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.

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.


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. Once you have joined the group, you will receive an email a week before each walk with a signup form and details of the forthcoming walk. Information about our future walks may also be found 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.

Our Next Shorter Walks
*walks where a leader is required
Thursday 14 December (KG): Christmas walk and lunch Hackney Wick to Islington 5m
Friday 29 December (KG): East Finchley to Woodberry Wetlands 5m
Monday 8 January (KM): walk TBC
Tuesday 16 January (LP): walk TBC
Friday 26 January (SK): walk TBC
Wednesday 7 February (KG): Pymmes Brook Trail 4.4m
Thursday 15 February (JH & JP): walk TBC
Monday 26 February (ST & VB): walk TBC
*Tuesday 5 March: walk TBC
*Wednesday 13 March: walk TBC
*Friday 22 March: walk TBC

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
December: Farringdon to Whitechapel:
OnFarringdon to Whitechapel Dec 2023 a damp December morning as we strolled through the city the names of the streets reminded us of the area’s history. They followed the path of past inhabitants along Cowcross Street into Smithfield Market, although our fate was not, happily, the same as theirs! We walked past Cloth Fair and stopped to wonder at the history and beauty of St Bartholomew The Great, which still houses the remains of its custodian in the early 13th century. We paid our respect to the heroes remembered on plaques in Postman's Park and continued on to cross the Thames over the Millennium Bridge. After coffee at Southwark Cathedral (no clerics were harmed in the process of this activity) we recrossed the river via Tower Bridge. Through St Katharine's Dock, past Hermitage Basin, along Spirit Quay and Tobacco Dock we strolled. St George in the East, once majestic but still imposing, was briefly visited (closed to the public) reminding us of the genius of Hawksmoor and his legacy to the city. The Cable Street Mural recalled past efforts to safeguard liberty. Watney Market along with Whitechapel showed us that everyday needs are still supplied, as they have been for centuries, by wares sold on stalls welcoming custom on public thoroughfares.  A mix of well and not so well known landmarks and activities. Jolly team, good company and time well spent is the hope.

November: Nunhead to Forest Hill:
Fifteen of uNunhead to Forest Hill Nov 2023s set off on a fine, often sunny, day to Nunhead Cemetery, the second largest of the Magnificent Seven Victorian cemeteries. We passed the memorial to the Scottish Political Dissenters, transported to Australia in the late 18th century for campaigning for parliamentary reform, paused at the ruined chapel, and strolled down paths past a memorial to the eight 2nd Walworth scouts who perished in a drowning accident in 1912. From there, we went on to the delightful Peckham Rye Park, to admire the lovely autumn colours of the Japanese and Sexby Gardens, and enjoy a coffee break in the Round cafe, before following the route of the old train line to the Crystal Palace through Brenchley Gardens, then on to Camberwell Old Cemetery (pictured), with more fine trees and a monument to Armenians assassinated in London in 1903, and another for residents of Camberwell killed in a Zeppelin raid in the First World War. Finally we reached the gardens of the Horniman Museum, with its magnificent views over London, and lunch and a museum visit for some before returning home from Forest Hill on the overground.

November, Wandle trail:
Eleven walkers convened at Morden, the southern terminus of the Northern Line and the adventure began. We followed the Wandle River as it flowed through Morden Hall Park, Ravensbury Park and onward through the rather beautifully titled Watercress Park. We had hopes, of course, that the rain that fell would ease to a drizzle: never tell God your plans, she will simply laugh! Our thanks for the good spirit that bound us together and although our walk was truncated (we were all too wet to investigate Beddington Park which had originally been on the agenda) it is there for us to revisit when we can enjoy all the benefits which it allows. Water, fresh air, trees and on our next visit the well-reviewed Pavilion Cafe in the previously mentioned Beddington Park. Just imagine a group of drowned rats which replaces photographic evidence on this occasion.

Bushy Park Oct2023November, Bushy Park:
Despite ominous weather forecasts, eleven intrepid walkers set out from Hampton Court station for a grand tour of Bushy Park, London's least well known royal park. Initially making for Heron Pond, which lived up to its name and also harboured geese, egrets and cormorants, we were suddenly confronted with 'lovely weather for ducks' and made a quick dash to the Pheasantry cafe, for a very pleasant interlude (picture). With the rain virtually over, we continued through the beautifully landscaped woodland gardens to the west and then north, until we arived at the recently restored Water Gardens. Finally there were glimpses of sun as we passed the park's herd of deer, presided over by a stag with magnificent antlers, then past Bushy House, home of the National Physical Laboratory, leaving the park for the short walk to Teddington station.

