Eight cyclists alighted at Shoreham station for our fifth adventure to the coast this summer. It was scorchio again, the trains busy with day trippers to the resorts. Our route took in the new town and medieval church. We then crossed the river Adur to arrive at the stunning Shoreham Aerodrome. Built in 1936 it is a perfectly preserved art deco terminal, used in many films and series such as Poirot and The Crown. Tim P said, "shall we stop"? "rather" said all. We grabbed outside tables by the airfield, light aircraft and helicopters taking off directly in front. Inspired by the views, Mark P ordered jam doughnuts for all, just the ticket. Soon it was chocks away and we cycled along the river Adur to join the Downs Link. This is a superb route on a former railway path through lovely countryside of Sussex and Surrey. Passing the neo Gothic wonder of Lancing College we continued on the trail, clouds of dust in the distance as the surface had been baked hard by the summer heat. Our variety of steeds included Lisa on a vintage 1972 Folda original. At Bramber we climbed up to the 11th century castle site next to another Norman church on the hillside. We had our picnic there in the shade, taking in the views of the fortress.
Our route contained in the fierce afternoon heat, lots of swimmers in the river below. The Downs Link has a few structures remaining from the railway age and we came upon the Cat and Canary, a restored former railway hotel. Perfect for cooling drinks in the garden, with live music from a local musician. Onwards we cycled, lots of cattle lazing in the meadows, an old platform remaining at West Grinstead. The ride finished at Christ Hospital for trains back after another excellent ride from the coast.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Tim P, Dean, Coogee, Mark P, Lisa and Saurabh.
On another heatwave weekend of this fabulous summer five walkers alighted at the new Crossrail station at Woolwich. We explored the Royal Arsenal quarter, formerly the largest munitions factory in the world. The converted workshops and barracks are now a variety of apartments, pubs, cafes and galleries. We took the river boat through the Thames Barrier to Silvertown. We stopped for cold drinks at the Royal Victoria Docks before climbing to the top of the Transporter Footbridge. We were graced with soaring views over the entire Docklands, the airport and vast derelict Millennium Mills to the east; to the west the water skiers and sunbathers around the docks with the towering skyscrapers of City Island and Isle of Dogs.
Amidst the towers, a hotel-style ocean liner was navigating its way along the Thames. Soraya inveigled herself onto the luxury Sunborn yacht hotel. We followed her on a guided tour of the banqueting suites. Next was a ride on a DLR, where we bagged the front seat for a roller coaster journey to Limehouse and a return to the delightful Yurt Café for cake, coffee and elucidation from Jeremy. Last section was a walk through the Wapping docklands and final drinks at Captain Kidd's, by Execution Dock, on the riverside terrace in the afternoon sun, watching the ships slowly glide by.
Walkers were Brian, Jeremy, Soraya, Maria and Burgunde.
This Surrey Hills walk was on another scorchio day with perfect blue skies all day. Passing very impressive villas in Reigate we reached Reigate Heath with its immaculate golf course. We followed sandy tracks through the ferns and gorse to find the unique windmill with church inside. We took in the views from the clubhouse, lots of golfers having cooling drinks on the terrace. We then followed the Greensand Way north with a tough climb up to the North Downs. At Colley Hill we had our picnic with panoramic views, the South Downs easily identifiable on such a clear day.
Our route then took in Walton Heath, the coal tax stone pillars accompanying us on the bridleway the whole journey. At Walton on the Hill village we stopped for tiffin at the tea shop (rather spiffing lemon drizzle cake) by the village pond. We then continued north on bridleways to climb to Epsom Downs. More great views as we walked across the famous racecourse, Wembley Arch easily seen. On such a hot day we were glad to find ice cream vans at the racecourse to finish this rarely done walk.
On a very hot summer Sunday, nine eager walkers met at Theydon Bois station. We started off, admiring the area, which had a lot of character and some listed buildings. After a short walk we arrived at a lovely cafe for a cake and coffee stop. We then carried on towards the forest. Once inside this amazing wood, the group admired its larger than life trees and took plenty of photos. We continued on, feeling the energy of these enchanting woods, through dense thickets. Here I decided to do bit of a detour to check the campsite for our camping trip in a couple of weeks. Everyone admired the site and of course took the opportunity to use their very clean facilities. Passing Birch Hall, the home of multi-millionaire David Sullivan, the owner of West Ham, we continued on, stopping to look at a vast deer park, picking berries to top up our vitamins, and there were plenty.
Looping through the forest and taking in the scenery we finally exited the forest at a lovely spot by Dell Common for our picnic by Epping Cricket Club, situated above the Bell Common Tunnel on the M25. This was followed by a pitstop at the well-known Forest Gate pub and of course Perky Blenders. Well-earned drinks, coffee and ice cream were enjoyed by all. Recharged, we set off on our journey through the golden fields as far as you could see, heading towards the 'Bridge over the M25' from where we could see the entrance to the tunnel we had earlier walked over. Heading back through more golden fields and hidden paths. The group decided to do bit of scrumping and picked lovely juicy plums. Brian even found an old bucket for Naz to stand on. Bellies full, we carried on to our last stop for well-deserved cool drinks at the Bull pub, where Brian enjoyed his cake and tea again. Plenty of drinks and food were enjoyed by all.
A big thankyou to Brian, Kerry, Pushpa, Naz, Michael, Soraya, Luna, Harpreet, Ashima and Runi.
7 of us met at Berkhamsted station on a warm and sunny Sunday morning. We set off at around 9:40am, heading northwest along the Grand Union Canal to Northchurch, from where headed northeast onto Northchurch Common and then Berkhamsted Common. We stopped under the shade of a large tree in front of Ashridge College for a mid-morning break. I had intended to stop somewhere with a view of the Bridgewater Monument but somehow I managed to miss it, so I was glad that the others hadn't. We continued northeast through Little Gaddesden, and then along the Chiltern Way to Studham, where we stopped for lunch on the edge of the common.
After lunch we headed east across the common and then south to Clement's End and later Great Gaddesden. We then headed southwest to Potten End where we stopped for well-deserved mid-afternoon refreshments at the Martins' Pond pub. We then headed across another common before picking up the Hertfordshire Way to take us back to Berkhamsted station, which we reached at 4:00pm having walked just under 17 miles.
Thanks to Amanda, Indira, Karen, Malcolm, Narshi and Saurabh for joining me.
Fifteen walkers alighted at Bosham station on another scorchio day of this heatwave summer. This walk is the fourth of our coastal walks for the summer and is a new route for the group. We arrived at the Roman town of Bosham where we grabbed ice creams from the market café. We then explored the historic town; the impressive church has a Saxon tower and was featured in the Bayeux Tapestry. We stopped at the quay for views across the channel and for the dogs to have a swim. The harbour was at low tide so can be walked across the causeway. We then walked along the coastal path, passing several impressive manors with south facing sun balconies. We then jumped on the ferry taking us across to Itchenor, passing some luxury yachts and launches. The sun was blisteringly fierce, so we stopped in the shaded gardens of the Ship Inn for lunch and lots of tall tales from Con, Mark and Coogee.
We then headed south along the coast of the Selsey Peninsula, passing many yachts sailing from Bosham to the sea beyond. Along the way we were buzzed by a spitfire and a bi-plane circling overhead. We reached Wittering Beach, its expanse of golden sand full of sun bathers and swimmers on such a perfect summers day. Prompted by Mike and Soraya we paddled in the warm waters and took in the views across to the Isle of Wight. Just in the nick we arrived at the village for the double decker to Chichester. Chichester is another historic city, and we explored the gardens of the Bishops Palace and the Cathedral. After walking along the medieval walls, we finished with well-earned cold drinks at the Duke and Rye, built within a neo-Gothic church.
Walkers were Brian, Kerry, Con, Soraya, Jeff, Coogee, Mark P, Lisa, Cathy C, Imelda, Elaine, Jane, Amanda and Anna.
5 campers were met by 7 walkers at the Chocolate Cafe in Henley on Thames by the river on a scorching day. We passed through the town towards the Oxfordshire Way but stopped briefly at the roadside to pay homage to "Jimmy" the tiny marmoset whose plaque sits under a tree. We now had a steep climb to No Mans Hill. Plenty of rehydration was needed. Once past the open fields with panoramic views it was decided to take the quiet hedge-lined roads to Fawley to take advantage of the shade. At the church there were two rather large and unusual mausoleums. We carried on to the top of the Great Wood with a long downhill stretch ahead. The Great Wood is one of Britain's most ancient woods and has a superb range of trees and ferns. The next viewpoint was overlooking the showground where the retro concert had been cancelled. Walking down we came across the abandoned stage. Crossing the road to a short uphill stretch to our lunch stop, the village of Hambleden, one of the most picturesque villages in England and no surprise there was a wedding at the church. Unfortunately this meant the only pub was booked out so we went to the village shop that served almost anything, with benches outside for us to sit.
After lunch we walked down some sheep fields completely turned brown and looking like a different country. Once we reached the river the greenery returned and we crossed to the other side via the weir and had a pleasant final stretch along the river, passing the temple and the dismantling of the Henley Regatta marquees. Once at the bridge we headed for the Wetherspoon pub with probably the best pub garden in Henley.
Many thanks to those who joined me on the walk: Diane, Dee, Dawn, Joan, Karen, Laura, Sally, Prem, Mark and Aruna.
Three cyclists alighted at Thatcham station for the Kennett and Avon Cycle Ride. Our 25 mile route followed the canal to the Thames at Reading, then onto Sonning and Twyford via Thames Path. It was another sweltering day of this great summer as we headed west, the GWR railway following alongside for several miles. We nodded to the boat crews as we passed; the canal is certainly busier than the Basingstoke canal on the last ride. A feature is the swing bridges and we stopped to see one in operation. Our lunch was at the Aldermaston canal café, busy with walkers and boaters.
The next section has several pill boxes and turf locks. The picture postcard "Cunning Man Inn" has a thatched roof and vast garden by the canal so we stopped for cold drinks in the afternoon sun. Through Reading the scenery abruptly changes from meadows and cattle to noisy bars and canalside cafes. Onto the Thames where the riverside was busy with picnickers, canoeists and several luxury launches. Our final stop was the very chic Boat House by Sonning Bridge where we joined the locals for drinks by the Thames after another leisurely cycle ride, nearly all traffic-free.
Hira and Rita waited early at Canons Park station in slight trepidation and wondering who would turn up as we were going to lead our very first walk for HAWOG. We needn't have worried as 22 lovely walkers joined us making us the perfect 2 dozen. A lovely July morning, not too hot or cold and perfect for our trek through the stunning local green spaces with its ponds, gardens and woods. We headed off towards Canons Park, a 5 minute stroll away where we had a welcome chat with everyone including some new joiners to the group. We proceeded through the park visiting the beautiful King George V Memorial walled garden and pond listed as Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens. After looking around and some walkers had chatted with the volunteer gardeners we proceeded to the end of the park. We exited to the road and immediately crossed into the narrow strip of greenery that took us to Marsh Lane and our short walk in to Stanmore town immediately heading for Stanmore Country Park. It was great to be in the woods with the cool temperature and enchanting trees. A few brambles didn't put us off track but next time we might bring our mini shears! We walked around the different ponds, in and out of the trees and narrow paths enjoying the tranquility and each other's company. We eventually made our way from Stanmore Country Park to Bentley Priory Nature Reserve. We were ready for our packed lunches by then and a chilled break to relax.
We had a slight detour when we noticed the herd of pale dairy cows grazing exactly on our planned route. Good for them. Bentley Priory has a number of ancient woods. Growing here are hornbeam, midland and common hawthorn, birch, cedars, yew, and odd patches of laurel, and rhododendron. We were all so appreciative to see close up the amazing master oak tree, the oldest tree in Middlesex. Many photos were taken there. The tree is near a beautiful large pond. We headed through bramble and woodland until we got to the lane leading down to the deer park. A pleasure to be able to feed them with fresh carrots brought especially for them. Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the deer for the final stint of our trek towards Stanmore High Street. We veered off to look at the beautiful old St John the Evangelist Church and nearby ruins. The name has been held by two churches: a red-brick church dating to 1632, now abandoned and in ruins, and its replacement, a stone church dating to 1850, which remains in use. Both buildings are separately Grade II listed. Next we visited another amazing walled garden, Bernays Gardens very near the High Street shops. Here we said our farewells and went our separate ways, a lot of us wanting to get home before 5pm to watch the fab Lionesses play in the Euros final. Congratulations Ladies.
Thank you so much to everyone who came to walk with us, including David, Lesley, Naz, Sanjeev, Maya, Tina, Aruna, Simona, Nile, Valji, Pushpa, Sebastian, Vasu, Marianne, Dhara, Azadeh, Hina, Nandu, Ramji, Girija, Teresa, Dee, Rita and Hira.
On a very warm morning we met at Denham station. The conversation was quickly geared around fast trains / cancellations. As people started to arrive, introductions and chit-chat started. We set off on our walk. Everyone was excited and questions were asked about the walk. We passed through quiet roads, admiring the well-kept gardens with different colourful plants. We walked towards the Denham Aerodrome, where we stopped to see the small planes queueing for take off, cameras clicking away. I explained that this is the spot for perfect sunset views across the vast sky. We geared off towards Northmoor Hill Woods. Amazing woodland with abundance of trees, plants, insects and birds. The woodland was amazing to walk through. Up and down, the effects of flint quarrying provided a great opportunity to explore and navigate our way through, heading towards private paths with amazing, interesting houses with tropical garden settings. Walking towards the Misbourne valley via vast fields and narrow paths, seeing the signage for the M25 / M40 in the distance through trees. We 'walked over water', well, shimmed across the gate as the river had overflowed. Stopping for a well-earned picnic in Cap Woods, surrounded by nature and the walkers scattered around on a golden carpet of dry leaves.
Well fed and rested we set off on our last leg through woodland and fields towards historic oldie-worldy Denham station by Denham Golf Club. Some went to check out the platform, which reminded us of bygone days. Finally made our way to picturesque Denham village, for well-deserved cold and hot drinks. We gathered around the big tables in the garden area and enjoyed drinks and some had meals. Everyone said they enjoyed the walk and the scenery.
A big thank you to Alan S (new member), Joan, Angela, Michael L, Esther, Kevin, Kumar, Ian, Pat, Asha, Rupa, Runi, Prem, Derek and Laura.
On another perfect summer's day by the Thames, five of us met by the Tower of London for our historical walk. The riverside was packed with tourists on such a sunny day. We noticed lots of new outside eateries. After crossing under Tower Bridge we explored St Katherines Dock. This was the first of the London Docks to close, in 1968, due to containerisation of trade. Mark pointed out the type of yacht he had hired for his birthday voyage. We continued through Wapping, with many fine Georgian buildings and converted wharves. We stopped for coffee and cakes at the unusual Turks Head, a former dockers pub now café with garden.
We stole into Tobacco Docks and looked for where Harold Shand (Long Good Friday) made his speech in 1979 about the Olympics coming to Docklands. Then north to the first Hawksmoor church, "St Georges in the East". This is a church within a church as the interior was razed in the Blitz and rebuilt in the 50s. Exteriors also featured in LGF where Harold's Rolls blows up. We admired the Cable Street mural and then picked mulberries from a 100-year-old mulberry tree in the St Georges Garden. Back to the riverside and Shadwell before Limehouse and late lunch at the amazing Yurt Café. Part of St Katharine's Foundation (founded in 12th century) the café is alongside the DLR viaduct and has several Mongolian style yurts extended with canopies over outside tables. We had a very healthy vegetarian lunch there with London Pale Ale.
Onto Limehouse and more luxury yachts, then St Annes, the second Hawksmoor church, its baroque tower dominating the area. Walk finished in the roof gardens of Canary Wharf Crossrail station, its rooftop café with fine views across all the Docklands.
Walkers were Brian, Mark P, Lisa, Simon and Yolli.
A record 16 walkers met at Northolt village green for the latest evening walk. It was another lovely summer evening so lots of other walkers around the parks. We climbed to the 14th century parish church and then explored the site of the original manor house. Next onto Belvue Park, where major preparations are in progress for some mystery festival (huge marquees being erected) arranged by next door mosque. Onto the Grand Union Canal (Paddington branch) which we followed to Marham Fields. Here Joan directed us via footpaths to the "Stone Circle" hidden in the woodlands. We then crossed back to enter Northala Playing Fields, full of strollers on such a warm evening. We climbed to the summit of the highest mound (beacon installed for the Jubilee) for panoramic views as far as Canary Wharf and the North Downs in the distance. Walk ended at the Crown in Northolt village with its tropical island themed smoking shelter.
Walkers were Brian, Rob W, Kerry, Kevin, Louise, Soraya, Mike Mc, Dean T, Sarah, Derek, Prem, Runi, Judy, Sandy, Joan and Laura.
