19 November 2017: Hatfield to Brookmans Park 8 miles

Nine of us, including two guests, set out on a bright day along the Old Hertford Road which runs frustratingly just beyond the boundary fence of the Marquess of Salisbury’s great estate. The first mile was briskly completed on somewhat busy roads (there was an event at the marquess’s place), Once we had crossed the A414 we were in the relative calm of the lanes just beyond the estate. After a stretch of the placid Lea fishing river we took field paths east and then a bridleway lane steadily uphill through the West End village and continuing into the glaring sun south to the hamlet of Wildhill. Our lunch stop was in the garden of the bucolic local, The Woodman. Next we strode or slid on muddy paths over pasture again uphill to the plateau which is home to a major radio station. After crossing the old Great North Road we strolled past the sedate villas of the respectable commuter village of Brookmans Park. This straightforward hike over undulating farmland was enhanced by autumn colouring and some distant views. We had time for a reviving drink in The Brookmans before catching the 16.14 train back to London. We had done well to negotiate eight miles in the hours between noon and four helped by perfect blue skies. This was one of 30 walks offered on the website of the Brookmans Park Newsletter http://www.brookmans.com.​
Steve Butters
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16th November 2017: Thames Path Richmond to Putney

On this second stage of our monthly “Thames Path in London” project the weather treated us kindly. It was a mild day with almost no breeze and some sunny spells. We started at low tide and during the next three hours the tide brought the waters high up the embankment walls. The stretch from Richmond to Mortlake began by crossing Richmond Common and the courtyard of the old palace (where Elizabeth I died) to join the river; we shortly came to the Richmond Lock flood control apparatus. With graceful Brentford views across the river to our left we passed on the right the Old Deer Park, then the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Old Kew Palace. In Kew Green we stopped on benches for a breather, then on the S bank path past Mortlake Bridge and the Budweiser Brewery, well known from the Boat Race course, and a series of distinctive regency houses, to reach Barnes Bridge Station wher we said goodbye to Joanna. The remaining section comprised a leafy track in autumn colours past a reservoir and school playing fields, then a final two miles along Barnes Reach past the Wetlands bird sanctuary to reach St Mary’s Church at the foot of Putney Bridge. There we found refreshment in the Wetherspoons in Church Square. This had been a satisfying tramp; the eight miles went quickly.

Next stage on Thursday 14 December, Putney Bridge to Vauxhall. We will start at 10.00, to enable us to have a celebratory lunch (£12.50) at Bonnington’s Cafe, cooked for us by veggie chef Iga Strapko (booking via Steve or Veronica needed).

Steve Butters

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22 October 2017: Tring circular via Ivinghoe Beacon

Ivinghoe 3Ivinghoe2
The group had an exhilarating walk along the Chiltern escarpment to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon in breezy conditions by following part of the Ridgeway long distance path.
We soon dropped down into the ancient Chiltern beechwoods of the Ashridge Estate.
We reached Bridgewater Memorial where we enjoyed a cuppa and cake at the National Trust visitor centre.
The final leg took us through the picturesque village of Aldbury with its village pond and charming church then back to Tring Station. 

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19th October 2017: Thames Path Walk Stage 1, Hampton Court to Richmond (8 mls)

Seven met at Hampton Court Station, and after taking a peek at the palace set off along the gravel path just outside the estate walls and railings. On this grey day the river, not yet tidal here, seemed subdued. Autumn leaves made this tree lined “Arcadian” stretch postcard handsome. At Kingston Bridge we crossed to Kingston town and stayed on this South bank for the next six miles. At Teddington Lock we found benches on the lock-keeper’s island for a picnic lunch. The last stage offered views of several fine mansions – Syon House, Marble House, Ham House. We made steady progress until Richmond’s Star and Garter Home came into view. A gentle start to our monthly Thames Path project – in mild temperatures – not likely to last much longer …

Next stage on 16th November: Richmond to Putney. Meet at Richmond Station at 10.30.

Steve Butters
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8 October 2017: Along the Chess Valley

A killjoy suggested this would be the last sunshine we would have on a walk until the spring, but at least this was a lovely sunny day, and even though we got there on the “underground”, to Chorleywood, the Chess valley was delightfully rural.

Chess valley

Nicola led this walk which mostly followed the modest river Chess up to Chesham. Our first impromptu stop was to buy watercress at a farm which also had these llamas:


On the other hand, this crocodile encountered near the end was a little lifeless:

Tractor and Crocodile


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29 September-2nd October 2017: Red Rope National AGM Weekend, Mankinholes, Yorkshire

This year’s AGM venue was again Mankinholes Youth Hostel, near Todmorden in the Calder valley. Seven London members attended, mostly travelling up by train. Hugh and I came up to Todmorden via Leeds on Friday evening, had just enough time for a meal in a pub near the station, then caught a local bus out to the hostel.

On Saturday there was a session on navigation training, with a professional trainer, but I led an 11-mile circular walk, which started with an ascent of Stoodley Pike with its spectacular monument overlooking the hostel, then along a ridge to Hebden Bridge where we stopped for lunch, and coffee at a canal-side cafe.

Rochdale Canal

Our lunch spot on the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge

We then followed what must be one of the steepest cobbled streets in England up to Heptonstall, where Sylvia Plath is buried, then along a spectacular balcony wall overlooking Colden Clough, the combination of steep drops and wet rock being a little scary. At the head of the clough we turned south onto the Pennine Way, over a raise and very steeply down into the Calder valley — more slippery flagstones. The final stretches of the walk were along the Rochdale Canal, then back up to Mankinholes.

Colden Clough

Looking down Colden Clough, with Hebden Bridge below and Heptonstall Church on the left

Saturday evening we had a wonderful meal, Gill Cox leading the cooks. The AGM on Sunday was inquorate, as not all regions had sent enough members to achieve the required ten per cent of total membership, so the new national committee members are all technically “acting”. We discussed trip charges, regional support, the timing of national committee meetings and a new online system for membership administration, which will involve moving to a regular annual renewal date. After lunch Dermot and I walked into Hebden Bridge, mostly along the canal, for the train home.


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24 September 2017: Knole Park and Ightham Mote

This circular walk from Sevenoaks station to Ightham Mote was led by Helen Alsworth, on a beautiful sunny day. Heading out, we went through the northern part of Knole Park to Godden Green, then through woods and across a lavender field to Ightham Mote where we stopped for lunch.

Passing Igtham Mote

Leaving Ightham Mote

We returned to Sevenoaks along the Greensand Way, a surprisingly hilly route. We stopped for tea at the National Trust cafe at Knole House.



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