Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA


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

I have been lucky over the last few months, living with a husband, a son and a dog in a big house. I've had both the joy of company and the reassurance that my loved ones are all right, plus enough room to hide if I want a bit of personal space to work. What I've really missed, though, are friends. On Saturday, I went on my first proper long day walk in the countryside, a non-LDWA one in Essex profonde led by Ron Williamson. The Danbury Ridge was originally an April walk advertised in the Groups programme in December 2019 Strider. I'd planned to go on it as a warm-up for The Ridgeway 40 in May, but we all know what happened. So it was lovely when Ron contacted me to say he was belatedly leading it on an unofficial basis.

We saw all sorts of interesting things on the walk through the forest of Wickham Bishop and Danbury Nature Reserve, including an ant mound, or mountain, (pictured below); the field church of St.Peter's, adopted by the Friends of Friendless Churches, with the bright glimpse of a stained glass window in the darkness through a crack in the bolted door; a wooden trestle bridge (the last one left in the country) built for the defunct railway; and the rivers Blackwater and Chelmer. In spite of a Famous Five-esque stop at the Pear Tree Pantry for ice cream and ginger beer, the heat of the day was pretty challenging, so we hung up our boots at Danbury rather than Chelmsford and did the final 5 miles by bus. The best thing of all was seeing familiar faces. These were the first friends I'd seen since the middle of March. If I didn't know it already, it brought home to me how important my LDWA 'family' is in my life. As we had our final rest stop in a shady bower at the Cricketers Arms, we all agreed that if the bleak times return later on in the year then at least we'll have piled up some lovely memories to sustain us.

 

witham to chelmsford kickoff

Kick-off - Minna, Joelle, Ron, Dolores and me at Witham station on a still-cool Saturday morning. Things soon heated up...

 

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ant mound wickham bishops

Things I never knew  - that an ant hill could be this big. We stumbled on this one (or rather, avoided stumbling on it) in the forest at Wickham Bishops

 

 

morty trying to cool

After six hours in the sun,  by the time we reached Danbury we all felt a bit like Morty

 

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Social walk protocols

Good news - constraints are being lifted slightly. Marie has been letting leaders know that some small revisions have been made to our London walks guidance. There are still, sadly, a limit on participants (5 plus the leader), but social walks can now start and finish at train stations, which mean that linear walks are an option again, and that non-drivers can access them.  

Marie is happy to advertise multiple walks in any given week to give people a chance to join a walk. Ideally 1-2 weeks notice would be great. We are getting more requests for mid week and short evening walks if anyone has anything up their sleeve they could offer. 

No walks will be advertised in full on the website to avoid people just turning up / non LDWA members trying to attend.

 

 

 

The Borises

 

Over lockdown Ron Williamson completed 144 walks from home at an average of 6.05 miles per day. They were, he says, 'a bit lonely at times as 128 of them were on my lonesome'. The LDWA was  a great help with the two monthly challenges and of course the virtual 100, and he is still trying to persuade the powers to be that his completion of the 214 Borises should be included in the Hill Walkers Register.

What, you may ask, are the Borises? Over to Ron for an explanation:

 

'They are roads and footpaths within a one mile radius of my home. The challenge of walking all kept me occupied during the first month of lockdown. It just happens that there are 214 of them!!, ie the same number as the Wainwrights.'

 

Highlights of reaching the final summit of the round include: 

The flash flood which covered acres of thigh deep mud.

The stepping stones that enabled progress to continue

The seemingly endless scree slope

The vertical cliffs with overhang which almost proved to be almost unclimbable

The leap of faith on the CWA  (Church Wall arrete)

The rock fall just below the summit

The summit trig point

 

Ron adds: 

'This route should not be undertaken lightly and requires full winter gear in all seasons as due to the high altitude the weather can change just like that and in particular ice can rapidly form on the CWA causing the smooth surface to become treacherous whilst the innocent looking mud flats are known to flood as often as twice a day.

The safest way to explore the whole area is with a professional guide, in fact members of the LDWA are invited to base camp, when travel restrictions are lifted, to spend a day in the Borises.'

 

the summiting trig point

'Nearly home at last, just before nightfall'

 

 

final trig point summit  boris

The summit trig point

 

 

 

And finally...

Inspired by Ron's epic conquering of the Borises, I'm working on a personal challenge for September - the Dominics. This will entail walking the distance from my place of residence (Blackheath) to Barnard Castle, and include visits to Lewisham Specsavers for an eye test, to my parents' home (now, alas, the graveyard of St John's Church, Buckhurst Hill), and a river (the Thames Path is handily placed). The challenge will end at the destination pictured below:  

 

elephant and castle tube

 

 

Obviously, I will be justifying my journey at a press conference afterwards. It will take place in my back garden.

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