The Shorter Walks Group has half-day walks of about 5 miles twice a month.

Group Coordinator: Kate Grant (click to contact)          Co-leader: Kate Wark

We usually have two scheduled walks each month on varying days of the week, led by members of the group. We also have extra ‘pop-up’ walks from time to time.


Some walks are fairly local, others involve some travel.

We travel by public transport for up to about 45 minutes from central London, but many of our walks are much more local. In the summer months we walk further afield with some longer country walks. During the winter we have shorter ones, and tend to keep to parks and towpaths as we try to avoid muddy paths. We always have a coffee break during our walks, and almost invariably end with an optional group lunch.

We don’t tackle any real hills, but there can be occasional fairly steep slopes or flights of steps to manage, and the odd stile, so a reasonable degree of fitness is helpful.

Shorter Walks is a very sociable, friendly group where new members are made welcome. 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 experience of running walks has suggested a few common-sense guidelines, to ensure everyone’s enjoyment and safety on our walks. You can see them here.

Our Next Shorter Walks
Tuesday 23 October (sign up open) — Thames Path: Richmond to Barnes: six miles, a riverside walk passing Kew Gardens and with lovely views across the Thames to Strand on the Green and Chiswick, ending in Barnes village. Join up details to follow shortly.
Recent Walks
October: Stoke Newington to OlyStokeNewingtonOlympicParkOct2018mpic Park — Eleven of us walked the five miles from Stoke Newington to Pudding Mill Station. Our first stop was for coffee in Springfield Park café and then our walk took us along the River Lee Navigation waterway, passing the Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve and taking in the Middlesex Filter Beds, which were constructed in 1852 to improve water for East London. We then followed the towpath between the River Lee Navigation and Hackney Marshes and past the Queen Elizabeth Park. Our walk finished with lunch at the View Tube, a community café with excellent food, on the Greenway.

CheshuntSeptember: Lee Valley & Cheshunt
this circular country park walk proved to be delightful. Within minutes of leaving the station the ten walkers were in quiet country parkland with interesting rustic artwork dotted amongst the trees. It being firm underfoot the going was easy, enabling us to take in the lakeland scenery, birds and enjoy the peace. Coffee at the White Water Centre was great and with warm weather we kept up a good pace over the five miles. Sadly we did not spot the otters, but ‘bring our own lunch’ in The Windmill pub with a cool drink finished the morning off nicely.

August: Epping Forest — We really felt we had Epping Aug2018earned our lunch at Butler's Retreat café at the end of our eight miles hike of Epping Forest. The walk was lengthened by 1.5 miles due to some unfortunate navigational errors in the densely forested Park with a multitude of unmarked pathways. Also, we had the misfortune of disturbing a swarm of wasps who attacked two of us through thick clothing, which was uncomfortable for them. Luckily the first aid kit had antihistamine cream, which provided some relief. Apart from that and a new pair of hiking boots which left one of us limping, it was a lovely fine day with some sunshine and the forest was looking very lush.

August: Capital Ring
— Seven of us met up to CapitalRingAug2018walk a section of the Capital Ring from Highgate to Stoke Newington — a distance supposed to be five miles, but we all agreed it was over six! We walked along the Parkland Walk (an old railway line), before our coffee break in Finsbury Park, and then followed the New River to the West Reservoir where we were lucky to see a family of swans with seven cygnets, a duck guarding around the same number of duckings (difficult to count as they were all huddled together) and some herons. Lunch was in Clissold Park and a short walk along Church Street took us to Abney Park Cemetery — unknown by a few of the group — a fascinating place where we spent some time.

August: Chesham Circular — An aim of CheshamCircularAug2018popup walks being to avoid bad weather, we were dismayed to be greeted by rain as the tube pulled in to Chesham. But within minutes all ten of us were packing away our waterproofs and we stayed dry, apart from one brief shower, all morning. We tackled the rolling Chilterns hills at a good pace and managed to time our arrival at the pub for a coffee break just as it opened. Its London prices took the edge off our delight though, and there was a momentary panic when one of us mislaid his wallet. Otherwise the walk went smoothly (not counting a minor diversion that required us to climb over a locked gate) and we enjoyed splendid views and beautiful beech woods. We saw a solitary Red Kite — in an area where they should be plentiful. But we saw some friendly llamas too which nearly made up for it. Those of us who didn’t speed off back to London even discovered a pub with decent food which had eluded us last time. 

July: Ruislip Lido & Woods — Eight hardy Shorter Walkers sRuislipJul2018et off on one of the hottest days this year for a walk around Ruislip Lido and Woods. Armed with hats, sunscreen and water, we walked across the meadows bordering the much diminished little River Pinn and then through shady woods to the Lido. We had a drinks/ice cream stop there while admiring the crowded beach and families enjoying themselves. We walked around the Lido to Poor’s Field then into shaded Copse Wood (an ancient woodland designated SSI) with hornbeam and oak trees. We managed to negotiate the unmarked trail and came back through Ruislip Woods to the River Pinn again. A long cool fizzy drink was enjoyed by most of the group at the end.