Thames path Oct2023October, Canary Wharf to Greenwich:
Autumn rain fell and lightning lurked behind the clouds on the day of our walk. Instead of the gentle lakeside terrain around leafy Twyford originally intended, we headed for the water, but now in the surrounds of the old Thames docklands among the wonders of modern architecture in the skyline and reflections on the placid waters of Canary Wharf and the old Millwall Docks. We passed through Mudchute Park and admired the spaces provided for sport and activity for the people who live there. Before we travelled under the Thames via the tunnel created to take workers to the docks in earlier decades, we paused to look across the river to Greenwich on the south side of the City. Beautiful buildings which occupy more land and less sky, built with artistry and skill by our ancestors still giving us cause to admire and enjoy the city in which we live. We emerged from the tunnel in Greenwich and walked across Greenwich Park, in its late summer bloom. After lunch and good company we paused to enjoy the view from the Observatory with visitors from far and wide. A very good way to spend one of the shorter days of the year and only a short shower to urge us to an early coffee break

Trent Park group Oct2023October, Trent Park:
Fifteen walkers enjoyed a largely woodland walk from New Barnet to Cockfosters on a fine day hovering between summer and autumn. We followed the Pymmes Brook trail briefly until it entered Hadley Wood where we diverted to admire Jack’s Lake, before heading up through the wood.  Once in Trent Country Park we discovered that the cafe had closed, but fortunately the smaller one run by Animal Rescue hadn’t, so after a coffee break and a slightly rejigged route we were able to continue around the Water Garden, past the mansion house (will the conversion work ever finish?) and through magnificent woods of beech, oak and chestnut to the ancient Camlet Moat and 18th century obelisk. We completed our loop back to the gate, where some headed to the tube and a few enjoyed lunch in the nearby Cock Inn garden.

Forty HallSeptember, Forty Hall and Myddelton House gardens: We were blessed with a real Indian summer day at the end of September for our walk in the countryside and gardens of Enfield. Seventeen of us followed the Turkey Brook as it wended its way through woodland and fields then we headed over to the splendid Forty Hall with its walled garden, ancient trees and a leisurely coffee break (a large group and one barista…). After that it was a short stroll to Myddelton House garden and another majestic house, where summer was in its last hurrah with plenty of colour and interest, not to mention the Japanese knotweed! It felt like miles from Islington but in reality only a 20 minute train journey from Finsbury Park.

VentHanwell to Richmond September 2023uring forth in the very warm September sunshine and defying delays on the Elizabeth line we found shade along the Thames riverbank and the towpath following the Grand Union Canal. The majesty of the Wharncliffe Viaduct and the grandeur of Syon House reminded us of the achievements of the past. We shared time, conversation and warmth within our jolly and convivial group of walkers, which will stay in our memories as Autumn approaches.

Chesham August 2023September, Chesham:
No fewer than 19 of us (including three walk leaders – many thanks to Diane for stepping in to help Denise with the recce) made our way to Chesham on the Metropolitan Line, with the usual minor delays! A short climb immediately took us above the town and revealed panoramic views of the Chilterns. We then proceeded on a lovely rural walk across fields, through woodland and eventually along the river Chess. We saw no red kites or brown trout but there were plenty of birds, butterflies and blackberries to keep us happy.

July, Tewin and North Welwyn:
We hadTewin and North Welwyn July 2023 very pleasant weather for a circular walk through woods and fields from Welwyn North station, to the lovely village of Tewin, one of the oldest villages in Hertfordshire. The walk starts by climbing through wheat fields, with the Digswell railway viaduct, the longest and tallest viaduct on the East Coast route, with its forty arches, across the fields. After a picture-perfect thatched house, the walk leads across rolling country, shaded by ash trees before entering Dawley Wood, with a rather steep climb, and an honesty stand selling hen and duck eggs at the top. We had our coffee/early lunch break in the quiet community cafe in Tewin, staffed by volunteers who were rather startled by suddenly having a group of twelve walkers arriving from North London and asking for Americanos! We then walked through the village, and briefly through woods, where pigs are kept, and up to the Saxon church of St Peter's, with its shady arboretum churchyard, where our photo was taken. Then back through woods and fields to the station, and a rather later finish time than anticipated because of train cancellations.

