LONGER WALKS

Derek HarwoodThe 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.

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 forthcoming walks is shown in the Members' System ('Beacon'). Some of these are 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 but also in the Members' system.

Below, where it says 'Details here', click on 'here' when it is highlighted in blue.

Please sign up individually for each walk you plan to join either below or in the Members' System. You can sign on below 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'.
 
Friday 12 JanuaryBayford (sign up open), this is a 11½ miles circular walk. Another two 'links' on the Hertfordshire Chain Walk. We are slowly winding our way north on this long distance path. We've previously done 3 walks on this path - the southerly links of the chain. You can do one link (5½ miles) or two (11½ miles). Easily accessible up the Hertford North line from H&I. Full details here.

Thursday 18 January — no information yet

Wednesday 24 JanuaryKew & Richmond, 8-9 mile walk from Kew Gardens along the river to Richmond. Then via Richmond Hill, Pembroke Lodge, Petersham, and Ham House to rejoin the river. We follow the Thames Path back to Richmond for the return journey on the overground to H&I. Full details to follow later.

Tuesday 30 January — probably a walk near Epping finishing at Epping station, but starting this time from Theydon Bois. Lunch again at the Moletrap. More details to follow later.

Dates for 2018 see the Members' System ('Beacon') for the walk dates for all of 2018. The link is here. Log in then look up 'Schedule'. Add them to your diary now?

Friday 14 to Monday 17 September 2018 — Extended Walk — For next year, after the success of Freshwater Bay, we are planning another three-night-away adventure. For 2018 we are going to Church Stretton in the Shropshire Dales, again with hf Holidays. I'm afraid the booking for this has already closed — for these sort of holidays you have to book the accommodation way in advance. However if you are interested I can put you on a waiting list (in case any of the current 19 drop out, or further rooms become available to us). Just drop me an email at the address at the top.

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 willl 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 Information
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 15% discount. 

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

Recent Walks
Meridian LineIsland QueenThames Path & Regents Canal
— this was our Christmas Season social walk. Although normally for our Christmas walk the emphasis is on the lunch, this year we actually had a reasonable 10 mile walk as well. The length didn't diminish the numbers with 32 talking part (for part of the walk or just the lunch). Not quite the record — we had 33 in 2014! We started from Canning Town immediately going through the new development of Fish Island, then from the East India Docks we followed the Thames Path round to Cubitt Town crossing the Meridian line. There we left the path to cut across the Isle of Dogs. While this was a city walk we were always near great expanses of water. Either the Thames, the various docks in the Isle of Dogs (debate over coffee: does the name comes from Henry VIII's hunting dogs or 'ducks'?) then the Regent's Canal. While no prizes were awarded this year there was a good sprinkling of festive attire, with Ceilia's santa outfit probably the most fetching. The weather stayed bright all the way and the walk took us right to our end for a late lunch at the Island Queen, Angel. Details.

Hadleigh CastlePitsea to Leigh-on-Sea —
the nights are drawing in so this was a shorter walk of 7½ miles, but the overnight rain meant it was bit slip & slide. This walk picked up the Thames Estuary Path where we left off to complete the last section. Initally we followed the path through various RSPB Reserves, never far from the Thames. This led us straight into Benfleet for lunch. After that we left the flat Thames Estuary Path and entered Hadleigh Country Park, climbing up to Hadleigh Castle with stunning views over Canvey Island and across the river to the Isle of Grain. As always, perfect timing, we made it to Leigh-on-Sea four minutes before the train arrived! Details.

BlackheathBrixton to Crystal Palace a fine bright but breezy day for this meander through some lovely south London parks, previously unknown to most of us North Londoners!  First was Brockwell Park (famous for its lido) packed with interesting features including a beautifully planted walled garden, wildlife lakes, a ‘Little Ben’ clock tower, cafe in Brockwell Hall, all topped off with great views towards the city. Ruskin Park was smaller, but with more iconic city views and pretty gardens. Next, to Dulwich Park for more lakes, gardens, cafe, but no city views! From here it was a short distance to Sydenham Hill Wood Nature Reserve, such a wonderfully tranquil area of ancient woodland that we could have been in the middle of the countryside.  After lunch and a short walk through pretty Sydenham Wells Park, we ended at the wonderful Crystal Palace Park, the largest park visited by us on this walk and the most well known by us. It is packed with historical interest, from recently restored Victorian dinosaurs and sphinxes to one of the biggest mazes in the country. The station is on the overground direct to H&I making for a very easy return journey. Details.

