Recent outings and activities...
Saturday 19th / Sunday 20th November
Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s event, our 60th Rally. Who would have thought that it would still be going when they first started, way back in 1956?
Perhaps one person. As a wee nipper of 14, Peter Gamble was about for that first Rally and he is our Chief Marshal now, so a man of enormous faith or a complete glutton for punishment! Peter and Marilyn did have a bit of a break from EFOG when they got married and raised a family, but they came back and without them I very much doubt the club would be in existence.
Time does catch up with us though, and unfortunately three days before the Rally Peter was hospitalised with an infection which caused a major panic as not only is he chief marshal but he knows where everything is! Luckily the route had been planned and marked, but who had what equipment was a bit of a problem. Everything we had we took with us and sorted it out on the hoof, but inevitably there were a few humps in the road, not least with the tea tent, so if you were amongst the unfortunates who arrived there before the milk did, our apologies!
A big thank you also to Duncan, another stalwart, who knows the forest like the back of his hand and who made space in a busy schedule to help out with putting people out, finding markers and generally being a big calm presence, and to our actual Chairman, Brian, who was cruelly snatched from a night in a warm tent to run people around and get marshals out and about and did so with good grace. He did get to go home and spend the night in his own bed, which he wasn't expecting but I am sure made up for missing the tent.
At the village hall the tea time crew sent us off with a last meal in excellent style, and as many of you will have had the benefit of, the breakfast ladies, who get up at 3.30 to come in and start cooking did their usual life saving task of feeding the wet and starving masses. Throughout the night the two Marilyns and Jenny kept the drinks coming and kept you all in check for the fact checkers and our computer man Alan, and made sure all the muddy boots stayed in the doorway. It's a hard task as they are up all night unlike us in the tents as we can nap in the warm, so a big thank you to everyone both there in the village hall and at the start, who stay sane while 300 people come at them for three and a half hours!
Last but not least a big, big thank you to all of you who took part. The cold weather that we had been promised didn't materialise, instead you were all subject to a constant downpour that left everyone looking like drowned rats, and defeated a number of teams who retired out, and I for one don't blame them. It always amazes me how much people enjoy banging about in the forest at night and as you can see from the comments section, some of you really do!!
The bad weather was reflected in the times competitors took to get round the course, and experience very much showed. The South London Orienteers, who won a couple of years back took 4 hours and 17 minutes to complete the course, about twenty five minutes slower that last year’s winners. ELR, who won the five-checkpoint event, were bizarrely faster than last year by 16 minutes, much to their excitement – see Edward Barnard’s comments below.
Can anyone beat the Rayleigh Rockets? The 10-checkpoint event Group Trophy, awarded to the Group or club with the three highest placed teams in each event, went again to the Rayleigh Rockets though they clearly had troubles as they found a total between their three teams of 22 checkpoints in 18 hours and 38 minutes. The best five-checkpoint group was a surprise though, certainly to their organiser, Satinder Sohel:
I haven't seen anything on Facebook or the website so I wasn't expecting to see anything relating to a trophy!
What trophy are we in contention for and what do you require on our side?
After doing the Rodings Rally for almost 10 years this is the first time I've got an email about a trophy so just a little shocked!
Upon being told which trophy they had won:
That's great news - something we weren't expecting at all! I only entered 3 teams so I know who to congratulate... I've already spread the good news.
Regardless of the poo weather we always try to participate because it's such good fun every year. Thanks for putting on such an enjoyable event every year.
(Poo weather probably sums it up very politely!)
Trophy winners will be contacted shortly to confirm delivery arrangements if not already received.
As stated on our information sheet, 50p from every entry is donated to a charity nominated each year at our AGM. Those of you who entered the 2015 Rally may be interested to learn that your donations went to the St Clare Hospice. (see here)
This year, the Rockets Under 20 team trophy went to a surprise team (Scouts watch out, your invincibility is hereby challenged!) called Not Duffers. The team consisted of dad, Alex Lovell, his daughter Kaitlin aged 11 and her friend Carys, also 11. The girls were quite damp by checkpoint 4 (my tent) so it was very encouraging to hear dad talking to them, saying that the tea point was coming up, that checkpoint 5 was not far behind and to see how they felt by then. Checkpoint 5, our finance lady Val, reported that by then the girls had perked up and were prepared to go to the end. Alex described the experience for the girls as ‘life changing’. Here is what the girls had to say:
When my dad suggested we might go on a walk through Epping Forest I didn't expect that it would be in the dark, in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold and the pouring rain, looking for things that are almost impossible to find with only a map and a compass to help us! Apart from that, it was an amazing time. Everybody at the checkpoints was really nice and friendly and this helped us a lot to get through the night - as did the people on the tea tent who were also really kind. Some of the checkpoints were really difficult to find - we spent nearly an hour looking for the third tent! But we saw muntjac deer and lots of stars while we were looking. Overall I really enjoyed the rally. I felt a real sense of achievement when I finished and I'm glad that we did it. Overall I would rate the whole experience as a solid 8 out of 10!
