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 Coordinator: Derek Harwood (click to contact)
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 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 Next Walks

Walks coming up
Our full programme of walks in 2021 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 26 January, Richmond to Hampton Court (sign up open): an easy flat walk of about 8miles. From Richmond station we'll go down to river and along the Thames path to Kingston-upon-Thames bridge. After lunch we'll cross Kingston bridge and go into Hampton Court Park with fine views then end at Hampton Court station. Drop out possible at lunch. Details here.

Tuesday 1st February, Dollis Valley Green Walk and Hampstead Heath:  A walk of around nine miles starting at Woodside Park (Northern Line) to follow the Dollis Valley path south to Hampstead Heath Extension and to North End for lunch. Afterwards to Hill House Gardens and the Pergolas, then on to the Heath to go via Kenwood, the ponds and Parliament Hill to end at Hampstead Heath Overground for return to H&I. Full details to follow.

Friday 11 February. Details to follow.

Thursday 17 February, Bayford: circular, 8¾ miles, 756 feet of ascent, lunch stop at Little Berkhamsted (pub) (5¼ miles). Train times and cost: at the moment trains leave Highbury and Islington at 9.51 am, arriving at Bayford at 10.31 am. Return from Bayford would be the 3.17 pm or the 3.47 pm. Cost of return (Crews Hill to Bayford) with Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard is £3.45. Details to follow.

Wednesday 23 February. Details to follow

Lookahead provisional schedule 2022:
Provisional dates:
March: Tuesday 1, Friday 11, Thursday 17, Wednesday 23, Tuesday 29

9 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
Sturry to Canterbury:
This was a beautiful walk through a quiet corner of Kent, taking in a series of ancient villages, each with a similarly ancient church and passing a series of charming rural pubs. The village of Wickhambreaux in particular is quintessentially English. The terrain was mostly flat, with only a few gentle hills, but there was still some good views just after Stodmarsh. Thank you to all my co-walkers but in particular to the triumfeminate of co-leaders who spontaneously helped to navigate through the Kent countryside. Mud wasn’t our worst enemy: missing signage (not there?), paths that simply stopped near newbuilt, paths that were not on the map and an overambitious 11m walk on a winter’s day ‘far away’. On the other hand the weather was lovely all day, it was a new walk in a new area, pub excellent food & friendly staff, and the group still made the 5.26am fast train home. Details here.

North London Green Spaces:
The weather forecast was dire, but luck was on our side: no rain before lunch and only a very light drizzle after lunch. We met at Finsbury Park Station and travelled on a route as follows: Gillespie Park, Emirates Stadium, Paradise Park, Regent's Park, Hyde Park to Kensington Palace and back via a loop, Green Park, St James's Park and back to Green Park and finally Green Park Station. It was a route near to home for everyone but, typically you often don’t visit what’s on your doorstep, so it was a good opportunity for everyone to appreciate London and share many points of interest along the way. There was much to learn! We started with 14 walkers and picked up two more along the route, the advantage of a city walk. We had the restaurant, at the “Angel in The Fields” Pub, all to ourselves, for a nice lunch, with great service from the waitress. All in all, a good day and a good walk. Details here.

WanboroughWanborough to Godalming: the weather forecast wasn't looking good but 17 still turned out for this pop-up walk walking across open fields, passing Wanborough Manor and its tiny church. Then over the Hoggs Back (the North Downs ridge) descending through a proper vineyard, a golf course before splitting into two groups at the Watts Art Village. Nine of us visited the gallery, Limnerslea House and the/or the chapel in various combinations. Those who visited hugely appreciated to finally have the opportunity to visit a gallery on their footpath. An hour later the parties were briefly re-joined at the warm and welcoming The Withies pub in Compton, where group 1 was just polishing off their lunch. After the later lunch we were slightly unlucky in that it had just started to rain on an already saturated ground but it remained quite light. A quick journey home made it nevertheless a pretty near perfect day. Details here.

Christmas 2021Christmas social walk:
this was a leisurely 6½ mile walk from East Finchley back to Islington taking in parts of the Capital Ring and hopping between various green spaces. A number had decked out in festive dress to brighten the day. The end of the walk was back at Highbury in the pub where a few more joined the group for a good meal with of course silly jokes from the complimentary crackers. Walk details here.





