The Shorter Walks Group has half-day walks of about five 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
Date TBC: A City Centre walk including Tower Bridge, Southwark and parts of the Embankment. Details to follow.
Signup forms will be emailed to members a week in advance of walk dates.

Photo Gallery
Launching a new feature. If you click on the following links you can see many of our photographs. They will scroll through automatically and you can see the walk number and title at the bottom. You need to select which year you want to see: 2017 2018  2019  2020  

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. In addition we now have a map feature here this shows where we've walked in 2018 and if you click on any of the pins the walk details will appear should you wish to repeat a walk yourself. Hope you enjoy these new features and they bring back some good iU3A memories.

Recent Walks
December: Hampstead Heath — Six walkersHampstead Heath Dec 20 had a great walk, mostly in the sunshine, for our last meeting before the Christmas holiday. Starting at Gospel Oak we walked around the ponds (no swimmers in evidence, but perhaps swimming is once more out of bounds?), then across to Kenwood House for a take-away coffee. We escaped the dog-walkers by crossing over to Jack Straw’s Castle and continuing down to the surprisingly quiet Hill House pergola and gardens. The return route took us over Sandy Heath, which we’ve renamed Muddy Heath for the moment, and along a little-known path back to Kenwood and eventually Parliament Hill Lido and Gospel Oak once more. A respectable six miles.

December: Stoke Newington to StrStoke Newington to Stratford Dec 2020atford —
Despite the grey and cold, ten of us enjoyed a six-mile walk from Stoke Newington to Stratford. We stopped for coffee in Springfield Park and then walked down to the River Lea which we followed, passing by Walthamstow Marshes and then joining the River Lea Navigation canal. We then cut through the site of the Middlesex Filter Beds before continuing along the towpath. After the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park we joined the Greenway briefly, ending up for a delicious but chilly al fresco lunch at the View Tube café.

December: Pymmes Brook Trail —
DespitePymmes Brook Dec 2020 a chilly, foggy start eight walkers enjoyed our exploration of North London’s parks and green spaces as we followed the path of the Pymmes Brook, lined by some impressive willows, through Southgate and Barnet. We were treated to an enlightening chat from a gardening ‘friend’ of Broomfield Park outside the delightful conservatory. We marvelled at the impressive multi-arched Victorian viaduct for the Piccadilly line in Arnos Park. But the highlight had to be the beautiful Little Egret, almost close enough to touch, in Oak Hills Park. The sun, inevitably, came out just as we reached the end of our walk.

November: Richmond Park —
We manRichmond Park Nov 2020aged to squeeze in a final walk before lockdown and had a lovely day of blue skies and sun. After a short riverside walk we climbed to Richmond Hill to enjoy the iconic view of the Thames. Our route through Richmond Park included Pembroke Lodge (slowest ever queues for coffee), the Pen ponds and the Isabella Plantation, resplendent in Autumn colours. We encountered several picturesque groups of deer, emerging from the bracken, necessitating a diversion at one point, and including a pair of rutting stags. The bus at the Petersham Gate was a welcome sight for most of the group but three of us opted to extend the walk, along the Thames Path back to Richmond.

October: Regent's Park —
We had aRegents Park Oct 2020 great walk along the Canal from Angel to Regent's Park (which took an hour). After a long stop for coffee and cake at the Broad Walk café (a deserted seating area with a small café nearby), we walked on through the English Garden to the Rose Garden, where the roses were still in bloom, and then to the Lake. A few walkers left then and another at the north end. Three of us walked back along the canal — slightly busier now than at lunchtime — a grand total of 8.7 miles in 3 hours, including a prolonged coffee break. Luckily we managed to avoid the wind and rain, which held off until we got home.

October: Finsbury Park to Stoke Newington — TFinsbury Park to Stoke Newington Oct 2020his was a perfect walk for a full appreciation of the Autumn tree colours. After crossing Finsbury Park, we skirted the West reservoir (no dinghies or swimmers today) round to the wetlands. The display board informed us that recent sightings included a penguin, but it unfortunately didn’t materialise on our visit. A coffee break, lengthened by Covid protection measures, at the Coal House café at least enabled us to shelter from a passing shower. Then we followed the New River path and continued to Clissold Park (wonderful colours), ending by walking through the atmospheric Abney Park cemetery.

