Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA
Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

As anyone who has read the first two Jabbers will have realised, the current aim of this Newsletter is to spread cheer and frivolity amid the general gloom, so I'll begin with goats. Some of you may have seen the TV footage of them descending from on high upon Llandudno, brazenly munching their way through the locals' front gardens, dining off carefully nurtured bay trees and clattering bold as brass down the deserted high street. The goats are not alone in taking advantage of the lockdown. Suddenly all manner of wildlife, normally spotted only on walks in remoter places, has been venturing forth, from the mummy wild boar and her offspring trotting along the main street of a French village, the impressively antlered deer sunning themselves on the deserted greens of a Harold Hill housing estate to the .New Forest donkey sauntering around the Hampshire village of Beaulieu.

Coincidentally, our newly-appointed Exmouth Correspondent, Julian Pursey, whom some of you may have met on London Group social walks, has chosen a zoological theme - well, ornithological, actually - for his dispatch from Devon, where he is in lockdown with his family:

'I think few Londoners will be unaware of the ring-necked parakeets that clatter and chatter their way through the City's parks and gardens. Speculation concerning their introduction to the Capital includes Jimi Hendrix releasing a pair in Carnaby Street or as escapees from 50's film sets. Take your pick from Treasure Island or The African Queen.

Whatever the true story may be, there is little doubt that they are on the increase and spreading outwards from Greater London. Indeed, in defiance of free movement in Europe strictures by some, they are now well established in the littorals of Belgium and France. And in contravention of Police, Government and Local Authority advice they may have recently flown into Devon presumably to self-isolate.

Whilst out for my daily constitutional last week, I spotted five ring-necked parakeets in trees by the Exmouth seafront theatre. Which may be enough to start a breeding colony.It will be interesting to see how they interact with the resident herring gull gang, who are renowned for not taking any prisoners. The Mods v Rockers of the feathered world?'


You may recall that last week I mentioned Jerome Ripp's impressive record as a walk leader. In response, Jerome helpfully posted the full record on London LDWA's Facebook:  

'My LDWA walk leading total is currently 196 (London group 99, Surrey 43, Thames Valley 33, Sussex 20, Wessex 1). There are also another 18 I have lead for ramblers groups. This is from Sept 2003 to now. I was just planning London walk 100 for Easter Saturday with Marie when Covid 19 took over so it will have to wait for the post-Covid celebrations. Keep walking everyone and hope to see you all soon.'

Indeed, and let's make Jerome's 100th a big occasion. Make it happen, London Group! 


And now, as they say, for something completely different. Evelyn Dunbar was a British artist and illustrator noted, among other things, for her paintings that recorded women's contributions on the home front during the Second World War. She is said to have been passionate about nature, and devoted to the Kent landscape, which features in her depictions of Land Army Girls at work..Many can be viewed online, including one rendering of potato-pickers which particularly resonated, as it brought back memories of the dark night the afore-mentioned Julian Pursey and I attempted to cross a seemingly endless series of these on a long-ago White Cliffs 50, our task made more gruelling by the fact that we were slightly out with our compass bearing and had to go back and start again. 

Below is 'Women's Land Army Hostel', another painting that caught my eye. Scatter a few backpacks around, add a couple of walkers, heads on table as they snatched ten minutes' sleep, and it could be one of the later checkpoints on Day Two of a Hundred.


evelyn dunbar event finish

Women's Land Army Hostel
Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960)



Coming soon!– A new look for the London Group website, and a new Walks Database


You probably noticed that the LDWA’s National website got a new look last summer – well now it’s the turn of the Local Groups.   So this is a heads up to keep an eye out for a new-look London website later in April.   But don’t worry – all your familiar content will still be there, it will just look a bit fresher.

And at the same time, a new “Walks Database” will be created which you will be able to access directly from the main menu bar.   This will make it far easier to access details of all the Local Group social walks that LDWA has organised since 2008 (and at the latest count there were an incredible 14,944 of them).   As well as holding basic information about each walk, our web admins will be able to upload additional information collected on the walk – including a walk report, photos and a GPX file. If a GPX is added, it will be visible on a map, and Members will be able to download it for their own use.   

One of the aims of this new database is to create a library of detailed social walk information which might, in time, become as useful to the LDWA as the database of Long Distance Paths has been.   The addition of GPX files, where available, will make it an even more valuable resource, and may help in the recruitment of new Members.

Note of course we already have an excellent set of walk reports on the London website, going right back to 2008 in some cases.   In due course, we may start transferring some of these over to the new system, too.

So, during this period of enforced isolation, you might want to look through your old records, and see if you have any old photos or, most importantly, GPX files, which could be added to the new system.   If you do, please send them through to us by reply to this email, and we will arrange them to be uploaded once the new system goes live.   Just remember to identify the date on which they were recorded, so we can match them up to the appropriate walk.



sunningdale social walk






spurs history walk hearing

Three years ago I was contacted by filmmaker Jamie Hearing (pictured above, centre,), who was researching a short documentary about LDWA Hundreds. To give him some idea of what the LDWA did, I invited him on a London Group midweek evening walk, The Spurs History Walk, which finished at Tottenham's lovely community pub, the Antwerp Arms. Jamie went on to record some of the action at the North York Moors 100. His documentary should soon be up on the LDWA website. In the meantime, you can view it here Hundred Documentary




st jude church on cc route

Under normal circumstances, April 4th would have seen London LDWA busy running the 2020 Capital Challenge, complete with a brand new route.  For those with withdrawal symptoms, here's a lovely view of the approach to St Jude's Church on the original route, taken by Steve Lannon on his daily exercise a week-and-a-half back.


Keep on keeping on, everyone, and may all your permitted ventures from home for exercise be happy ones.



London LDWA - http://www.ldwa.org.uk/London