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 Coordinator: Derek Harwood (click to contact)
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.
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.

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 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.

Post Covid-19 lockdown: in addition to our normal risk assessment for each walk (as recorded by our Details sheet) we have completed a general risk assessment of our group's activity under Covid-19 conditions. This can be viewed here.

Our Next Walks
Walks coming up
Our full programme of walks in 2020 is shown in the Members' System ('Beacon'). The link is here. Log in then look up 'Schedule'. Add the dates to your diary now! The near term walks are also highlighted below. A week or so before the specific walk date, we'll make available the full walk details (including the meeting point) on this web page.

Please sign up individually below for each walk you plan to join. You can sign by clicking on the walk date (when sign-up is open the date is in blue), then a Sign-up Form will open. To drop out of a walk, please return to the form, and enter your details again but with a 'No' instead of a 'Yes'.

Wednesday 30 June, Etchingham to Stonegate (sign up open) — this is a 10½ mile walk via Ticehurst and Bewl Water. Pub lunch. Opt-out via bus from Ticehurst. Details here.

Tuesday 06 (date change) July —  details to follow

Wednesday 14 July, Dedham, Essex — a walk through Constable country starting and ending at Manningtree station.  Details to follow.

Monday 19 July —  details to follow
Tuesday 27 July —  details to follow

Lookahead provisional schedule 2021:
August: Thursday 05, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 18, Friday 27

09 to 12 September, Extended Walk 2022 — for 2022 we are going to Lulworth Cove, Dorset. We will have sole occupancy of the whole of the hf Holidays house there. A deposit has been paid already to reserve the house for us. If you wish to reserve a place now please pre-register now here.

Photo Gallery and Walk Map
Launching new features: you can now see many of our photos from our photo library. Click on the year you want below. 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 on the year below then select from the thumbnails the one you want then click on it:
Also if you want to see on a map where we have walked (and have selected a particular walk's details) then click here.

Useful & 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.

Discounts — if you are buying from Cotswold at the Angel, say you are with iU3A (Longer Walks group) and you'll get 10% discount. 

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.

Recent Walks
— a small select group enjoyed a cool, rain-free walk through this lovely part of Kent. Highlights included  the impressive historic houses of Ightham Mote (lunch stop) and Knole House (afternoon tea stop), and some lovely views from the Greensand Way on the Kent Downs looking over the Weald to the south. This interesting walk covers a variety of terrain and passes through woodland, open countryside, deer park, past oasthouses, hop pickers' houses, and all within 25 minutes of London Bridge at a cost of £3.35 … bargain! Details here.

Extended Walking Weekend, Alnmouth
— for 2021 we went to Northumbria. While the south suffered with cold and rain, we basked in sun. Again we managed two half day walks on Friday (going north) and Monday (Lesbury circular) and two longer full day walks on Saturday (south to Warkworth) and Sunday (circular ending at Alnwick). Details here.

Folkestone to Dover
— we travelled further afield for this walk rather than just our back door of Hertfordshire walks. A fast train from St Pancras got us to Folkestone and then we started along the shore. We ascended to the cliff top and walked along with superb views all to Dover. Details here.

CoulsdenCoulsdon —
this was a circular walk through Farthing Down and Happy Valley. A delightful eight mile walk over chalk down land, through woods and meadows high with grasses, buttercups, oxeye daisies, yellow rattle and early purple orchids. It's not called Happy Valley for nothing. A wonderfully surprising landscape so near to Croydon ... The famous medieval wall painting in Chaldon church was helpfully explained to us by Maggie. The Fox was welcoming and service was fast, not that we minded sitting in their garden as the weather was perfect. Ice creams and tea in the park near Coulsdon South station on the way home gave us all we could have wished for on this walk. 14 contented walkers. Details here.

Welwyn to WareWelwyn to Ware —
this was our first 'review & survey' of a Slow Ways route. It was a bit of a struggle finding our way through Welwyn Garden City but we eventually left the urban industrial sites and picked up the old Cole Green railway line. It continued to get better the further we progressed, the rail route providing some good shade in the very hot day. Some decided not to stop at the pub but to continue. Others enjoyed the quality food at the Cowper Arms. We carried on after lunch along the line to Hertford North, then passed Hertford East and picked up the River Lea and the canal at the start of the New River — different walking along the canal side with open skies right into Ware and a convenient pub to end and quench the thirst.
The final count showed it as a 10 mile walk. Details here.

