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.

Post Covid-19 lockdown: We have completed a general risk assessment of our group's activity under Covid-19 conditions. This can be viewed here.

Our Next Shorter Walks
Thursday 30 June: Windsor & Eton. Details here.
Wednesday 13 July: walk TBC
Monday 25 July: Thames Path — Hammersmith to Kew. Details here.
Friday 5 August: Totteridge to Cockfosters
Thursday 29 September: U3A 40th Anniversary Celebrations — Walking Around London: Islington U3A will be participating in this 230 mile event with other London u3as. Shorter Walks will walk part of the Capital Ring from Stoke Newington to Stratford, ending with a shared picnic in the Olympic Park.

A signup form will be emailed to members a week before each walk.

Links to walk details will appear on this page as they are made available.

Photo Gallery
Launching a new feature. If you click on the following links you can see many of our photographs. They will scroll through automatically and you can see the walk number and title at the bottom. You need to select which year you want to see: 2017 2018 2019 2020  

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 bring back some good iU3A memories.

Recent Walks
June: Richmond to Hanwell We were Ricmond to Hanwell June 2022lucky to have glorious weather for this walk. It started from Richmond town centre, past the former Richmond Palace (where Queen Elizabeth I died) and along the Thames. We crossed over the splendid iron footbridge at the Victorian-era Richmond lock and weir, which holds back the river to prevent the Thames above it from being tidal. After passing the historic riverside London Apprentice pub at Isleworth we entered Syon Park where we stopped for a coffee at the excellent garden centre. From Brentford the walk took us along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal. We turned off at the bottom of the Hanwell flight of locks, with the last section of the walk alongside the River Brent. The walk ended at Brent Meadow, with a view of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s stunning Wharncliffe railway viaduct. From there we all took the new Elizabeth line from Hanwell back into London, with some of us having lunch beforehand in the rather good Clocktower cafe.

May: Tewin and Welwyn North —
Nine of Tewin and Welwyn North May 2022us took part in this 4½ mile walk to the peaceful village of Tewin, walking through rolling countryside with lovely views and dappled woodland shade on a warm and sunny day. We were briefly joined by long-standing Islington u3a member, Lesley, now living in Welwyn, who told us about the Digswell railway viaduct designed by Cubitt, seen as we walked through a field full of birdsong including skylarks. We stopped for lunch at the Rose and Crown in Tewin, some getting coffee at the community shop/cafe, then later a tiny blue tit fledging in our path was rescued and relocated, before we stopped for a photo by St Peter’s Church, dating originally from Saxon times.

May: Isabella Plantation —
May is dIsabella Plantation May 2022efinitely the month to catch the huge variety of azaleas at the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, and visitor numbers seem to increase every year. Although we had narrowly missed ‘peak blossom’ there were still impressive numbers of the most exquisite azaleas and rhododendrons to admire, as well as bluebells. The weather was perfect, with plenty of sunshine for our walk along the Thames Path to the attractive Petersham Nurseries cafe for a coffee break. We finally encountered young fallow deer en route to Pembroke Lodge for a picnic lunch with an outstanding view. After that it was decision time between a short bus ride or the riverside walk back to Richmond station.

April: Wapping to Greenwich —
A calm, coWapping to Greenwich April 2022ol day with light cloud, perfect for a gentle stroll on a surprisingly varied route. From Wapping we followed the river, then plunged into Canary Wharf, a little bit of Manhattan on Thames, with its huge office lobbies and malls. Some of us had coffee there (while others were distracted by shopping possibilities). We walked the length of Millwall docks with its ever taller apartment blocks. Then suddenly we were into open country: Mudchute Farm, complete with sheep, llamas and pigs, and wooded paths. Island Gardens, with its views of the old Naval College, and the foot tunnel under the river, took us to Greenwich. A few of us continued, after a leisurely lunch in the Old Brewery, up the hill to the Observatory with its wide open views, then to Blackheath and home.


April: Chess Valley —
Ten people attended Chess Valley April 2022this walk on a beautiful Spring day. Slight problem with the Metropolitan Line, but it delayed the walk by just ten minutes. The Chess Valley Walk proved to be good walking with no mud, and several kites (the bird of prey type) were seen, as well as a blue tit nest beside the footpath. A coffee break was taken on a large fallen tree, and the walk finished at 1.45pm.





