9 walkers joined me on this gentle and delightful New Years Eve morning walk. We all met outside the Queens Head, where I ran through the history and heritage of Pinner and its famous residents past and present, with Covid guidance. Our first stop was Pinner Memorial Church which was open and we were welcomed with the wonderful festive decorations. We then moved onto Pinner Monument, Pinner Mansion, Pinner Well and then on to the panaromic views of Pinner farms overlooking Hatch End and Oxhey. We then ambled down to Moss Lane to see the quirky farm cottages, tudor homes and ancient pump station. The famous homes seen included that of the Heals founder Heath Robinson, and where Elton John spent his childhood. The walk ended in the village at one of the local pubs.
Thank you to my fellow walkers who joined me on this delightful morning walk.
3 of us met at Berkhamsted station on a rather overcast bank holiday Tuesday morning. The weather forecast had called for some showers or light rain that morning but as we left the station shortly before 10:00am it was still dry. Unfortunately, that didn't last for too long, and after having made our way along the Grand Union Canal to Northchurch, the light rain started. We then headed up to Northchurch Common which we crossed to reach the Hertfordshire Way. We then picked up the Ridgeway, turning off within sight of Ivinghoe Beacon, and then stopping for lunch on Clipper Down, on the edge of Ivinghoe Common, shortly after it had finally stopped raining and the sun had appeared.
After lunch we headed southeast to Ringshall and then across Ashridge Golf Course and around Ashridge College. We then headed south across Berkhamsted Common and through Frithsden Beeches, returning to Berkhamsted station at around 3:30pm, a good pace in spite of the very muddy terrain.
On a misty morning six walkers gathered by Ickenham village water pump and pond. Our route was the Hillingdon Trail which follows the Rivers Crane and Yeading Brook across country through Ickenham, Hillingdon and Northolt. We had a look around the Compass Theatre where many of us had seen musicals performed. The route took in Ickenham Marsh, Gutteridge Woods and Ten Acre Woods. Part of the way featured ancient woodlands and involved duckboard sections over boggy terrain. Kerry pointed out the sloe berries on the bushes. On Sharville Lane trackway several horse riders passed us, some wearing festive jackets. Reaching the West London shooting grounds Mike led us on a detour through the nearly completed extension of Lime Trees golf club. After a tour around Northala Park we greeted some fellow parkrunners walking there. Our walk ended at the Crown in Northolt village where we enjoyed a well-earned late lunch by the village church and green.
14 of us started the walk on Sunday morning at Chalfont and Latimer station. Shortly after leaving the station we were in West Wood and soon emerging to enjoy views of the weir and Latimer House. As we climbed up to Long Wood we had great views across to Flaunden Bottom and the day was brightening up. In Flaunden we were looking for a permissive path that would take us south to Chenies and this was spotted by one of the group thus saving a good bit of time as nobody wanted to be late for lunch.
We made it back to the Red Lion just after 12 noon and our reserved tables were waiting for us. The pub was busy and looking very festive and cosy as we settled into our corner, they were even able to squeeze an extra person in. We had mainly table service, a short wait for our food, and roasts seemed to be the order of the day. A few of the group departed after lunch as they had long journeys home or other events to attend. Afterwards we headed to the front of the pub, discovered it was still daylight outside and had one for the road. We emerged and headed off quickly towards Chorleywood station. We walked through Turveylane Wood down to the River Chess. Daylight was now fading fast and we took the most direct route back via Chorleywood Common.
This event is now a Christmas favourite and I look forward to doing it all again next year. As ever I will aim to leave the pub just that little bit earlier. Thanks to Anne, David, Jan, Jeff, Kalpna, Lesley, Malcolm, Mick, Mike, Paul, Sandra, Rob and Ujen for joining.
Two of us travelling from Maidenhead made our way into London to the Boot Inn in North Camden. On entering the pub there were some familiar faces - Liz and Carley from the recent Halloween weekend. We passed a small group of people outside so I went out to investigate and another familiar face, Sally, with two newish members, Louise and Kevin. We went back in the pub and were joined by Motorcycle Mark. After a brief history of Barnaby Rudge and the Gordon Riots we discovered from a picture on the wall it was the local of Kenneth Williams (Carry On). We then headed off towards Clerkenwell and stopped briefly to look at the Eagle pub (the first gastropub in the UK). Now it was time to follow the Artful Dodger on his journey to Fagin's lair with his new companion Oliver Twist down Saffron Hill. Mark found the drain from a previous walk and we saw the River Fleet. We'd veered off track a bit but finally arrived at the One Tun (the Three Cripples) in Oliver Twist. After another brief story we went around the corner to the Sir John Oldcastle (spoons) apparently the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff.
After a pint and food we carried on down Saffron Hill to Fagin's lair on the corner of Fleet Street. By this time the rain had abated, much earlier than forecast. As it was F1 weekend we decided to walk past the Petronas Building to see Lewis Hamilton's car. We carried on to St Paul's where Mark showed us the restaurant used in First Dates. Mark suggested we take the wobbly bridge to Borough and great shots of the cathedral were possible. Going past the Rose Window and the Golden Hind we entered Borough Market and made our way to the George (Little Dorrit), being the only balastruded pub in London. Crossbones Graveyard could be seen through the fence, a dumping ground for paupers, prostitutes and debtors. Dickens was fostered nearby when his father was in Marshalsea Prison. From there we continued on to Blackfriars Bridge and a brief stop at Middle Temple to recount Pip's lodgings and the infamous note on the gate (Great Expectations) a short walk then to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (A Tale of Two Cities) where we enjoyed the cellars, then as a Christmas treat we sat near the open fire where Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol. Onwards from there to Covent Garden where Christmas was in attendance with fantastic decorations. We then took the last leg to the Lamb and Flag (Dickens haunt) and on to Leicester Square to say our farewells.
Thanks to Mark, Liz, Carley, Sally, Louise, Kevin and Mark P for joining me on a wet evening in London.
On Saturday morning we were met with glorious sunshine outside Preston Road station. The number of walkers attending this walk was getting larger by the minute, 17 at last count. We set off at 11:15, bushy tailed and lots of conversation to be heard, and made our way to Barn Hill, which was called Bardon Hill in 1547 and was landscaped by Humphrey Repton in 1792. The hay meadows are the remnants of two manor houses originally owned by King Edward the Confessor. Heading up this hill towards the pond at the top, Michael L and I wondered how this pond was there given the water table (I used to fish there in my youth as I lived on Fryent Way). We arrived at the pond and gathered around the trig point which has excellent views of Wembley Stadium and the Shard in the distance plus the Walkie-Talkie (which reminds me of Sponge Bob square pants, don't ask). We then headed down to Fryent Way, passing a strip of land that once had a row of prefab houses (Pankaj cracked a joke about sprouts to much amusement) on it built after WW2, one of which was occupied by none other than Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. We crossed over Fryent Way and headed up to the viewpoint with its exceptional views (big sky). I remember that there used to be a WW2 look-out post / concrete bunker there, now filled in and levelled off. Now onwards towards the Welsh Harp. Inevitably there were a few roads to negotiate but we were rewarded with sight of the magnificent St Andrew's Church (built 1847) which was a church in search of a congregation having originally been located in central London near Oxford Street but due to a change in the demographic in that area had few patrons and was carefully dismantled and re-erected at its new site in 1934 ready for the new estates of houses being built (Metroland).
Onwards to the Harp we arrived to find a convenient row of benches with lovely views of the reservoir, a perfect spot to have lunch and watch the boats and sailboards and a chat (a conversation about burying someone else's deceased cat by mistake was met with amusement). We continued our journey. One observant walker queried why we had not seen the promised wildlife, well it was just around the corner - swans and terns, as Mike D pointed out in fact flocks of them (one good tern deserves another, oh dear). Anyway onward we headed away from the Welsh Harp and into Jubilee Park which was to be the demise of my navigation skills unfortunately as I managed to get us lost in a warren of cul de sacs (Jubilee Park is trickier than you might think) and a grumpy walk leader slightly crestfallen realised that we had to reverse course back into the park to get my bearings back and find the correct exit. Once found we were on the final return leg of the walk through Fryent Country Park and back to the station, where some said their goodbyes and some joined me in the Preston pub for a bevy.
My thanks to Mike D, Sarah, Marianne, Anneke, Chris, Maria, Angela, Nandu, Ramji, Coogee, Runi, Michael L, Pankaj, Marian, Iran and Dean T.
A band of 23 descended on YHA Holmbury St Mary Surrey Hills. Architect designed, purpose built, with funds from the Carnegie Trust, the hostel first opened on Monday 13 July 1935, celebrating 80 years of welcoming walkers and hostellers. We were glad to be the next generation of hostellers, and arrived in dribs and drabs at the hostel as the sun was setting. We started to decorate the hostel which was to be our home for the next 48 hours, with Christmas glitz. Anne started to mull the wine, and Nitty scrambled over tables and chairs to light up the room. The essential Christmas Quiz took place. After the inevitable cheating ('Chocolate? with your figure?'), we commenced pass the parcel with forfeits which also revealed peoples' sadistic streak. Dee managed to strut her stuff and Martina did a notable display of a pretzel.
Saturday brought the most beautiful winter's day. An intrepid band of 13 set off, with a passable display of faffing for 15 minutes. After much consultation of maps, we managed to make it out of the car park and head off towards Holmwood Common through the woods. Sadly Dee was summonsed back to the hostel for an emergency car manouevre and took Shakespeare back with her for moral support. The rest of us became quickly separated in the depths of the woods within another 10 minutes. After regrouping on the road near the pub, we held close together and headed towards Leith Hill. After an abortive emergency stop to try and meet up with the rest, in the wonderful new popup cafe popular with cyclists and walkers alike, we started a steady climb through the woods to Leith Hill following the Greensand Way. We were welcomed at the top with amazing clear views of the South Downs, as we stood at the highest point of South East England. Several cups of tea later from the National Trust tea shop in the base of Leith Tower, we were joined by Tim P and Duke, our long-suffering four-legged friend. We shuffled through gold and amber leaves down along Greensand Way back behind Broadmoor and stopping for refreshments at Abinger Hatch. We were ushered into the ginormous teepee with fur rugs and open fires, at which Janet launched into a rousing rendition of 'Wig Wam Bam'. Dee and Mike joined us after an full day of tree hugging and photographic heaven. A full 9 miles was completed in the end, which was no mean feat given the logistics of keeping everyone on track. The other half of the group had a more civilised day, doing their civic duty to keep the economy alive, in Guildford town centre. Cathy received an extra unexpected dinner in Wetherspoons and multitudinal Christmas gifts were purchased.
Everyone made it home for the highlight of the weekend - Santa! The newbies Nicky and Sonja were introduced to the hell of 'Stick or Switch' Secret Santa, which allows people to steal a present that has already been opened, forcing the other person to take a new (less desired) present. Tears were flowing as Nitty's Santa hat was rehomed several times, until the delights of ye olde traditional curry arrived. Much dancing ensued and a magnificent display of salsa from Humay and Janet made up for missing Strictly.
On Sunday despite cleaning the hostel thoroughly, the wardens emerged from their cubby hole and were not impressed. Campervan Anne did her best Mary Poppins impersonation on Sunday morning with her willing helpers, Cathy T and Shakespeare, and soon the place was spotless. A spoon full of sugar! Half the group took a walk around the charming village of Shere. They pounced upon a craft market at the village hall, plus shops selling local produce. Along with a tour of St James 13th century Church, they attacked a charity cake stall at the old fire station. As if that wasn't enough Christmas food we then took over nearly all tables at Hily's Tea Shop for lashings of ginger beer, tiffin and splendid cream teas made with home made scones, served in vintage tea sets. Liane and Jan scoured the streets of Guilford to see what was left from the previous day's visitors.
We all sadly waved goodbye to each other and winded our merry way home full of happiness and Christmas cheer. A huge thanks to Brian, Liane, Tim P, Tim B, Dee, Campervan Anne, Nitty, Humay, Rachel, Nick, Mark A, Mike S, Cathy, newbies Nicky and Sonya, Chrissy, Christine, Janet, Daniel, Malcolm and Duke. And a special thank you to Santa for coming so early! See you all next year.
6 walkers met outside Wendover station on a bright sunny Sunday morning, the complete opposite to the previous day's weather of Storm Arwen. The group headed off at a brisk pace out of town and onto the Ridgeway path. The path took us through woodlands where we took in the scenery of the autumn colours and fallen leaves. The first 3 miles of the walk was all uphill which meant that none of us felt too cold, it was barely just above freezing and we were being sheltered from the wind by the woodlands. We soon arrived at the highest point of the walk, the village of Hastoe. From here we made our way into Tring woods and took the opportunity to take a few photos from a couple of viewpoints as we made our way to the obelisk in the woods before emerging into open parkland. As we made our way into Tring the cold wind was quite noticeable as we had now lost the shelter of the woods.
We arrived in Tring well ahead of schedule and stopped for a short lunch break as we did not want to cool down too much. After lunch we headed out of Tring in search of the Wendover branch of the Grand Union Canal. We then followed this picturesque canal with its multitude of wild fowl, taking in Aston Clinton and Halton on our way into Wendover. We finally arrived back at the station at 3pm after completing some 15 miles in a little over 5 hours and well before it got dark.
Many thanks to Dee, Karen, Phil, Muneer and Kalpna for joining me on this walk.
Nine cyclists met on a sunny bracing morning at Northala café. After bacon butties we set off along the Grand Union Canal eastwards. The canalside trees were still full of autumn colour and a heron was spotted within the barges. We crossed the aqueduct at Park Royal noting some anglers along the route. At Old Oak we cycled under the new conveyor belt bridge taking the spoil from the HS2 tunnels. From the bridge we took in the vast Old Oak Common site, the new HS2 and Crossrail stations still at foundation stage. We left the canal to do a tour of Wormwood Scrubs, the parkland covered with football pitches. Our coffee break was at the stadium where we met by chance the Ealing Cycle Group travelling east.
We stopped at the memorial to the three police officers killed on duty there in 1966. Crossing into Willesden we cycled through the Victorian terraced street often used in period dramas. Our route took in back streets until we reached the famous Ace Café. Here, again by chance, we met another cycling group, TH Wheelers led by Mr Jones. Today was Ariel motorcycle day with many vintage models proudly displayed in the forecourt. These included a Penny Farthing, as Ariel were a pioneering cycle manufacturer in the 1870s before switching to motorcycles in the 1900s. Inside with the Rockers for some rather splendid fry ups over which Dean recounted recently seeing on "Talking Pictures" an early 60s film set at the Ace. Coogee and Rob chatted the engineering talk to the collectors, and we exchanged cycle tour plans with Mr Jones. The route back was again on the Grand Union Canal, the weather a lot colder on the return leg.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Nick, Tim P, Malcolm, Rob W, Coogee, Chris and Dean.
Report by Brian
Start at Northala - Photo by Brian
Canal aqueduct - Photo by Brian
Chance encounter with Ealing cyclists - Photo by Brian
Eleven of us met promptly at The Grapes Beefeater, on Uxbridge Road, in Hayes at the scheduled time of 10:30am. After a brief introduction, and explanation of the group's events calendar to a newer member, we set off towards Minet Country Park. When we arrived, we were greeted with a national junior cycle tournament in full flow. Our canine friends had to be restrained on their leads, to prevent chaos ensuring on the race track. The group were informed that the park, which was once owned by the Minet family from 1766, is now owned and managed by Hillingdon Borough Council since 2003. We exited the park, with a short walk through the town centre to meet the Grand Union Canal. We carried on along the canal towpath getting acquainted with the other members. When we arrived at the southern gate to Stockley Park, we continued alongside the golf course stopping briefly at the Orangery Golf Club for bacon sandwiches and coffee. After crossing the road bridge, we exited the park at Horton Gate, observing the information boards describing the history of the "Cowley Stock" Middlesex brick trail. We continued along the towpath, reaching our lunch stop at some canalside benches, with nearby facilities. We said goodbye to Mike and Gino at this 6 mile point.
After lunch we continued along the Slough Arm branch, with an observation of the two pill boxes and the two aqueducts of both the Fray and River Colne. We then continued along the London Loop up to Little Britain Lake, which we discovered was an artificial lake constructed following gravel extraction in the early 1930's. We stopped briefly to observe the wildlife that had settled on this serene place of beauty. We then proceeded to follow alongside the River Colne, up to Yiewsley Moor, passing thru Cowley, up to Culvert Lane. There we were greeted by some original 1860 cottages that exist in splendid condition today. Here we rejoined the Grand Union Canal for the short distance of half a mile up to the Swan and Bottle public house where we said our goodbyes and farewell to each other. Some remained to replenish their thirst at this canalside establishment.
I would like to say a big thanks to Maria, Marianne, Iram, Louise, Lesley, Heddy, Jeetendra, Delroy, Julie, Gary and Mike for making it such an enjoyable walk and in great company.
I was pleased to turn up in Ibstone and see a large group waiting to start the walk. The visibility wasn't great as we started just after 10:15 but we had our first fabulous vista of the day as we exited Commonhill Wood on the Chiltern Way. The autumn colours were spectacular throughout the walk. The first steep climb of the day took us up to Northend and we got to Pishill around midday. We stopped for lunch in the parish churchyard in Pishill. From here we took a lovely woodland path and passed JoJo's Vineyard before reaching the pub in Upper Maidensgrove.
We were able to enjoy the pub garden and panoramic views at the Five Horseshoes and the day had brightened up a little. Looking at the route I could see we still had a way to go so we kept up a good pace as we headed to Stonor Park. Nick was waiting patiently here for us. There is always something going on at Stonor Park and we could see a large tipi type structure all lit up in the distance. We then walked to Southend and the famous windmill at Turville soon came into view. We said goodbye to Nick in Turville and we had a steep climb to get back to Ibstone. A couple of woods later the light is fading and the track was harder to see. We arrived back at the start point at 5:00pm. We had completed 13.5 miles, a fairly challenging route. The distance was a bit longer than I expected and in hindsight we should have started at 9:30am.
Thanks to a fantastic fit bunch of walkers on the day, Aditi, Anne-Marie, Indira, Malcolm, Mark, Mick, Muneer, Narshi, Nick, Shruti, Simon and Smita.
Fifteen HAWOGers joined me on my wander through St Albans on Saturday and it was lovely to see some new faces. Throughout the walk I delivered my usual dose of 'useless' information which I hope people found interesting. Our first stop was the town hall / museum to see a fascinating tree exhibition and visit the original police cells that were still in use up until the 1960s. We then headed just down the road (via the street market) to the clock tower, completed in 1405 and apparently the only remaining medieval town belfry in England. I was hoping we could go up to the top but it was closed which was unfortunate because St Albans city council office promised me it would be open. We then had a look the hexagonal Ye Old Fighting Cocks pub that borders Verulanium Park. It is hexagonal shaped like a dove cote because that is what it used to be. The name of the pub comes from the old English sport of cock fighting which yes, you've got it, also used to go on there. Then it was into Verulanium Park to see the remains of the Roman gate and the old walls of the city before arriving at the (locked) hypocaust that was excavated in the 1930s. Again, I found this a tad frustrating as I had been promised by St Albans council office that the place would be open (I shall be having words with them) but we could still see the underfloor heating system and the beautiful mosaic floor through the large window so all wasn't lost.
After popping in to the 15th century St Michaels Church to see the ornate wooden Tudor pulpit with the original hourglass, used because way back, some of the sermons lasted an hour and the hourglass was used as a timer, outside we spotted some of the original Roman bricks that were interspersed with the flint walls. Then it was onto the Cathedral for our tower tour. Unfortunately, due to health and safety rules the Cathedral weren't able to take the extra bodies who hadn't booked, so the 12 who had were treated to a fantastic tour led by a Belgian gentleman named John who took us up above the ceilings, via the bell tower where upon our arrival the computer controlled 11th century bells tolled almost as if welcoming us. Then we were led up onto the roof for glorious views across St Albans and across to London far in the distance. We finished the day with a quick pint in the local Wetherspoons that is laid out like a huge barn. The beer was nice too.
Thank you to both Marks, Dee, Nitty, Judith, Anusha, both Tims, Bob, Katherine, Rita, Kate, Nick, Ramji and Nandu for joining me.
Today Heather welcomed six eager current and future walk leaders to our next training event of the year. Heather arranged a one-day workshop covering basic navigation techniques including: an introduction to maps, orientation of the map, determining the direction of travel, distance, and timings, identifying map features, basic compass use and route planning. Hopefully all participants will soon be adding their walk for the group.
Attendees were Indera, Cathy, Kerry, Humay, Nile and Geeta.
As I got out of my car I was approached by 2 new members which was a great start to the walk, and then another friend shortly after. We made our way to the Coy Carp and spotted four others at the end of the car park. We walked towards each other, four against four like a gunfight from a western. Introductions made and another new member, we set off down the canal in the sunshine. Despite such lovely weather the tow path was quiet but there was something going on with the boats. We remarked on the glut of rusty old carcasses, one even had a caravan on the back. Shortly we arrived at Springwell reed bed, lots of reeds rustling in the wind but we didn't see a lot of birds. Onwards to Springwell lake and the boardwalk (Kevin and I did a mini rendition of the song). We came upon a small but flooded and difficult part of the walk. It was difficult to stay upright and not get a bootful or two. Large sticks were employed 'gandalf' style and all made it through. Dave decided to just plough through the middle. The rest of the lake was much more tranquil.
