Our first walk of 2019 started in Windsor on a cold and crisp morning, perfect for a brisk stroll. After crossing the Thames from Windsor Riverside Station, we followed the Thames Path westwards to Dorney Lake. The private property of Eton College, the ‘lake’ was used to host canoeing and rowing events in London 2012, and became the fourth Olympic venue ‘longer walks’ have visited. (The others are: Box Hill – cycling road race, Hadleigh – mountain biking and Stratford’s Copper Box – handball/fencing). Our way continued along the Thames, past the settlement of Bray on the opposite bank and beneath the roar of the M4, before we cut across farmland to reach the Jubilee River. Although the Jubilee is in fact a flood alleviation channel, it provided an attractive waterway to walk alongside, despite being on the borders of Slough! As lunchtime approached, we took a short detour from the river bank into the village of Dorney, and refreshments at The Palmer Arms. Suitably fortified we crossed a spinach field to return to the Jubilee River. Turning to face east, we headed towards Eton, meeting as we did so a pack of friendly beagles, which we were informed were the ‘Eton Hounds’ by a very polite young man with a hunting horn around his neck, who appeared to be in charge of them. Arriving at the town, our final stretch took us south through the Eton College quarter, before we met the High Street and headed back to the end of the walk on Eton Bridge.
The days leading up our Knebworth Circular walk had been unseasonably warm, but the day of the walk itself was overcast and showery. Surely this change in the weather was not due to the fact that we were missing our companions (currently enjoying an antipodean adventure) who always seem to have the ability to summon up brilliant sunshine on walk days? This was a relatively undemanding walk along the footpaths and bridleways of the Hertfordshire countryside, starting from Knebworth station, circling an area around Knebworth House and ending at Stevenage. The first of the day’s showers arrived just as we arrived at our lunch stop, The Lytton Arms, next to early 19th century almshouses in the picturesque village of Old Knebworth. The pub – highly recommended for its speed and efficient on the evidence of this visit – has adorned its gentleman’s toilets with framed posters promoting the famous Knebworth rock concerts and this evoked a few memories of Status Quo and Queen and other luminaries of the 1970s. Our post lunch walk took us into Knebworth Park where we passed the Grade II* listed Knebworth Houseand the nearby Knebworth parish church with its flèche or “Hertfordshire spike”; then on through Graffidge Wood and farmland (where we were greeted by a pair of friendly pigs) to the village of Langley. At this point it started to rain quite heavily so we hurried through the business parks and gloomy underpasses of Stevenage to the station for a welcome cup of tea before the journey home. Once again, an impeccably arranged walk!
It felt like spring had finally arrived as we assembled outside Hemel Hempstead railway station. It was quite warm when standing directly in the sun, birds could be heard trilling away, the grass on the water meadows had been cut and one or two of our group were complaining about the onset of hay fever! Immediately after leaving Hemel Hempstead station we joined the Chiltern Way, and followed it to the south-west towards the village of Bovingdon. From here the route turned due south, and after a stretch along Holly Hedges Lane entered Woodman’s Wood. By now we were almost two hours in and thoughts were turning to lunch which thankfully was not too far away. We had gradually turned to face east and soon after entering Chipperfield Common, arrived at our planned lunch stop at The Windmill. Describing itself as ‘a traditional village pub’, it certainly lived up to that description, providing a warm welcome along with our food and drink. Fully refreshed we crossed the common and joined the Hertfordshire Way, which entered pasture land after leaving the woods. It was here we met our first herd of cattle of 2019! A group of very curious young animals that insisted on standing in front of the gate and barring our exit from their field. Fortunately our resident ‘cattle whisperer’ was able to cajole them into moving, but not before one or two of the group demonstrated their personal unease. Having passed our bovine challenge, we continued through fields to cross the A41 and descended through the outskirts of Kings Langley to join the Grand Union Canal. Here we turned north and followed the canal towpath back to Hemel Hempstead and the train to London.
North Downs Way 1 (Farnham to Guildford)
A merry band of walkers headed off from Farnham station for the first section of the North Downs Way National Trail. The Thursday long walk luck held, as despite the gloomy weather forecast, the day was pleasantly warm, and, more importantly after heavy overnight rain- dry. The walk started on a busy road near the station, but soon we were heading down a grassy track and enjoying the peaceful sounds of birds calling. Somehow, in our enthusiasm for the walk, we missed the beautifully ornately carved North Downs Seat which marks the start of the path, but we did, however, find the “Fairy Tree” which someone once decided looked like it had a door in it and so went to the trouble of decorating it accordingly.
