Quick March! - The Herts Hobble

Every now and then, we in EFOG like to prove to ourselves (at least some of us do) that we can still do the longer distances – it is, after all one of the things the club was originally set up for.  Since the retirement of the Tanners Marathon after its 50th run last year, we have to look a little further afield for events, and this year’s chosen path for the summer was the ‘Herts Hobble’, around Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire.

It's a serious walk, 26 miles for the full distance and 16 even for the shorter one, all to be done inside of 9 hours.  Because we don’t do this very often, unlike a lot of people in the LDWA (Long Distance Walking Association), we thought we had better practice.  Chairman Jim devised three separate routes – one for hill practice, one for cross-country and one for distance, then he promptly went to America to visit his dad!  A postponement of the first walk by a week on his return also led to a change in schedule, which confused most people.   We started with the hill walk, a relatively easy 7 mile trot from Loughton station back to Wanstead using Trapp’s Hill as a practice run.  Big Chris was the only taker and we set off past Sainsburys where we came across Susan and Ian trying to find somewhere to park, so had a small pause.  Then another small pause as walk leader Jim then promptly tripped over a kerbstone, narrowly missed a road sign with his forehead, but took a nice lump out of his right knee – both flesh and trousers.  Not a good omen!  Thoroughly embarrassed though he was, Jim led us on bravely to the top of the hill and round to South Woodford where we paused to visit Jan at Gifford’s bakery for a tea and bun stop.  The journey through the South Woodford area was a brief life history of Susan, - all the various roads she had lived in and so on, being a local girl.  We finally reached Snaresbrook and into the home strait, Wanstead High Street where the walkers split up for lunch.  End of round one!

A couple of weeks later, practice resumed, for the more pastoral walk along the banks of the River Roding from Buckhurst Hill back to Wanstead.  A slightly larger group blundered around a little looking for the approach to the river for a short while till we spotted a gap in the edge of a field, then we were off like hares.  The river was very pleasant to follow and there were quite a few wildlife spots – lots of sightings of an Egret.  All very attractive till we circumnavigated the Redbridge recycling centre, which was somewhat less so, as was the sprawl of Charlie’s Brown’s roundabout.  It wasn’t much more attractive coming off the river onto the eastern avenue but a short trek through he back of Wanstead into the old village saw us pull up, journey’s end, at the Nightingale Pub, a relatively new spot for most of the walkers, where we had a very nice lunch.  Sense a theme here?

Sometimes, we have to undertake linear rather than circular walks, and the distance walk was one of those – along the Lea Navigation from Walthamstow to Enfield and back – a distance we estimated of about 16 miles, but not hard walking.  The troops gathered for the last training walk the week before the big event at the golf course for a cuppa before the start, then a quick march down the road saw a much larger group hit the towpath.  Highlights en route included the Markfield Beam Engine park – more of which on a different page, - various other parks, lots of boats, lots of people and dogs, a curiously high number of cats all white with multi-coloured markings, lots of swans and herons and a dead rat.  Luckily for us, it also included picking up Jenny at Stonebridge Lock.  This being her stamping ground, Jenny was able to guide us around the detour through the Lea Valley Trading estate, as the towpath at this point was undergoing some reconstruction work.  We also lost Prue, lured, we think but forgivably so as she had done a long walk the previous day, by the charms of IKEA.

It was probably a good idea on her part, as the stretch of the waterway afterwards was particularly fragrant – not!  A slightly bleak landscape past the ponies and sheep grazing in the sides of the reservoirs cheered up at the turnaround point of Enfield Lock, mainly because we took the lunch break early and stopped at a pub for a drink.  The lock also proved interesting on the way back as a narrow boat was making its way into the Lock, always worth watching.  Gallant gentlemen that they are, Trevor and Ken also rushed to the aid of the boat lady who was having some trouble pushing the lock gate closed – chivalry is not dead yet!  After that interlude, the march resumed, and we all concluded that the lunch stop we had chosen was far more attractive than at Pickett’s lock (no pub).  A further tea stop was made at the café by Stonebridge Lock, where we said goodbye to Jenny, before a brisk march back to Lea Bridge road and for some of us an exploration of the finer parts of Walthamstow’s recycling area on the bus back home.