7 of us met at Harrow on the Hill station on a lovely warm day. I explained the format of the walk, which was to be a gentle ramble with various stopping-off points where I would give my artistic point of view with pointers of how we might proceed when it came to do a drawing. Exiting the station we took the path that led to a familiar landmark for group members, the Our Lady of St Thomas Church. Instead of heading straight up the hill we took a path to the right of the aforementioned church. This brought us out to our first viewpoint. I asked the students to look through their cameras and use their viewfinders to aid their possible compositions. We then took a central path gently ascending the hill going in a direction of West / South Harrow. We reached the end and made a left turn heading up the hill. The conversation moved in a left field direction as Sarah talked about how her parents took a house 2 up 2 down on the hill and when they could they got away to find a better existence in a house with a garden in Wealdstone! How things have changed! She also pointed out a striking building which was a workhouse, this brought the conversation back to drawing houses in a landscape context. Marion said that it reminded her of her workplace / workstations that were not dissimilar to my description of compositional angles. We carried on veering between Byron Hill Road and Middle Road before reaching the pinnacle at St Mary's. At this juncture I gave the group one and a half hours to do a drawing and have lunch. I left the group to discover their drawing places whilst I ate.
When I'd finished I went to give the group the benefit of my wisdom. 4 of the group choose the original viewpoint from the bottom of the hill. Vic seemed to think I was in life drawing mode and chose to draw Marion! Everybody had a go which was heartening, although it might have been better if I had assisted at an early stage, as starting off seemed to be the most problematical. Something for me to consider for next time. After a short general critique I extended the walk through the church and then down Cricket Hill to the tennis courts. We returned to the top as it was tea time. We chose the art tea shop Battles, as Jockey would be able to sit outside. Catherine had a good idea and summoned Judith to join us. It wasn't necessary to head back to the starting point as we could disperse more or less from this point.
Thanks to Marianne, Marion, Vic, Catherine, Sarah, Kerry, and a belated Judith.
A large group had already arrived at the start point fifteen minutes before 10:00am so we were expecting a very enthusiastic group, which they were. Crossing the road outside Croxley station took us through fields with a path and bridge across the Grand Union Canal. We then joined the Ebury Way where we walked along this path which used to be the railway track where barges would unload after travelling from the Midlands with their cargo. Because we were slightly delayed we only just made it to the boat in time where the skipper was anxiously awaiting our arrival, thinking perhaps that the passengers might have mutinied. Although there were only places on the boat for twelve the remaining five were happy to wave us off and wish us 'bon voyage'. The boat company provided food for the ducks on the canal and Runi kindly produced some nibbles for the passengers, although some of us could not tell which was which (sorry Runi, only joking, your cakes were lovely).
On our return to Batchworth Lock we soon joined up and continued our walk to the aquadrome where we all sat in a small park area where we had our picnic and a useful dose of vitamin D. Walking around the lakes we saw especially modified sailing dinghies which Ian told us were used by a local charity to take disabled youngsters out sailing on the lake. On another lake we saw a water skier whose turn of speed looked very impressive. Leaving the aquadrome we walked on the other side of the canal along the towpath. In the heat the ice creams for sale at Batchworth Lock seemed irresistible so we all stopped there. Leaving the towpath we met at the Red House pub where we sat outside and some enjoyed a very good Sunday roast and well earned drinks.
We hope that Mark, Lou, Kevin, Hema, Mala, Soraya, Saurabh, Elaine, Louise L, Michael, Esther, Angela, Joan, Kumar and Maria enjoyed the walk as much as Runi and I did.
Eight of us met at the Rickmansworth aquadrome on a lovely Saturday morning. Malcolm and Vasu were there first and very enthusiastic to start. All were excited to get on their bikes and learn some new skills. We got our bikes out of our cars and some had cycled to the start. We quickly realised Mary-li and Vasu's bikes were identical. We made sure that our tyres were pumped and that people knew how to use their gears correctly. Martina informed all the new cyclists about the local council free training session and would encourage all to do a course with them. The details can be found on your local council site. We then talked a little bit about safety, having the correct helmet and visible gear. But as we were cycling on a cycle path not much more safety was needed.
We headed out of Rickmansworth aquadrome and we soon lost three cyclists who thought the route was too short and added on a bit. They were so enthusiastic to get going they didn't realise that we had to turn off onto the cycle path and would have followed Daniel anywhere. Malcolm soon caught up to the 3 and brought them back and we joined the Ebury cycle pathway. We headed off towards Batchlock Canal. We had only cycled about 1 km when we realised there was a tree fallen down on the pathway. We quickly manoeuvred around and under the tree and some people carried their cycles over the tree. Nothing was going to stop these intrepid cyclists going out for the day. It was an easy cycle from there on, approximately 3 miles to Watford and 3 miles back. Along the way some people lost their chains but we had Malcolm to come to the rescue and some were a bit wobbly but nobody fell off and everyone completed the full 6 miles. When we got to the Watford side there was a lovely park where we all sat under a tree and had our lunch. Then Mike did a quick how to fix your brakes for Fara. We then cycled back taking a different route to miss out the tree along the canal, back to the cafe at Batchlock Canal. We all enjoyed spiffing tea and cake or ice cream and agreed it was a brilliant cycle to get you started on a bike.
Thanks to Vasu, Malcolm, Mike, Mary-li, Daniel, Martina, Fara and Joan.
On another scorchio day of this great summer, eight of us jumped on the Javelin train at St Pancras for our walk along the coast and town of Folkestone. This former ferry town has been reborn as an artistic hub after the closure of the ferry station. We walked along the fashionable Leas promenade and parkland, bandstands and Edwardian era grand hotels facing across to France. Lots of gatherings there for music and to follow the art trail. Yoko Ono is one of the many artists to have contributed to the permanent art trail, her creation using morse code to shine signals out to sea. We descended to Sandgate Castle, a Tudor fortification with an adjoining beach café, ice creams and hot dogs for all. Whilst scoffing Coogee met someone he knew from Barnet by spooky coincidence.
Our beach walk took in the house of HG Wells, then hundreds of newly decorated (in geometric patterns) beach huts which we discovered were also part of the art trail. Many windsurfers and yachts were visible close to shore with the ferries and container ships out to sea. We climbed to the Memorial Arch (similar to the one in Baghdad) and then the pedestrianised creative quarter. Here art shops and galleries blend in with well frequented pavement coffee shops and antique shops. On such a hot day Con (Fred) led us to a local bar for cold drinks including strawberry cider (very sweet). Our route continued to the former harbour railway station now restored as an international railway heritage artwork. The platform buildings repainted in 1930 colours with period signs for "Wagon Lits" and "Telegrams". We continued onto the harbour pier and lighthouse, all now transformed into cafes, bars and restaurants, packed with day trippers and locals on such a sunny day. After walking to the lighthouse and back, we ended the day with fish and chips on the harbour, looking along the coast to the white cliffs in the distance.
Walkers were Brian, Kerry, Kevin, Louise, Con (Fred), Mark P, Lisa and Saurabh.
On a perfect summer day in Surrey, two cyclists alighted at Ash Vale station. Our route was along the bucolic Basingstoke Canal, restored in 1991 after a century of neglect. The tow path has a good surface and is bordered on both sides by an abundance of ferns, different to all other canals. As it was such a sunny day, we stopped at Mytchetts canal centre for ice creams. Shortly after we discovered the canalside abutments of the Bisley Camp Railway, abandoned in the 50s, once serving the vast military establishment there. The north bank still houses Pirbrett and Deepcut barracks, and the Bisley Rifle School. Our lunch was at the cricket ground at St Johns village, now on the edge of Woking conurbation.
We passed the extensive grounds of Brookwood Cemetery, once served by the Necropolis Railway from Waterloo. The canal was busier through Woking Town, the railway running alongside. We then joined the Wye Navigation and reached Brooklands, the first home of motorsport and aviation in Britain. We stopped by the art deco original control tower and cycled through the Mercedes Benz test track, sports cars spinning on the skid hazards. Next to the original raised banking we admired the vintage vehicles and Concorde at Brooklands Museum before the final leg to Weybridge and trains back.
It 'ain't 'arf 'ot mum! On a extremely glorious hot Sunday, 12 keen photographers met at Denham station. After welcoming everyone and giving introductions we set off towards Buckinghamshire Golf Club, fully equipped with hats / cameras and the latest gadget phones. It was great that some members had actually brought their good ol' pride and joy cameras, zoom lens and all the other paraphernalia with them. As we walked, I explained some of the techniques to use in capturing certain features and making use of light, especially the amazing Denham sunsets. I also talked about some phone settings which the group were very interested in and keen to learn. We explored what the phone can do compared to the camera. The group was quickly snapping away and happy to carry their heavy equipment. With sun beaming down on us, we admired the effects of sun on the famous Denham greenery, which gave us the opportunity to snap away using the different settings on the tall grass, which looked like a golden carpet as it covered vast areas of the golf course. Further down, after giving ideas / tips on movements and the height of the subject, these were put to use on certain points of interest. The group were taking photos and it was evident from the laughter and the mischievous antics that everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves. Walking, snapping and experimenting. For some walkers it was their first walk in Denham to admire the views and enjoy the scenery.
Taking a well earned lunch break we enjoyed a cool drink and ice cream afterwards. We did a detour to the herb garden and then walked toward the canal, passing some cows, who were being very playful. They were facing us but when they heard the cameras click they turned away. A herd of divas. I showed some tricks for capturing the movements of running water at a weir. An excellent example for this feature. Also at the weir were lots of other people of different age groups, who were diving and swimming. An excellent day for a dip in the river. We sat by the river and I showed some examples of my photos to explain the best way to take group photos as well as portraits, paying special attention to movement and the background. In addition, I gave details of the photo competition I had set up following the walk. I passed photo examples around, in which every one took great interest in spotting the emphasis of different techniques. We carried on towards the canal, where many snaps were taken of a narrowboat passing through the lock. After watching the whole process of unlocking / locking the gates, the narrowboat gently continued its journey along the canal. More photos were taken in the woodland and by the lake showing amazing views of the trees shadowing over the clear blue water with a coot or two in water. We then strode back through the woods towards the famous village and St Mary's Church, where to our absolute delight there was home-made cream cakes / teas and fresh lemonade available, where some of us enjoyed the delicious cakes and teas available, whilst others went into the churchyard to see the grave of Sir John Mills, the famous actor and also to learn about the historic tragedy of the Denham mass murder back in 1870. Some headed towards the green, where a live band was busting out golden oldies with people sitting around with ice cool drinks and listening to the music. Some were showing some great moves too. Later six of us decided to try the delicious Sunday Roast in one of the pubs; amazingly big portions and full of flavour.
A big thankyou goes to Brigitta, Mala, Michael, Kerry, Priti, Naz, Pushpa, Kumar, Mark, Jeff and Ashima. Oh what a fun day we all had.
We met outside Preston Road station on a beautiful sunny morning. We set off at about 11:15 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. We arrived at the pond and gathered around the trig point, which has excellent views of Wembley Stadium and the Shard in the distance. We then headed down to Fryent Way, passing a strip of land that once had a row of prefab houses on it, built after WW2, one of which was occupied by Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. We crossed over Fryent Way and headed up to the viewpoint with its fabulous views. I believe there was a WW2 look-out post and concrete bunker there, which is now filled in and levelled off. We went onwards towards the Welsh Harp. We saw the magnificent St Andrew's Church, which was built in 1847. It was a church in search of a congregation, located originally 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.
We then carried on towards the Harp, where we found some benches in a lovely area shaded by trees, where we stopped for lunch and a chat. We then headed away from the Welsh Harp and into Jubilee Park. We were then on the final return leg of the walk through Fryent Country Park and back to the station, where we said our goodbyes. An enjoyable day was had by all.
Thank you to Girija, Vasu, Lily, Hira, Nile, Kalpna, Nicky, Sonia, Sebastian, Pankaj, Dean T and Mick for joining me on my walk.
Our fourth camping trip of this great heatwave summer was to the High Weald of Kent for 23 campers. It was scorchio on all three days at Bedgebury, with soaring views across the sun-baked meadows to the village of Goudhurst on the hill. We pitched camp to the sound of Boom Radio helped by choc ices from the farm shop. Soon it was cake o'clock, Louise presenting her rather spiffing Victoria Sponge to all. Brian led the walk to Goudhurst; we explored the scenic village, duck pond, tile-clad cottages and manors. After a tour of the parish church (full immersion font on display) we had fish and chips on the terrace of the 15th century Star and Eagle, with splendid views south. Back at site Kevin and Malcolm lit the campfire and we were soon stargazing around the blazing logs. Campfire yarns included how we got a name check on Boom Radio last week, after the Cotswold camping.
On Saturday, the blistering sun and Boom woke us early, for a yoga class led by Anneke. Then Coogee's strong coffee and healthy breakfasts for all in the heat. Our 12-mile walk took in the orchards and vineyards of this garden of England. We passed several converted Oast Houses, all with impressive barns and colourful gardens looking perfick in the sunshine. We reached the truly picturesque town of Cranbrook, "the Jewel of the Weald" where we explored the famous smock windmill, Victorian public school and the many independent shops in the bustling market town. Hikers split up for lunch at the pub and rear terraces of the various cafes. Some happened upon a lunchtime concert at St Dunstan's "the Cathedral of the Weald", where there were lashings of pop, tea and cakes for all. Our route continued over meadows of freshly cut hay and fields of wheat resplendent in the afternoon sun. A huge troop of ducks were disturbed by us at one pond, all then leaping into the water below a cloud of dust. At Goudhurst we were just in the nick to race up to the rooftop of St Marys Church tower for panoramic views of Kent, the South and North Downs in the distance. We took over the rear terrace of the Star and Eagle for cooling drinks, then some jolly decent cream teas with strawberries, just the ticket said all. Back at site it was wine o'clock in the heat, with Sally proffering the cava, olives and dips to all. Soraya and Anneke lit up the healthiest barbecue meal seen; aubergines, maize, vegetable kebabs with yams. We noticed lots of new arrivals with fancy designs, teepees, bell tents, Land Rover tower safari tents and one minimalist couple with a designer style canopy over their mattress, suitable on such a sweltering night. Many dined on Edmundo's paella, with lots of the campsite sampling the gin cocktails from the pop-up bar by the marquee. Soon Martina had the campfire lit, marshmallows toasting, Diane and Coogee leading the singing whilst Dee introduced a new camping game, dominoes around the campfire using camping chairs and stools.
Sunday was another scorcher. Some headed for breakfast at Edmundo's for waffles covered with strawberries and cream. Many posh campers in the queue that morning: "Octavius, do you want two or three toppings?" directed at a boy toting the biggest teddy since Aloysius. After striking tent we headed to High Rocks, where acres of breathtaking sandstone rocks are interlinked with timber bridges. We walked through this charming woodland setting, Chris and Maria leading us through some narrow chasms in the monumental rocks. The High Rocks Hotel was busy with a wedding party on the terrace. The huge Victorian building has an extensive garden with its own heritage railway station. Soon we were waving as the steam train passed our tables. We took in the views from the gardens over a sumptuous lunch after another great camping holiday in this garden of England.
Campers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Diane, Martina, Mark A, Malcolm, Coogee, Jan, Nick, Sally, Dee, Laura, Chris, Maria, Soraya, Joan, Derek, Prem, Anneke, Anne, Kiran and John.
Ten of us met on another glorious evening of this heatwave summer 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. Some of the group did an extra loop via Alperton as they wanted to increase the mileage. Our route back took in the playing fields and meadows by the canal. The sunset across the uncut grass of the meadows was quite striking, lots of walkers out on such a warm, sunny evening. Back at the Black Horse we enjoyed well-deserved drinks in the garden as the narrowboats sailed by.
Walkers were Brian, Rob W, Kevin, Louise, Con, Soraya, Dawn, Julie, Teresa and Marian.
Yesterday morning, the intrepid 13 set out from Tide Tables at Richmond Bridge into a beautifully sunny day exploring the Thames, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace gardens. As promised - no hills! And plenty of shade too. A glorious first stretch of the Thames, taking in a sublime view of Marble Hill House, took us to Teddington Lock and a conveniently free pub garden at The Tide End. We then touched on Teddington life via the High Street and the imposing Landmark Arts Centre (a cathedral really). Onward into Bushy - more shade (phew) and our lunch stop in the midst of the Woodland Gardens' Waterhouse Plantation - by the pond with the local heron for extra company.
Then the expectedly spectacular bit - Hampton Court Palace gardens via Sir Christopher Wren's Chestnut Avenue and the 1637 Diana (goddess, not princess) fountain. Both informal and formal Palace Gardens entirely free to visit - amazing beds, sunken gardens, and the Great Vine (world's largest). Even a game of real tennis in play (court in continuous use since the 1600's)..magic! The sporting theme continued for those of us who walked the final 3 mile leg along the Thames to Kingston Bridge (a good few chose to stay and soak up more of the palace gardens) with oodles of people paddle boarding, boating and swimming in or on the Thames. And finally, we stumbled upon the Kingston Regatta - a sizeable affair - before stumbling into the White Hart garden, where we lingered.
Walkers were Dean, Sarah, Rob, Brian, Teresa, Dee, Dawn, Di, Julie, Prem, Derek, Lesley and Soraya. Thanks all for making my first walk really enjoyable.
On a scorching beautiful day, nine of us jumped on the Javelin train at St Pancras for our walk on the Viking Coastal trail from Broadstairs to Ramsgate. We meandered round the old town of Broadstairs passing the tiny Palace cinema, the Grade II listed building in Harbour Street. We then climbed to Bleak House, home of Dickens and inspiration for the novel. Then down to the beach at Viking Bay, teeming with families and holidaymakers catching the beautiful weather and enjoying the sea. Multi-coloured beach huts were busy, with sunbathers and sandcastles much in evidence. We walked along the esplanade, where surprisingly Brian knew of a charming cafe where we had a lovely lunch overlooking Dumpton Gap. The proprietor was particularly hospitable, sheltering us from the scorching sun with a huge umbrella, although it did smack Soraya squarely on the head.