LimpsfieldLimpsfield —
this was a walk of just over nine miles, with an attractive circular route following a mixture of woodland common paths, quiet lanes and field paths. We followed part of the Greensand Way to Limpsfield Common. After lunch we then continued through Limpsfield Chart and then followed the Tandridge Border Path passing picturesque Moat Farm and Tenchleys Manor before ascending to Pains Hill. We then rejoined the Greensand Way which took us back to Limpsfield. Details here

Tring ParkTring Park —
from Tring station it was a steady climb up to 216m with fine views then on to Ivinghoe Beacon. After that on entering Tring Park the walk followed the King Charles Ride towards Hastoe Cross. After the pub we decided to take a slightly longer route back which completed a circle. We joined the Chiltern Way at Wigginton Bottom and followed it E down to Cow Roast Lock where we picked up the canal towpath N back to Tring station. It was a good call because it came on to drizzle and we were sheltered and kept reasonably dry under the trees along the towpath. Details here.

Locust TreeWelwyn North to Welwyn Garden City —
this is a pretty walk at any time of year, through the gently undulating Hertfordshire countryside, but probably at its best just now as the extensive woodland areas are thickly carpeted with bluebells. The sun was shining (most of the time) which made eating out in the pub garden a very pleasant experience. The food was good and plentiful — the only ‘off’ note being that our two picnickers weren’t able to come into the pub for a drink. The manager wouldn’t allow any “walk ins” in spite of there being empty tables and only days away from easing of restrictions. Apart from that blip it was a most enjoyable walk with the usual good company that makes up the Longer Walks group. Details here.

— this was another two links in our northward journey along the Hertfordshire Chain Walk, about 11 miles in a figure of eight. It was rumoured the Leader was stalling for time as the pub lunch booking was later than required.... Or we were just observing and contemplating the local interesting facts — again. However, when we arrived at the pub, and it being outdoor serving only, it was rather gusty, then the heavens opened. Luckily by then people were leaving so we were taken pity on and given tables in the marquee. Whereas if we'd arrived earlier..... The sun came out shortly after we were on our way after lunch allowing us to to thaw out. The afternoon saw the sun come out and we made it back to Watton station just as the train pulled in. Whereas if we had been early...... Details here.

Tring to Ivinghoe
— this was a lovely circular just over eight mile walk from Tring station (Hertfordshire) up to Ivinghoe Beacon where we had our picnic with 360° views. Jo-Ann brought out enough Anzac day biscuits for all 16 of us — excellent! From there we cut along the Ridgeway to the Bridgewater Monument, through the splendid beech woods of Ashridge Estate which belong to the National Trust. We've been up it previously but it was closed today. From there it was downhill via picturesque Aldbury to Tring station. Details here.

Tewin —
this was a 10 mile circular walk from Welwyn North utilising links from the Hertfordshire Chain Walk. The main attraction was the ability to have a pub lunch again (even though service was a bit slow). Details here.

Farmers Bo, BrickendonBroxbourne Woods West apparently the pub that this walk was originally planned around was not going to be open, so it was to be a picnic instead. This gave us more route freedom so we ventured into new territory. Well, not that new. We still used some of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk links but joined them up differently and also joined sections of the Hertfordshire Way that we hadn't walked before. The only annoying thing was, when we passed the originally planned pub later mid-afternoon — it was open after all! But we made up for it, stopping at a different pub at the end of our walk in Brickendon for a well earned drink after this 11 miler. So all were happy. Details here.

Wellham Green BlackthornWellham Green to Bayford — twelve of us had an enjoyable day in perfect April weather walking 10 miles through fields, pastures, woodland and abundant blossoming blackthorn. There’ll be plenty of sloes this year. We came across an unexpected pair of white wallabies in a pinetum, and kestrels, buzzards and red kites, but very few other walkers. Because of lockdown we were able to buy welcome cups of tea at the outdoor kiosk at Brickendon golf course just before reaching the station home. Full details here.

