LONGER WALKS

Derek HarwoodRowena InzaniThe 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'.

Monday 23 March, Tonbridge/Tudeley: cancelled
Friday 03 April: cancelled
Thursday 09 April: cancelled
Wednesday 15 April: cancelled
Tuesday 21 April: cancelled
Monday 27 April, Limpsfield: cancelled


04 to 07 September, Extended Walk 2020 — might seem way in the future but we have started planning this now. For 2020 we are going to hf Holiday's Dovedale in the peak district. There are 22 of us booked up for this so far. If you want to go on a waiting list for a room cancellation, please email me at the above address. Information about hf Holiday's Dovedale facilites can be seen here.

Lookahead
The full lookahead date information is now visible in the '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.

Other walk dates for the next part of 2020 are:
May     Friday 8
          Thursday 14
          Wednesday 20
          Tuesday 26
June    Friday 5
          Thursday 11
          Wednesday 17
          Tuesday 23

July     Thursday 2
           Thursday 9
           Wednesday 15
           Tuesday 21
           Monday 27

August   Friday 7
            Thursday 13
            Wednesday 19
            Tuesday 25

Photo Gallery and Walk Map
Launching new features: you can now see many of our photos from our photo library. Click on the year you want below. 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 on the year below then select from the thumbnails the one you want then click on it:
Also if you want to see on a map where we have walked (and have selected a particular walk's details) then click here.

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  If you need to figure out what train line we are going on then this overall map can help: Rail 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
River LeeLee Valley: considering the waterlogged ground at the moment, we did another canal walk this week. Basically this was the '2019 Christmas Social' 8½ miles long walk, but in the reverse direction. Nine of us made our way to the Angel meeting point in glorious sunshine — so we were shocked to be pelted by hail stones as we set off toward the canal. Luckily this ceased after 10 minutes to reveal bright blue skies for the remainder of the walk. Most of us had done some or all of the walk in the past so we knew what to expect. We had a minor adventure when one of the boat owners asked our help in releasing her boat which was penned in by double parking. U3A came to the rescue, holding tow ropes and pushing other boats out of the way. After that the walk was relatively uneventful — easy walking and lovely weather allowed conversation to flow freely.

Having spurned the option of coffee at Broadway Market we had an early lunch at the Breakfast Club near Hackney Wick — an interesting place overlooking the river. As we offered to pay they somehow realised that we were over 60 and gave us a 50% discount. Very generous of them as 9 of us qualified.

We continued our walk up the Lea Valley toward the Walthamstow Wetlands. We did not visit those, thinking we could go on another day, possibly with the bird watching group. We left the peace of the towpath for a short walk to Tottenham Hale and made our way home - totally mud free. Details here.

Colne Valley - BargeColne Valley Trail:
this was an easy nine miles partly along the side of the Grand Union Canal path, first done in November 2014, most recently in April 2018. But this time we stuck to the Colne Valley Trail, which meant we left the canal and rose out of the valley (and away from muddy puddles). Although it had rained for the previous 24 hours there was a glorious blue sky and a touch of spring in the air. These days we use the Old Orchard pub, which offers great views over the valley and Blackwater Reservoir. It lived up to its previous reputation for good food and quick service — coping with 14 of us. In the afternoon we did drop back to the canal and at times were surrounded by flooded river and fields. The only disappointment was that Fran's Tea Shop was closed (for no obvious reason), so a few peeled off on reaching Uxbridge to find facilities (tea or otherwise). Details here.
 
Ware, Chequers InnWare:
this was a linear 10 mile walk from Ware to St Margarets. Soon out of the pretty town of Ware and into rolling Hertfordshire countryside, we
headed north to Mole’s Farm and then on to Thundridge Hill, where we descended to the Rib Valley and what is left of Thundridge Old Church. Here we joined the Hertfordshire Way alongside the River Rib and to Wareside for lunch at the quirky Chequers Inn (with its amazing automatic boot cover dispenser). After lunch we joined the old railway track at Mardock and followed it to cross the River Ash. We then rejoined the Hertfordshire Way for a gentle ascent before dropping down to Stanstead Abbots and to St Margarets in the Lee Valley, just getting to the station as a train was due. An excellent finish to an excellent walk. Details here.