July: Epping Forest:
We took a stroll throEpping
                                                          Forest July
                                                          2023ugh ancient Epping Forest in high summer in mild, mostly sunny weather. Eighteen of us set out from Chingford, across wide meadows complete with long-horned cattle, and then into the forest proper by dapple-lit tracks, slowly rising until we arrived at the Original Tea Hut, an Epping Forest institution. While some got stuck into bacon baps and mugs of strong tea, a few of us continued a short way to the peaceful church at High Beach, deep in the forest. Turning south and following a different route, we reached Connaught Water, an attractive lake popular with geese, continuing to Queen Elizabeth's hunting lodge (unfortunately closed on Mondays) and the nearby cafe, and then the short walk back to the station. A link to a record of our walk with route map and photos:

June: River Lee and Walthamstow wetlands:
PourRiver Lee
                                                          wetlands June
                                                          2023ing rain at breakfast time meant we lost a few walkers ahead of the walk, but the remaining 14 had a dry morning with the only shower luckily striking at our coffee break in the Springfield marina cafe. The River Lee was surprisingly quiet with not a rower in sight though the towpath cyclists and dogs were evident as usual. We continued through Leyton Marsh making a mental note to return at blackberry time, then into the wetlands where we chanced upon a volunteer guide who helped us spot the Great Crested Grebe. The Engine House cafe was the lunch venue for a few of us while the rest headed back to Tottenham Hale station. A surprisingly rural walk in a built-up urban area with tower blocks never far away.

June: Hampstead Heath:
After a chillyHampstead
                                                          Heath June
                                                          2023 start on the first official day of Summer, eighteen walkers quickly warmed up climbing Parliament Hill. Although the sun only put in an appearance as we approached Kenwood House, right at the end of the walk, we certainly saw the heath at its best. Not a trace of mud, trees in full leaf, and the accompaniment of birdsong. The gardens and pergola at Hill House took our breath away, especially the magnificent white wisteria. After a late coffee break in Golders Hill Park, where the gardens were almost as lovely, we crossed onto the much quieter Sandy Heath and continued through Kenwood’s rhododendron gardens and even managed to locate the handkerchief tree, though the hankies were sadly past their best, looking rather like crumpled Kleenex. Lunch in the sunny Kenwood cafe garden made its appeal to half the group, whilst the rest headed for the bus home.

May: Banstead Wood:
Eleven of us, includBanstead Wood May 2023ing three new “shorter walkers”, took the train from London Bridge to Chipstead and, within minutes of leaving the station, found ourselves deep in Surrey countryside. We followed undulating, occasionally muddy paths through mixed woodlands, chalk grassland and open farmland and were treated to some magnificent views. The highlights, though, were the bluebells in the woods, frequently interspersed with wood anemones, and the cowslips, violets and wild strawberries growing on the downs. And the birds were in wonderful voice!

May: Richmond Park and Isabella Plantation: Richmond Park and Isabella Plantation May 2023Despite overnight rain, seventeen walkers had perfect Spring weather, with plenty of sun and a light breeze. We followed the Thames Path from Richmond to Petersham, just before high tide, with the river at its best. In Richmond Park we saw a herd of grazing deer, heard a whitethroat and other more mundane birds, and marvelled at the stunning azaleas and rhododendrons of the Isabella Plantation. We also discovered the endearing Japanese name of the picturesque Mandarin duck, (thanks Kiyoko). It’s Oshidolli for anyone who didn’t already know. After lunch in the Mediterranean terraced gardens of Pembroke Lodge, we diverted to King Henry’s mound to enjoy the protected unimpeded view through trees to the distant St Paul’s cathedral, and even spotted Windsor Castle through the telescope. Nine walkers added a further two miles along the Thames Path back to Richmond while the rest of us went for the softer option of the local bus.

