LEISURELY WALKS

Derek HarwoodThe Leisurely Walks Group has half-day walks of up to three miles.



Group Coordinator: Derek Harwood (click to contact)       
When

We will start with one walk each month on varying days of the week. If there is enough support and others are prepared to lead some walks, we will then increase the frequency.

Where

All walks will be fairly local but with some public transport (to the start or from the finish).

Introduction
Since Spring 2018 iU3A has had a Leisurely Walks group (in addition to the current Shorter and Longer Walk groups). This group offers a monthly half-day walk (on different days of the week) of up to three miles. The pace is leisurely, with pauses along the way. The start and end points are easily reached by public transport and are in the Freedom Pass travel zones. Some walks are local, e.g. Clissold Park and the New River Path; others are sometimes 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’. They are ideal for members who like gentle outdoor exercise at a slower pace than the other walking groups. If you are interested in joining this new group please use the email link above to advise the Group Coordinator or join online through the Members' System ('Beacon') here.

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

We won't have sign-ups per walk you can just turn up on the day. But if you are late we won't be expecting you so we won't wait for you.

In addition to this Group if you don't see what you like here, you might want to look at our Discovering Islington Group here.

Our Next Leisurely Walks
The programme of walks will also appear in the Members' System (ie 'Beacon').

Full walk details including meeting points and times will 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 'Details here', click on 'here' when it is highlighted in blue.

Our next leisurely walk:
July: details to be fixed yet.

Future dates:      
Dates for the rest of 2022 to be set once walk leaders can be found.


If you want to volunteer to lead one of these walks (help will be provided regarding the admin., etc) please use the contact link at the top to drop Derek an email.

Recent Walks
Finsbury Park: this was an 'on-our-doorstep' walk and yet a few of the 10 walkers didn't know bits of it existed. Helped by pleasant weather we left H&I station, strolled through Highbury Fields cutting through to the quiet spaces surrounding the Emirates and on to Gillespie Park. We had a quick stop at the Ecology Centre then on to Finsbury Park where we stopped for a coffee. A couple left us there but the rest of us carried on over the railway bridge onto the Parkland Walk. Due to the popularity of this walk during the recent lockdowns the path has been widened but on a midweek day nowadays it's quiet. We didn't go all the way to Highgate but soon turned back to retrace our steps to Finsbury Park and our finish there. 

Sloane SqSloane Square: overnight rain having freshened the air, eight walkers kept to the sunny side of the streets through Chelsea discovering Blue Plaques of famous writers’ homes and pretty church gardens in Christchurch Street. Crossing the Albert Bridge we walked through Battersea Park, visiting the Old English Garden where both the roses and the sun came out so were glad of the shady paths we then followed beside a lake, glimpsing three terrapins and a heron lined up on a branch overhanging the water. Continuing through the park to join the riverside path going under Chelsea Bridge, we strolled around the new river frontage public park at Battersea Power Station, having coffee outside at one of the cafes before returning home from the new tube station nearby.

Kensington GardensKensington: Four people enjoyed a leisurely stroll and a good chat going around Kensington Gardens. We started at the lovely Italian Gardens and walked down beside the lake and back via the cafe at Kensington Palace. There was plenty to see with the spring flowers looking their best, Henry Moore’s arch framing Kensington Palace, the ornate Albert Memorial and of course, the famous statue of Peter Pan which appeared overnight, put up illegally by Barrie himself as a surprise for the local children. 



Richmond: a selective group of members enjoyed this leisurely walk. After taking the Overground train round to Richmond from the station it was easy through Richmond Green to reach the Thames Path. We then followed the Path through Buccleugh Gardens and Terrace Gardens for a view immortalised by Turner and Reynolds. Next we entered Richmond Park at Pembroke Lodge Gardens and on to Petersham Park and Petersham Meadows, before picking up the Thames Path again and following it back to the station.

Anglican ChapelPaddington to Kensal Rise: eight walkers left Paddington Basin following the Grand Union canal path to Kensal Green. En route we visited Paddington’s St Mary Magdalene Church to admire the Victorian pictorial ceiling — and shelter from the drizzle. Further along we meandered through the Meanwhile Community Gardens, stopping for coffee (and cake) at a canalside cafe before arriving at Kensal Green Cemetery, the first of The Magnificent Seven. Managing to dodge the puddles, we kept to the central path noting the ornate monuments and some of the many eccentric or famous residents. Passing the Grade 1 Listed Anglican Chapel, we left via the West Gate at Harrow Road for our journeys home.