Storm DamageBrentwood: 
this was a new walk of nine-plus miles, south of Brentwood, Essex. The walk was centred around Thorndon Park, taking in ancient woodland, historic parkland, open countryside and some great views. Again, there was lots of mud around but it was navigable, whereas recent storm damage was harder to get around. Lunch wasn't in our usual form — no pub — but a good little café with 'Prize Winning' pies did the job: a chance to warm up and refuel. The threatened rain never really came to anything in the evening. We made good time in the afternoon and then it was easy travel toward home on the new rolling stock of TfL Rail/CrossRail/Elizabeth Line. Details here.

Lee ValleyCheshunt to Clayton Hill:
from the station we were straight into the Lee Valley Country Park with its good paths twisting around all the pools and bird sanctuaries. There had been rain overnight, but for us the day was bright and clear. The route took us up on to a ridge above the Lee Valley floor and we had great views east over the Essex hills and west to the rolling Hertfordshire countryside. Lunch was at the Crown at Broxbourne with a good menu and quick service. In the afternoon we turned south and again wound our way through the Lee Valley Country Park. As we had made good time our Leader added a little extension, taking the walk to just over ten miles. But we still managed to walk on to the platform just as a southbound train arrived. Great timing and a great walk! Details here.

CheshamChesham and the Chilterns:
this was a repeat of a walk last done in September 2015. Somehow we'd missed it and not repeated sooner, as it was a great walk through the rolling Hertfordshire countryside. It's easy to get to on the Metropolitan line and this time the Chesham branch was working smoothly. After a cold crisp start we soon warmed up and had glorious blue open skies all the way. It was a circular walk of just over 12 miles. There was quite a lot of mud on the way which made it heavier going. The pub/restaurant for lunch in Lee (the Midsomer Murders setting) was definitely quirky and it looks as if it hasn't change in decades. Long may it survive. The afternoon was more of the same — dipping in and out of various woods. We made it back on schedule and the Chesham line was still running smoothly. We mustn't leave it so long until we do this walk again. Details here.
  


TringTring:
a bright cold winter’s day tempted out 18 walkers to explore the Grand Union Canal, and fields and woodland around Tring. We weren’t sure if these animals were llamas or alpacas, but they paid us no heed. Nor did the parrot in the lunch pub, who refused to talk to us. The good food made up for his rudeness. The leader thought the walk was about nine miles but opinions varied, some suggesting up to 12. In any event, we covered the route in good time to catch the train home before dark. Details here.




RichmondKew Gardens, Richmond & Ham: a light mist lent an atmospheric air to this largely Thames-side walk, but meant that some of its famous views weren’t  actually visible — not the 10 mile protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral or the classic Thames view from up on Richmond Hill. Luckily however there was plenty of other interest along the way. On Kew Green we briefly visited St Anne’s church, burial place of Thomas Gainsborough. From the Thames Path we had a great close-up view of Kew Palace and, a little further on across the river, Syon House. Approaching Richmond for an early lunch we passed markers for the original Meridian line (before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian 1884). After lunch we headed into Richmond Park to King Henry’s Mound, then to follow the Capital Ring to exit at Ham Village. At the magnificent Ham House (1610) we rejoined the Thames Path for a riverside walk back into the village of Richmond, and the station. Details here.

Hadleigh CastlePitsea to Leigh-on-Sea:
this was an estuary walk last done in Nov 2017. It was mostly flat walking amongst the tributaries of the Thames. It had been raining for the previous day and night so it was muddy underfoot, but the rain did stop just after we started walking (as forecast) and by the afternoon the skies had cleared. The pub at Benfleet was quick, good standard and cheap! After lunch it was drier underfoot with more metalled paths. We had one short steep climb up to Hadleigh Castle — but it was worth it for the great blue sky views over the estuary. Details here.



OtfordOtford via Shoreham:
being only eight miles in length, this walk made a good winter walk for our group of 14. But although relatively short in distance it was challenging. From the outset the route was steeply uphill on to the North Downs and the slippery mud and one particularly steep-sided valley sometimes made walking slow. The walk was through a mix of open countryside and woods and there were great views over Otford and the Darent Valley. Although close to London — there were excellent views of Canary Wharf at one stage — parts of the walk felt remote and untouched by modern life. We stopped at The Kings Arms in Shoreham Village for a late and welcome lunch. Shoreham was well worth visiting, with its collection of attractive buildings, the river, and its twelfth-century church, which has a stained glass window by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Although the weather was dull we avoided rain and had the pleasure of some sun right at the end of the day as we made our way from Shoreham to Oftord along the Darent Valley Path. Details here.

