LONGER WALKS

Derek HarwoodRowena InzaniThe Longer Walks group has a programme of walks normally of between 8 to 14 miles, usually with options to shorten the walk. Walks are over a full day with a break for lunch (usually in a pub or café, although sometimes people bring a picnic). Group size is typically between 6 and 12 people.

Group Coordinators: Derek Harwood (click to contact) and Rowena Inzani
When
Normally there are four walks a month, on varying days of the week so as to avoid always clashing with the same iU3A groups that meet on fixed days.
Where
We go to any good walking area in Greater London and the South East that can be reached relatively easily by public transport. Our walks cover a variety of terrain, including park and woodland, canal or riverside paths, open countryside and hill walking. Most walks are suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit and active.

Background
Our group is wonderfully balanced; some join walks regularly, others less frequently. To help the leader in their duty of care and to ensure safety we have a few rules. In summary the rule is 'respect others and stick together' but see the fuller version here.

To join the group, please either drop me an email (address as above) or register through Beacon. Having joined the group, to join a particular walk click on the relevant walk 'sign up' link below. If you are not a member of Islington U3A then you must firstly join this before joining any Group. Go to the Join Us page and there click on the Membership Form.

Our Next Walks

Walks Coming Up
See below for our programme of walks in 2024. We tend to fix the dates a quarter at a time. We'll make available the full walk details (including the meeting point) on this webpage about a week before each walk. Once sign-up is open please click individually on 'sign-up open' (in blue) for each walk you plan to join. To drop out of a walk, please return to the form, and enter your details again but with a 'No' instead of a 'Yes'.
Please note: the Walk Details provided by the Walk Leaders are provided as 'best endeavours' but cannot be guaranteed to be 100% accurate. Members should check travel times and costs themselves.

Wednesday 24 April (KM) Green Link, Hackney to Peckham (sign up open): this urban 10.5 mile walk follows the 'Hipster Trail' part of TFL's new Green Link. The route means no mud! Several drop out points. Details here.

Wednesday 1 May (RI) Chorley Wood to Chesham: A lovely 10.3 miles Chilterns walk, via Chenies, Flaunden and Ley Hill, through beech woods, hills and fields, quiet lanes and footpaths.  Details to follow

Friday 3 May (DH) Extended Walking Weekend, Dovedale: a surprise addition through the hf Holidays' sale. All places now taken. If you want to go on the waiting list, please email Derek. Details here.

Friday 10 May (*)
Thursday 16 May (DL)
Wednesday 22 May (DH)

Lookahead provisional schedule (* = where a walk leader is required):
June: Tuesday 04, Monday 10, Friday 21, Wednesday 26
July: Wednesday 03, Tuesday 09, Monday 15, Friday 26
August: Thursday 01, Wednesday 07, Tuesday 13, Monday 19, Friday 30
September: Thursday 05, Wednesday 11, Tuesday 17, Monday 23
October: Friday 04

Extended Walking Weekend, Church Stretton, 27 September 2024: there are two places (for sharing a room) available. If you want one of these or want to go on a waiting list please email Derek.

Useful and Other Information
Travel link — if you are going on a walk outside the Freedom Pass areas, here is a link to help decide which station to buy your ticket from online: Freedom Pass Map. If you need to figure out what train line we are going on then this overall map can help: Rail Map.

Ticks — there have been reports of increased population of ticks in the UK. If you are worried about catching a tick bite while out walking, for more information see here.

Jo-Anne has provided three useful walk guides. You can view them here:
u3a has formed a partnership with 'Slow Ways' and hence we have also signed up for this initiative. The Slow Ways initiative is trying to get more people walking, and walking for more purposes. They are creating a network of walks joining up all villages, towns, cities. They aim then to get all these 'ways' reviewed so that full route information is available through their websites. And that's where we come in. They hope that u3as will help complete these reviews (and surveys). We hope as a group to check out some of these Slow Ways and you can do this as individuals as well. For more information see their website here.

Walks Register: if you want to look up any of our previous walks you can view our main Register here. Quote the walk number to Derek and he can send you the relevant Walk Details sheet.

Leader Responsibilities: see the following guidelines for reference here

Recent Walks
Colne Valley: we all enjoyed this popular walk. Helped by there being no mud and the sun shining. The lunch stop up the hill top gave us great views over the valley and we could see how HS2 had progressed since we last visited. Some stayed on at the end in Uxbridge for tea. Details here.

Moor Park to Stanmore:
Encouraging signs of spring with bluebells out  and trees in early leaf for our 10 mile walk on the London Loop route from Moor Park to Stanmore. Undeterred by the mud 10 of us made it in good time despite rather slow service for lunch at the garden centre. Interesting features after lunch were the remains of Grims Dyke, and the wooded estate of W.S. Gilbert, librettist for the G and S duo. Sadly he drowned in 1911 in his own lake trying to rescue a young woman house guest who had got into difficulties swimming. She survived and later became Stanley Spencer’s second wife. Details here.