Jelling StoneRegent's Park: This was a shared walk of 18 walkers and birdwatchers. We met at Great Portland St station and briefly visited the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians on the way to St Katharine's, the 200 year old neo-Gothic Danish church. In the church garden we saw the Jelling Stone, which is an exact replica of the runic stone at Jelling in Jutland, Denmark. This is one of the oldest Danish historic monuments and was erected in 980 AD by King Harald the grandfather of King Canute and the first Christian king of Denmark.

Crossing the Outer Circle into Regent's Park we took The Broad Walk to the 'Ready Money' drinking fountain and then walked west towards the lake and eventually to the Winter Garden at the St John's Wood edge of the park. Most members of the group eventually met up at the Rose Garden cafe where the loos were free. Despite the St John's Lodge 'Secret Garden' being marked as closed on its website that morning, a small group, determined to see it, had found that it was open after all!

The following birds were observed: robin, long tailed tit, goldeneye, smew, egyptian goose, red crested pochard, wigeon, red-breasted merganser, mandarin duck, pintail, eider duck, great tit and blue tit. Walk details here.

Canning Town to East India DockDecember — Canning Town, East India Dock: 12 walkers took part. We crossed the River Lee from Canning Town station via the red bridge to City Island. Passing the English National Ballet School and the London Film School we came to Orchard Place where a series of panels 'celebrating the rich history of the area' produced by Urban Space management, founders of the Trinity Wharf Centre for creative enterprise, provided very interesting information. The Orchard Cafe, a former shipping container with a taxi and tree on its roof, was our coffee stop and we then went on to Trinity Buoy Lighthouse, unfortunately not open on weekdays so we couldn't see/hear Longplayer, a one thousand year long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st December 1999 and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again. Longplayer is composed for singing bowls — an ancient type of standing bell — which can be played by both humans and machines, and whose resonances can be very accurately reproduced in recorded form. It is designed to be adaptable to unforeseeable changes in its technological and social environments, and to endure in the long-term as a self-sustaining institution.

The Lighthouse is an experimental lighthouse — London’s only remaining example — built in 1864. It was never used to aid navigation on the Thames but to experiment and develop lighting equipment for the Trinity House network of lighthouses, lightships and buoys. It was the place where Michael Faraday worked as Trinity House’s Scientific Adviser. In the 1840s he developed the lenses used in maritime lighting, and invented a chimney which solved the problem of condensation from oil lamps seriously reducing the light they produced. We saw more of the container city structures and quirky sculptures and then made our way back along Orchard Place and through East India Dock Nature Reserve with its tidal lagoon and saltmarsh (no birds in sight) to West India Dock Station.

November
— Kenwood: ten of us enjoyed this leisurely walk in beautiful autumn weather, a straightforward walk over the Heath with a coffee stop outdoors at The Spaniards.

Wapping 2021October — Whitechapel to Wapping: on a glorious day, beautiful blue sky and quite warm in the sun nine of us (including some new group members) set off from Whitechapel station. We walked through the grounds of The Royal London Hospital and continued along Stepney Way to Stepney City Farm, which has a very nice cafe. After fortifying ourselves with coffee and cake we paid a short visit to St Dunstan & All Saints Church to see the stained glass windows and the 10th century Saxon Rood (cross). We then walked through Limehouse to join the Thames Path where we stopped for a group photo with Canary Wharf in the background. From there we headed towards Shadwell Basin, Wapping Woods and the ornamental canal. We passed Tobacco Dock and then continued to Wapping. Details here.

Brixton Sept2021September
— Brixton to Herne Hill. From Brixton station we walked through Windrush Square passing the Ritzy Cinema and Tate Library and noting the various Black History monuments. Then through St Matthew’s Churchyard (where John Major married Norma) to admire the newly planted fruit trees in the nearby small Brixton Orchard. There being fewer walkers than usual, we took a short diversion to visit the Brixton Windmill before going on to Brockwell Park Lido for a welcome coffee in the sunshine. We strolled around the park in warm, sunny weather taking in the wildlife ponds and The Walled Garden, which was looking lovely with its hot Autumn colours, then up to Brockwell Hall and views of the London skyline and downhill again for a short bus ride back to Brixton station. Details here.