April: Regent's Park: This walk should hRegent's Park April 2023ave been to the spring gardens of Forty Hall and Myddelton House, in Enfield, but we re-routed to Regent's Park, as the Turkey Brook path was extensively flooded. We certainly didn’t miss out on the spring flowers and cherry blossom though. Regent's Park is deservedly on the list of ‘Best Places in London for blossom’. However, the recent rains had been serious enough to waterlog the lawns of the beautiful St John’s Lodge garden, leading to locked gates, which was a great shame. But we enjoyed the Japanese water gardens, the always immaculate flowerbeds, and a stroll beside the boating lake, where a trio of remarkably tame Egyptian goslings entertained us. We then left the park to follow the Regent's Canal, marvelling at the waterside mansions, until we reached Primrose Hill, where some of us walked up to the viewpoint, leaving the others to head back home. The Enfield gardens will probably be in their summer glory when the path finally dries up and we can return.

March: Wimbledon:
Seven Wimbledon March 2023of us travelled via Vauxhall to Wimbledon to walk this six mile loop around Wimbledon Common. Unfortunately, the weather in the morning was not good, so we walked in rain through the woods, encountering riders on horseback, but scarcely any walkers, along the Beverley Brook, past Putney Vale Cemetery (which houses several notable celebrities, including Howard Carter, discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Sandy Denny, Sir Jacob Epstein, David Lean, and Roy Plomley), along a path which is part of the Capital Ring, before turning right past the pleasant Queensmere Pond, and managing to avoid any steep paths. We arrived at the Windmill Cafe just in time to avoid the pouring rain, and enjoyed a convivial and tasty lunch before returning down the hill to Wimbledon Station.

February: Crystal Palace to Dulwich:
A group of Crystal Palace to Dulwich Feb 2023fifteen walkers explored the unfamiliar territory of south east London, last visited in 2016! We had a bracing start along the terraces of the former Crystal Palace as the windchill reduced the already cold temperature. After touring the dinosaurs (or the Victorians’ misguided concept of dinosaurs) and the stadium, we soon warmed up as we walked on uphill through lovely Sydenham Wells Park and into Sydenham Hill Wood, an atmospheric ancient woodland. After that it was plain sailing on level paths through attractive Dulwich Park after which some walkers peeled off either to the Picture Gallery or to head back to North London, while a few enjoyed the lunch opportunities of salubrious Dulwich High Street.

February: Lee Valley:
Starting from CheshuLee Valley Feb 2023nt, sixteen of us had a gentle wander through the Lee Valley Country Park, starting in heavy mists. The wooden forms of the sculpture park seemed even more mysterious than usual as they loomed out of the fog. The paths here are good under foot and we made our way easily to the village of Waltham Abbey and rested awhile in the many tea shops in picturesque Sun Street. Emerging, we found the fog had magically disappeared and the rest of the walk was in bright sunshine. We admired the 12th century church and ruins of the old abbey, then returned along the River Lea, with many birds to be seen including a red kite, cormorants, blue tits, herons and swans. So back to the station and the Overground home.

February: Pymmes Brook Trail —
On tPymmes Brook Trail Feb 2023he mildest day of the year so far, 19 walkers tracked the Pymmes Brook through the leafier parts of North London. Beginning in Oak Tree Park in East Barnet, we followed the trail south through Brunswick Park and Arnos Park, where we paused to admire the magnificent Victorian engineering feat of the Arnos viaduct. How many times had we travelled on the Piccadilly Line without noticing it? We left the brook to wend its way towards the River Lea, while we explored more Victorian splendour among the walled gardens of Broomfield park, with its delightful community cafe and the cheapest filter coffee of any Shorter Walk, plus delicious cakes. A short walk took us on to Palmers Green station and the train home.

January: Thames Path, Richmond to KinThames Path Richmond to Kingston Jan 2023gston —
Fifteen walkers enjoyed perfect winter weather for our walk along the Thames Path. It was a frosty day with blue skies and sunshine all the way down from Richmond down to Kingston. After a coffee break in the Buccleuch Gardens cafe we were soon out of Richmond and on the rural stretch of the Thames with views across to Marble Hill House on the North Bank. Cormorants, swans, Egyptian geese and a Little Egret were spotted en route to Teddington weir, after which we were soon back in civilisation. A riverside lunch at the Boaters Inn in Kingston rounded off the walk very pleasantly.