Upon reaching a lovely green valley, offering magnificent views of the Hog’s Back to the north, we decided it was the perfect spot to stop for our picnic lunches. (By the way, and in case you are wondering, the name “Hog’s Back” seems to have several explanations. The Hog’s Back pub believes it is because it simply looks like a hog’s back. The NDW guide believes it is because the A31 ‘hogs’ most of the North Downs ridge. Others say it is because in geology and geomorphology the term ‘hog’s back’ is used to denote a long, narrow ridge with a narrow crest and steep slopes of nearly equal inclination on both flanks. You choose!). After lunch, we immediately entered Totford Wood, which with its glorious bluebells and vibrant greens, was a highlight of the walk for many. Next came the village of Puttenham, where dedicated walkers as we all are, we resisted the offer of a refreshment stop at the Good Intent. Instead, we continued on our route to reach two bridges adorned with large wooden crosses, marking the Pilgrim’s Way path. After passing the Watts Gallery and following a long sandy path, we reached the River Wey, where we turned north towards Guildford city centre. It was time for the train home, but not before a short stop to toast a wonderful walk and a successful start to our North Downs Way journey.
A lovely, scenic walk through the Kent countryside, which began and ended at Sevenoaks and took in two historic National Trust properties, Knole House and Ightham Mote. After a short walk through Sevenoaks town centre, our route crossed Knole Park before heading off through typical Kent countryside to the village of Godden Green. The walk continued past oast houses, through orchards and into more woodland before descending to Ightham Mote (a Tudor moated manor house), where we stopped for lunch. At Ightham Mote we joined the Greensand Way, which follows the crest of the Greensand Ridge and provided superb views south across the Weald as we headed back to Knole Park. Finally as we continued through the deer park, we got a closer look at Knole House before heading back into Sevenoaks and on to the station.
North Downs Way. 2: Westhumble to Guildford
Starting the second leg of the North Downs Way at Boxhill & Westhumble Station we followed the crest of the Downs west to Guildford. The route began by passing through Westhumble village but very quickly wound through woods up and onto a ridge overlooking extensive vineyards with Dorking in the distance. Our walk continued along this wooded ridge, providing extensive views over the Surrey countryside to the south. After crossing Ranmore Common, we headed south-west past White Downs, Dunley Wood, and Hackhurst Downs before reaching Netley Heath where we stopped for our picnic lunch. Feeling well-rested, we continued on the well-marked North Downs Way route until we reached the visitor centre at Newlands Corner, for a welcome break. From here we followed the route of one of our 2018 walks, eventually climbing St Martha’s Hill to enjoy further glorious views to the south. The last leg saw us continue on the North Downs Way to meet the River Wey where we headed north to Guildford Station, stopping on the way for a richly deserved drink.
Greensand Way and Devil’s Punchbowl
For once the weather Gods were not smiling on the Longer Walks Group, as we set off from Witley station in light rain, which came and went throughout the day. However, as the previous day had been characterised by heavy rain, punctuated by torrential showers, we got off lightly! At least everyone seemed to be very cheerful, with one walker even describing the weather as ‘a pleasant change’. Our walk today followed the Greensand Way through the Surrey Hills to the small town of Haslemere, and to begin with the path undulated through woodland, with the tree canopy helping to keep the rain at bay. By noon we began to hear traffic noise, and this got louder and louder as we approached the busy A3 London to Portsmouth Road. Fortunately a convenient service tunnel allowed us to pass beneath the hurtling vehicles as we walked on into the village of Thursley. With the rain temporarily halted, we stopped to eat lunch in Thursley churchyard, where we were able to admire the small parish church, characterised by a small wooden shingled belfry and some surviving Anglo-Saxon features. Amongst the many headstones in this churchyard, is one remembering the ‘Unknown Sailor’, an anonymous seafarer murdered nearby in 1786. After lunch our route began to climb steadily along an ancient by-way, as we headed towards Hindhead Common and the summit of Gibbet Hill 150 metres above. ’Well, I wouldn’t want to be climbing this in full sun’, was one wise comment. We were now in the area where the ‘Unknown Sailor’ met his end. While walking back to his ship in Portsmouth and flush with cash, this unfortunate man was set upon and gruesomely murdered by three others, all of whom were swiftly apprehended and later executed on Gibbet Hill. This event clearly caught the imagination, as an account of it features in Dicken’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, written fifty years later. Our (thankfully) safer route across the Common, now took us around the rim of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot owned by the National Trust and now much more peaceful since the A3 was diverted through the Hindhead Tunnel in 2011. After a brief stop to avail ourselves of the facilities at the nearby NT tea-rooms, we began our descent towards Haslemere, skirting the delightfully named Polecat Valley, before entering the outskirts of the town and meeting up with the route of our July 2018 walk on the High Street.