Isle of Dogs 1Isle of Dogs to Blackheath
— on a clear sunny day the views across the Thames and the autumn colours in Greenwich Park would have been spectacular. However this November day was slightly misty, mild, dry and grey with just a glimpse of blue sky in the afternoon — quite pleasant for walking however! With many things to see we managed to keep up the pace required by the Longer Walks Group, pausing rather than lingering to see across the Thames to the O2 Centre from Cubitt Town Wharf, the Old Naval College from Island Gardens and Burrells Wharf where Brunel's SS Great Eastern was built and launched. We had to imagine brightly coloured smoke billowing from the chimney of piqment/dye factory and local pigeons in various unusual colours flying around the area. This factory relocated in the 1980s. The buildings of Burrells Square Wharf are listed and it is now a very smart residential estate. In Greenwich we passed Trinity Hospital almshouse, saw a metal strip in the pavement of Feathers Place marking the meridian and, having climbed the only hill of our walk in Greenwich Park, saw Queen Elizabeth's Oak.
Isle of Dogs2The Hare and Billet on the edge of Blackheath provided a relaxing venue for lunch and from there, in Eliot Place, we passed the former home of the Polar explorer Sir James Clark Ross after whom Ross Island and Ross Sea are named, before seeing the 18th century Pagoda where Caroline, the wife of George IVth lived.
Although unable to get into the Old Churchyard of St Margaret's Lee where Edmund Halley the 2nd Astronomer Royal is buried the tower of the medieval church was clearly visible. Blackheath Halls, which claim to be the London's oldest surviving purpose built venue(1895) allowed us a brief look and and immediately beyond this we turned into Blackheath Cator Estate which, in addition to the late Georgian and early Victorian houses, showed examples of Span Developments (1957-65). These aimed to 'span the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical 'spec building' and the architecturally designed, individually built residence' and encountered much opposition at the time. In wall of a passageway in Hallgate flats we saw a sculpture by Keith Gordon 'The Architect in Society' which was commissioned to celebrate one of the planning victories. (See photo) Returning to the Heath we passed  Colonnade House, a magnificent 1790s crescent of large semi-detached houses linked together by colonnades and the 17th century Morden College, a grand almshouse built in the style of Wren for merchants 'who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own'. We abandoned the  longer alternative return route  to the west of Greenwich Park, via the view point on Point Hill, in favour of the direct route past the Royal Observatory. Some walkers took the riverboat from Cutty Sark to Westminster. Details.


Epping & the Essex Way
— this 10 mile circular walkEpping November 2017 was the last one of the year in the countryside and we were fortunate to have a lovely late autumn day. Although Epping is usually associated with the forest, this walk was much more in open countryside. We were quickly out to large fields recently ploughed, quite deep ploughing in places, which revealed the variety of soils of the area. Spring grains had already just appeared in some places. Fortunately we did not encounter much in the way of ploughed fields obliterating the footpath! We did of course pass through woodland and were lucky enough to have a good view of a green woodpecker sitting on a fence, unlike the long-tailed tits who were as usual very active flying through the trees in small groups. Lunch was in that endangered species, the “cash only” pub, a real old-fashioned place with low ceilings and exposed timbers. The Moletrap pub on Tawney Common is very popular in the area with its fresh home cooking. However it did display an all too realistic mole trap on its pub sign which  provoked comment amongst our group. One of our party sketched the pub which has really caught the feel of the place. Later we passed some interesting examples of modern environmentally friendly houses which seemed slightly incongruous in  traditional countryside. But it being late autumn we were accompanied throughout by a constant backdrop of wonderfully coloured trees in bright sunlight right up to our return to Epping station. Details.


Audley End 2Audley End3Audley End to Great Chesterford this was an 8 mile continuation of the Newport to Audley End walk of 18th August 2017. Again we were blessed with glorious warm weather. The route took us passed pretty thatched cottages and interesting churches via paths and quiet country lanes. The group size of 20 beak our previous high of 19 which was back in January 2015. What was the attraction of this walk - was it the shorter distance, the autumn colours, new members who knows! Most of the walk was done in the morning so it was a leisurely late lunch, even time for pudding, then only a mile more to the train station. Details.