October: Forty Hall Circular —
Blue sForty Hall Circular Oct 2020kies and sunshine provided a glorious start to our walk as we followed the Turkey Brook through a rural part of Enfield. The lakeside at Forty Hall was the setting for a wedding when we arrived, and a Tai Chi group made a rather picturesque addition to the sweeping lawns. An al fresco coffee break and stroll around the delightful walled garden provided Autumn colour, after which we followed the old course of the New River past the vineyard to return to Hillyfields Park, where our luck ran out and it rained on us for 10 minutes as we sped to Gordon Hill station and a quiet train home.

October: Hampstead Heath —
NineHampstead Heath Oct 2020 walkers managed a five mile circuit of Hampstead Heath the day after a month’s worth of rain fell in a weekend. We were lucky to have a break between the early morning showers and the afternoon rain, and actually walked in sunshine for most of the morning. From Gospel Oak we headed around the Vale of Health, then through woodland just changing colour, over to Kenwood for a coffee break in a pleasantly quiet garden. No queues! We enjoyed the views from there across London, (which was a cunning ploy to avoid having to climb Parliament Hill later) then wended our way on an admittedly rather circuitous route past several ponds and emerged back at Gospel Oak with mud-free footwear, which must be a first for an Autumn Heath walk. We possibly saw almost as many dogs as people.

September: Finsbury Park to Alexandra PalFinsbury Park to Alexandra Palace Sept 2020ace —
Our walk on the last day of September marked a change of season. There was a hint of bronze in the leaves and fungi appearing among the trees. Even the air smelt of Autumn. Our socially-distanced group of six enjoyed a leafy walk along the Parkland Walk, dodging dog-walkers, and through both Queen's Wood and Highgate Wood. The sun didn’t manage an appearance, but we did miss almost all of the rain forecast for the morning. The Pavilion café in Highgate Wood was our coffee break, where we dodged a shower to sit in the garden. The walk ended at Alexandra Palace with its ever-changing panoramic views and yet more tower blocks and cranes.

September: Euston to Camden —
A bEuston to Camden Sept 2020eautiful morning showed the lush green allotments in the former Cumberland Basin (a filled in section of the Regent’s Canal) at their best. In contrast the white stucco of John Nash’s and Decimus Burton’s terraces gleamed in the sun. A leisurely stroll across Regent's Park brought us to Tom Harvey’s series of wooden chainsaw carvings. Then it was across the canal to climb the heights of Primrose Hill for spectacular views under a blue sky and a chance to sit and chat before the six of us headed back down to Camden and transport home.

August: Ten City Gardens  —
These Ten City Gardens Aug 2020walks spread over four weeks with just two people and Hazel have been delightful. Each person brought different interests for discussion, plants, history and knowledge about the area. The first day was 35˚ (95
˚F), and we took shelter in the shade but had the highlight of finding a lost hawk. The handler was delighted to be reunited and we had a close-up experience. There was just one day of slight drizzle, but afternoons were dry. Two had a drink break at the Barbie Café, otherwise we stopped to enjoy the Salters Livery Hall garden before concluding with part of the London Wall walk.  Although most people knew many of the gardens there was always something new.

August: Angel to Woodberry Wetlands —
We Angel to Woodberry Wetlands Aug 2020started in Duncan Terrace Gardens and followed the New River Walk up to Clissold Park and the Wetlands. It was a very pleasant walk with few people and the River looked clean and the gardens well cared for. We also saw lots of Moorhen chicks and Mallards. The weather was lovely, considering the extremes of the past few weeks. It was a discovery walk for two of us and we enjoyed a coffee at the wetlands “en plain air”. We walked on through Finsbury Park where we either caught a bus or continued back to Angel through Gillespie Park and Highbury Fields.

August: Lee Valley Country Park, ChLee Valley Park Aug 2020eshunt — This postponed walk was lucky to have the only dry day that week. Five walkers left Cheshunt Station and enjoyed an amusing coffee stop at the White Water Centre watching beginners tackling the rapids. This was a real country walk, with few people and lovely scenery. The pace was gentle with some blackberrying and time to sit and enjoy the peace of the lakes where it was even warm enough to shed a layer of clothing. Lunch was rustic ‘bring your own’ in a forest glade where we enjoyed the sun dappling through the trees. It was a welcome breath of fresh air.