After the refreshments, we carried on the coastal path that took us through the verdant King George VI memorial park with spectacular views of the sea and a series of distinctive Victorian seated rest areas and a large folly. We visited a gallery of local art, decorated with beautiful flowers and plants. We then descended to Ramsgate with spectacular views of the very impressive marina, full of oligarch-sized yachts. Simon and Yolley visited the Ramsgate Tunnel which during the war accommodated a fifth of the population sheltering in the blitz. The rest of the party stopped for tea and cakes and chat overlooking the marina on local recommendation. Soraya and Anne-Marie couldn't resist nosing at the high-up terrace of the local yacht club as they were welcome to non-members.
We walked down the high street hoping for some retail therapy and found a fantastic shop called Elephant in the Room, which is worth a visit if in the area. As the blistering sun beat down, we headed for cold drinks on the 1st floor sun terrace of the majestic Royal Victoria Pavilion. Enjoying our Pimm's and well-earned fish and chips, our table overlooked Ramsgate beach after a perfick day out in sunny Kent.
Walkers were Soraya, Con, Steve, Brian, Rob, Anne-Marie, Marianne, Simon and Yolley.
8 keen walkers joined me on this walk, many of whom had not been here before. The beautiful and varied scenery was much admired, along with the picnic lunch under a shady tree by the Latimer hotel, where a wedding was in progress. We then stopped at the chocolate box village of Latimer for photos. Unfortunately, the ice cream kiosk was closed. We spotted some shorn llamas, lots of red kites, horses, cows, swans etc. Apart from some footwear malfunctions, everyone enjoyed a lovely day out.
Our third camping holiday of this excellent summer saw a record thirty-one return to the Cotswolds, this time at a new site for us in Charlbury. We pitched camp in glorious sunshine to the sound of Boom radio; Sandra and Rob checking out their vintage gypsy wagon. Aruna and Tony had a "Tardis style" camping pod each, debutante campers Nathalie and Soraya sharing the retro Bell tent. As it was "cake o'clock", Louise unboxed her awfully nice coffee and walnut cake outside our log cabin / kitchen. A unique feature, the cabin has full facilities including a range-style wood stove.
Brian led the late afternoon walk to Charlbury, a very scenic Cotswold town. At the impressive medieval church, we chatted to the verger about the town. The perfectly preserved railway station is a very rare Brunel-designed original. After cooling drinks in the beer garden of the Bull, Jan led us to the fish and chip van. Tuck gathered, we had out picnic on the common by the memorial. Back at site, Tim B lit the campfire and soon we gathered around blazing logs on a great night for star gazing. Tim recounted his spooky encounter at Yosemite with the mystery janitor and how he escaped from Pearl Harbour.
Saturday saw us wake early with Boom for a healthy breakfast at the cabin, Dean and Coogee providing the revitalising coffee from their vintage Italian mokas. Our 14 mile walk took in the Cotswold villages of Spilsbury, Chadlington, Churchill and Kingham. Each had its outstanding medieval church, too large for most of the hamlets and testimony to the region's wealth during the Wool era. We stopped for coffee and pastries at Café de la Poste at Chadlington, the staff very efficient at dealing with the sudden arrival of 30 hikers. Our route took in wildflower meadows with poppies in abundance on field margins. Passing the rebuilt manor of the Top Gear presenter we noticed his "humorous" warning to trespassers. Lunch was at Diddly Squat farmhouse; the gourmet burgers and strawberry cheesecakes got the thumbs up in the barn. Colourful Hollyhocks were in great profusion at Churchill and Kingham villages. We stopped for drinks at the very stylish Wild Rabbit at Kingham. From our stone tables in the front garden we saw how the afternoon sun reflected against the honey-coloured stone of the cottages and manors. The GWR express sped us back to Charlbury.
Back at site the sun shone on the righteous, Sally opening up the cava and olives, Runi the biscuits. Nick, Mark and Dean soaking up the rays from their rocking chairs on the cabin veranda, mint julep in hand. Tim B and Nick lit up the barbecue, including the rotisserie for the spicy sausages. Martina arranged the campfires, three firepits for the extended group. Diane and Coogee led the singsong as we toasted the marshmallows on the warming logs.
The early sun woke us early on Sunday and we struck camp over rounds of tea from the cabin. As we packed, several vintage aircraft soared overhead including a biplane and then a Spitfire on route to a local display. We headed to Chipping Norton, another fine Cotswold market town. Our town trail took in the very grand neo-classical town hall and marketplace. We took in the converted Bliss Mill, Italianate chimney and dome now housing luxury apartments. The 17th century alms houses and gardens were stunning in the sunshine, lavender and valerian bordering the dwellings. The medieval church was busy with parishioners, hymns singing out through open doors. Yet more spectacular Hollyhocks were in evidence in many gardens. Two former members joined us in town. We all gathered for a final tiffin stop at the Jaffe and Neale bookshop tea shop after another jolly decent holiday in the Cotswolds.
Campers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Runi, Diane, Martina, Mark A, Malcolm, Coogee, Jan, Dean, Nick, Rachael, Tim B, Sally, Dee, Sandra, Rob P, Aruna, Tony, Mike D, Laura, Chris, Maria, Nathalie, Soraya, Joan, Derek, Prem, Mike McA and family.
On another fine sunny evening 11 walkers met for pre-walk drinks in the popular garden of the Case is Altered. We caught up on recent camping adventures and welcomed along Anne (joined at summer party) on her first walk. Our route took in Eastcote House gardens, full of colour as ever, Sarah and Soraya identifying many of the flowers. We then followed the Celandine Way along the River Pinn. Our route took in a hidden meadow and footpaths via quiet lanes. After a detour through Cuckoo Hill Park, we arrived back at the Case for post-walk drinks and much planning of future walks.
Walkers were Brian, Dee, Dean T, Sarah, Marian, Kevin, Louise, Soraya, Runi, Humay and Anne.
The second of this weekend cultural walks was part of the Bedford Park Festival and the Open Gardens afternoon. The Bedford Park Garden Suburb was bathed in sunshine today as we visited ten gardens open to the public just for the day. The gardens were full of delights, hollyhocks, hydrangeas and hostas throughout. Many houses had conservatories to house large pot plants, and yew box hedges divided the gardens into sections with water features and sculptures. We took advantage of the deckchairs and arbours to take in the views. At one garden Soraya met an old acquaintance, the actor Ewen Stewart, who chatted to us about his film career. At the next garden the host handed out Pimms to the visitors and explained about the Norman Shaw architecture of his mansion. We retraced our steps to the start and finished with cream teas in the sunny gardens of the parish church of this charming quarter of London.
Walkers were Brian, Rob W, Soraya, Kerry, Mala and Priti.
9 of us met on a fine sunny day, for a walk around River Lee Country Park. We promptly proceeded to the canal towpath where we marvelled at the Silvermeade, home to a colony of water vole. A bit further down the towpath we crossed at the King's Weir. This afforded scenic views over the Holyfield Lake from the Kiora Radial Gates. Following the footpaths, we admired the enormous glasshouses of the nurseries and then made a little climb of the only hill on our walk. We then joined the cycle path coming to a cafe at Lee Valley Park Farms which was the perfect place for our lunch stop.
After lunch we continued to follow the path, and shortly we met a friendly guide at the viewpoint overlooking Seventy Acres Lake. She informed us of the several different species that frequent the area, and also convinced us that the birdwatcher's viewing point in Hall Marsh Scrape was well worth a look. Following the advice we proceeded and found a strange metal construction with viewing holes, but sadly there were no birds to be seen. After visiting the ice cream van, we returned back along the canal towpath, where there were still many kayakers and paddle boats out enjoying the sunny weather.
Thank you to Priti D, Olivia H, Ujen B, Naz G, Pushpa G, Marianne Y, Louise M and Laura O for joining me on the walk. Total distance walked approx 9.7 miles.
This weekend we had two cultural walks, in glorious sunshine both days as part of local festivals. On Saturday 8 walkers with 3 dogs met at Daisy's for late breakfast in sunny Pinner Park. Brian and Prem had earlier run the Northala parkrun so rushed here for the later start. Into Pinner village area of Moss Lane and our first studio at the fabulous Tudor Cottage (sections date back to 16th century). The gardens were full of sculptures and art works by the owners (former film actors). We then followed footpaths to reach Headstone Manor Park. The sports area was busy with three cricket matches in progress. Our second studio was the manor museum and gallery, followed by more cakes at the Park café.
We then headed north to Harrow Arts Centre where we met Humay and Katherine P at the hidden studio. Humay had a large exhibition of his works including a work in progress piece where visitors could contribute; Prem and Soraya added their touches to the tableau. As we were the final visitors and it was such a fine day all the artists joined the visitors outside for wine and chocolates to celebrate the arts show.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Kerry, Prem, Annette, Laura, Soraya and Liane.
We had our annual summer garden party in the grounds of the church yesterday. On a very warm sunny evening on the hill Pauline and helpers set out a vast array of homemade cupcakes, sandwiches, salads, tarts and pastries. We welcomed along around 37 newer recruits and regulars. Lots were planning for the camping trips so it was a good opportunity to meet and plan walks. The winning cake was made by Louise, runners up included Dee, Joan, Mark, Laura and Prem. Soraya won prize for most unusual recipe and Nitti best salad. Many thanks to Pauline for hosting and to everyone who brought along a dish to share.
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. The tandem took pride of place; we chatted to the owners about the recent Suffolk trip with our own tandem. Our route was via quiet lanes, Grand Union Canal and Thames Path through Syon Park, Richmond, and Ham House. The Richmond riverside was very busy with drinkers, walkers and sunbathers on such a sweltering evening. 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. The clear blue skies afforded great views from Turner's famous viewpoint.
A fine body of 7 eager walkers and a dog set off on a walk along the Chess valley on another warm day in the Chilterns. We started off by crossing Chorleywood Common and passed through the attractive grounds of Chorleywood House, before making our way down the Chess valley to reach the river. The River Chess is a fairly small river, but has carved itself out an impressive valley through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a fairly short river rising in Chesham and making its way about 10 miles downstream to Uxbridge where it joins the Colne River. We proceeded upstream at a leisurely pace, and we swapped banks, crossing to and fro across bridges and fords as the mood took us. We passed the watercress farm - the cress said to thrive on the pure waters draining out of the local chalk hills. By lunch we had reached Chenies, admiring the pretty village and lunching well at the Bedford Arms. We sat outside and enjoyed the food, real ales and the fine sunny weather.
We walked on, passing the impressive Chenies Manor House, with more than one member earmarking it for purchase, once their lottery numbers finally come up. We rejoined the waters and again followed along the babbling river, and doing some babbling ourselves, we covering the short distance to Latimer, where we walked around the village and the De Vere's Estate and Hotel, enjoying the great view from its elevated position in the valley. This would be a nice stop for a cream tea on a future walk, though I am sure a lottery win would again be useful. From there, we crossed the valley again and headed to Little Chalfont where we got the train home.
Thank you to everyone who joined me on the day, it was lovely to see both new and old members with everybody on good form.
For our second camping trip of this excellent summer twenty four stayed in scorchio Suffolk at a new site for the group. Halfway between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, Brighthouse is a working farm managed by Odell, perhaps the friendliest campsite manager we have ever met. We pitched camp to the sound of Boom Radio, with five of the group checking into the sumptuous bed & breakfast farmhouse alongside. New camper Anneke won prize for smallest tent. Brian led the late afternoon walk in the heatwave to Lawshall village, passing fields of wheat and meadows with friendly alpacas. We had cooling drinks in the sun filled beer garden of the Swan before welcoming late arrivals back at camp.
On Saturday the early sun and Boom Radio woke us early for Coogee's strong coffee. Anneke practised her yoga moves in the sun, Dean and her swapping stories of Caplinism over a very healthy breakfast. Martina and Runi led the seven walkers on the day's walk. Michael L, living just over the border joined us for the walk. The 14 mile walk followed trails through fields of rapeseed, barley and poppies. Pub stop at a noticeably quiet Suffolk village, Joan kindly taking charge of Duke on the walk. The others (seventeen) went on a 30 mile cycle ride through the lovely Suffolk countryside. We hired cycles including a tandem from Maglia Rosso, a busy cycle hub with repairs workshop, café and glamping units on site. Mark P and Lisa volunteered for the tandem and, after practising techniques in the field took off with elan. Our route was all on quiet rural lanes almost traffic free, passing many scenic thatched cottages, painted in the timeless salmon pink colours of Suffolk. We stopped for lunch at Lavenham, perhaps the finest of the Suffolk "Wool Towns". Lavenham boasts 300 listed buildings, its half-timbered dwellings dating back to the 15th century. After a tour of its lanes and manors we had lunch at the tea shops and pub in the marketplace facing the magnificent Guildhall, location of the key scenes in "Witchfinder General". We then headed south, happening upon a disused railway station with derelict buildings on the way. At Long Melford, another perfectly preserved "Wool Town" we stopped at its stunning cathedral-sized medieval church. We then cycled along the High Street, stopping for some rather splendid Victoria Sponge at yet another tea shop. Back at camp it was wine o'clock with Odell joining us to chew the fat. The sumptuous barbecue feast was prepared by Kevin, Louise and Joan with Nick on the tongs. Diane and Malcolm lit up the campfire with Coogee leading the singsong with his trusty ukulele around the blazing logs.
Sunday was another day of glorious sunshine. With Boom waking us we struck camp with many rounds of tea and Louise's bacon baps. Just after departure Martina was involved in the hot pursuit of a fugitive, using her initiative to slow his flight. Drama over, we headed to Bury St Edmunds, the site of the richest Benedictine monastery in England. The extensive abbey grounds now contain the many ruins of the complex, original Norman gateway and landscaped gardens for the town to enjoy. We strolled through the rose gardens, the sculpture park and the impressive ruins and towers. The cathedral was hosting a beer festival with a barrel of ale in every aisle. As the afternoon sun beat down, we continued to the marketplace for a final cream tea after a tip top holiday in rural Suffolk.
Campers were Brian, Kevin, Louise, Runi, Dawn, Julie, Diane, Martina, Mark A, Malcolm, Joan, Coogee, Jan, Carla, Mark P, Lisa, Anneke, Dean, Jeremy, Nick, Rachael, Tim P, Peter and Daniel.
Our latest cycle ride was on another scorchio Sunday by the Thames. Route through Old Isleworth and onto Richmond. After passing Marble Hill House we were joined on towpath by many runners doing the Bearcats 10k fun run. At Orleans House we stopped at the 10k finish point, where, by chance, we met Tim P who was a marshal at the finish point. We cheered in the runners and swapped tales of the park runs (yesterday 3 from HAWOG at Gunnersbury charity parkrun). We rode on with a stop for teas at Twickenham Yacht Club Open Day, then we toured the grounds of Strawberry Hill House, the birthplace of the Neo Gothic movement. We crossed the Thames at Teddington to enter Richmond Park via Ham village. After a circuit of the park we stopped for lunch at the cyclists café by Roehampton Gate. Many cycle groups were there on such a sunny day with a variety of cycle makes.
We then headed north to cross Hammersmith Bridge for the first time since it reopened (now just open for walkers and cyclists). We then joined CS9, the newly completed (almost) cycle superhighway, segregated from traffic, which runs from Hammersmith to Brentford. The ride finished at the Bedford Park "Green Days Village Fete". This festival celebrates the creation of this perfect example of the garden suburb movement. Tim cycled to join us and we met other cycle groups including Ruth M who has been at the vanguard of creating cyclist friendly traffic changes in London. After listening to the live music and browsing the stalls the day ended, as always, with a jolly fine cream tea in the tea marquee.
Nine of us spent a very warm summer afternoon on the annual Open Squares Gardens day. We explored eight gardens as part of our urban walk through Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia. All the gardens were splendidly maintained, and several had newly installed sculptures and water features. There was a great mixture of plants and trees (London Plane being ubiquitous) with several palms, banana trees and an unusual bamboo plantation being noteworthy. We had lunch at Cornwall Square with music from a local band. Joan entertained the newer ladies with her tales of working with Tommy Steele, Karen responding with what she did with George Michael's shuttlecock. At Belgrave Square the gardens were surrounded with embassies. The pop-up stalls there served us with Pimm's and ice cream as the afternoon sun reflected on the impressive Georgian terraces. We finished at Eaton Square gardens with teas and Lola's rather splendid cupcakes on the lawn listening to music from the band and the soothing sounds of the water fountains at this hidden gem.
Walkers were Brian, Joan, Carole, Sally, Dee, Soraya, Anneke, Karen and Juliet.
14 met at Greenford station on a glorious morning. We started our adventure through a little park then into Paradise Fields (a former golf course), wetland area and hay meadows, a haven for wildlife. Then we joined the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal, a lovely part of the canal. This took us to Horsenden Farm courtyard, with a brewery, farm shop and a pop-up stall serving lovely cakes. We declined on this occasion although very hard to walk past. We started our climb up Horsenden Hill, passing through the cow grazing field, at 275 feet providing stunning views of London. We then headed on down to Harrow on The Hill and St Mary's Church, where a member kindly gave the history of the church and Harrow School.