January 2023: Four Royal Parks —
We tFour Royal Parks January 2020hanked our stars that we’d postponed our walk from the torrential rain of the previous day. Blue skies and sun smiled on us as we walked through St James's Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The water sparkled, the Egyptian geese entertained and there was the bonus of the changing of the guard as we rounded Buckingham Palace. It’s not often on a Shorter Walk that we see the Household Cavalry resplendent in red uniforms proceeding on horseback while the Irish Guards complete with kilts and bagpipes march along the Mall in the opposite direction. Worth the wait to cross the road. Urban walks sometimes have their advantages.

December: Finsbury Park to Islington viaFinsbury Park to Islington via New River
                    December 2022 New River —
This was a winter wonderland of a walk through snowy parks under sunny blue skies. The temperature was still freezing and it was icy underfoot but we quickly worked out that walking on snow-covered grass would keep us upright. The coots were skating on the frozen New River and chilly ducks impersonated frozen statues in the wetlands. We made it — only five minutes late — to La Divina on Upper Street for our Christmas lunch and thawed out convivially.

December: St Paul’s to Blackfriars —
TSt Pauls to Blackfriars December 2022his slower-paced walk certainly had the festive vibe with Christmas Trees and lights the whole way. The installation in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern had very mixed reactions through to Borough Market that was abuzz and a welcome coffee break. Then the sun came out so Tower Bridge and the Tower of London also looked ‘lit up’ from across the river. Continuing over the bridge and along the North Embankment the 12-strong group gradually peeled off until a smaller group made the lunch stop at Old Watling pub in Bell Lane that was in celebration mood.

November: Hampstead Heath —
In a Hampstead Heath November 2022week of particularly rainy weather, thirteen walkers managed to stay mostly dry for a breezy walk on the Heath. From Gospel Oak we climbed Parliament Hill, spotting first a rainbow, then the clearly visible rain over the city, fast approaching. The shower hit us as we arrived at Viaduct Bridge but was not long-lived and we had blue sky and sun by the time we had left the Heath temporarily, to visit the wonderful Hill House garden and pergola. We continued into Golders Hill Park, where the roses were still blooming, and had an al fresco coffee break at the cafe, then enjoyed a lovely woodland walk across Sandy Heath on a carpet of autumn leaves, rejoining the main Heath above Kenwood, where some of us stayed on for lunch in the garden.

October: Bushy Park —
Eleven of us enBushy Park October 2022joyed the lovely and unseasonably warm weather on this five mile walk around Bushy Park, beginning at Hampton Wick. Although we did not actually see any deer rutting, we saw several stags, including the unusual sight of a stag apparently standing guard over two hinds on a small island in the lake, as well as herons, a cormorant, and an egret flying up into a tree. We had coffee in the very pleasant Pheasantry cafe in the woodland, with some wonderful autumn colours, before visiting the baroque water garden, where the group photo was taken, before re-entering the woodland gardens, which has fantastic rhododendrons and azaleas in the spring. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit the Hampton Court Gardens as they are no longer free to visit in the winter months, apart from on open weekends, but six of us enjoyed a very good lunch at the Mute Swan before returning from Hampton Court station.

October: Forty Hall and Myddelton House garForty Hall and Myddelton House gardens Oct
                    2022dens —
The first of our slower-paced walks was rated a success by the nine walkers. From Gordon Hill station we were soon following the course of the Turkey Brook through Hillyfields Park, then open country past fields of sheep and cows, until we reached the parkland surrounding Forty Hall. Refreshed by a coffee break in the stable yard cafe, we diverted to stroll around the beautiful walled garden, resplendent in sunshine and with the bonus of gardeners who filled the gaps in our horticulture knowledge. Then we walked on to the nearby Myddelton House garden where summer roses were blooming alongside autumnal trees and helpful labels forestalled any arguments about plant names, returning from Turkey Street on the Overground.

October: New Barnet to Cockfosters —
The wNew Barnet to Cockfosters Oct 2022eather for our Autumn walk could not have been better. The sky was a clear blue and mellow sunshine dappled through the leaves as we walked through Hadley Wood, with the trees beginning to change colour. After a photo at the always beautiful Jack’s Lake we continued into Trent Park, a former royal hunting ground, for a coffee break, then visited the water garden and walked through more woodland, ending at the Cock Inn for a welcome lunch in the garden.

Previous Walks
These links take you to archive information and photos of our previous walks:
2021/22 (October to September) here.
2020/21 (October to September) here.
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.
ur first iU3A year 2015 (May to September) here.

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