Next, it was up the lanes and across the farmers field to the 'Tea Shack' at Wood Oaks farm which everyone agreed was 'a little jewel', and a micro brewery to boot (Julie and Pankja partook). Paninis and coffees and a 12-inch hotdog for Mick. We retraced our steps back to the canal and over the bridge to the fields and woods above and a view back over the reed bed. Back to the start where some went on their way and five of us had a well earned beverage at the Coy Carp. Everyone enjoyed the lovely weather, routes and scenery.
Thank you to Angela, Dave, Julie, Karen, Mick, Pankja, Peter, Tracey and Vito for making it such a lovely afternoon.
A larger than expected group assembled on a sunny morning at the café barge at Little Venice. After coffees and introductions, we set off using the excellent David Fathers guidebook to follow the Westbourne river to the Thames. A detour inspired by Mr Dunn's Railway Architecture show saw us explore Brunel's train shed at Paddington and the new Crossrail extension. We then followed the Westbourne through several Georgian mews until Hyde Park. Here the Westbourne flows alongside the Serpentine Lake. We crossed into Knightsbridge and followed back streets twisting to follow the route of the underground river. Our lunch stop was in Belgravia at Motcomb Street courtyard, a collection of outdoor cafes by the original Pantechnicon.
Our route continued south, passing several embassies and Cadogan Hall (originally a Byzantine style church). Into Chelsea where the Westbourne meets the Thames. Noting the distinct lack of eateries Mark P and Chrissie led us south of the river to the new Power Station complex where we found a suitable venue underneath the arches (no sign of Flanagan or Allen). Jolly handy indeed for the railway buffs to return via the newly opened (and rather splendid) Battersea Power Station Northern line station.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Nick, Christina, Carole, Joan, Mark P, Ranjit, Ninjay, Tim B, Janet, Chrissie, Sally and Alpa.
Three of us set off from the woodland car park in glorious sunshine and soon came upon elephants and bears, luckily only wooden carvings. Then some very large shells led us to our first vantage point over the towns below and hills beyond. We meandered down through the woods and onto the riverbank with wonderful autumn reflections and a distant view of Cliveden House, impressive even from a few miles away. Lots of wildlife along the way towards the boathouses and some lovely properties. We arrived at the rather large incline and jointly decided to extend our walk and climb in a different place. We were rewarded with the magnificent Blenheim Pavilion, designed in 1727 for George Hamilton to celebrate his part in the battle of Blenheim. Shortly followed by some wonderful topiary and beds where they will be planting thousands of bulbs for spring. It was time for a cuppa and a wee sit down, sausage rolls were the order of the day.
We took in the architecture of the house, formerly a home of the Astor family and now a hotel, a mere snip at approximately £800 a night. And the six acre manicured parterre. We went back along a green drive and chatted about what we had seen and how much more there is to do and that we were very glad to have extended our walk to just over six miles. Julie and Mick both had this on their 'bucket list' so I was very glad to oblige.
Thank you to both Mick and Julie for joining me on this stunning walk and for such positive feedback.
Friday - After settling in the castle with some impromptu guides we headed out on a short walk to see the views over the Severn Estuary and head downhill where we encountered a group of aggressive cows. A slight detour was needed and as the light faded, this was our last chance for a twilight walk this year. Some of the group broke off to get to the pub for the staggered meal service. 20 or so of us had what was exceptional food and returned on the short walk to the castle.
Saturday - The group gathered in the courtyard and headed off on road to start with, then a long descent on a byway where we came across a couple of trial motorcyclists who stopped for us. We then encountered a fast flowing ford, breathing a sigh of relief when a footbridge hidden slightly kept us dry. We then headed uphill via a farm and began a more level walk on Offa's Dyke where the views were amazing. Carrying on through the woods with the colours of autumn and the wonderful light we began our descent to Redbrook where superb views of the Wye and the old train bridge were visible. After a lunch stop at the Boat we headed back across the disused train bridge and took the Wye Valley walk to Monmouth. Jan decided to paddle in the Wye unplanned but quick thinking by the group and she was soon back on land. We met at the King's Head to talk about the day. Some investigated the town and we took a taxi trip back to St Briavels due to the fading light. Saturday evening saw the much anticipated Halloween Party, which didn't disappoint. Everyone got into the spirit of things with music, fancy dress and a abundant feast provided by Rachael.
Sunday - We congregated in the courtyard to start the day's walk and headed off initially by road but after a deluge earlier we had to improvise, avoiding some paths that were now downhill rivers. Back on the road a huge downpour greeted us. Doing our best with umbrellas and foliage we managed to see it out. After another downhill stream, this one we stuck with we finished the first part of the walk in Tintern, with views of the abbey a must and also an unexpected Morris Minor rally and a really great tea shop. We said goodbye to a few of our companions and a smaller group headed back along the Wye. The flat terrain didn't last long and we were inevitably forced to go uphill, all 4 miles of it walking through a waterfall and incredible nature. Once back at the castle everyone congregated in the chapel (lounge) where various food options were then exercised.
Many thanks to the participants, 33 in all, for a great weekend.
Our autumn colours walk was blessed with blue skies and sunshine which made the colours more vibrant. Seven walkers including two newbies on their first walk with the group. After walking along the Thames Path we had an early coffee stop at Hollyhocks tea shop in the terrace gardens. Onto Richmond Hill and soaring views over the valley from Turner's viewpoint. In Richmond Park the deer were soon spotted semi-hidden in the brown foliage, with several stags rutting as we passed by. Crossing by Pen Ponds we climbed to White Lodge for views of the trees reflected in the waters. Into Wimbledon Common where our lunch stop was at the famous Windmill Café (the red chilli soup very warming on the fresh day).
Rob then guided us through a scenic route taking in the Wimbledon Scottish Golf Club House, newly opened to all guests. Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park were both busy with walkers, cyclists, and horse riders on a fine sunny day. Recrossing Richmond Park we took in the views as far as central London, the skyscrapers clearly identifiable against the blue skies.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Runi, Dawn, Pankaj, and newbies Sally and Julie.
Five of us set off promptly from the Cock Inn and made our way up to Chenies Manor, noting that the previously overflowing and muddy section has been gravelled over. We walked towards Chalfont and descended past the flower filled fields and up to Latimer's hotel. Lovely views all round and very sunny by now. After walking further to enjoy the views, we returned to the hotel, where we had packed lunch in the hotel's sunny garden. We then progressed on to picturesque Latimer village and down to the Chess valley. Here we encountered a short but very muddy section, thankfully the only bad part. Then back up towards the Cock Inn, but, as we had made such good time, we opted for a small extension and our 5th ascent. Back at the Cock Inn, we compared phones and agreed that the walk was 9 miles long. Two stayed to enjoy a drink, whilst the rest went home.
Many thanks to Pankaj, Kalpna, Angela and Cynthia for their excellent company on a lovely walk.
Nine walkers joined me at Baker Street and we made our way up to Marylebone High Street stopping briefly to look at the Royal Academy of Music which has a number of free concerts and is worth visiting to see the massive organ in the main hall (donated by Elton John and Ray Cooper). Marylebone remains fashionable and not a Primark in sight. We had a planned stop at the Wallace Collection and everybody agreed this is a fabulous place to look around and may be worth coming back to. We found our way to the controversial Marble Arch mound and despite poor reviews this has clearly improved and the views and light show were praised by the group. We walked briefly to Speakers Corner before making our way to the beautiful Italian Gardens for lunch where we linked up with another member.
After this lunch stop the weather got even better with the sun coming out and our walk on to Kensington Palace, its gardens and the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall benefitted from such glorious weather. We carried on through the park via the Serpentine Galley and along the length of the Serpentine to Hyde Park Corner. The time was getting on and we decided not to go across into Green Park for Buckingham Palace but instead the majority of the group voted to make our way to Shephard's Market in Mayfair for a well earned beer. Many thanks to everyone that joined me on this lovely day and thanks for your understanding regarding my dodgy back.
A not so secret seven met at Marlow on Saturday for our latest Thames walk. We explored the town's Georgian terraces and riverside manors with a detour to Marlow Lock. Here we met another walking group including an old acquaintance for three of us. On to Harrison Park where we viewed the statue of Steve Redgrave, a notable local. Our route continued through Harleyford golf course with many carved wooden statues of animals guiding the footpath. After admiring the Georgian manor of Harleyford we found the tunnel beneath the estate of Danesfield. The tunnel was created by the sunlight soap magnate to ensure ramblers did not disturb his view. We then enjoyed the opening of Mike's tuck box and lashings of his rather spiffing coffee.
Crossing the Thames at Temple Lock we explored the timeless hamlet of Hurley with its medieval church, tithe barn and manors. Lunch was at the Olde Bell Inn which was founded for pilgrims in the 12th century. In the beer garden we were joined by a large wedding party just married at the village church. Our route back to Marlow was along the Thames Path with lots of rowers out on this fine afternoon by the river.
Seven of us headed off from Watford station on a fresh, rain-free morning; Nile, Iram, Kalpa, Giulia, Tim, Mike and myself. Once through picturesque Cassiobury Park, we enjoyed canalside views of narrow boats, swans and ducks. Noticing a surprisingly realistic heron, we wondered if it was real and decided it was a model, based on the stand it was sitting on. We continued at a blistering pace, as Mike was concerned about getting a fine if his parking permit ran out.
A welcome lunch break at the lakeside cafe, where we enjoyed delicious food including savouries, some fine patisserie, and delicious coffee. Unfortunately Kalpna, off for a comfort break, had not realised we were sitting at the back of the cafe, and we lost her as she decided to head back, having emailed her to ask if she'd like to rejoin us. She was grateful, but declined as she was already on her way. We enjoyed magnificent views around Stockers Lake nature reserve, stopping for photos of the group and of the water fowl. Following part of the Ebury Way we became enveloped by a beautiful avenue of trees before emerging again onto the canal passing willows, as they wept into the canal. Now the blistering pace was starting to cause a few foot blisters as some members were a little out of practice. Slowing to appreciate the views and autumn colours, we were soon back at Cassiobury Park saying our farewells.
Thank you all for an enjoyable day's walking with plenty of interesting conversation.
Five cyclists met on another fine sunny morning at Hampstead Heath for our cultural cycle ride. The Heath was busy with walkers, cyclists, joggers and one lady trailing two huge tyres behind her; "I'm training for an Antarctic Trek" she explained. We climbed to Parliament Hill for views over central London, lots of kites being flown on the summit. We crossed the Heath, via the various Ponds, and continued into Highgate. Another climb to the village centre, pausing to see the home of Coleridge and Priestley. Onto Highpoint, the modernist creation of Lubetkin, generating some architectural criticism from Kerry. A detour then to discover the "lost former Highgate station". Climbing up the car park wall we succeeded, good views of the original platforms and buildings recently featured in Tim D's railway programme. We then joined the Parkland Walk, a converted railway line (Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park). This is an excellent traffic free route including the old platforms, bat caves, sculptures and views of the districts below. At Finsbury Park we had lunch at the park café by the boating lake. It was a popular spot for birthday parties, Mark and Dean entertaining them with amusing anecdotes.
Our route continued to Highbury Stadium, home of the Arsenal till 2006. Two of the original stands are preserved and now house fully glazed apartments. The classic 1930s Art Deco facade of the East Stand, with the Field Gun Emblem and lettering, is all restored and resplendent in the sun. We smuggled ourselves into the complex and found the football pitch now serving as the gardens for the residents. Our kickabout on the pitch lacked a real football so we crossed the tracks to visit the new home of the Arsenal, the Emirates. Our circuit of the vast stadium revealed huge murals of former heroes prominent on the new elevations. We followed the LCC quiet ways route to reach Clissold Park, another fashionable area with boating lake, mini zoo and 18th century mansion. At Clissold House we stopped to witness a society wedding taking place, the happy couple exiting the Georgian villa under a shower of confetti. Routemasters, decorated for the occasion, were outside so we jumped on the open platform before the guests arrived. "Time for tea?" asked Tim. "Jolly good idea" said all. So, across the road we spied a pop-up café with lots of tables in the gardens of the Victorian church. We ended the ride with tea and cakes, listening to a Russian accordion player serenading yet another wedding party in this charming quarter of London.
Cyclists were Brian, Tim P, Kerry, Dean and Mark P.
Seven of us set out from Henley on a glorious October morning, heading towards Fawley via the well-marked Oxfordshire Way and Henley Park. Sadly, about 3-4 miles in, the planned route was inaccessible, being blocked by the landowner, who 'shooed' us off his private land. The permissive path clearly no longer publicly accessible! Nonplussed, we carried on along the marked footpath, although clearly this was not the intended direction. The detour meant that a walk along a busy road was required to get back on track, definitely not for the faint-hearted and certainly not recommended. A short trek through the lower end of Great Wood led us into Hambleden, as pretty as ever, where several groups congregated in the sunshine. Here we were surprised to be waylaid by Jeff, our eighth attendee, who, being late, reversed the walk to track us down.
After lunch in the sunshine we headed off towards the weir at Mill End which was spectacular, as water levels were high due to recent rain. Another break on the riverbank to bask in the glorious sunshine was warranted before the final walk back to Henley, now teeming with people. The drivers headed off while some of us grabbed refreshments in the riverside pub while we awaited the 4:30 train.
Thanks to Marianne, Frank (on his first walk with the group), Joan, Steph, Yolly, Simon and not least Jeff, for joining me on what was one of the last Sundays of our Indian summer.
We met outside Marlow station although the organiser was running late. Apologies were made and toilet stop found. We started our adventure with the first steep hill and the sun beaming down on us, so layers had to come off. We headed into Bovington Green and started following the Chiltern Way, a long distance path. We passed through Cherry Tree Farm then through a kissing gate and into the horse paddock. We walked through Marlow Common, one of the many ancient commons in the Chilterns. We then headed up into Lords Wood and onto Homefield Woods where our second climb took place. With the sun still beaming down on us we decided to stop and have our lunch in the sun.
Once fuelled we headed on into Pullingshill Wood, where our next major climb came into focus. Once completed some took the chance to have a go on the rope swing. After catching our breath we carried on with our adventure. Heading deep into the woods we headed slightly off track, but with everyone's help we were able to navigate back to the Chiltern Way markers. Lots of wildlife was seen on this journey as we headed back into Bovington Green. Passing back through Cherry Tree Farm, some purchased some plants with an honesty box. As we could see the Royal Oak and only a mile left to complete we decided to stop for some refreshments. Much talk was had about bitter or sweet. We continued on to complete our adventure downhill.
Thank you to Ann-Maria, Sue, Christine, Dan and Riley for joining me on this adventure.
18 keen walkers met outside Chesham station on a bright sunny Sunday morning. After the walk leader gave a brief outline of the day's planned walk, the group headed off. We spotted a vintage bus service which was running between Chesham and Amersham. The group quickly made their way out of town and into the open countryside, gently going uphill until reaching Little Hundridge Farm. This point was the furthest point we would be from the station. Turning right we started our circular tour of the countryside around Chesham. We dropped down into Herberts Hole which was to be our first of the 5 valleys we were going to cross. Continuing on our way we arrived at beautifully kept Little Pednor Farm. We then went onto our second valley at Pednor Bottom followed by another steep uphill walk arriving at the village hall and reading rooms at Chartridge. As we passed the Chiltern Ridge cider press a couple of the group stopped to pick up supplies of eggs and cider. After this we then crossed our third valley, arriving at Widmore Farm, where one of the group was to leave us and head back into town to catch the earlier train home. After our fourth valley crossing, the group stopped for lunch at Broadview Farm.
During lunch the blue sky disappeared and and the wind picked up. Wasting no time, the group headed off on another uphill trek shortly followed by another drop into our fifth and final valley for the day at Chesham Vale. After a short uphill walk we finally arrived at Pressmore Farm and from here the countryside changed into a more level terrain with open fields. With the wind picking up and a hint of moisture in the air we continued on at a brisk pace through Lye Green and on towards Botley. On arriving at Botley the slight hint of rain was replaced with something a little more persistent and the group split into two, those putting on raincoats and those who would brave it out. Luckily most of this section of the walk was under trees and quite sheltered. Unfortunately as we emerged from the cover of the trees at Chessmount and with the station less than a mile away the skies opened. This prompted the group to quicken their pace further in the dash for shelter at the station. The rain ensured that the group arrived in good time after our 11 mile walk for the earlier train home and what's more the rain stopped and the sun came out just as we arrived at the station.
Many thanks to Mark, Valzi, Hira, Humay, Dean, Siworia, Neil, Mike, Sarah, Dee, Phil, Ofer, Mary, Jecterv, Anne and Rajinder for joining me on this walk.
On Sunday, one leader arrived in Ibstone having been 'tipped off' about a petrol panic ensuing in the country. Whilst cancellation messages came in from those I knew were coming, I contemplated lunch for one at my favourite Barn, but then four other members appeared including one meetup newbie, result! After introductions, on a fine and sunny autumn day, we set off across Ibstone Common. Ibstone has a history stretching back to Saxon times when it was known as 'Hibestanes', meaning 'Hibba's boundary stone'. There is a large old looking boulder on Ibstone Common, however it's a newer stone called the Millennium Stone, placed to mark the millennium. As the group got to know one another the jollity grew. Soon we reached the Chiltern Way where the reward of fine views began. Onwards we soon arrived at the Barn, a little early but the friendly staff were happy to accommodate, as they welcomed us, letting us know they were now baking their own bread. The Barn prides itself with a menu full of locally sourced fresh ingredients.
With the sun blazing we took a shaded table and enjoyed a delicious, freshly cooked lunch, al fresco. As our group chatter continued, we couldn't help bursting out into fits of laughter, as our newbie member kept us truly entertained. We may have even attracted the odd look from other tables, too much fun, ho ho. After a leisurely lunch we headed to Turville village, where the windmill-tipped hill, famous for being in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was adorned in scaffolding. We didn't fancy a bonus climb up to investigate and so took the less brutal ascent across a hill field of corn. The flow of more interesting stories and funnies pleasantly distracted us from the demands of the climbs. More great views across the valley towards Idlecombe Wood. After a final stop at Ibstone Church we merrily made our way back with one final climb, through Parsonage Wood, arriving at the common at a timely 3:27pm. Since it was a warm and sunny afternoon, my picnic rug came out and we all stayed for a few cakes on the common and laughed a whole lot more, finishing our picnic at around 5:30pm.
A hearty thanks for joining me to Joan, Mark, Suzanna and, last but not least, newbie Con, who made us laugh virtually all the way! It was a perfect day with delightful company, and I look forward to doing it all again.
I had last led this walk on April 5th and it was interesting to reflect on the changes as London was now much livelier. We perfected the route across Regents Park going to the very top of the broadwalk where there are steps down to the canal, and walked a very handsome stretch to Camden Lock, enjoying watching the children having Saturday morning kayak lessons. We briefly strolled round Camden Market, then headed off on the canal path again towards Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square. As a group we were all fascinated by the history of the canal. One person told us of a friend who works on the narrowboats and canal restoration. We stopped for lunch in Granary Square and engaged in lively conversation on a wide range of matters. Then we went to the London Canal Museum which is behind King's Place, at the back of Kings Cross. I knew the our members people would enjoy it as there are so many displays about the canals which we often walk along. Several of us bought maps to start planning future walks. Many thanks for the enthusiastic company to Mike P, Christina, Nancy, Ramji and John.
Our Cotswold holiday took place during our Indian Summer, and we were blessed with glorious sunshine for the three days. Twenty three came to Cirencester, a charming stone-built town with Roman, Medieval and Georgian features. The hostel, newly opened, is a minutes' walk from the marketplace, museum, and many eating places. On Friday afternoon Brian led a town walk to the magnificent parish church (Cathedral sized) and the Abbey grounds. We took in the Georgian mansions, castellated barracks and medieval hospital. Just outside the old Roman walls we climbed to the Roman Amphitheatre still used today for plays and concerts.
Saturday was a 10 mile walk featuring four classic Cotswold stone villages: Coln St Aldwyn, Quenington, Arlington and Bibury. An early coffee stop at Coln village stores where lots of other walkers and cyclists joined us on the village green. The morning section passing large stone farmhouses and riverside meadows. We happened upon a collection of art works (mostly forged together horseshoes) at a large farm. We reached Arlington Row, described as the "Apotheosis of rustic Cotswold architecture". The row of former weavers' cottages was busy with visitors. Our lunch was at the waterside café of Arlington Trout Farm, Christine and Janet finding the trout baps awfully nice. Newbies Angela, Kevin and Esther impressed the large wedding party, in the garden of the Swan hotel, with their matching Berghaus rucksacks. We continued through Bibury, passing impressive tithe barns, Manor and Dovecot. Arriving back at Coln the afternoon sun was getting fiercer so we had post-walk cold drinks on the terraced gardens of the 17th century New Inn. In the evening most dined at the Bear Inn, yet another Georgian coaching inn, just off the wide marketplace. The party continued till early hours at the hostel lounge, Tim B and Nick impressing all with their Spitfire and canoeing yarns.