Newhaven to Brighton:
Ten of us walked this coastal path starting with the harbour arm at Newhaven, a gentle climb to Castle Hill's (55m) coast watch station, passing a Victorian Fort, quiet White Cliffs, an undercliff path, Brighton's marina, busy promenades and boardwalks passing Brighton's pier, shops, cafes. During the whole walk we had nice sea views with a lovely morning sun but slightly more clouds in the afternoon. On the cliff top path was the Telscombe Tavern which served a good value hearty pub lunch. At Saltdean we joined the main undercliff path at the base of the white chalk cliffs, passing Rottingdean and the large but rather soulless Marina. Along the Brighton promenade the party split between beach walkers and promenaders reaching the train just before the heavens opened. Finally a good sunny, dry and mud-free day. Details here.

Manningtree/Dedham:
This is the first time we’ve done this lovely Dedham Vale walk in spring and it was a treat to see the massed clouds of quickthorn in bloom everywhere. Other highlights of this walk are the places and buildings around Flatford, associated with Constable and his paintings, and later the beautifully preserved village of Dedham. Due to the excessive rains this winter we saw lakes in places where lakes shouldn’t be, but actually the going underfoot could have been a lot worse. The serious mud was generally in smallish patches and didn’t need us to make any significant detours. The only change to the route was an impromptu decision to add a couple of extra miles of river walking before lunch a) taking advantage of the beautiful blue sky and sunshine b) because we’d have reached the pub too early! The Sun Inn lunch in Dedham was excellent. The much shorter afternoon walk saw the weather change to grey and windy, but still dry. All in all, a lovely and very enjoyable day out. Details here.

The Line and the Lee:
On a beautiful spring day marking the equinox, fourteen of us walked along the Greenwich meridian roughly. We started south of the Thames with an exploration of The Line, a sculpture trail with works by Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin and about 20 other artists. The first section, about a mile and a half, circumnavigates the Millennium Dome. We then crossed the Thames to follow the River Lea and Lee Navigation, starting at Cody Dock, where The Line continues as far as Stratford, passing the historic tidal mills at Three Mills on the way. From here we continued through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and stopped for lunch by the canal opposite Hackney Wick. We continued to follow the towpath north as far as Springfield Park, then crossed into Walthamstow Wetlands, before reaching the end of our 9½ mile walk at Tottenham Hale. Details here.

Dollis Valley Path and Hampstead Heath
:
this was chosen to try to find a relatively dry route underfoot. There were seven on this walk, which mostly avoided mud until a short section on Hampstead Heath in the afternoon. There was one shower which caused us to shelter for a few minutes. The old Bull and Bush was not particularly busy and provided good food to a reasonable timetable. An enjoyable walk which includes the striking central square at Hampstead Garden Suburb and took in the interior of Lutyens's large Anglican Church. Details here.

Broxbourne to Cheshunt:
this walk made a welcome change from the months of mud and rain. 8 miles on dry flat paths with even some sunshine. We passed water-filled gravel pits teeming with noisy terns, ducks, coots, swans and cormorants, interspersed with woodland areas showing early signs of spring. We alternated between the navigable Lee canal and the river Lea. Lunch in Waltham Abbey was either at the Gatehouse cafe or from Greggs after a pint in the local. The short return to Cheshunt station was via a different but still watery route. We covered the route in swift time and were back in Islington by 3.00pm. Details here.

Canvey Island Westside:
this was a just over 9 miles circular walk from Benfleet station. Details here.

Great Chesterford to Newport:
Strong winds and rain failed to deter 5 hardy walkers from this very pleasant walk. Although the views were obscured by the weather, there were still welcome signs and sounds of spring from the clumps of snowdrops to the singing of skylarks and other songbirds. Lunch was in Saffron Walden, an attractive historic town which boasts 27 Grade ll* listed buildings. We made a quick visit to the huge parish church (completed 1525) its size reflecting the town’s wealth at the height of the saffron trade, before heading to the 15th century Cross Keys pub for a very pleasant relaxed lunch. Unusually for a pub, this one incorporates its own traditional tea room (with a very tempting array of cakes). After lunch with rain and wind easing off as we walked through the Audley End Estate on good paths we decided not to take the early drop-out option. Naturally, after this the route started to become more muddy! As there are several ways to end the walk at Newport we decided to take the longer but less muddy route which increased our miles walked up to 11.65. Luckily there was just enough time for a takeaway tea from the ‘about to close’ tea shop before we arrived at the station in good time for the 4.15pm train. Details here.

Sevenoaks:
we had very good, almost spring-like weather for this walk, though the path was much muddier in places than it had been, when tested 10 days before. However, all 16 enjoyed it very much. The round trip route is fairly straightforward and well used, by both walkers and horses, hence the mud, after recent rain. We had one new member, and another who left after lunch, hopefully finding his way to a bus stop at Shipbourne. We saw plenty of deer in Knole Park, later passed through lavender fields, then negotiated tree clearance works outside Ightham Mote, before reaching the cafe for lunch. This was quite busy because of the half term holiday, but there was plenty of room, since it was warm enough to sit outside. Later we made good progress across the Greensand Way hills, before returning to Knole Park and Sevenoaks. Most of the group were able to catch a train back to London Bridge soon after 4.00, while a few of us found a café in Sevenoaks for tea and cake. Details here.