Christmas SocialChristmas Social, River Lea: we were blessed with a glorious day — clear blue skies, no wind, but chilly out of the sun. We were a large group of 21 who had all elected to do the full walk. From Tottenham Hale we walked along Ferry Road then turned into Walthamstow Wetlands. Some knew this bit well and others hadn't visited the Wetlands centre before. We climbed the Coopermill Tower for the view, then carried on out of the south gate into Lea Valley Park. Running parallel to the river we headed south and had our coffee stop at Look East (part of the redeveloped Olympic Park). From there we left the river and cut through Hackney Wick to pop into Victoria Park. Then we picked up the Regent's Canal and followed it back to Islington. Symbols of Christmas cheer had been limited during the walk but we were all in festive mood for our late lunch at the Island Queen — they even provided crackers! Details here.

On the ThamesCanal, River and Ferry in London: 12 walkers arrived on an overcast morning at Angel station to walk along a canal and a river. The canal was the Regent's Canal, which we walked all the way to Limehouse Basin, passing canal boats and joggers and cyclists on our way. We stopped to see the sandbank built by a local community group to encourage kingfishers to nest.  Local efforts have been successful and kingfishers have been lured back, but they were not to be tempted out for our enjoyment on such a glum, drizzly morning. At Limehouse we detoured to the River Thames where we spotted a lonely bronze man, forged by Anthony Gormley, braving the tidal currents. On to lunch at Zizzi’s, a pleasant, light-filled restaurant by Canary Wharf dock, after which we boarded a clipper up the river to London Bridge, and on to Tate Modern, where we walked around Kara Walker’s striking and amusing take on the Victoria monument by Buckingham Palace. The sun did give us a final watery smile as we left the Tate after tea and cake — a comforting conclusion to our arty walk, which had cheered us all up on a grey November day. Details here.

 
Grt Missenden
Princes Risborough to Great Missenden: this was a walk across Chilterns through sloping fields, beech woods and hamlets, with some muddy bits in Monkton Wood just before lunch. A cold day but a lovely walk with still great autumnal colours. Details here.






MisbourneRiver Misbourne and Beyond:
we started by repeating a walk not done since 2014, this time in the reverse order, starting from Amersham then walking down the valley of the River Misbourne. After all the rain it was a bit muddy in places but not too bad. We didn't stop for lunch this time at the Merlin's Cave at Chalfont St Giles but instead pressed on to a pretty coachhouse in Chalfont St Peter (The Greyhound). After speedy service there we left the river, to head up out of the valley and eastward. We had views over the River Colne (not the Lee!). The path seemed to run out at one point but we picked up the Old Shire Circular  and this led us straight to our finish at Chorleywood. It didn't seem to be 13 miles in total but that's what the apps said. Details here.



Berkhamstead1Berkhamsted2Berkhamsted:
What luck! We had an unexpectedly beautiful day for this lovely autumnal walk. The route passed by Berkhamsted’s 11th century castle ruins before heading across farmland to Berkhamsted Common (site of WWI troop training trenches) and continuing along the wooded ridge to the Ashridge Estate and its landmark tower, the Bridgewater Monument. Here we enjoyed an alfresco lunch in the sunshine at the adjacent Brownlow Café. Heading back through more autumnal woodlands we were treated to the sight of a small herd of roe deer weaving their way elegantly through the trees in front of us. A slight detour (due to the leader not spotting a significant way marker!) probably put our overall mileage up to nine. In the last two miles along the GUC towpath we had a few rare moments to admire a kingfisher who perched obligingly in front of us on the opposite bank. Truly a lucky day out! Details here.

Waltham AbbeyBroxbourne to Cheshunt:
this was a winter special — short train journey and good dry paths with no hills, plus inevitably a little (a very little) drizzle. The 10 mile walk started in the Hertfordshire countryside and worked its way south to explore the joys of the Lea Valley Country Park, notably lots of sizeable lakes (formerly gravel pits) teeming with birdlife. We had a very agreeable lunch at a café in spitting distance of Waltham Abbey, in the centre of the tiny and pretty town of the same name, then headed back north-west to Cheshunt for the short journey home: we reached Islington at 4.00pm, well before dark. Details here.