Finally, the big event dawned, and with it the hottest Sunday of the year.  Even at 9 am, when the long distance walkers set off, it was getting pretty warm and soon the sun beat down relentlessly.  The good thing about the LDWA is that they do catering very well – each stop had lots of nibbles and lots of drinks, which was vital on such a hot day.  The route took us through some very attractive villages, and just behind the National Trust owned house of George Bernard Shaw, past a field entirely full of red, swaying poppies as far as the eye could see.  Being country people they also had their own interpretation of distances and so there was a bit of discussion before we reached Heartwood Forest, where some helpful locals pointed up in the same direction as ‘other people with bits of white paper’.  At the last stop, Symondhyde farm, we were also offered the use of the horse shower – it is a working horse stable! – and were told that some of the runners had taken up the offer.  Perhaps they knew something we didn’t – it was by this time extremely hot!  With some irony, the last 4 ½ mile stretch included a section along the upper reaches of the Lea Valley (one day we’ll do the bits between so we can say we have walked the whole thing) and by this time, with our noses to the wind we could smell the home barn (WI hall) and the end of the trail.  All three long distancers made it in just over 8 hours and were greeted by the shorter distance people who had started later but and therefore hadn’t finished much earlier.  The tea ladies were still there at the end with refreshments and a big thank you to them and the organisers for all of their hard work.  Whether we’ll see you next year though might just depend on how hot it is!!

Sue Ullersperger, August 2011


The Clean Up Squad

It’s a well-known fact that EFOG members like to get down and dirty.

This year we have already helped to dredge the Eagle Pond at Snaresbrook with the City of London, chipped away at the iceberg of rubbish thrown into Aldersbrook Wood with Redbridge Council and dug out ditches for the Chigwell Riding Trust for the Disabled.

A project much closer to home though is the ROVSCO Scout hut wherein we hold our weekly meetings.  Owned by the Rover Scouts, it is now used by quite a number of groups, so EFOG campaigned to get the yard area of the hut cleaned up, with a view to painting the outside at a future date.  We made it a joint effort with our fellow hut-users, not only so that we could get to see them at long last, but also to make sure we did not throw anything away that belonged to them!  Both the Scouts and the Girl Guides came armed with tools and gloves and we all set too.

The particular area of concern was the left hand side of the hut – a den of mystery, usually covered in brambles that we hack back on a yearly basis.

An old stove was fairly obvious to see, but there also turned out to be a number of items of sporting equipment, various bags of part used food items and a whole variety of other ‘stuff’!   Don Stevens, the hut caretaker brought down his tow trailer and the workers soon began filling it with bags of mystery trash for the first of several trips to the local recycling centre.  When the main bulk of the rubbish was cleared away, the hardier members also dug out the roots of the brambles and the area was prepped for turf, fingers crossed that the brambles would not re-invade.

While all this was going on, the Guides set too and cleaned the kitchen area thoroughly.  They also made the tea for the workers (thank you!) then cleaned the inside of the hall – an end to many a dead long-legger and cobweb!  The Scouts mended the fence and cleaned up the main gate area and the spare Efoggers turned to with those pesky brambles again, trimming and tidying not only the garden area but the pit at the right hand side of the hut where much of the previous bramble bash’s remains had now rotted down to manageable proportions.

Chairman Jim called a halt to works at lunchtime.  A stack was made of the larger items, that were to be collected by a Guides representative with a much larger truck, and the workers all adjourned for a wash and brush up and lunch.









Fundraising Quiz in aid of the Macmillan Cancer Care Charity

Earlier this year the members of EFOG invited friends and family along to a fundraising quiz in aid of the Macmillan Cancer Care Charity.  The quiz was intended as a thank you for the support given by Macmillan's to one of our members, Jane Hayward, who was fighting cancer at the time.  Between the tickets sold, the raffle and the 'guess the weight of the cake' competition, we managed to raise £200 for the charity on what was a very worthwhile evening.100_0799

The cheque was presented to the Information officer for Macmillan at Whipps Cross Hospital, Perpetua Egan - seen here with some of the EFOG members who took part in a fundraising walk for the volunteer service at Whipps Cross - by the chairman, Jim Carroll.

Visit to the Lake District - 29th April to 3rd May 2011

In late April and early May 2011, nine members of the Epping Forest Outdoor Group stayed at Windermere for a visit to the Lake District.