Trent ParkAugust, Trent Park
— 11 walkers followed the London Loop signpost from the car park by Cockfosters station, which avoided the busy Cockfosters Road by means of woods and fields. From the cafe, after walking through woods to the fishing lake and, at the end of a broad path, turning uphill through more woods to Camlet Moat, we stopped for a rest and photograph at the Sassoon Obelisk. From here we came straight down through the meadow and took a path to the Japanese Water Garden. Some of the new buildings (apartments, penthouses and detached houses), near Trent Park House could be seen from here.

Returning to the broad path we retraced our steps to the cafe. Some members decided to return to the station, others thought that lunch in the nearby pub, The Cock Inn, might be a good idea but we changed our minds when we discovered that only two members of staff were on duty. A great discovery, when we had almost given up on lunch, was Miracles Cafe and Restaurant in Cockfosters Parade close to the station. Thoroughly recommended are an HLT (grilled halloumi cheese with avocado, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and olives etc) and a Lemon Breezer (lime cordial, lemon and mint). Details here.

July, Kenwood
— eight of us walked from Gospel Oak station past the Highgate Ponds — Men's Bathing, Boating and Women's Bathing, but no actual bathing, except by dogs, due to the recent torrential rain. We then ascended the hill up to Kenwood House where we enjoyed a coffee break in the sun at the Brew House after appreciating the herbaceous borders in full flower in the kitchen garden. Next came the Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore sculptures before a descent on a narrow path through the woods to the Viaduct, which survives from attempts to develop the Heath before it came into public ownership 150 years ago. We finished by walking down to Hampstead Heath station past the Mixed Bathing Pond and a large circus marquee.

Tower Hamlets CementeryTower Hamlets Cemetery and Mile End Park —
the quiet, shady paths of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park turned out to be perfect for a leisurely walk on a hot, sunny morning. Only five minutes from busy, noisy Mile End Road, we saw almost no-one and heard only birdsong, following the Heritage Trail past monuments and headstones through this nature reserve. There were wild plants flourishing amongst the many old neglected gravestones and lining the woodland paths. The group photo shows us at the highest point, by the Francis Vault, which had been designed with a brick removed from a wall so that the sun would shine through a wrought iron cross in a door on the western side of the vault at dawn on Midsummer's Day. After an hour or so, we left the cool of the cemetery to join the Ackroyd Drive Greenlink meadows, stopping for coffee outside in the shade at the Bow Brew café, before walking back to the station through Mile End Park.

Regents ParkRegent's Park:
despite the persistent drizzle, four walkers enjoyed a walk around the delightful flowerbeds and magnificent trees of Regent's Park. We visited the St John’s Lodge garden, admiring tulips which seem to be intent on flowering indefinitely this spring. Queen Mary’s rose garden was on the cusp of bursting into bloom with a few brave roses already starting to flower. Somehow, in the rain, the Japanese garden looked even more beautiful than usual. The lake provided bird-life entertainment including herons and coots with fluffy chicks.


Shoreditch High Street to Hoxton (April): this was a pleasant typical inner London walk. After leaving Shoreditch High Street Station we walked along Sclater Street, crossed Brick Lane (not so busy these days) and passed St Matthew's Church. We crossed Bethnal Green Road and turned into Columbia Road (the home of Columbia Road Flower Market, also quiet on a weekday), and then walked through the park next to Hackney City Farm and through Haggerston Park. After a short stretch along the canal path we stopped for coffee at the Chalet Café. We then wound our way toward Hoxton Street, which led us through Hoxton Market and to Hoxton station. It was not the warmest day but at least there was no rain.

Victoria Park (December): during a brief period of no lockdown or other restrictions the Group managed a walk from Hackney Wick to and around Victoria Park.

