LONGER WALKS

Derek HarwoodRowena InzaniMartyn
                      WaringThe Longer Walks group has a programme of walks normally of between 8 to 14 miles, usually with options to shorten the walk. Walks are over a full day with a break for lunch (usually in a pub or café, although sometimes people bring a picnic). Group size is typically between 6 and 12 people.

Group Coordinator: Derek Harwood (click to contact)
When
Normally there are four walks a month, on varying days of the week so as to avoid always clashing with the same iU3A groups that meet on fixed days.
Where
We go to any good walking area in Greater London and the South East that can be reached relatively easily by public transport. Our walks cover a variety of terrain, including park and woodland, canal or riverside paths, open countryside and hill walking. Most walks are suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit and active.

Background
Our group is wonderfully balanced; some join walks regularly, others less frequently. To help the leader in their duty of care and to ensure safety we have a few rules. In summary the rule is 'respect others and stick together' but see the fuller version here

To join the group, please either drop me an email (address as above) or register through Beacon. Having joined the group, to join a particular walk click on the relevant date below. If you are not a member of Islington U3A then you must firstly join this before joining any Group. Go to the Join Us page and there click on the Membership Form.

Our Next Walks
Walks coming up
Our full programme of walks in 2019 is shown in the Members' System ('Beacon'). The link is here. Log in then look up 'Schedule'. Add the dates to your diary now! The near term walks are also highlighted below. A week or so before the specific walk date, we'll make available the full walk details (including the meeting point) on this web page.

Please sign up individually below for each walk you plan to join. You can sign by clicking on the walk date (when sign-up is open the date is in blue), then a Sign-up Form will open. To drop out of a walk, please return to the form, and enter your details again but with a 'No' instead of a 'Yes'.

Tuesday 26 February (sign up open) — Totteridge and Whetstone to Gospel Oak:  this is a 10 mile walk that we have done previously. The route takes us down the Dollis Brook through London green spaces and woods. We follow the Dollis Valley Greenwalk to the Mutton Brook. Lunch will be at the Spaniards Inn. Then we finish at Hampstead Garden Suburb/Hampstead Heath Extension/Hampstead Heath. Details here.

Followed by:
Friday 8 March
Thursday 14 March
Wednesday 20 March
Tuesday 26 March
Friday 5 April
Thursday 11 April
Wednesday 17 April
Wednesday 24 April


Extended Walk 2019 — might seem way in the future but we need to start planning this now. For 2019 we are proposing Newfield Hall, Malhamdale, Yorkshire Dales. See details here. This booking is now closed. If you want to go on a waiting list for a room cancellation, please email me at the above address.

Photo Gallery
Launching a new feature. If you click here you can see many of our photographs. They will scroll through automatically and you can see the walk number and title at the bottom. If you want to find photos from a particular walk you can click here then from the thumbnails find the one you want then click on it.

Lookahead
The full lookahead date information is now visible in the new 'Beacon' members' system. The link to Beacon for iU3A members is here. Once you've clicked there, sign in with your personal details; on the Home page click on 'Calendar of meetings and events'. You'll see all groups listed there, or at the top line next to 'Group', in the gap select the drop-down menu arrow; scroll down to Walks — Longer; click that, then only the dates for Walks — Longer will be shown. In addition to the lookahead dates, for the next few walks, the location, the Sign-up link and the link to the walk Details, will be shown as well.

Useful Infomation
Travel link — if you are going on a walk outside the Freedom Pass areas, here is a link to help decide which station to buy your ticket from online: Freedom Pass Map

Discounts — if you are buying from Cotswold at the Angel, say you are with iU3A (Longer Walks group) and you'll get 10% discount. 

Ticks — there have been reports of increased population of ticks in the UK. If you are worried about catching a tick bite while out walking, for more information see here.

Recent Walks
SaundertonSaunderton to Princes Risborough:  this was a lovely walk on a mild clear day. The route took in quite a bit of the Chiltern Way and the Ridgeway so there were quite a few ups and downs. We lost count of the number of red kites we saw. The pub at Bledlow was also lovely and welcoming with quick wholesome food. In the afternoon we had a quick dip into Lyde Gardens a dingly dell with many water features and goo plantings. Then it was an easy stroll to the station. Details here.