North Downs Way 3: Westhumble to Merstham
The third leg of the North Downs Way was even more stunning than the second. After successfully winning the no-prizes Southern Railway “Hunt the Platform” game at Waterloo Station, a smaller than usual Longer Walks Group resumed our eastbound progress in perfect weather. On leaving Box Hill and Westhumble Station we passed under the A24, then crossed the River Mole. Unfortunately we were unable to cross the famous stepping stones, so the nearby footbridge was used to cross the stream. We entered the woods of Box Hill and embarked on a strenuous climb, gaining 170 metres of height by the time we reached the summit. Having taken in the breath-taking views from Box Hill, we continued eastwards, descending through Oak Wood before rising again to an elevation of 210 metres. A further descent took us down to a clearing above Betchworth Quarry where we stopped for a welcome rest and lunch, before we undertook our final steep climb of the day from the bottom of Juniper Hill to the top of Colley Hill, with fine views over Reigate and environs. Here we rested for a short while in the shade afforded by the Inglis Memorial, and where we were informed by a proud local that Surrey has more trees than any other county.
Then a military curiosity, Reigate Fort, one of a number of fortifications built along the North Downs Way in the 1890s as a response to a threat of a French invasion, and further on a memorial to a B17 plane crashin 1945. From then on we thankfully enjoyed mainly level terrain in the afternoon heat, stopping briefy at the Gatton Park picnic area. Our final 2.5 miles was a gentle descent, through the grounds of a boarding school, then the inevitable golf course to the finish of the walk at The Feathers public house, a few yards from Merstham Station. A memorable walk, marred only in the latter stages but the incessant traffic noise from unseen roads.
Burnham on Crouch to North Fambridge
Up to press, we have been very fortunate with public transport on the days the group has been walking. Given the behaviour of the rail service today, it was time for payback! Suffice it to say that following three separate disruptions to the service, it took longer to get to and from the walk, than it did to complete the ten mile walk itself. Yet miraculously the group made it intact to Burnham on Crouch, where we set out along the northern bank of the river, following the Saltmarsh Coastal Path (SCP). Travelling westwards along the flood embankment, we did have to contend with a rather blustery headwind. The Met Office claimed it was blowing at 25 knots, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. At least the wind kept the rain at bay as we walked through the boatyards and marinas, while enjoying fine views of Wallasea Island on the far side of the river. Next stop was Creeksea, where King Canute allegedly demonstrated a monarch’s inability to control the tides, before we reached ‘The Cliff’ – all 3 metres of it. Our route took us to Althorne passing Bridgemarsh Island on the way. The island was once inhabited and contained a brickworks but is now barely visible at high tide. The SCP then passes Shortpole Reach and Longpole Reach with the Blue House Farm Nature Reserve on the inland side.Soon afterwards we reached North Fambridge Yacht Club and headed inland past the Ferry Boat Inn, originally on the water’s edge but now 200 yards away, it was closed for refurbishment. Pity that, a drink would have been welcome before braving the Greater Anglia rail service!
North Downs Way 4 : Merstham to Oxted
This year seems to have been characterised by both meteorological and transportation difficulties. The walk was originally scheduled for what was predicted to be the hottest day ever in the UK records, in the end it turned out to be only the second hottest, but with temperatures in the mid-thirties the decision was taken to cancel and re-schedule for the following day. Although this meant that some of the group were unable to take part, those who remained had a grand day out, despite the train cancellations which delayed our departure from Finsbury Park, the muggy atmosphere and the intermittent showers. From Merstham Station, we crossed the M25 ( by footbridge!) to re-join the North Downs Way. We then went under the M23, before completing a steep climb up Ockley Hill and heights over 200 metres. We were now walking along the crest of the chalk ridge enjoying the views south over the Weald, although the sound of the M25 traffic was never too far away. South of Caterham we entered an area of woodland, which opened out into a grassy viewing area where we stopped for lunch. Refreshed, we continue eastwards, descending steeply to cross the A22 before climbing to heights of over 200 metres once more. At Gangers Hill on Oxted Downs, we faced our only steep descent, a flight of 109 timber and earth steps constructed to take the NDW around the old Oxted cement works. Once safely past the quarry, a final steep climb provided further fine views to the south, if you were able to block out the sights and sounds of the M25. We were now sharing our route with the Vanguard Way, heading from Croydon to the south coast and soon began our descent into Oxted, going beneath the motorway for one final time before walking through suburban streets to reach the town centre.