We had our lunch stop there overlooking Harrow School playing fields. All refuelled we continued our adventure passing Northwick Park golf centre and reaching our final destination at 7.5 miles. Not enough for some we headed on home clocking up 11 miles.
Thank you to Kiran, Soraya, Marianne, Dean, Malcolm, Joan, Judith, Kalpna, Esther, Kevin, Angela, Tony and Prem for joining me on this enjoyable walk.
Four of us met at the canalside Fox pub on a very warm sunny evening in Hanwell. Early arrivals enjoyed cooling drinks and desserts with ice cream. Eventually we left the pub for the walk. Our route took in the canal and the River Brent trail through the country park. We admired the many diverse locomotives racing across the skyline along Brunel's impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct. We then tried out their puzzle solving skills to reach the centre of the millennium maze. After walking through the "Bunny Park" our route back followed Hanwell heritage trail including several Georgian mansions. At Hanwell Crossrail station we snuck in (no barriers) to see the restored heritage waiting rooms with GWR posters. Back at the Fox we regained our table to exchange tales of the many Jubilee events including a jolly good street party in Teddington.
Four Hawogers - Chrissy, Maureen, Chantelle and Tracy, joined me for my two towers tour on Saturday. We met up in Parliament Square and set off to see the statues of Churchill, Gandhi and Mandela amongst others, before a brief visit to the jewel tower, opposite the Houses of Parliament. In ruins now, back in the day it was used to house the King's jewels. Crossing Westminster Bridge, we viewed a revamped Elizabeth Tower / Big Ben, shining out under the sun as it broke through the clouds. The South Bank was busy; we passed the London Eye, then crossed the Jubilee Bridge to visit York Embankment where the Thames used to flow, and took a few pictures at Cleopatra's Needle, before stopping for a coffee in the lovely Somerset House. Post coffee break we crossed back over the bridge to visit Coin Street, an area that was earmarked for commercial development (offices, a hotel and the like) before a housing association / pressure group were granted permission by the now disbanded GLC, to build housing for the local community. There were no sand sculptors in sight but there were some Brazilian dancers we enjoyed watching. After a short walk along the sand, we popped into an art centre at the base of the Oxo Tower, to see many a modern portrait of the Queen; some good, some not so good. As most of us had already visited the Monument we missed that out.
Passing The Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe and Clink Prison, it was a lovely hot day, and we were all grateful for a chance to cool down and chill for a short while in Southwark Cathedral. After the Cathedral, Chrissy headed off for a final spot of shopping before jet setting off to Greece late this week while the four of us visited the memorial gardens sited behind the Tower of London, where Tracy was able to locate a memorial dedicated to her grandfather and his compatriots who were on a ship that was sunk during the war. Chantelle was tired and didn't fancy the Tower so Tracy, Maureen and I headed off to enjoy the panoramic views looking out from the tower, and the glass floor where we could watch the traffic and pedestrians crossing the bridge below. After a visit to the engine rooms where we marvelled at the quality of the engineering, we finished off the day with a couple of well-deserved drinks in the Dickens Inn in St Katharine's Dock. Thank you to those who joined me for a lovely day out.
On a beautiful sunny day we sat next to Lake Windermere waiting for arrivals, tough times. After booking in we set off on a walk to Stockgyll Force just outside Ambleside to admire the stunning waterfall. We then descended on Ambleside and found a hidden pub I discovered on an earlier recce that could seat all of us, phew! Later a hostel staff member admitted we found the best pub in town. At the hostel we found a seating area that became our mainstay for the weekend.
On Friday weather watching was the order of the day and it was decided to change the itinerary around Brian and his four challenging walkers headed up to Langdale Pikes while Martina and Jan took the main party on a walk to Grasmere. Five of us drove to Tarn Hows Wood to walk around this picturesque spot in spite of the weather. We then all met up in Grasmere at the Jackdaw Cafe (not its real name, but apt for the residents outside). Others found a pub with space and signalled so via WhatsApp. Back at the hostel there was a surprise guest waiting for us. After an emotional catch-up we settled in for the evening.
On Saturday the weather was glorious and we were back to plan A. Brian's group set off for the very challenging Fairfield Horseshoe while the bulk of us took the bus to Keswick, probably the most scenic bus journey ever taken. We walked down to the Derwent Water harbour where we took a launch across the lake to the start of Catbells. After a long uphill climb we reached the summit and had the most incredible views. On our way down Vito made a suggestion to follow the lake back to the launch. As we had made good time it was perfectly feasible and we were rewarded with a scintillating walk through pine trees by the lake, breathtaking. Once back in Keswick we made our way to the old police station and courthouse, not for partygate reveal, but that it had been converted into a Wetherspoon incorporating the court room, prison cells and history. After returning by bus we resumed contact with the rest of the group and sat outside by the lake in glorious sunshine. The evening was about celebrating the Platty Jubes with hats, flags and outfits. A convieniently located TV gave us the opportunity to check in with London.
On Sunday an early walk to the castle via the ferry was organised followed by Bowness and Beatrix Potter land.
Many thanks to Jan and Martina for the Friday walks and Brian for the challenging walks, and to Mark, Mike S, Kathy, Rachael, Diane, Dawn, Dean, Shilpa, Joan, Laura, Aruna, Sughanda, Mike D, Nishat, Vito, Zoe, Catherine, Sonia, Nicky, Rajinder, Rob, Sandra, Anusha, Daniel and Danny for joining me on this monumental weekend.
Eight cyclists took part in the annual London Free Cycle Ride this year. We started with coffee at Northala and then headed east along the Grand Union Canal. Next stop was the café barge at Little Venice where we met some of the group who started from there. We then took the excellent cycle routes through Hyde Park to join the main circuit. We then came upon the thousands of cyclists taking advantage of this special day. All traffic was banned from central London so it was a perfect day for taking in all the features on two wheels.
We stopped at some of the festival sites (entertainment and mechanics) to coordinate with others. Our lunch break was on the South Bank by the Festival Hall. We passed the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Holborn and the Bank on the circuit. All kinds of cycles were on the ride including adapted recumbents and several dogs happily taking in the views from cycle baskets. At Lincolns Inn we had a final tiffin stop after a very special cycle day.
Cyclists were Brian, Kerry, Tim P, Rob W, Simon, Muneer, Nick and Anneke.
A group of keen walkers were waiting outside Marlow station, waiting for the walk leader to arrive, who misunderstood his own instructions which said 10:00am prompt; he was delayed in traffic. After introductions and being given a brief description of the walk and the plan for the day, we set off at 10:15. The weather was perfect for walking, as it was not too warm or too cold but the weather forecast did say that there may be the possibility of a light shower. After making our way out of town we picked up Shakespeare's Way which is a long distance path that runs from Stratford upon Avon to London. As we made our way along this path we made our way through several woods and across Marlow Common. This part is quite hilly in places but these hills did give the group some excellent views across the open countryside. Our final steep climb of the day was up and into Homerfield Wood where we intended to leave Shakespeare's Way. At this point we stopped for a well-deserved lunch break.
After lunch we began our return journey, which took us back downhill along a valley. As we followed this valley towards the River Thames, we passed several fine displays of rhododendrons that were in full bloom. Crossing the Thames at Mill End, we then headed back towards our start point at Marlow. As we made our way along the Thames Path we spotted some modern art, pausing for a moment to decide what these items might be depicting, before moving on and into the deer park at Remenham Court, where we did manage to spot a few deer. Upon arriving back at the outskirts of Marlow we paused for ice creams before completing the final mile back to the start point at Marlow station, managing to finish the walk shortly before the predicted showers arrived.
Many thanks to Phil, Kalpna, Phu, Sauralsh and Dee for joining me on this 17.3 mile walk.
On Sunday Heather welcomed 6 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 Angie, Sean, Declan, Martina, Vito and Pragna.
Eight of us met on another sunny morning at Egham. The trains had been busy with passengers in fancy dress (cowboys, 118s, Allo Allo and many others) going to sevens rugby at Twickenham. 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 always, the ice cream van was in place for our 99s. We were joined at the lakeside by a large Capital Walkers Ramblers group with whom we exchanged updates on the route. 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. We wandered along the paths, each corner revealing more displays of colours. We had our picnic in a clearing overlooking the valley, Marius sharing out the prosecco.
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, the rooftop balcony now reopened. We set off downhill passing Runnymede riverside. With a quick stop as always to admire the Ferraris we arrived back at Egham for cooling drinks in the rear courtyard after another colourful walk in Surrey.
There were sixteen of us that set off from Uxbridge station for what was to be a ten mile return walk to Langley Park. Leaving the station we walked through Rockingham Recreational Park and a short distance later reached the Grand Union Canal. After passing the many houseboats that were moored alongside we left to start the route of the Colne Valley Trail. Following this footpath we reached a steep bridge where, from the top, we had a scenic view of the heavy traffic below us on the M25. Following on from there we passed a number of cottages and large houses on our route to Langley Park. We stopped to admire a very high tree with branches only at the top which was, in fact, an aerial mast disguised as a tree.
Arriving for lunch at the Langley Park Cafe we afterwards decided to view the huge range of rhododendrons on display. There was a wide range of colours and along the path there was a long distance view all the way to Windsor Castle. Before leaving we also had time to look at the lake which was nearby before heading back towards a well deserved drink at a pub opposite the station in Uxbridge.
Runi and I enjoyed the company of the fifteen walkers who joined us on the walk who were Joan, Pat, Angela, Olivia, Mark, Shirley, Cathy, Marian, Pat, Nile, Sushma, Kevin, Katherine, Louise and Burgande.
Nine railway enthusiasts met at Little Venice café barge for coffee before our Crossrail Architecture Walk. Our walk took in four of the newly opened "Cathedrals of Transport". We entered the first station, Paddington, and were struck by the vastness of the platform concourse, and the "futuristic" design. Trains leave every 5 minutes, so timetables are superfluous. We entered the train, and the burst of speed was appreciable in the tunnels compared with the relative sluggishness of the tube. We alighted at Farringdon and explored the cavernous passageways, empty of clutter or advertising for now. We climbed to the surface via a funicular-style incline lift and walked around the Smithfield and St Barts area. Our intention to visit St Bartholomeus was stymied by the Netflix team who were filming a new drama inside. Luckily the film crew catering table let us help ourselves to tea while we discussed movie news with the team. Our next station was Whitechapel with its unique design allowing the new concourse to "float" above the three railways. The Underground (District, Hammersmith and City), Overground and new Crossrail lines all converge there. Our final stop was the strikingly modern Canary Wharf station, five storeys high with a maritime inspired design. The station is contained within West India Docks and has an amazing roof garden on the roof level. We took the vast escalators to the roof to take in the views from the gardens (plants and trees from across the globe reflecting the maritime trade of the docks). Walking through the trees the sound of birdsong was notable, the secret was that part of the roof is exposed allowing birds to fly through the gardens. Nick led us to the roof gardens café where we had a late lunch looking east over the Docklands, now just a few minutes from central London.
Walkers were Brian, Nick, Sally, Rob P, Derek, Prem, Anne Marie, Zoe and Hedy.
Our latest evening walk took place on a sunny evening in Pinner. Eleven walkers followed the Pinner Association "10 walks around Pinner" guide north via Waxwell Lane, passing several 17th century farmhouses. We welcomed back a former member doing first walk for ages. 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. Our route then descended south, passing Tooke's Folly and several detached villas on the private roads of this secluded quarter. Kevin and Louise impressed us with local knowledge when pointing out former homes of Elton John and Bob Holness. Walk ended at Oddfellows Arms for drinks where Tim B outlined his plans for moving to Dorset.
Walkers were Brian, Tim B, Dee, Humay, Kevin, Louise, Pinder, Roger, Mark P, Kathryn and Dean T.
Fourteen walkers met me at Baker Street including some new members via Meetup. We started our walk on the busy Marylebone Road and headed towards Paddington. Once we reached Praed Street we found the almost hidden entrance to Merchants Square which is the end of the Paddington Basin part of the Grand Union Canal. This top end is all new buildings and has many cafes and restaurants. We walked along admiring the architecture including the "Brunnel" building. There are also party boats, and kayaks for hire. We stopped to look at an amphitheatre which is currently rubble but I hope will be finished and used later in the summer. We continued onto the famous Little Venice which is more picturesque and as the coffee boat was busy we walked on a little further to the church (just set back off the canal) with a fabulous cafe and had our break. We were joined by two other HAWOG members at this time who spotted us from the canal, what luck!
We made out way onto the more run-down part of the canal which does have some character and came off at Goldbourne Road to stop at the very famous Portuguese cafe. Unfortunately as it was Saturday there was another massive queue so we decided to continue onto Portobello Market. As there were now 17 of us I was doubtful we would get through a busy market with all walkers keeping together. I had already stated this and given those who wanted my phone number plus general instructions of where to go. It was really just walking straight up through this fascinating the market to Notting Hill Gate. There was a pub at the top with a "secret garden" and for future reference this one was called the Sun in Splendour (unfortunately I had not remembered the name). Anyway several of us kept together and 7 of us went to the pub with several others contacting saying they had enjoyed the walk but were heading off or spending some further time exploring the market.
All in all a successful new walk so I would like to thank everybody who joined me.
Our first camping expedition of the year saw 14 stay at a new campsite for us. We enjoyed great weather as always and had nine along new to HAWOG camping, with Runi, joint leader, arranging her first weekend away for the group. The site has stunning views over the valley as we pitched camp to the sound of Boom Radio. Anne Marie and Phu stayed in a hand-crafted shepherds hut in a field full of glamping bell tents resplendent in the sunshine. Sandra won the prize for smallest tent from "4 peg Maree". As it was soon "cake o'clock" Runi surprised Kevin and Louise with prosecco and a scrumptious cake for their anniversary. After Chas's Turkish kebabs (long story) Nick joined us for the campfire. We gathered around the blazing logs for campfire yarns including Kevin and Louise's tale of their eight sheds.
On Saturday the early sun and Boom Radio woke us early for Coogee's strong coffee. Joan and Louise cooked sausage baps for all. Runi and Michael L led the 10 mile walk. A very scenic route through buttercup meadows and sheep pastures passing the villages of Radnage and Bledlow Ridge. We strolled past impressive farmhouse and stables and a final climb to West Wycombe church and mausoleum on the summit. We had our picnic there with panoramic views on such a clear day. Red kites were a feature the entire weekend and there they soared closer than ever, swooping for leftovers, photographed by a group of bird spotters with zoom lenses. We then explored the picturesque village of West Wycombe with its coaching inns and cottages. Tea and cakes were just the ticket at the Apple Orchard tea rooms. Our route back took in more hills and fields of maize before the climb to 'The City'. Back at site "the miracle of the keys" occurred; 'By Golly' said Sally as she popped out the cava to celebrate. Sharing round the glasses we tucked into some rather splendid cupcakes from Louise. In the evening Runi had arranged the meal at The Crown next door. We had two tables with a wedding reception in the marquee. Brian F joined us for the meal and caught up with the group news. Back at camp Malcolm lit the campfire, Zack toasting the marshmallows. The sing song was led by Coogee with his trusty ukulele again in fine tune.
Sunday was another scorchio. Over many rounds of tea we struck camp to Boom and headed for Chinnor. At the heritage railway station we crossed by the signal box and, over coffees and pastries at the platform café we cheered the arrival of the steam train. Some of the group took the next train out and Brian led the rest on a 5 mile walk along the Ridgeway. After climbing to the ridge, we took the chalk track eastwards. At a meadow full of sheep and lambs we waved at the others on the steam train chuffing by. At Bledlow village we strolled past the manors and cottages with wisteria and rose gardens in bloom. We reached the ever-delightful Lyde Gardens and wandered around the water gardens with its tropical features. As the afternoon sun beat down, we stopped at the village green for cooling drinks at The Lions. We took in the views, with a vespa scooter rally and several road cycle groups racing by, with the steam train's whistle ringing out in the distance.
Campers were Brian, Runi, Coogee, Sally, Malcolm, Sandra, Joan, Kevin, Louise, Anne Marie, Phu, Laura, Maree, Tony and Zack, with surprise guests Michael L, Nick and Brian F.
Fourteen keen walkers met just before 10:00am at Chipperfield Common car park for this popular and varied 10 mile circular walk. The weather was a little cloudy but warm and ideal for walking, although rain was forecast for later. Setting off in a clockwise direction across the common, we joined the Hertfordshire Way at Top Common and walked the steady incline towards the adjoining Berrybush and Langley Lodge Farms. Through the farms and the cow pastures beyond, with no threatening cattle in sight, we skirted Berrybushes Wood before descending the steep incline to the farm track in the valley below. A steep descent invariably means a steep incline to follow and this was no exception as we climbed the steep ascent to Little Westwood Farm and Bucks Hill House at the top. After crossing a lane, another steep descent was taken through a small wood to Bottom Lane before negotiating yet another steep incline towards Newhall Farm. With an end to any more hill climbing and the faint hum of traffic on the 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, within fifteen minutes we arrived at Church End, Sarratt for our lunch break around 12:30pm.