Bow BrickhillBow Brickhill to Leighton Buzzard:
seven of us met at Euston Station aware of a fairly dodgy weather forecast. However, it stayed dry all day with occasional sunrays coming through. but it was very muddy in places so walking sticks were extremely useful. The always dreaded replacement bus only lasted a mere five minutes so no hardship there either. It was a straightforward walk via Back Wood and its lovely sequoia trees then south through Duncombe Wood to the Old Red Lion at Great Brickhill for an excellent lunch. After lunch we joined the Greensand Ridge Walk, with fine views out over the River Ouzel. We skipped tea because it was just too close to lunch, everyone was rather busy that night and we didn’t fancy walking in the dark along the canal into Leighton Buzzard. A very pleasant walk and day. Details here.

St AlbansHarpenden to St Albans:
we were 11 when we started in Harpenden on a very sunny, so lucky, day to walk to St Albans. It was reasonably dry underfoot and a straightish and flat walk. We reached the Rose & Crown pub in Saunderton just after noon and it almost seemed closed. Seeing us, the patron quickly opened and we were read out a short but excellent menu. Doorstopper turkey & stuffing sandwiches, delicious soups and fish & chips were consumed with gusto. Eager not to miss the tearoom in St Albans cathedral we set a fair pace for the afternoon. It was quite chilly, but still sunny, so this really was the only way to keep ourselves warm. Three went straight to the station, missing the post 3.00 pm highlights of a cathedral, tea, cake and evensong. The rest of us gorged on delicious cakes and marvellous leaf teas in glass pots. After a short visit of the cathedral another four called it a day. The last four of us then enjoyed a rather wonderful, and unexpected, privately guided tour by a very knowledgeable volunteer, found by Barbara and her friend Jane. We rounded the day off with a very atmospheric evensong with the boys’ choir in this magnificent cathedral. Pretty perfect in anyone's books. Details here.

Where was that fort?Epping Forest: we hadn't done this walk since August 2018 surprisingly as it's a pleasant eight mile walk right up the backbone of the forest. Threats of snow and winds with a tube strike didn't put 12 of us off. And we were rewarded: although it was cold there was no rain or snow, the forest gave us shelter and the tube trains ran sufficiently. Most of the leaves were down off the trees now but there were still interesting colours and hues with many knobbly 'faces' or other shapes from the beeches. While slow in taking our orders, the Kings Oak must win the award for fastest delivery of food — we'd hardly sat down — and tracked down Chris' lost phone (in his trouser turn-up!) — before the food was on the table. Details here.

Amersham & the Cheryl's FerretCheryl's RabbitAmersham to Chalfont St. Giles:
eleven of us met at Amersham station from where we did a lovely, undulating 8½ mile walk in the Chiltern Hills, with beautiful, late autumn colours on the trees. Our route took us from Amersham and the River Misbourne, uphill and over the nascent HS2 line, to Chalfont St Giles for an early lunch in the Feathers pub. A friendly landlady and service was enlivened by a series of erotic prints on the wall behind us in the Snug. Shortly after lunch, we came across a couple of old locals, Mike, and his friend, carrying shotguns, who had been ferreting for wild rabbits with a mother and her albino daughter which we were allowed to stroke. Mike generously gave his rabbit to one of our party to skin, pouch and cook — much to her delight. We continued on the Chiltern Way, and eventually back down to Old Amersham where some of us had tea and home-made cakes before the final climb uphill back to the station in the dusk. Details here.

Blackheath & ThamesBlackheath to Wapping: this was an interesting walk through contrasting urban landscapes. Blackheath’s wide leafy roads with large Georgian and Victorian villas, lovely autumnal tree colours in Greenwich Park and misty views over maritime Greenwich with a towering Canary Wharf backdrop. Crossing under the Thames via the foot tunnel to the Isle of Dogs and the best view back across the river of the Old Royal Naval College. Mudchute Park and Farm provided a touch of countryside in the city. Among the animals currently resident include a magnificent Ginger Tamworth pig, llamas, and pygmy goats. We left the meadow to enter docklands at Millwall Dock and follow the waterside path to South Quays for a good value lunch. The afternoon followed sections of the Thames Path, and through the backwaters of Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, with occasional misty views towards Tower Bridge and the Shard. We ended at Wapping Overground for a quick return to H&I. Details here.

BigglesWatton at Stone to Hertford:
we returned to this popular easily accessible area. Seventeen walkers enjoyed a varied, just over eight mile, walk along the River Beane from Watton at Stone to Hertford. Kingfishers and red kites were sighted. After a tasty and reasonably priced lunch at the Mill Stream pub we walked in the environs of Hertford, taking in a 12th century Norman church, the flood plains of the river Lea (Hartham Common) and the house where W.E.Johns, the creator of Biggles, was brought up above his dad’s tailor shop. A welcome cup of tea at the station cafe before the short train ride home. Full details here.