Thanet Coast (Margate to Ramsgate)
Our day at the seaside followed the Viking Coastal Trail, from Margate to Ramsgate in North East Kent. Upon arrival at Margate Station we quickly made our way to the sandy beath, passing the famous Dreamland entertainment complex (the modernist cinema of which was the inspiration for the 1930s super cinema), and the Turner Contemporary. From there we continued along a wide promenade to Cliftonville, where we encountered a series of derelict buildings and a Grade II listed Art Deco cliff lift. As it was low-tide our walk leader guided us along a series of sandy bays populated with day visitors and school children on end-of-term trips. This route enabled us to admire, at close quarters, the striking sea stacks of Botany Bay and the cliffs, brilliantly white in the bright sunshine. After a lunch stop at Charles Dickens’s “our English watering-place”, Broadstairs, we followed the Thanet Coastal Path, to Louisa Bay and Dumpton Bay, and on to Ramsgate where we enjoyed a refreshing drink in the former Royal Victoria Pavilion. The walk to the station was surprisingly long for tired legs, although we did have a few minutes to admire the lofty booking hall of a stunning railway station building before our return journey. All in all, a splendid day’s walking in brilliant sunshine. The only disappointment for a seaside walk – we saw no piers!
North Downs Way 5 : Oxted to Otford
The walk started at Oxted Station, from where we retraced our steps to the end of NDW4 in order to pick up the beginning of section 5. Once there, we soon climbed a rather steep slope to reach Botley Hill, which not only sits on the Greenwich meridian but is also the highest point of the North Downs Way at 853 feet (260 metres) above sea level. It is also claimed that the summit of Botley Hill can be seen from Ally Pally! Suitably impressed, we continued through woodland, fields and country lanes, eventually reaching a NDW milestone. This informed us that we were leaving Surrey and entering the county of Kent, where we will remain for the rest of the North Downs Way. Shortly afterwards we stopped for a lunch break at a field offering lovely views to the south. The road noise from the M25 just to our south was evident here, but if you concentrated on the landscape and the birdsong it became less obvious. After lunch we continued to walk through fields, then, after a steep, but short descent we reached a busy road that took us across the M25 and into the hamlet of Dunton Green. From there we headed east across fields towards Otford. As we entered the village, we crossed the River Darent, to walk along the High Street, where we finished our walk at The Bull for some well-earned refreshment before heading to the station for the train ride home.
After recent transport and weather issues, our luck seemed to have turned around! The whole group arrived on Marylebone station in plenty of time for our train, which deposited us punctually in Wendover, in lovely summer sunshine. Although a circular, the walk was made up of two distinct parts. In the morning, we followed some less well known Chiltern paths, climbing through fields and woodlands to reach the tiny village of Dunsmore. We continued to Little Hampden Common then headed west over farmland, where we stopped to watch a group of 4 or 5 red kites soaring and gliding in the skies above, before walking on through Sergeant’s Wood. We soon reached our half way mark and our picnic spot at Whiteleaf Hill, which provided the added luxury of shady oak trees and proper picnic tables. It was here at Whiteleaf Hill that we picked up the Ridgeway National Trail, which we followed back to Wendover, as it climbed and dipped along the edge of the Chiltern scarp. Our first steep climb was to the summit of Whiteleaf Hill where we were rewarded with glorious panoramic views of the Chiltern escarpment, the market town of Princes Risborough, and the Vale of Aylesbury. After plunging back into the woods, we descended to Lower Cadsden, passing local hostelry the Plough. This is the pub which hit the news fairly recently as the place where David and Samantha Cameron left their eight-year-old daughter behind after Sunday lunch, as well as for the much publicised visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. Next came another steep climb, this time over the beautiful chalk grasslands of Pulpit Hill. Reaching the top, a slightly less steep descent brought us to the edge of Maple Wood and the boundary path around Chequers, the official country residence of the P.M. Regrettably the latest incumbent was nowhere to be seen, (which was a shame as a number of group members would have liked a word!) so we left the warning signs and CCTV cameras behind to begin our final climb to the summit of Coombe Hill. At 260 metres above sea level, and adorned with an imposing monument to the fallen of the Boer War, Coombe Hill provided even more magnificent views over the Vale of Aylesbury. This was a spot to be savoured, so we tarried a while at the foot of the monument drinking in the glorious vista spread out before us. By now we were on the final stretch, and with the prospect of well-earned refreshment we descended Bacombe Hill, and headed into Wendover and the Shoulder of Mutton.