Sunday was another scorchio. Our walk took in the huge, landscaped estate of Cirencester Park, designed by the famous poet Alexander Pope. From the town the park is laid out with avenues of chestnuts several miles long all radiating from the parish church. By chance this weekend was the annual Cirencester Park Horse Trials, a challenging tournament of cross-country and arena show jumping. We admired the dexterity of the riders guiding their mounts over the long course. The food and drinks stall served rather splendid breakfast baps, so we had an impromptu picnic taking in the views and the horse trails. Our route back took in more medieval streets before a final tiffin stop at a pavement coffee shop after another excellent holiday in the Cotswolds.
Attendees were Brian, Coogee, Rob P, Malcolm, Jan, Zoe, Liane, Sandra, Diane, Dan, Nick, Rachael, Janet, Christine, Angela, Esther, Kevin, Derek, Prem, Tim B, Martina and Daniel.
13 of us met outside Uxbridge station on a lovely sunny day. The walk took us to the Grand Union Canal at the Swan and Bottle and we then headed towards Denham. We walked past Frans Cafe and then went over the bridge into Harefield Woods. We started walking around the reservoir but unfortunately the route was closed due to HS2. We then backtracked and went into Denham Country Park where we stopped for coffee. We then proceeded into Denham Village taking in the lovely beauty of the village and stopping for a well deserved lunch.
Following lunch we walked through Buckinghamshire golf course, passing the lovely clubhouse and into the county park where we picked up the canal and walked back along the path through to the Swan and Bottle where some of us stopped for a well deserved drink.
My thanks to Christine, Linda, Iram, Marianne, Cavelle, Yolly, Simon, Hera, Nandu, Ranj, Julia and Mick for joining me on this very enjoyable walk.
On a warm sunny afternoon 8 of us ladies met at Hatch End station and headed to Hatch End Arts Centre. We were greeted with a varied collection of 180 paintings all diverse in their offering. We all had a wonderful time taking in the various paintings and took guessing their values. We then headed onto St Anselm Church, telephone exchange and Grims Dyke Park. I shared my local knowledge on the history and heritage of the area. The walk ended with some of us enjoying the al fresco outside dining at Sea Pebbles fish and chips.
A super bunch of walkers and good humoured banter made this a great Monday evening.
15 people joined Diane and me on a bright Sunday morning. We set off from the Old Orchard pub car park heading downhill towards Black Jack's cafe at the lock on the Grand Union Canal. We were treated to a great view of the lock in operation as there was a narrowboat passing through at the time. Following the canal and the narrowboat we enjoyed the company and the tranquility and natural beauty around us as the sun was shining through the trees. As we neared the River Misbourne the weather took a turn for the worse as the heavens opened for a brief moment and we took shelter in the Denham Country Park Visitor Centre where a hot coffee went down well.
The rain stopped and we pressed on through a golf course and onto a path along the River Colne that would lead us back to our start point... Well, at least that was the plan, but unfortunately due to the HS2 works the chosen path was closed. We quickly chose a detour and headed for the canal towpath to get us home. Fortunately, we also got to see the Piano Boat, a narrowboat that does trips along the canal accompanied by music from an onboard grand piano. Back at the Old Orchard we were treated to a delightful roast dinner on the terrace as the weather held and we delighted in the great views and even greater company. Many thanks to all that attended.
6 of us set out from the centre of Wheathampstead. We immediately maintained a rapport within the group and discovered a communality - 4 of the group had roots in the Gujerat alongside 4 Celts.
Initially we followed the River Lee heading towards Water End. Town soon became country as we followed the Hertfordshire Way. The paths were mainly tree lined sometimes in full woodland or open farmland. Reaching Lamer House we headed east and it wasn't long before we reached Ayot St Lawrence. We were momentarily diverted as we came across signs for "Art Exhibition". We headed with stewarded assistance to the entrance. Once there we changed our minds as we were put off by the £2 entrance! More culture followed. After a quick view of the 13th century ruined church we discovered Shaws Corner, the abode of George Bernard Shaw for 50 years. Our next port of call was Little Ayot. Another tree lined path of about 3km afforded occasional views of the rolling farmland. A change of direction came at Hunters Bridge which we climbed up and continued on a former railway line. I set the group a task which was to tell me when we reached 800 metres from the bridge. The write-up describes a stile which takes us across some farmers' fields towards Ayot Green. At the 800 metre mark there was no stile! We would have to endure a bit of roadway. It was, however, worth it as Ayot Green was a large expanse of grass framed by a delightful village. I decided on the pub as the lunch stop, because to my shame I was the only one who didn't have a packed lunch.
After lunch we headed south and encountered a dramatic change of scenery as we cut a swathe through Brocket Park and its spectacular golf course. This culminated in an elegantly striking bridge and neo-classical clubhouses. We took a right (westbound) turning into woodland and made a short but steep descent to the River Lee. We continued along the valley till we came to a stile which took us back via the original path although I must have taken my eye off the ball as I contrived to add an extra half mile to our journey! No one seemed to complain, on the contrary we ended our day at a converted pub in the middle of town and briefly continued our convivial conversation before we went our separate ways.
Thanks to Kalpna, Scott, Fionnuala, Indira and Narshi for joining me.
In a glorious autumn day, 9 rapacious art lovers met in South Ealing. We proceeded to the international film school to see the creativity of the next Martin Scorsese. Ealing has a long tradition of film making since 1902 and has recently been the home of Downtown Abbey and Shaun of the Dead. We then strode eagerly to several local artists residences, where we were kindly welcomed. Questors Theatre revealed several ceramic artists, silk and jewellery makers and a unique display of miniature dioramas made during lockdown. After a wholehearted healthy and organic lunch under the trees near Pitshanger Manor we continued to probe, stroke and peer at several more exhibitions until we hit gold at our last stop. Alongside the fantastic oil portraits of news readers Kate Adie and John Humphrys, we were treated to lemon cake and prosecco.
All in, a fantastic day of exploring art and homes, with a 6 mile walk as part of the day. Thanks to everyone for such a great day.
It was a fine early autumn day when five of us met for a seriously hilly walk through the Box Hill area in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We popped through Ryka's, a favourite haunt of bikers, alluded to in Richard Thompson's song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Then we headed up the north west face of Box Hill, a steep climb and the first of many, enjoying views across the Mole Valley, Denbies Vineyard and Dorking. We meandered through some lovely woodland to a flint tower folly overlooking Juniper Hall Field Study Centre in the valley below. Down through Happy Valley and then up a steeply stepped climb giving great views across to Box Hill before going down again to skirt the village of Mickleham with its pretty church. The next ascent passed the William IV pub which didn't look open (luckily) and two cars which had been "joy ridden" into an unlikely remote spot before we emerged from the woods on to the wide open space of historic Mickleham Common. We forgave the couple who'd nicked our lunch spot as we found a much nicer place to munch our well-deserved refreshments.
After lunch, another steep down, up, down and up again took us to Headley Heath. Next we wandered through the edge of Box Hill village and onto the top of the scarp where we followed the North Downs Way to the famous Box Hill viewpoint, near which Emma Wodehouse made such an unfortunate faux pas in Jane Austen's novel Emma. We stopped to take a few photos in front of the viewpoint despite the distinct possibility that the National Trust café would be closing. We were delighted to find that it hadn't and tucked in to tea, cakes and ice cream etc. Whether it was the number of hills, the sugar rush or simply the pleasure of sitting down, there was a lot of giddiness and giggles at this point and (believe it or not) we made quite a lot of noise. Luckily this was Surrey so everyone was too polite to say anything. After retracing our footsteps down Box Hill and back to the station, we parted for pubs and train.
Thanks for a lovely day in great company to old hands Rob and Dee and to brand new members Hira and Nandu.
Four cyclists met on another very warm sunny morning at Hatfield for our 20 mile cycle ride. The guestimation was proved wrong as it turned out to be a jolly decent 30 miles by the end. The route took in the Alban Way, the Nickey Line and the Ayot Greenway - all former railway lines converted into off-road cycle trails. Volunteers have recreated railway halts on many places along the trails. The first one we came upon was Nast Hyde where an enthusiast has rebuilt the platform, shelter, period posters and signals. We had tea and cakes at the WI stall at Smallford station before arriving at St Albans. Crossing Verulamium Park and the Roman Walls we headed north on the Alban Greenway.
Our lunch stop was at the perfectly scheduled Redbourn Folk festival on the Common. On such a sunny day the festival was crowded with locals enjoying the music. The barbecue, cake stall and beer pavilion were all busy, lots of other cyclists joining in the festival. Refreshed we headed off and followed route 57 through Harpenden to Wheathampstead. Here we found the finest recreated station of all, including Bernard Shaw waiting on the platform to greet us. The Ayot Greenway took us to Welwyn Garden City and the green urban landscape of the 1920s. Arriving back at Hatfield the Station Inn was just the ticket for some welcome cold drinks after a longer than expected cycle ride.
Four of us (plus Douglas the dog) met at Golders Green station and made our way to Golders Hill Park. The weather was just right for walking and communication was easy and free flowing. We went onto the Hill Garden and Edwardian Pergola stopping briefly to admire and read the history of this wonderful pergola. We made our way out of the Hampstead Heath extension and crossed the heath towards Kenwood House, finding the viewing point where you can see lots of iconic London landmarks. We had a scheduled lunch break in the outside café at Kenwood House and at this point the sun started to shine.
After we refuelled we made our way to Parliament Hill via the famous Hampstead Ponds. Douglas was the only one brave enough to have a swim! However we did manage to view some unknown swimmers before climbing Parliament Hill where more views of London can be seen. We then walked into Hampstead Village and found a pub garden for a beer before going our separate ways.
Many thanks to Maureen, Joan, Scott and of course Douglas.
A wonderful afternoon with 12 in attendance, with the first stop at Pinner Church seeing the magnificent floral displays. It was a joy to see such varied and diverse arrangements with their own themes from social media, technology, nature, seasonal, musical and playful displays from the young. All beautifully set up in every available space within the church to mark the 700 year anniversary. All were overwhelmed by the arrangements and the seasonal aromas. As some were restricted with time, half of the group continued with the walk. We made our first stop at the Pinner Monument where I gave a brief history of the village and heritage. We then headed on through Pinner Memorial Park and took the nature trail of the Celandine Way to Eastote Gardens. We then looped back to the village with the final stop at the Queens Head pub for refreshing drinks. A wonderful colourful afternoon with the added addition of the glorious rainbow as we ended the evening.
Today Heather welcomed eight eager current and future walk leaders to their next training event of the year. Heather arranged a one-day workshop covering basic navigation techniques including: an introduction to maps, orientation of the map, determining the direction of travel, distance, and timings, identifying map features, basic compass use and route planning. Hopefully all participants will soon be adding their walk for the group.
Thanks to Chrissy, Iran, Sugandah, Aruna, Azadeh, Kumar, Martina and Daniel.
14 walkers met outside Wendover station on a bright sunny Sunday morning. After introductions we headed off out of town, then picking up the Icknield Way which took us gently uphill to the hamlet of Dunsmore. A small group of leading walkers carried on along the footpath at some pace, causing the walk leader to break into a brisk jog in an attempt to catch them up and ask them allow the rest of the group to catch up. We arrived at our second small hamlet of Little Hampden where we stopped for a late morning break and for some to apply extra sun cream and change into shorts. We continued on through the woods into Buckmoor End where we picked up the Ridgeway footpath, which took us onto a farm shop where we stopped for lunch and ice creams.
Fully refreshed from lunch we headed into the grounds of Chequers, taking note of the many signs instructing walkers to remain on the footpath at all times. Continuing on along the paths we made our way around 3 sides of Chequers pausing to take the odd photo or two. We continued along the path to Ellesborough where we took in the shade of the church as the day had now become very warm. After cooling down we could clearly see the monument on the top of Coombe Hill and headed off towards it. To the relief of many, the monument on top of the hill was not our intended destination as the walk up the hill from Ellesborough is very steep. Instead we made our way around the base of the hill in the shade of the woodland that surrounds Coombe Hill. We finally arrived back at the station after completing some 9 miles, where we said our goodbyes to those catching the train, with a group of others heading off for some rehydration liquids in the George and Dragon.
Many thanks to Vasu, Harsesh, Simona, Pragna, Marianne, Brian F, Brian G, Kalpna, Linzi, Dee, Mark, Mark T and Angela for joining me on this walk.
On a fine sunny morning 5 walkers met at the outdoor tables of the lovely little cafe by Putney Bridge station. We started the walk and paused by the eccentric local second-hand bookshop, every shelf crammed to bursting. Passing along the north bank of Putney riverside we spotted St Mary's Church, site of the Putney Debates on the English constitution in 1647. We noted the splendid mural marking the start point of the Boat Race. After heading inland to skirt around the private grounds of the Hurlingham Sports Club, we rejoined the river at the spot where the River Wandle joins the Thames. We then passed by Imperial Wharf and Chelsea Harbour developments. We walked round the yacht marina, and while pondering the artistic merit of a huge sculpture depicting two welcoming hands, we happened to encounter Lord Stirling who was instrumental in its commissioning, who gave us an explanation of the process. We saw the 'Tide Ball' atop Chelsea Harbour tower, which rises and falls with the tide on the river. We moved on to Lot's Road Power Station, which is busily being converted to residential and retail whilst retaining the full external structure of the power station.
After lunch in Cremorne Gardens, which was a bustling and rather infamous pleasure garden in the nineteenth century, we made our way past the numerous houseboats to Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea Embankment. Here we spotted many blue plaques adorning the former homes of luminaries from the spheres of art, literature, architecture and music - Turner, Brunel, Rossetti, George Elliot, most of the Rolling Stones, Ian Fleming, TS Eliot, Whistler, Bram Stoker to name but a few. Here also is the monument to Joseph Bazelgette, the civil engineer instrumental in ridding London of 'The Great Stink'. We passed by Chelsea Physic Garden and the Royal Hospital, readying itself for the rescheduled autumnal Chelsea Flower Show. We crossed the Thames via Chelsea Bridge to explore the new Battersea Power Station quarter. Dramatic changes have occurred since our last walk here with lots of riverside now reopened with viewing terraces and more outdoor cafes, the imposing power station itself providing a prominent central feature. We then joined the south bank Thames Path to enter Battersea Park. The park is far larger than on first impression with lots of hidden parts, a huge lake and many sporting facilities. In one corner there are fountains and artwork still in place from the 1951 Festival of Britain. We had late afternoon tea and cakes at the lakeside tea gardens, which were very busy for this sunny afternoon. We then strolled past the Peace Pagoda and along the Thames Path, noting the features we had seen on the opposite bank. Heading on to our destination of Clapham Junction, we passed Battersea High Street which is now populated by cute cafes, relaxed bars and things labelled 'artisanal'.
Thanks to Brian, Joan, Kevin and Georgia for joining me on a very enjoyable and informative walk.
Five of us met on a mellow September evening outside the fine Victorian pub, The Jolly Woodman, a stone's throw from Burnham Beeches. We departed down the appropriately named Boveney Wood Lane till arriving at a wide field and then into the heart of the forest. The Portman Burtley estate is privately owned with permissable paths and, consequently, has very few visitors. We appreciated the delights of mixed groves of towering conifers, silver birch in a sea of ferns, the unique characteristics of oak and beech. We wound our way through isolated paths, unobserved except for squirrels and pheasants, till we emerged over a stile and a quiet lane. Encircling 'The Moat' of Burnham Beeches, we discovered that the area had been a settlement in the Middle Ages complete with the aforementioned moat and a stockade. We speculated that, having ceased to be by around 1350, this could have been due to the Black Death two years earlier.
We returned via various paths and, having discovered that The Jolly Woodman didn't serve food in the evening, went to the nearby Blackwood Arms instead. A convivial evening at this welcoming establishment was had by all, Vito and I appreciating the local ale and all of us enjoying the delights from the menu. When we left, the sun had long set and we were shrouded by the pitch black night. Phone torches were duly switched on. I suggested to some of the group that we acclimatise to the dark and use our senses to find our way back to our vehicles but they weren't having it. Cars were duly found and farewells exchanged.
Many thanks to Aruna, Lynne, Kumar and Vito for a fine woodland walk.
We all assembled at 10:00am at Croxley station. Because of an administration defect on the Meetup group website the need to book in advance was not included. This was necessary as the capacity of the boat was limited to twelve. The group then started counting how many of us there were and, according to our ability in maths, the counting varied from 15 to 20. The only solution was to separate the groups into those that had received confirmation of the booking and those that had not and unfortunately two of us were not able to make it.
Everyone remained in good spirits though as we set off where we walked down a steep slope to Common Moor where the River Gade and the Grand Union Canal ran side by side. After crossing these we reached the Ebury Way which used to be a railway line running alongside the Grand Union Canal. We crossed the old railway bridge over the canal and continued until we arrived at Batchworth Lock where our boat arrived. It was one hour and ten minutes for the boat journey which included going through a lock and out the other side. We marvelled at the workmanship of the canal which was completed in 1803 and was an important transport route for carrying goods between the Midlands and London. Incredible that it was all built just by men with picks and shovels with the earth and rocks being carried away by horse and cart. Safely back with no-one overboard we continued the walk to the Aquadrome for lunch in a park opposite the cafe. Our return route took us alongside the other side of the canal where we saw houseboats of all kinds with their residents often greeting us with a cheery 'hello'. The end of the 5.1 mile walk brought us back to the start and that steep hill which no-one noticed on the way down. Everyone made it fortunately and had a well-deserved rest at the top.
Runi was to be joint leader today and it was disappointing that she recently had an operation on her foot so could not join us. She said to enjoy ourselves but not too much, but I am afraid that we might have done. I hope everyone enjoyed the walk which included Pat, Carole, Mark, Esther, Kevin, Angela, Naz, Judith, Ivan, Ujen, Marianne, Simon, Yolly, Naina, Moni and Harly (now how many is that?).
Friday - The 8 campers were already in situ when the hostel contingent started arriving and settling in. After room allocation was sorted most of the 27-strong guests took the short walk to the town square and seafront to swamp the fish and chip shops. In the hostel Nitty and Anita rustled up a delicious apple crumble much to the delight of the group.
Saturday - Brian organised the hostel group for the walk and others joined from the campsite. A second group met at the Royal Oak pub in Herston walking south to Spyway Barn via the Lime Well. After a tea shop break and wonderful sea views at Durlston Castle the first group headed past Tilly Whim Caves towards Dancers Ledge. Perfect timing as the 2nd group from Spyway Barn met up at the popular spot where canyoning and climbing could be seen in action. The now larger group headed off to Worth Matravers and the famous Square and Compass pub. After a break in the sun a breakaway group headed off to Corfe for tea shop and a steam train ride back to Swanage where 3 compartments were taken over on the train. Later some went to town for a meal and others made their own plans.
Sunday - A new addition to this holiday was an early morning view of the sunset led by Dee with Dean, Coogee and Mark P braving the sea on another scorching day. Swanage has a unique location for a southern seaside town as it faces east. Brian once again led the walk to Old Harry Rocks from the clock tower and was joined by the campsite dwellers. The group met up again at South Beach Studland and watched as Derek and Prem tried to launch the good ship (kayak) McCaul. Nick was on hand in the single kayak and Laurence was the RNLI. After a sweltering break on the beach we headed up to the Bankes Arms for lunch and views over to Bournemouth beach. Some opted for a curry meal, others met up at the Black Swan pub for a last party in the garden with special guest Captain Birdseye aka Gerry joining us. Back at the hostel Cathy carried on the jollies with her bar.
Monday - Rumours of a steam fair were gaining ground and several went up to Corfe to find it. They were not disappointed. A few went to Bournemouth beach and four went in search of Tyneham village, uninhabited since 1942 and only opened on selected days, this being one of them.
Many thanks to Brian for stepping in to lead the walks, to Nitty and Anita for the crumble and to Rachael, Laurence, Dan, Diane, Martina and Daniel at the campsite. And to the 27 at the hostel and Tim B and Rachael for joining us.
9 walkers joined me on this gentle and delightful evening walk. We all met at the Pinner church hall to enjoy the 100 plus paintings submitted by local artists. A wonderful and varied mix of abstract, doodle, landscapes and portraits all of exceptional standard to be enjoyed by all. Our walk began from the church grounds with me telling all about Pinner heritage, history and famous residents past and present. The walk covered key points of the village well, Pinner mansion, panoramic views of Pinner overlooking the farms and Hatch End, quirky farm cottages and ancient pump station. The walk ended in the village at one of the local pubs. Thank you to my fellow walkers who joined me on this delightful summer evening.
Our latest cycle event was an off-road route on the coast in Essex. The C2C train (carrying lots of seaside passengers) swept us along the coast to Hadleigh Woods. We joined the off-road tracks at the cycle centre with great views across the estuary to Kent. Coffee stop at the Salvation Army run cafe and then on to Hadleigh Castle, the ruins on a hill overlooking the estuary. Our route was then along tracks to the beach resort of Leigh on Sea. This is one of the hidden delights of Essex. We enjoyed some ice creams on the quayside, watching the yachts sail by as the tide was now in. Then eastwards on the cycle track on the beach promenade through Chadwell, Westcliff and finally to Southend on Sea.
