Walk Reports and Photos 2019 (Sep - Dec)

Winter Wimbledon Wander Saturday 28th December 2019

14 walkers started, 2 left after 11 miles, 3 left after 16 miles; 9 finished; 19.3 miles. - leader Jerome Ripp

A perfect winter afternoon for the 70th and final walk of the London group year. Most of the day was spent in the vast green spaces of Wimbledon common, Putney Heath and Richmond Park. There were a number of cultural highlights: a loop around Cannizaro park with a sunken garden and statues of Emperor Haile Sellase and Greek Goddess Diana with fawn. A tour around the grounds of the Thai Buddhist monastery, Buddapadipa; views of the massive construction works around the  famous Tennis courts and St Mary's church with the imposing tomb of Bazalgette who devised the sewer system for London which still operates.
Coffee break in Wimbledon Park and then in and out of the Capital Ring route across Putney Heath with the military monuments  of the Tangier Stone referring to an era where this was a parade and training ground for the army, and the WW1 memorial of locals which included 3 VC's, well spotted by 2 of our eagle eyed group. Penn Ponds and Sidmouth Woods lead to our lunch stop at Pembroke Lodge where we suddenly met the crowds who were not at the Sales. 
Steep drop to Petersham meadows and a short section on the Thames towpath where we saw the Hammerton ferry crossing. Ham House, Ham avenues and common, Ham gate and another crossing of the park to exit at Ladderstiles. Warren Road contains the elaborate Warren House and Telegraph cottage. A previous building on this site had been on the 18th C Semaphore route and housed Eisenhower from 1942-1944 as he planned the D-Day invasion. A brief estate agent tour of multi-million properties before the final crossing of Wimbledon common over Caesar's camp, a hillfort with a very dubious link to Caesar just complete with the last vestiges of daylight, and finishing through Wimbledon village with its boutique style shops.
Photos by Ian Watson are on the group Facebook site.

Winter Solstice Walk Saturday 21st December 2019

26 walkers, 18 miles - leader Keith Lane.

26 walkers started

7 left at Greenwich (12 miles) 

19 walkers witnessed sunset at Stave Hill

12 reached the Wetherspoons at Cannon Street Station

The Wetherspoons at Bromley south was busier than usual with 25 walkers congregating for the start of the walk.

We headed out of Bromley using conveniently sited alleyways to Sundridge Park where we picked up the Green Chain Walk.  Following the recent heavy rain it wasn’t surprising that the footpaths were muddy but a large puddle blocking the path in Elmstead Woods was a surprise and needed a divert.

Another walker joined us at Eltham Palace just in time to join in coffee and the leader’s home baked cake at Eltham  Park South.  After Oxleas Woods we circumnavigated Severndroog Castle and crossed Eltham and Woolwich Commons to reach Greenwich Park and the Observatory. 

Surprisingly there were empty tables at the Wetherspoons in Greenwich but lunch had to be kept to 45 minutes to ensure we would arrived at Stave Hill in time for sunset at 15:52 which we did with 5 minutes to spare.

The remainder of the walk took us along the Thames crossing London Bridge to reach The Wetherspoons at Cannon Street Station to meet up with 4 Strollers from the Surrey Walking Club.  Fortunately this venue also had spare tables.

This was the third Winter Solstice Walk which the leader initiated as an antidote for the Summer Solstice Challenge Event held in 2017.   Based on the feedback from participants it may become a permanent feature in the walks programme, albeit with different routes.  However the three key elements, Wetherspoons, Stave Hill and light hearted banter will not change.

Photos by Barry Arnold are on the group Facebook site.