North Downs Way 6 : Halling to Otford
Although the North Downs Way 5 ended at Otford Station, due to logistics, we reversed this section and walked back to Otford from Halling. This is a beautiful section of the North Downs Way of over 15 miles, much of it through woodland, but its length and the repeated steep ascents and descents made it quite challenging. From Halling Station we had a walk of just over a mile and a climb of 135 metres to join the North Downs Way, going in a westerly direction. The route was mainly level as we headed towards Great Buckland, where we turned south to walk to Holly Hill, where we deviated a short distance from the Way for a refreshment stop on the hilltop. We then descended the steep chalk scarp to follow the Pilgrim’s Way along the foot of the Downs. As we approached Trosley Country Park, we climbed back up to the top of the ridge and enter Vigo Village, where we had our picnic in the grounds of The Villager pub, where we celebrated with cake a very special birthday.
After lunch we continued through woodland, eventually descending the chalk once more to cross over the M20 and walk through the village of Wrotham. A further level section along the Pilgrim’s Way ended at Chalk Pit Wood, and the last of the steep climbs. Our final section undulated slightly with good viewpoints at Kester and Otford Mount as we gradually descend to Otford Station.
Peak District Residential
On the evening of Tuesday 10 September, the group gathered in Buxton’s Old Sun Innto discuss the next day’s walk over dinner. The weather forecast threatened early rain which would clear mid-morning, suggesting a decent day for our Wyedale walk. It turned out to be somewhat wet when the bus deposited us at Topley Pike quarry, but as we headed off along the Monsal Trail to Millers Dale, the skies cleared and we were able to enjoy the limestone scenery around us. After watching some youngsters abseiling off a viaduct, we were ready for morning coffee in the former Millers Dale station.
Next came the serious business! A descent into Millers Dale was followed by a lung-busting climb through the woods to reach the open moorlands near Priestcliffe. A level walk then took us across the A6, before we climbed again to reach Taddington Moor at over 400m above sea level. Following a stretch across the moors, we descended into the village of Chelmorton, and headed for Deepdale. Deep Dale is a fine example of a dry, limestone, valley that has been very aptly named. The descent is steep, and is probably one of the most challenging we have done. However with care and a lot of mutual encouragement the group made it safely down to the valley floor, only to have to climb out of the other side. We were now on the home stretch, with only farmland and a few stiles between Deep Dale and Buxton. After 11 miles of walking and 550 metres of ascent, we finished our walk with a drink in the Buxton Brewery Tap, refreshment being absolutely essential!
On Wednesday, we exchanged limestone for sandstone and a walk along the Goyt Valley. Trying very hard not to be mistaken for disaster tourists, we took the train to Whaley Bridge, passing the recently damaged Toddbrook Reservoir as we headed out of town.
Our route climbed steadily towards the Goyt Forest, finally arriving at the Fernilee Reservoir. A gentle walk along the water’s edge followed until we reached Errwood Reservoir and the beginning of the moorland section of our walk. We continued south, above the reservoir, climbing away from the shore to meet the track of a dismantled railway at Goyt’s Lane. Following the track across the moor, we eventually reached a bricked up tunnel entrance from where we climbed to the watershed of the Goyt Basin at 420 metres above sea level. From here there were fine views, north along the Goyt Valley to Whaley Bridge, and south to Buxton and the area we walked on the previous day. On reaching the edge of the moorland plateau, we descended a steep, wooded hillside to reach the Cavendish golf club and soon arrived at the outskirts of Buxton. After a stroll through the beautifully restored Pavilion Gardens, we ended the walk having completed another 10 miles and climbed another 530 metres. There was just time for another visit to the Buxton Brewery Tap, before catching trains for London, and no doubt a well earned snooze as well.
