18th June 2017: Golders Green to the North London Bowling Club

As this was a blisteringly hot day of 30c the walk was a saunter from Golders Green tube station through Golders Hill Park and the lovely pergola to Jack Straws Castle then across to Hampstead heath walking through some woodland to Kenwood and on to the North London Bowling club which sits on the edge of the heath. The club was holding an open day under the National Gardens Scheme.

We arrived at lunchtime, sat at a table next to the Bowling Green to eat our lunch & some of a group also bought and enjoyed some home-made cake.
Veronica teamed up with a couple of club members to demonstrate some bowling and she actually managed to do quite well, winning the most shots!


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11th June 2017: Rickmansworth to Bushey

Veronica led a walk from Rickmansworth to Bushy, taken from the Freedom Pass book.

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15th June 2017, Essex Way Stage 5: White Notley to Coggeshall

Four of us set out from White Notley station to rejoin the Essex Way paths traversing broad arable fields to the ancient (and very small) Cressing church. Nearby were the Cressing Great Barns but we skipped a visit to these pressing on along farm tracks by fields of beans, barley and wheat. After passing the hamlet of Bradwell with a budding vineyard we found we were following the course of the River Blackwater shielded by willows and elders. We soon found a way through the bushes to picnic in lush grass alongside the muddy stream. After another mile on farm tracks we reached Grange Farm, on the outskirts of Coggeshall. We had a quick look into the massive Grange Barn (a monastic abbey tithes store) and a craft exhibition before finding the Abbey Mill. Across the pond from the mill was a small mansion, and in its yard a well preserved 14th century flint-built chapel with royal connections. Unlike the grange barn this complex remains in private hands; one of us had ten years ago listened to the owner complaining that he needed an agency such as English Heritage to take over its management. However, he seemed to be coping still.

By now we had passed Coggleshall on its S flank into more unspoiled farm countryside; but turning N a sheltered path took us right into the town. Here we crossed a wide common to explore the High Street. Coggeshall is a significant 16th/ 17th century market town with many half-timbered houses and one major merchant’s house (Paycockes). The clocktower tea garden claimed our attention straight away. Then Steve’s friend Glynn turned up to give us a quick guided tour of the residential streets and on down to the ancient bridge and quay where the Blackwater spreads its waters. We had intended to find our way to Braintree by bus from here but Glynn’s family sized car brought us smartly to Chelmsford Station for the journey home. On 29th June we will return to Coggeshall via Marks Tey Station for the Stage Six walk to West Bergholt on the outskirts of Colchester (10 miles).​
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4th June 2017: Borough Green and Wrotham

A small group of 4 of us plus Woody enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in the Kent countryside.

Unfortunately in the afternoon , feeling thirsty after a lengthy critique of EU farming subsidies being received by British and Saudi royalty, we found that the Golding Hop pub has closed down following the retirement of Eddie and Sonia.
The attached photo reveals the downhearted faces of my fellow walkers at this point.
We were unaware of greater trials ahead as a signal failure somewhere between Victoria and Borough Green resulted in a truly epic journey home which challenged the endurance much more than the walk had done…..              Helen
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1st June 2017: Essex Way walk – Great Waltham to White Notley

Five of us met at Chelmsford to reach Great Waltham village by bus on a warm, sunny day, for the eight miles trek to White Notley: Stage Four of the Essex Way. Although the villages around here have historic buildings we did not linger except to admire Chatham Hall near the start, and use the loos in the elegant Square and Compasses at Fuller Street. This walk traversed broad fields and tunneled through green lanes, with intermittent views of the ​wide undulating landscape. In the second half we followed the River Ter for some way, then crossed commanding power lines, then returned to the river as it approach​ed a dramatic ford ​near  Terling. In this last village we found the Owl’s Hill teashop, offering a pleasant break before we pushed on through the final 2.5 miles of field paths to White Notley. The wide variety of village cottages, some thatched, some pargetted, illustrated the range of East of England domestic architecture​, and their yellow and pink rendering made colourful street scenes. Among the graveyards we walked past or through was one by a great house devoted to its departed dogs.

Next walk Thursday 15 June: Stage 5 White Notley to Coggeshall (8 mi)

This walk offers much of interest in the first and last miles ​(medieval barns and an abbey mill) while presenting ​rather predictable farmland between these. We will aim to meet at Liverpool Street Stn ticket office at 9.30 before taking the 9.48 to White Notley (arr 10.41) with Stratford pick-up at 9.55. Assuming that we make the late medieval market town of Coggeshall by around 15.30 we will visit Paycocke​’s ​house (NT: £7) for look-around plus afternoon tea. Trains back to reach London leave half-hourly from either Marks Tey (reached by bus) or Kelvedon (shared taxi) taking an hour direct. Stage 6 (10 mi) on Thurs 29 June will take us on from Coggeshall to West Bergholt and Colchester.​


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18th May 2017: Essex Way 3rd stage, around Chelmsford.

Our group resumed its Essex Way project with this pleasant trek to the NW of Chelmsford. Beginning at Pepper’s Green, we walked through barley fields to Good Easter, which holds the world record for daisy chain making; we saw dense scatters of daisies in the churchyard. Pushing on through green lanes to Pleshey, we had a picnic lunch by the moat of the impressive castle, held by the de Mandevilles in Norman times, then a decent beer or cider in the Leather Bottle pub across the road. The last two miles to Great Waltham followed a tree-lined brook, past gravel-pit lakes and copses, then through a wide field of fragrant-flowering broad beans. In good time we reached the village church with its remarkable 14th C gatehouse and a talking bench. Along this way we had noted three distinguished churches and much other heritage of medieval and early modern Essex.

This project will continue along the next six stages of the Essex Way on alternate Thursdays. On Thurs 1 June we will meet at the 42A bus stop in Chelmsford bus station at 10.10 to take the 10.22 back to Great Waltham and walk eight miles to White Notley. Buy a train ticket London to White Notley day return and take 9.30 from Liverpool Street or 9.38 from Stratford. Members of Red Rope are warmly welcomed on these Thursday walks.​


Steve Butters
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14th May 2017: Hassocks circular via Hurstpierpoint

IMG_0511Jonathan led a lovely walk from Hassocks up onto Wollstonbury Hill on the South downs with distant views of Jack and Jill windmills. After lunch on the hillside we headed to the village of Hurstpierpoint and back into Hassocks passing Alpacas and impressive buildings on route.

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