July: Local Nature Reserves and Parks —
The LocalNatureReserves&ParksJuly2018forecast of 30+ might have put off some walkers but our Intrepid Eight rolled up at Highbury and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of this walk. We began the loop at Highbury Fields, then round to the Ecology Centre and through a delightful covered passage via ponds where local children were learning about Pond Life. Some had not visited the Centre before: it is really worth seeing. Walking through Finsbury Park we saw the amazing structure for its July Concerts but had to forego our normal cappuccino as the café had no power! Water was much appreciated. Although the New River was sadly covered in green grime, we saw several tiny moorhen chicks which we hoped would survive. Woodberry Wetlands was most interesting and more birds were seen, including cormorants, tufted duck, coot etc. On to the Stoke Newington West Reservoir where we had more refreshments in their well-restored building and by then, after our five miles, we were all feeling rather hot. We concluded our most enjoyable day by catching buses home.

June: Syon Park to Twickenham —
As a lastSyontoTwickenhamJun2018 minute ‘stand-in’ for the cancelled Ruislip walk this proved to be quite a success. It is a tried and tested route so was relaxed and the JOLLY SIX set off in wonderful hot sunshine with a gentle breeze. After coffee at the Wyvale Café where there was time to look round the garden centre and even purchase a rosemary plant, we were along the river and under the shade of the trees for most of the walk. We made good time but even so the Barmy Arms was full with a wait of over an hour for food. Not being able to wait we adjourned to The Eel Pie Pub around the corner and their shady courtyard, where the food was good and as you can see spirits high. Everyone seemed to enjoy the walk.

June: Trent Park —
This walk TrentParkJun2018had to be postponed from May because of the threat of thunderstorms. The weather was more than kind — blue sky, blazing sunshine and a lovely breeze. Through the woodland in full green and over the bright open country, the 11 walkers were in good humour and the pace steady. We ended at one of the Group’s favourite pubs, The Cock Inn, where the conversations were lively and wide-ranging and the laughter constant. This was a really enjoyable walk.

June: Windsor & Eton
— We had a tricky start, making WindsorandEtonJun2018the train at Paddington by the skin of our teeth. Once past Windsor Castle we were soon at the manicured landscape of the river, which was heaving with royal swans; then we encountered Issue Two: the designated coffee-break pub was closed. But things could only get better and we enjoyed our walk along both banks of the Thames, with some great views of the castle, and through the immaculate playing fields of Eton College. The wild flowers were abundant — as were nettles unfortunately. We even found a pub that was open, after four miles. The tourists had completely taken over Windsor on our return but were conspicuous by their absence on our 5½ mile walk.

Richmond ParkMay:  Richmond Park
Our Shorter Walks annual pilgrimage to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park could not have been on a better day. The weather was sunny and warm (a bit over-warm when we occasionally lost the shade of the trees) and the azaleas were at their peak and quite magical. They were so amazing that one walker even decided to forego lunch at the lovely Pembroke Lodge and stayed on to enjoy them. The rest of us, fortified by lunch, had fun lining up the telescope on King Henry's Mound to spot St Paul’s cathedral 10 miles away and argued about where Windsor Castle was, before deciding that 6 miles was quite long enough on a hot day and caught the bus back to Richmond.

April 2018: Banstead Woods — The number of DepartureBanstead Woods Apr18 Boards at London Bridge Station has increased several times since this walk was first planned. Consequently, we had half the group outside the barriers and half inside before we all met up on Platform 14. After an adventurous trip to Chipstead in which we had to change our carriage several times with a bemused train driver looking on, we nevertheless had a wonderful walk again around Banstead Woods and the bluebells were magnificent. Last week’s cold weather had us wondering if we had the wrong date but a few days of over 20 degrees had them out in force. It was a lovely day and a great walk for 14 of us who enjoyed the hot weather.

Bushy ParkApril 2018: Bushy Park —
Despite the forecast of showers and thunderstorms, twelve walkers had a largely dry but blustery walk through Bushy Park. Our timing was perfect for the spring vistas of daffodils in the woodland gardens and Hampton Court. We heard, then saw, a skylark, quickly followed by a green woodpecker, Egyptian geese and of course, parakeets, a bonus for the birdwatchers. The only downside was the mud — and the puddles, rather of lot of both. But we managed to reroute to find dry paths, stretching the walk to six miles (and as someone pointed out, ten minutes of mud counts as an extra mile).

March 2018: River Lea — Tottenham Hale to Olympic Park — ATottenhamHaleOlympicParkMar2018fter the ‘Beast from the East’ it was great to get out into relatively mild and dry weather for a good walk alongside the River Lea. 12 members enjoyed the surprisingly interesting route with canal boats along the whole way and sightings of herons and cormorants. Listed as 4.5 miles it was in fact 5.6 miles, but everyone was still remarkably lively when we stopped for lunch at The Orbit. With most of the walk alongside the Walthamstow Wetlands and Marshes it was pleasant and relaxed.