Macaw Richmond ParkCrews Hill & Richmond Park:
hurrah, we are off walking again! And due to pent-up demand we had to run two walks. The main group headed for Hertfordshire, the 'Waiting List' headed to Richmond. With some early sun both walks were much appreciated. Strange sightings in Richmond Park though.... Details here.

Christmas 2020Limehouse & Regents Canal: as a largish group we had to move on from H&I to Hackney Wick and get started with the walk so we could spread out. We were lucky (again) with the weather. The rain from the previous day had moved on giving us a nice clear day for our Christmas social. We were a bit more restrained this year with our Christmas bubbles or even Santa hats being kept hidden or just peaking out. Patrick as Leader kept us feed with 'Interesting Facts' along the way with a bit of addition (or intrusion) from Derek. We observed the level of development around the Olympic Park with old and new development blending together. We picked up the Limehouse Cut that took us to the river then turned into the Regents Canal and followed this to the Victoria Park. Unfortunately our planned lunch stop at the Royal in the Park was unexpectedly closed. Which meant we had to split between the park cafe and another local pub. Afte lunch we made our way back along the Regents Canal to Islington. A more restrained Christmas Social due to circumstances this year but still time to enjoy a good walk with good company. Details here.

Toward TewinToward Trewin: this was our 300th walk, wey hey! It was Link 5 of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk. We walked out of Hertford picking up the Cole Green disused railway line until reaching the junction of Link 4 and 5. Last week we had turned south to do Link 4, this week we turned right to start Link 5. We had more luck this week — with the weather and finding a good place for our outdoor picnic. Seating provided. A cracking pace meant that we completed this 10 miles walk way ahead of schedule ensuring Celia could not only make her concert in the evening but with with time to recover as well. Details here.

BayfordBayford & Hertford North:
hurrah, back walking again! Unfortunately while many were keen to get out and on a proper walk again the weather forecast was poor. And on the day only eight of us braved the continuous rain. It was a good test of who had the best gear to cope with the weather. There wasn't even a warm pub to dry out a bit over lunch (due to Covid restrictions). Instead it was a quick damp picnic snack. The walk was 10 miles covering Link 4 of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk with a bit more to and from Bayford. We were all glad of the exercise but also glad to get back on a dry train. Details here.

Colne Valley CanalColne Valley: this walk was squeezed in before our second lockdown. We've walked this way quite a few times but it's still a popular nine mile walk. Heavy overnight rain had created many puddles on the towpath but the skies had cleared and there were glimpses of sun. We had reverted to our original base route taking us past the Coy Carp (which still holds our record of the slowest lunch service). These days we leave the valley and climb up the hill to the Old Orchard. Great view again from here over the whole valley — and a buzzard and a kestrel visited as we sat outside for our lunch (mixed households not being allowed indoors). That made for rather chilly alfresco dining so we were all keen to get going again. Back down and along the canal-side was more sheltered but a brisk pace was maintained. Unfortunately it was the wrong day of the week for a stop at Fran's tea shop (only open Wednesday to Sundays). But this did mean that we reached Uxbridge quite early and jumped straight on the waiting Met. line back to King's Cross. Details here.

Old Knobbly, WrabnessManningtree to Wrabness: the prospect of rain all day didn’t deter the 13 hardy souls who joined the train for the hour long ride to Manningtree. It was a short step up to join the Essex Way at St Mary’s in Lawford and a couple of miles from there into the old town of Manningtree, and along the waterfront into Mistley for an early lunch. Spirits remained surprisingly high in spite of the raindrops falling in our soup although envy of the two of our party allowed inside reared its ugly head. The leader’s attempt to pair off two of the group to join them failed as judged to be a ‘senior moment’. A brief highlight of the second section to Bradfield was passing Old Knobbly — almost as old as the combined ages of the group, and then through some muddy fields on to the wide open skies, autumn colours and wading birds of the Stour Estuary nature reserve — well let’s just say the colours were muted! Up through Wrabness with the route culminating at Grayson Perry's fantasy, A House for Essex — his gingerbread ‘Taj Mahal of the River Stour’, and dedicated to the mythical Essex everywoman, Julie, which encouraged a range of reactions — pro and con. Smiley faces to all who braved the weather. Details here.

