a narrowboat acting as an ice breaker as it moved through the frozen water. Our next section began with a steep uphill section through trees and ferns. Mike was particularly interested on what was growing on the allotments in the meadows that this path opened out onto. Apparently it was kale, which is very hardy and grows throughout winter.
Continuing over fields and stiles we passed a farm where two aggressive looking little dogs tried to goad Jasper into a response, although he was far too disciplined to rise to their bait. Shortly after we arrived at the Rose and Crown where beer and hot chocolate was drunk and bowls of chips eaten aside the open fire. At this point we said farewell to Phil who strode out ahead before the rest of us had left the pub. Upon leaving we walked across meadows with the snow crunching beneath our feet and soon turned into the forest of Bishop's Wood Country Park. On exiting this ancient woodland we emerged opposite Ye Olde Greene Manne, however everyone agreed it was a bit too soon for a further pub stop. Pauline bid us farewell here as she took the bus back to Uxbridge, whilst the rest of the group continued on along a footpath marking the boundary of Middlesex and Hertfordshire.
The path led us onto the Moor Park Estate where we paused to admire the lovely houses and mused over what people may do for a living in order to live there. We decided they probably aren't nurses or teachers! Now seeing the railway line we followed this down to Moor Park station for our journey home. Thanks to Jackie, Helen, Pauline, Lotus, Phil, Mary, Mike, Malcolm and Jasper.
Report by Dave
We had a wonderful 4 mile walk around the aquadrome, the canal and parklands. The sun was out and we walked at a steady pace. A good time was had by all, with another welcome turnout of 8 walkers. We finished with a well deserved hot drink in the café by the lake.
Report by Alpa
Ten people in all met at Baker Street station for the Time Out London walk.
We set out on a fine fresh morning on our route which took us through Regent's Park, and over the Regent's Canal then north towards Primrose Hill. At the top of Primrose Hill we rested a while and took photos with the glorious view over London. A number of the group commented on how quickly the skyline is changing; there seemed to be as many large cranes as buildings, clear evidence of all the construction work taking place. Beyond Primrose Hill we made our way towards Chalk Farm and Belsize Park eventually reaching Hampstead Heath. Here we had a short break and mused at the hundreds of runners taking part in a cross country running competition. By coincidence one of our members, Dave, was competing, but we did not see him. Up the hill towards Highgate and passing the cemetery, now quite a tourist spot due to the number of famous people buried there.
We had lunch at a cafe in Waterlow Park and all managed to get a seat inside, which was a welcome break from the cold. Yet again we enjoyed great views from the terraced garden in front of the cafe before making our way up through Highgate High Street. By this stage in the walk our group had spotted numerous plaques commemorating notable London residents: Henry Moore, Piet Mondrian, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, J B Priestley, Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and George Orwell. Onwards to Hampstead Heath where we had a quick look at Kenwood House before our final viewpoint, Parliament Hill. The runners were still hard at it, their route crossed over the path we were taking and we had to wait for a large enough gap to safely proceed. Two of our group left us at Hampstead Heath station, the rest of us carried on up to Hampstead where we rested at the Flask Inn, a fine old pub with equally fine beer...
Thank you to Efisia, Julie, Laura, Radhika, Suvi, Coogee, Humay, Malcolm and Paul for joining me on the walk.
Report by Mike
Thank you for joining me on my first social event. It was lovely to chat to some new recruits and some senior members. The food was lovely and kept coming. We started off with different types of soup then an array of starters, which was followed by some duck. Some even tried the vegetarian lettuce. Followed on by a good choice of mains, we even managed some dessert (which I have never been able to do before). The female server was very assertive in such a busy restaurant. The company and conversation was great - we even put the Brexit deal to bed.
Thank you to Colin, Neila, Berangere (from Meetup), Bea, Roy, Humay, Ian, Brian, Maureen, Dee and Mick.
Report by Diane
The round table - Photo by Brian
Still on starters - Photo by Brian
I'm delighted to say that for my first walk 8 people turned up, and we all had a super time. We covered 4.5 miles, burnt 900 calories ... don't ask how many we put on at the carvery ... and did nearly 14,000 steps. The sun came out and we walked at a leisurely pace and a good time was had by all. Looking forward to the next one.