Every beach side café was advertising award-winning fish and chips so we gladly took advantage of this before the final leg to Shoeburyness. Mark P used his local knowledge to guide us through the expansive garrison which dominated the town until the 90s. It was a gunnery town and still hosts an Artillery Research Establishment. Finally, we reached the railway station (end of the line) for the train back to London after another excellent cycle day out in Essex.
Nine of us met at Uxbridge station and set off on our walk just after 11:00am, not knowing what the weather was going to do but prepared for anything. Runi was to be our joint leader but unfortunately was not able to attend as she recently had an operation on her foot. We all wish her well.
Leaving Uxbridge we crossed Rockingham Recreational Ground and soon found the ourselves on the wrong side of the Grand Union Canal. A quick walk over the bridge took us alongside a number of houseboats from the rather neglected to the most luxurious. Leaving the canal path took us to Iver Lane and the Colne Valley Route of footpaths. This led us to a footbridge over the M25 from where we had a picturesque view of a traffic jam on the northbound side. Moving on we passed a variety of cottages and large private houses alongside the route to Langley Park. There we stopped for lunch after admiring the rows of trees leading up to the cafe where we had a well deserved drink.
We took a slight diversion on the way back through Iver and further along the towpath to the Swan and Bottle in Uxbridge. In total we walked 11.18 miles with 4 hours walking time with fortunately no rain. For me it was a long and tiring walk and I congratulate Angela, Pat, Esther, Kevin, Christine, Marianne, Vito and Mark for making the distance.
3 of us met bright and early at Watford station, and we headed off promptly at 8:15am. We walked down through Cassiobury Park to the Grand Union Canal, then walking north along the towpath, making best use of the opportunity to set a brisk pace. Reaching Kings Langley we headed west to Chipperfield Common and then Bovingdon and Ley Hill. I had a little trouble navigating through woods south of Botley, but we still reached Chesham in good time, just over halfway, where we stopped for lunch.
We then walked along the Chess valley, passing by Latimer House and Sarratt Bottom. We said goodbye to Amanda on the outskirts of Chorleywood, leaving her to make her own way to the nearest tube station, whilst we carried on up through Loudwater and then on to Croxley Green where we paused for a snack break. Finally, we walked over Jacotts Hill and back into Cassiobury Park, reaching Watford station at around 4:45pm, somewhat earlier than I was expecting!
Thanks to Amanda for joining me, and well done to Malcolm for completing the full distance with me.
Nine of us met at the idyllic village of Hambleden. We encountered a little light rain on the motorway, but this soon cleared to give us perfect walking conditions. Ridge Wood and Great Wood provided dappled shade as we reached the plateau towards Upper Woodend Farm where we had a rest. We passed through a field full of cattle with an ominous "beware of the bull" sign. We kept close formation and crossed without incident. Down into Gussetts Wood and on to Southend. Summer Heath Wood and onto Summer Heath and then Idlecombe Wood, which on exiting gave a wonderful vista down the valley toward Turville. We climbed the opposite side of the valley and walked through a wildflower meadow full of buttercups, dandelions, clover and beautiful pink flowered marjoram covered in all manner of bees. We lunched at St. Nicholas Church, an idyllic spot.
Post lunch two of our group, Haresh and Nirav, had to press on due to a swimming activity. We were soon in the village of Turville, famed for its TV appearances, too numerous to mention. We decided a short break at The Bull and Butcher would set us up for the last leg of the walk. However, the staff at the pub were a bit slow, so we stayed longer than we would have liked. Fully refreshed then onto Fingest, equally charming. We had our last ascent up to Adam's Wood which led us to Skirmett the last of the chocy box lid cute villages. From here it was all flat along the valley bottom back to Hambleden.
Thank you to Christina, Kalpna, Sarah, Haresh, Malcolm, Mick and Nirav for joining me on a great day out.
After uniting the two halves of the group from each side of Leatherhead station (oops - leader's error!), seven of us strolled through the historic town before heading down to the River Mole to commence the walk. We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather as we negotiated the lush riverside path. The river had been in flood just a few days before, so it was with some relief that we found it was passable. Entering the Norbury Park Estate, we climbed the first of several gentle hills for a view of the North Downs escarpment. Chancing across two picnic tables, we stopped for our lunch.
Suitably sated, we continued the walk along the valley, passing a sturdy Victorian viaduct taking the railway line across the river. We noted the fine curved brickwork, and commented that being nowhere near a road, only a handful of people would ever witness the superb craftsmanship - testament to the Victorians' pride in their work. After circumventing an immovable herd of cows blocking our path, we arrived at the village of Westhumble. Here we noted Box Hill and Westhumble railway station built in 'French Chateau' style, and Camellia Cottage, the country home of novelist Fanny Burney, dubbed the 'Mother of English Literature' and a great influence on Jane Austen. A short walk brought us to Denbies Vineyard where the group split. Five of us climbed the steep hill to catch the fine views over the vineyard, and Box Hill beyond. The remaining two preferring to spend more time at the visitor centre. As we descended, we were greeted with waves and shouts from the little sightseeing vehicle as it passed by. Alpa and Judith caught the views after all! In most years the grapes would be almost ripe by now, but we noted that poor weather this year had left them needing another month at least. The group reformed at the visitor centre for tea and cake, before making our way back to Westhumble for (rather delayed) trains home. We spotted a large property in the village which oddly is home to the 'Royal School of Church Music'.
Thanks everyone for making it a lovely day out in the sunny Surrey countryside.
3 of us made our way to Canterbury for the penultimate weekend of walking the North Downs Way. We stayed on the Friday and Saturday nights at a B&B just a short walk from the city centre. On the Friday evening we had a rather filling meal at a local Turkish restaurant.
On the Saturday morning we set off shortly after 9:30am from Boughton Lees, turning off the main North Downs Way to start the 'Canterbury Loop'. The route passed through the picturesque village of Chilham, which has been used as a location for some period films, and through the curiously-named village of Old Wives Lees. We also passed through a large orchard, one of a number in Kent owned by Britain's largest grower of apples and cherries. We completed the 13 miles in good time, allowing us to spend part of the afternoon exploring the centre of Canterbury. In the evening we dined at a local Italian restaurant.
On the Sunday morning we set off at about 10:30am from Canterbury. We reached the end of the 10.5 mile walk in Shepherdswell shortly before 2:00pm, after which we headed home.
On a warm evening five of us, including some new faces, set off from Isleworth station through the Spring Grove area, passing the imposing Lancaster House, the main building in the former Borough Road College that produced so many top sportsmen and women in the 70s and 80s. We passed through Osterley Park where we were joined by an additional two walkers. The route then took us past the new home of Grasshoppers Rugby Club and then Gillette Corner at the westerly end of the 'Golden Mile' before entering Syon Park and the splendid Syon House, home of the Duke of Northumberland. We passed the London Apprentice on the river with the tide high and then Silverhall Park, admiring one of the superbly carved seats that have been appearing in the borough recently. The walk concluded at the Red Lion in Linkfield Road where an interesting and varied jam evening was in full swing in the music bar whilst we sat in the beer garden until well beyond sundown. Walkers were Joan, Gill, Iram, Jan, Liane and Mark (as well as Duke and myself). Thanks to all for an enjoyable evening.
On a sunny August Wednesday evening eight members hung out in the beer garden of Royal Standard of England, whilst they patiently waited for the leader, who was exceedingly late. Tut tut leader! Some took the opportunity to look around inside this truly historic pub with its low ceilings, gnarled timbers, nooks and crannies, worn flagstones, carved panels, a property that was bursting with character. With the group suitably normed, we set off down the wooded, more like tree-engulfed tunnel of Brindle Lane. Proceeding into the open fields of Forty Green towards Underwood, we soaked up the rays of warmth whilst enjoying our chats and catch-ups with one another. We seemed to all feel it was a great way to end a weekday. We made our way towards Penbury Farm, though the faster walkers were the first to have to muscle through overgrown bramble on a section of the path. They weren't so overgrown the last time I was there, I blame it on the weather.
Across the road we continued down the quiet farm lane before entering the fields of an unknown grain. On the gentle ascent we stopped to take in the expansive views of golden fields and lush hedgerows. Against a backdrop of the wide blue and white skies, it was awe inspiring and justly relaxing. Onwards we walked through Twitchells Wood then crossed over to enter a somewhat hidden path, nestled between the real estates, Wellbank and Groves Barn. More beautiful landscapes surrounded the estates, where we took another moment to absorb. Onwards through more wooded paths we were making good progress, to the pub that is. A final stretch on a lane and there we were, 'pilgrims' back at the 'Oldest Freehouse in England', The Royal Standard of England, which dates back over 900 years and is apparently haunted. After a few adios' the chat continued amongst the six who stayed for refreshments. Then four stayed on for the pub's 'Bill of Fare', which did not disappoint. By pudding we were putting the world to rights. Carried away it had gotten late. After the final farewells we made our way back to our 'chariots' across the pitch dark car park, where there is occasionally the sound of a drum beating, but not on this night.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with fine, fun and friendly company, could definitely get used to this. Once again sincere apologies for the late start and warmest thanks to Kumar, Judith, Vito, Kalpna, Sugandha, Shameem and Tim for their sterling company, making it a thoroughly splendid evening out. I do hope to see you all again soon.
On Sunday Heather welcomed six eager current and future walk leaders to our first training event of the year. Heather arranged a one-day workshop covering basic navigation techniques including: an introduction to maps, orientation of the map, determining the direction of travel, distance, and timings, identifying map features, basic compass use and route planning. Hopefully all participants will soon be adding their walk for the group.
Attendees were Michael L, Catherine K, Cathy O, Nirav, Judit and Naina.
5 keen walkers met outside Wendover station. Our opening discussions were about what time the day's expected rain was going to arrive, and the general opinion was that this would happen early afternoon.
The group set off from the station and after taking a small diversion from the intended planned route due to HS2 works closing a footpath, we picked up the Icknield Way which took us to our first port of call, the small village of Dunsmore. From Dunsmore we then took the Chiltern Way through the villages of Little and Great Hampden before finally arriving at the windmill located at Loosley Row at around 1pm. As we made our way downhill towards Princes Risborough the expected rain arrived and we paused to put on our waterproofs. The rain at first was just some light drizzle but as we made our way out from the shelter of trees along the road and onto the footpaths across open fields and countryside, the skies opened and it poured down. We were lucky in finding a small piece of woodland where we managed to find a little shelter from the rain to pause and have some lunch, whilst waiting for the worst of the rain to pass.
After lunch we continued to make our way into Princes Risborough, where we picked up the Ridgeway footpath which would take us up the steep climb to the summit of Whiteleaf Hill. On arrival at Whiteleaf Hill waterproofs were replaced with sun hats and sun cream, and from this viewpoint in the distance we could see the smoke from a steam train as it left Princes Risborough station on its way to Chinnor. We contuied along the Ridgeway path down through Lower Cadsden and around the iron age fort at Pulpit Hill. Instead of following the Ridgeway all the way back to Wendover, we picked up the route of the Outer Aylesbury Ring which took us around the back of the Prime Minister's country residence of Chequers and the many warning signs telling us to remain on the footpath. We stopped at the church in Ellesborough for afternoon drinks and in preparation for the steep climb up to the summit of Coombe Hill, where we again paused to catch our breath and take in the views from this this viewpoint, before once again picking up the Ridgeway path back to our starting point in Wendover. We arrived at Wendover just after 4pm, a little earlier than the planned time after completing some 16 challenging miles up and down steep hills and doing battle with the early afternoon rain.
Many thanks to Phil, Karen, Georgiana and Vito for joining me on this walk.
A band of 9 keen walkers met on Saturday to start the Green Chain Walk through south east London. After waiting for the stragglers to arrive on the train following the inevitable delays that always precede a train ride in London, Mark P did his best John Wayne impersonation by shassaying down the passage in full fringing to meet the delighted and expectant remaining walkers. Following Section 11 of the Green Chain Walk, which covers over 50 miles of natural parks and rural areas in south east London, we headed slowly towards Nunhead Cemetery. This is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London, although it is perhaps the least famous and celebrated of them. Originally known as All Saints' Cemetery, it was consecrated in 1840 and opened by the London Necropolis Company. It is now a local nature reserve. We prodded and probed in the woodland and discovered that Nunhead Cemetery is possibly the burial spot of Thomas Catbush, a violent criminal and mentally disturbed man long suspected of being Britain's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Moving on we meandered through Camberwell Old Cemetery and Camberwell New Cemetery, leading to murmurings of 'this is nice, but can we find somewhere where people aren't dead Jan?' We struck out for Horniman's Museum but due to a ticketed event, we were unable to see the fabulous gardens, only pausing to admire the beautiful bandstand. However the museum and excellent cafe soon revived us and after an al fresco lunch we headed out and down to a well kept london secret, Sydnenham Hill Woods. Under the darkness of cedars and sycamore trees, we stumbled upon a ruined folly and numerous wildlife including woodpeckers and brown bats. The famous 'tunnel to hell' was covered in upmarket graffiti of bats and other animals. In order to make Dan's day special, we marched up another hill and luckily found a fantastic pub to make it worthwhile. New members Natalia and Maryanne left us at this point, too keen to see the dinosaurs. After a happy few minutes dodging the rain in the pub, we too meandered very happily towards Crystal Palace gardens and park. Jan and Diane contributed to world health by wandering through the Covid tent for a PCR test, and Mark treated all to a Mr Whippy. Often licked but never beaten.
Jeremy took us around the lakes to a land that time forgot. There are around thirty different dinosaur statues which are listed on Historic England's National Heritage List for England as Grade 1 monuments and were created on site in Crystal Palace Park. In 1854, the park opened as a commercial amusement. This included the spectacular glasshouse (made from the glasshouse in the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London). The Crystal Palace glasshouse burned to the ground in 1936 but some of the terraces and decorative sphinxes remain. The park also included elaborate landscape and fountain works designed by Joseph Paxton, along with a Formula 1 racetrack. We all headed back to civilisation, via the scenic train.
Many thanks to all for making this such an enjoyable 9 mile walk - Diane, Dan, Maryanne, Natalia, Christina F, Cathy O'C, Jeremy and Mark P. Hope to see you all again soon!
A group of five cyclists met up in Cowes on a blustery Friday evening for an introductory walking tour of the seafront and town followed by a welcome dinner and a planning session to decide the timings and route details for the following day.
In much improved cycling weather and an 8am Saturday departure from West Cowes the group proceeded to cross the Medina on the new Cowes chain ferry and meet up with one of the group who was camping in East Cowes. We then started to follow the 'Randonnee' cycle route in a clockwise direction in the east side of the island, firstly climbing up York Avenue to pass Osborne House, former home of Queen Victoria and heading out though Wootton Bridge to eventually meet the coast again some 12 hilly miles later at Bembridge where we visited the floating café for a coffee break. We then proceeded past the steep chalk hills and cliffs of Culver, climbing up and over Brading Down through a number of villages to Wroxall in the far south of the island for a lunch break. Due to the variation of fitness levels in the group we then decided to deviate from the Randonnee route and follow the more comfortable cycle path back to Shanklin. We briefly visited Sandown Pier (lovely ice creams for some) before joining cycleway 23, the route of the former island railway back through Merstone and Blackwater to Newport and then the flat scenic path on the west bank of the Medina to Cowes. The total distance covered on Saturday was 47 miles.
On the Saturday evening, the group reconvened to walk to the Woodvale Hotel in Gurnard overlooking the Solent, and watched a classic sunset to the west over some well-earned fine Ringwood real ales and home cooked pub food.
A more relaxed start on Sunday morning was followed by an easy cycle into Newport for a good breakfast at The Man in the Moon pub, a superb, renovated church and a visit to Carisbrooke Castle, the old square in the centre of Newport and the Quay Arts Centre. The return to Cowes culminated in watching some of the Cowes Week racing from a privileged vantage point adjacent to the Royal Yacht Squadron on the parade, in earshot of the starting cannon. The backdrop was the moored huge 5-masted SV Golden Horizon, the largest square-rigged tall ship in the world, whilst ferries and a container ship negotiated passages through hundreds of spinnakered yachts of numerous classes and sizes as they ran in front of the substantial westerly wind and approached a finishing line in the harbour.
The weekend was completed with a short visit to Northwood House, a manor house in Cowes dating from 1799. On a fine sunny afternoon some of the group enjoyed a rather splendid cream tea in the charming gardens of the House before the ferry ride back to the mainland.
In summary, although the ultimate aim of cycling the whole of the 65-mile Randonnee route was not fully achieved, the cycling was substantial and more than two thirds of the hilly distance was successfully covered. Thanks are passed from me to the four cyclists (Brian, Kerry, Coogee and Mark) who joined me on this demanding challenge without complaint and with a desire to push themselves beyond their normal cycling comfort levels for a rewarding experience.
Janet and I met members at Embankment station. We had two new members Stephanie and Graham and their boxer dog Lexie. Mark also joined us.
We proceeded across the road to the Uber Thames Link Clipper and bought our tickets. Thanks to the help of the Uber staff who guided us through the process. We sat outside on the boat ready to enjoy the ride and the famous buildings along both banks of the Thames. We started to realise we had a photographer in our group; Stephanie took some great pictures throughout our day. On our arrival at Greenwich we started our 4 mile walk through the town to the park and hill leading to the Observatory where we took in the spectacular views of London. We then had our picnic lunch enjoying the view.
We then walked through the park to the flower garden where we enjoyed the fantastic displays of flower beds while Janet and Graham walked Lexie. We then strolled round the park until we came across a sign for the rose garden and decided this would be out next stop, both gardens giving Stephanie the chance to take more photographs. On our walk through the park we saw couples dancing and a group playing rounders who were celebrating a 50th birthday; we have become so much more creative since Covid. We then made our way back to Greenwich village and left Mark, Stephanie, Graham and Lexie at Greenwich Market. Janet and I then took the Overground to Canary Wharf for a well-earned drink.
Thanks to Janet for partnering me on this walk and to Mark, Stephanie and Graham for joining us.
The advance party had been arriving in a trickle all week but on Friday the main battalion of campers arrived. Some not suffering their helpers gladly in the case of Derek and Prem. Some took a short trip to the pub with its downstairs pub garden, others decided to enjoy the pizzas on offer at the campsite. The Tamworth Trotter became a firm favourite, and some of us took the leftovers on the walk. The evening saw the braziers used for saving tent places now doing their job and creating a triple fire pit. The gazebo had the usual broken-by-first-outing record to keep up that led to an after fire party in Zoe's tent with invited guests from the campsite.
On Saturday we woke up in the clouds and delayed the start to avoid an early soaking but once underway we were in the woods keeping reasonably dry and soon crossing into Dartmoor after walking above the treacle mines and evidence of their ventilation shafts. We then walked up the hill to the reservoir where a film set-like mist crept over the still water. A walk around the reservoir took us to a footpath with a single bar gate which someone suggested was time for a limbo dance which was an opportunity for our Brazilian friends to show us how it's done. After refusing a footpath with ten foot high wet foliage we took the high road and realised how quiet the roads actually were and maybe why the footpath was little used. We followed the road down to the manor inn where we took over the scenic beer garden. After lunch we headed for Canonteign Falls, the tallest man-made waterfall in Britain. Unfortunately the delayed start meant we missed the last entry and decided to move it on to the next day. Back at the campsite the unpredictable weather postponed the barbecue and Brian's last hope gazebo saved the evening. Some turned in early, others took advantage of their spacious tents for social fun.
On Sunday, more promising weather greeted us for our trip to the waterfall after striking camp. Some headed off early but the main group met in the car park and went on a walk circling the perimeter of the falls and finding an alternative entrance to the lakes. Another highlight was poets corner with a picture poem on each stump. Mark gave us some interesting facts on oak trees and shipbuilding. We carried on the waterfall walk and Victorian fern garden. Everyone was impressed and we finished with tea and tiffin at the cafe with a model boat club displaying their wonderful specimens.
Thanks to Rachael, Mark, Martina, Daniel, Malcolm, Zoe, Brian, Mark P, Jeremy, Liane, Rachel, Colin, Vito, Carlos, Leo, Suzanna, Derek, Prem, Alpa, Dan, Diane and Anne.
On another sweltering evening of this heatwave 13 walkers met for pre-walk drinks in the very popular garden of the Case is Altered. We caught up on recent camping adventures and introduced the two new recruits on their first walk. Our route took in Eastcote House gardens, full of walkers and a few sunbathers on such a glorious evening. We then followed the Celandine Way (new path installed last month), Logan jumping in the Pinn to cool down. Our route took in a hidden lawn tennis club and the very impressive houses of High View. After a detour through Cuckoo Hill Park, we arrived back at the Case where we grabbed a spare table in the still busy garden for post-walk cooling drinks.
Walkers were Brian G, Rob W, Dean T, Sarah, Michela, Derek, Miriam, Marian, Mark P, Sandy, Kalpa, Mick W and Shanta.