March: Forty Hall and Myddelton HouForty Hall and Myddelton Gardens Mar 2022se gardens —
Wall-to-wall sunshine and a very gentle breeze created the perfect conditions for the nineteen walkers. We followed the Turkey Brook admiring the prolific celandines and wood anemones, with a photo opportunity provided by inquisitive cows. After a coffee break at Forty Hall cafe, our pace became leisurely as we strolled around the delightful walled garden, with daffodils, scillas, primulas and tree blossom all in perfect bloom. We continued our walk to Myddelton House, where we explored the gardens, including the magnificent Alpine meadow with vast swathes of daffodils and camassia. We seem to have hit the perfect week to see Spring gardens at their best.

March: Crew’s Hill to Cockfosters —
NineteeCrew's Hill to Cockfosters Mar 2022n members attended the walk on a lovely, fresh day. Some mud, but less than expected. We had a short water break, then a longer coffee break on rough seating at Duncan's Wood, on the London Loop, not far from entering Trent Park. We arrived at Trent Park Cafe at 1.30pm, and some members stayed for refreshment, knowing there was only a quarter of a mile to Cockfosters Station.





February: Hampstead Heath —
The gales hadHampstead Heath Feb 2022 abated and intermittent sunshine welcomed fifteen Shorter Walkers on our circuit of Hampstead Heath. We began with the cardio exercise and walked up Parliament Hill from where the view was clear enough to make out the Crystal Palace mast, for once. We crossed Viaduct Bridge and cut across to the upper Heath emerging at Jack Straw’s Castle, managing to avoid most of the mud left behind in the wake of a huge cross-country race at the weekend. Back briefly into woodland, we arrived at the always stunning pergola and lovely Hill House garden, complete with Egyptian geese. On into Golders Hill Park for a welcome coffee break, then we completed our route through Sandy Heath and over to Kenwood House for lunch.


February: East Finchley to the Wetlands —
A seventeeEast Finchley to the Wetlands Feb 22n-strong group of walkers followed an almost completely off-road route across north London, beginning with Cherry Tree Wood (one day we’ll do this walk when the cherry trees are in bloom). After a short hop we were into Highgate Wood, with snowdrops reminding us that Spring is just over the horizon and a woodpecker providing a welcome change from the squawk of the inevitable parakeets. Queen's Wood beckoned after the coffee break, and tested our knees with its downhill stretches and our lungs as we climbed up to the other side. After that it was plain sailing along the Parkland Walk, through Finsbury Park and around the Wetlands to the Coal House cafe for lunch. Fitbits and Apps declared the length as somewhere between five and six miles.


January: Lee Valley —
Despite the coldLee Valley Jan 2022 and rather grey day, 15 of us walked six miles from Cheshunt to Broxbourne starting off by walking through the Lee Valley Country Park with beautiful views of the water and passing a few wooden sculptures to the White Water Centre for a coffee stop. Fortunately the walking was on made-up paths so we avoided the very muddy areas. We then headed to the Lea Navigation Canal, walking along its bank for three miles to Broxbourne. We spotted a heron and a cormorant besides swans and ducks and admired the different narrow-boats moored on the Canal. Half of the group stopped at the Old Mill Retreat Cafe at Broxbourne for a welcome lunch.


January 2022: Pymmes Brook Trail —
ForPymmes Brook Trail Jan 2022 our first walk of the new year, sixteen walkers followed the Pymmes Brook along a green corridor through Barnet and Enfield. The Brook runs through four parks: Oakhill, Brunswick, Arnos and Broomfield, all quite different in character, ranging from traditional Victorian to almost-rural woodland. The weather was unexpectedly glorious and we even heard a woodpecker. The coffee break at the delightful volunteer-run cafe in Broomfield Park was (literally) the icing on the cake.




December: Parkland Walk and WaterlowParkland Walk and Waterlow Park Dec 2021 Park —
Seventeen walkers set out from Finsbury Park following the whole length of the main section of the Parkland Walk to Highgate. The weather, although no less gloomy than it had been all week, at least was not fogbound as it had been the previous day. It was a short walk but as quite a lot of it was uphill, we felt sufficiently exercised! Our planned Christmas lunch in a Highgate village restaurant had to be postponed, thanks to the resurgence of Covid infections, but, undaunted, we settled for a festive picnic in the grand surroundings of Lauderdale House terraced gardens in Waterlow Park.


November: High Barnet to Cockfosters —
FHigh Barnet to Cockfosters Nov 2021ifteen walkers enjoyed an autumn walk under sunny skies through the delightful Monken Hadley village with its historic houses and church, and on into the attractively-coloured beech woods of Hadley Common. No traffic to be heard either, so it felt like real countryside. After pausing to admire Jack’s lake, we rambled along the woodland path to the Cock Inn where we had lunch in the garden.