August: Angel to TAngel to The Thameshe Thames —
A small group of us walked and talked from Islington down to the river in very pleasant walking weather. In Clerkenwell we passed the plaque to the Musical Coalman and wandered round the lovely garden by St John Priory Church. On to Smithfield where we played the xylophone in the Rotunda Garden before visiting Postman’s Park with the moving memorial to self-sacrifice by Watts. We crossed the Millennium Bridge in search of shade and found benches suitable for social distancing with a view across the river.  Most of us walked back to Islington via Temple, Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Coram Fields while others chose their own route home taking advantage of the flexibility of these walks in London — you’re never lost and there is always the bus!

August: Islington to the Hoxton SeIslington to Hoxton Secret Garden Aug 2020cret Garden —
Despite the forecast, we had no thundery showers and the temperature was a welcome respite from the earlier excessive heat and humidity. But who knew what delights were waiting for us, so close to home! In St Mary’s Gardens in Hoxton we bought plants and honey, freshly picked beans and garlic and all of us vowed to return. At the Swedish Bakery, Fabrique, some of us succumbed to their vanilla or cardamom buns which we took into the Gardens to enjoy with our coffee. In Haggerston Park we found a banana plant, as well as rose gardens. When we returned via the Regent’s Canal the family of swans were once again ready to greet us.

July: Islington to Granary Square —
Six intIslington to Granary Square July 2020repid ladies set out from the Town Hall for a short walk and some socially distanced conversation. We admired the architecture in Barnsbury Square and the bird mural off Caledonian Road before walking past Crumbles Castle in Bingfield Park. Next came the Maiden Lane estate where a kind man warned us against a notorious drugs hotspot but undaunted we marched onward, although we did look carefully round each corner first, and saw …. nothing! Once over the canal we turned into Old St Pancras churchyard to see the Hardy Tree, the Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial, and John Soane’s tomb (inspiration for the Gilbert Scott telephone boxes). Then into Granary Square to enjoy the flowers on the high walk and to try out the ‘all gender’ toilets (very clean). From there some of us walked along the canal to Chapel Market while others opted to head off on different routes. Wonderful to walk in company with other people again! 

July: Finsbury Park to Clissold Park —
SixFinsbury Park to Clissold Park Jul 2020 of us went on a pleasant three-mile morning walk through Finsbury Park and Clissold Park. This was the first outing of the group since lockdown; we agreed not to lengthen the walk by going along the New River Walk as we felt it would be too busy. We ended up at the café in Clissold Park where we had a socially-distanced coffee and chat. No-one braved the toilets although it was good to know that they were there! We’re all looking forward to being able to walk in the countryside again when we’re more confident about using public transport.

March: Bushy Park and Hampton CouBushy Park Mar 20rt —
Our rather blustery walk in Bushy Park, despite a gloomy sky, was full of the promise of spring in the woodlands with carpets of daffodils, camellias and early-flowering cherry trees. E
n route to the magnificent baroque water gardens, we managed to add a short diversion that avoided the muddy tracks. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to repeat our success on the second part of our walk where the path had become an intermittent stream and we were squelching through mud once more. It was something of a nature ramble too, with the usual roe deer and quite a few white (albino?) deer too, as well as an endearing family of Egyptian geese with six fluffy goslings and a glorious skylark in full song.

February: Regents Canal — Angel to Limehouse —
After a Regents Canal Feb 2020change of date and a last minute change of walk, six of us had a really lovely walk from Angel to Limehouse along the canal path. The conditions couldn’t have been better after the recent gales and floods as it was fine, cool and a little breezy. The path was quite busy with runners and the usual cyclists and we were impressed with how clean and neat the canal path is looking, with some lovely planting in a few areas. Our usual coffee haunts were closed so we stopped at the Victoria Park café and admired the fountain and the ducks. Afterwards we had a delightful lunch in the Yurt Café Limehouse at St Katharine’s Precinct.

February: River Ravensbourne — This was an area of LondRiver Ravensbourne Feb 2020on
new to most of the 14 walkers. Starting with coffee in Deptford it was not easy to encourage everyone from the cosy Coffee Room and to the first park along the river. We walked through four surprisingly quiet parks that made the sections of busy roads and junctions seem extra loud. The final park, Pool River, had an especially rural feel and led to the lunch stop in Mayow Park that should have been quiet, but was taken over by local Mums and Babies.  Still, nine stayed for the nice food which we ate outside.  An interesting new walk with appropriate graffiti and easy travel.