Hackney MarshesPonders End to Hackney Wick:
this was a straightforward nine mile walk along the Lee Valley, which kept us within the Tier 2 Covid restrictions and minimised our travel. We had done sections of the Lee Valley Walk before but hadn't started previously from Ponders End. It was a good spot to pick up the trail, being close to the station. We left the canal for a detour through Walthamstow Wetlands reserve and a bit of Hackney Marshes (through low bridge for walkers) before rejoining the canal to take us to the Lea Bridge Road and the Princess of Wales pub for a very good lunch. Most of the walk was in the morning: the afternoon was a further section down the canal then branching off just before the Olympic park for Hackney Wick station. Details here.

Watford Oct1Watford and Sarratt:
twelve of us met at King's Cross for an easy hour on the underground to Watford to start our circular walk in Cassiobury Park. The sun came out and the park was truly lovely and already showing some great autumn colours. Particularly nice were the trees laden with red berries and a rather thinned out but still magnificent Lebanese Cedar. In the morning we walked through the rather wonderful Whippendel Wood to the old village of Sarratt where we enjoyed an excellent lunch in a traditional English country pub The Boot, dating from 1739, sitting in their marquee. Most of us had Fish & Chips and a half pint of draught beer. Large Jaffa CakeThe walk itself was relatively flat and over mostly good paths on fields, rural tracks between farms and occasionally small roads. The views were probably best in the afternoon towards the Chess Valley before walking through some beautiful wood which kept us reasonably dry even during the unexpected rainfall after a sunny morning; or should the surprising weather be the other way around? Half the group was seduced by the thought of large mugs of tea and a jumbo Jaffa cake in the cafe in Cassiobury Park instead of going home. This proved an excellent decision since there was a hiccup on the line home but this was resolved the moment the late tea party arrived at Watford Station as luck would have it. A great day out. Details here.

last walked over a year ago, this was an 8½ mile autumnal walk through forest and common land of the Ashridge Estate. A socially distanced lunch was had at the outdoor café next to the Bridgewater Monument. Then we followed a canal towpath back to the station. Details here.

Harpenden to St AlbansHarpenden to St Albans: this was another Hertfordshire walk slightly further north than previous walks in the area. It was a rather wet day from start to finish but eight brave souls ventured out over the 11 miles. The morning highlight was the Woodland Trust's brand-new forest called Heartwood (previously all arable land and now with 350,000 new trees). We were glad of the pub lunch and a chance to dry out a bit, but not so glad to go back out into it after lunch. However, Patrick's sweets kept us going. The afternoon took us through the pretty Childwickbury country estate, with views also out to another estate, Gorehambury. The final highlight was then the city of St Albans (and the tea and cake stop!). See the video here. Full details here.

Star Walker 2020Welwyn Garden City: this was an easy circular walk through attractive Hertfordshire countryside. We passed several grand houses and crossed several grand golf courses. As 50% of the attendance was Walk Leaders a cracking pace was set throughout. Entering Ayot St Lawrence we passed Shaw House, once home to George Bernard Shaw, to reach a delightful pub just as the rain came on. Service was a bit slow which was just as well, because by the time we came out the rain had stopped. We did the official presentation of our annual 'Star Walker' here — this year the award going to Jo-Ann Kennedy. We all enjoyed this walk of just over 11 miles, last done in June 2018: there were no hills to speak of. Our luck held out and it stayed dry until we were just getting to the station when the rain started again. Excellent timing. See the video here. Walk details here.

Past Walks
We are now in our eighth year.
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.

WrabnessThe Longer Walks group continued to flourish during its second highly successful year (Oct 2014 - Sept 2015). We ended that year with 86 members and having completed 44 walks — covering a total of 437 miles. Each walk is remembered and celebrated here.

Going back further, we ended our first year (Oct 2013 - Sept 2014) with 70 members and having completed 21 walks. For the facts and figures click here and for the words and pictures for each, click here.

For a complete listing of all our walks to date click here.

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