October: Thames Path, Richmond to Kingston —
ThThames Path Oct 2021e stretch of the Thames from Richmond to Kingston is one of the loveliest parts of the London Thames Path and we walked along both north and south banks.  On the north side we passed Marble Hill House, the iconic Georgian villa built for George II’s mistress, and paused for a coffee break at the Coach House cafe in the park. We took the scenic route via Hammerton’s foot ferry back across to the south bank, which must be one of the shortest ferry crossings in the country. We continued along the Thames Path passing Teddington Weir to the Boaters Inn pub for lunch in the garden. No herons or cormorants to be seen (should we be worried?) but a few Egyptian geese were bravely holding their own among the Canada geese.

October: Dollis Valley —
Fourteen walkerDollis Valley Oct 2021s set off on a grey morning from Totteridge station following the Dollis Brook northwards through the green spaces of Barnet. Soon we emerged into Totteridge Fields with its much more rustic ambience. The similarity of the many open fields and mature hedgerows resulted in a longer-than-advertised walk as we took a rather circuitous route across to the nature reserve and Barnet Gate Wood. Fortunately the sun was shining by this point so complaints were muted. We emerged on to the Mill Hill Ridgeway with far-reaching views and lunch at the convenient Three Hammers pub. A lovely rural walk for early Autumn.


September: Chesham Circular —
We hChesham Circular Sept 2021ad perfect late summer weather for our walk in the Chilterns, sunny with a welcome light breeze and clear views to the hills across the Chess valley. It was a varied rural walk with woods, farmland, old villages and one of England’s few chalk streams. The famous red kites only appeared over Chesham station right at the end of the walk, but one lucky walker spotted the blue flash of a kingfisher zipping along the River Chess. The only fly in the ointment was the Metropolitan line service!




September: Stoke Newington to Olympic Park —
OStoke Newington to Olympic Park Sept 2021ur five mile walk took us from Stoke Newington to the Olympic Park. The twelve of us started off with coffee in Springfield Park before walking along the Lee Navigation Canal to our lunch stop at the View Tube close to the Olympic Park. We managed to dodge cyclists and joggers on the way. After lunch we took various routes home, some to Pudding Lane DLR, others to the overground. We were lucky with the weather, which was perfect for the walk, avoiding the heat of the previous day and the rain which arrived after our walk.



August: Hampstead Heath —
Three of us enjoHampstead Heath Aug 2021yed good walking weather for Hampstead Heath. The paths were in good condition in spite of all the overuse and rain they’ve had in the last months. We walked past the Ponds, stopped at Kenwood for coffee and walked over to the West Heath and the Pergola and sunken garden, coming home via Golders Green.






July: Woodmansterne Lavender Fields —
Woodmansterne Lavender FieldsA walk with everything. Delayed a week due to the hot weather it started in sunshine and optimism for the eight walkers. Over the golf course, through woods and past the prison — all OK and on to the welcome cafe stop. Then it rained and we all kitted up for the five-minute walk to the Lavender Fields, by which time it had stopped; so we saw the lavender in sunshine. Just as we were continuing our walk through wild meadows, the heavens opened so it was back in waterproofs. Then 15 minutes later sunshine ... The soaking group was ever-cheerful and half left to return to London (but there were delays from engineering works). The rest of us stumbled into The Smugglers Inn for a welcome lunch. All in all it was tricky but a good walk.




July: Wanstead Park
This walk around beautifuWanstead Park July 2021l Wanstead Park was full of historical interest. We looked at the site of the Palladian Mansion, built in the C17th but demolished in very sad circumstances in the early C19th and imagined its prominent position over the landscaped parkland which still survives. At the time the house and its landscaped gardens was one of the most beautiful in the country, likened to Versailles. Our walk, which was a circular route around the ornamental waters and lakes constructed along with the house, took in the only two surviving structures in the park — the Temple, which is now restored, and houses a small museum with artefacts relating to the house and park and the Grotto, a highly evocative ruined boathouse. It is still possible to see some of the landscaping but what was lost is compensated for by the beautiful meadowland which has taken its place. We finished with a picnic in the sunshine by one of the lakes.