January: Alexandra Palace circular —
TenAlexandra Palace Circular Jan 2020 walkers joined this local five-mile walk through Alexandra Park, Highgate Wood, and Queen's Wood on a grey day, with the boating lake providing the only colour (see photo). It should have been a walk with far-ranging views but sadly the clouds had descended and we were left guessing at the distant landmarks of London. We encountered the Dulwich U3A walkers in Queen's Wood, straying beyond their usual territory. And we were back to the mud again, but only a short fairly manageable stretch this time.

January: Kew to Hammersmith —
At last — a muKew to Hammersmith Jan 2020d-free walk! We had a chilly but mercifully dry and windless walk along the Thames Path with a diversion to Chiswick House. The decorated garden took us by surprise. Intended for Chinese New Year, it was more of a celebration of Disney in plastic. All very odd when juxtaposed with the Palladian delights of Chiswick House. The rest of the walk was more tasteful and gave us many opportunities to daydream about living by the Thames in style. Although we wouldn’t, because of the planes. We visited the beautifully preserved 15th century Chiswick parish church and found Hogarth’s tomb in the graveyard and finally Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris, before finding a riverside pub for lunch just before Hammersmith Bridge.

December: East Finchley to Woodberry WetlanEast Finchley to Woodberry Wetlands Dec 2019ds —
The sun broke through the early morning mist and provided perfect weather for our post-Christmas five mile walk. After an early coffee break in Highgate Wood, where our group of 21 failed to faze the single barista, we continued through a sunlit Queen's Wood and along the (still pretty muddy) Parkland Walk, into Finsbury Park, finally reaching the New River and the wetlands, glorious in the sunshine. We had lunch outdoors beside the sparkling waters. Could we really be in Zone 2?

December: Christmas Walk —
The morning of ourWildlife Trust Dec 2019 Christmas walk dawned grey and wet, but in fact
we did manage to stay dry for our shorter-than-usual walk around the Walthamstow Wetlands. We had the Engine Room café almost to ourselves — just as well since there were 26 of us. The London Wildlife Trust guides helpfully set up their state of the art telescopes for us but, other than a shelduck, it was the usual suspects. A shag turned out to be a cormorant and a scaup just a tufted duck. The newly-refurbished Ferryboat Inn was a pleasant venue for our Christmas lunch. We’ll definitely return to the wetlands for a more extensive walk, maybe in sunshine next time.

November: Greenwich and Blackheath —
TGreenwich and Blackheath Nov 2019hirteen very lucky walkers had a five mile tramp around our usual circuit of Greenwich and Blackheath. We were very lucky as
it was quite warm and in spite of predictions we weren’t rained on, except for a fine drizzle after lunch. There were magnificent misty views of the Thames and Greenwich and the dramatic autumnal colours. We all managed the steepish climb up to the One Tree Hill vista point (which wasn’t in the notes) to enjoy the misty views from there too.

November: Capital Ring — Six of us walkedCapital Ring November 2019 a six mile route from Preston Road to Hendon Central stations. It was beautiful weather with the autumn colours at their best. The walk took in the views over London from Barn Hill and Gotfords Hill. A bit of urban walking took us to the Birchen Grove garden centre, where we stopped for lunch and avoided buying any plants or Christmas decorations. We then followed the north bank of the Welsh Harp Reservoir (very few birds around at the moment) before reaching Hendon Central and our train home.

October: Windsor and Eton —
FourteeWindsor and Eton October 2019n walkers enjoyed a walk of five and a half miles, avoiding all but the lightest of drizzle, but under constantly cloudy skies. The walk was varied, and included many views of the picturesque Windsor Castle, the Thames riverside path, and the playing fields of Eton (as well as its swimming pool and golf course). Although we’d hoped for a peaceful rural walk the soundtrack was of planes taking off from nearby Heathrow, the not-so-distant rumble of traffic on the bypass and, of course, the screeching parakeets. No matter, we had a dryish walk in a very wet week and even managed to squeeze in two coffee breaks.

