October 2016: The Essex Way

Having completed the London Loop (some more complete than others..) the midweek walkers embarked on the 81 mile Essex Way, beginning at Epping and finishing at Harwich. The first section from Epping To Ongar was undertaken by 2 separate groups on 6th and 13th of October. This was a varied landscape through fields and interesting woodland. The second group had a slightly damper and muddier experience, picking up the first mud of the season on their boots -very sticky Essex mud at that. Lunch was on the green at Toot Hill with a drink at the local pub. From Ongar the bus took us back to Epping Station.

The second stretch on 20th October began with the return bus to Ongar. The day was overcast but mostly dry until near the end. The autumn colours had developed since the previous week and there was plenty of hedgerow fruit to be found. The walk took us through fields alongside the River Roding and along pretty green lanes. Lunch was in the village churchyard at Willingale which has 2 churches! We looked in one of them which is no longer used for worship. The other one is undergoing major restoration and currently has no roof, so worshippers must have to go elsewhere! Sadly there was no pub remaining in the village. We finished the section near the hamlet of Peppers Green where there was just a bus stop with an hourly bus which arrived only a few minutes late and took us to Chelmsford to catch a train back to London.


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9th October 2016: Abbey Wood to Woolwich via Crossness Pumping Station

Lots of varied and interesting features on this walk enjoyed by 12 of us!

The ruined  12th century Lesnes Abbey must have been magnificent  before  Henry VIII dissolved it.

Great views looking towards the Thames and back into Central London.

Bexley Council’s Lesnes Woods enhancement project, very promising start until the contractors went bust!.

Thamesmead,  60s utopian housing project that never quite recovered from its star role in the Clockwork Orange.….the worst features- some of the leaking flats and walkways – are now being demolished.  The arrival of Crossrail in 2018 will dramatically change the area.

Birds, birds, birds …on Southmere Lake.

Along the Ridgeway…that sits on top of southern outfall sewer

Over the former marshy area reclaimed by the enterprising monks of Lesnes Abbey

On to steaming day at Crossness pumping station, the sewerage plant designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and opened in 1865 after the cesspits and drainage systems of central London had literally reached breaking point. The highlight was the lovingly restored (it took volunteers 18 years) Prince Consort beam engine.

Back along the Thames with storm clouds and a rainbow behind us …and a family of four seals living on the edge of the river.

Finished with afternoon coffee/tea in the café in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.

Link to clip about Crossness Pumping Station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlp1aG1VJRI




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2nd October 2016: Turkey Street circular


Myddleton House

There was a good turnout of 13 for this pleasant walk on a fine autumn day. The route took us from Turkey Street station to Enfield Lock, turning north along the river Lea (or Lee). After a coffee stop at the Narrow Boat cafe, we continued to the White Water Rafting centre which was very busy, though not too much white water to be seen. Leaving the Lee Valley Country Park we headed for lunch in Cedars Park, the site of 17th century Theobalds Palace where an ornamental folly remains as well as a cafe in the conservatory and a bocce court (as in the Paralympics). From here we joined the New River Path southwards, pausing to watch a family fishing for the many crayfish, which they said were good to eat. The lovely gardens and cafe of Myddleton House were our final stop before returning to Turkey Street station.


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25th September 2016:Winchfield

Jonathan generously came forward at short notice to lead this walk, having led one last week from Three Bridges.This walk in Hampshire was in an area most of us were not familiar with. From Winchfield station, passing some large houses with signs protesting against proposed development of the area, we walked along part of the Basingstoke Canal, busy with canoeists and kayakers and looking very pretty in the dappled sunlight. We passed some  beautiful old trees and there was woodland on each side, largely private.  Lunch was at the second of two quite large lakes with some swans, coots and geese which had been lacking on the canal. From here we crossed a few rather awkward stiles to reach the canal again and return to Winchfield. This was a lovely early autumn day, a few blackberries still lingering and sweet chestnuts in profusion on the canalside trees. We avoided two short, sharp showers, the first by sheltering under a canal bridge and the second by being at the pub at the end of the walk. Tim, who is a returning member, took the photos. We were also joined by John, a potential new member who looks forward to trips to the Scottish mountains, but enjoyed this walk as a pleasant change.

Red Rope returner Tim Jones commented, “From the green arches, tunnels, and cathedrals of mature Hampshire woodlands, via the waterside greenery of the Basingstoke Canal, to the wild blackberries and waterfowl delights of Tundry Pond, the hugely enjoyable variety of Jonathan’s well-led Winchfield Walk was a pure delight for the senses.”


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8th September 2016: London Loop, Final stretch: Rainham to Purfleet

The London Loopers completed their nine-month trek around the 150 mile London Loop on Thursday 8th September. This proved a bright, warm day with occasional gusty breezes. Starting at Rainham we walked through an industrial no-man’s land between the HS1 rail track and the Thames sea wall to reach the old Coldharbour ferry point, now dominated by Veolia’s waste processing silos with modern barges taking stuff in and out rather mysteriously. Behind stood a 1k long hill now being smoothed and grassed, actually a landfill mountain covering an old salt marsh. With the industrial moonscape behind us we walked along the margin of Rainham marshes with river vistas.stretching from Erith (where we had begun) to Canary Wharf and the City. The RSPB cafe and visitor centre provided coffee and information on wetland birds (egrets, redshanks, lapwings) as well as World War II history of an air force presence here. Finally another half mile on the river bank took us to the victorian Royal Hotel in Purfleet where we had a well-earned lunch to celebrate the completion of the project. A discussion of the next Thursday project centred on possibilities for walking the Essex Way from Epping to Harwich, or perhaps Harwich to Epping, beginning in October. We offer a small prize for anyone (not on the walk) who can identify all the shadowy characters in the photo attached.


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4th September 2016: Borough Green

Helen led this walk from Borough Green and Wrotham station to Old Soar Manor,Dunks Green and the Fairlawne estate.

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3rd September 2016: London Fire Garden

A group of Redropers went to see this spectacular commemoration of the Great Fire of London 350.

Fire Garden 1Fire Garden 2

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