Unfortunately, it then started to rain, so whilst some of us took our lunch in the porch of Holy Cross Church, others decided to have theirs in the Cock Inn opposite. After our 45 minute break, 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 meadows at Rose Hall and Bragman's Farms beyond. The rain now began to fall rather heavily for the remainder of the walk and with raingear on, we headed 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 arriving at Belsize for the short climb back to our starting point on the Common. Whilst some went back to their cars, half of the party finished the walk with an enjoyable drink in the popular Blackwell's Café.
Although the weather turned to rain during the afternoon, a great walk was enjoyed by everyone, namely Michael, Narshi, Indira, Runi, Angela, Louise, two Kevins, Laura, Pankaj, Katherine, Esther and Harsesh.
The famous five arrived at Southampton on a sweltering day by the coast. We headed to the quay to catch the ferry to Hythe. The "ticket office" was just a wooden shed hidden in the vast Red Funnel complex. The Hythe Ferry and Pier Railway eschew all modern fads and keep to the system created in 1922. We sailed across the Solent passing the new fleet of leviathan hotel-sized cruise liners. Yachts sailed around us as we reached Hythe Pier. We then boarded the unique Hythe Pier Railway. Celebrating its centenary this year, the electric locomotives and rolling stock were converted from the military railway of WW1 and all have been running ever since. We rattled along the pier, admiring the vessels out to sea through the open doorways (why fit doors after a hundred years?). We explored the bunting festooned streets of Hythe village and had our picnic at the sea front park, busy with people on such a fine day.
Back in Southampton we walked through the old town, its medieval walls and towers largely intact. As the afternoon sun was bearing down we stopped at the Georgian hotel (within the town walls) for cooling drinks and more cake (for some) on the terrace. Shortly afterwards, we heard the cruise ship sounding her horn as she slowly headed for the ocean. We waved towards the passengers silhouetted against the blue sky on the sun deck of the vessel. Our walk continued along the town wall walkway via Tudor and Georgian buildings. A final ice cream stop was just the ticket before we jumped on the fast train back home.
Walkers were Brian, Soraya, Kevin, Louise and Luna (Timmy).
On what looked to be as Brian would say a 'scorcheo' day, 8 happy hikers met at Great Missenden station. We set off on the road until the first of many fields, pausing at the top for a water break before entering the wood. It was pleasing to see some remaining bluebells, although sadly they were depleted in number. Through the woods to the Queen's Seat for a quick snack, and one reduced their walking trousers into shorts, although Mike was not convinced to participate. Few stops to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and a few photos. Pleasing to admire and spend few moments to appreciate nature. Continuing, we enjoyed the shade of woods emerging out to "The View". Our bench was taken by a couple, so we continued downwards, then up again, and had 2 minutes to sit on the bench on the opposite side. This is when the the reality of where we just walked from, surrounded by lush green trees and sunshine, hit home. We could have been anywhere in the world. Walking past and admiring Hamden House with the dragons on the top one realised we were approaching our lunch stop. We had sole use of the marquee, and great banter was had over lunch. Discussions on "where's your next walk?", to how to decide the names of walks. From "The Best Ever" to "Shakespeare themed", what can be next? "Carry On" themes were discussed, and Monty Python. Watch this space. And some shared possibilities of future walks.
Refreshed, we set off on the final leg of our journey. Mike introduced me to The Fast Show, and Issey Miyake Perfume. Carrying on, all downhill now to end our day, passing Roald Dahl Museum, to our farewells. A beautiful day out - great weather, scenery and company.
Thank you to Mike D, Sarah, Mick, Pat, Lesley, Marianne, Malcolm and Diane for joining me.
Fourteen walkers 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 post-box knitted hats seen on the way). We then entered the Ruislip Woods and followed the tracks to the Lido. The evening was very sunny with the rays of the setting sun reflected in the waters as we gathered on the sandy beach. Some of the four dogs with us went for a swim in the lake, Logan venturing well out as always. We swapped stories of swimming in the Lido back in the day plus taking a ride on the railway. The walk continued through the wooded path surrounding the lake. We reached the Waters Edge pub for drinks with fine views across the lake.
Walkers were Brian, Dean T, Runi, Kerry, Soraya, Debbie L, Mick W, Kevin, Louise, Anne Marie, Vic, Pinder, Derek and Prem.
Three cyclists met at Didcot station on a very warm sunny morning for the Thames Valley cycle ride. Passing the GWR heritage railway centre we heard the steam locos chuff by. We followed Sustrans route 5 for most of the day. First village was Long Wittenden, with many thatched cottages, before we reached the Thames and the hamlet of Clifton Hamden and its unusual church overlooking the river. Our next stop was the ancient village of Dorchester on Thames. The high street (full of coaching inns and cottages) was resplendent with bunting for the annual arts festival. We joined the festival in the cloisters of the abbey. Some rather spiffing tea and cakes was the order as we listened to the bands and explored the craft stalls.
We crossed the Thames at Shillingford and climbed to Bridewell Vineyards. We cycled up to the shop and chatted to the owner, waiting for the invite to try some wines, not forthcoming so we continued to Wallingford. The afternoon sun was now beating down so we were glad to happen upon another unexpected festival in this delightful town. The spring vintage transport festival was in full flow with a vast array on display including jeeps, VW campervans, Porsches, Triumph motorcycles and many secondhand cycles for sale. We had our picnic lunch in the shade beside the showground.
Our route then continued along the Ridgeway bridlepath through the secluded hamlets on the east bank of the Thames. At one we stopped at the green to see a couple of overs of the cricket match. The ride ended at the Thameside town of Goring and trains back to London.
Although this was a repeat of an earlier walk, as a result of a recent recce we included a couple of changes to the route. From the aquadrome in Rickmansworth we walked along the Grand Union Canal until it joined the weir at the River Gade. Then into Cassiobury Park where we stopped for a drink before setting off to walk through wheat fields which stretched as far as the eye could see. Next was the danger zone where the footpath crossed a golf course with signs asking us to beware of flying golf balls. Fortunately we all passed through unscathed. Up a steep hill to the entrance to bluebell woods where we found a deep dell where we had lunch. Then on past a working farm and to a pub where we had a well deserved drink before walking back to the aquadrome. A very enjoyable walk with a whole variety of scenes on the 10 mile route.
Runi and I both enjoyed the company of Mark A, Jalpa, Joan, Michael L, Hema, Vito, Angela, Ann-Marie, Olivia and Soraya.
Nine of us met at Wimbledon Park station on a fine Saturday morning. We made our way across Wimbledon Park, passing the very busy tennis courts and bustling activities, to see the sailing boats on the lake and a clutch of geese chicks inquisitive about the bread throwers. We left the park and headed down Church Road and were now outside the All England Tennis Club where we found we could go inside for a mini look around. Onwards then towards Wimbledon Common with its variety of tracks. We were looking for the one that took us to the windmill and tea room. Suitably refreshed we took the track to the edge of the common and crossed into Richmond Park. After a short stretch we arrived at the Isabella Plantation. With the sun out we delighted in the array of colours provided by the azaleas and rhododendrons.
After lunch by the lake we decided to head to Richmond as most of the group were not familiar with this walk. The sights on the way included the lodge, King Henry's mound, the viewpoint over the Thames and the RBL poppy factory near the Star and Garter. We were now in Richmond and headed straight to a riverside pub to sit outside in the pleasant sunshine.
Thanks to Rita, Sharon, Jenny, Monica, Joan, Annette, Marianne and Mark A for joining me.
The rain showers had dissipated by the time I arrived at Cowleaze car park. My one solitary fellow walker, Kalpna, was patiently waiting for me. Despite the lack of a large group (possibly because of last weekend's postponement) we decided to boldly proceed for the full walk. As we set off downhill towards Aston Rowant nature reserve, the sun emerged with a fine day in store. We joined the Ridgeway, one of the world's most ancient pathways, till we came to White Mark Hill, one of several ascents and this one the steepest. Stopping to catch our breath and take in the scenery, we proceeded through the yew forest and various tracks till we climbed another hill. Kalpna and I had our lunch, appreciating the magnificent views of the Oxfordshire countryside, then suddenly a red kite swooped just past my head from behind in an attempt to snatch my smoked meat sandwich. I could feel the power of its huge wings. Shaken but not stirred, we finished our packed lunch without further ambush.
We walked through a very fine bluebell wood amidst the towering beeches and arrived at The Fox and Hounds pub at Christmas Common. After a refreshing libation of Thatcher's Gold cider, we carried on past a field of sheep and their crying lambs. Unusually, the little balls of wool came right up to us and we coddled and petted them like delighted kids on a farmyard visit. The two of us proceeded through the glorious Shotridge Wood and skirted around the Wormsley Estate through young woodlands and spring meadows. One final hill, a stroll through the woods and we were back at the start after five hours.
Many thanks to Kalpna for her companionship on this very fine Chilterns walk.
A happy band of 23 HAWOGians landed in Leominster at different times and bounced straight into the fun fair which had taken over most of the town square. After dragging Sally off the dodgems we wandered through the town which is part of the Black and White Villages Trail. Higgledy piggeldy buildings nestled amidst the hostel and 12th century minster church, and we were assured by non-drinkers that it wasn't just the alcohol which made them wonky.
Saturday started in Kington where the obligatory faffing permitted Rob to enjoy local rhubarb frangipan whilst everyone moved their cars several times. Steve was delighted with the remarkably improved speed of starting HAWOG walks, having not joined us for quite some months. Only 1.25 hours later than planned we set off up Offa's Dyke Path, following a winding road to the summit. After a few more ups and downs, each hill was surprisingly only 20 minutes away from the planned lunch stop at Old Radnor. The pub did not disappoint, revealing the Welsh mountains and the English hills on either side. Daniel learnt to use a whistle and we all shook up. After another welcome hill climb to a 400m summit, with a couple of elegant and dramatic tumbles, we ended up with fabulous panoramic views of the Welsh hills and English countryside across the ridge. This beautiful area inspired the 1974 album 'Hergest Ridge' by the English musician Mike Oldfield. As we meandered downhill (finally!) we saw the amazing wild Welsh ponies and monkey trees. Competely unexpectedly we had clocked up 12 miles with elevation of 1800ft. Dinner was taken in the great pub by the river, where the local hen party welcomed everyone so long as they were male. Brian took an unknowing group back to the hostel via the graveyard which thankfully was unoccupied at that time of night. We sat in wrapt attention back in the hostel as Nick brought us fully up to date with politics and the natural habitat of hares.
Sunday brought an unexpected drive to Wales for Prem and Derek when their satnav decided it wanted to go on holiday too, before meeting up with the rest of the Grand National riders at the stables. They then joined us as we ambled along the river banks at Hay on Wye for three miles, with another couple of walkers taking well earned tumbles to get back to civilisation. We spent a leisurely afternoon in Hay exploring the fantastic bookshops, charity shops and tea shops with ice creams.
Monday saw us break camp and most headed to Hereford, traditional market town where Sandra grabbed the ginormous bull between the horns and we saw the Mappa Mundi which originates from 400 AD, one of the oldest medieval maps in the world. As the map didn't show Harrow on the Hill, we left it there. We bumped into a stationary Elgar on his cycle, and three gentleman of the road who were drinking with him. One of the happy chaps told us that he had been in a regiment with Lewis Collins, which must have been tricky as he was never in the army. Aruna provided us with contraband lemon cake in the stunning cafe in All Saints church. And then we went home.
Many thanks to the happy band of revellers, Tim B, Malcolm, Steve, Brian, Nick, Coogee, Daniel, Derek, Rob, Daniel, Prem, Martina, Diane, Helen, Jackie, Azadeh, Sally, Chrissy, Christine, Liane, Rachel and Sandra. A particular thanks to those helping with map reading, as those hills wouldn't navigate themselves! Well done everyone.
On a sky blue, cloud free morning six met at North Harrow station. Greetings were made and we set off to our first park (Yeading). Walking through and chatting it did not take long to reach Streamside. A quick detour to the "Telephone Box Book Library" where I picked up a book. Back on route to Roxbourne Park, crossing the bridge, where the train driver tooted at us, so we dutifully waved back. This set the mood pre next park were there was a zip wire. One enthusiastic walker had to be reminded there were 3 children using it, so she queued. We all had a turn, and it brought out the inner child in us all (and great fun). We continued, Olivia counting the parks. Crossing Field End Road another suddenly got their bearings. Discussed navigation, as drivers to what we can miss in local areas. Continuing behind Cavendish, we continued through to behind Highgrove and looked at the Bletchley plaque, and discussed the history of the area. A break at Eastcote Wall Gardens Cafe. We enjoyed the break and then appreciated the garden.
Over halfway now, we carried on back via Joel Street then through alleys and fields to reach Pinner Memorial Park and a quick break to use the facilities, watch a resident heron and admire the space. Then through Pinner High Street, with discussions and recommendations on where to eat, and via Wakemans Hill we returned to North Harrow station where we said our goodbyes. A great, witty group.
Thank you to Olivia, Dianne, Punkish, Hira and Nandu for joining me.
For our second spring colours walk of this sun-filled weekend around twenty-five gathered at the charming riverside terrace at Richmond. After coffees and pasties (and some late arrivals) we finally set off. Serendipity was the watchword for the day. Our first happenstance was a new café before the Petersham meadows (noted for future excursions). In Petersham we admired the many mansions in this historic hamlet, passing the fine parish church on route. Into Richmond Park we ascended to Pembroke Lodge (lots of fallow deer on the ascent). We climbed King Henry's Mount to view St Pauls through the telescope and took in great views over the Thames Valley. 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. Nick was the bearer of another gift, the discovery of a hidden pond with the vibrant colours of the azaleas reflecting in the water. We had our picnic in the sunshine by the lake; lashings of pop and some awfully nice upside-down cake.
Derek had cycled here to meet us and sped off on his new electric bike in a blur of speed. We walked through Richmond Park, with views across London and to the south. At Ham Gate we entered Ham village, noting the splendid wisteria in bloom on the many manors around the village. Then, serendipity again, as we happened upon an open garden banner inviting us into the extensive gardens of a mansion. It was Pimms o'clock inside; as we filled our glasses the host (a charming fellow) asked how far we had walked. "I say, you've all done jolly well" he replied to our answer. After a tour of the colourful garden (box hedges and many features) we carried on towards the river. 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 stable's café after a rather splendid spring colours walk.
Walkers included Brian, Rob P, Derek, Prem, Nick, Angela, Olivia, Peter, Humay, Kevin, Louise, Sally, Martina, Malcolm, Diane, Katherine, Soraya, Joan, Dawn, Laura and quite a few others (apologies as so many on the walks nowadays).
Our first bluebell wood walk for 3 years saw 15 visit the Perivale Nature Reserve. On a very sunny day the bluebells were magnificent in the sunshine. We explored the paths and tracks through carpets of bluebells and many ancient oak and ash trees. A couple of us managed to pay at the gate, so a lesson for next year for those who tried to book. We met up after the circuit for tea and cake at the meadow. One of the servers was a fellow park runner. We then climbed to the summit of Horsenden Hill for panoramic views over London. Our descent included the Gruffalo Trail where Mark P and Luke found the hidden sculptures. We finished at the very popular Horsenden Hill Farm with its pop-up café and bar. Some musicians were jamming in the afternoon sun, so we grabbed a free table for wheat beers and Rita's supply of sandwiches. Jan and Dawn ordered more pints and then surprise guest Dave T arrived. Still time for Pauline to order some rather spiffing pepperoni pizza for all after a jolly fine day out in Perivale countryside.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Malcolm, Dawn, Hira, Mark P, Lisa, Linda, Ivan, Rita, Pauline and quite a few others (apologies, lost track of names).
Seventeen of us met on a cloudless Sunday morning. Ambling past the fast flowing River Gade in Cassiobury Park, we soon crossed the ford and headed down the Grand Union Canal. Passing colourful narrowboats with eccentric names, we chatted along the way, as the group spread out. At Batchworth Lake, where the UK champion water-skiers practice, a speed boat suddenly took off, closely followed by an expert water skier, who dramatically carved through the water and disappeared out of sight. We regathered at the cafe by Bury Lake in Rickmansworth for a picnic on the grass, before setting off around the lake, with sail boats bobbing.
Through a gate, we entered the nature reserve at Stockers Lake, stopping to admire the beautiful scenery and wildfowl. Lake on one side and river on the other, in this little oasis. Circling the lakes, we rejoined the other side of Bury then Batchworth Lakes, retracing our steps along the canal, before branching off along the Ebury Way, path of a disused railway line. The scenery briefly changing to a woodland walk, passing allotments and imagining the old steam trains passing along the track. Walking and chatting we were soon back at the station, sun still shining. Averaging a good 3 miles an hour pace, finishing after 4 hours, including half hour lunch stop, about 11.5 miles in length. Four of us enjoyed a well-earned drink at the Essex Arms after, catching up on various past walks, adding an extra mile and a half, to walk off the beer, making about 13 miles.
Thank you to Humay, Kevin, Kalpna, Narshi, Indira, Ashvin, Katherine, Sanjeer, Jeetendra, Ranisi, Nandu, Hira, Valji, Zaira, Saura and Diane for coming, and for the interesting tales and tips from travelling past.