October: Hadley Wood —
After almHadley Wood October 2019ost a solid week of rain the skies cleared just in time for our walk in Hadley Wood. The sun even made a few half-hearted appearances. The wind had also dropped so, if it hadn’t been for the inevitable mud — a lot of mud — it would have been a perfect autumn walk. As it was, the beech trees were starting to change colour, very decoratively, above a carpet of already fallen bronze leaves. We even saw someone we took to be foraging for fungus, although, just as we were about to pick his brains on where to find the ceps and chanterelles, it transpired that he was in fact litter-picking. Oh well…  We ended our lovely walk as usual, in the Cock Inn restaurant, where the food is reliably good. We did however lower the tone somewhat in our muddy boots.

September: Hampstead Heath — We luckily Hampstead Heath Sept 2019chose the only fine day for about a week for our Hampstead Heath Walk and it was glorious. We set out straight to Parliament Hill and were rewarded with magnificent views (see photo). Skirting around the Men’s Bathing Pond and the “Boating” Pond, we then walked through lovely woodland to Kenwood for coffee, taking in the Henry Moore “Two Piece Reclining Figure” and a glimpse of Barbara Hepworth's “Monolith Empyrean” nearby. We then walked via a circuitous route to West Heath and the Pergola (the garden looking very autumnal) and the lily pond. Just before our stop at the Golders Hill Park café, we wandered through the small zoo and the stumpery.

September: Roding River and Claybury WRoding Sept 2019oods
— This new walk proved to be very popular with the 15 walkers who set off in blazing sunshine along the nature trail beside the Roding River, which has been left to mature naturally and is abundant with butterflies and dragonflies. There was a lot of scrumping and munching going on — blackberries, sloes and apples, but not the hops. We had our coffee break at the lovely Anglers Rest Café beside a pretty lake, before going on to Claybury Woods. In the dappled shade we met almost nobody else, only realising
just how close we were to central London when, at the end, we saw The Shard and Canary Wharf in the distance. The Friday lunch specials at The Fairlop Oak were enjoyed in the sunshine of the courtyard.

August: Stoke Newington to Stratford —
TenStoke Newington to Stratford Aug 2019 of us enjoyed our late summer walk of five miles from Stoke Newington to Stratford in beautiful weather. We stopped early in our walk for coffee in the sunshine in Springfield Park, then followed the River Lea, passing Walthamstow Marshes to the remains of the Middlesex Filter Beds (built by the East London Waterworks Company in 1852). We then continued along the towpath with views of Hackney Marshes and the Queen Elizabeth Park. Our final stop was for lunch at a community café, the View Tube, where we again sat in the sun.

August: Trent Park —
After such awful weatTrent Park Aug 2019her for the past two weeks it was perfect walking weather, sun and nice breezes, for this tried and tested walk. Twelve walkers enjoyed the calm of the woodland and water garden. We noticed the changes brought about for the renovation of Trent Park Mansion, thinning of trees to give a vista from the obelisk and the lake. Ending at the Cock Inn, a favourite of the Shorter Walks Group, the order was for six fish finger sandwiches.

August: Epping Forest —
Eleven of usEpping Forest August 2019 walked the Epping Forest circuit from Chingford Station. It was a lovely cloudy/sunny day for walking and not too hot. We managed the route in three hours, and with the help of the iFootpath App had no detours, so we were very pleased, particularly the leader. On the way we admired the wonderful trees, which looked very green (especially the hornbeam), Leighton Camp (Iron Age fort), some brilliant butterflies, pretty water lilies, a few horses and riders, and a stray cow. It was wonderfully devoid of other people. The only casualty was some very sore feet.

July: Lavender Fields — Banstead to WoodmansBanstead to Woodmansterne July 2019terne.
What a wonderful walk with the temperature 6˚ lower than central London, 80% in the forest shade and a nice breeze. Eight walkers left Banstead and were straight into the woods and golf course and on to the coffee stop in lovely gardens. Then into the Lavender fields that were at their vibrant best. We all even managed to kneel down for the photo and get up. The walk continued through fields of wild flowers with rare chalk habitat for butterflies, that were everywhere.  Back into the forest and on to Woodmansterne for a sandwich from the bakery and a welcome drink in the Smugglers Inn. Even the trains to and from were air-conditioned.