On another scorchio day of this heatwave three cyclists cycled to the "Sunshine Coast" of Essex. We first cycled around the Roman Walls and Norman Castle of Colchester. Ice creams by the castle as it was already sweltering. We then followed the excellent Wivenhoe Trail along the River Colne, passing boaters and lots of walkers. Arriving at the former port of Wivenhoe we explored the old town and quayside before grabbing lunch and cold drinks on the quayside terrace. Route continued through villages (including unique community garden at Aylesford station). We reached St Oysth for a detour to the majestic Priory, a medieval shrine to the Saxon martyr and important abbey. Then due south to reach the seaside at Seawick.
After drinks at the beach café, we continued along the traffic-free coastal cycle trail. On such a sunny day all the sandy beaches were full, jet skis racing by with the huge wind farms whirling away out to sea. We strolled past the unique architecture of Jaywick Sands and the imposing Martello Towers. At Clacton on Sea we admired the multi-coloured beach huts, with families sunbathing outside each one on this classic promenade. We ended the ride with well-deserved fish and chips at the end of Clacton Pier looking along the seemingly endless view of sandy beaches.
The perfect day for a lovely walk. 7 miles, or 7.5 miles for those that got ahead of the walk leader and had to keep doubling back, cross lush green countryside with spectacular views. Departing Princes Risborough we were soon in a beautiful field of red poppies set amongst contrasting blue flowers making it the first highlight of the day. Climbing the one hill, the others were inclines, we arrived at Lacey Green windmill and then went on to the Pink and Lily pub for one of the group to pick up their lunch comprising a packet of Darling Spuds crisps.
We found a shady spot in woods to eat and imaginations began to run riot over why there was an abandoned pullover where we sat, leaving some to conclude that there had obviously been a murder and the body was nearby. The conversation then turned to all the nasty biting things that one might pick up from sitting on a log and before we knew it we were all stood up and the relaxing lunch break was over all too quickly.
For the second half of the walk the woods provided ample shade from the sun and we next encountered an abandoned hut adorned with aerials which was obviously an old spy station as far as everyone was concerned. The last highlight was the view from Whiteleaf where indeed the weather was kind and spectacular views on offer. We finished at a pub where cold drinks were much appreciated and satisfied ourselves that a good day had been had by all. It was a pleasure to spend time with such a creative bunch of people.
Thanks to Angela, Hamlata (Hema), Mark P, Mick W, Kalpana and Vasu.
On a warm Sunday morning, 10 of us met outside Harrow on the Hill station. Following our welcome, we headed to the Arts centre to see the outdoor arts space and amphitheatre. A brief stop was then made at the Harrow monument and memorial before we made our steady inclination onto the Hill summit. As we approached the Hill, fantastic panoramic views were enjoyed across the London landscape. I ran through the history of the school, Harrow life and heritage. Whilst we were admiring the speech room and chapel a wonderful Indian wedding was taking place. To make our scheduled appointment we ambled down the winding streets to the artist's home where we were warmly hosted with snacks and a display of her stunning doodle art work. With the heat in full swing we made our way to the Castle for refreshing drinks and had the opportunity to talk to some fans ready for the evening game. A final stop was made at St Marys hill to see the burial of Lord Byron and other well known past Harrovians.
Thank you to my fellow 9 walkers who joined me on this wonderful walk to experience the joys of the Hill and its superb heritage.
Our fourth camping holiday of the summer saw a near record 27 stay at a new campsite for the group in the Somerset / Wiltshire borders. Operating a strict "no group policy" we quickly nominated Vic as "Jenny monitor" to give the signal when Jenny was on site for her patrols. Debutante camper Aruna settled into Daisy, her converted cattle trailer with attached kitchenette. Derek and Prem were glamping in the hand-crafted Shepherds Hut "Gabriel" and hosted our gatherings. Brian led the afternoon walk, climbing up to Alfred's Tower on the viewpoint overlooking the plain. In the surrounding woodlands Martina and Daniel discovered a geocache. Back at site Vic signalled the "all clear" so we stole back under the radar. Liane and Jan cooked a celebratory curry for Anne's exploits. Tim B lit up the campfire and we were soon gathered around the blazing logs listening to new girl Gill (with her own ukulele) duetting with Coogee.
Saturday saw us wake early with music from Tony and greetings from Jenny on her dawn patrol. After breakfasting Vic gave the signal "Jenny off site" so we set off on the 10 mile walk. Our route took in ancient and newer woods with foxgloves dominating the fields. Duke and Riley had a lively fracas with some farm dogs at Gaspar's, Brian F gave his counsel: "we've created chaos, let's move on" so we did. Arriving at the majestic, landscaped gardens of Stourhead we had time to admire the many features around the glistening lake. As well as several classical temples there were water wheels, cascades and "eye catchers" designed by Capability Brown to enhance the parkland. We happened upon a wedding at the Stourhead village where the sun shone on the celebrants and the pub courtyard where we stopped for a leisurely lunch. After admiring the garlands of flowers adorning the wedding church, we strolled through the flower gardens. Reaching the Palladian Stourton House, we passed a village cricket match and the Obelisk before descending to colourful lily ponds. Our return leg involved a climb to an iron age hill fort before Alfred's Tower. Back at site a surprise birthday celebration afforded prosecco and fancy cakes from the chapel. Receiving the "all clear" signal from Vic, Tim B, Tim P and Nick prepared a sumptuous barbecue. On a very warm sunny evening we feasted beside Gabriel and admired the hot air balloons floating across a clear blue sky. Around the campfire we had fireside yarns from Nick and music from Brian F, Gill and Coogee. The campfire highlight saw Jan and Tim B provide a beguiling performance of "Summer Nights".
On Sunday after Jenny's dawn patrol, we struck camp and headed off to Bruton. We started with coffee and pastries at the Chapel. This is a stunning conversion of a Methodist chapel now restaurant, bar, hotel, pizza and bakery. We explored the charming town of Bruton, the Jacobean alms houses and Georgian manors (part built with stone from the extensive medieval Abbey). Brian G, Mark and Gill tried out railway skills on the levers at the restored signal box. We then took over the Hive tea shop "yes, we do offer llama milk" for a combined lunch and cream tea session and raised a final toast to Jenny for her hospitality.
Campers were Brian G, Brian F, Tim B, Tim P, Martina, Jan, Coogee, Liane, Malcolm, Nick, Rachael, Mark A, Diane, Dan, Mike D, Anne, Mike S, Gill, Mike S. Maree, Zoe, Aruna, Vic, Chris, Maria, Derek and Prem.
Nine of us met on a very warm sunny evening by the canalside at the Black Horse. Our walk followed the Grand Union Canal passing the many impressive apartment blocks built on the former Glaxo site. Riverside terraces and new footbridges had been created as part of the development. Reaching Horsenden Hill we climbed to the summit for views west. Kevin then guided us to the viewpoint through the trees where we had a grand panoramic view of all of London and, thanks to the clear blue sky, we could easily make out the landmarks. On the golf course we discovered the new "golf football" holes and Frisbee targets. Our route back took in the playing fields and meadows by the canal. Back at the canal we enjoyed well deserved drinks in the garden as the narrow boats sailed by.
Walkers were Brian, Rob W, Simon, Kevin, Mike Mc, Leisha, Indera, Dilly and Dean.
A famous five spent a jolly fine day on the Thames this Sunday. We had coffee and pastries at Tidetables before setting off on our promenade on the Thames Path. Rob P pointed out our first celebrity who insisted on no conferring. After admiring the neo-gothic manors at Isleworth we strolled through the landscaped estate (Capability Brown) of Syon Park. Reaching Brentford, the sun was shining fiercely on our party, so we took advantage of the former court café with tables in the square facing the new riverside quarter. After savouring "the best poached eggs ever", Rachael spotted a BBC roving reporter lunching at the next table. She was right and the lady explained that the team were filming across the road for that evening's local news.
Our walk continued through the mystery motor museum and the riverside walk with newly opened up cafes. Rounding a corner, we happened upon a pop-up "On the Buses" bar with "Olive's canteen" on a vintage Routemaster. Chatting to Blakey we pencilled in a visit. On such a fine day the river was busy with boaters, paddleboarders and rowers as we continued along the Thames. Our walk ended at the Open Day at the Musical Museum (just reopened). The volunteers arranged a very friendly tour with demonstration of the many historic machines and equipment. The vintage pianola was set up to perform "Bohemian Rhapsody" and we all had an attempt at playing it. Then there was the free performance of Donald at the Mighty Wurlitzer, rising to acclaim from below the stage, with a film theme special. We ended the day with some rather splendid cake and teas happily chatting to the museum director who invited us all back for the next season of musicals and tea dances.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Rob W, Linda and Rachael.
6 of us met outside Wendover station dressed in full wet weather gear expecting the worst, but looking at the clearing sky, the raincoats and over trousers and jumpers were quickly dispensed with before we even set off. From the station we made our way through the streets out of town and into open fields heading towards Worlds End where we picked up the West End Ditch. This is actually a small stream rising from a spring in Wendover. We followed the course of this stream for several miles before picking up the Aylesbury branch of the Grand Union Canal. Upon reaching the canal we stopped for a short coffee break to apply sun cream as the very light drizzle had now been replaced with bright warm sunshine. We followed the towpath for approximately 5 miles. The Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union Canal is quite narrow and has very little use hence some of the locks had rushes growing in and around them. We left the canal and had lunch by Wilstone reservoir which helps to supply water to the canals in this area. At this point one of the walkers realised that this was a planned 16 mile walk and not 10 miles which they were expecting.
We then headed off around the much larger Marsworth reservoirs in search of an ice cream van which we did not find, before picking up the start of the disused Wendover branch of the Grand Union Canal which at this point is completely dry. Local groups are in the process of trying to restore this section back to its former glory. After about a mile water begins to appear in the canal, where brightly coloured fish can be seen swimming in the clear still water as well as a large number of dragonflies flying above. Our journey along this canal towpath included many stops to photograph the many species of waterbirds with their young. We walked the entire length of this disused canal all the way back into Wendover and with just a mile of the planned walk to go there was gentle a rumble of thunder and the skies opened. 4 of the group took shelter in a local hostellry for some well-deserved drinks in Wendover and said goodbye to the other 2 who headed off to catch the train home.
Walkers were Liane, Jan, Dee, Olivia, Phil and Malcolm.
Equipped for all weathers, seven of us met and set off from Ibstone cricket ground, where the pitch was covered and no cricketers in sight. After the first descent then climb we soon reached the first 'chocolate box' village of Northend, where even the duck family had a neat little duckhouse in the manicured pond. A cute six pack of ducklings swam excitedly to greet us, they soon realised we didn't have any food, oops! Onwards, we came across a farm in the valley, which was storing a smart collection of vintage royal blue coaches, a bit Cliff Richard-esque 'we're all going on a summer holiday.. for a week or two', la la la. Through the valley and up another hill, we soon arrived in the non-vehicle access village of Turville Heath, ready for a leisurely lunch at the hidden gem of a cafe, The Barn. The sun was shining and the charming lady owner of the holdings, member of the Harman family, was out and about, and we had the pleasure of hearing an interesting story or four, casually including that a nearby property had just come on the market for a mere £15m.
After a delectable lunch, some of the group had a worthy exploration of the character-filled grounds and quirky furnishings. We then made our way to Turville, via an external viewing of the Manor House for sale, where Simon decided to check if the large gate bell was working - it was. Through the gate we found another old woldy-looking apparatus. Here Munir knowledgeably described the mechanics of this preserved piece and gave a demo, with Michael posing to drink, thirsty work is walking. Onwards and laughing at all our antics, we quizzed each other on our learnings from the stories at the Barn, and hilariously we all confessed we hadn't followed the stories completely, but we did pretty well in our own quiz. Drawing closer to Turville, admiring the beautiful wild flower meadows and hedgerow, we spotted marsh orchids and old mans beard, yep that's right. We had our very own horticulturist with us, renamed by Kumar as 'Michael Attenborough'. In the village the cottage gardens were in fine form with their fabulous displays. The Turville Cobstone windmill looked magnificent as ever, even without its sails. Brian explained how the white section of a windmill was the part that's moved. With such a special landscape it's no wonder it had been used in much filming, such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Vicar of Dibley and Midsomer Murders to name a few. Onwards, we headed towards the last village, the little hamlet of Fingest, with its unique Norman church featuring a double vaulted roof. We were able to go inside the church, St Bartholomew's, where traditionally no wedding is supposed to be lucky unless the bridegroom lifts his bride over the church gate when leaving after the ceremony. Naturally more jokes ensued. We wended our way back to Ibstone where a cricket match was at play and we wondered if there might be any leftover tea and cakes at the pavilion. But the skies started to turn grey, which was great timing, so we decided to go for a pre-match pint in Stokenchurch instead. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Thanks to Brian, Munir, Simon, Angela, Kumar and Michael for their delightful company. What a fab day, ending with a fab result. It's coming home! I hope to see everyone again soon.
The annual midsummer sunset ride arranged by London Cyclists always takes place in good weather and this year's ride was again on a very warm sunny evening. Around thirty cyclists assembled at Ealing with lots of friends catching up over comparisons of the various cycles. Particular attention was paid to a restored original Moulton folder and a fully titanium model. Our route was via quiet lanes, Grand Union Canal and Thames Path through Syon Park, Richmond, and Ham House. After a cycle through Richmond Park, we reached the summit of Richmond Hill where we joined the other cycle groups (Hounslow, H & F, Kingston) for drinks on the terrace. On such a fine evening the sunset and the panorama were very pleasing from Turner's famous viewpoint.
Cyclists were Brian G, Rob W and Tim P.
Report by Brian
Start at Ealing - Photo by Brian
Canal by Brentford - Photo by Brian
Thames by Richmond - Photo by Brian
End at viewpoint from Richmond Hill - Photo by Brian
Despite a gloomy weather forecast we were blessed with a dry morning. The walk began with me giving everyone a brief history on the origins of Pinner, its ornate architecture, preserved buildings and heritage. Reference was made to the parish church and monument which dominate the beautiful village. We then made our way onto Love Lane to see the works of the first artist whose main focus involved using reusable fabrics and textiles. We were warmly welcomed by the host who shared her passion and background for her mediums of work. Departing we made our way onto Waxwell Lane taking in some of the old farmhouses and buildings. A second stop was made at Norman Crescent to see the mixed medium ink and acrylic abstract work of the next artist. Upon arrival we were asked to wait in the host's beautiful garden where I took the opportunity to impress the group with my own artwork proudly stored on my phone. A final amble was made to Pinner Wood farm and stables. The picturesque view of the cottages and Victorian manor was a delight for all. Thank you to my fellow 6 walkers on this wonderful walk.
Fourteen of us met at the Sherlock Holmes statue on an ideal day for walking. We walked into Regents Park and all agreed this is one of London's most beautiful parks and the pandemic has not affected the fantastic symmetry of plants and the displays. We walked past the open air theatre, the bronze fountain and into the rose gardens before making our way over to the secret garden. We moved on to walk up and down the famous avenues and admired the wonderful urns and planting before heading towards Camden. The park was busy with families and dog walkers but the difference as we walked into the vibrant and somewhat scruffy Camden was so amazing. We stopped for lunch around Camden Lock market and met back at Amy's statue before making our way onto the canal path. We carried on up the Grand Union Canal to Kings Cross and stopped to admire the flats in the old gasometers and St Pancras Lock before reaching Coal Drops Yard and its stunning architecture. We ended in Granary Square where some of us stopped for a well earned drink.
Thank you to all my fellow walkers for a lovely day.
A lucky thirteen gathered for the third camping expedition of the season, again in great weather, in the south Cotswolds. Thistledown, an eco-site, is located within an elderflower orchard. After pitching camp Brian led the afternoon walk through the landscaped estate of Woodchester Park. Some unusual bicoloured sheep were gambolling through the meadows. Woodchester mansion is a neo-Gothic wonder (part designed by Pugin) left as a shell due to bankruptcy. We continued to the sumptuous 17th century Rose and Crown for drinks in the restored courtyard garden. Back at site some collected pizzas from the campsite café, Liane cooking a lentil-based curry for many. Around the blazing logs of the campfire we looked for bats (great roosting area) and listened to the yarns: Mark A "... and then the bear put his head in my tent", and Tim P "When I lived in the Bahamas ...".
On Saturday, the morning sun and sound of the 60s woke us early for Coogee's strong coffee, Diane enjoying the biggest camping fry-up since Kerry in his prime. We set off for our walk through Nymsfield village, a bus stop of Cotswold stone also serving as a book swap venue. Striding through meadows of daisies and ash woods we came upon the hamlet of Owlpen. This hidden delight is centred on the perfectly preserved Tudor manor house. We strolled past the tithe barn, water gardens and church (outstanding arts and craft mosaics) and were then greeted by the lord of the manor who redirected us onto the right of way. Above Uley valley the sun was blazing down, Dawn announced "it's so hot I'm going to take my trousers off", and so she did.
We enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch in Uley village, its long street featuring fine Georgian houses plus pub, medieval church, and community shop. We chatted to locals and other walkers on the village green before setting off on the climb to Uley Barn. This is an iron age hill fort, high on the Cotswold escarpment. We walked along the ramparts and took in the views south towards Bath and the Severn Bridge. Our route north was along the Cotswold Way encountering hundreds of charity walkers on a marathon trek. At Coaley Peak we stopped for more panoramic views across the Severn Valley to the Forest of Dean and Wales. Some of us managed to inveigle ourselves into the charity food station for some refreshments before we headed east. As the day was heating up, we stopped for cold sundowners and ciders in the beer garden of the Rose and Crown. Back at site Tim and Nick set out the barbecue. We tucked in whilst taking in the sunset across the valley. Campfire singing featured Coogee's ukulele and a Beatles selection; Brian F with his own compositions; and Jan with a rousing version of the Quartermaster's Store.
On Sunday we struck camp and admired the gliders soaring overhead. Our walk was a town trail of the Cotswold gem of Tetbury. This market town features a Georgian marketplace surrounded by coaching inns, stone mansions and new pavement cafes. We learnt what a feoffee does and where the famous woolsack race takes place. The former railway station is now an art centre with much railway memorabilia. After visiting the art gallery, we enjoyed a cream tea on the platform terrace after another tip-top holiday in the Cotswolds.
Campers were Brian G, Brian F, Tim B, Tim P, Martina, Jan, Coogee, Liane, Malcolm, Nick, Mark A, Diane and Dawn.
Our latest evening walk took place on a very sunny evening in Pinner. Twelve walkers followed the Pinner Association "10 walks around Pinner" guide north via Waxwell Lane, passing several 17th century farmhouses, Dee and Runi pointing out features on route. After a stop at the former Lilley villa, we continued through Metro-Land suburbs of Pinnerwood Park with rose gardens and manicured lawns. Then onwards to the lush meadows of Pinner Hill. We admired Pinner Hill House and the fine Victorian Pinner Hill Farm (very ornate timber and brickwork). We next climbed to the summit of Pinner Wood and the viewpoint from the Georgian Mansion of Pinner Wood House, busy with a marquee and many golfers enjoying drinks and the sunset from the 19th hole. Our route then descended south, passing Tooke's Folly and several detached villas on the private roads of this secluded quarter. Walk ended at Oddfellows Arms for drinks in the large beer garden where Mike, Vic and Sandy recounted tales of the society picnic last week.
Report by Brian
Gardens of Pinnerwood Park suburb - Photo by Brian
Pinner Wood Farm - Photo by Brian
View from summit - Photo by Brian
Pinner Hill House (now Golf Club) - Photo by Brian
Seven of us met at Rickmansworth station and made our way down the main road to the aquadrome. Once inside it was noted that there was such a difference once you leave the traffic and noise behind. We made our way towards the Grand Union Canal and walked along this to Batchworth Lock admiring some of the narrowboats and wondering how some of the others stayed afloat. We continued around the lakes and enjoyed the wildlife, including moorhens and Canada geese. As usual the area was quite busy with an array of families and a selection of dogs. I was very aware that people seemed happy to chat and so we stopped for a coffee at the cafe and the debates continued. We carried on our route and made our way back towards the station. My thanks to everyone who allowed me to adapt the walk and who joined me on this slightly murky but dry afternoon.
Six walkers met at Hurst Green station for this North Kent Walk. Our route followed the Greensand Way through the lush countryside of Kent with a few climbs to scenic villages of oast houses and red tiled clad farmhouses. Gino dived into some ponds to cool down and Gary (local resident) pointed out the landmarks. After some map reading trails (multiple paths through woodlands, very confusing) we arrived at Churchill's family manor, Chartwell. We had lunch at the National Trust terrace café overlooking the gardens. Karen found some good novels for the rail journey back at the secondhand bookshop. Our next climb was to Toys Hill hamlet (saved by Octavia Hill) which had stunning views south to the South Downs. We then found ourselves at the National Trust gardens of Emmets (Rob P insisting on the tea and cake stop in the tea gardens). We strolled through the rose and rock gardens before the final leg downhill. We reached the very picturesque town of Westerham, its large village green surrounded by coaching inns and tea shops. The green features statues of the local heroes Wolfe and Churchill. There was just time to visit the vintage Sir Winston's tea rooms (spam fritters on the 40s' menu) for tiffin before the bus back to the start.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Mark P, Karen, Julie and Gary.