Brickendon Farmers BoyCuffley:
this was an 11 mile walk last done by us (led by Alan Cranston) in August 2016. It was selected to try to minimise mud and proved the right choice. There were a couple of very short slightly muddy bits, but otherwise all clear — and everyone appreciated the walk for it! It was a glorious mild clear day, which added to the satisfaction. Then the lunch portions at The Farmer's Boy, Brickendon, were enormous. It was a bit of a stagger to get going after lunch, but that didn't deter some of us from stopping for tea and cake at the end..... Details here.



MersthamMuddy BootsMerstham to Westhumble: not sure what it is about this walk. It meets many of the main criteria — 10 miles, attractive countryside and views, not too far from London, good lunchtime pub. But we’ve done it in both directions
now and still haven’t got to double figures in total participants — even counting those who did it both times twice. The few who came along this time experienced a walk of two halves. Fairly easy in the morning, more strenuous
in the afternoon, with several climbs and descents on the slopes of the North Downs and quite a few muddy stretches that slowed progress. The threatened rain was never more than light drizzle and was outweighed by sunny intervals. We saw the sun starting to set from the top of Box Hill and managed to exit the woods before it got too dark — opting in the circumstances for the footbridge to cross the River Mole rather than the stepping stones.  Details here.

Ash ValleySt Margaret's and the Ash Valley: this was a very pleasant circular walk north then east from St Margaret's, dovetailing nicely with the walk we did early in January. Last time we had lunch at St Margaret's, this time we started from there. We walked through Stanstead Abbotts and then up the hill to cross open fields past Hunsdon to Widford and through the churchyard to join the Hertfordshire Way. We then dropped down to cross the River Ash which we followed, partly on the old railway track bed, until we diverted to Wareside for lunch at The Chequers Inn — which has this amazing over boot cover dispenser! After lunch we rejoined the old railway at Mardock and followed it past Watersplace Farm into the Amwell Nature Reserve. We then crossed the River Lee and followed the towpath back to St Margaret's. All enjoyed the rolling Hertfordshire countryside. Details here.

IngrebourneI
ngrebourne Valley: this was an eight mile meander through the Ingrebourne Valley starting at Upminster and ending at Hornchurch. The overnight slight fall of snow meant a few muddy sections and everyone staying well wrapped up. But we followed the zigzag route, taking in some Nature reserves and an SSSI around the Ingrebourne river valley, also utilising parts of the LOOP. There were some fine 360º views of the London skyline from just a slight elevation rise. Lunch was at the relatively new Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre with our large group (12) meaning they had to open up the annex for us! Having completed 6 miles before lunch there was only a couple of miles left to finish the walk. Details here.

Severndroog CastleWoolwich to Mottingham: this was a 10 mile walk, mainly on two sections of the Green Chain in South East London (and also forming part of the Capital Ring for much of these sections). While a lot of the Capital Ring is quite urban these sections were very rural. We did have a few main roads to cross but most of our time was hopping between large green spaces. These were mainly made up of parks, commons and woodland, with good views from the higher ground back over Canary Wharf and the City. The threatened rain held off until we'd finished the walk — very considerately! We passed the folly of Severndroog Castle (Rowena's favourite!) before reaching the café in Oxleas Wood for lunch. In the afternoon we passed Falconwood station (recovering one member who'd taken a slight detour — all in a good cause), then on to Eltham Palace ending at Mottingham. Details here.



Broxbourne Woods
Broxbourne to Hertford East: this turned out to be a great revival of a previous walk from 2015. We started from Broxbourne station, going south on the New River Path, but soon leaving the valley and turning west on to the Hertfordshire Way. This led us through the countryside to the National Nature Reserve of Broxbourne Woods. We then met the old Roman road of Ermine Street, close to where we had walked in December 2018. As we approached Hertford Heath we left Ermine Street and walked through the grounds of the very grand Haileybury private boarding school (famed since East India Trading Company days). This led us back to the Lea River at St Margarets for our lunch stop. After lunch we picked up the New River again and passed the springs of Amwell and Chadwell to the New Gauge and the start of the New River. From there it was a short walk along the Lea Navigation to Hertford East. Details here.