July: Ruislip Woods and Lido.
Ten Ruislip Woods and Lido July 2019happy Shorter Walkers ‘yomped’ six miles around the Ruislip Lido and luckily it was very comfortable weather-wise. We had considered bringing our swimming costumes but it wasn’t quite warm enough for us. Unexpectedly, we were given a dousing at the coffee stop as we sat too near the children’s water fountains but we easily dried off. We enjoyed the walking through Ruislip Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and national nature reserve, Copse Wood and Park Wood then around the Haste Hill golf course and beside the miniature railway. Afterwards, a few of the group stayed for a special pub lunch.

June: Chesham.
Yet again the June weather had led Chesham June 2019us to postpone a walk, but six of us finally made it to Chesham (after the usual complaints about the Metropolitan Line and TfL's alleged ‘timetable’). The previous night’s rain made for muddy paths, and the narrow tracks through waist-high fields of rape and barley meant parts of the walk were rather soggy, but at least the rain held off. The views across the Chiltern Hills were impressive and again we were butterfly-spotting, Holly Blues we think. The Red Kites of the Chilterns were conspicuous by their absence; we saw only one solitary kite all day. But it was a pleasure to walk with the background music of birdsong rather than traffic or planes.

May: Colne Valley.
Our Colne Valley walkColne Valley May 2019 had been postponed from the previous week of rain and wind, but we didn’t quite get away unscathed on the walk. The shower didn’t last long but unfortunately coincided with the path alongside the lake, so the birdlife was less in evidence than we’d hoped. The coffee break at the Visitor Centre was overrun with children but they soon disappeared with their nets for a session of pond-dipping. I don’t think we scared them away… After the flat towpath the final uphill trek to the Old Orchard was the usual struggle — it’s quite short but felt surprisingly steep, but we were rewarded by the lovely views and, of course, lunch.

May: Dollis Valley Greenwalk.
Summer arrived sDollis Valley Greenwalk May 2019uddenly after the cold winds and rain, for our last walk in May. Sixteen walkers set off from Totteridge station following the Dollis river (well more of a stream really) and were soon peeling off fleeces as we made our way through the green spaces of Barnet. Before long we were walking through meadows brimming with buttercups and clover and being challenged in butterfly-identification. The convenient Three Hammers pub in Mill Hill produced a decent lunch too. A lovely rural walk for an early summer’s day — and so close to home.

May: Cassiobury Park and Whippendell Woods.
TwelvCassiobury Park May 2019e of us set out from Watford underground station for our walk. After a few minutes we stopped for coffee in the garden of the Cassiobury Park café. We then walked through the park into some of the nature reserve woodlands, across a golf course and through a field before entering Whippendell Woods. There were some slopes, but none too long or steep — it was a beautiful day for walking and we all enjoyed the warm sunshine and blue skies. Coming back, we walked through the nature reserve then along a rural stretch of the Grand Union canal before stopping at the cafe again for lunch in the garden.

May: Richmond Park.
The azaleas in the Isabella Richmond Park May 2019Plantation were more spectacular than any of us could remember. The sun didn’t manage more than the odd appearance but the 17 walkers enjoyed a varied walk, along the Thames Path to the Petersham nurseries (where the wisteria bower made up for the eye-wateringly expensive coffee) then through the western part of Richmond Park via the stunning azaleas, and ending with an al fresco lunch at the lovely Pembroke Lodge.

April: Banstead Woods.
The bluebells wereBanstead Woods April 2019 splendiferous this year — eight of us enjoyed the seven mile walk around Banstead Woods in lovely rural countryside. It was a real breath of fresh air. The predicted rainstorm didn’t materialise so it was perfect walking weather as well. Some of us stayed to a delicious outdoor lunch at the Rambler's Rest.

April: Borehamwood. This was a relaxedBorehamwood April 2019 ‘easy’ walk — easy travel, flat terrain and quiet. 14 walkers enjoyed the sunshine (note all the sunglasses) in this rough parkland and although it was quite cold the trees were starting to flower. The circular path ended in ‘The Spinney’, before a short walk back to Borehamwood High Street for lunch in the Shenley Bakery and Café. The new Station building had only just opened — they must have known we were coming — with sparkly toilets a bonus. Details here.

