Recent outings and activities...

Barnes Wetland Centre

Who would have thought that Sunday 1st March would have been such a sunny day after the week we had. Only Lynne joined us at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's Barnes Wetland Centre on a glorious, but cold, day.

wetlands otters PG 8607 copyWe started our wandering on the West Route with a visit to the just-fed otters which were, as expected, very cute. This route takes you through the Wetlands of the World, showing a collection of about 40 species of birds which were bred and raised in captivity. This has helped save some of these birds from extinction. Because many of these birds were used to people they took no notice of you walking near them and it was great to see them really close.

wetlands view PG 8628 copyOn our way around the West Route we went into a couple of hides overlooking the main lake with many ducks, geese, and gulls to observe. At one we saw a small island with dozens of sunbathing cormorants on it and nine herons spread amongst them who would every now then have a short punch up and then settle back down again.

After lunch we took the South Route, which would be very colourful in the summer as there were many wild flower gardens, but were now just starting to show spring flowers. We worked our way around to the Peacock Tower which not only overlooks the main lake, but also the Grazing Marsh and Water Scrape.


Peter & Maz Gamble,  4th March 2020


Bethnal Green to Stratford walk

Seventeen members of the group met at Bethnal Green on the 1st February, and viewed some of the interesting highlights of the area before heading into Victoria Park and onto the Regent's Canal.  Following the canal southwards, we made our way down to Limehouse Basin and then onto the Limehouse Cut, arriving at Three Mills before travelling onto The Greenway. We finished the walk through the daffodils edging the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park paths to the end of the walk in Stratford. 

The walk was approximately 6 miles in all, with sunshine for most of the walk and the wind picking up at the tail end.

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Sue. S., 1st February 2020


Epping Forest Bike Ride

Three of us met up on Sunday 15th December at the Golf Club Café on Bury Road in Chingford to take part in the Epping Forest Bike Ride.  We were really lucky as the weather was very kind to us – dry, mild and sunny which is a great improvement on the recent stormy and windy weather.  I did wear a silly Santa Hat on my helmet to add a bit of festivity to the ride.

We had a quick hot drink at the café and then set out on the tracks around Epping Forest, doing a sort of figure of eight ride crossing the Epping New Road a couple of times and going through High Beach twice – although I only allowed a Tea Hut break on the way back.  We went past the Big View (with a quick photo stop) and up around (what I call) the Theydon Loop.  We then came back round to the Tea Hut for a well-earned break.  The forest looked lovely in the winter sunshine and it was very enjoyable (if a little bit wet in places).  We returned to Chingford in just under 3 hours.  Thanks for the company Jill and Ian.

Last month (on 23rd November) we met up at the same place (The Golf Club Café) for the ‘Rodings Rally Memorial Walk’.  The venue was chosen as that was our usual meeting place for Check Point Plotting and the date as that would have been the date of the Rodings Rally if we had been doing one this year.  Sixteen of us set off on the walk and we didn’t lose Fred!  In fact he was up at the front most of the time.  I had to apologise to our walkers for the rather wet feet they suffered crossing the bottom of Chingford Plains near the start, it was much wetter than I thought it would be, but we kept to the tracks after that.  We did about 7-8 miles in the end, but in a decent time, including a stop at High Beach Tea Hut.

Lynne Edmond, 16th December 2019

efog eppingbike 20191215 114134

efog eppingbike 20191215 114134














A Hike around Hutton and Herongate (pay attention, don’t lose the Fred)

Shenfield Station, the end of the line (well TfL Rail anyway) was the meeting place for today’s walk. Amina, Cathy, Fred, Ken and I all met up on the train, and were then joined by Paul at Shenfield, as he was on the next train. We headed off up Mount Avenue and saw a car driving along the pavement to us, which was Peter and Annick, who had been delayed in the Remembrance Day traffic.

shenfield trev 01116artWe had a mile or so to walk to the start point at Hutton All Saints Church, through the “Millionaire’s Row” of Hutton Mount. Part way along, we heard the loud roar of a Dakota DC-7 aircraft and two Spitfires which passed overhead (probably the ones which dropped 750,000 poppies at Dover).

We passed Hutton Hall and the church to begin the walk proper, following Church Lane before going over a muddy field. We then followed a track past farm buildings and an enormous stack of hay bales at Creasey's Farm. By now the sun was shining brightly bringing warmth and with lovely views over the Essex countryside.

shenfield trev 01118artWe continued along field edges to enter a very muddy path through a small wood. A sign post directed us to Heron Hall, via an easily missed (which we did first time) track, guarded by a splendidly gruesome witch, hopefully just a left over from Halloween. After a short spell (witches – spell, oh forget it!) we reached Heron Hall and continued to Herongate for a late lunch stop at the pub.

However, on reaching the Green Man pub we realised there was no sign of Fred. We had lost him. After getting my lager, I joined the search party (I’ve got my priorities!). By now, he was probably wandering all alone in a muddy field. No sign of him on my search, but we had contacted him and he had missed the turn at the reservoir, and returned to re-join us, mini adventure over.

Time was drawing on, so after lunch we took a detour through Ingrave and more fields and farmland to rejoin the main road before turning off to Brentwood station through a woodland walk, arriving at the station as dusk was setting in. The total distance (including the missed turn and searching for strays) was about 9 miles. The weather had been very good, warm autumnal sunshine, we all made it back safely (even Fred), and I think we all enjoyed it, even with the mud.

Trev (pathfinder) Eley, 15th November 2019


We meet where?

Just three words, but it is an important question when we are organising a meeting-point for a walk or such.

On Lynne’s recent Sunday walk along the River Lea Navigation the instructions were to “Meet Stratford Station near cafe on ground floor”. So some of us met at the ground floor cafe within the station barriers, perhaps "near the Jubilee Line platforms", and others outside the barriers at theground floor cafe near "the stairs leading up to the bridge across to Westfield".

Maybe we should have said “Meet at O.S. Grid Reference TQ 38622 84388” rather than TQ 38627 84478. After all – as an outdoor group, with walking and hence map-reading being somewhat fundamental – that would have been a more appropriate and concise reference, wouldn’t it?

Well, of course, no. Some of us don't even have maps - and I know a lot of us can't really read them! I am not bad with maps and grid references, but to distinguish between those two cafes on a standard OS Landranger, 1:50 000 Series, map is on the edge of my capabilities. And if we’d used the International Latitude and Longtitude system – however precise it may be – we would have been advised to meet at – something like – 51º32´28.9´´N. 0º0´06.8´´W. I even had trouble finding the special characters for that, let alone trying to work it out on a map!

What about, though, “Meet at Stratford Station, at  “shapes.soft.grows” ? That would have saved some of us going to “hang.orbit.saving”. That would have got us all together pretty well right where the cafe is near the Jubilee Lines. At the very least, within a few metres.

This system – called “what3words” - can pinpoint a location to a 3m x 3m square. Anywhere. That’s pretty impressive. Increasingly, emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance are using the system to locate people trying to contact them. Epping Forest is also encouraging members of the public to use the system, to say where they are in the Forest if they have an issue. It is dependent on a mobile phone signal, though – but then an emergency call from the heart of the Forest is, anyway - and a G.P.S. signal.

The app is available for iOS as well as Android phones, is free, easy to download and easy to use. It incorporates an aerial view as well as a map view, so can be used for map-purposes as well.

I really do advise mobile phone users to download it. Hope to see you at dozen.cling.holly on a Thursday evening.

Paul Ferris. 19th September 2019

ps. I have just realied that three characters in a well-known play could have made use of this. I have just re-read the quote, and the suggestion is "Upon the heath". That's really not very explicit, is it?