Epping Forest Circular Saturday 14th December 2019

19 walkers, 17 miles - leader Lonica Vanclay. Mud rating: 10/10

19 people in total joined me for the walk around Epping Forest.  Light clouds and drizzle in the morning cleared by midday to blue sky and weak sunshine.  In an effort to minimise the mud, the walk was 17 miles rather than 18, cutting out the muddiest mile.  However, at this time of year and in the forest mud is not totally avoidable and there were stretches where it was definitely present.  We could sometimes dodge round the worst bits, but sometimes it was unavoidable. Oh well part of the fun!   And with lovely trees, fields, three herds of deer, views from the hills, Queen Elizabeth's hunting lodge, Copped Hall and Ambresbury Bank (one of the reputed places of Boadicea's last stand) - there were plenty else to enjoy - and that is without mentioning the conversations.  This being London LDWA there was a splinter group who headed to Wetherspoons at the end for even more merriment!

Photos by Gavin Fuller; more from Gavin on the group Facebook site.

Grange Hill Saturday 7th December 2019

13 walkers, 18.2 miles - leader Bola Baruwa. Mud rating: 11/10

Mud. Mud. Mud. A very muddy bit. Some more mud. Lunch. Mud. Mud, Even more mud. Finish. No head torches needed.

Photos by Gavin Fuller; more from Gavin and Ian Fairweather on the group Facebook site.

The Tarmac Walkers Go Upmarket 2 Midweek Pop-Up Wednesday 4th December 2019

21 walkers, 14 miles for most, 17 for some - leader Ron Williamson

A glorious sunny day for all those lucky enough to be able to enjoy a mid week stroll in our capital. For the record our meanderings started at Ladbroke Grove and explored Notting Hill, Holland Park, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Victoria and Westminster, before crossing the river to finish at Waterloo. A short rest in the Royal Festival Hall revitalised six members and spurred them on for an additional three miles to Tower Bridge and the Liberty Bounds.

Photos by Peter Colley and Keith Lane; more from them on the group Facebook site

Beane to Minram Saturday 30th November 2019

11 walkers, 18.4 miles - leader Peter Aylmer. Mud rating 5/10

Sometimes the weather does good things and today was one of those days. A bit chilly at the start, but nothing a brisk stride down to the first of today's rivers, the Beane, couldn't cure. And soon we were deep into rural Hertfordshire, just 20 miles from the capital but a world away from London's bustle and noise. We even had a ladder stile to contend with, bridging the stout wall around the Woodhall Estate. The Estate are good to walkers. They provide many permissive paths, which we made good use of for the remainder of the walk.
The Grandison at Bramfield sounds posh and indeed there were many diners tucking into the fine menu, but the staff welcomed us happily. From here the walk alternated between woods and fields, with views over the Mimram valley to the delights of Welwyn. Those with eagle eyes just about managed to beat the dark - and the 1635 was conveniently late for those headed back to town. 

Photos by Gavin Fuller; more from Gavin and Ian Fairweather on the group Facebook site.

The City at Night Midweek Pop-Up Tuesday 19th November 2019

17 walkers, 6 miles - leader Ron Williamson

A perfect day to unwind in the cool of an Autumn evening as 17 members and friends enjoyed some of the many facets of the capital.

Through dark and gloomy ancient alleyways to the bright spacious passage ways of the towering office blocks, the unloved litter-strewn lanes of Aldgate to the impeccably maintained courtyards of the nearby former warehouses of the East Indian Co, the all-embracing view from a roof top of the modern city to the reminder of its past as we walked through the Roman Wall.

Always a good way to spend a few hours and thanks to the LDWA for the providing the motivation necessary to set us on our way.

As is often the case on such walks some members opted to finish at places more convenient for their homeward journey, the leader received three messages from walkers that others had left the walk, but unfortunately could not be certain who they were referring to as no names were mentioned, hopefully this accounted for the two missing at the next number check. After a short wait and a walk back to the previous junction the decision was taken to carry on, hopefully nobody was deserted and abandoned.

Photos by Paul Lawrence and Keith Lane.