March: Forty Hall and MydForty Hall and Myddelton House Mar
                            2019delton House gardens.
The wild winds and rain of the previous week meant we had to postpone this north London walk but we were rewarded by a magnificent show of spring flowers in both gardens. From Gordon Hill station and Hillyfields park we followed a rural stretch of the Turkey Brook past fishing lakes to the Forty Hall estate and coffee. The walled garden was brimming with daffodils and primulas under the blossom of magnolias and cherry trees. But Myddelton House garden’s spring meadow was even more entrancing with glorious sweeps of blue camassia dotted with anemones and narcissi. Definitely a walk for garden-lovers.

March: Bushy Park/Thames Path.
Thanks to disrupted train services we had two simultaneous walks: the original Bushy Park walk with a delayed start, and Plan B, the Thames Path from Richmond. Many thanks to Jenny for stepping into the breach and successfully leading the Bushy Park walk, armed only with the leader’s notes.

Bushy Park —
Bushy Park is relatively unknownBushy Park Mar 2019 to north Londoners, and far less manicured than many London parks, with rough grass, streams and large herds of deer. After crossing an expanse of grassland we entered the enclosed woodland garden, for a coffee break, continuing our walk through lovely flowering cherries and spring bulbs. We later discovered the newly restored water gardens, and our final treat was the Silver Birch glade, full of more colourful spring flowers. Following a stream to the Diana fountain we continued through the Lion Gate into the grounds of Hampton Court, where we either headed straight to the station, or had lunch in the Tiltyard Cafe before returning to Waterloo.

Thames Path
— Opting to avoid National RailThames Path Mar 2019 services, we stuck to the tube and headed off from Richmond station. First we took the Thames Path along a picturesque stretch of the river from Richmond to Marble Hill (with Egyptian geese and one very new gosling), followed by a ferry ride across the river to Petersham, a diversion into Richmond Park with lunch at the Pembroke Lodge, then the Thames Path back into Richmond. We luckily managed to avoid the high tides that had recently flooded the path.

March: Highgate to Stoke Newington.
Mud, mud,Highgate to Stoke Newington March 2019 glorious (!?) mud .... Fifteen of us met up at Highgate Station for our walk to Stoke Newington. The first section along the Parkland Walk to our Finsbury Park coffee stop was uneventful and we sat outside for our break. All went well until we got to the walk along the New River. We had been warned that it would be muddy, and it was! Thick and slippery for half a mile, but we all made it through despite very muddy boots and one pair of torn trousers. Things improved as we walked the second part of the New River and we stopped for lunch at the café in Clissold Park (mixed reviews). The walk ended with a gentle walk down Stoke Newington Church Street and through the Victorian Abney Park Cemetery.

February: Lee Valley Park, Cheshunt.
ALee Valley Park, Cheshunt Feb 2019 repeat of a circular walk from last September, 16 walkers set off from Cheshunt station on this lovely peaceful walk alongside woods and water. The weather was amazing for February and it was warm enough for us to sit outside for coffee at the white water centre. Plenty of birds were spotted, including herons and cormorants, and one lucky walker saw her first ever kingfisher. The walk ended at Cheshunt where some of us had a bring-your-own lunch in the Windmill pub.

February: Regent's Canal.
In spite of dire weather Regent's Canal Feb 2019warnings eight of us set off from Little Venice to walk the canal path to King's Cross. We were extremely lucky: there was only drizzle for a short period and we were quite protected on the path. After a lovely walk, in which we managed to negotiate the several diversions off the path, we stopped for coffee at the Regent's Park boathouse and lunch at King's PlaceWalk details here.

January 2019: Hampstead Heath.
Under Hampstead Heath Jan 2019stunningly blue skies fourteen Shorter Walkers braved a wind-chill temperature of 2º at the start of our walk. The early climb to the top of Parliament Hill soon warmed us up and we continued past the Highgate Ponds, which were sparkling in the sunlight, via Kenwood to Jack Straw’s Castle where we heard (and finally saw) woodpeckers in the woodland as we approached the Pergola. Irises and even camellias were already in flower, as well as the expected snowdrops. After a diversion to visit the animal enclosure and aviary in Golders Hill Park (discovering that the Ring-tailed Lemur was actually a Coati), the temperature had risen enough for an alfresco lunch.
Walk details here.

