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'.

Wednesday 18 September (sign up open) — Laindon to East Tilbury: we did this walk back in 2016. Then it was a bit long (15miles) so this time shortened to 12miles. However you could do the extension if you wanted. Apart from the full 12miles you can drop out half way at the lunch stop. It's a varied walk - we start in the Laindon hills but then walk down to the Thames estuary and follow the river. Details here.

Wednesday 25 September (sign up open) — Chalfont & Latimer:  a 9+ mile walk in the Chess Valley covering a varied terrain of riverside paths, meadowland, woodland and occasional open views of the Chilterns. With just one short steepish downhill and one longer but much less steep uphill path this is overall a very easy walk. We also pass two landmark historic buildings, Latimer House and Chenies Manor. Mid opt-out point available. Details here.

Wednesday 02 October (sign up open)Water to Down: a walk in the Surrey hills between Goldalming and Guildford. About 10 miles. Opt-out points available. Route passes The Watts Gallery at Compton. Details here.

Thursday 10 October — A circular from Ingatestone with lunch at the White Hart at Margaretting Tye. Details to follow
Wednesday 16 October — details to follow
Tuesday 22 October — details to follow
Friday 01 November — details to follow
Thursday 07 November — details to follow
Wednesday 13 November — details to follow
Tuesday 19 November — details to follow
Tuesday 26 November — details to follow
Wednesday 04 December — details to follow

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.

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 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
Flatford MillRiver Stour:
it was a perfect day for our walk through Dedham Vale, an area much loved by Constable. We set off across tracks soon passing autumn produce outside a local church before we joined an ancient trail, the Essex Way. The path meandered across several fields and a railway crossing soon opening out to a view of the River Stour and Dedham village. Inevitably, we passed paddocked horses before our descent into the beautiful village of Dedham, which had prospered during the wool trade. Constable had attended the grammar school here, the Parish church of St Mary’s houses one of his paintings and is inspiration for a second. After lunch we re-joined the River Stour, passing Dedham Lock and Dedham Mill, strolling gently as it is too hot to rush. At one of the bridges we gazed at the fish swimming in the crystal clear waters, the gossamer wings of dragonflies and the striking shadows cast by the sun. The river winds along to Flatford Mill, the site of Constable’s Hay Wain and Bridge Cottage, a National Trust exhibition space for Constable and tea for us. The Flatford lock is the final Constable inspiration before we leave the river, not glimpsing the black swans who nest along the bank. Then it’s a homeward path to the station. Details here.

Malham1Extended Walk 2019, Malham: this year's weekend away took us to hf Holidays' Newfield Hall, Malhamdale in the Yorkshire Dales. This was our biggest number yet at 30. We set off on Friday by train through Leeds and Skipton, where the coach was waiting to take us the final leg. Then we managed a short afternoon's walk to orientate ourselves and stretch the legs. There was the odd light shower but the forecast bode well for the next two days. Then of course there were the evening entertainments to participate in as well. Saturday we did the classic walk in the area, a steady climb up to Weets Top (414m) and up to the first geological feature — the Gordale Scar with its waterfall cutting through the limestone. The hf picnic lunches were as large as ever and we enjoyed them in glorious sunshine.
Malham2Then after a quick look at Janet's Foss most of the group headed along the Dales High Way to the next geological feature — the limestone pavement at Malham Cove. These features were all formed from glacial action. As we turned down the valley and through Malham the local pub was a welcome relief and some took the option of the local bus back to the hall. Saturday's entertainmentskittles was well represented by iU3a, our own Chris winning overall. Sunday saw another glorious sunny day and this time the walkers turned east and went up Winterburn and round the reservoir. Some took the option of adding a few more miles and returning by Weets Top. The free bar was lasting well and the evening meal was as huge as ever. The evening's 'entertainment' was more educational this time: a presentation on geology, with many local samples. A true U3A self-learning experience. Monday saw some of the group having to leave early but a few were up for a morning walk despite the drizzle. Then it was time for us all to head for home and the train south. Another successful Extended Walking Weekend for the Long Walks group. Details here.