Wendover Woods & Tring Reservoirs
As daylight hours reduce, we are gradually starting to walk a little closer to home, so the first of our October walks saw the group returning to the Chilterns with a walk starting from the pretty village of Wendover. We are also beginning to link walks together, so today’s walk joined together the Tring/Ivinghoe Beacon walk of May 2018, with the Wendover/Chequers walk completed in August of this year. Considering that we seem to be living through a monsoonal wet season at the moment, we were also fortunate to start the walk in fine weather, beginning with a stroll past the small market and then along Wendover High Street, admiring the many fine buildings along the way (there are 113 listed buildings in Wendover, many of them thatched). On leaving the town centre, we embarked upon a very steep climb of 120 metres, which took us up Boddington Hill and into Wendover Woods, a 325-hectare open access woodland site managed by the Forestry England. After catching our breath (and a hot drink) at the café on the summit, we immediately walked back down the other side of the hill, skirting the perimeter of RAF Halton to reach the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Harelane Bridge. The remaining route of the walk had a watery theme, as we followed the canal to Buckland Wharf, before cutting across country to Wilstone Reservoir (built to supply water to the Grand Union Canal) and into Wilstone village, where we had a somewhat chilly lunch stop on the village green. Retracing our steps, we continued along the shore of Wilstone Reservoir to rejoin the route of the Wendover Arm, as far as Little Tring Farm, where we followed footpaths and causeways around Tringford and Marsworth Reservoirs. We soon reached the Grand Union Canal (GUC), and followed the towpath south-east past Marsworth Locks, the junction of the Wendover Arm with the GUC and the canal side settlement of Bulbourne. The final mile took us along a section where the canal had been engineered into a deep and wooded cutting, all the way to the end of our walk, close to Tring Station.
Kings Langley to Elstree
We had naturally assumed that all the Group would have travelled together on the train to our Hertfordshire starting point. Hopes were dashed by an incident involving a smoky Northern Line train at Kentish Town (or the latest instalment in Janet and Michael’s big adventure) … The walk was described as easy and gentle, starting in Kings Langley and following the Hertfordshire Way, in an anti-clockwise direction for much of its length, crossing the M25 and the M1. Much of the walk crossed exposed farmland, the muddy terrain of which presented quite a challenge : the bridge over the River Colne was particularly treacherous. The walk took us past (in the distance) the former art deco Ovaltine factory (evoking cosy evenings with malted milks drinks for a good night’s sleep), independent schools, a building research establishment, and an early ninetenth century house at Wall Hall built in the Gothick style.
The pick of the villages was Aldenham, with a fine parish church with a characteristic Hertfordshire fleche, and a large green bordered on three sides by white painted Arts & Crafts houses.
At Bricket Wood, we crossed the Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and shortly after passed through the Munden Estate. We stopped for lunch at Round Bush village pub, adjacent to a range of almshouses mostly obscured by vegetation and little else. After lunch the weather deteriorated, and after we left the Hertfordshire Way, we quickened our pace along suburban streets in the drizzle and fading light to Elstree & Borehamwood Station for the train back home. Anyone for Horlicks?
A Roydon circular
It seemed an age since the last long walk, so members of the the Group were anxious at Tottenham Hale Station to be on their way for the short train journey to Roydon, although the eternally apologetic station announcer teased us briefly with threats of delays due to broken-down trains … The good news was that the predicted dire weather did not materialise and we were lucky enough to enjoy a fine sunny day in this dismal Autumn. Our walk was circular, initially by following the Essex/Hertfordshire border along the river, lock and reservoir systems of the Stort and Lee and returning to Roydon Station through countryside via the village of Nazeing.
We enjoyed a splendid lunch at King Harold’s Head at Bumble’s Green where the staff were kind enough to supply a large roll of silver duck tape to patch up a twenty-year old boot that had lost its soul [sic].
In the summer this walk would be described as easy but the recent heavy rains had rendered the paths muddy and quite slippery, as one of the Group discovered to her discomfort. The wide rutted track near Dobbs Weir was particularly challenging as we had to make our way through pools of water, the depths of which were not known. The mystery was that how some walkers with no protective outerwear managed to complete the walk unscathed while others travelled home looking glumly at their mud-bespattered overtrousers! – or is it just a question of balance?
Festive walk : Totteridge to Highgate
The walk was called off because of poor weather, although a festive lunch was enjoyed at the Queen’s, Crouch End.