5th August 2018: Swanley, St Paul’s Cray and Petts Wood

Five stalwarts turned out for this London Fringe six mile walk on a blazing day. Network Rail placed a jinx at the start by closing an essential footbridge over the railway by Swanley Station. However, we were saved by Humphrey’s Plan B taking us west along a lane into rolling fields with a distant view of Canary Wharf to the north.

Pauls Cray Hill Country Park

The not-very-scenic Country Park

After more back ways and one mile traverse of a prairie-like country park we reached St Paul’s Cray. Here we picnicked on the village green.

Crossing the Cray

On the bridge over the river Cray

After crossing the Cray river we trudged up a long hill through a council estate, on the summit provided with convenience stores with ice cream. Finally, across more parkland to reach Chiselhurst Common and ancient Petts Wood. Humphrey navigated us through the forest to the safety of the London Loop path, then into Petts Wood suburb. This comprises spacious Tudorbethan semis and a lively cafe-lined high street. Though this model suburb seems sedate, people in the bistros and the Daylight Pub were in high spirits; it was almost France. Despite high temperatures, this proved a worthwhile hike across a little known segment of SE London.

Steve

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8th July 2018: Liphook Circular

So, I needed out of the big smoke … to immerse myself in green … walk … think. I was told ‘Try Red Rope’.  Met up with members of the London group for a 14k circular walk in Liphook, Hampshire. A little anxious that being the new girl, and not having walked for a while, I’d hold everyone up and would be left behind. Instead I experienced interesting conversation, lots of laughter and a caring group of people as we walked. This including beautiful scenery and different terrains, all at a doable pace. Thank you for a most enjoyable day. I’ll be back ☺️

Wendy

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24th June 2018: Box Hill Hike

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This Sunday’s walk was the Box hill Hike. Six of us (Nigel our leader, Miriam, John, Humphrey, Hugh, and myself, Damien) began our walk from Box Hill and West Humble Station, walking over 11 miles altogether. The Hike itself is a tough 8 mile circular route that includes a 1000 feet of ascent (plus climbing Box Hill to begin the walk!). There was an initial steep ascent to Salomon’s Memorial, from where the Hike begins. From here on the Hike was a series of descents and ascents and interspersed by some lovely Downland and Meadows. The going was very tough, and made harder by the high temperature, but woodland canopy shaded us fro the worst effects of the sun. We stopped for lunch at the village of Mickleham, picnicking in the church ground, followed by liquid refreshment at the lovely Running Horses Pub. Along the way we were afforded great views across the Downs and enjoyed the company of a variety of Butterflies and Dragonflies. Towards the end Miriam decided she’d done one descent too many and wisely headed for Dorking, whilst Humphrey pressed ahead for his train. The remainder of us finished the hike at Box hill Visitor’s centre enjoying tea, ice lollies and ice cream. Overall this was an unusually tough day but no less enjoyable for this. Many thanks to Nigel for coming up with the idea and leading the walk,  and thank you everyone for such good company.

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16-17th June 2018: Youth Hostel weekend to Goring and Streatley

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Don led Dermot, Esin Helen Nicola and Pam on a great weekend trip to Goring and Streatley Youth Hostel. The weather was fine, the villages interesting and attractive, the river flowing through, the lock and the weir.
Don had visited the previous weekend to research the walks and hostel and assess the size of the members kitchen – and incidentally  found out that we could leave our stuff in a side room to save carrying it all day.
He brought lots of the basic food, supplemented by a shop at Tesco beside the station, and Dermot brought food for the evening meal (very tasty pasta and pesto and salad). We were even able to make fresh sandwiches for the Sunday. We walked alongside the river to the north on Saturday and up into the hills and woods (and poppy-filled fields) south to Pangbourne on Sunday. The train service here is excellent, running every half hour even on Sunday, which made transport easy despite the almost non-existent bus service.
Coincidentally it was the weekend of the bi-annual Goring and Streetley Festival  so we had an evening walk and caught a glimpse of Mica Parris, the star of the show, although the real stars were the afternoon local brass band, performing for free in the church hall with good tea and cakes. Our walk took us past places where Oscar Wilde and Jerome K. Jerome stayed, houses where Danny la Rue and George Michael lived and river and water mill views that Turner painted. There was a wonderful sunset reflected in the water on the way home.

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10th June 2018: Box Hill and West Humble circular

There were six of us, Nicola, Hugh, Damien, Elena, Corinne and Nigel.
We started out from Box Hill and Westhumble train station and went west on the North Downs Way to Ranmore Common.  Views were stunning.  Then on to Wotton, where we had lunch in the packed village pub, which like most pubs in the Surrey countryside is much more of a gastro pub full of casually dressed posh people who vote Tory and hate Jeremy Corbyn.    Nevertheless, they did ace pints of Tea and Doombar and plenty of them.
We went back roughly east towards the outskirts of Dorking and walked along Balchins Lane, which is where famous British 1930’s actor Lesley Howard lived, and there is a plaque outside his house.  We eventually made it to the Mole Gap trail and then on through Denbies Vineyard which led up to the settlement of Westhumble.  Meanwhile,  to our right we got superb views of the striking wooded slopes of Box Hill. We also caught a glimpse, glittering in the distance,  of the famous Swiss Cottage, a listed building that once was the home of John Logie Baird, one of the inventors of the mechanical television way back in the 20th century.
Altogether we did about 12 miles and even the Lycra clad cyclists who erroneously thought they were a cool bunch in their shades and expensive gear did not put us off.  Although to be fair, they were much less hassle than passing car drivers.
Despite getting lost a few times, this was one of the best walks of the year so far. Those not on our wonderful jaunt don’t know what they missed
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Sunday 6 May 2018: Welwyn Garden City Circular Walk

On a bright day we walked through Welwyn Garden City’s Janet-and-John western suburb and on through Sherrardspark Woods. Then over the A1(M) and into the manicured parkland of the golf course around Brocket Hall, the mansion sold to cover Lord Brocket’s drug debts. Next down a steep wooded path (its glades suffering from clumps of an invasive blue coloured plant) and along the River Lea Path to the ford at Waterend before two miles of climbing north to the picturesque village of Ayot St Lawrence. We took our lunchtime stop in the ruined churchyard, deciding not to visit GB Shaw’s house nearby. Returning across fields with long views, then an intricate shimmy eastwards to Ayot Green village. Then back across the A1 (M) to traverse Sherrardspark Woods by the old rail line, now “Greenway”, into Welwyn GC centre for a well deserved tea. This was a satisfying eight/nine mile hike on a very warm day; it presaged more for coming season. ​

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22nd April 2018: Otford Bluebell Walk

Bluebell walk

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