Goring2019Goring & Streatley: we had a gloriously sunny day for this walk exploring the countryside on both sides of the Thames at Goring & Streatley. The morning walk took us up to the ridge beyond Goring with great views of the river, before dropping down to follow the Thames Path back to the bridge linking the two villages. Lunch was in Streatley at the Swan, wonderfully situated by the river. In the afternoon we headed uphill again, this time to the Holies and Lardon Chase, nationally important areas of chalk grassland managed by the NT. The path took us through woodland, eventually arriving at a ridge point from where we had far reaching views in almost every direction. A steep grassy hill led us back down to Streatley village, and then we recrossed the bridge and walked the last ½ mile or so back to the station. Details here.

Folkestone2019Sandling to Folkestone:
we caught HS1 down to Sandling from St Pancras for this 8.3 mile walk. We started along an old railway line, then proceeded through attractive countryside and villages. We climbed up on to and walked along the North Downs, giving us fantastic views to the sea, Dungeness and the Channel. Although dry weather had been forecast we did hit some drizzle, which restricted the views a bit. Then we descended to the coast and our lunch pub. The afternoon part was flat and easy along the coast from Sandgate to Folkestone, but the recent storms meant that beach shingle submerged quite a lot of the path along the front; however, there was good art work here. The old boat train rail station, closed only fairly recently, has been well preserved. We then climbed up into Folkestone old town and as the rain was coming on rather heavy decided it was time to nip into one of the many tea shops. By the time we emerged it had stopped and we were in good time to catch the fast train back to London. Details here.

IngatestoneIngatestone:
arriving at Ingatestone station presents a surprise — turn right out of the station and you are in the town but turn left and you are immediately walking along a country lane beside green fields. We soon joined a path through the gentle undulating Essex countryside on a balmy autumn day. This 10 mile walk gave us culture as well as wonderful views: we soon passed the beautiful Grade I listed 16th-century manor house Ingatestone Hall built by Sir William Petre, and still  the home of one of the oldest Catholic families in Britain. Further on we came to St Mary's Church, Buttsbury, a traditional country church situated in open fields as the village has long since vanished. We walked along paths bordered by elaborate metal fences, kissing gates and farm gates which looked somewhat out of place in this rural environment. They have been installed by a newly wealthy businessman who has now taken up farming, to the obvious disdain of the local farming folk! We had a delicious lunch at the White Hart in Margaretting Tye, before walking on to St Margaret's Church in Margaretting which boasts a splendid 15th century timber framed belfry — apparently stone was not readily available in Essex at the time. We met the lay preacher who gave us a guided tour, pointing out the beautifully coloured 15th century Tree of Jesse window made in Flanders as well as a nest of wild bees in the wooden tower. All too soon, after a gentle walk led by Stuart, we arrived back at Ingatestone station and a short train journey back to London. Details here.

River WeyWater to Down:
Eight of us, including one token man, set off in glorious early autumn weather from Godalming station for a 10 mile circular walk. We walked for 2½ hours along the River Wey, passing a beautiful young horse in training to haul canal boats, to our lunch stop at the Ship Inn, where a friendly and efficient welcome awaited us at the Captain’s table. After an excellent lunch, which included Hog’s Back cider for some, we continued to Compton along the North Downs Way, where we lost one of our group to the Watts Gallery. We were invited to a private view in a garden nearby of Mary Watts’s beautifully restored, 19th century brick kiln where she had made many of the tiles for the house and chapel, which we also visited. Our walk continued over farmland with wide-reaching views, and back along the river to Godalming. We were lucky, given the previous day’s torrential rain, that there was minimal mud. A quick tea at the station cafe completed our day. Details here.

ChalfontChalfont & Latimer:  a day of light showers and occasional sunshine coupled with warm temperatures led to much taking off and putting on of layers, on what was a very enjoyable walk. The route, centred on the ‘chalk stream’ river Chess once famous for the many watercress farms along its banks, included ridge and valley walking, plenty of woodland and views, and two interesting historic buildings: the Victorian Latimer House high on the ridge and the stately Tudor Manor dominating the village of Chenies. A very good lunch was had at the Cock Inn, Church End, and full marks to them for providing a walkers boot rack by the back door! Details here.


 

Past Walks
We are now in our seventh year.
To see details of our sixth year so far (October 2018 - Sept 2019) look here.
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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