Craddingdon Circular Saturday 16th November 2019

26 walkers, 18.2 miles, 1,543ft of ascent - leader Gavin Fuller. Mud ratiing: 9/10

The leader got quite a surprise to discover just how many people had convened at East Croydon station for a circular exploration of the area to its south-east. The walk took in 10 woods, 3 parks, a nature reserve and a Site of Special Interest, as well as passing an unsolved crime scene of 90 years previous, a water tower which could hold a million pints pf beer and a memorial tree to the inventor of the teleprinter. The rain of the previous week had a noticeable effect on the paths, which were considerably muddier than on the leader's recce a week earlier, but despite this, some interesting ups and downs and a footpath the locals clearly don't people to walk all got around safely on a walk showing this area at its autumnal best.

Photos by Gavin Fuller and Ian Watson; more by Ian and Stephen Lannon on the group Facebook site.

South of the A12 Saturday 9th November 2019

17 walkers, 17 miles - leader Ron Williamson

The Essex countryside was clothed in secrecy as 17 walkers set forth from Ingatestone station in thick fog, which was eventually replaced by bright sunshine, then drizzle and finally rain for the last half mile to Harold Wood. As expected ground conditions in places were very wet but remarkably largely mud free.

As is usual in this part of the county foot paths were well maintained but perhaps by an overzealous stylish work force with a passion for creating the most intricate ways of providing access from one field to the next, 4 stiles being required to bridge a gap of 20ft.

This proved to be a varied walk ranging from wide open views across the rolling countryside to the autumn beauty of the ancient forest of Thorndon Park, always close to town it was nevertheless possible to complete some 17 miles with only 1 mile being on road.

Still not sure how we managed to do an extra two miles, but clearly the advance party charging ahead through the woods in search of refreshments contributed, especially as they missed the correct turn and had to retrace their steps.

Photos by Ian Watson; more from Ian on the group Facebook site.

Sanderstead to Purley Saturday 2nd November 2019

11 walkers, 18 miles - leader Ian Fairweather

11 hardy souls turned up at Sanderstead Station despite a looming storm forecast and the Rugby World Cup between England and South Africa kicking off at 9.00am!

The rain started in sync with the walk and the wind at gusts of 45mph came as predicted by the Met Office.

The view from Addington Hills was somewhat restricted by the gloom and before lunch we lost four members due to lack of equipment/equipment failiures/general wetness.

The rain abated just before lunch at 12:30pm at The Bells at Chelsham and started again as we left, though not as bad as the morning. 

7 people managed it to the end at Purley Station at about 4.30pm including our new member Angela whose first LDWA walk will probably be her wettest. She said she had thoroughly enjoyed it.

Even though there was excessive mud and some of the paths were raging torrents you could white water raft on we managed 17 miles.

Photos by Ian Watson are available on the group Facebook site

To the Mouth of the Thames Saturday 26th October 2019

15 walkers, 20 miles - leader Ron Williamson

Described by some as a magical landscape of marshland, lagoons, ditches and sea, the area east of Southend is for me not somewhere that I find myself easily attracted to despite it being on my doorstep.

14 brave souls, however, joined me on a grey overcast day prepared to face the predicted gales and rain as they explored for themselves what can be dire soulless countryside, maybe it was ignorance or perhaps the lack of contours on the map which attracted them.

The first five miles meandered in a generally northern direction towards the river Roach and a coffee stop at Barling Magna nature reserve with expansive views across the valley. So far, so good no mud and good paths, no rain and the wind behind us.

Now heading south towards the welcoming pub at Little Wakering, more good paths across remarkably dry fields, and still dry and warm as we consumed some of our provisions in the garden.

Ensuring that we had a good supply of emergency rations it was time to head east towards the seawall and the desolate Essex coastal marshes. The top of the sea wall proved to be a grand grassy pathway  as we made our way to Haven Point and the mouth of the Thames, still dry but becoming increasingly  windy (see group photo). As we travelled on towards the Broomway, a footpath through the sea, a sharp squall reminded us how remote and bleak marshland through a firing range can appear. Soon, however, after a diversion around more MOD land, we approached Shoeburyness with its beach facing the North Sea.