Tina organised the trip, originally with only four people opting to go. These were Tina, her sister Bianca from Rome, Paul and Dave. Some time after the bed and breakfast accommodation was arranged, Pam and Fozi decided to join us, and booked their accommodation across the road. Then - at the last moment - Ken decided to come too, so booked accommodation next door to Pam and Fozi. Only when we arrived did some of us discover that Ann and Duncan had also joined us, but staying at Shearing's Windermere Hotel.

Six of us travelled by train from Euston, Pam drove from Lincolnshire and Duncan and Ann drove from High Beech. As most of us arrived fairly early on Friday afternoon, we had plenty of time to stroll up tio the viewpoint at Orrest Head for the first real view of the area for some of the party. The following day, Paul led the whole group on a 6.5 mile walk on the other side of the lake, as far as the village of Far Sawrey.

Sunday saw the group splitting into different parties, as some took a guided tour in a mini-bus across the high passes, and others a bus and walking trip led by Ken to Great Langdale. On Monday, Ken led us on another walk from Grasmere up Easdale to Easdale Tarn, a distance of 4.5 miles.

Tuesday again saw the group doing different things. Bianca and Tina wanted to see Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter, so Paul and Ken accompanied them whilst Dave and Pam went on a boat trip on Lake Windermere. Whilst Fozi had needed to return home the day before, Pam was to drive later in the day to Redcar, Ann and Duncan to High Beech and Tina, Bianca, Dave and Paul caught the 4pm train from Windermere via Oxenholme to Euston.

Paul Ferris, May 2011

 click here or on the link below for a you-tube video:



EFOG takes a banana to Aldersbrook Wood

Aldersbrook Wood has been a neglected small area of woodland adjacent to Wanstead Park, and acting as green barrier between it and a 1970's housing estate. (see here for more information)

It seemed to have been forgotten by its owners, the London Borough of Redbridge, and although much used by birds and animals - including a pack of foxes that seem to live in it, it was either mostly unappreciated or even abused by local people. The abuse mostly takes the form of the depositing of casual litter, fly-tipping or garden clearance throw-outs.

I managed to get the attention of L.B.Redbridge partly by the psychological ploy of giving the wood its name - it is very much part of the Aldersbrook area so Aldersbrook Wood seemed quite appropriate and quite nice sounding. An Internet search for "aldersbrook wood" now even brings up one or two references in addition to my own! So - together with the Borough's Conservation Ranger Francis Castro - we marked out the wood for a practical work day on April 12th.

This was to take place with LB Redbridge staff and anybody who wished to attend. It was a bit unfortunate that I was allocated an important hospital appointment on the very day, so it was a bit of rush for me to get there, and because of the nature of the treatment was inhibited from getting stuck in.

However, when I arrived I found that there were three Redbridge staff, two people from Leytonstone that do conservation work with other groups, one member of the Wren Conservation Group who lives very near the wood, and Sue and Jim and Ann and Duncan from EFOG. From work we have done at Copped Hall, Chigwell Riding Trust and Snaresbrook in particular, it can be assumed that EFOG's contribution to the work was substantial. It was a warm day, but the wood offered some shade, and banana breaks notwithstanding, a quite incredible amount of rubbish was cleared between 11am and about 2.30pm. This included most of the component parts of a motorcycle, a boat's paddle, various bits of electronic equipment and countless drink cans. (well - they could've been counted, but there wasn't much point)

I assumed that probably it wouldn't be noticed by many that anything had happened, but at least got an e-mail from somebody who knew that it did saying they couldn't find any rubbish there anymore. We did do a bit of vegetation clearance along the main path through the wood, but because of the time of year thought it prudent not to do too much of that because of disturbance to wildlife at this time of year. It is hope that another work day will take place much later in the year when some bramble can be cleared, and glades and paths opened up.

Aldersbrook Wood is almost contiguous with "my" pet project, which was the old Redbridge Southern Sewage Works site - which became part of Epping Forest. The wood is tiny even if compared to that, but it's so important that green spaces such as this are retained and cared for, so they can act as a barrier to development, a public amenity and a place for wildlife to live. Thanks to those members of EFOG who helped towards achieving this.


Paul Ferris, 20th April 2011