July: Hadley Wood and Trent Park — Hadley Wood and Trent Park July 2021A group of fifteen walkers enjoyed great walking weather on a six mile hike, starting at New Barnet station. We followed the Pymmes Brook as it transformed itself from suburban waterway to woodland stream, then joined the trail up through Hadley Wood, pausing to enjoy the beautiful Jack’s lake, with ducks and water lilies. We continued into Trent Park, walking mostly through woodland shade as temperatures rose, past more lakes, and the lovely Japanese gardens. We climbed through woods to the Monument then wended our way back to the park gate and on to the Cock Inn for lunch in the garden.



June: Lee ValleyEleven of us set off on tLea Valley June 2021his lovely walk beside water and woods. Coffee was outside on the terrace of the White Water Centre, where we could see the rapids running. We paid a short visit to the new Bittern Information Point and Hide which is an amazing two storey building with views across the lake and perfect for bird spotting. Lunch was bring-your-own in a marquee attached to the Red Cow pub near the station.





June: Windsor and Eton —
It waWindsor and Eton June 2021s a hot day in London when eleven of us had a circular six-mile walk along the banks of the Thames at Windsor then through fields around Eton, walking past Eton College and its cricket grounds, arriving back in Windsor at lunchtime. We had great views of Windsor Castle, enjoying the cool under the trees by the river and then the grasses and flowers in the fields. We also saw a cormorant drying its wings, and a family of swans which moved off after discovering we weren’t going to feed them. Unfortunately all the pub gardens in Windsor were full and we ended up on a well-known pub chain terrace when half of us decided to give up the attempt of ordering by app (the only option) which kept crashing.  But it was agreed that we had a most enjoyable walk escaping the heat of the city.


May: Abbey Wood —
This new walk finally happeAbbey Wood May 2021ned after 18 months of Covid restrictions and, on the day, delays on Thameslink. Although small, it was beautifully formed of old oak/chestnut/birch woodlands and hills that proved no challenge for the nine walkers who braved the weather forecast. In the event, no rain, coffee by the Pine Pond, the last of the bluebells forming a blue haze, and finally the spectacular views over London, the ruins of Lesnes Abbey, the Monks’ Garden and lovely blooms of Azaleas and Rhododendrons, ending with lunch alfresco in the sunshine. A delightful and interesting walk that truly lifted the spirits.




May: Richmond Park and Isabella PlantatioRichmond Park & Isabella May 2021n —
This is another annual Shorter Walk, although this year we were just a bit too early to catch the azaleas at their absolute peak. We also seemed to have chosen the windiest day of the year and walked along the Thames Path adding the river’s effect to the windchill, so it was a bracing start. Our coffee break at the delightful Petersham Nurseries Tea Room was a welcome respite in the sunshine. The young deer were more plentiful than parakeets, for once, in the park, and we saw more Mandarin ducks and Egyptian geese than common-or-garden mallards. The rain held off, just about, and it was certainly a walk to blow away the cobwebs.

April: Banstead Wood —
This walk has bBanstead Wood April 2021ecome something of an annual event, though sadly missed last year. Despite the soil being cracked and dry following weeks without rain the main attraction certainly didn’t disappoint. The carpets of bluebells were plentiful in both Banstead Wood and Park Downs, which were reached following a short walk from Chipstead station. We were also fortunate to get lovely views of the Surrey Hills as we were wending our way to a very nice lunch at the Ramblers Rest. Of course, as soon as we got there it started raining but the food made up for it. A brisk walk back to Chipstead warmed us up and we were all glad of a warm train to bring us back to London Bridge.


April: Thames Embankment —
In sunsThames Embankment Apr 2021hine and with blue sky the walk wound its way through the back streets around Bart’s to the South Embankment where the six walkers enjoyed streets that were surprisingly empty. The Thames was looking its best and, following the coffee stop in Hays Galleria, we crossed Tower Bridge to return via the North Embankment. As ever London was full of surprises, a robot mowing the moat at The Tower, a handsome fox in a tiny City garden and a wonderful display of peonies in an unexpected flower bed. A really enjoyable five mile walk all before lunch.



April: Cassiobury Park and Whippendell WCassiobury Apr 2021ood —
Our group of 11 very much enjoyed our walk on a sunny, mild day. After an early coffee break we walked through the quite busy park, crossed the River Gade, then continued uphill towards the golf courses, managing to avoid stray balls despite the leaders’ shouts of ‘Stop’ at the beginning of each golf course not always being obeyed! We passed fields with fresh dark green winter wheat and then into the woods where we saw some fresh bluebells, primroses and trees coming into their light green spring growth. We walked through a pretty hamlet near Croxley Green, past horses and stables and, after a narrow pathway, we were soon crossing the Grand Union canal and walking through the park for our lunch at the same café. A most enjoyable day.

