SHORTER WALKS

Kate
                        Grant
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
When

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.

Where

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
Friday 13 September: River Roding and Claybury Woods — details here. Sign up here.
Monday 30 September: Hampstead Heath — sign up here.
Tuesday 15 October: Hadley Wood —
details here
.

Photo Gallery
Launching a new feature. If you click here you can see many of our photographs. 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 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 brings back some good iU3A memories.

Recent Walks
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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