- Kaitlin Lovell (age 11)
It was amazing, but very wet! I loved every second of it. It was quite hard, but also totally fabulous. It's incredible how much effort the organisers and volunteers put into running the rally. All the checkpoints were /SO/ well hidden (especially tent no 3). I'm really proud to have made it all the way to the finish line. The ladies at the end were especially nice - thank you so much for the jaffa cakes and the lemon tart.
- Carys Bonnel (age 11)
Yippee! I can't believe that we've done it again! It was so wet and
it was cold, but I don't think we'll ever beat that time - we found
each tent really quickly, something that's never happened before. I
guess experience helps?
I'm so grateful to the volunteers who help run this event, I really
look forward to this each year, and our team is assembled from across
the UK for it (OK, they've moved to Kent and Somerset in the years
since we first competed!).
- Edward Barnard of ELR
Thanks for another enjoyable event.
Great effort by all the volunteers inside & outside, especially in the conditions.
Amazing to think it's been going 60 years.
- Pete Huzan, South London Orienteers
Thank you to you and everyone at EFOG for arranging another excellent event.
It's a pity that the weather forecast seemed to have put off some of the
teams as I don't think it turned as bad as had been predicted. Both
Scansorials teams enjoyed themselves.
The marshals will probably spot that both our teams were at the later
checkpoints at about the same time but this was completely coincidental.
Having started twenty minutes later we caught up with them at the tea point
but then went our separate ways - we just kept running into them at the
checkpoints even though we had used different routes to get there. There is
now a good rivalry between the teams, particularly as this year's result
reversed the relative positions from last year.
Hope to see you again next year.
And from our side of the fence:
This was my first Roding Rally experience and although I’ve camped out several times over the years, never in such conditions as Storm Angus.
Luckily, my checkpoint partner had made a recce visit during daylight so once we had parked the car in Gilwell Park, I just had to follow through a small wooded area to find the marker for our pitch. As I had not been involved in the planning process, I had no idea where I was. Storm Angus was brewing, so as well as very strong winds, there was driving rain too.
Our tent (no. 7), was positioned in a very exposed spot on Chingford Plain, just in front of the ridge overlooking the Lee Valley. Once inside, we waited a few hours for the first of the competitors to come our way. Once the runners started to arrive, there was no time to relax as we were busy marking cards. The inclement weather affected the state of the cards, making it difficult to write on them.
Despite the awful conditions, the competitors were all very cheerful and positive. Many said they felt sorry for the markers on the checkpoints, but we were feeling sorry for them in their windswept and bedraggled state.
When morning came, the storm was subsiding and we saw the sun rise over the plain. The ground was very muddy but I felt that all this added to the atmosphere.
Being served breakfast after arriving back at the hall was very much appreciated, as was the meal the previous afternoon. What struck me most among the volunteers, was the camaraderie and willingness to help and offer advice.
In spite of being out all night in the cold, damp and wind, resulting in a stiff and aching body, I look forward to my next Roding Rally experience.
Probably because of the weather there was a great deal of stuff left at the village hall or retrieved en route. If any of the following items belong to you, please let me know so that we can rehome it:
Grey mans scarf
Compass on a yellow string
Black woollen hat and one black glove with dimples on palm
Petzl head torch that looks like a miners lamp!
Map pouch and pencil
Pair of quechua black gaiters
Two Oxford accessories soft cloth tubes for scarf wear or similar
Pair of grey and bright pink laced adidas trainers size 7 ½
Where did you come? Click Here and look for your team’s number in the event down the left hand side in the distance you covered.
Beverley Brook Walk - 5th November 2016
Obviously the allure of a minor river spirit compared to Old Father Thames is somewhat less, although gender may have something to do with it. Nevertheless, seven of us - Bernie, Fozi, Fred, Jinan, Ken and Lynne - met at Waterloo Station on Saturday morning to explore the delights of Beverley Brook.
And delightful she was, on the 7 miles that we accompanied her from where she becomes visible to humanity near New Malden to where she meets her father (or mother) at Barn Elms, near Putney.
From New Malden Station it is a half-mile or so walk through pleasant-enough suburban streets and including crossing a golf course by way of a tree-lined track. There is the A3 to cross, too, by means of subway. Beverley Brook appears from beneath the road confined within a narrow, wall-lined gully, together with some nice mossy vegetation which included the rather-rare-in-London, warmth-and-moisture-loving and rather descriptively-named, Navelwort (a possible connection to the Goddess, here?). We paused just for a moment at the beginning of the water-side route to just mention that the brook had its source about three miles away at Cuddington Recreation Ground near Worcester Park, and flows for about 10 miles to the Thames. The name is derived from the beaver – which although believed extinct in Britain for some 400 years is now breeding again – and the word ley, or meadow. In other words, the beaver’s meadow brook.