At the top of Stave HillRotherhithe (October): we started in the heart of Rotherhithe Village with coffee at the Watch House, taken al fresco in the adjoining St Mary's Churchyard gardens. Then leaving behind the narrow, cobbled streets we headed for the river and strolled along the Thames Path admiring the views for a mile or so before turning inland to enter Russia Dock Woodland. We continued on the main path through this extensive area, passing streams, ponds and water birds, and briefly visited the Ecological Park. The high point of the walk was climbing Stave Hill, an artificial hill made by using waste material and rubble. A cast bronze relief map of the former docks stands at the top of the hill. With rain clouds gathering most headed back to Rotherhithe station but some stayed for lunch and more conversation at the riverside Salt Quay pub.



Finsbury Park and the Capital Ring (September): this was our first walk since lockdown and 9 members were keen to get out and get some exercise. It was a pretty hot day but luckily the walk had quite a lot of shade along the route. Details here.

Dollis Brook ValleyDollis Valley Greenwalk (March): a small group of walkers grasped the opportunity of a walk in the winter sunshine along the Dollis Brook in North London. The two-mile stretch was part of the 10-mile-long greenwalk from North Barnet to Hampstead Garden Suburb. Starting at Totteridge and Whetstone station we followed the well-marked trail through a linear park, accompanied by birdsong most of the way, spotting welcome signs of spring. Despite being on tarmac paths we encountered some decidedly muddy sections after the February rain. The surprisingly busy Italian café produced good coffee and a warm break before the last uphill walk to West Finchley station. Details here.

Hyde Park 2020Hyde Park: Half a dozen intrepid walkers braved the aftermath of Storm Dennis and were rewarded with sparkling spring sunshine for a peaceful stroll around Hyde Park. We delayed our start to watch the Household Cavalry heading for duties at the Palace, then strolled around the Serpentine enjoying the spring blossom and the just-out daffodils swaying in the breeze. We enjoyed the ‘art’ we passed including the Queen Elizabeth Gates, Achilles, the Hudson Memorial, Serenity and the Princess Diana Fountain. We were amused by the antics of long tailed tits and amazed at how fearless of people parakeets can be when food is offered. We paused for a welcome cup of tea in the Lido café before heading back through the rose garden to Hyde Park Corner.  Details here.





Canada WaterCanada Water: an intrepid band of leisurely walkers ventured south of the river for a stroll through Grade II listed Southwark Park, with a short detour to the Thames Path to admire the view back home. Despite the challenges of extensive roadworks, we managed to visit three parks — Southwark Park, King's Stairs Gardens and George V Park — passing a motley selection of Southwark blue plaques commemorating the first Blitz raid on Surrey Docks and the homes of social reformer Richard Carr-Gomm and the first President of Uganda. The recently opened Southwark Park café, overlooking the lake and rose gardens, provided a scenic and well deserved coffee stop on our way home. Group photo beside Dr Salter's Daydream on Thames Path. Details here.

 
St PaulsSt Paul's to Tower Bridge: again not many came on the walk. While it was a cold day it was bright and clear. The walk set of from St Paul's Cathedral then crossed over the Millennium Bridge and proceeded down the river and along to Tower Bridge. See full details here.







Regents CanalRegent's Canal:
this was a gentle walk along the canal on a cold but clear day. Not many turned out for it — was it too cold? We started outside Angel Tube Station and walked eastward down City Road then along Duncan Terrace Gardens to the Canal Towpath, walking eastwards. We stopped for coffee at Kingsland Basin. See full details here.









Alexander PalaceHighgate to Alexandra Palace: We had a dry and mostly sunny morning thankfully, for our walk, after the rainy week. The beech trees in Highgate Wood were just turning colour. The illusion of being almost in the countryside continued as we proceeded along the northern branch of the Parkland Walk accompanied by birdsong, mercifully without a chorus of parakeets’ screeches, until we reached the St James viaduct and enjoyed far-reaching views across the city, spotting the Shard, Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park. We were rewarded by further extensive vistas from Alexandra Palace, where we paused to take a peek into the elegant Palm Court, before continuing through the gardens to the train station. Details here.


Archive
For the archived details of previous leisurely walks have a look here:
  • Archive 2018-2019 here.

site designed by Gill Hopkins 
logo designed Tattersal Hammarling & Silk
registered charity number 1157067