On a sunny Good Friday morning 7 members (6 walkers and 1 cyclist) met on the grounds of Ibstone cricket ground. A mix of familiar faces and new ones, including a new member (but seasoned walker) who joined up the day before to come on the walk. We organised our rendezvous at the barn with cyclist Derek and set off, taking the Chiltern Way. Shortly after emerging from the Great Wood we were rewarded with a magnificent view looking towards Northend. We then braved the long climb to Northend and took a breather at the village pond. Next we were off to Turville Heath, passing through Swains Wood where pretty English bluebells were in bloom. Making good progress, and after the next ascent we emerged onto Turville Heath Common. Although they were fully booked, and we were half an hour early, the friendly Barn Cafe staff very kindly accommodated us weary walkers. We met Derek and all enjoyed lunch outside the courtyard. We spotted the lady of the manor (owner of the Barn and smallholdings), walking about in the sunshine. However, we spared her time for a history lesson (unlike last time teehee)! The Barn and Heath common were filled with families, cyclists, walkers, dogs and even a pony was visiting.
After a leisurely lunch we headed to Turville village and stopped by the Vicar of Dibley church and vicarage where we met Derek. The Cobstone windmill, perched on Turville hill, was luring up some walkers on the steep incline, and in the heat. Though thankfully none from our group! We left the village via a less gruelling climb and made our way to Ibstone church. Our final stretch took us through the cool shelter of Parsonage Wood and got back to our cars a little early, a great achievement by all. As a fitting reward we headed to the Fox Inn pub for post-walk refreshments and a chocolate Easter bunny.
My warm thanks to all the walkers: Angela, Asha, Shelesh, Sourabh, Prem and cyclist Derek (apologies for spelling errors) for the great company and joining me on one of my favourite walks in the Chilterns. I hope to see you soon.
19 of us went on an amazing holiday to the beautiful Cornwall coast of Treyarnon Bay. We all met on the Thursday night with people coming in at various times of the day. We all travelled the long distance from London, some came by train and some by car. Martina had provided an amazing kitty of food and Brian and Joan made sure we all had some lovely cake and tea. After settling into our rooms we set off for a gentle little jaunt around the coast near the hostel led by Anne and Brian. We then came back to a nice feast in the hostel and settled in for the night.
On Friday morning 10 of us headed off to Padstow to pick up some hired bikes and we set off on the famous Camel Trail. This is a 20 mile cycle on a circular route from Padstow to Bodmin along the old railway line which follows the River Camel. We had varying degrees of bikes; some had push bikes, some had e-bikes and Brian kindly had a tag-along bike so Daniel could join our trip. We set off from Padstow towards Bodmin. As we cycled along the path, our first stop was Wadebridge where we had the lovely views of the River Camel. Nishit and Soraya had some lovely drinks and both educated us on the finer side of dining. We left Wadebridge with Rachel and Nick leading the pack as we continued on with beautiful views of forests of bluebells, and smells from wild garlic, as we headed towards Bodmin. Anneke was very knowledgeable about the types of flowers surrounding us.
Just before the halfway point at Bodmin we visited the Bodmin steam railway. We then found the tea shop. We stopped there for lunch and Daniel had the most amazing vegan pasty and the rest of us had soup and glorious food. A few of the boys: Nick, Chris and Nishit headed into Bodmin to visit the old jail. I think the two boys locked Nick up and we should be getting him out in the next 5 years. The rest of us headed back to the Camel Valley winery where Mark P said it was the most amazing wine he ever had. It was a steep climb up to the top but the views were magnificent. With a refreshing glass of wine in hand we waited for the boys to come back and join us and then we all headed back towards Padstow. On the way back we had some gentle showers but nothing could dampen our spirits as we went through the beautiful countryside of the Camel Trail. When we arrived back at Padstow a few went over to the famous Rick Stein's restaurant and had fish and chips. Some of us went back to the hostel and had dinner there. The rest of the group had divided into two, some going sightseeing to the local National Trust and some going on a walk where they found the famous big hole. This big hole led to many discussions on how it came to be there, a most engaging discussion and more enjoyable as we had no internet and the 'google gang' couldn't find the answer.
Saturday brought the most beautiful glorious sunny day. We all got up early and headed off at about 9:17 for a walk on the coastal path towards Newquay. All 19 of us decided to do the walk and we were joined by Liane 2 miles into the walk at the beautiful cove of Porthcothan. We had a quick break for some coffee and refreshments and took in the most beautiful beach. Our next stop should have been going down the Bedrudhen Steps to hit the beach there but unfortunately there had been a bit of a landslide and we were not able to get down the steps. We then stopped for lunch in the National Trust cafe. Our walk continued on to Magan port which was supposed to be our final destination at 8 miles. But some of us were not tired and decided to walk all the way back to do a glorious 16 miler. With the wind in our hair and music in our souls we headed back, stopping in Port Cothan for ice cream with Nishit having a triple whammy. Yes Runi we did it! With Kayla and Chris taking over the lead of the rest, the consensus was not to continue any further so they all sat in the pub drinking wine. They got a bus back later. Thanks Anne for saving all the big kids. We then all got showered and changed and dressed up for Saturday night with a traditional band who played at the hostel and we had a little dance. Later on Janet entertained us with her gymnastics stool routine.
On Sunday we were up again for our boat trip. We were travelling to Newquay by car and then we were supposed to do a 2 to 3 hour seal trip. Unfortunately, when we got to Newquay, Martina realised that the boat trip had been booked incorrectly and we could no longer go out on the boat because the tide was out, so Brian took the decision to take us into Newquay and we all enjoyed the train ride. A few of us found Millets and we decided to purchase lots of gear for our next trip. Joan, Daniel and I found the best fish and chip shop in town for our lunch. Soraya and Mark found an alternative healthy guru venue. Another lovely day. We headed back to the hostel where we met with the rest who had walked to Padstow and then dined in Rick Stein's restaurant. On our last night the giant Jenga came out with Zoe being top master. We also played charades with Mark coming out on top.
On Monday morning we all were up early to check out and go our separate ways. Brian, Chris and Mark spent the morning on Bodmin steam railway, did the complete length of the line, explored all 3 stations and lunched at Bodmin station cafe, where Chris had his 5th Cornish Pastie of the holiday.
Thanks to all who came to make the weekend magical: Nick, Rachael, Brian, Chris, Mark P, Nishit, Mark A, Janet, Christine, Anne, Kayla, Anneke, Zoe, Joan, Liane, Soraya, Runi and Michael.
Six walkers met at Watford station for the start of the day's adventure. Wandering leisurely through the nature area we headed towards Whippendell Woods, picking up Sonia on route. It was lovely to see the first bursts of bluebells - another 7-10 days and it will be a carpet of blue. Continuing through, we saw the alpacas. Sadly they were camera shy, so we carried on behind York House School. Returning - a few recognised where they were - and after a water break, we returned to Cassiobury Park via the canal. Pausing at Daisy's, we had tea and snacks. Thanks to Bharti for sharing her soup, which tasted homemade. Then most of the group decided to check out the "Jurassic Encounter"; it brought out the inner child in Katherine and me, and Dianne enjoyed an '99 ice cream.
Thank you to Dianne, Bharti, Katherine, Marianne, Hasmita, Pankaj and Sonia for joining me.
Seven met at Princes Risborough for the steam railway walk. The station is shared between Chiltern mainline and Chinnor Railway so ideal for connections. As the whistles blew, we climbed aboard the heritage carriages for the scenic journey passing the Chiltern hamlets and cricket pitch on the way. At Chinnor we alighted from the steam train and walked to join the Ridgeway National Trail. On such a sunny day there were great views of the Oxfordshire Plain below. We reached the sleepy village of Bledlow and after touring the famous Lyde Gardens we had a leisurely lunch at the Lions pub (good value Sunday roasts). The pub front garden was busy with walkers, cyclists and passing horse riders, with the sounds and views of the steam trains passing back and forth just below us.
We then climbed along the Icknield Way footpath up to Lacey Green and the impressive windmill on the ridge. It was an open day so we took advantage of the guided tour of all the levels. The last leg was a long descent through meadows full of sheep and lambs back to Princes Risborough for trains back to London. Distance recorded as 10.5 miles so will correct details next time walk is added.
Walkers were Brian, Humay, Joan, Kevin, Louise, Saraub and Julia.
12 walkers met outside Gerrards Cross station on a perfect walking weather day. From the station we headed off across Gerrards Cross common and then following the road down to Fulmer where we paused for a few moments to admire the village. At Fulmer we started our journey along Shakespeare's Way which is a long distance path from Stratford Upon Avon to London. This path took us across Stoke Common, where some paused to look at the corrugated sheeting that had been put down to encourage some of the reptile life that can be found in this area. We then continued onwards to Farnham Common and then into Burnham Beeches where we stopped at the café for lunch.
After lunch we continued along Shakespeare's Way through Burnham Beeches until we reached Littleworth Common, where we said goodbye to Shakespeare's Way and started our return journey, which would take us through Egypt Woods and on to the village of Hedgerley, where we stopped for group photos by the village pond. We then made our way through the RSPB nature reserve of Church Wood. As we made our way through these woods, we took time to take in the flowers that were just coming into bloom and admire a small group of giant redwood trees. We had a small problem leaving the woods as the footpath led to a very overgrown stile, which forced the walkers to climb over a gate and fence. Undeterred we then carried on across open fields, before arriving back into Gerrards Cross, where we said our goodbyes.
Many thanks to Michael, Laura, Angela, Jo K, Sean, Nirav, Efisia, Kalpna, Ekta and Sorga.
On another fine sunny afternoon 22 of us met at Tide Tables for coffee, cakes, and introductions to newer walkers. We set off on the Thames Path, lots of Edwardian skiffs on the riverside. We crossed to east bank at the lock footbridge and continued through Isleworth old village with its mix of Regency and Strawberry Hill Gothic architecture. On to Syon Park with its landscaped estate and group photo in front of the 18th century palace. Lulu surprised a sunbathing couple by leaping on them and never stopped running ahead of us. We joined the Grand Union at Brentford, passing lots of house boats and boat yards. We popped into the artists' studios on Johnson Island then Carole then led us to the hidden outdoor café by the Brewery Arms. We all had a slice of Mona's rather splendid homemade date and walnut cake.
We continued through the classic car courtyard (a Plymouth and Rolls and others on display) on to The Butts with its Georgian townhouses around the square. We then crossed back at Kew Bridge where Rob led us to Gainsborough's tomb at Kew village church. Crossing the green we arrived at the station parade, with its awfully inviting row of tea shops. Just the ticket said all so we ended with tea and apple cake after a jolly good afternoon stroll by the Thames.
Walkers were Brian, Jan, Rob W, Tim B, Tim P, Rita, Mona, Bob, Carole, Ivan, Ashwin, Nicky, Sonia, Derek, Prem, Sonia, Chris, Maria and others (forgot names, sorry).
Eight of us met in the woodland car park. We set off but all was not quite rosy in the jungle. The elephant was on its back and the bear had lost its nose, thankfully just the wooden sculptures. The shell sculptures were still intact, giving us our first vista over the villages around Maidenhead. Onwards through the woods and steeply down to the the River Thames in all its glory. We walked along the banks past the islands with the geese honking and the wild flowers, and came upon Queen Victoria's private landing site, followed quickly on by the cottage reputedly to have been the site of the 'Profumo Affair'. Maree and Kevin had a shiftee through the window of the next cottage. You can rent them; not cheap by all accounts but such a fantastic setting. And then - what goes down must come up! And we climbed up the deep steps. We got up there past the ampitheatre. Nitti said we should do a performance. We saw our first of a selection of semi-naked statues (mostly female, we only found one male). We went through the long garden with its fantastic topiary and planting. To the house and its amazing presence and architecture and opulence and the sculptured parterre gardens. Then with the assistance of Katherine we went to the Japanese Garden, wow! I couldn't understand how only a small group could keep getting lost. We then went back through the woods, visited some more spectacular views at the duke's statue. Took a detour to Clive's den (where we made a little girl and her dad wait while we did a photo). And we got back with a bit of time to spare before the car park closed.
The weather was fair and the company was delightful. All in all we walked 6.3 miles. It was lovely to meet Anusha and Shona as new members. And thanks to Maree, Louise, Kevin and Nitti for joining me. And special thanks to Katherine for her Cliveden knowledge. It's a place I think everyone should go to.
Twenty one adults and Soreya's dog met at Embankment station on a cold but sunny day. We proceeded across the road to the Uber Thames Link Clipper and after queuing and the lady at the booth next door trying to get us to buy the tourist trip tickets we bought our tickets. It was a very busy day for the Clipper and sadly five of us got on the first boat and the rest of us had to wait for the second which was just 5 minutes behind. Most of us sat inside the boat ready to enjoy the ride and the famous buildings along both banks of the Thames. On our arrival at Greenwich we met up with the rest of the group and started our walk through the town to the park and hill leading to the observatory where we took in the spectacular views of London. We had a break to enjoy some food and refreshments.
We then proceeded to find the deer park but were disappointed as the deer had only recently been moved to Richmond Park. We then walked through the flower garden and strolled round the park. Mark explained some of the buildings and took us to the park where there are fantastic views of the Thames. We also walked on a Roman path. We then made our way back to Greenwich village where we spent some time at the market taking in the variety of craft and jewellery stalls. We then walked along the Thames Path to the Trafalgar pub where we finished our walk with a well earned drink.
Thanks to everyone who joined me on Saturday. We were very lucky with the weather; the sun stayed out for most of the day.
On Friday, 30 of us congregated in Liverpool on a fine Friday afternoon. As we arrived early we decided to take advantage of the weather and headed up Mathew Street to the River Mersey, passing the cavern and Cilla Black. We had a photo opportunity with the fab 4 and Billy Fury, then had a lovely stroll around the Albert Dock, stopping at the pump house for a refreshing drink. We headed on back to the hostel for a freshen-up before we set out for our evening entertainment. We had a scrumptious meal at the lovely Hard Days Night Hotel. The meal was just fabulous and we celebrated a birthday in the group. Some of the night owls carried on to Sergeant Peppers with lots of dancing and singing taking us into the early hours of the morning.
On Saturday, we were up early to start our hectic day of sightseeing. Our first stop was at St George's Hall. The tour was led by Sean, a very enthusiastic gentleman who gave us all the history of this fabulous building. We also found out about the super lambanana; 125 of them can be spotted all over Liverpool. With a quick coffee stop the whistle was blowing, time to move on. We walked on up Mount Pleasant to the Metropolitan Cathedral, nicknamed the Wigwam. We climbed the large amount of steps to the entrance and had a wander around. Our next stop saw us walk along Hope Street, passing the Everyman Theatre and a quick look in as some musicians were playing. We gave them a clap and carried on passing the Philharmonic Hall and some luggage created by a well known artist. We reached the Anglican Cathedral and were not disappointed. I think I heard everyone say wow. We were able to go to the top of the cathedral tower, passing the enormous bell on the way. After climbing the stairs we were delighted with the views of the city. On such a fabulous day we were able to pick out lots of iconic buildings and stadia.
Sunday saw us take to the ferry across the Mersey. Lovely to hear the song and all the history along the docks and local area. Some took a tour of the city, taking in all the sights and houses of the Beatles. We ventured to the Baltic Triangle to visit the street market. Very retro, with a trip inside the Peaky Blinders Bar. With a quick glimpse of the yellow submarine we ventured in to this once known boutique hotel at the Albert Dock. Some enjoyed the Museum of Liverpool and the art galleries. We bid farewell to some, with 21 staying on an extra night and 15 of us headed into Chinatown for a fabulous meal. We were not disappointed, it had to be some of the best Chinese food we had ever tasted. The night owls were out again and having a nightcap in the Adelphi Hotel, where lots of laughter was had.
Monday saw us de-bunk. Our last port of call was the fabulous Dean Street Kitchen on Duke Street, to end with a fabulous breakfast. We were not surprised there were constant queues outside this place for breakfast. Well worth a trip.
Thank you to Daniel, Christine, Lisa, Mark A, Jan, Helen, Mary, Janet, Coogee, Cynthia, Joan, Brian, Judith, Dean S, Nick, Rachael, Martina, Colin, Elizabeth, Sally, Zoe, Nitty, Mark P, Sugandha, Anne, Aruna, Humay, Dean and Sarah for joining me on this fabulous weekend.
On Sunday Heather welcomed nine 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 Heddy, Hira, Rajinder, Harpreet, Janet, Zainul, Mary, Sanjeev and Olivia.
7 of us met at Watford station on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning. We headed off shortly after 9:30am, walking down to Cassiobury Park, over Jacotts Hill and west towards Croxley Green. From there, we headed northwest to Church End and Sarratt Bottom, and then walked along the Chess valley, turning north after Chenies Bottom. We then headed east and southeast to Sarratt, where we stopped on the green for lunch.
After lunch, we continued southeast to Chandlers Cross, and then through Harrocks Wood and Whippendell Wood, crossing the Grand Union Canal to return to Cassiobury Park from where we walked back up to Watford station, which we reached at around 3:00pm.
Thanks to Amanda, Dee, Kalpna, Malcolm, Nirav and Soraya for joining me.