Seven HAWOG explorers departed the small but perfectly formed YHA All Stretton Bunkhouse just after 9am on Saturday. Good for our six sleepers but only sardines might have been happy if we'd maxed to ten sleepers - hurray for the rule of six then.
Across fields to reach our first up, The Lawley (370 metres) and tea break for 11ish. Then the long gentle down, back and up Caer Caradoc (459 metres) for lunch at one. And fleeces soon on because it was cold. But worth the 360 views as the sun was breaking through amongst the rocks. Ahead of schedule so I suggested a path past a Cwmns Farm with a cracking view of All Stretton through a valley and on to Hazler Hill (347 metres) with its trig point and mast. And the sun shining now, lovely afternoon. We arrived in Church Stretton town centre amongst the shoppers where some went to Berry's for refreshments. 14 miles in total I was told plus an ascent equal to that of Snowden - not bad! The Yew Tree pub in All Stretton was frequented for the second evening with all very happy with the food and service.
Sunday was a very cloudy day. We ascended Plush Hill which its usually great views across to yesterday's hills and beyond largely obscured. And then our slow, hour long, gentle up to and across the Long Mynd to reach the summit of the fourth highest hill in Shropshire at Pole Bank (516 metres). All chilly then as we were surrounded by the ghostly clouds only broken by the very few cyclists and walkers also out. Not the best day for a hike in the hills. We headed down for our last hill and rendezvous with Carol and Lochlan. The ghosts disappeared as we reached The Devil's Mouth and the Burway Hill (284 metres) so we saw the town again and yesterday's hills. Back to my place for lunch in the garden then a quick descent through the Carding Mill Valley and behind Nover's Hill to return to the bunkhouse for mid-afternoon. 9.1 miles.
Cracking weekend, thanks so much to Caroline, Jan, Mary, Sandra, Malcolm and Paul for joining Carol, Lochlan and me.
Report by Steve
Lunch on Caer Caradoc with The Lawley behind - Photo by Steve
Five of us met at Hatch End Overground station at 10:30am in glorious morning sunshine. I went through the history and heritage of Hatch End, with some Covid guidance. Our first stop was a stroll down to the 14th century historic St Anselm church. With the doors ajar for morning service, some of us managed a brief glance at the ornate stained glass windows that have been so greatly restored. We then headed on to Harrow Arts Centre for our first viewing of Harrow Open Studios with the principal artist being a HAWOG member. With our early timing 10 minutes before opening, that allowed me to feed my walkers with some yummy victoria sponge cake. Humay promptly arrived after 11:00am and gave us a wonderful insight into his paintings and the shared artists' work that was also on display. A comfort break in the Arts Centre allowed all to appreciate the interiors of this glorious building and amenities with a peek through some highway artefacts and sculptures on our exit.
We then headed through the main Hatch End high street to see the telephone exchange and diverse restaurants. A turn off was made on to the lower grounds of Pinner Farm, leading us on to a beautiful hidden ravine and lower trails including streams. The River Pinn and forestry led us onto Moss Lane to see some of the new and old large homes. A final stop was made at a quirky and beautiful 15th century tudor home of a married couple whose paintings and sculptures were admired by us all. A brief stop was also made at the nearby historic out-buildings and cottages including an old petrol pump that had been beautifully restored by its current owners. A gentle stroll was made back on to Pinner Farm to take us back to Hatch End high street.
Thank you to my lovely fellow walkers, Angela, Carelle, Runi and Mark, who joined me on this picturesque and delightful walk.
A mix of old hands, newbies and "recently moved to Harrow" met on the green lawns outside Harrow on the Hill station for a ramble over the hill. After scaling the steepest part of the hill and admiring the views, I launched into my own ramble, trying to condense 2,000 years of Harrow's history into something relatively light which could be enjoyed by a group of people who had just lugged themselves up a very steep hill in the very strong sunshine! Never had the shady elms by the Peachey Stone been so welcoming as it was lovely to be in the cool there and wax lyrical about 3 of my favourite stories connected to the hill - how Mary Shelley had sat on a lake in Switzerland on holiday with Byron and had been inspired to write Frankenstein, how Byron's first wife had loathed him so much she kept her daughter Ada Lovelace away from poetry all her life and that Ada then went onto discover the fundamentals of computing and lastly to re-tell yet again the sad tale of poor little Allegra - Byron's second daughter who is buried in the churchyard somewhere!
Then "moving swiftly on" I thought it would be lovely to make the most of the beautiful green spaces over the hill, so we legged it off down Football Lane across the tennis courts and the small wood to the meadows where the beautiful long-horn rare breed cattle were grazing. On a June day the wildflowers looked fantastic and for all the world we could have been in Switzerland rather than yards from the Watford Road. We then headed back to the Green on the Hill where we partook of our packed lunches, watched over by Henry VIII. A watering hole stop was swiftly negotiated in the rather lovely marquee of the tapas bar Bar Eighty-Six where we were able to sit as a group and share more stories. Then all back to the Met line for a safe journey home.
Thanks to Marie, Jyotsna, Kevin, Esther, Dilly, Leena and Mum, Runi, Sandy, Angela, Carole, Cavelle, Rita, Paul, John and 2 other ladies for joining me on my local wander.
Camping in Sussex always takes place in a heatwave and we were again bathed in glorious sunshine for the whole weekend. Twenty-eight campers pitched camp at Park Farm, by Bodiam Castle. Fuelled by Kent cherries and choc ices from the farm shop we quickly had our site in place with lots of new gadgets seen: Malcolm's rocking chair, Martina's new camping kitchen table, and more inflatable tents than ever. Tim P and Diane led the rescue party to retrieve Nitti and her car, Mark 1 and Mark 2 fitting the tyre. Brian led early arrivals on the riverside walk to Bodiam Castle, "the most romantic castle in England". We did a circuit of the wide moat, taking in the views. We ambled into the Castle Inn for cooling drinks of local Sussex beer by the riverside garden. Back at site, Tim B prepared the campfire. Some of the neighbouring campers joined our party around blazing logs on a clear night sky perfect for star gazing.
On Saturday the early morning blazing sun and Tony Blackburn awoke us early for mugs of tea and bacon sarnies. After kit inspection we set off on the walk following the Sussex Borders Path. The route took in hamlets of distinctive oast houses and apple orchards. At the picture postcard village of Ewhurst Green we admired the many red-tiled farmhouses and village pub (just too early to stop). At Northiam heritage railway station the restored carriages were now converted into holiday homes. Crossing the river Rother, we made it to the perfick village pub at Newenden. We took over the beer garden for cooling drinks and our picnic lunch. Route back was via meadows of buttercups, daisies and orchids. Under a sweltering sun the early summer hay stacks were resplendent as we crossed the weald. Turning a corner we happened upon a mystery miniature railway in a large garden, complete with signal box. Back at Bodiam Castle we detoured for lashings of pop at the Castle Inn before the final leg.
Back at site Tim B and Dan were in charge of the barbecue, Mike S bringing along tuck galore to make it all tickety boo. Around the campfire Coogee led the music with his ukulele, with Brian F and Mike S assisting on the guitar. Fireside yarns came from Nick; a fascinating account of Spandau Ballet, with Pauline recounting her experience of the perils of wax.
Sunday was another scorchio, Coogee brewing strong coffee for all from his vintage coffee pot. After striking camp Chris and Maria led one group to Hastings for a swim and sunbathing on the packed beach. Six went to Great Dixter to visit the magnificent gardens of the 15th century manor house. There was a wondrous summer display of kaleidoscopic colours amidst the yew hedges and red-tiled timber manorial buildings. Dee shared out her rather spiffing victoria sponge cake in the tea gardens of Dixter. Refreshed, some joined up with the Hastings crew for a stroll around the old town, via hidden courtyards, alleyways and pedestrian streets of vintage shops, book shops and pavement cafes. Just the ticket said Gilly, so we had tiffin there after a lovely sunny afternoon by the sea.
Campers were Brian G, Brian F, Tim P, Tim B, Mark A, Mark P, Coogee, Gilly, Dan, Diane, Martina, Malcolm, Liane, Jan, Nick, Rachael, Pauline, Zoe, Vic, Nitti, Dee, Chris, Maria, Linda, Sugandha and Maree.
A lucky 13 met at the canalside Fox pub on a very warm sunny evening in Hanwell. Early arrivals enjoyed cooling drinks and Alpa's chocolate birthday cake in the newly reopened beer gardens. Eventually we left the pub for the walk. Our route took in the River Brent trail through the country park. Tim B explained the re-wilding projects in Churchfields and along the Brent. For once Logan and Mi Fan did not dive into the river. We admired the many diverse locomotives racing across the skyline along Brunel's impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct. Most then tried out their puzzle solving skills to reach the centre of the millennium maze. After walking through the "Bunny Park" we came upon a cricket match in progress plus lots of golfers still playing in the long sunny evening. Our route back followed Hanwell heritage trail including several Georgian mansions; Jan and Dee outlined the features whilst Rob W and Tim P were in deep conversation about cycle component technology. Back at the Fox we regained our table for well-deserved drinks after a very popular evening walk.
Walkers were Brian, Tim P, Tim B, Rob W, Jan, Dee, Pauline, Alpa, Mike Mc, Dean, Julie, Lynn and Reena.
Five cyclists met on a warm sunny morning at Witham in Essex. Our route followed quiet lanes through the perfect cycling countryside of mid Essex. We arrived at the Templars-created Cressing Barns (original 13th century timbers) and the fabulous Tudor Gardens. The day was heating up as we strolled through the amazing collection of herbs (based on medieval text book) and colourful displays in bloom. At Braintree we had lunch in the market square, Mark and Jane ingeniously arranging a Chinese takeaway.
After lunch our route took in several sleepy Essex villages, with evocative names such as Great Sailing and Little Sailing. The settlements all boasted large parish churches and many thatched cottages. At Little Dunnow we stopped at the famous Flitch of Bacon (awarded to a couple who could prove that they had lived without argument for 12 months). We then joined the excellent Flitch Way, a former railway line converted by Sustrans into a traffic-free cycle trail. Near the end we happened upon the Raynes Station Café, the old station building housing the café with tables all along the former platform. Over coffee and homemade Rainbow Cake we enjoyed the views in the sunshine from the platform after another great cycling adventure.
Cyclists were Brian, Coogee, Deirdre, Mark P and Jane.
After a frustrating wait for two who had booked in, our collective mood soon lifted when we were entertained by the ring-tailed lemurs at Golders Hill Park zoo. We bought delicious ice creams and sorbets at the cafe kiosk, and sat at the benches by rhododendrons in bloom. We climbed the steps into the wooded heath extension, where we delighted in the impressive hill garden and Edwardian pergola with scented rambling roses. At Whitestone Pond we crossed into Hampstead Heath. The elegant 17th century Kenwood House, with its courtyard cafe, was our lunch stop, watched by a pair of jackdaws. In the afternoon, we walked around the Highgate ponds, and saw numerous swimmers in the men's pond. A climb to Parliament Hill gave us panoramic views of London. At Hampstead ponds there were again bathers in the water. Two of my party said their goodbyes at Hampstead Heath station; others chose a cafe or pub at that point, and the rest of us made our way to Hampstead tube station, via the house of romantic poet John Keats. So great that ten walkers, most new to us, were able to join me and Freddie.
Thanks to heavy traffic on the A40, there were delays with the 10:30 start. I was perplexed how I managed to turn up 15 minutes late when the group had arrived on time. We set off in fine sunny weather from the car park through Cowleaze Wood opening up to one of the first of our outstanding valleys views. Wending our way through groves of young oak and ash, we stopped for a while to appreciate the scene of red kites soaring at eye level and a flock of sheep resting in the midday shade. Continuing our walk on the edges of the Wormsley estate, we made our way through the impressive beeches of Shotridge Wood. It became apparent that the fastest of the group were straining at the leash to increase the pace with me in the middle pulling everyone together. We arrived at the delightful 'Fox and Hounds' for some liquid refreshment till the growl of hungry stomachs meant we could tarry no longer. More woodland of stately beech gave way to a westward scene of glorious Oxfordshire countryside and here we stopped for some welcome if slightly overdue lunch.
We then came to Watlington Hill with its atmospheric grove of ancient yew and paused to rest before the steep descent of White Mark. Our group traversed part of the 5,000 year old Ridgeway (the oldest continuously used road in Europe) till we came off for the last part of the journey on the border path of Shirburn Wood. The final ascent in the early afternoon heat was a bit of a struggle for some of us (myself included) while most of the party soared ahead. By the time we reached the stile, a herd of somewhat frisky juvenile cows had completely blocked our way. Undaunted, I waved them away and we crossed the field to reach the patiently waiting group. "Tim's the Cowmaster!" somebody yelled. Honour redeemed? Maybe.
Many thanks to Harsesh, Kalpna, Nirav, Dean, Sugandha, Aruna, Brian F, Simon and Kay for a fine day out.
3 of us made our way to Wye in Kent for the fourth weekend of walking the North Downs Way. We stayed on the Friday and Saturday nights at a fairly historic pub with rooms in converted stables, and we ate at the pub on the Friday evening.
On the Saturday morning we set off shortly before 10:00am from Thurnham. The first few miles were fairly challenging, so it was a bit of a relief when the path opened out into a wider track with less ascents and descents. The weather stayed dry and sunny, and we were able to complete the 20 miles in good time, reaching the end of the day's walk in Wye before 4:30pm. In the evening we had a good curry at the local Bangladeshi restaurant.
On the Sunday morning we set off at about 9:30am from Etchinghill. It stayed dry whilst we walked although there were some fairly dark clouds at times. We reached the end of the 12.5 mile walk in Wye shortly before 2:00pm, after which we headed home.
Thirteen of us (including 3 on their first walk) met on another gloriously sunny morning at Egham. We headed along footpaths through meadows and woods, to reach the ever-delightful grounds of Virginia Water. We strolled through the expanse of the landscaped park with an avenue of redwoods leading to the totem pole by the lake. As the day was getting even hotter, we took advantage of the the very popular nearby ice cream van. We then did a circuit of the lake before entering the Valley Gardens. This is full of twisting paths giving dramatic views of the varied landscape. At this time of the season the vibrant colours of the rhododendrons are the main feature. They did not disappoint and we wandered along the paths, each corner revealing more displays of colours. We had our picnic in a clearing overlooking the valley, being joined by Rob W passing through on a cycle ride. Whilst taking in the views Linda and Anne extolled the benefits of campervans and Rob P outlined the geology of the parklands.
After lunch we continued to the Obelisk Lake and Windsor Great Park. Then through wildflower meadows and the former polo fields before the exclusive estates around Englefield. We then reached the summit of Coopers Hill and the always rewarding viewpoint at the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial. After resting in the relative cool of the cloisters we set off downhill passing Runnymede riverside. With a quick stop as always to admire the Ferraris we arrived back at Egham after another colourful walk in Surrey.
On a gloriously sunny morning seven of us arrived on the GWR express at the wonderfully preserved Brunel-designed railway station at Charlbury. Olivia and Imelda introduced themselves on the first walk with the group. We explored the picture postcard perfect town with its medieval church and market place. Leaving Charlbury we walked through part of the grounds of Cornbury Park, impressive avenues of lime and plane trees guiding us along the track. At Finstock we found the village shop open for extra provisions. Crossing several lush green meadows full of buttercups and dandelions we took in the views of the Evenlode valley below. The day was heating up so arriving at the little hamlet of Ramsden we stopped for lunch at the Royal Oak inn. Our pavement tables looked along the ancient Akeman Street, the old Roman road from Cirencester to St Albans. We enjoyed an extended break at this spot, watching horse riders plus a very smart Morse-style Jag pull up next to our tables.
In the afternoon sun we continued via paths and quiet country lanes through several hamlets of Cotswold stone, each featuring a Great War memorial on the village green with wisteria-covered manors facing the green. The walk ended at the prosperous market town of Witney. The majestic parish church sits at the base of the expansive village green lined by almshouses and coaching inns. Just in the nick we found a pavement tea shop for our final tiffin stop to celebrate a tiptop day walk in the Cotswolds.
Walkers were Brian, Rob P, Simon, Yolli, Cathy, Imelda and Olivia.
Report by Brian
Charlbury town - Photo by Brian
Cornbury House - Photo by Brian
Buttercup meadows - Photo by Brian
Royal Oak on Akeman Street, Roman road - Photo by Brian
Friday saw us arriving at different stages due to heavy traffic. We stayed at the lovely luxury Elm Cottage campsite. All of us managed to pitch up before nightfall. We set up the club gazebo with the communal camping stove in the middle and the club flag flying high. Some of us ventured for the lovely fresh pizza served from the flaming pizza oven, while others created a feast of their own.
Saturday saw us up early with the smell of freshly cooked breakfast and freshly ground coffee. We headed on our first adventure of the weekend. We started at Delamere Forest, with the dedicated drivers of the weekend (thank you so much). The walk took us through Delamere Forest. Delamere means "forest of the lakes" and we were rewarded with the forest centrepiece, Blakemere Moss. This unusual lake is around 1km long and is a true haven for birds. I don't think I've ever seen so many. The walk saw us take up part of the sandstone trail, starting our ascent of old Pale Hill. When reaching the summit we were rewarded with views across seven counties. As we were steaming along, the walk finished relatively early, so we decided to go and watch a local polo match. With our chairs in one hand and drink in the other, we sat down to a lovely afternoon of entertainment. The evening saw us fire up the barbecues and a lovely feast was had by all. Then the ukulele came out and song began, only to be rewarded with passers-by saying "aah bless"; when looking around we could see why, with three tarts and a window-licking Mark. The laughter began.
Sunday saw us rising a little later than the day before, maybe something in the coffee that made us sleep. We headed on to our next adventure, the sandstone trail. This walk started at Beeston Castle, a 13th century castle perched 110 metres above the Cheshire plain on a rocky sandstone crag. The walk took us along some woodland paths of the Peckforton Estate and across farmland to Peckforton Castle, a 19th century country house built in the style of a medieval castle. In World War I the house was used to care for wounded soldiers and in World War II it was used as a hostel for disabled children that had been evacuated from London. The castle is now operating as a hotel. We were lucky enough to be able to have drinks in the courtyard. Both castles were visible for much of the walk, sitting high on the hills. We walked up the famous witches staircase. One can only assume that witches had very long legs and strong knees. After returning to the campsite and a little rest, we decided to do one more walk to Little Budworth and the surrounding area, followed on by a very well-earned pub stop. The evening saw us light up the barbecue, then the music and dance began, with everyone showing us their moves.
Monday saw us de-bunking for our final leg home.
I don't think I have laughed so much on a camping weekend so thankyou to Dan, Martina, Daniel, Coogee, Zoe, Sugandha, Tim P, Malcolm, Nitty, Jan, Liane, Nick, Mark and Tim B for making this such a special window-licking weekend.
We have walked this route once before and because it was so popular last time we decided to organise it again. The start was scheduled for 11:00am at Croxley station but unfortunately the start was delayed by 10 minutes because the two leaders were caught in traffic jams caused by long queues at temporary traffic lights installed to give access to HS2 traffic. Our apologies to those walkers who were kept waiting for our arrival. There was a large group of 18 and after crossing the road and walking down a steep path we reached the Ebury Way. Up until 1950 this was a railway track running alongside the Grand Union Canal but was resurfaced to become the Ebury Way footpath. We then came to what was the railway bridge that we crossed and took the path to the aquadrome where there were plenty of opportunities for photoshoots in lovely, sunny scenic surroundings. We later stopped at the cafe and had lunch in the garden opposite. It was a beautiful, warm day and we all enjoyed sitting in the sunshine.
We then walked around Bury Lake where we saw numerous birds' nests with cygnets, goslings and ducklings as well as other species of baby birds. We then walked back along the canal to Batchworth Lock where we stopped at the shop for ice creams and saw the boat which we have chartered for July 18th. On the way back along the canal we saw a whole range of houseboats before arriving at the steep path where we started our walk. Fortunately everyone still had enough energy left to reach the top.
We enjoyed having Mark A, Judith, Michael L, Helen, Alpa, Kate, Linzi, Michael W, Esther, Angela, Dilly, Kalpna, Kevin, Vic, Naz and Mark on the walk with us.
For our second evening walk of the season we met at Ickenham village green. After passing the former USAF base (now residential) we joined the Hillingdon Trail. This route continued through cricket pitches and meadows alongside the River Pinn. We detoured under the Chiltern railway to see some of the preparatory works for HS2, soon set to enhance the landscape. We then joined the Celandine Way and continued through wooded areas to the playing field. At Swakeleys we glanced at the exterior of the Jacobean manor before returning via Compass Theatre and fields around Ickenham Manor. Rachael caught up with us there before a few found a table in the beer garden of the Coach and Horses for drinks and anecdotes.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Runi, Dee, Kay and Simon.
3 of us met at Hemel Hempstead station on Sunday morning; sadly a fourth attendee was unable to join us due to train problems. We set off at around 9:30am, heading down to the Grand Union Canal and then walking along it to Bourne End. From there, we headed south-west over the A41 towards Whelpley Hill and then on to Ley Hill. From there, we headed east to Flaunden and then south-east towards Sarratt. We stopped to eat our picnic lunches in a wood shortly before reaching Sarratt, but our lunch stop was curtailed by one of the many showers that we experienced during the day.
