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

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

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


Some walks are fairly local, others involve some travel.

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

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

Shorter Walks is a very sociable, friendly group where new members are made welcome. To join the group, please either drop me an email (address as above) or register through Beacon. Having joined the group, to join a particular walk click on the relevant date below. If you are not a member of Islington U3A then you must firstly join this before joining any Group. Go to the Join Us page and there click on the Membership Form.

Our experience of running walks has suggested a few common-sense guidelines, to ensure everyone’s enjoyment and safety on our walks. You can see them here.

Please note that from Spring 2018 iU3A will have a Leisurely Walks group (in addition to the current Shorter and Longer Walk groups). This new group will offer a monthly half-day walk (on different days of the week) of up to three miles. The pace will be leisurely, with pauses along the way. The start and end points will be easily reached by public transport and will be in the Freedom Pass travel zones. Some walks will be local, e.g. Clissold Park and the New River path. Others will be further afield, e.g. Trent Park. The walks may feature river or canal towpaths, parks and nature reserves, while others may be more urban and explore a London 'village’. The walks would be ideal for members who would like gentle outdoor exercise at a slower pace than the existing walking groups. If you are interested in joining this new group please see details here.

Our Next Shorter Walks
Sign Ups:
Please sign up below for each walk you plan to join. You can do so by clicking on the walk date when sign-up opens — about a fortnight before the walk, at which point the walk date is highlighted in blue.

Full walk details including meeting points and times will also be available a week or two before the walk. You'll be able to see them (and print them if you like) from a link on this page. Where it says 'Walk Details here', click on 'here' when it is highlighted in blue.

Friday 23 March: River Lea (sign up open) Tottenham Hale to Olympic Park
his walk includes some urban streets and parkland but is mostly along the towpath of the river Lea and takes us past the Walthamstow wetland and marshes and also Hackney marshes.
Walk details here.

Wednesday 4 April: Bushy Park and Hampton Court
A walk exploring Bushy Park including a baroque water garden and woodland gardens, lovely in springtime, before crossing the deer park of Hampton Court Palace. Walk details here.

Friday 20 April: Banstead Wood
A walk mostly on rough woodland and farmland paths on the edge of the North Downs. Banstead Wood is renowned for its display of bluebells in spring. Walk details here.
Tuesday 8 May: Richmond Park & Isabella Plantation
Our annual walk along the Thames Path, around Richmond Park and through the Isabella Plantation with its stunning azaleas. Walk details here.

Recent Walks

CheshuntCheshunt to Broxbourne Ten of us enjoyed an interesting day in the Lea Valley Park on 8 March. As we were all female, it was an auspicious start to International Women’s Day! After taking the train to Cheshunt, we then walked about five miles alongside the lakes and woods in the Lea Valley Park returning from Broxbourne. With intermittent sunshine on the walk and only a few raindrops, it was good to be out of London. We began by following Hooks Marsh Lake up to Fishers Green; then past Seventy Acres Lake, the Bittern Hide and on from there to the Lea Valley Canal. It was too far away to identify more interesting birds other than the various ducks but we saw a heron standing silently, and there were several cormorants drying their feathers on a raft. We then followed the Canal for 2.5 miles to the Old Mill Café where we had a delicious home-made lunch. It was not without incident as one lady realised soon after arriving at Tottenham Hale station: she was missing her Visa card fortunately a kind person handed this in to her local bank during the day so she was able to enjoy her lunch. Then another nameless lady dropped her Senior Railcard at Broxbourne station where a kind chap followed us up to the platform and handed it back! A good ending to a most enjoyable walk.

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

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

Hours, days and years slide soft away”

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

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

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

December: Limehouse to Islington —
A recordLimehousetoIslingtonDec2017 number of 28 walkers-and-lunchers had a splendid Christmas get-together even if the weather was dull (but mild and dry at least). We began our 5+ mile walk at Limehouse as we meant to go on, at the delightful Yurt Cafe, then walked past Limehouse Basin admiring the yachts and followed the Regent's Canal, pausing for (another) coffee break in Victoria Park. A further hour along the towpath, dodging increasing numbers of runners and cyclists as we approached Islington, brought us to the Angel and our lunch venue. Côte coped well with our last-minute changes and gave us an excellent lunch. A great end to another happy year of Shorter Walking.

November: Trent Park and Enfield Chase —
How lucky weTrentParkandEnfieldChase were with the weather: cold but sunny and no wind, perfect for this woodland and open country walk. All 12 walkers kept up a steady pace enjoying the views: it was a lovely morning with still enough leaves to give a golden glow to the woods, lakes and water garden. Coffee in the Animal Sanctuary was an interesting pit stop, and on leaving the park we passed an obelisk that said the gardens were started in 1706. We are indeed fortunate to be still enjoying this lovely space 300+ years on.

November: Capital Ring — Preston RoadPreston Road to Hendon Nov2017 to Hendon
— On our return on the train from Hendon to King's Cross, 13 of us all felt as if we had had a good day’s walking (6 miles) around part of the Capital Ring. The weather was mild and fine and whilst it was hazy in the far distance, it was nevertheless interesting to see London from Barn Hill and also Gotsford Hill. After some time on the pavements we arrived at Birchen Grove Garden Centre for lunch and some plant shopping. From there we set off again and walked around the Welsh Harp Reservoir — one of our group who is Welsh tried to work out why it was called the Welsh Harp, but without much success!  We saw various waterfowl consisting mainly of seagulls but agreed they probably had never seen the sea. From there it was a quick walk to the station and back to London after a most enjoyable day.

October: Hadley Wood — This was a delightful four-mileHadleyWoods walk through Monk Hadley and Hadley Wood which we managed to do in two hours. The autumn leaves were in splendid colour and there were a lot of golden leaves underfoot. It was an unknown surprise part of London for many on the walk and the magnificent homes were much admired. We passed the 18th century houses, including David Livingstone’s cottage and the fine old church (12th century) of St Mary the Virgin. There were 15 of us on a muggy grey day with some muddy patches underfoot. Most of us stayed for lunch after as always at the Cock Inn.

Colne ValleyOctober: Colne Valley
— we got off to a bad start as 'the leader' had the wrong station meeting point but luckily we found each other in time. It was a fine cool cloudy day just perfect for a seven mile walk for ten of us along the Grand Union Canal (with a few detours). The coffee stop was given a zero rating for bad coffee and no loos but we made up for that at the Colne Valley Park Visitor Centre. The canal was very quiet with very few boats moving around. We did see great crested grebe, a cormorant and a possible fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher. Lunch and the views at the Old Orchard were worth the steep climb up the hill at the end. Our bus trip back to Uxbridge even included a scenic trip to Harefield Hospital.

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

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

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


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