The brook has been much abused in times past – as have so many of London’s rivers – and has been considerably channelised, so runs between boarded banks for much of its route. However for a few miles – apart from a few detours where it is not accessible due to housing or the like – we were walking along a nice-enough waterway, often with trees either side, and passing through a nature reserve or two - or past playing fields - on the way. The brook flows along the west edge of Wimbledon Common, where it once marked the boundary between London and Surrey, and the scenery becomes more open. We crossed the A3 again at the busy junction by the Robin Hood Gate and entered Richmond Park just as a stream of horses were leaving. In the park we walked for some way with the brook on our right and the open spaces of the park on our left, with distant views of the deer and closer views of the cyclists.
It was actually quite cold – we’d noticed that when we got off the train. Funny that here in the SW (of London, anyway) it seemed colder than in the traditionally cold east of the country (or London, anyway) where we come from. So we were pleased to reach the cafe facilities hereabouts. There were lots of cyclists here, too, plus lots of Jackdaws and people – all tending to eat and drink. Whilst there we had a call from John Hatto – an ex club-member – who we’d pre-arranged would join us. Which he did.
Leaving the park by way of the Roehampton Gate, we walked down an alleyway alongside the park walls, for a short while away from the brook, but which we soon rejoined. Whilst we’d been in Richmond Park we had read notices which told of work being done to improve the ecology of the brook and also help with flood prevention. All the channelisation and abuse over past generations as had adverse effect here as elsewhere, as people are now beginning to realise. Now the intention is wherever possible to remove constricting artificial edging, allowing gravel-banks and eddies to form, and perhaps even a little meandering.
Around East Sheen we were forced away from the water and along roads for a bit, but between some decent allotments with - in places - some rather exotic overhanging vegetation. When we reached the only pub on route – the Halfway House near Barnes Common – we didn’t go in but stood on the adjacent Priests Bridge over the once-troubled water and John told us something about local efforts for the stream's regeneration.
here) a few weeks ago.We crossed two railway level-crossings and then part of Barnes Common, with Chestnut and Sycamore trees in glorious autumn colour, then through a playing field to cross the brook again and walk alongside Barn Elms Playing Fields, once the site of the old Manor House of Barnes. The final stretch is again along a tree-lined track alongside the brook, and then suddenly there is a barrage across the stream – forming probably what is a balancing lagoon and muck-stopping arrangement, but filled with reeds – then another barrage to control water flow, and then out onto the Thames-side track where we had first sighted Beverley Brook on our Putney to Richmond walk (
Then there was just the walk along the Thames past all of the boating-facilities and across Putney Bridge to the station of the same name, and then home. Beverley Brook, I found, had a very pleasant character about her. Thanks to the other pleasant characters who accompanied me on this exploratory walk – and we didn’t get lost at all.
Paul Ferris, 6th November 2016
7.7 miles, 8 walkers
The Last Leg of The Thames Path in London
All good things come to an end, and so our journey both down and up the London section of the Thames Path reached its climax on a bright day, nursing potential rain clouds that held on to their cargo and kept us dry. It could also be labelled a 'Great Trees of London' walk as we had the good fortune to come across - amongst many others - not one but two really wonderful specimens, one at each end of the path.
We travelled to Richmond Station by train from Waterloo, on 22nd October, 2016. After the train, and walking through the bustle of Richmond shoppers, the riverfront runs past a throng of restaurants in the midst of which is an enormously tall London Plane, gracefully occupying its spot for hundreds of years judging by the girth of the trunk. You can only but admire something so lovely and ancient if only for having managed to stay there as London sprawls further and further. The path breaks almost straight out into 'country' passing Ham House, a 17th century house now a National Trust property open to visitors. In the middle of the river at this point is Eel Pie Island, best remembered as a music venue in the 1960 where The Rolling Stones and The Who performed.
Shortly after we approach Teddington Lock, the largest lock complex on the Thames and the point at which the Thames turns from tidal to non-tidal. It also has a very convenient toilet facility, so we were able to stop for a short while whilest some of the walkers took advantage. The Thames here turns from being home to rowing crews to sailing ones, with lots of small boats out and about on the calmer waters.