13 met at Greenford station on a beautiful sunny day. We headed off down the backstreets of Greenford, visiting some unusual parks that we had never seen before as we headed towards Perivale Park. We passed the grounds of Tara gaelic football club who are the rivals of Daniel's team TCG. We then entered Perivale Park and our first stop was at the Nicky Hopkins memorial bench. Nicky was a musician who played with some of the greatest stars, like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. We continued on over some lovely brooks and streams and the weather was still beautiful. We crossed over the Greenford Road and into to the Bunny Park. We all did the maze in Bunny Park and lost nobody. 6 of us went into Hanwell Zoo where we saw lima monkeys, armadillos, flamingos and cranes to mention a few of the animals. It's a wondrous zoo and well worth going to see. We then went to the local cafe and refreshed ourselves before we headed back again towards Greenford. We finished at Greenford in the Railway Bar and had a celebratory drink to end our day.
Thanks to Girija, Hasmita, Janet, Daniel, Martina, Diane, Marianne, Jackie, Ashwin, Tim B, Soraya, Angie and Sean for joining us.
On a very sunny afternoon 19 of us met at Putney Bridge pavement cafe for the day's afternoon walk. We entered the extensive estate of Fulham Palace, the historic residence of the Bishop of London. Medieval and Georgian architecture with various carved sculptures in the walled gardens. Daffodils were all blooming in Bishop's Park next door. At Craven Cottage, Kerry and Tom explained about the original cottage which is still in place within the stadium. The long riverside promenade through Fulham and Hammersmith was busy with walkers, cyclists and scooterists on such a fine day. Jan arranged the refreshments at the Blue Anchor by Hammersmith Bridge.
With an effort we restarted on the walk, admiring the blue plaques on the Georgian terrace on Chiswick riverside. High tide had flooded the next section so a detour was called for, arriving at Chiswick village church and the tomb of Hogarth. Onto Chiswick House and the elegant Palladian architecture of Burlington's estate. We explored the landscaped gardens; a new sundial was notable with the hour shadow arranged via stone spheres around a calendar-based flagstone. At the sunny tea gardens Mona provided an awfully nice homemade date and walnut cake for everyone to celebrate the walk.
Walkers were Brian, Sally, Imelda, Kerry, Tom, Anneke, Jan, Monica, Mark P, Bob, Nicky, Sonia, Laura, Kevin, Louise, Mona, Anne Marie and Marie.
It was a sunny spring day when a baker's dozen met at the Boot pub on St Patrick's Day. The story of Barnaby Rudge was told in the melee of Irish office workers watching the horse racing. We moved on to the Dickens Museum where Charles Dickens lived most of his life. From there we crisscrossed to the Betsy Trotwood but we were more interested in Pear Tree Court opposite, where Oliver Twist meets the Artful Dodger and pickpockets Mr Brownlow. Onwards to Saffron Hill and the One Tun (Three Cripples in Oliver). Stopped for a drink in 'Spoons before descending to Fagin's Lair just off Fleet Street.
Next to find London's most hidden pub, Ye Olde Mitre, the surprised faces when we entered an innocent looking alleyway and revealed the gem that resides there. Onwards to St Paul's and a brief history of Temple Bar. The evening was getting very busy everywhere in the city and it was decided to head straight over London Bridge to the Borough via Nancy's Steps (Oliver). We put aside Dickens to look at Bridget Jones flat and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The George Inn (Little Dorrit) was busy as expected but we sat outside in the huge courtyard and appreciated the fine balustrade. We crossed over the river via the Wobbly Bridge after a photo stop at the Globe Theatre. Next on the list was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities) in Fleet Street. On the way to Charing Cross we snuck into the Hen and Chicken Courtyard, the site of Sweeney Todd's barber shop which supplied Mrs Lovett's pie shop just behind us in Bell Yard.
Many thanks to Rachael, Sally, Pankaj, Mark P, Mark A, Hasi, Chris, Maria, Mike, Anne and the family of 3 that left early for a birthday party.
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. Our first fast descent took some skill and there was one unnamed faller. We cycled through the picture postcard villages of Skirmett, Fingest and Turville. We popped into St Bartholomew at Fingest; our timing was out, as on departing the verger and team arrived with a huge flask and cups. At Turville we admired the famous windmill and church of Dibley fame. A long climb followed all the way to Christmas Common. Our lunch was in the very welcoming Fox and Hound pub where we enjoyed a Sunday roast after the climb.
Our next section was a breathtaking descent over two miles long, the glorious countryside flashing by. Our way back to Henley was on quiet lanes including a flooded section. The road sign "Road Closed" was, as is custom, ignored by cyclists. Back in Henley we had time for some final post-ride drinks at the riverside Angel Hotel watching the rowers and canoeists glide by.
Cyclists were Brian, Malcolm, Kerry, Dean, Coogee and Lydia.
On a cloudy morning 6 of us 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. Everyone loved exploring the past life and development of Harrow's landscape and development over the years. A brief coffee stop was made at the barn cafe where we all enjoyed banter with coffee and snacks.
We then headed back via a loop to take in the bottom end of Pinner Farm where we were greeted by the 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 the Harrow garden centre to appreciate the seasonal plants and flowers for sale. The walk ended at Headstone Lane station.
Thank you to my fellow walkers: Heddy, Deepinder, Asha, Christiana and Philomina for their wonderful humour and for travelling from afar to join me (apologies for any name misspellings).
24 people met at Baker Street station on a fresh sunny spring day. We set out along Baker Street towards Regents Park. Spring felt ever closer with numerous magnolia trees on display. Daffodils were at their best all through the park. We made our way into Primrose Hill, and at the top we enjoyed spectacular views over London and far beyond to distant hills. I was pleased to find a number of our group had not been to Primrose Hill or enjoyed the fine view - hopefully they will return. Various small back streets led us to the lower slopes of Hampstead Heath where all manner of sporting activity was taking place. Onward to Highgate where we stopped by Highgate Cemetery, famed for the great and the good interred there.
Waterlow Park lays to the north of Highgate Cemetery and has a splendid cafe, where we stopped for lunch. There were too many of us to fit in the cafe but it was warm enough to sit out and enjoy the fresh air. Fully rested and fed we made our way to Highgate High Street with its quaint old pubs, cafes and book shops. As advertised, we stopped briefly to pay homage to the late George Michael. Now on to Hampstead Heath and Kenwood House with fine views over the heath and great toilets. Our last awesome viewpoint was Parliament Hill - slightly higher than Primrose Hill, so the view seems to encompass a a greater expanse of the city. The Flask pub in Hampstead was at the end of the walk, where a number of us had a well earned drink.
This was a really special day, thanks to the friendly people of HAWOG. Regards to all who joined me: Sarah, Paul, Beverley, Ollie, Mick, Pat, Chris, Marie, Saurabh, Malcolm, Laura, Amelda, Gill, Cathy, Perrin, Louise, Kevin, Sally, Maureen, Jeremy, Olivia, Christina and Mark.
Seven Wednesday wanderers met outside The Case is Altered, a 17th century pub in old Eastcote on a lovely sunny morning. Opposite, we walked onto the cricket club (I divulged that I had played there once, literally once) and we skirted around the edge to admire the carpet of crocuses under the trees and along the bank. Crossing the road was a bit tricky as a bus and car had decided to get a bit too close but onwards we went. Chatting away we entered the woods on the bridleway which after a while became a bit boggy so we went a bit further into the woods until we came to the 'woodland roundabout'. With Con still searching for 'Mad Bess', we took the path up towards Northwood and St Vincent's Hospital where conversations went from nuns running the hospital in days gone by to a couple of us being taught by nuns and then onto terrible things that had happened at school. I only heard half of Chris's conversation but it had something to do with a plate? At the top admiring the views in the distance of the hospital at Mount Vernon we did a detour around Haste Hill golf course, and with the help of Katherine we managed to avoid flying golf balls and made our way to Ruislip Lido where we collectively decided to have lunch 'on the beach' and a well deserved sitdown and nosh was had. After pretending to be on holiday we made our way through another section of woods and crossed the roads to get onto the Celandine route for our return journey. Pankaj peeled off to collect his car and Chris and Delroy for a cheeky pint leaving the remainder to pay a quick visit to Eastcote House and Gardens to show Con where it was, and then goodbyes at the Case is Altered.
Thank you to my fellow wanderers Con, Chris, Delroy, Katherine, Nitti and Pankaj for a most enjoyable 6.8 miles.
13 walkers met me at Baker Street station on a fairly dull and cold morning and we headed off to Regents Park. We managed to get a good look around the various parts of the park, including the rose garden (not at its best at this time of year but still worth a walk around for the small lake and waterfall), before moving onto the beautifully planted urns in the avenue gardens. Unfortunately the secret garden was closed due to water logging so we walked up the broadwalk to Camden. Camden was not as busy as pre pandemic but seems to be getting a bit more back to normal with the vast amount of stalls, eating and drinking places. The sun came out for a while and then we spilt up for lunch (impossible for 14 of us to stick together in the narrow alleys) and met back at the Amy Winehouse statue.
The last leg of the walk was along the Grand Union Canal to Kings Cross. The weather seemed to turn cooler and the breeze was very biting so we stepped up the pace to get a bit warmer. The route took us past the converted gasometers which are fabulous flats before getting into Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square. Several people headed home at this point whilst some preferred to mingle.
Many thanks to all my fellow walkers (I am sorry I didn't do a roll call so not going to list names) but you know who you are.
A group of 27 gradually assembled at Isleworth station in a cold wind, appearing in twos and threes from warmer refuges, often one of the numerous welcoming coffee shops that grace the locality. The walk took us through Silverhall Park where a photo opportunity was taken by the original ice house before joining the north bank Thames Path by the Isleworth Ait. At a leisurely pace we made our way past Richmond Lock, the old sites of Richmond Ice Rink and the Belgian Village, past Marble Hill House and up to Twickenham Riverside. We walked through the quite quaint Church Street passing a huge Ukrainian support operation to then be warmly welcomed as a group at the quirky Eel Pie Museum with tea and coffee. There was a museum tour put on especially and some enjoyed it so much they decided to sign up for an Eel Pie 'passport' with a view to return to spend more time with the many exhibits that have been assembled to illustrate the island's varied history.
Most in the group then enjoyed a good lunch, in a number of sittings, at the Eel Pie pub as well as looking around the near vicinity before reassembling for the walk back down the river to Isleworth. Those who decided that the day had been too short proceeded to investigate the London Apprentice where good conversation extended well into the evening. Thanks to all of you who provided excellent company throughout.
Our first Surrey Hills walk this year was on a cold and sunny morning at Witley. Eleven walkers, quite a few from Friday's social, Kevin and Louise got top marks with three events attended this weekend. We set off from the platform before joining the Greensand Way. We walked alongside a donkey sanctuary and through the shooting grounds of the Combe Court estate. The footpaths and bridleways were all slightly boggy after the previous week's storms. We noted the many large cottages adorned with the red tile cladding so typical of the Surrey Hills. Rounding a corner we reached the timeless village of Chiddingfold. The village has a perfect setting around the common and pond (full of coy carp), with the medieval church facing the 14th century Crown Inn. After exploring the church with its impressive stained glass windows, we took in the colourful displays of crocuses in the churchyard. At the Crown we enjoyed a sumptuous Sunday roast with some revealing anecdotes from Jan and Humay.
The walk then took in some more boggy tracks, passing flocks of sheep with some very young lambs watching us warily. We stopped for views of the afternoon sun reflecting on the Hammer Ponds at Imhams. Our route was then through National Trust estates before arrival at Haslemere. After some refusals we found a tea shop still open for some jolly fine tea and cakes before catching the trains back home.
Walkers were Brian, Kerry, Jan, Humay, Rob P, Olivia, Diane, Kevin, Louise, Kalpna and Marianne.
25 started at the Black Horse pub on a beautiful day. The was shining and the chill factor was very low. After a brief instruction of how to keep up with group and explaining back markers, we headed off towards Maybank Avenue. We passed the famous LNER football and social club where the lead walker Daniel will hopefully make his debut into Premier League football. We then headed down over the rise and into the beautiful forest and hill called Horsenden Hill where we were joined by Tim and Derek. We then ascended to the top of the hill and could see panoramic views of the London area and we tried to figure out the landmarks which we could see in the distance. We tried to find the geocache which had been found on the previous visit but it was not to be found. As we descended the hill to the gruffalo trail we found them all; the mouse, the snake, the owl, the fox and the gruffalo. It was a lovely sight to see adults reliving their childhood. We headed into the Horsenden cafe and had a quick stop with some lovely coffee and locally produced cakes. Then refreshed we headed back towards Harrow again and made our ascent up through Piggy Lane and Harrow on the Hill (yes plenty of hills on this walk). We saw the famous Harrow on the Hill schools and local eateries. We visited St. Mary's Church where Judith, one of our long-standing members, gave us a magnificent chat about the historic foundations of St. Mary's and John Lyon and we saw the signage of Lord Byron. Then off the hill through Football Lane across the fields and tennis courts of the private Harrow boys school through the orchard and out onto Sudbury Hill where we all ended up back at the Black Horse pub where we had started, for a refreshing drink. Thank you to the 27 who came and made the day enjoyable. We ended up doing 7 miles over 4 hours.
Walkers were Rachel, Nick, Mike S, Daniel, Martina, Zoe, Angie, Mark P, Louise M, JJ, Sanjeev, Tony, Tom, Anthony, Marian, Moni, Harleena, Lisa, Judith, Ashvin, Kieran, Pankaj, Kathy, Tim P, Prem and Derek.
Six of us embarked on our six mile walk in slightly windy conditions but thankfully nothing to rival Eunice or Franklin. Chatting our way down the canal tow path we picked out our favourite properties (money no object, of course). The boat graveyard seemed to have grown, all sorts of shapes and sizes from Dutch barges to dredgers and even an orange craft called Mungo. Or is mungo a thing? Onwards towards our lunch stop at the lovely tea shack at Woodoaks Farm where panini, cake and hot chocolates were enjoyed, and eggs purchased (by me).
After carefully scaling the slightly wobbly farm gate, we made our around the fields, and discussions and apps were used to work out what crops were growing. Consensus was most likely rapeseed but possibly cabbages. Then small uphill section of woods towards West Hyde and its quaint little church where we had a rest on the benches in the graveyard in amongst the snowdrops and primulas, not wanting to stay too long! Onwards to the last stretch along the path with gravel pit lakes on either side and here Eunice and Franklin had definitely been at work. We managed to navigate our way around stumps and branches and arrived safely and on time back at our starting point of the Coy Carp inn.
Thank you for the good company, lively conversations and laughs to Nitti, Simon, Yolly, Pankaj and Mick, and I look forward to another Wednesday Wander.
After the storms just 3 on the latest cycle ride. After cheese toasties at the Rusty Bike Cafe we set off on the canal route. After the pill boxes and aqueducts, we encountered several trees down on the towpath but easy to carry the bikes over them. We then joined route 61 via tracks through Langley before Jubilee Park. We crossed the Jubilee River on the impressive timber footbridge to reach Eton. The day was dry so far, however forecasts of rain in the afternoon led us to change course to follow the river path to Dorney. Our lunch stop was the famous Pineapple with its stupendous choice of doorstop-sized sandwiches. The rain arrived as we were by the fireside, and we kept our jammy status with the skies clearing as we left the pub. Our last leg was a fast pursuit to Burnham where we boarded the new TfL train back to London.
9 brave walkers met outside Gerrards Cross station on a chilly overcast morning. After checking various weather apps we headed off at brisk pace knowing that the return leg of the walk might well be wet as rain was predicted to arrive by midday. We quickly made our way out of town and into the open countryside and onwards to our first port of call, the small hamlet of Hedgerley, where we met a small group of walkers looking for directions which we were able to help out with. We continued on our way towards Egypt Woods but came across a locked gate blocking the bridleway. Having negotiated this obstacle we finally arrived at the woods where we paused for a short while for a mid-morning coffee break. Continuing onwards we arrived at Littleworth Common where we then picked up Shakespeare's Way which was to take us to our lunch stop where we made full use of the café facilities to shelter from the rain at Burnham Beeches.
During our lunch break we changed into our wet weather gear as it had now started to rain quite heavily. We continued to follow Shakespeare's Way but somehow managed to lose the footpath as it made its way through a housing estate. We could see where we wanted to be but there was a house and a fence in our way, so we had to retrace our steps a short way to the point where we were able to find the path again. This path was to take us over both Farnham Common and Stoke Common before arriving at Fulmer, and from there we headed back to our start point, after completing the planned 15 mile walk.
Many thanks to Vito, Dee, Phil, Sally, Paul, JJ, Olivia and Sarabh for joining me on todays walk.
Arriving at Denham station, I saw about 4 people and thought that's it. Got chatting and took their names but someone called out there were a few more walking up, well, I needed a bigger piece of paper to jot down the names of 30 very eager walkers. A massive thankyou to all for coming. Between greetings and chatting I managed to say a few words on safety etc. As my partner in crime, Ian, could not make it I had to reel in volunteer Mark as back marker (well, he had no choice). Our adventure began, and we stopped to look at Denham Aerodrome, plenty of activities going on there, then headed towards the beautiful, magical Northmoor Hill Wood Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland dating back to 1600. A varied historical wood full of geological interest and amazing wildlife (just missed seeing the elephants / tigers though). We made our way through the woods with amazing ancient trees, plenty of up and downs, slippery slopes, just brilliant to see how the walkers tackled the obstacles (got photo evidence). Stopped for a couple of minutes for a water break and head count. Phew, all present and correct. The route took a lively bunch of people along the Misbourne valley paths towards Great Haling Wood (yes, taking a large group of people in to the woods again) via the scenic larger than life Denham private residential roads. Great eye opener, magnificent houses with immaculate acres of gardens.