Report by Alpa
25 (including 4 new recruits on their first walk) attended the walk on Saturday. We met for coffee at the Tap (beautifully preserved Victorian era station pub) with the French language group who joined us. Our first stop was the National Archives by the river. We explored the public and exhibition areas. Continuing along the Thames Path we noted the large number of rowing teams racing by, with their trainers bellowing instructions via megaphones. After the Mortlake Brewery we detoured to Mortlake parish church (15th century) where the verger kindly gave out biscuits to all and showed us the monuments to John Donne and a Napoleonic era premier.
We then walked to Mortlake Catholic Church for the unique tomb of Sir Richard Burton (the Victorian explorer and Arabist). The tomb is in the style of a Bedouin tent with a secret window to observe the interior. After walking alongside the elegant Barnes riverside of Georgian and Regency terraces we crossed the Thames. Chris pointed out his rowing club on this bank and encouraged us to try out the sport in the future. At Chiswick village we saw Hogarth's tomb and the Fullers Brewery. Our final stop was the Palladian masterpiece of Chiswick House where we had a well-deserved late lunch stop at the award-winning tea shop.
Report by Brian
The Tap at Kew station - Photo by Brian
National Archives - Photo by Brian
Mortlake church - Photo by Brian
Richard Burton tomb - Photo by Brian
Riverside at Barnes - Photo by Brian
Filming at Chiswick House - Photo by Brian
Our first cycle ride of the year was an easy 20 mile ride from Uxbridge to Burnham via Eton. Six of us met at the new Rusty Bike Café at Fassnidge Park. We followed Sustrans route 61 via the Grand Union Canal and tracks through Langley. En route we passed several pill boxes and aqueducts on the Slough arm and then a moto cross festival by the GWR tracks.
At Eton we explored the courtyards of the famous college before stopping for coffee at a pavement café in the heritage area. We then continued via bridleways to join the Thames Path. Our next stop was Boveney village to visit the 12th century church and medieval manor. We then arrived at the 2000m long Eton College rowing lake, used for all races at the Olympics. Busy with walkers, cyclists and roller bladers today but no boats in use. We then continued to Bray and late lunch at the historic Pineapple Inn with its vast range of huge sandwiches on offer, before trains back from Burnham.
Thanks to Coogee, Rob W, Hiro, Jan and Rob C for joining me on this ride. Will plan another historical route next month.
Report by Brian
Rusty Bike Café - Photo by Brian
Pill box on canal - Photo by Brian
Swanning about - Photo by Brian
Eton Chapel - Photo by Brian
Café in Eton - Photo by Brian
Eton Dorney rowing lake - Photo by Brian
We arrived in the lovely village of Little Chalfont at 9:50am to set off on this beautiful mild day of January. Little Chalfont is only 25 minutes drive from Harrow. It is a beautiful little village surrounded by amazing walks. At 10:15 no one else had arrived so we headed off on our walk. We headed north first and Daniel soon had his first cache. It was a home-made container which was meant to blend in with the countryside. We continued in a circular mostly woodland walk where we found a total of 11 caches. Some were home-made with great carpentry craftsmanship which always amazes me. We ended up doing 6 miles, ending up at lovely Turkish cafe at the end for a hearty lunch.
Thank you Daniel, my geocaching kid, who never lets me down to come on my walks.
Report by Martina
Me plus four today for my Risborough Return walk. Prompt depart from Princes Risborough train station 10:05, past Horsendon Manor and Saunderton and then our first ascent up to Loosley Row and east through Bradenham Wood and up to Walters Ash for lunch circa 12:30.
Post lunch, we followed paths to the edge of Speen village surrounded by the Chiltern Hills and then up and down through Piggots Wood and up Bryants Bottom and along to St Mary Magdalene church at Great Hampden for tea stop circa 14:30.
Our finale encompassed various woods taking us to Whiteleaf with its magnificent views towards Oxfordshire, Aylesbury Vale and Bledlow Ridge. The distant was a bit misty though so our views were not quite as good as they might have been. Our distance though made up for the shortfall in our distant.
GPS said from station we'd done 17.6 miles when we were at our cars - which were a mile away from the station! That's a very good ish. The two from Meet Up were expecting a 10 ish mile walk and the two by car were expecting a 12 ish mile walk. Such generosity from the walk leader. We dropped the trainers to the station by 16:10 in time for their 16:21 train home.
Thanks to stalwarts Keith and Paul and MeetUpers Ricky and Sarah for joining me for this nice winter walk.
Report by Steve