After lunch we headed north to Chipperfield Common, then north-west to Bovingdon, from where we returned to Hemel Hempstead station, which we reached at 4:00pm, having walked 19 miles.
We alighted from the train at Manningtree for our Constable Country walk. Following the River Stour, we entered the Dedham Vale AONB with its buttercup meadows and gently flowing river. Several scenes were the inspiration for Constable, the landscape unchanged since his era. At Dedham village we explored the Flemish cottages and independent shops in the high street. After a tour of the majestic 15th century church, we had lunch at the Tiptree tea rooms facing the village square and church.
We then headed towards East Bergholt, passing many rowing boats gliding by as the afternoon heated up. East Bergholt is another charming village, thatched cottages painted in Suffolk salmon pink with Constable's studio now a museum. The medieval church has a unique feature, the bell cage, built in 1531 as a temporary expediency and still in use today. Our route descended to Flatford Mill with the classic setting for Constable's "Hay Wain". As the afternoon was now sunny and fine, we finished with coffee and cakes at the mill tea gardens watching the boats glide by at this timeless setting.
Warm welcome to new members Esther, Jackie, Sri and Olivia. Thank you for attending: Rita, Pauline, Pat and Runi.
We met at Uxbridge station. It was great to see people braving the weather forecast. After introductions and safety rules, we set off towards Alderglade Nature Reserve. We walked by Frays River, then through the woody muddy paths where once lay the railway tracks of days gone by. The laughter and the banter was well underway. We made our way towards the famous Uxbridge Gallery. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and amazed at the work produced by talented graffiti artists. After looking around we made our way towards Denham, via the forbidden route as the gang were feeling very rebellious, which took us through the wooded area which was very rough with badger holes and ditches. The gang thoroughly enjoyed semi scrambling ending up by the fields towards Uxbridge golf course, passing the beautiful Harefield Place. We then walked towards Denham Country Park by the lakes, crossing the famous bridge. We went through the woods and saw some cows which were only brought there a few days before. We had a lovely lunch break: delicious fresh hot chips were enjoyed by all, these were not just ordinary chips, these were Buckinghamshire chips! Followed by special birthday melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, because we are worth it! Thank you Pauline.
The beautiful sun was shinning on us and every one agreed on extending the walk via the enchanting village, full of history, and which has an amazing show of different varieties of flowers and more famous rows of cottages with their wisteria in full bloom. We passed the houses of well-known names. We then went through the historic St Mary's Church often seen on TV programmes and movies. A bit of a history lesson took place at the resting places of well-known Denham families. We carried on by the golf club towards the canal. We saw the remains of a nest in a tyre tied to a canal boat which had coots nesting. We walked along the towpath with the sun glitzing on the river. Swans Da and Ma swam across, proudly showing us their little babbas. We headed towards Uxbridge, ending by the Swan and Bottle for our well-earned drinks. Some brief background history on old railway track, Harefield House, Gallery, Sir John Mills, and the Denham Massacre was given by Pat and Runi. All had great a grand day out and thoroughly enjoyed the walk.
On a cloudy morning we met at Headstone Lane station and walked down to Headstone Manor Park. The park was serenely quiet and we were able to explore the wonderful wildlife and surroundings. We gently made our way to the medieval grounds' barn and museum. The museum and barns have been beautifully renovated and restored. The entrance to this historic gem was free and a great way to learn about Harrow's heritage. A brief coffee stop was made at the barn cafe. We then headed back via a loop to take in the bottom end of Pinner Farm where we were greeted by sounds of grazing cows and bulls. The picturesque scene was a delight and at times it was hard to believe we were within the metropolis of Harrow. A brief stop was also made at Harrow Garden Centre to appreciate the seasonal plants and flowers for sale. The walk ended at Headstone Lane station.
On a Wednesday evening, under the menacing grey clouds that were hovering above the car park, five risk takers, I mean walkers, emerged from their cars. Booted up and armed with waterproofs, we assembled at the ancient gateway to the Royal Standard of England pub. It was like an opening scene from a Tarantino movie. To complete the picture, we had a handsome labrador named Logan (Dean's mother in law's dog).
The Royal we set off down the darkened alley like Brindle Lane. With rain drizzling, we were braced for a muddy trot in the countryside. Soon we came to gates that opened onto the fields of Forty Green, where brightening skies greeted. With the fresh aromas of a wet spring wafting all around, we headed towards Witheridge Wood. It turned out Logan hadn't received the memo about refreshments at the pub. The country aromas got the better of him, and just far away enough from the path and Dean, Logan found himself in pie heaven, looking back at Dean knowing he should not, then wharfed! (Sarah, I did not see anything, I'm just saying). I couldn't stop giggling as Mick and Kumar were somewhat in disbelief of what they had witnessed. We headed over to Penbury Farm, then ascended into the fields around Penn Bottom. The skies completely cleared and caused us to break a sweat. We stopped briefly to enjoy the sweeping vistas and bask in the glorious evening sun. Onto Common Wood where we didn't spot any rhodys, some serious discussion ensued about the quality and standards of products from Lidl and Aldi. Whimsically, Mick shared a story of when he returned a new microwave oven that was responsible for setting fire to his eagerly anticipated pie dinner one evening after a hard day's work. Hungry, angry and with the oven still smoking, Mick stormed back to the offending store, and duly commanded the attention of the branch staff. Needless to say, Mick got his refund, as well as a few funny looks.
Creasing ourselves laughing, we paced along the tracks by Puttenham Farm, to get 'back before sundown' (that could be the title of a Tarantino movie). The tracks got exceedingly muddy, and unfortunately as leader, I had to trailblaze, which, by the way, the group were only too happy for me to do. Our boots, and Logan, would need a good hosing down later. No problem for Dean who was going to hand Logan, unchained and unwashed, back to his mother-in-law. Continuing through Penn village, we joined the Chiltern Way, which ran behind a row of desirable residences. More beautiful vistas followed, with sheep and little lamb grazing in the field, seemingly calling out at us. We breathed in the freshness, and drank in the beauty, before continuing onto the last leg of the walk, walking down Bayley's Bottom back to the car park. The reward, and a novel treat, was to enjoy sitting inside the famed historic RSOE pub. Ale, wine, chips and more stories flowed, while Logan took a well-earned rest. No chips for Logan though, because he had already eaten ... well maybe a couple of chips, especially with those eyes at Mick. Well, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the evening of hiking, joking and 'smoking pies' (another potential film title?) and spending time at one of my favourite pubs.
My sincere thanks to Tim, Kumar, Mick, Dean and Logan, for joining me on this sunny, royally fun evening. Hope to see you all again soon.
No-one can protest that there weren't enough tea shops! We started with one; we ended with one; and there were several visits in between. A sunny day and eight of us took part. We crossed the Thames at Putney Bridge, enjoying the wide views. We walked up river and then by the London Wetland Centre. Here Asha recognised TV's posh actress, Patricia Hodge, and greeted her like an old friend. Onwards to Barnes for the bookshop, the cinema, the Italian Cafe, the church and an al fresco operatic solo recital. Next stop Gail's Cafe, then Barnes Green with its duck pond. We then made the pilgrimage to the Marc Bolan rock shrine. Back on the Thames Path, some of us went to see the Bedouin tomb at Mortlake. Some said goodbye at the 5 mile point. Carole and Brian continued with me under Chiswick Bridge, to visit the grounds of the National Archives, and have coffee at Kew Gardens Piazza.
Thanks to Asha, Brian, Carole, Lynne, Mona, Monindra and Harleena for joining me.
Just three cyclists for this longer ride from Windsor Riverside to Richmond. We followed Sustrans route 4 throughout, very good signage all the way. After checking out the castle we cycled through Windsor Great Park until Englefield Green. We then climbed to the Coppers Hill memorial viewpoint. As the day had warmed up in the sunshine we had our picnic there. It was very quiet in the park with the memorial always tranquil and poignant. We then joined the Thames at Staines and followed the well-managed Thames Path all the rest of the route. Many impressive boat houses on the opposite bank, plus lots of heritage vessels on display. We rang the bell to summon the ferry from Shepperton to Chertsey. Final tiffin stop at Walton on Thames, busy with walkers, before final section from Hampton Court to Richmond.
After many messages about the weather, 12 walkers met outside Great Missenden station on a clear Saturday morning. Introductions were made as we made our way to the first gentle climb. Wandering through first woods, quite surprised to still see so many bluebells. Probably due to shade of the trees, but awesome carpet of colour. Was nice to see people appreciate the colour and many photographs taken. A few ups and downs and views. Even Mike (using his scoring system) gave one view 9 out of 10. But we were lucky, a route mostly to ourselves and fabulous weather mostly. Good conversation and company.
Lunch a little later than planned at the Hampden Arms. Mike and I bagged by chance positions next to heaters. From some having soup or sandwiches, to fish and chips, service was fantastic, and as promised one of my camping rugs appeared, which a member "borrowed" and sat under both heaters, but looked all snuggly and warm, so was forgiven on this occasion. Banter and catch-up was had over lunch. Nice to be outside! Nice to support a local public house. From Mike having Guinness (in an Arsenal glass), to Brian trying (purely by error?) to put his name down on the tab as Dee, to a bottle of wine for Ladies who Lunch (and nothing wrong with that). One had chunky / meaty fish'n'chips. I was impressed. Then the final steps when the weather was a litle cruel to us, but could have been worse. We continued and I missed out on kissing gate dramas. Brian got out his little black book. We continued back past the abbey and (sadly) closed Dahl Museum where we all went our separate ways.
Thank you to Dorota, Liane, Diane, Dan, Mike, Brian, Judith, Janet, Chrissy, Christine, Jackie for joining me.
We met at the Manor Farm site for our first evening walk of the season. As always we took a look at the historic manor house, motte and restored barns of this heritage area. We then followed the Celandine Way through the manicured lawns of this very quiet part of Ruislip (more postbox knitted hats seen on the way). We then entered the Ruislip Woods and followed the tracks to the Lido. Rachael showed her knowledge of "Summer Holiday" by explaining how the film used the lido as a location and how she tracked Cliff and the Shadows back in the day. The walk continued through the wooded path surrounding the lake. We reached the Waters Edge pub where Dee produced her MandS coffee cake for all to share to celebrate the event.
Walkers were Brian, Judith, Mike Mc, Dee, Hailey, Tim B, Rachel, Dean and Sarah.
Five of us met this morning outside the Queens Head pub in Pinner village. I began the walk covering COVID guidelines and a brief history on the heritage of Pinner and its people. I pointed out the parish church dominating the village and memorial, and with the impending wet weather anticipated advised walkers to explore at the end of the walk at their leisure. We then made our way to the beautiful Pinner Memorial Park taking in the gardens, pond, aviary, and museum. From there we then took the Celandine Way, a scenic nature trail, to Eastcote House and the hidden walled garden. A brief stop at Eastcote House was made for refreshments. We were welcomed with some showers as we made our way back to the village.
Thank you to my fellow walkers: Harry, Jyotsna, Moni and Harleena.
Leaving home, with showers I had fingers crossed for the day ahead. From Pinner Station, in sunshine, we walked through the High Street towards the Oddfellows Arms and took an alleyway off Waxwell Lane. Crossing Pinner Green we turned towards the cricket grounds where one member, now warmed up, tried to shelter and discreetly remove her trousers and put lighter leggings on. Obviously a discussion started re removal of trousers. Typically a trio of youngsters appeared to play football, what timing! We protected her modesty. We looked at the heritage plaque and proceeded through side streets, discussing the style of the "new builds", until we entered the start of Pinner Farm area. Sarah tried to entice the horses in the neighbouring fields to pose for photos. Then the slight climb up towards Pinner Golf Club, with the promise of views, and a snack break on nature's seats. Bluebells were still about. Sarah found the best "seat", in the sun. From a snack of a chocolate bar with one, to sandwiches and scotch eggs with another. It was then discovered that two of the group had already eaten cake before the walk.
Malcolm impressed all with his Viewfinder app so we could identify the buildings seen. After a rest - one closed her eyes in the sun, restoring her energy - we set off again. We then admired the houses and gardens in Pinner Hill, and went by the clubhouse, which was busy as it was a beautiful day. To Oxhey Woods where Nitty recognised some sculptures she remembered from last year's walk. Linda noticed one I had missed in the past - grateful for that! Returning, we had to laugh as at one point "the boys" were on one side of the pavement and "the girls" were on the other. Now that's what I call social distancing. As we left the area, returning towards Pinner Green, one suddenly realised (as a driver) where they were. Passing Pinner Wood School we were offered hospitality from Christine, thank you for the offer. We headed back, where at Pinner Green, Dean went to retrieve the car. Malcolm continued to catch his train back. Nitty added to her miles by walking home. Sarah picked up a loaf from Wenzels for her mother, and I returned to my car via Pinner Memorial Park. An enjoyable day off. Great company. Lucky with the weather.
Thank you to Malcolm, Sarah, Dean, Nitty, Christine and Linda. Hope to see you again.
Henley riverside was full of cycle groups and hikers at the cafe terrace enjoying pre-excursion refreshments as the boats sailed by. Our route was a loop around the villages and hills surrounding Henley. The bridleways and quiet lanes were perfect for off-road riding. Carpets of bluebells were seen in the woods alongside. At Highmoor we found the Rising Sun, with lots of space in the large garden. Table grabbed, we enjoyed an unexpected pub lunch with welcome table service.
After some on-road climbing, we had some excellent fast descents along bridleways and byways. Nick led us to the abandoned St James church near Bix village. As we continued we came upon a vast meadow of dandelions resplendent in the afternoon sun. Final section was a thrilling descent back to Henley and the busy riverside.
We met at Coopers Hill Lane Car Park on a lovely sunny day which turned out warmer than expected. The walk took us through some lovely country lanes passing Priest Hill Farm. We then came to some cobbled steps (50 in total) which represented one of the states of the USA. Each of the steps are said to represent the multitude of pilgrims on their journey to enlightenment. We then arrived at the Magna Carta Memorial which was agreed by King John in 1215. Runnymede was chosen as the meeting place to sign the charter as it was located on neutral ground. We continued on the Thames Path following the river to the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds where stopped for lunch at the cafe on site.
We then continued on the Thames Path passing the Queen Elizabeth statue (which looked nothing like her) through to the Bell Weir Lock, from there following the path through some lovely fields to a very steep hill. Our last stop was the Air Forces Memorial which is a tribute to those who lost their lives in World War 2.
Many thanks to Linda, Christine, Chrissy, Zoe, Runi, Sarah, Dean and Delroy in joining me on this very enjoyable walk.
Despite persistent rain, six brave walkers plus Diane's delightful seven-month old Yorkie named Riley, met at 10:30 am on Chipperfield Common for the 11 mile walk. The weather forecast indicated that the rain would ease off around 11 o'clock, so we decided to delay the start for a while and take shelter at Blackwell's Cafandeacute;, opposite the church. At 11:10am we started the circular walk in a clockwise direction, crossing the Common to join the Hertfordshire Way at Top Common and walk the steady incline towards the adjoining Berrybush and Langley Lodge Farms. Through the farms, with thick smoke billowing from a bonfire, to the pastures beyond we encountered a herd of cows and a calf blocking the footpath. To avoid the cattle and with Riley on a lead, we took a ten minute arduous detour, negotiating two barbed wire fences and a ploughed field, before rejoining our intended route at Berrybushes Wood.
Here we paused to take photos of a magnificent display of bluebells and to observe a beautiful red kite perched in a nearby tree. Continuing round the edge of the wood, we made a steep descent to a farm track in the valley below before crossing and climbing the steep ascent to Little Westwood Farm and Bucks Hill House. After crossing a lane we made another steep descent, through a small wood to Bottom Lane before negotiating a steep incline towards Newhall Farm. With the hum of traffic on the nearby M25 in the distance, we then headed along a straight wide farm track for about half a mile to Micklefield Green. Crossing the busy Sarratt to Croxley Green road, we carefully took the footpath that runs along the inside of the hedge adjoining the busy road and within fifteen minutes arrived at Covid-compliant Cock Inn at Church End for our lunch break in the pub garden. Here we spent around 45 minutes enjoying a drink, snack and a chat.
On leaving the pub we joined the familiar Chiltern Way, high above the Chess Valley, to continue our walk through the well-managed Sandfield Wood, Dawes Common and open farmland towards the horse fields at Rose Hall and Bragman's Farms. Following the Way for a short distance along a lane, we turned towards Newhouse Farm, the outskirts of Flaunden and Black Robins Farm. From open farmland the countryside now changed to woodland for the final stretch back to Chipperfield Common. Lower Plantation and Woodman's Wood were negotiated before we arrived at Belsize and the short climb back to our starting point at Blackwell's Cafandeacute;. Although the weather was rather dull and overcast a great walk was enjoyed by everyone, namely Michael, Runi, Kumar, Jackie, Diane, Danny and of course the amazing little Riley, who ran the whole 11 miles but in reality probably covered 15 miles!
A mixture of newbies, regulars and surprise guests met at Tide Tables cafandeacute; terrace by Richmond Bridge. Rob W and Mona were passing through and chatted to us over coffee and pastries. Our route followed the Thames Path to Petersham Village. We admired the many mansions in this historic hamlet, including the corner villa reputedly that of Tommy Steele. Into Richmond Park we climbed to Pembroke Lodge (lots of Fallow Deer on the ascent). We climbed King Henrys Mount to view St Pauls through the telescope and took in great views over the Thames Valley. Mona's date cake was shared out as we took in the vibrant display of tulips. Rob P guided us through the park to reach Isabella Plantation. We strolled around the kaleidoscopic display of azaleas on display in this delightful enclosure; pink, red and purple were the dominant colours. We had our picnic by the lake, Carole and David explaining the history of the park and its features.
We continued through the park before crossing Ham Common, noting the splendid wisteria in bloom on the many manors around the village. After admiring the Jacobean majesty of Ham House, we caught the ferry across to west bank. At Orleans House (home of exiled King of France) we enjoyed a final tiffin stop in the stables cafandeacute; courtyard after another cultural walk.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Gilly, Malcolm, Rob P, Runi, Carole, David, Ivan, Wayne and Marian.
We started where we ended part 1, close by Dollis Brook Viaduct. A short walk long a residential side road and then we entered Dollis Valley Greenwalk, following Dollis Brook south through Windsor Open Space, Riverside Gardens and under the A1, followed by under the A406. At this point we parted company with Dollis Brook, and followed Mutton Brook eastward. We detoured right onto the High Street for takeaway authentic kosher salt beef bagels and apple strudel.
After lunch, we resumed our walk along the brook and through Little Wood, then south through Big Wood, and along some architecturally significant roads of Hampstead Garden Suburb. We walked through Hampstead Heath Extension with its woods, before entering Golders Hill Park. Here we stopped for coffee and sorbet ice-creams at the cafandeacute;, and after seeing the gardens and the zoo animals, we made our way to nearby Golders Green station.
So great that Gabriela, Runi, Mark, Coogee, Marie C and Alpa all booked to join me.
A larger than expected group assembled on a sunny morning on the Starbucks coffee shop terrace by the Regents Canal. After coffees and welcome backs to the prodigals we set off. Using the excellent David Fathers guidebook our route followed the course of the Fleet through Camden to arrive at St Pancras Old Church. A Christian site since the 3rd century we found the grave of Mary Wollenscroft (flowers left as the day before was the anniversary of her birth in 1759). We took in the Eurostar terminal (river runs underneath) and several alleyways through the Gray's Inn quarter.
After lunch at pavement cafes at Clerkenwell Green we strolled through the medieval areas of St Johns Priory and St Barts. Managed to get a tour of the imposing Norman church, featured in many films and programmes. A chess club was playing multiple games outdoors in the courtyard of the St Johns Priory. We crossed Fleet Street and then St Brides before the Fleet entered the Thames by Blackfriars. The walk ended with welcome hot and cold drinks at the outdoor market cafes by Gabriel's Wharf.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Gilly, Zoe, Nick, Mark A, Mark P, Dan, Diane, Janet, Christine, Judith, Rob P, Rita and Maree.
We met on a bright and breezy Saturday morning and after everyone had sorted out their parking we set off up the hill out of Chorleywood. We were soon off the road and on to the lovely woodland path alongside Philliphill Wood where we were able to admire the bluebells. We then descended along a sunken path where Linzi spotted some goats watching us from the grounds of Chiltern Open Air Museum. Our route then left the woods and skirted what used to be Newlands College. Part of the grounds are currently being used for filming a new Steven Spielberg film with masses of temporary structures, barriers and machinery spread about. The next obstacle was part of the HS2 works (more barriers and a re-routing of the footpath) before we walked down into Chalfont St Giles, past the churchyard to the village green where we stopped for refreshments courtesy of the local deli. After our brief stop we joined the Chiltern Way along the Misbourne Valley before climbing up the hill to Hodgemoor Woods where we wandered through ancient beech woodlands and more bluebells. We managed to temporarily lose some of our party who were happily taking photos of lambs in the fields and kissing passing dogs! Having reassembled we left the woods and arrived at the Harte and Magpies for an excellent lunch.