Lovely lunch stop in the woods where people scattered around. Banter and laughter echoed through the trees with glistening sun rays upon us. We continued our walk over logs, and limbo danced underneath a fallen tree. We carried on towards Redhill (yet another head count, all present), along winding narrow muddy paths to a grassy area where the River Misbourne had overflowed. I then performed magic and the group were able to 'walk over water' across an 'olde worlde' wooden bridge. Plenty to see as the banter continued. Finally the walk went through the beautiful historic village of Denham. We all made it back safe and sound and the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Finishing at one of the four pubs in the village, where drinks and food was enjoyed by many. Thank you for the excellent feedback and I've had overwhelming requests to put this walk up again.
A personal thankyou goes to Marianne, Joan, Michael, Mark, Christina, Hema, Kevin, Ashvin, Esther, Pat, Pankaj, Louise, Kevin, Simon, Yolly, Katherine, Marianne, Elaine, Kumar, Prem, Derek, Iram, Mick, Sherry, Harsesh, Julie, Gary, Mike, Jo and Runi. Apologies if I have misspelt any names and I look forward to our next adventure.
On Sunday Heather welcomed eight 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 Janet, Elaine, Cynthia, Linzi, Narshi, Lucy and Justin.
On a bright Saturday morning, eight gallant walkers turned up at Northwood station for a 4 mile circuit of Ruislip Lido. Once assembled, we battled through the throng of Saturday shoppers on Northwood High Street before heading down through the aptly named Gravel Pits - where gravel was extracted for road surfaces up to the late 1890's. We then veered up Links Way, the Beverley Hills of Northwood, before heading into the adjacent ironically named Poor's Field, one of London's largest heathland remnants, which in the space of two weeks had transformed into the Somme. After twenty minutes of slithering and squelching, we arrived at the Water's Edge pub for a quick loo stop where we met up with Laura, and Bonnie the dog. Back safely on terra firma, we did a leisurely circuit of the Lido which was recently transformed into a French beach resort courtesy of Netflix - watch out for the release of "Half Bad" which hopefully will be better than the name suggests. Following our circuit of the Lido, we crossed back to the lower section of Poor's Field before passing through Haste Hill golf club and back to Northwood town centre via Maxwell Avenue.
This was my first experience of walk leading and I want to extend a massive thankyou to Laura and Bonnie, Louise, Kevin, Roy, Katherine, Prem, Derek, JJ and Sonic (apologies if I have misspelt / pronounced any names) for providing excellent company and making it such an enjoyable first walk leading experience. Hope to see you all again soon!
Our Winter Peaks weekend was cold, wet and windy with a sprinkling of sun. In spite of this YHA Hartington Hall was full and busy as was the town - or was that because fewer ventured out because of the weather?
Saturday morning was cold and mostly dry with intermittent sun. We skirted up Pilsbury Castle Hills, through its muddy paths, stopping at the ruins of the castle before heading down to Longnor for early lunch. Cafe, bus shelter and the church were used for lunch before the weather turned (as forecast) around midday. We departed south following the Manifold Trail along the river to Brund, Sheen and back to Hartington a little early as we were all wet, ~11 miles distance. Most convened at 17:45 for dinner in the Devonshire Arms.
Sunday morning was better weather, a few short rain showers but still cold. Even with the rare appearance of me using a 1:25k map we all managed to miss the look-out-for-the-footpath-on-the-left as we left the town! The sign was very recessed next to the toilets, which we all saw. All good after that, aim to take in three dales starting with south path along the River Dove, until in Beresford Dale we reached a flooded patch. Two options, take your chances over barbed wire fence (not for all) or head back. We took the latter, reaching path back and taking that to Biggin Dale for lunch. We finished with the northern end of Biggin Dale before returning home with multiple rainbows on show and a short sharp splattering of heavy hail (needed to stop and wait for a few minutes), ~7 miles distance. Fun not quite over for Carol, Lochlan and me, we had a blown tyre on the way home, A53 south of Newcastle-Under-Lyme. Very quick arrival by the pick up truck meant we were home by five.
Many thanks to Anne-Marie, Aruna, Nicky, Nishit, Marian, Phil and Sonia for joining us for some definitely winter walking in the Peak District National Park.
We set off from Chenies just after 9:30 enjoying the winter sunshine as we passed the Manor House making our way along the route of the River Chess. We stopped in front of Latimer House to enjoy one of the finest views of the day. This part of the route was mainly flat and we soon reached Cowcroft Wood outside Ley Hill. We had a brief stop outside the Swan pub which remains closed and a community group has formed to buy the pub and save it.
We then headed to Flaunden and had our lunch in the local churchyard. The 17th century Green Dragon pub has reopened after refurbishment and some of us enjoyed a coffee by the fire while others sat in the huge beer garden. We had already done over 7 miles at this point so I realised that the route would be longer than the stated mileage. We were making very good time as we headed to Chipperfield, picking up the Hertfordshire Way. We reached Sarratt and had a brief rest stop before once again heading down to the River Chess and returning to Chenies just after 3:30pm having completed 13.7 miles.
Thanks to Aruna, Kalpna, Kevin, Louise, Malcolm and Paul for joining me.
Eleven keen walkers met at 10:30am on Chipperfield Common for this 10 mile walk around rural West Hertfordshire. Surprisingly for the time of year, the weather forecast was almost spring like, with sunshine predicted for most of the day but with possible wind and cloud showing later. Following a slightly delayed departure, we started the circular walk at 11:45am in a clockwise direction. After negotiating the confusing network of paths in the Common's Wood we joined the Hertfordshire Way at Top Common to walk the steady incline towards Berrybush and Langley Lodge Farms, in warm sunshine. Through the farms to the pastures beyond, we were pleased to see our way was clear of cattle, unlike last time in May last year, when our exit was blocked by some cows protecting their calves. Onward to Berrybushes Wood we continued along its edge before making a steep descent to a farm track in the valley below and climbing the sharp incline to Little Westwood Farm and Bucks Hill House on the other side. After crossing a lane we made another tricky descent, through a small wood to Bottom Lane before negotiating an arduous climb towards Newhall Farm. With the hum of traffic on the nearby M25 masked by the increasing sound of the wind, 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 sensibly took the footpath that runs along the inside of the hedge, next to the road, before crossing a couple of fields, where a large badger sett was seen, to arrive at the Cock Inn and adjoining Holy Cross Church in Church End, Sarratt for our 45 minute lunch break. As forecast the weather had now turned rather cloudy and chilly but whilst half of the group enjoyed lunchtime in the pub, the others spent time in the churchyard equally enjoying their packed lunches amongst the snowdrops.
On leaving the pub in sunnier weather, 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 horses fields at Rose Hall, where we encountered members of an end of season shooting party leaving the event in their 4x4 cars. Following the Chiltern Way for a short distance further through Bragman's Farm, we joined a lane before negotiating a rather unusual and difficult stile in a steep banked hedgerow to enter fields that led toward Newhouse Farm, the outskirts of Flaunden and Black Robins Farm. From open farmland the countryside now changed to woodland for the final stretch of the walk through Lower Plantation and Woodman's Wood before arriving at Belsize for the short climb back to Chipperfield. With the rowdy sound of a football match taking place at the ground of Chipperfield Corinthians FC (for those who are interested, they beat Cockfosters Reserves 3-1), we ended the walk at Blackwell's Café on the common, where we had a most enjoyable farewell drink before driving back home.
A great walk was enjoyed by everyone, namely Michael, Kevin, Louise, Joan, Nick G, Jo, Sean, Saurabh, Shilpa, Nicky D and Sonia and I hope to put this walk back on agenda sometime during May, when we can once again enjoy the beautiful countryside of West Hertfordshire and see the magnificent bluebells in Berrybushes Wood.
Report by Michael
Berrybushes Wood and Bucks Hill - Photo by Michael
Fourteen walkers met on a dry Thursday morning - delighted with the turnout! All keen to avoid the January mud - decided to explore parks in Harrow and Hillingdon, but wanting a walk. Introductions made outside North Harrow station - a few new welcomes and a few 'Happy New Year' exchanges were made. On route to park number 1, we admired the front garden ... of gnomes, yes gnomes! After Yeading Park, to Streamside Park we took a delightful, deliberate detour to "The Book Hub", a telephone box converted into a library outside a house. The owner came out, and we caught up on the history behind this, including the 5000 books in her house. My family call it "The Library", all free. It's a community unique / quirky original! We then returned to walk through Roxbourne Park, ending up by "The Clay Pigeon" to some of us (now a banqueting venue). Discussions and memories were shared there, showing our age, or misspent youth. Tiny patch of mud, all successfully navigated and coped! Via bowling grounds behind Cavendish tennis area, before some pavement walking to Warrendel Park behind Highgrove Swimming Pool- where "in the Second World War it was known as HMS Pembroke, serving as an important outstation to the now renowned Bletchley Park, where machines were used to identify and break German codes".
Halfway, and a well deserved lunch / picnic break at Eastcote House Gardens, with the walled gardens reopening last week. Sausage and bacon buns enjoyed by some, no ice cream, to Maria's and my disappointment, but Judith got top trumps with her "door stop" of cake. I wish I'd taken a photo! Continued, came to 2 stiles, not built for little legs, then through alleys back to Pinner Memorial Park. The sun came out to join us. No stopping at Daisys for us. Keep on moving, through Pinner main street. Some left us at 6 miles, the rest towards Wakeman Hills. I got Ronnie Barker's house wrong, Dean T had info. Mick decided on a water break, and photo, but by then all comfortable in each others' company, so humour came out! From Barker to TV. One fact I learned today was that years ago when there were 3 TV channels I remember TV "off", a beeping, Dean said the BBC played the national anthem, wowzer! And another - saying how he stacked 3 TV's, one per channel! Memories, but reality. Then we got onto local celebrities, the witch with green hair, Pinner lady. Then Mick regretted his decision, so we continued, laughing, and what fun. I managed to reign them back. Returning via Wakeman Hill, discussion on properties. Final route, past Nower Hill, and Dean's memories of his routes, and "fancy cars", and mine of an old snooker hall. Lovely day off, walking with like-minded people.
Thank you to Yolly, Simon, Pankaj, Chris, Maria, Dean, Mick, Reena, Judith, Nandu, Hira, Heddy, Nitty. 8.15 miles on my phone. But laughter and fresh air. Great way to spend a day off.
A record ten cyclists met at the Rusty Bike Café on a cold bright morning. After coffees and warming cheese toasties we set off on the Grand Union Canal. Anne Marie, on her first ride with the group, joined us there. Detour through Denham Country Park before cycling through the historic Denham village. Derek managed to get his electric bike working so caught us up at Denham Golf Club station where we ventured onto the platform to see the unique surviving GWR pagoda shelters. A steady climb through wooded lanes to Chalfont St Peter village. Another detour to pop into Jordans YHA and then Jordans village, which was very quiet.
Our lunch stop was Merlin's Cave at the ever-charming Chalfont St Giles. Prem went grand with mussels, Mark P, Dean and Coogee entertaining the pub with lots of ripping yarns. Our route back took in Chiltern Outdoor Museum (Malcolm explaining that a forthcoming Tom Hanks film was recently shot there) and a fast descent to West Hyde. Rejoining the canal, we headed back south passing the emerging infrastructure of the HS2 Colne Viaduct.
Cyclists were Brian, Dean, Coogee, Tim P, Kerry, Malcolm, Mark P, Anne Marie, Derek and Prem.
We think we have achieved a "first" in the group's record books as we had a total of twenty three who joined us on our walk. We all met at the Aquadrome Cafe in Rickmansworth in perfect weather for walking. Setting off we walked alongside the Grand Union Canal with all kinds of houseboats lined along the route. Our joint leader, Runi, stopped us to take a picture of our group, which was not easy given the large number of us. We encouraged her to move back to get us all in, knowing that the canal was just a few steps behind her! Realising that if she fell in the canal we would not have a leader to show us the way, we changed our minds and stopped her, just in time. Moving onwards we followed the canal to Cassiobury Park where we made our way to Daisy's Cafe for drinks and refreshment.
From there we walked along the path through West Hertfordshire Golf Course. As the path took us through the centre of the course nearby golfers were bemused to find a herd of 23 walkers walking in line disrupting their game. Safely leaving the golfers to finish their game we entered Whippendell Wood where our path led us to a few steep descents followed by a few steep climbs. Fortunately it was not that muddy otherwise we would have all been struggling to avoid falling down the descents and then climbing up the slippery slopes. Moving on we walked through Dell Wood until we reached the Coach and Horses pub in Croxley Green where we had a well deserved drink. From there we headed back to the canal, passing a World War 1 memorial, All Saints' Church and finally to the Aquadrome. Whilst returning to our start point we saw a water skier in the lake who was braving the cold water.
For those technically minded we walked 10.82 miles equating to 26,449 steps and used 2,154 calories. Well done to everyone who walked the distance and having such a large number meant that there were lots of people to talk to on the route. We both enjoyed it and hope you all did too. Our 23 walkers were: Joan, Kevin 1, Louise, Mark, Michael, Angela 1, Laura, Saurabh, Anjusha, Meghana, Humay, Kevin 2, Angela 2, Esther, Kalpuna, Giulia, Marianne 1, Sally, Judith, Shilpa and Marianne 2.
First eight of us met at WH Smith as planned and then we met a further four on the high road (as I gave them the wrong info). We proceeded to make our way towards the Thames Path by way of Clapham Market joining the path at Battersea village, where we passed the local church featured in the film 'Alfie'. We continued on into Battersea Park passing the amazing pagoda and stopping at the Pierpoint Cafe for a quick coffee. We then walked on towards Battersea Power Station, where we stopped for our second break for coffee and cake and a sit down.
At this point we had to come off the path as construction is still in progress, and joined the path again next to the new American Embassy which we all agreed is not as majestic as the old one. At this point you pass a flat where, whenever I have done this walk before, a lady is always on her balcony singing and dancing with a cup of tea in her hand (don't think it is tea!) and without fail she was there. Again at this point you have to leave the path because of the MI5 building and rejoin just before the 'Covid Memorial Wall', which is both beautiful and very sad, and onto the Southbank, where three people left the walk as they had other prior engagements in London. We continued on the path, passing Shakespeare's Globe and many other London iconic buildings towards London Bridge where four walkers stopped and five of us continued on to complete the 8.1 mile walk at Tower Hill. Christina recommended the pub 'Hung Drawn and Quartered' for our last stop together for a drink, which was a lovely pub. Mark and I then walked back to The Horniman pub to rejoin the other four we left earlier, for a meal and of course more drinks.
Thank you so much to Louise, Kevin, Shirley, Mark, Christina, Carole, Alpa, Christine, Linda, Janet and Zoe for joining me and making it a fab day.
On a chilly morning 10 of us met at Baker Street station and began our walk to the Wallace Collection via the Royal Academy of Music and the affluent Marylebone High Street. We had a look around the Wallace Collection and several members said they would come back again for a more comprehensive look. We carried onto Marble Arch and whilst "the mound" was closed it is still there and created some discussion!
We continued our walk along the edge of Hyde Park and onto the Italian gardens in Kensington Gardens where we stopped for lunch and a natter. The sun started to come out as we made our way to Kensington Palace and its gardens to take a look at the Princess Diana statue recently unveiled. We walked onto the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall before heading back into Hyde Park and onto Hyde Park Corner. We crossed the madness that is the Hyde Park roundabout and went into Green Park. We noted the memorials and people were particularly impressed with the RAF memorial for the second world war. A comfort break was required so we made our way for a well deserved drink in Shepherds Market.
Thank you to all my fellow walkers for making this such a lovely walk.
Twenty five set out on a delightfully sunny day for a hike to Wendover Woods. Admiring a Bentley 4.5ltr Boat Tail we were soon heading along the canal with little egrets, mandarin ducks and heron to gaze at. After the only climb of the day we lunched at the café in the woods taking photos of the Gruffalo. On the return leg St Mary's church drew in a few, possibly praying for the sins of the others, and the walk ended with hot drinks at Rumsey's Chocolaterie. Someone suggested leading this must have been like herding cats and yes in some ways it was ;-) however a good walk is not just about the route but also the people that go on it and in this case it was a superb walk!
Thanks to all who came including Dean, Paul, Mick, Dee, Narshi, Indira, Sarah, Gita, Humay, Brian G, Malcolm, Georgiana, Tom, Sandra, Rob, Diane, Louise, Martina, Johanna, Lesley, Mike D and Kerry.
On mild Sunday morning I was joined by 10 walkers at Hatch End Overground station for a prompt 11:00am start. 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 Anslem 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. With the strong smell of incense a swift exit was made by all. We then headed through Hatch End high street onto the rugby fields. We then carried on to the High Street to see the telephone exchange and diverse restaurants. A turn off was made to the lower grounds of Pinner Farm which with the recent heavy rains was rather treacherous. At the end of the first half we had to divert around the tennis courts to lead us on to Moss Lane to see homes of Heath Robinson, Faye from Steps and where Elton John spent a lot of his younger years at his grandparents' home around Moss Lane.
Thank you to my lovely fellow walkers who joined me on this picturesque and delightful walk.... a great way to start the New Year.