Sunday, 22 February 2009

Spring Sunshine at Ightam Mote

Yesterday saw eleven Hampstead Ramblers enjoying the spring sunshine on a ten mile ramble from Borough Green to Sevenoaks. The walk leader was Jane Rosoux who sent this report and took the photographs.

"We soon left the built-up area of Borough Green and it was not long before we arrived at Ightham Parish Church....

... which had a number of interesting shields on its walls, two of which are depicted...

We passed a curious assemblage of sheets, and negotiated a steep and very muddy flight of stone steps on a bridlepath leading to the hill fort at Oldbury.

[The steps look like something out of Tolkien. S!]

The terrain was quite varied and interesting, including sunken paths, and we descended Raspit Hill via another bridlepath, part of which was so steep that high, wide, timber-edged steps had been constructed to help horses keep their footing.

When we came to Ightham Mote we stopped for lunch

and some members of the party enjoyed delicious National Trust fare. After lunch and a few navigational errors which took us along some attractive paths with good views via Bitchet Green we passed through the deer fence into Knole Park.

Despite the fact that the house and other facilities were still closed for the winter many people were out and about enjoying the attractive grounds, including the golf course. On reaching Sevenoaks Leisure Centre the party split and some members enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and cakes before following the others to Sevenoaks Station and a train back to London.

We were graced by the presence of John and Clare Kirkbride. Both John and Clare have led many walks for the Hampstead Ramblers, though as John favours easy paces and Clare is a human whirlwind it is rare indeed to find them on a walk together.

They are leaving England for a new life in Austria soon. Everyone who knows them wishes them all the best, and the Committee would like to thank them for all of their work in the past."

Clare and John Kirkbride. We wish them good health and happy walking.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Lewes to Polegate - Going the Extra Mile

Our Walks Organiser, Jane Rosoux, sent in this post and the photographs too. Jane was on a joint Hampstead / South Bank Group ramble last Saturday, 14th February.

"Ten intrepid ramblers set out from Lewes Station at 10.45 am, two hours after leaving Victoria Station."

"The party consisted of the leader, Tim Johnson (Centre, above), and myself from the Hampstead Group plus 4 from the South Bank Group, 2 from the Blackheath Group and 1 each from the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster and North West London Groups."

"We started nearly an hour later than planned because of engineering works between Three Bridges and Lewes and a consequent rather bumpy bus journey in an elderly double-decker bus"...

"The weather was dry and slightly warmer than in recent days and one of our number soon removed his T-shirt after a steep climb up Saxon Down. We then dropped down to Glynde and had fairly level

but very muddy going past West Firle and Charleston Farmhouse to reach Selmeston at 1.50 pm where 6 members of the party enjoyed delicious food at the 'Barley Mow' pub, well deserved after 9 strenuous miles."

"After lunch we climbed up to the South Downs Way then dropped

down to Alfriston to cross the Cuckmere River, which was still high after recent snow and rain. We then had our third and last ascent up Wilmington Hill from the top of which we were able to enjoy an impressive sunset..."

"...then contoured round Folkington Hill and eventually dropped down to civilisation, reaching Polegate Station just minutes before the 6.06 pm train to Lewes. The rail replacement bus from there was quicker than on the outward journey and we soon caught a fast train back to Victoria where we arrived at around 7.50 pm, 11 hours after setting out. The total distance walked was 17 miles and there was also 1700 ft of climbing but one or two members of the party felt fresh enough to contemplate going on another walk the following day!"

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Snowy Sarratt

Below freezing temperatures ensured that the few hardy souls who got to Chorleywood this Saturday had a snowy welcome.

If you go through Chorleywood, make sure you have enough time to pause and enjoy the free art-gallery - they have a splendid collection of London Transport posters and cards in the underpasses...

Mind you, the fares have gone up a little....

There was no shortage of footpaths in this part of the Chilterns

Jane, Hampstead's Walks Organiser, took the next couple of images;

There was a Christmassy feel to the woods.

This weathervane atop the Pavilion at Chorleywood Cricket Club prophesied England's fate in the West Indies later in the day...

This was a moderately paced walk. A lunch stop at the Boot Public House in Sarratt provided a welcoming open fire, and Cheesey Chips for added energy.

Left to Right, Joyce (who joined us from the Richmond Group), our Walk Leader, the aptly-named Robin Midwinter, Jane, yours truly, and my wife Angela.

This group photo by Jane gives an idea of the territory we covered in our eight mile walk through the Chess valley.

"Undulating Terrain" is how we describe it in our walk guide.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Herts to Start, then Essex Again

On Sunday nine of us met at Broxbourne station on a very cold morning with a promise of snow in the air. We were walking the last ten mile stage of the West Anglian Way.

We were led by Henriette Van Zaelen, picture below in the grey beret.

Checking the route..

An icy wind nipped at our faces but gave the yachting fraternity some sport.

One of the more unusual features of the walk was a pair of obelisks marking the Greenwich Meridian. This one was in the north.

And then, exactly a kilometre to it's south, this one, proudly modelled by yours truly, standing in the eastern hemisphere.

Towards the end of the walk we arrived at Waltham Abbey, burial place of King Harold.

This splendid monk, carved from Epping oak, gazes towards the Abbey. Perhaps he is dreaming of toasted teacakes. (We can recommend the ones at Philpotts!).

And finally, in odd animals corner... A reminder that if you go down to the woods today you are sure of a big surprise... We met this fellow...

A Busy Weekend

This weekend was a busy one for London Walkers. The TFL funded WalkLondon event saw dozens of led walks being held over the weekend.

On Saturday Angela and I joined fellow Hampstead Ramblers Michael and Olga Way on a walk through Epping Forest and up to Debden. Over twenty people joined Michael, who led, and Olga, who was back-marker.

We stopped at Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge for a look round.

The lord and Lady of the Lodge were there to greet us.

We had all brought our own sandwiches and had to decline the sumptuous luncheon laid out before us.

Michael led from the front...

The walk was only around five miles, but gave us some superb views of the wintry Essex countryside.