Christmas 2018Christmas Social, Willesden, Paddington and Regent’s Canal: this was an easy walk alongside canals for most of the way. It started quietly at Willesden Junction but the closer in the busier the towpath became. What's worse, joggers or cyclists? It was amazing to see all the developments along the way and particularly the redevelopment around Paddington. We had 32 members either starting from the beginning, joining us along the way, or joining at the end. Some were over the top with Christmas decorations, others were more discreet in their participation in the festive spirit. An on-route coffee stop meant several toilet stops were necessary and then it was a bit of a scramble back through Islington's squares to get to the Brewhouse in time for our booked lunch. But it was a good walk and hence a well earned lunch. Kind words were offered to all the Walk Leaders for their superb efforts in 2018. Walk details here.

Broxbourne IMIBroxbourne Woods: a hiccup with booking the pub (it's closed on Mondays!) meant a slight alteration of the walk route, shortening the length to eight miles, with the pub at the end rather than the middle. But no one seemed to mind on this cold day: the lunches were good so it was worth the wait. This was a typical Hertfordshire walk starting from Bayford we passed the grand offices of the IMI and then were out in rolling countryside with many woods, an SSI & a nature reserve. We followed sections of the disused Ermine Street in a straight line and enjoyed this 'Fancy Free' walk. Details here.


Wandle TrailWest Croydon to Earlsfield: this walk was part of the Wandle trail through south west London, which is a green trail linking up a string of local parks as it follows the River Wandle. We picked up the river in East Croydon, then passed by Waddon Ponds, and into Beddington Park, sighting two egrets en route. At Morden Hall Park, now a National Trust property, we stopped for a good lunch and then continued to Colliers Wood, where our walk ended, our original plan to walk to Earlsfield having been changed due to serious disruption in South Western Railways services. We were fortunate to have better weather than forecast, with sun bringing out the autumn colours of leaves. One intrepid member of the group continued on solo to finish the Wandle trail in Wandsworth. Details here.

CjelsfieldChelsfield:  very pleasant autumn weather for this relatively straightforward walk in what used to be Kent but now falls within the GLC borough of Bromley. After a kilometre through uninspiring suburbia, the main part of the walk took our small but select group of seven  into the woodland of High Elms country park (with plenty of autumn colours) and then through open countryside. We passed Charles Darwin’s house just outside the peaceful village of Downe and lunched at the 17th century Blacksmith’s Arms in Cudham (which one or two recalled having visited on a different walk earlier in the year). Unsurprisingly, on the return everyone opted to catch a bus to Orpington rather than retrace the route through suburbia, but we still managed to clock up a respectable 9 miles.  On the return train one of our number (we’ll spare her blushes) was solicited with the sobriquet ”pulchritudinous” by a seemingly educated - if a little inebriated - admirer. Details here.


Gerrards CrossGerrards Cross to Cookham:
as the unseasonably mild November weather continued, seven of us were lucky to enjoy yet another bright sunny autumnal day, which provided a perfect backdrop to the changing colour of the leaves. This walk took us through many pretty woodland paths including Egypt’s Wood, part of the famous Burnham Beeches Wood which some of us were surprised to discover is owned and protected by the Corporation of London. As is usual in this part of the country there were plenty of red kites to be seen soaring gracefully overhead. After an early lunch stop (some 5.5 miles into the walk) we continued through more open countryside to eventually cross the Thames into Cookham. There was plenty of time for a visit to the church where artist Stanley Spencer worshipped and for a slow meander through the village to the station...everyone having voted for an early return to London rather than stop for tea and cakes! Details here.

