London 25th Anniversary Walks

London 25th Anniversary Walks, Saturday 12th September 2020

East London

7 Walkers, 17 miles - leader Lonica Vanclay

7 of us set off from Stratford for a 17 mile walk through the Olympic Park, Hackney Marshes, Stamford Hill, Finsbury Park then Parliament Hill, Primrose Hill and Regents and Hyde Parks to the meeting point in St James Park for a delightful toast to the London LDWA for its 25th birthday. It was lovely weather and with lots of greenery and chat en route and at the gathering, it made for a most enjoyable day. Here's to the next 25 years of the London LDWA.

Photographs by Lonica Vanclay; more by Ian Watson on the Group Facebook site

North London

6 Walkers, 17.5 miles - leader Godfrey O'Callaghan

In the end, Colin was the only person to start at Oakwood; everyone else meet at Totteridge and Whetstone. Colin, who has been having trouble with his ankle decided not to go any further. There were two reasons for that – his ankle felt sore after a mid-week walk and he was expecting (and excited) about proofs of a novel he has recently completed – and they were arriving that morning. I will put in a plug for him here. The book’s title is Fifty Paces Forward! a murder mystery for walkers containing all the usual activities of a modern-day novel - the word ‘Fifty’ might give a clue. The book will be available at a special price for LDWA members. 

If one artistic personality wasn’t enough we had another in the shape of Samoan-born Aivale Cole. Her website provides a better introduction to her than I can. Just listen listen to her wonderful voice. I only learnt about Aivale after Susanne emailed me. This was her first walk and she did well to get through it.  

The Dollis Valley Green Walk was followed for the first half of our walk; a pleasant meander along the water course in well wooded surroundings and dappled sunlight. At one point it follows a road for a short distance, passing under the impressive Dollis Valley Viaduct that carries the Norther Line to Mill Hill East. 

Eventually the route turns to the different but no less delightful landscape of Hampstead Garden Village. However, before that, it passes through Little Wood. There took a break in a leafy glade featuring a secluded outdoor theatre. A local dog walker reminded us not to leave litter. Then on to Big Wood before reaching the homes and buildings of the Garden Village itself. The transition from village to Hampstead Heath extension is nicely thought out, even a little grand. and nicely sets one up for the path to Hill Park and the splendid surroundings of Pergola Gardens. They are a delight and we took our lunch break there.  

Crossing Hampstead Heath it was fairly easy to find a quiet route but eventually the packed summit of Parliament Hill had to be faced for the view and obligatory photo over London. We moved quickly on though to Gospel Oak where we entered the eye-catching terraces of Oak Village and then, in contrast, the area of Lismore Circus.  

There was a short transition between town and country as we headed towards Primrose Hill and Regents Park.  We took some time to enjoy Queen Mary’s Rose Garden and the surroundings of the Inner Circle.  

The remainder of the walk to the finish wandered through and around Paddington Street Gardens, The Wallace Collection, Grosvenor Square, Mount Street Gardens, Shepherds Market before the finale of Green Park and St James’s before crossing the Mall to find Lonica, Paul and Adam, leaders of three other anniversary groups. The only thing to do then once all groups were assembled was to have a few photos taken by Gavin and open the Prosecco - Pop! 

Photographs by Godfrey O’Callaghan

South-East London

10 Walkers, 13 miles - leader Paul Lawrence

This walk took us westwards from the O2 to St James Park and reprised a few events and walks that were significant in the origins and history of the London Group.

The route from the O2 as far as Limehouse Basin was along the Thames Path to Greenwich with a circuit into Greenwich Park and then after passing the Cutty Sark it used the foot tunnel went through Canary Wharf. This was used in the opposite direction by the LDWA 2012 Games 100 in the Olympic year, except that the 100 did not go into Greenwich Park. By using the foot tunnel, the Games 100 became the only LDWA 100 to go below sea level! London Group was the instigator of this 100, that involved five LDWA Groups working together (London with BBN, Surrey, Kent, Thames Valley). It started within sight of the Olympic Stadium and ended in Windsor on the day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. It linked five of the 2012 Olympic venues, including the 02, Greenwich Park and Woolwich Barracks. East of the 02, the Games 100 went to the Thames Barrier, south on the Green Chain and Capital Ring, west on the North Downs Way past the cycle race location at Box Hill, then visiting LDWA Founders sites in Surrey – it was the LDWA’s 40th Year – to end in Windsor. For the main 100 walk, the weather turned wet and cold on the Sunday, the day of the Thames royal boat pageant. There was a minor Games 100 checkpoint at the 02 by one of the towers to stop short-cuts across the Peninsula!

For this 25th walk, we entered the foot tunnel with some trepidation as this was an enclosed space with a lot of people, but everyone was wearing face masks and we moved rapidly through and it has a good ventilation system. None of the walkers has reported any symptoms since anyway! Nor did any choose the option of using the DLR here to Island Gardens. North of the Foot Tunnel, the walk passed the site of the first checkpoint on the Games 100, at Millwall Rugby Club under the arches next to Island Gardens DLR station. This had been the scene of a minor event crisis when their water supply was cut off the night before the event and we were bailed out by the local store with their bottled water. Walking under the office towers in Canary Wharf, few people were about and we wondered about its future.