Tewin, North Welwyn
10½ miles. Didn't start well — just outside the village our "path" across the field had been recently ploughed up. Luckily, it being a lovely dry day, the earth was firm so it wasn't too hard-going. The rolling Hertfordshire countryside around is full of hills so we had quite a few downs and ups. The autumnal colours were at their best. After skirting Tewin, one of the oldest villages in the area, with good views back over Welwyn Garden City, we popped in and out of various woods throughout the day, interspersed with open fields, and passed by Lewis Hamilton's ex-house (sold for £11½ million two years ago) and needed a Google stop to figure out who VJM (the current owner) was. Lunch was in the picturesque village of Bramfield at the famous (and smart!) Grandison Arms. They managed to cope with our 16 but were a bit slow, putting us 15 minutes behind schedule, tut tut. After lunch we passed the Marden Hill estate and then reached the Saxon Tewin Church and its interesting graveyard. A figure of eight walk took us back to Welwyn North station. Hope the dash for the train didn't put off our three new members. Details.

Stanstead MontfitchetStansted Mountfitchet a rather damp day failed to depress the select seven who turned up for this very nice 11 mile walk. The promised "far-reaching views" were a bit limited by the poor weather we had — rain most of the morning but never that heavy. There was plenty of autumnal tree colour to be seen in spite of the drizzle, and a couple of fine churches were visited en route. We followed quiet country lanes and paths, through woods, fields and small villages. We passed through the hamlets of Hazel End and Farnham and the pretty village of Manuden. After a longish morning walk we enjoyed a timely and leisurely lunch at the Ugley Chequers. It was then a straightforward southerly yomp back, via the village of Ugley Green, to Stansted Mountfichet in perfect time to catch the train home. Details.


WitleyWitley to Haslemere —
a generally peaceful and undemanding nine mile walk through a scenic part of Surrey. We visited the picturesque village of Chiddingfold (with the restored Crown Inn) and passed through extensive National Trust land during the afternoon route. Details.











Thames PathThames Barrier to London Bridge —
from Pontoon Dock DLR station seven of us took a brief detour to look at the Thames Barrier, headed to the Emirates Air Line cable car to cross the Thames, then we joined the Thames Path and followed it westwards through Greenwich and Rotherhithe towards London Bridge. We had a wonderful sunny day, so the cable car ride gave us brilliant views of the building site that is London as it moves east a forest of multi-coloured cranes. The Thames Path took us close up to smart new apartment and office blocks as well as derelict docks and a series of modern sculptures. History was present in the bronze statue of Tsar Peter the Great at Deptford (1698), Pepys Park (1742) and the place in Rotherhithe where the Mayflower ship was fitted out for the Pilgrim Fathers' transatlantic voyage. We had lunch at the lovely old Cutty Sark pub and passed Surrey Docks City Farm with its bronze animal sculptures (as well as live ones) on the way to Tower Bridge, where our previous peace was suddenly jolted by crowds of tourists. Details.

OxtedOxted to Lingfield — this was an 11 mile walk in the Kent Weald, passing through woodland, farmland and two nature reserves, with some good views only limited by the murky weather. The walk went south from Oxted via Limpsfield Common and Pains Hill towards Staffhurst Wood, a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The pub was very swish but still offered a good range of simple lunchtime food. The afternoon section was mostly across low-lying farmland, but with several low hills offering good views. It crossed the River Eden and passed the small settlement of Crowhurst and the well-preserved manor house of Crowhurst Place. Some stopped for tea at the end, others dashed off for the train. Details.

Isle of Wight
this was our extended walk for 2017 — 15 of us had 3 nights (2½ days walking) in a very comfortable hf Holidays centre at Freshwater Bay. It had a real holiday feel right from the beginning with a train journey then ferry crossing, just to get on the island. It was a great location and the centre provided a range of defined walks to choose from. The group chose two "Full On" walks (11½ and 13 miles). Unfortunately for the first full day the weather was a bit wet although the showers were only light. The second day was truly glorious with great views all over the island. Have a look at some of the memories from the visit here.

 
Past Walks
We are now in our fifth year (October 2017 -Sept 2018). 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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