January: Regent’s Canal.
Our first ‘pop up‘ walRegent's Canal Jan 2019k for 2019 had a record number of walkers as 20 of us (including four first-timers) walked from Angel to Limehouse Basin along the Regent’s Canal. It was a clear, crisp day with the sun trying to come out and just perfect for walking. The canal path was quiet but the canal itself was quite busy with boats moving around and boat chimneys burning fuel. There wasn’t much birdlife on a cool winter's day apart from the usual coots and swans.

January: Thirteen walkers enjoyed a wGreenwich Park and Blackheath Jan 2019alk around Greenwich Park and Blackheath on a mild though cloudy day. After crossing the Thames via the foot tunnel we emerged at the Cutty Sark and walked along the Thames Path to the strains of Trinity College music students busily rehearsing, then walked uphill through the park admiring the views of the historic riverside buildings on the way. We diverted around Blackheath sticking to footpaths and imagining how lovely it must have been before it was dominated by the A2, then back into the park to check if the Meridian Line was still there (it was) and lunch at the Pavilion restaurant before a downhill stroll back to Greenwich for the DLR. And we managed to avoid mud for the whole walk.

December: Christmas Walk — Regent's ParkRegents Park & Primrose Hill Dec
                            2018 & Primrose Hill —
An unexpected blue sky and sunshine greeted 25 walkers for our stroll around Regent's Park, after the previous night’s torrential rain. We dropped into St John’s Lodge's ‘secret’ garden, still lovely even out of season, then enjoyed the vibrant colours of the winter borders and the artistry of the Japanese garden, before skirting the lake with its thriving birdlife. Past the mosque and along the canal, we managed the climb up Primrose Hill to its never-disappointing views and finally into Lemonia for a well-earned delicious Greek lunch.

December: City Walk — Tower Bridge to Blackfriars —
OuTower Bridge to Blackfriars Dec 2018r group was small but beautifully formed with three new members in the seven walkers. This walk was unusual as it was a ‘stopping’ walk, passing the ancient Tower of London and modern boats in St Katharine Docks. As we got festive, coffee was a great new find in the Science Museum café at Guy’s. A shopping stop in Borough Market for food goodies was followed by the lovely Southwark Cathedral. The rain kept away for the final lap along the embankment to Tate Modern and then on to lunch at a real local, The Cockpit near Blackfriars. Sparkle and good company was the order of the day.

November: Barnes Bridge to Putney —
BriBarnes Bridge to Putney Nov 2018ght sunshine, warm breeze, blue skies — what could be better for the 14 walkers than the banks of the Thames on such a lovely day? We even sat outside for our coffee, before moving off alongside the Barnes Wetland Centre and Thames Path to Putney Bridge and into the lovely autumnal grounds of Fulham Palace. Even the secret walled garden had interesting plantation. We thought we might have had the first lost walker as we mislaid one of our regulars in the churchyard, who was eventually found conversing amiably with Palace staff, none the worse for the adventure, so all was well.

November: Hadley Wood
— We had theHadley Wood Nov 2018 most wonderful walk from High Barnet to Cockfosters in magnificent Autumn sun and almost Autumn colours. There were ten of us who walked through Hadley Wood and passed Jack’s Lake, Dr Livingstone’s and Fanny Trollope’s houses, a 12th century church and medieval alms houses. We had our traditional ‘light lunch’ at The Cock Inn after.

October: Thames Path — Richmond to Barnes — A largThames Path Oct 2018e group of 19 walkers enjoyed fine Autumn weather along the Thames Path. Starting in Richmond (fortunately at Low Tide as the path there floods regularly at High Tide), we were soon glimpsing Kew Gardens on our side of the river whilst enjoying splendid views of Syon House and the historic buildings of Old Isleworth across the water on the north bank. There’s quite a rural feel to this stretch of the Thames and cormorants and herons were performing for us for much of the walk. We ended the walk in Barnes village where we were able to eat lunch by the pond on the common, or in the nearby pub.

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.

Previous Walks
The following links take you to our archive files of previous walks:
For information and photos of our walks in 2017/18 (October to September) have a look here.
For information and photos of our walks in 2016/17 (October to September) have a look here.
For information and photos of our walks in 2015/16 year (October to September) then the details are here.
For information and photos of our walks in our first iU3A year then the details for 2015 (May to September) are here.

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