Gordons HillThe Glass Sea: we returned to a walk we first did in 2014, just over 10 miles through the Hertfordshire rolling countryside. The first link in the Hertfordshire Chain Walk. The weather was good. We had to dodge the guns which were out in force following the 'glorious 12th'. Poor birds... It was a bit of a jungle in places — needs more walkers to keep the route open. Or a longer time with the secateurs. Lunch at Goffs Oak was a bit slow but worth the wait. The afternoon's walk was longer, but we finished the circle and arrived back on the station platform as the train arrived. Details here.







South CoulsdonCoulsdon, Chaldon and Happy Valley14 walkers set off on a very warm day to do an eight mile circular walk from Coulsdon South Station. We quickly reached Farthing Downs, which is part of the most extensive area of chalk and natural grasslands left in Greater London. It is managed by the Corporation of London. Before descending  a stony track towards Chaldon we looked at the information boards at Farthing Downs car park. Following a path along the edge of a field which led up through a wood we came to the 'new' village of Netherne-on-the-Hill where the ex-chapel contains a leisure centre and swimming pool and the Water Tower, which can be seen from miles around, is flats. The green is partly encircled by maisonettes ending in the old Asylum. Even in its early days  Netherne Hospital gained a reputation as a pioneering force in the treatment of psychiatric illness and in 1946 it became a national centre for art therapy under Edward Adamson. It played a vital part in the rehabilitation of servicemen and became part of the NHS after WW2. It closed in 1994 and 10 years later the redevelopment began.

Leaving the village we continued through woods and a field to Alderstead Heath caravan site and Furzefield Wood. After crossing a large field we arrived at Chaldon Church, where we were amazed by the 12th century wall painting 'The Ladder of Salvation of the Human Soul'. In the bottom right compartment the artist shows dishonest tradesmen on the 'bridge of spikes' which is held by two demons! Read more here.

Lunch, slightly late and rather slow, at The Fox Inn on Coulsdon Common, was the next stop. During the Cold War it was used by the Military School for Linguists for intensive Russian courses. The return walk to Farthing Downs led us on to open hillside with views left into Happy Valley, a SSSI rich in many species of herb which are uncommon in London. I don't think that we identified any of these. The final climb up a bank to Farthing Downs was the steepest we had done all day but once up there we had an easy walk back to the station. Details here.

OtmoorOxford Parkway:
at the second attempt after 30+° and a closed pub led to a last-minute cancellation in July. The weather was just right this time for our group of ten, on a longish walk with a mix of sun and light cloud. Luckily we lost no-one to the doubtful charms of Bicester Village as we headed from Marylebone to this new station, opened by David Cameron in 2015.

We soon left the busy A4165 to follow a long drive to reach the River Cherwell as it curls round to Islip, where we joined the Oxfordshire Way. Several wheat fields later led us to the small village of Noke, and on to the Otmoor RSPB Nature Reserve, a bonus for the birders but a pleasure for all as we followed the flat pathway, listening to birdsong if not actually spotting more than a few kites. The steep hill up to picturesque Beckley was rewarded with a great pub, the Abingdon Arms, where we sat in the garden looking back over Otmoor. It was hard to get going again, but after a quick squint at the ‘squint’ in Beckley’s church we followed what appeared to be a fairly unused stretch of the Oxfordshire Greenbelt Way through the landscape of gentle hills, barley fields and small plantations of trees that are typical of North Oxfordshire. The pretty village of Woodeaton was worth a stop for a brief visit to its unusual church with a rood beam, minstrel’s gallery and family pews. Downhill then, and the footpath through more recently harvested barley fields eventually led us back to Sparsey Bridge over the Cherwell and we retraced our outward journey back to the station. Details here.