The next section from Limehouse Basin to the Dickens Inn was a reprise in reverse of parts of the first listed evening walk on 17 August 1994 by the newly forming London LDWA group. Led by Steve Clarke, it was listed in Strider 69 (August 1994). This was before the group was formally constituted on 10 September 1995, 25 years ago! Steve Clarke, who was then Strider Editor, was one of the founders of the London Group. Two more anniversary walks for the Group’s 15th in 2009 and 20th in 2014 here, led by Rob Myers, used a similar route. Steve Clarke’s walk had started from the Dickens Inn and went through Wapping, calling at two riverside pubs, probably the "Town of Ramsgate" and "The Prospect of Whitby". The original London members were very keen on meeting at pubs! However, for this 25th walk, I preferred to use the Ornamental Canal option rather than the Thames Path that in this section is mainly along streets often with no river views. Along the Ornamental Canal we passed the location of a sequence in the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, where Bond chases an assassin in a speedboat around London canals, soaking two traffic wardens at a tight corner!

A common thread of this walk up to the Pool of London was the watermark of the history of London as a port. This started with small ships unloaded on the riverbank, but by about 1700 it was taking up to six weeks to turn a ship around. The docks were dug out to provide more quayside space, followed by the addition of locks to remove the dependency of unloading on the tides. Finally, the arrival of container ships moved the docks down river and elsewhere, and the docklands went into decline and decay for many years until they were redeveloped as new office locations and residential neighbourhoods. The future is now again uncertain as offices may not be needed in the same way after Covid and London may again see great changes before the Group gets to its 50th!

Reaching Tower Bridge, we crossed to the south bank passing familiar London sites on our way to St James Park. The Tower of London, City Hall, the Globe Theatre, Millennium Footbridge, South Bank and its skate park all passed rapidly, with the Thames re-crossed into the Embankment Gardens with it statuary to reach the rendezvous with the other LDWA walkers in St James Park and a welcome toast in prosecco to another 25 years! After the celebrations, some of us used the Thames Clipper boat service to return to the O2 in the fading light to finish off an enjoyable day!

Photographs by Paul Lawrence; more by Julie Welch on the Group Facebook site. 

More on this link: LondonLDWA25thWalks2020

London Parks and Riverside

6 Walkers, 14 miles - leader Adam Dawson

Our walk on Saturday followed the first half of the sadly-cancelled 2020 Capital Challenge and was one of a number of walks held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the formation of the London Group. 

From St James’ Park we headed east to follow an anti-clockwise loop taking in, among other notable locations: Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Holland Park, Brompton Cemetery and Battersea Park. We took a brief diversion down Hyde Park Gate to check out Winston Churchill’s former residence, before breaking for a picnic lunch in Holland Park. 

As we made our way back round the loop to St James Park again, we crossed over Battersea Bridge where, very much to our surprise, we spotted a large black seal taking a leisurely swim in the murky waters of the Thames.  

The warm sunshine throughout the route made the walk particularly enjoyable and brought out an abundance of late summer flowers to add colour. The welcoming glass of Prosecco in St James Park, kindly organised by Marie and Colin, added the final touch to a perfect day out.  Even the social distancing rules couldn’t dampen the enjoyment of catching up with old friends and familiar faces at the end.

Photographs by Adam Dawson

The four London walks toast 25 years of London LDWA. Photograph by Gavin Fuller


South Downs Bonanza

6 Walkers, 25.3 miles - leader Jerome Ripp

There was a late change to the planned route as it was felt that finishing in Brighton on the last Saturday evening before the new Covid 19 restrictions might be risky with the crowds of people.

Hence it became a circular from Hassocks and 25 miles for the 25th anniversary of the London group seemed appropriate.

One person missed a train connection but was able to meet up at the Jack and Jill pub at Clayton without any loss of time. We were in the hills all day starting to the west with Wolstonbury Hill, Newtimber Hill, Devils Dyke, Fulking Hill with a section of the South Downs Way. The Sussex Border Path took us to the edge of the Brighton conurbation then Monarch's Way over Benfield and Round Hill and another section of the Border Path took us east of the A23 and up to the Chattri Indian war memorial for a well-deserved late lunch.

A zigzag route north east with views over Brighton and the Amex stadium over Stanmer Down and back to the South Downs Way. Then a straight route along the windy ridge, Ditchling Beacon, the Jack and Jill windmills at Clayton and descent to the hamlet of Clayton, the only habitation of the day and finally back to Hassocks to complete a 9-hour circuit of almost exactly 25 miles.

A perfect celebration walk, with ideal weather and ground conditions.

We are all looking forward to doing 50 miles for the 50th anniversary.

Photographs by Jerome Ripp




6 Walkers, 21.3 miles - leader Andy Shoesmith

Photograph by Andy Shoesmith


4 Walkers, 7 miles - leader Ron Williamson

The South East Essex contingent celebrated in style the 25th anniversary of the London group with a walk into the sunset along Southend seafront from Shoeburyness to the town centre. The plan had been to celebrate at the pier head but the pier opening times had been curtailed, a decision made earlier in the month but not updated on their website when checked the previous weekend. Nevertheless true to London tradition we indulged in chips and ice cream, before moving slightly upmarket and raising a toast of Pimms and lemonade to the good future of the group 

Photographs by Pete Colley and Dave Williams