April: Angel to the Thames —
Two groAngel to the Thames Apr 2021ups of six walked down to the river from the Angel, enjoying another chance to walk with friends again. Our route took us through Clerkenwell and Smithfield and then past St Paul's and the astronomical clock to an almost empty Millennium Bridge. Since the wind was too cold to linger by the river, we turned along the river bank to walk back through the Middle Temple and up to Lincoln's Inn Fields for our coffee and loo stop. From there we headed through Brunswick Square past the Foundling Hospital and back up the hill to the Angel.



April 2021: Granary Square circular —
The easinGranary Square circularg of lockdown saw the restarting of our walks with a short local walk from Islington Town Hall to Granary Square, cutting through Barnsbury and the Maiden Lane Estate to Old St Pancras churchyard. We then crossed the canal into Granary Square for a coffee break before heading back to Islington along the canal. Because of restrictions on group size we ran this on two consecutive days and it was so nice to get out and talk to different people!




November: Richmond Park —
We manRichmond Park Nov 2020aged to squeeze in a final walk before lockdown and had a lovely day of blue skies and sun. After a short riverside walk we climbed to Richmond Hill to enjoy the iconic view of the Thames. Our route through Richmond Park included Pembroke Lodge (slowest ever queues for coffee), the Pen ponds and the Isabella Plantation, resplendent in Autumn colours. We encountered several picturesque groups of deer, emerging from the bracken, necessitating a diversion at one point, and including a pair of rutting stags. The bus at the Petersham Gate was a welcome sight for most of the group but three of us opted to extend the walk, along the Thames Path back to Richmond.


October: Regent's Park —
We had aRegents Park Oct 2020 great walk along the Canal from Angel to Regent's Park (which took an hour). After a long stop for coffee and cake at the Broad Walk café (a deserted seating area with a small café nearby), we walked on through the English Garden to the Rose Garden, where the roses were still in bloom, and then to the Lake. A few walkers left then and another at the north end. Three of us walked back along the canal — slightly busier now than at lunchtime — a grand total of 8.7 miles in 3 hours, including a prolonged coffee break. Luckily we managed to avoid the wind and rain, which held off until we got home.


October: Finsbury Park to Stoke Newington — TFinsbury Park to Stoke Newington Oct 2020his was a perfect walk for a full appreciation of the Autumn tree colours. After crossing Finsbury Park, we skirted the West reservoir (no dinghies or swimmers today) round to the wetlands. The display board informed us that recent sightings included a penguin, but it unfortunately didn’t materialise on our visit. A coffee break, lengthened by Covid protection measures, at the Coal House café at least enabled us to shelter from a passing shower. Then we followed the New River path and continued to Clissold Park (wonderful colours), ending by walking through the atmospheric Abney Park cemetery.


October: Forty Hall Circular —
Blue sForty Hall Circular Oct 2020kies and sunshine provided a glorious start to our walk as we followed the Turkey Brook through a rural part of Enfield. The lakeside at Forty Hall was the setting for a wedding when we arrived, and a Tai Chi group made a rather picturesque addition to the sweeping lawns. An al fresco coffee break and stroll around the delightful walled garden provided Autumn colour, after which we followed the old course of the New River past the vineyard to return to Hillyfields Park, where our luck ran out and it rained on us for 10 minutes as we sped to Gordon Hill station and a quiet train home.


October: Hampstead Heath —
NineHampstead Heath Oct 2020 walkers managed a five mile circuit of Hampstead Heath the day after a month’s worth of rain fell in a weekend. We were lucky to have a break between the early morning showers and the afternoon rain, and actually walked in sunshine for most of the morning. From Gospel Oak we headed around the Vale of Health, then through woodland just changing colour, over to Kenwood for a coffee break in a pleasantly quiet garden. No queues! We enjoyed the views from there across London, (which was a cunning ploy to avoid having to climb Parliament Hill later) then wended our way on an admittedly rather circuitous route past several ponds and emerged back at Gospel Oak with mud-free footwear, which must be a first for an Autumn Heath walk. We possibly saw almost as many dogs as people.

Previous Walks
These links take you to archive information and photos of our previous walks:
2019/20 (October to September) here.
2018/19 (October to September) here.
2017/18 (October to September) here.
2016/17 (October to September) here.
2015/16 (October to September) here.
O
ur first iU3A year 2015 (May to September) here.
 

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