CheshuntMarch 2018: Cheshunt to Broxbourne
Ten of us enjoyed an interesting day in the Lea Valley Park. As we were all female, it was an auspicious start to International Women’s Day! After taking the train to Cheshunt, we then walked about five miles alongside the lakes and woods in the Lea Valley Park returning from Broxbourne. With intermittent sunshine on the walk and only a few raindrops, it was good to be out of London. We began by following Hooks Marsh Lake up to Fishers Green; then past Seventy Acres Lake, the Bittern Hide and on from there to the Lea Valley Canal. It was too far away to identify more interesting birds other than the various ducks but we saw a heron standing silently, and there were several cormorants drying their feathers on a raft. We then followed the Canal for 2.5 miles to the Old Mill Café where we had a delicious home-made lunch. It was not without incident as one lady realised soon after arriving at Tottenham Hale station: she was missing her Visa card fortunately a kind person handed this in to her local bank during the day so she was able to enjoy her lunch. Then another nameless lady dropped her Senior Railcard at Broxbourne station where a kind chap followed us up to the platform and handed it back! A good ending to a most enjoyable walk.

East FinchleyFebruary 2018: East Finchley to Woodberry Wetlands We had perfect weather for our fifth pop-up walk of 2018: cold and dry with bright sun and blue skies. Thirteen of us strode out at a brisk pace through Cherry Tree Wood and Highgate Wood, pausing at the attractive Pavilion cafe for a coffee break. If you add snow to the photo we could almost be a skiing group. More ancient woodland as we traversed Queen's Wood and a steep short-cut to Jackson's Lane before continuing along the muddy Parkland Walk and through Finsbury Park ending at the Wetlands, which looked perfect in the wintry sunshine. No sign of the Great Crested Grebes sadly, but the usual delicious lunch at the Coal House café.

Syon ParkFebruary 2018: Syon Lane to Twickenham — A select band of seven set out on this interesting walk along the Thames, passing the historical mansions dating from Tudor times and going under iconic bridges. The historian in the group found much of immense interest and tried to keep us up to speed. This repeat of an earlier walk was relaxed and very enjoyable, with weather warmer and less windy than forecast; it was a jolly group that, after a good-paced walk, sat down to lunch at the Barmy Arms with welcome fires, hospitality and refreshment.

Hours, days and years slide soft away”

GreenwichJanuary 2018: Greenwich Park & Blackheath — Twelve of us started the five mile walk from Island Gardens on the north side of the Thames, admiring the classic view of Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. Once through the Foot Tunnel we followed the Thames Path past the Royal Naval College. We walked uphill through Greenwich Park and out through Blackheath Gate, continuing across the Heath, then around part of the Vale and back to the park to The Pavilion for a very pleasant lunch. We were able to admire the extensive views in sunshine from the Old Royal Observatory. After crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line we continued downhill through the park back to the Cutty Sark DLR station.

Walthamstow WetlandsJanuary 2018: Walthamstow Wetlands
— Despite problems on the Victoria Line, all 13 of us managed to meet up for our first visit to Walthamstow Wetlands. After coffee in the new Visitor Centre in the Engine House we had time to explore the restored building before our walk. It was a beautiful winter’s day, although the wind was very fresh. The first section of the walk took us to the south part of the Wetlands: we walked between reservoirs and visited the Coppermill Tower. Reading the timeline set out in the Tower, we saw that a mill on this site had first been noted in the Domesday Book. Some of us climbed the Tower for a view of the Wetlands. Comparing notes on completing this section, we found that 14 species of bird had been spotted, including scaup, grebes, falcon, reed buntings and herons. The second section of the walk was round the Lockwood Reservoir — not so many birds here, but good views of the area. We then returned to the Visitor Centre to warm up and have a welcome lunch.

Hampstead HeathJanuary 2018: Hampstead Heath
— On our first winter pop-up walk we managed not only to stay dry and relatively unwind-swept, but also saw blue skies and sun, after days of rain. Starting in Highgate village, we reached the heath via the salubrious mansions of Fitzroy Park. After that it was a game of (largely unsuccessful) ’dodge the mud’. We stopped for a break at Kenwood then braved the muddy slope to reach Spaniards Road and the quieter Sandy Heath. Diverting through a corner of Golders Hill Park we continued through woodland to Hill House garden and the pergola, beautiful even in winter, with early-flowering irises and snowdrops and the sweet fragrance of viburnum and witch hazel. After Jack Straw’s Castle we rejoined the Heath and braved the last muddy path before reaching Kenwood House for lunch. A fine start to our 2018 walks calendar.

Previous Walks

For information and photos of our walks in 2017/18 (October to January) have a look here.
For information and photos of our walks in 2016/17 (October to September) have a look here.

If you would like to look at our earlier walks in iU3A 2015/16 year (October to September) then the details are here.

If you would like to look at even earlier group walks for our first iU3A year then the details for 2015 (May to September) are here.


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