Summer SocialSummer Social, Finchley to Canonbury: we might have just repeated the walk we did for last year's summer's social, but conditions were very different. Last year midway we were all eating ice cream, this year we wanted hot chocolate. For those who were starting at the start it was wet gear on from the beginning. While the day before and the day after had sun, we had rain all day — it was just a matter of whether it was sheeting down or merely drizzling. I think all deserve a medal for taking part. Does this walk set the record now for our wettest walk? We made it to the Canonbury pub with a chance to dry out and last year's winner of the cup for 'Longer Walker of the Year', John Schrader, presented to this year's winner, Martyn Waring.  Details here.

Paddock WoodPaddock Wood to Yalding:
another decent day for walking, plenty of sunshine but not too hot, although quite humid. Once we all finally made it to Paddock Wood this 12-mile route took us along a peaceful and nicely shaded stretch of the Medway Valley Walk to a picturesque riverside pub lunch stop at Twyford Bridge. In the afternoon we did a figure of 8 walk through agricultural land and a couple of small villages, also passing a rather intriguing film set with abundant flora and a large globe-shaped marquee, which the minders informed us was for a “secret” event - some speculated a celeb wedding. Just managed to get back to Twyford Bridge for a welcome pot of tea (and home-made bread pudding) before the café on the aptly named Tea Pot Island closed. Small group but still an array of very diverse and at times eclectic conversational topics to keep us amused. This was Martyn Waring's last walk for leading duties, but he will be supporting our summer social walk. Details here.

Wivenhoe2019Wivenhoe:
this very pleasant walk is centred around the attractive fishing and boating village of Wivenhoe on the tidal river Colne.  Weather conditions were just right for a summer walk, warm with a gentle refreshing breeze.    Much of the walk was along the banks of the river, looking very wide and full at high tide, although not so high that Wivenhoe’s own ‘Thames barrier’ needed to be closed. Away from the sea wall the walk was through woodland, nature reserve and farmland (home to small herd of buffalo) and crisscrossed the railway via unmanned public footpath crossings, some of which Network Rail seem dead set on closing. Ramblers have been prominent in campaigning against this and have had success locally - at least for the time being.  We enjoyed a late pub lunch in the village where, in spite of us not having pre booked, they still managed to cope with 14 ‘walk ins’.  Details here.

Martyn Waring WattonWatton-at-Stone:
we suspected there wouldn’t be too many other walkers in the area when we were the only ones getting off the train. That proved to be the case on this tranquil and varied 12-mile ramble through the Hertfordshire countryside, enjoyed by a group of eight regulars. Although it was a fairly hot summer’s day, light cloud cover and a gentle breeze made for very pleasant walking conditions during the afternoon. The terrain alternated between farmland, wheat fields, woodland and country estates. We also passed through several rural churchyards, one of which proved a good spot for a picnic lunch. Frustratingly, we contrived to pass three closed pubs en route, so it was something of a relief to find two that were open within a hundred yards of each other near the end, which enabled the group to enjoy some well-earned liquid refreshment before catching the train home. Details here. Might be one of the last photos of Martyn before his globe trotting. We could have a caption competition on this one. eg "this sandwich looks just as dead". Other suggestions?

Sevenoaks2019Sevenoaks:
a lovely day out in the beautiful Kent countryside. This walk covers a bit of everything, from the magnificent historic buildings of Knole House and Ightham Mote (both perfectly placed for lunch and tea), through fields of the bluest lavender, past traditional Kentish oast houses to the far-reaching views across the Weald to be seen from up on the Greensand ridge. We were thankful on such a warm day (especially when tackling one or two quite steep uphills!) that there were plenty of well shaded paths, and even some with an occasional well placed bench. Details here.



Berwick to Eastbourne
(on the Vanguard Way and then the South Downs Way): disruption on the Victoria line threw us into a panic, how to get to Victoria by alternative means. In the end all made it — other than the Leader, how embarrassing! There needed to be a bit of quick re-planning. In the end the solution was simple — do the walk in the reverse direction — then only half an hour was lost. So we stayed on the train(s) and started at Eastbourne. There was a steady climb out of the town up on to the South Downs Way to see the glorious views all along the south coast. The weather forecast said it was going to be hot but there was a bit of cloud cover, making it perfect. We had an early lunch down in the valley at Jevington, then it was a haul back up to the ridge again and down to the pretty village of Alfriston in time for an ice cream. We pressed on to the rail halt at Berwick (and even managed a quick pint while waiting for the train). All's well that ends well! Details here.