Our route back to Amersham was through open fields and included greeting some cute alpacas and a good view of the Coleshill windmill. Finally we took in the monument to the Amersham Martyrs, who were burnt at the stake in the early 1500s for protesting that the Bible should be printed in English. We arrived back at Amersham station with a couple of minutes to spare before the train arrived to take us back to Chorleywood.
Thanks to Dee, Malcolm, Linzi, Anna, Lesley, Mike, Dean, Sarah and Jackie for joining me.
A full quota of walkers, new as well as old faces, met at Osterley station on a Sunday spring morning with some bright sunshine but also a fairly cutting easterly wind. We firstly walked to the Osterley Bookshop around the corner which is a captivating place of character (in which some of us could have spent far more time) before proceeding to Osterley House where it was a popular decision to have an early coffee. We then set off in the Southall direction crossing the M4 and passing through Norwood Green and past Fuller's oldest pub, the Plough, before stopping to view the magnificent Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha Sikh temple in Southall. Several of the group entered the temple and were treated with great hospitality. The official lunch stop was at Southall Manor Grounds, Southall's oldest building where there was a good selection of ethnic food on sale within easy reach. The sunken pond and surrounding seating was an ideal location for a break.
Following lunch we passed the first of three old cinemas, now the Tudor Rose with its checkered history before walking past the second gurdwara temple, Southall's markets and the Himalayan Palace Shopping Centre with its splendid Chinese roof (another ex-cinema). We then passed the old horse market and the third (huge) ex-cinema, now Lidl, and entered Southall Park. We cut through to join the Glade Lane canalside park and headed west over and under Brunel's three bridges past the side ponds and numerous locks at Hanwell before the group split. Some headed for The Green and the pull of outdoor liquid refreshment whilst the others completed the walk heading through Elthorne Park and Water Meadow before saying goodbyes at Boston Manor station.
Nine seasoned walkers turned up for the canal walk from Mile End to Little Venice. The weather was the star of the show, bright sunshine all day long. This was both a blessing and a curse, as there were many like-minded people along the canal: walkers, cyclists and those just happy to sit on the canal banks. We crossed the aptly named Banana Bridge (painted yellow) to get to the canal. While on the bridge we could see the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in the distance. We pondered a while over the Arcelor Mittal Orbit Tower, apparently it has a nickname but no-one could remember it. We set out at a steady pace. Our first stop was a scheduled toilet break in Victoria Park. Toilet queues not too bad, however the cafe queue was considerable and we decided to move on.
We met up with Diane, Dan and the gorgeous Riley (puppy) a little further along the canal. We had a slight detour at Islington where the canal enters a tunnel 1800m long. We just happened to encounter a pub with ample outdoor seating, so we had a welcome break from the day's heat. For entertainment we observed an irate citizen pleading with a parking warden. He looked like he was attempting to do star jumps, the warden didn't seem that impressed.
Next stop Kings Cross. This is now a vibrant hub where a large open space is great for lounging. Children frolicked in paddling pools, the adults not quite as confident with their new-found freedom. Onwards to Camden. We passed through as best we could, it was very busy. Then on to Regents Park with its glorious open spaces, gardens and lake. We had an ice cream. Back to the canal and a little Blue Plaque spotting: Guy Gibson of dam busters fame and Arthur Lowe for his role as Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. What a way to end a marvellous day.
Four of us including Gabriela, Jyotsna and Harry met at Hatch End High Street at 10:30am in glorious morning sunshine. Our first stop was a stroll down to the historic St Anslem church and then on to Grimsdyke Park, home to Hatch End Rugby Club. We then headed through the back streets of Hatch End on to George V and cut through Pinner Lawn Tennis Club onto Moss Lane and saw the homes of Heath Robinson and Elton John. We then headed onto Pinner Farm through the lower trails including streams, the River Pinn and forestry, leading back to George V. We crossed over and carried on to Pinner Farm where the local cattle were grazing. We then headed to the back of Hatch End High Street to see the telephone exchange and award-winning fish and chip shop of Sea Pebbles. The walk ended at 1:00pm.
On a very sunny Sunday morning 10 of us gathered at Daisys for coffees and pastries. Newly reopened, the cafe's outdoor tables were busy with locals taking advantage of the fine weather. Our route was from "10 walks around Pinner" from the Pinner Association. We followed the Celandine Way through meadows, parks and wooded glades to reach Eastcote House Gardens. The walled garden was as delightful as ever, radiantly coloured tulips dominating the borders. No luck at second cafe here (staff faffing for England) so we pushed on through Eastcote fields to arrive at Kings Cafe in Ruislip sports fields. This cafe is old school, and we enjoyed lunch there, watching the many sports events taking place.
On to Ruislip Woods, we followed the paths to the famous beach at the Lido. Here we met Rob W who was on a marathon cycle ride. The fourth cafe was busy as was the just reopened railway around the Lido. We continued through Ruislip Woods, Tim indicating some of the trees before Runi and Liane asked plaintively, "are we stopping for lunch?". Jolly good idea said all so at the next park we had our picnic (second lunch) stop. Route back took in quiet tracks and lanes of Pinner, stopping to admire the many knitted hats adorning the postboxes. Back at Daisys, some, no names, stopped for a rather spiffing tiffin to end the day.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Martina, Gilly, Liane, Christine, Runi, and all the Cathy's, J, O and T.
8 walkers met at Tring station on a bright sunny Sunday morning. Note to walk leader - Tring station has 2 entrances, next time he should specify which one to meet at. We set off along the Hertfordshire Way towards the village at Aldbury where we paused for a short while by the village stocks and pond for a few photos. We then picked up the Chiltern Way which rises steeply from the village through woodland up to Aldbury Common. We continued through the woods along the Chiltern Way where we came across a clearing giving clear views of the Bridgewater Monument, which was built in 1832 in memory of the third Duke of Bridgewater, who lived on the estate. We continued on our way along the path, arriving in Little Gaddesden where we picked up the Icknield Way. This trail took us down a steep hill though woodlands, where the ground was covered in a thick layer of wild garlic. At the bottom of this hill we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we continued on towards Ivinghoe Beacon. Instead of heading straight up the beacon we continued along the path to Gallows Hill where we stopped to take in the views of Dunstable Downs in the distance. We then headed up Ivinghoe Beacon where we then picked up the Ridgeway path and its views towards Pitstone Hill. After Pitstone Hill the path took us downhill all the way though woodlands with the finish of Tring station in sight less than a mile away. We arrived back at the station after completing 11 miles, with 15 minutes to spare before the train home was due to arrive.
Walkers were Phil, Mike D, Dee, Lesley, Karen E, Anne G, Brian F and Malcolm.
Alpa, Judith, Marian, Michael, Runi and I met at a sunny Hatch End station - with a quick dash for a coffee. While we were fewer in number than planned, we gained two more walkers who asked us how to get to Old Redding avoiding the main road. Happy to oblige - we didn't charge for our services! They followed us at social distance. On the footpath through Grim's Dyke golf club, we passed the most modern landmark on our walk - a vaccination station. The greatest danger to us at that point was probably stray golf balls, but the golfers waited patiently as we passed. On through Harrow Weald woodland, we arrived at Grym's Dyke hotel via the gardens that Lady Gilbert (wife of one half of Gilbert and Sullivan) had designed at the turn of the twentieth century. Though it was tempting to stop for drinks on the terrace, which now appears to be open, we continued on to the viewpoint at Old Redding, however this is currently somewhat obscured while the car park area is being landscaped. The walk was a trip down memory lane for more than one of the group and Mike pointed out views that were familiar to him from growing up in the area. After Bentley Priory and the deer park (one deer!) we parted ways with Judith and Alpa at Stanmore Common. The remaining walkers took in the impressive houses of Little Common before heading down, past Stanmore Hall, to the broadway where we were lucky enough to find an outside table for a meal in the sunshine for before making our way home. Thanks again to all who joined me yesterday.
Seven of us met at Rickmansworth Aquadrome on Wednesday morning. It was a lovely sunny day and after introductions we proceeded along Bury Lake, turning off at Stockers Lake entrance. We walked halfway round the lake enjoying the wildlife but not too happy about the number of midges. We turned off from the lake to proceed to the canal towpath but first stopped off at the weir enjoying the sound of the water. We entered the canal towpath at Springwell Lane and proceeded towards Harefield. We passed canal boats, two locks and Harefield sewage works where we noticed some interesting plants growing in the canal that looked like cabbage. We then reached the Coy Carp pub but did not partake in a drink. We then headed back to Rickmansworth Aquadrome for our picnic lunch.
We noticed a lot of the ducks were courting each other and saw some babies which was a lovely surprise for this time of year. We also admired some of the quirky gardens that had been created along the canal path. We had a picnic lunch at the aquadrome and walked round another lake before making our way home. It was also getting chilly as the sun had gone in.
Thank you to Janet, Linda, Chrissy, Alpa, Runa and Jyotsna for joining me on this very pleasant walk.
We met at Watford station on a beautiful sunny day. The walk took us through Cassiobury Park nature reserve area, where the sun reflected beautifully on the clear water. We walked along the canal past "Molly's Cafe" towards the ascent towards Whippendell Woods. We passed golfers and dog walkers, notably 5-month old spaniels. Pauline was quick to hear, identify and spot the songs of the birds, including woodpeckers. I need more lessons here! Through the woods with bluebells emerging to the next wood, sadly just two alpacas but one posed for a photograph, if reluctantly! Returning through the next wood, our adventure continued as we "retrieved" a dog for a dog walker who needed to answer the call of nature - the dog walker, that is. Back to Whippendell Woods and returning via Cassiobury Park to our starting point. A good pace, 6 miles in two and a half hours.
Thank you to Pauline M for joining me. Hope to meet again.
Five cyclists met at the Aquadrome cafe for the second ride this year. We used Sustrans route 61, mainly traffic-free all the way to St Albans. First section was the Ebury Way around Watford then parklands and riverside tracks along the River Ver. Among the many allotments and scooter / cycle skate parks we were struck by one notable mansion, the arts and crafts-style villa with the sporting motifs around the facade. At St Albans we climbed to the impressive cathedral dominating the historic town. We had our picnic in the Abbey gardens, missing out on Coogee's gobstoppers for a change. We then explored the Roman walls and remains. In the Abbey parklands two cricket matches were taking place.
Our route was then via very quiet lanes west through Bedmond and the picture postcard Ovaltine model farm (built in 1930, just for advertising purposes). We reached the medieval church of Abbots Langley and explored the interior. Paul thought he had found some well-deserved tuck left for walkers until he saw the sign "food bank donations". We descended to admire the Art Deco wonder of the Ovaltine factory, now converted to apartments overlooking the canal. Our route then was the Grand Union Canal where Kerry rescued a cockerpoo from the waters. The dog ran frantically away from the canal to join its owner high up the slope; the owners sent their thanks later via Facebook.
Cyclists were Brian, Malcolm, Kerry, Paul and Oliver.
We met on a bright sunny morning in South Hampstead after a slight delay due to the Metropolitan line being closed. We set off in small groups to a first port of call, the shepherds well where the source of the Tyburn river rises from a spring. The next leg was to walk down to Swiss Cottage and a short trek along the canal to Regents Park. This is where we encountered the Charlbert Bridge which happens to be a viaduct for the Tyburn, and drains give away the conduit. Beautiful fauna and flowers surrounding the first view of open water after a spot of lunch in the company of birds including a friendly heron.
We set off down Baker Street, passing the Sherlock Holmes Museum and a talk on the conduit in Baker Street station. Continuing on to Marylebone we found the group had taken on an alternative quest, working out the flags of countries from little known embassies. Mark took a detour to find Wimpole Mews, famous for the 60's chiropractor Stephen Ward of Scandal fame. The winding lanes of Marylebone give a clue to the existence of a river all the way to Oxford Street. Jackie managed to harvest some left-over sausages from a street stall, slightly burnt but delicious. A very quiet Oxford Street found us outside Gray's Antiques where if allowed we would see an underground water feature that is part of the Tyburn. We carried on to the city border and found a Banksy and interesting talk on Charles II. The next destination was Shepherds Market which was on the banks of the Tyburn and famous for the May Fair, a notorious festival of debauchery. The next step was Green Park and Buckingham Palace especially poignant following the recent death of Prince Philip. This is where the Tyburn becomes the Kings Scholar Sewer and a worker once asked what it was like under there said "what was coming down was not by royal appointment". The last leg through Pimlico and our journey was done. Many thanks to the folks that joined me on a stellar walk.
We met at Richmond station, with a short bus journey to start of the walk. It was so lovely to see familiar faces and finally get out and enjoy everyone's company while doing some exercise. After some debate Janet agreed to be the sub-leader, thank you.
This walk took us to Teddington lock and weir. Constructed in 1801 the lock and weir were the most recent effort to confine the river and stop its meandering. The weir meant that finally the tidal flow of the Thames stopped here. Over the last century this area has been associated with comic literature, most of us remembering the famous Benny Hill. Our walk took us past two lovely churches, one on the dirtier side of the road, the small one being the original parish church, the other being modelled on Notre Dame in Paris and billed as the cathedral of west London. We carried on through Teddington High Street, coming past some horse stables in a street of suburban semis. We passed the National Physical Laboratory where Robert Watson Watt, the inventor of radar, worked, as did Barnes Wallis and Alan Turing after his code breaking success at Bletchley Park. Our walk took us to the lovely water garden. This was to become our lunch stop, where we gazed at the swans taking flight.
All fired up we continued through the lovely woodland garden, enjoying all the lovely colours just appearing. We ended at the pheasantry cafe, where toilets and hot drinks were much appreciated. We carried on through Bushey Park to the United States Army Air Forces Memorial and then onto the SHAEF Memorial. This is where the final stages of the invasion of France were planned, the first step in the road to end WWII. We carried on towards Heron Pond where we met lots of deer. We decided not to eat the caviar on this occasion. We passed Mutton Pond, then we found the water nymph Diane's fountain.
Thank you to Janet, Christine, Linda, Helen, Chrissy, Gilly, Chris, Maria, Martina, Judith, Elaine and Dan for attending this fabulous walk, it was really lovely to see you all.
Six intrepid explorers met on a cloudy grey day at the Rusty Bike cafe in Uxbridge. Setting off at a good trot, we followed the canal towpath, dodging bikes with no bells and joggers galore. We noted all the workmen clearing the woods for the HS2 line which will completely change that part of London. Runi explained about the Denham graffiti art which was nearby. We passed numerous pubs along the way, which alas were shut, however this walk would be perfect on a sunny summer's day pub crawl. We stopped in Harefield at the bridge cafe near the Old Orchard pub. Jan was impressed by the carrot cake beckoning her from the window. Malcolm had his scotch egg.
After a 'Narrow Escape' (an aptly named barge) we passed the weir, with the pretty underwater cabbages and a proud mother duck with her ducklings bobbing about. Super cute. We continued onto Rickmansworth, with Anne discussing the virtues of Whisky Mac and Malcolm having his dessert (Snickers bar). We passed the Springwell Reedbed, the largest reedbed in London, home to the reed warbler. Talking of warbling, Jan gave us a quick rendition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Arriving at the Aquadrome, we had a second lunch at the lake. Jan and Liane indulged in a ginger wine whilst Malcolm had another scotch egg. We managed 8 miles in about 3 hours.
Thank you to Malcolm, Jan, Anne G, Mark P and Runi for joining me on this thoroughly enjoyable walk.
Easter Monday saw nine cyclists assemble for the first cycle ride of the year. We departed the Rusty Bike cafandeacute; and joined the Grand Union Canal south. Our route then took in Systran's route 61 through farmlands and country estates of Iver and Richings Park. Derek tested his new electric cycle on the hills, sometimes even waiting for Prem. We made it to the elegant, landscaped grounds of Langley Park where we encountered Victoria Meldrew on a path. Our lunch stop was at the lakeside cafandeacute; in Black Park. New recruits Muneer and Simon debated the merits of carbon fibre frames with Kerry and Coogee.
We then headed west to the very impressive golf course of Stoke Park (the location of Bond's golf duel in Goldfinger). We visited the famous church (scene of Gray's Elegy) and the monument to the poet. Our route back took in Pinewood Film Studios and Burnham Beeches (detour to see the pollarded ancient trees). At the picturesque village of Fulmer the magnolia trees were in full bloom by the late medieval parish church.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Malcolm, Cynthia, Coogee, Simon, Muneer, Derek and Prem.
What a beautiful day catching up with friends. Some we haven't seen for a while. We set off from Turville with a spring in our steps. It could have been the cold breeze which made us pick up the pace. We had such an amazing day walking the hills of the Chilterns. We saw countless kites and two looking at Riley for lunch. Never saw Diane run so quickly. Our walk took us through lots of woodlands and Dan pointed out some deer hoofprints. We then stopped for lunch and Martina put on an exclusive table with tablecloth (as per Malcolm's wishes). We dined first class before continuing our journey. Tessa then found a wonderful handmade geocache of a hedgehog. We traveled through lots of amazing villages and sorry my friends all the closed pubs we passed, including a vineyard. Until we meet again when we can sample the delights.
Thank you Dan, Diane, Malcolm, Tessa, Liane and my right-hand man Daniel.
On a distinctly chilly Saturday morning I met up with Cathy, Elaine and Zoe at Baker Street for a relaxed meander through Regents Park to Camden Market and then back along the towpath to St Pancras. Pauline had given me all sorts of wonderful advice for things to look out for but we still managed to go wrong. It was just so lovely to be able to meet up again and resume the conversations which had been cut short last December. I was recording the walk on Strava for step count purposes for a sponsored walk and the route clearly showed how we went round in circles a few times.
It was odd to visit a very restricted Camden Town Market where there seemed to be more bouncers than visitors - annoying they wouldn't even let us stop to finish our mid-morning coffees! We all marvelled at the scale of development in Granary Square, and were very happy to find some lovely public conveniences there. Then it was an easy walk back on the towpath to St Pancras where we saw a restaurant still with its Christmas decorations up. So glad to be back on the trail - looking forward to meeting up with others soon.
On a very sunny Good Friday morning 9 walkers assembled by Boston Manor. Our route was intended to take in four parks on a 7 mile walk. However, on such a fine sunny day we extended the walk to 12 miles and seven parks. Our route took in Elthorne Park, Boston Manor Park (with Jacobean manor house) and Watermans Park before lunch. At an early coffee break in Brentford, we took in the classic car collection by the river, Martina engaging with the owner who invited us to the forthcoming formal opening. We had our packed lunch at Brentford marina (tables kindly left out by restaurants on the terrace), new recruit David fully occupied with football conversation, with Daniel, Liane, Jan and Gilly discussing haircare during lockdown.
Our route followed the Thames through Strand on the Green, Chiswick Riverside and Dukes Meadow. In the parks and tree-lined lanes we took in the apple and cherry trees, their blossom vibrantly colourful. The magnolia trees were also in full bloom in many gardens in this quiet quarter of London. Carole took us on an unofficial circuit of Chiswick Marina "I know some of the yacht owners" to admire the impressive vessels moored there. At Dukes Meadow the lawns were full of picnickers and people playing sports. Our route then took in the Palladian wonders of Chiswick House landscaped gardens including camelias, very colourful in wooded glades.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Martina, Liane, Delroy, Gilly, Karen Mc, David and Carole.
7 of us met at Kings Langley station on a chilly Good Friday morning, and set off fairly promptly at 9:40am, heading at first along the Grand Union Canal. We then headed east to Bedmond, and then to Sergehill, from where I had expected to find a path that would take us further east and under the M1, to Chiswell Green. However we couldn't be sure exactly where the path was because the farmer had ploughed the field and not left any clues where the path had been, so we took an alternative that ended up adding over a mile to the original distance.
We eventually got back on track and reached the edge of Chiswell Green, from where we headed north, walking past the former Gardens of the Rose (closed in 2017, apparently), and then into St Albans, where we stopped for lunch in the grounds of the cathedral. After lunch, some of us took a brief look in the cathedral before we headed south west out of town, passing some of the remains of the Roman wall. Returning to Chiswell Green and continuing south west, this time we were more successful in crossing back over the motorway as planned.
We then picked up the Hertfordshire Way, heading west around the edge of Abbots Langley, and then returning to Kings Langley, reaching the station at around 3:30pm. Thanks to Amanda, Ghazala, Karen, Malcolm, Rina and Ujen for joining me, and well done for completing the eventual distance of almost 16 miles in such good time.
The first group outing after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed was attended by Liane, Diane and Dan. It was mild and sunny, making it ideal for a stroll through some of London's royal parks, to admire the trees in blossom in the Japanese tradition of Hanami. In Holland Park we visited Fukushima Garden and Kyoto Garden, with Japanese maples and koi pond with waterfall. We came across one of the park's peacocks. Nearby is the south west entrance to Kensington Gardens. We admired Kensington Palace, once the home of the late Princess Diana, with its view of the Round Pond. We enjoyed the Italian Garden with its fountains. We watched the hand-feeding of wild parakeets, and had our picnic by The Serpentine in Hyde Park. The Rose Garden delighted with fragrant, colourful beds of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. We left Hyde Park at the south east corner, walking through Wellington Arch and into Green Park with its avenues of tall trees.