Fens River WayFens River Way: the Fens River Way traces the bank of the River Cam and Great Ouse for 50 miles from Cambridge to King's Lynn. Our hearty band of nine pilgrims was happy to just walk the ten or so miles from Waterbeach to Ely in a mixture of sun, wind and light showers. The walking, mostly along the high flood banks that rise above the rivers, was flat and easy, and not nearly as bleak as might have been expected, with plenty of wildlife even at this time of year — swans, herons and great-crested grebes, and a landscape of huge skies and endless fields, many with black chocolate soil. Motorboats and narrow boats waited for next summer’s hire and seeing the enormous Five Miles from Anywhere Inn on the opposite side of the river at the hallway point was a spur to reach our end of walk pub in Ely. After sheltering from the wind in a copse for a late picnic lunch we proceeded in a somewhat anti-social single file towards the vast hulk of Ely Cathedral which tantalizingly refused to come any nearer. At last, we reached Ely’s beautiful staithe where in spite of a rain shower forcing us indoors, we felt content at having completed our pilgrimage. Details here.

West RuislipWest Ruislip to Rickmansworth:
despite a rather gloomy weather forecast 15 of us walked in sunshine until lunchtime following the Hillingdon Trail through fields from West Ruislip to Bayhurst Wood Country Park and on to Harefield Parish Church (parts dating back to the 12th century). This is well worth a visit but unfortunately not open on Tuesdays. In the churchyard we spent some time looking at the ANZAC war cemetery. Harefield Park was used for convalescing casualties from Gallipoli and the Western Front in 1915 and by 1916 was functioning as a general hospital with 1,000 beds. 112 of 50,000 patients treated at Harefield did not recover and are buried here. Harefield Hospital became a world famous hospital, carrying out the first combined heart-lung transplant in 1983. Going up Church Hill, past the Almshouses, founded by the will of the Countess of Derby in 1637 for six poor widows of the parish, we turned left at Bird Lane and eventually via paths reached the Grand Union Canal. After lunching outside at the Coy Carp (better service nowadays) we continued along the towpath to reach Rickmansworth Station at the same time as the local school children. Details here.


Rowena InzaniWivenhoe: this nine mile figure of eight walk is one of our favourites, first led by Rowena in 2014. It's a good mixture with a stretch first along the banks of the River Colne then into woodland and then across open farmland. After the first loop we were back in Wivenhoe for lunch at the local community-owned pub. During lunch we made the award of our annual cup, this year going to Rowena for her long term service as a Longer Walk leader — once a month from that first walk in September 2014. A well earned reward! The afternoon loop took us past the University of Essex campus and back down to the river. Perfect timing meant arriving back at the station just in time to catch the hourly train service. Details here.





Stuart BeareChenies and Sarratt:
seventeen of us met at Kings Cross to take the Metropolitan tube to Chalfont & Latimer and celebrate the walk leader’s birthday. We walked via the always wonderful Chess Valley, along the eponymous chalk stream, where the only commercial watercress farm is located due to the perfect conditions for this wonderful herb, towards Sarratt but not before we had made a little detour to Chenies to admire Chenies Manor House and the adjacent 15th century St. Michael’s Church. It is famous for its magnificent Bedford Chapel, mausoleum of the Russell family (later Dukes of Bedford of Woburn Abbey). Onwards to The Cock in Sarratt where we celebrated Stuart’s xxth (GDPR protected) birthday, who led this walk expertly as always and to boot offered us all our drinks. Thank you Stuart. A quick glance in the 12th century Church of the Holy Cross before we continued on the Chiltern’s way, through Carpenter’s Wood to Chorleywood. It was quite muddy at times from previous downpours but the weather on the day was lovely throughout. Details here.

Deal2021Deal, Kent, Special: thanks to Jan this was a three-day walking extravaganza along the South Coast. iu3a members visited the south east corner of Kent for a part or the whole of three days walking, each walk of just over 10 miles, with 9, 12 and 7 walkers on the three days. Visitors arranged their own accommodation, and seemed to find it reasonable, everyone on or next to the lovely Deal seafront. On Wednesday evening Jan and Naomi invited everyone for drinks in their Deal patio garden as the light faded. The weather was good for the end of September, coolish but sunny and crystal clear on the first two days, greyer on the third. We sampled three very different terrains: the high and spectacular White Cliffs; the lovely, rolling Kent Downs; and the flat, fenlike, wetland country near to Sandwich plus the post-coal-mining landscape nearby. A full walk report can be read here.

Past Walks
We are now in our ninth year.
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.

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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