WoburnWoburn Estate: it was almost like a visit to the zoo. Elephants, rhino, buffalo, eland, camel, wallabies, not to mention hundreds of deer. All in glorious autumn weather and without having to pay the entrance fee. A lucky 13 of us traversed a large part of the Woburn Estate and then endured a lengthy wait for food at a popular pub in picturesque Woburn village. Easy going throughout, so it didn’t feel like a 9-mile walk even for those who explored the tranquil village of Aspley Guise with its high proportion of listed buildings before catching the return train. Fortunately a warning that the connecting  service would be “standing room only” proved a false alarm. Details here.


PitseaEast Tilbury to Pitsea: this walk followed the Thames Estuary Path with great open skies and views over the estuary, last undertaken in August 2017. We walked through many RSPB and WWT reserves, with loads of bird life all the way. Lunch was at Fobbing with Wat Tyler (Peasants Revolt connections). We were a bit slow but perhaps this was because we were 14. The afternoon brought more of the same clear bight skies with open vistas. We did pass the odd industrial part and had some back streets typical Essex, but still overall an interesting walk. Details here.
 


HolmwoodHolmwood to Reigate:
The rather murky, misty, autumnal weather conditions failed to deter 16 of us from enjoying this very pleasant walk through the Low Weald of Surrey in the Mole Valley. The terrain there is gently undulating and provides a variety of paths, lanes and bridleways through woodland, open country and across fields. Unfortunately there were no clear views of the North Downs ridge, it being comprehensively shrouded in mist. A very good lunch was taken at the Plough Inn, in the pretty village of Leigh (possibly pronounced ‘Lie’?). The afternoon walk ended with a stroll through Reigate’s Priory Park, (named for its Grade 1 listed Priory) with its gardens and wildfowl lake, and then across town to the station. Details here.

BuxtedBuxted: this walk took just six of us into the rolling East Sussex countryside, through a mixture of crop fields, sheep and horse grazing and woodland. We were never far from habitation, but (other than in the popular lunchtime inn) met only a handful of other people. Another warm and sunny day meant excellent walking weather, with regular clear views of the Weald and the more distant South Downs ridge. Our arrival back at Buxted station was carefully timed to allow over 50 minutes before the next hourly train to London, which we devoted to welcome pots of tea (and, for some, even more welcome chocolate fudge bites) in the conveniently located nearby pub. Details here.




Milford to GodalmingMilford to Godalming: industrial action on South Western Railway threatened to thwart delivery of this walk, but six of us managed to adapt and make the new start time (apologies to those who didn't). We started at Milford with mist and thick dew which soon started to burn off. We passed lakes and the timber-framed Enton Mill and then joined the Greensand Way, a sandy bridleway through The Hurtwood. An unexpected encounter was with llamas being herded (in Surrey?). After a very pleasant lunch in Autumn sunshine in Hascombe, the walk went through the NT's Winkworth Arboretum. We had a few climbs which gave us good views over the North Downs. From there we continued north toward Godalming, approaching the town via the River Wey and Godalming Navigation path along the canal. We then came to a spot in the sun which seemed overrun with ladybirds — hundreds of them, getting in our hair and everywhere. Research afterwards (thanks to Jane) proved they were invasive harlequin ladybirds, which threaten our native species.

As we approached the town there was a decision to be made
— the option of tea in the ancient High Street or the restricted train service back into London. In the end both were acheived for all. Details here.

 
Past Walks
We are now in our sixth year.  To see details of our fifth year (October 2017 -Sept 2018) look here.

To see the details for walks in the previous year (Oct 2016 - Sept 2017) look here.

If you want to see details of the walks we completed in our third year (Oct 2015 - Sept 2016) then look here.

WrabnessThe Longer Walks group continued to flourish during its second highly successful year (Oct 2014 - Sept 2015). We ended that year with 86 members and having completed 44 walks — covering a total of 437 miles. Each walk is remembered and celebrated here.

Going back further, we ended our first year (Oct 2013 - Sept 2014) with 70 members and having completed 21 walks. For the facts and figures click here and for the words and pictures for each, click here.

For a complete listing of all our walks to date click here.



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