Osterley to Harrow on the Hill:
a tour of the puddles of the west London green belt after two days of heavy rain, though the weather was mostly kind on the day. Eleven of us explored Osterley Park, with its  grand Georgian country house, then followed the Brent river and its linear park north for 2½ miles, much of it wooded and lined with weeping plum trees in delicate blossom. We passed under Brunel's magnificent GWR Wharncliffe Viaduct and later via Perivale Park to the vast Railway Hotel at Greenford for an efficiently served lunch. From there we continued through a new beaver reserve at Horsenden Hill (no sightings but their trails in evidence) then a steady climb through Sudbury Hill to picturesque Harrow on the Hill with its school and beautiful parish church. Details here.
 
Guildford:
We left Guildford in thick mist walking west climbing up the Hog's Back via its dramatic ridge with zero views due to the mist. However, by noon the mist had disappeared and we had extensive views over hills and valleys. It was also remarkably less muddy than expected because we were high and walked towards Compton over green pastures and a few little country lanes. Had an excellent lunch in the smart but casual The Withies Inn, at least in our bar area, before heading eastwards towards the river Wey, again over good dryish paths. A pleasant walk following the river north got us back into Guildford around 3.15pm, where some of us had tea at the station’s Costa. A good country walk as opposed to the recent urban walks with hard surfaces and no extensive horizon views. Details here.  

Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe:
A blowy drizzly start failed to deter our hardy bunch of walkers from enjoying this comprehensive trail through Docklands north and south. Both sides of the river teem with historical interest and some current building projects are giving tantalising glimpses of future parks and wildlife projects. Heading northwards via various waterways, diversions and St Katherine’s Dock, we crossed the river at Tower Bridge to head southwards. Lunch was at the riverside Salt Quay pub which was fine apart from food being exceedingly slow to arrive. After lunch we continued along the river until diverting inland to Russia Dock Woodland. Unlike many of the other docks on our route which have now become boating marinas or ornamental waterways, here in the 70/80s, several docks were filled in and this excellent woodland and ecological park created. At its centre is Stave Hill, a tall artificial conical mound topped with a wonderful relief model of the area as it once was, and great views to Canary Wharf and the City. Our next stop was Greenland Dock which remains as a marina, water sports and recreational area and is navigable to the Thames — confirmed to us as we were hurried across a road bridge just before it was raised to let a boat go through. From there via Surrey Quays we continued through Southwark Park and the Ada Salter Garden to finish at Rotherhithe station. Details here.

C
rystal Palace to Battersea: a good group of around eleven (there were some early leavers and later arrivals), keen on blowing away those festive cobwebs, assembled to traverse south London. Our 10 mile walk took us from the heights of the Sydenham ridge at Crystal Palace, where we saw the vast footprint of the old Great Exhibition building, down bit by bit towards the Thames. We passed through Sydenham Hill Wood, a remnant of the Great North Wood that once stretched from Croydon to New Cross, then through Dulwich Park, passing the Picture Gallery and the elegant courtyard of Dulwich College, then on to Brockwell Park where we took a coffee break while watching brave swimmers take a freezing dip in the open air Lido. From there, we crossed the broad expanse of Clapham Common which stretches for over a mile, then down again to Battersea Park, with its sub-tropical gardens and lake, before reaching our destination, the recently opened and spectacular development of Battersea Power Station and a hearty late lunch.  As north Londoners, it was good to see how all these southern suburbs fit together! Details here.

Woolwich to Rotherhithe
:
having arrived on the Elizabeth Line we followed the Thames Path, South Bank route with pavements all the way, ie no mud! It was interesting to see the further developments since we last did this walk several years ago. It started as a cold crisp morning and hence we were glad to reach the warmth of the Cutty Sark pub for lunch. A pub full of history. It turned milder in the afternoon as we continued through Greenwich and then left the river cutting past Greenland Docks to end at Canada Waters. Details here.

Past Walks
Islington u3a is now over ten years old. Here are our archive walk reports:
For Walk Reports October 2023 - January 2024: look here.
For Walk Reports October 2022 - Sept 2023: look here.
To see details of our ninth year (October 2021 - Sept 2022) look here
To see details of our eighth year (October 2020 - Sept 2021) look here.
To see details of our seventh year (October 2019 - Sept 2020) look here.
To see details of our sixth year (October 2018 - Sept 2019) look here.
To see details of our fifth year (October 2017 - Sept 2018) look here.
To see the details for walks in the previous year (Oct 2016 - Sept 2017) look here.
If you want to see details of the walks we completed in our third year (Oct 2015 - Sept 2016) then look here.


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