DarentDartford to Shoreham/Otford: 
this walk followed the Pilgrims' Way along the River Darent which was, despite heavy rain the night before, surprisingly mud-free; but the humidity was high. We passed through South Darenth with its landmark chimney and 10-arch railway viaduct, lunching at Horton Kirby, where some enjoyed a two-course lunch for £9.99. We continued through picturesque Farningham, climbing slightly to follow an ancient path with wild orchids plus good views across the valley and the remains of Eynsford Castle. At Eynsford two walkers opted out with the remaining nine valiantly taking the higher route to Lullingstone Castle and Visitor Centre for tea and ice cream. We then passed lavender fields, some of which were in full flower, across farmland to rejoin the riverside path into Shoreham. After a brief visit to the church to admire the Burne-Jones window, we finished the walk there. After 11½ miles we opted for the air-conditioned comfort of the train, leaving Otford for another day. Details here.

BurnhamBurnham-on-Crouch: this was a 10 mile walk along the river Crouch following the estuary sea wall through areas of SSI. Unusually for a linear walk we started at the mid point (Althorne) and walked eastwards to lunch in the attractive small town of Burnham-on-Crouch (coincidentally featured recently in The Sunday Times ‘Great British Breaks’ column). There a local tried, unsuccesfully, to sell us a rusting up-turned tub of a boat! At the pub we chose (out of many) we were given a good welcome and hearty food. After lunch we all caught the train one stop back to Althorne where the walkers got off and those opting out stayed on. We then walked westwards along the river to end at North Fambridge. Details here.

RichmondRichmond Park & Barnes:
this was an 11 mile (18 km) walk starting and ending at Richmond. The forecast was for rain all day but 13 still joined the train. We were rewarded with a dry and even warm morning at least. After climbing up from the river to Richmond Park, pausing to take in the superb views and get our breath back, we zigzagged through the park visiting Henry's Mound to take in the protected view to St Paul's. We saw red and fallow deer in the park before reaching our exit at the Sheen Gate. Then we wove our way through the back streets of Barnes — some streets but often quaint paths past old railway cottages or allotments. We popped out right at Barnes railway station. After crossing this we stopped for lunch at Strand on the Green, where the bonhomous landlord soon got us all organised. By the time we came out the rain was quite heavy so we lost a few but seven headed on in their wet gear. We followed the Thames Path passing by Key Gardens and taking in the view of Syon Park before reaching Richmond. Disruption on the Overground didn't prevent us from making a speedy return by train. Details here.


BurwashBurwash and Bateman’s:  a very pleasant and tranquil 10-mile circular walk in the High Weald, from the rather remote Stonegate station: we spotted just one other (dog) walker all day. The weather turned out less wet than the forecasts suggested — it rained much of the morning, but nothing torrential, and was dry most of the afternoon, with quite a bit of sunshine. We went through the well-preserved village of Burwash and most of the small group opted to visit nearby Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s former house (pictured) now owned by the National Trust. The leader managed to miss one turn, so we arrived in a somewhat disgruntled gentleman’s back garden — but fortunately his dog proved to be rather friendly. Details here.


FarnhamFarnham to Guildford: lovely walking weather for this first stage (just over 10 miles) of the 153-mile North Downs Way from Farnham to Dover. Less hilly than most sections, so relatively easy walking, mainly through varied and attractive woodland areas (with one rare sighting of a badger), then along the River Wey navigation for the last stretch into Guildford. Outdoor garden pub lunch for the 10 of us at the fairly aptly named Good Intent pub in Puttenham. Brief afternoon stop at the Watts Gallery (where some visited the rather eclectic chapel while others enjoyed tea and cakes). Details here.


 

Past Walks
We are now in our sixth year.
To see details of our sixth year so far (October 2018 - May 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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