As we approached Kingston, there is also another little surprise. Just before you reach the latest incarnation of a bridge that has crossed the Thames continuously since the 12th century, in the basement of John Lewis are a pier from the the original bridge and a barrel vaulted cellar from a 14th century merchants house, preserved very nicely behind glass. By way of a thank you to John Lewis for this keeping of history, we stopped there for a lunch break before crossing the bridge for the final stretch to Hampton Court. It doesn't take very long before we come across the grounds of the palace, even though we are still a couple of miles downriver from the building itself. The Roman Catholic Church of St Raphael glows on the south bank, Italian Renaissance in style but only built in the mid 1800s after Catholic emancipation in England, and a number of small aits or eyots as you prefer, both Middle English for 'little island'.
The path-side is joined by a brick wall, part of the grounds proper of Hampton Court, and it is here that you can find the other wonderful tree. There is a gate in the wall, up a few steps, to an enclosure for the casual visitors to admire the grounds and the views, fronted by a large and lovely Stone Pine, known as the Maids of Honour Stone Pine, that makes a beautiful frame for views of the palace. It is to here that we head and to the cafe to celebrate the end of our trek to and from Crayford Ness, some fifty miles away.
One adventure ends, others begin - the path along the Thames westwards into the country beckons...
North Downs Way – Chilham to Canterbury, the final leg
Saturday 15th October saw the final legs of Ken's epic North Downs Way walk – 22 of them, in fact. The 22 legs walked the final leg of the journey which had begun, I believe, at Box Hill on 20th July 2013.
see here). It was an easy, if rather long, journey – with lots of small station-stops the closer we got to Chilham. We were visited a few times on the journey by the train conductor, at first just checking the tickets, then up for a chat. As we approached our stop his on-board announcement of the next station included a greeting and a warning to all of us walkers that whereas we would face rain ahead on our walk, he'd be in Canterbury in a few minutes and totally dry!This stretch began with a group of eleven meeting at Victoria Station for the train to Chilham, where the previous walk had finished on 23rd July (
It had, indeed, begun to cloud over as we'd got closer to our start, but for most of the way the rain held off, or at least only came down relatively lightly. Thus it was that we were able to enjoy a quick look at the attractive village of Chilham, with its quaint houses, castle and 15th C. church, to which we paid a quick visit. Then it was up and then down, and then up and down again in numerous successions – with here and there a levelish patch - as we made our way along the downs.
For a considerable part of the route we were passing through apple-growing areas, at a perfectly good time to do some scrumping if one were that way inclined. Of course, some of the windfalls had already been got-at by wasps and the like, so would have been no good for the supermarket shelves. I am sure that had we tried the good parts, they would have been totally edible and delicious – apart perhaps from the cooking apples. On the large orchard associated with Nickel Farm there was a township of mobile-home type accommodation, specifically for the apple-pickers of whom we saw numbers as we passed through. Shortly after the orchards we stopped for a while at the public house on the edge of Chartham Hatch, then continued through Petty France and a variety of pleasant countryside – including a field with a unicorn posing rear-end-on to us and pretending to be a sheep (or maybe asleep), and another with no white sheep of the family amongst all the black ones. On this stretch too was the Iron Age hill fort of Bigbury Camp – which looked like a hillside rather than a hill fort, as most Iron Age forts do – and an open-to-the-public orchard which looked more like an orchard than the commercial ones do. No Mans Orchard, as it is called, is a rare survival of a traditional Kent apple orchard. We got some apples there, and there was a large snake.
Crossing the A2 (originally a Roman road, I suppose: “A2 Brutus”) we were soon making our way into Canterbury itself. The guide book route into town takes you down London Road, then right into St. Dunstans Street, where we had to wait at a level crossing for two trains to pass. We were in view of the Westgate Towers, said to be England's finest medieval gateway, and where we soon posed for a photograph. Then along the pedestrianised High Street before turning left to the Cathedral Gate. It's funny, but within Canterbury it is difficult to see the Cathedral, and even when we got to the gate an entrance fee tended to make viewing even more difficult. Some of the group elected to pay up and go in, whilst four others walked right around the cathedral by means of the closest roads. Even then, you could only occasionally see the top-most spires. They've got it well hidden.
So, by then the original eleven had split up a bit, and four of us went into a M. & S. tea shop for a cuppa. When we left it was pelting down, but we'd a train in mind and headed fasly and wetly to Canterbury East Station by way of the bus station and the city walls. Gaining those was where we also gained some of the rest of the group, and gaining the station we gained the remainder. So - mostly - we all travelled back together. We had a carriage to ourselves, presumably because the original train conductor had warned all the rest to be on the look-out for us. My O.S. map with its draw-the-route facility made the distance 7.8 miles rather than Ken's guide-book 6, but a grand time was had by all. I think.
I'd not joined in all of the walks that comprised the route from Box Hill to Canterbury, but congratulations to all that did, and to those that did some but not all, and congratulations and thanks to Ken for organising and taking the lead in this most enjoyable venture.
Paul Ferris, 17th October 2016