The full force of the elements were met full on as we turned the corner to complete the final 3 miles into the centre of Southend. The worst of the storm soon abated as the sun sunk into the Thames and below the horizon. Shame it was not visible through rain and drizzle.

Can’t wait for next visit due October 2022.

Photos by Nigel Heys and Keith Lane.

Hampshire Stroll Saturday 12th October 2019

6 walkers, 20 miles - leader Nigel Heys

Six people gathered at Farnham Station in appropriate weather for walking St. Swithun's Way. The route to the Way passed through the older parts of Farnham. We followed St. Swithun's Way for most of the morning with a stop at Bentley Church to have a sheltered break. We passed Pax Hill formerly owned by Baden Powell but now an old people's home, without a boy scout in sight. We visited the church at Upper Froyle and passed an Austin Healey restorer having an open day. 
We left St. Swithun's Way to head to Holybourne for a lunch break at the White Hart. In the afternoon we passed Neatham Mill the headed to Binstead Church where we viewed Montgomery's grave (see photo). The route then passed through Alice Holt Forest  and back to Farnham Station.

The Tarmac Walkers Go Upmarket Tuesday 8th October 2019

22 walkers, 14 miles - leader Ron Williamson

The second Tarmac Walkers meet of the season was enthusiastically anticipated by the host of members who gathered outside Sloan Square station on an overcast autumn day.

Hopefully expectations were fulfilled as we spent the day wandering through some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods of London, in our best Gore-Tex we mingled with the rich and illustrious probably creating a new fashion trend.  A mid afternoon monsoon quickly emptied the boulevards of pedestrians but clothed in this new vogue the LDWA were undeterred. until we reached the next station, that is, when half our number decided that enough was enough.

The rain soon stopped, however, and exploring Mayfair and St James added an additional interest filled four miles to our walk.

47 places of the 50 listed on our itinerary, which can be downloaded from https://www.ldwa.org.uk/lgt/downloads/London/TWA_go_upmarket_OCt19.pdf., were visited, three being bypassed in our dash to seek shelter from the elements.

It was, therefore, left to just 10 of us to confront the eco-warriors guarding our destination of Trafalgar Square. The late afternoon sun must have calmed everyone as all was peaceful and the uniforms of the warriors far more bright and cheerful than our own.

Photos by Ian Watson; more from Ian, Barry Arnold and Charlotte Minchell on the group Facebook page

Not the Christmas Walk Saturday 28th September 2019

13 walkers, 19 miles - leader Neil Cook

Report not received from leader.

Alliteration G Goodnestone x2 Sunday 22nd September 2019

9 walkers, 23 miles - leader Peter Jull

A clashing Sussex Stride distracted and engineering works deterred all bar 9. Across the longest railway footbridge in the country led to Faversham’s peaceful land of the dead through which the route out of town was found. New reinstatements and old reinstatements newly cultivated out confounded way finding until a genuine de-hopped hop garden, once ubiquitous here but now a scarcity. Goodnestone No1’s tiny and now defunct church was viewed inside and photographed out. Much orchard country and many minor roads reached The Woodland Trust’s mostly unwooded Victory Wood where a bench provided elevenses and later, views back across the Swale. Into properly wooded Blean "easy to get lost in" Woods with it’s up to 7-way path junctions, a few GPS consulting hesitations found the exit onto the easy to get lost on University of Kent at Canterbury’s campus which was less perfectly perambulated. Two of us being employees found themselves unexpectedly passing their places of work but were able to access its comfort facilities. Partly down the ex-railway Crab & Winkle line into the city, picnicers perched peacefully by the riverside while pubbers found their target unopen ‘til 2pm. Adjacent pizza & chip shops provided sustenance partaken at a bus stop beside the decidedly un-peaceful A28. Out of city on the Stour Valley Walk to turn up above Fordwich and across Christchurch University’s playing fields where faces known to one were trialling fresher rugbyists while others practised rarely seen lacrosse. Dry into woods, before reaching the exit it was showering. Into more woods, before reaching the exit it was dry. Forced by forecasts into carrying waterproofs all day they were never needed more than this. Down past solar farm & fishing lakes to cross the gurgling Nailbourne at Littlebourne’s mill then much big arable and the finish was literally in sight but Goodnestone No 2 had not yet been reached. More big arable found its Fitzwalter Arms open but far too late. Its bigger church abuts stately gardens unseen behind their high walls. A track (long), paddock (big) arable (big) & road (fairly long) hooked back to reach the finish at Adisham station after 8½ hours and transport home.

Photos by Peter Jull

Escape from Dagenham 2019 Midweek Pop-Up Friday 20th September 2019

12 walkers, 15 miles - leader Ron Williamson

A gloriously sunny day which was enjoyed by 8 walkers from London group and 4 from Essex & Herts.

Our escape from Dagenham led us 9 miles eastwards virtually to the M25 which became today’s boundary. The urban expanse of our starting point seemed far away as we enjoyed the rapidly maturing woodlands of Thames Chase, which now covers many acres of former gravel pits and industrial wasteland. In addition to well-maintained public footpaths there has now been established many miles of walkways open to the public.

We were informed that next year will be the 30th anniversary of this project and to mark the occasion a 30-mile hike, visiting most of the trust’s woodlands, is being planned. A possible contender for inclusion in our next year’s walk programme!

Our return journey followed the Upminster Circular walk which conveniently led us back to our destination at the end of the District Line.

An escape which probably exceeded most people’s expectation and although never very far from suburbia included less than two miles of pavement bashing.

Photos by Ian Watson

The Return of the Tarmac Walkers Club Midweek Pop-Up Thursday 12th September 2019

18 walkers, 11 miles - leader Ron Williamson

Another day another time and another chance to start our wanderings with a visit to the roof top of 120 Fenchurch Street to gain a panoramic view of our planned exploration. A stroll through Borough, Newington, Waterloo and Lambeth was the agenda and with so much to see it was no surprise that a few short cuts were taken so as to finish on time

My personal highlights include the sign for Axe & Bottle yard, Lambeth Workhouse where a young Charlie Chaplin once lived, the mosaics hidden away in dingy railway arches, and the history of Lambert in stone on the millennium path in Archbishop’s Park. So much of to see but we still had time for a most relaxing afternoon tea in the late afternoon sunshine.

Details of the places visited can be accessed at: https://www.ldwa.org.uk/lgt/downloads/London/South_of_the_river_part_2_2019.pdf

Photos by Barry Arnold; more by Barry on the group Facebook site

Sevenoaks to Tonbridge Saturday 7th September 2019

14 walkers, 20 miles - leader Jerome Ripp

The original leader was indisposed so at the last minute I took over the role. I had walked substantial parts of the route on other leads but without the benefit of an official recce there were some moments of doubt. However I had several assistants within the group with knowledge and technology who ably supported me so that we could enjoy a pleasant early autumn day with some splendid Kent scenery. There were fine views of Bough Beech reservoir from the Greensand ridge and the long descent into the Low Weald took us to lunch at the Henry 8th pub in Hever. Here we played the role of extras in a wedding at the church opposite, the first of several that we passed en route. The afternoon section mostly followed the Eden Valley Walk with some variations and a stop at the picture book village of Penshurst where a local lady was keen to impart lots of historical information. Tonbridge station was reached at 5.30 exactly as stated at the start but there were only 10 of us. One had left officially at lunch but 3 others had succumbed to the temptations of photos and berries: Since Pillbox was one of them, I am confident that they all reached a safe haven and are not wandering round the Kent countryside.

Photos by Ian Watson on the group Facebook site