Greenwich Walk -- London Meal
It's a great group this; at short notice I offered to lead a walk that had been programmed to be in the Greenwich area, so that's where I aimed for.
On February 27th, ten of us met at Stratford station at 10.30 to catch the DLR via Canary Wharf to Mudchute, pointing out important historical landmarks such as where I went to school and where I lived on the way. At the station before Mudchute I decided to get off so as to approach the walk from a slightly different angle to that which I had planned an hour or two before. There had been a certain excitement from Val who had remembered a certain drinking establishment favoured when she had worked on the Isle of Dogs, and more excitement from Maz when she realized we would be seeing (she hoped) the animals at the city farm she remembered from when she too had worked there. Perversely I ensured that before that we had walked a circuitous route around the Mudchute area, taking in some mud, some snowdrops and some weird ducks. Unfortunately we encountered the cafeteria en route and a slight rebellion occurred when coffee, chocolate, and various cakes were demanded.
Eventually the walk continued - at last taking in the animals - after which we made our way to the river-front at Island Gardens. One of the things about our group when we are out walking - as opposed for example to a Ramblers' group - is that we don't maintain the sensible rule of not walking ahead of the leader. Thus it was that a couple of members dived into the foot-tunnel access while my intention was to show the group one of the finest views in London. This is across the river towards the Royal Naval College buildings and beyond to the Observatory buildings on the hills of Greenwich.
We made our way through the foot tunnel emerging to where the Cutty Sark used to be (or where it still is, but under wraps). We had perhaps expected rain, but in fact there was some blue sky and white clouds as well as some quite grey ones. In other words there were quite dramatic views along the Thames. Passing between the buildings of the Royal Naval College, crossing the road and passing the National Maritime Museum, we walked the well-used path up to Greenwich Observatory, taking care not to tread on tourists. The usual throng of visitors were there - some in the eastern hemisphere and some in the western, and some with their legs apart in both. And there we had our second rebellion, when two of our members disappeared into the building complex. The rest of us, perhaps not too reluctantly, eventually followed and this was followed by a gradual wandering of everybody in different directions. Quite unreasonably at this the home of time, time seemed to have become meaningless, so it was only after some sort of reassembly that we realized that we had misplaced one of our newer members. Now if this had been one of our long-term members perhaps I would not have been so concerned - after all most of us had each other's telephone numbers and anyway we are all adults and used to getting lost and split up. After some heroic down-and-up-hill effort by Prue (who in reality was trying to exercise off some excess cake) we re-established contact with Tina and continued our walk across Greenwich Park.
Exiting the park by one of the corner gates we negotiated some busy roads to investigate Blackheath. The heath got off to a pretty good start with muddy paths and gorse, but the majority of it was dire; boring short grass with almost no shrubs or trees to add interest, only the more distant views and the fun of seeing land yachts and kite-boarders to break the monotony. We entered the park again and inevitably made our way to the pavilion. More tea, coffee and cakes - the latter perhaps a mistake - for after that we were soon back in Greenwich Town where we had intended to eat. It was slightly too early for that anyway so we made a group decision to take a riverboat trip to London so as to be able to eat at a group-favoured restaurant near the Strand.
Yes, it's a great group, this; we had taken on what had intended to be a walk in the Greenwich area - led at short notice - which we had accomplished without losing anybody, and had ended up dining in London. This isn't necessarily typical of the group, but then the group isn't necessarily typical.
Paul Ferris, 28th February 2010
If February 20 is here, can Spring be far behind.... ?
Winter....an opportunity to walk some of the local walks which, in Summer, tend to be sacrificed for walks farther afield.
Today’s walk starting at New Farm Drive in Abridge, was one such walk. Only about 7.5-8 miles but full of variety and interest for the ten intrepid EFOG walkers.
Our first point of note was the small airfield at Stapleford, with plenty of private flying activity on this bright Saturday morning. The ground is surprisingly high here above the River Roding, with a distant view of, but thankfully little noise from, the M25. In chasing a hare, Katie, the Greyhound, found why she’d never made it to racing dog! Thankfully the hare won!
Tea break/elevenses at Stapleford Church (with outside seats as a bonus!) and still beautiful bright clear weather with blue skies. On to Curtismill Green then to our lunch stop on a convenient wooden bridge, where by now our boots were so covered in yellowed grass stuck to the mud that they looked like traditional ‘thatched boots’. Onward to cross the B175 at Stapleford Abbotts. from where we had to contend with some more awful mud before reaching the Lambourne End /Stapleford Abbotts road at Crown Park Farm.
A three-quarter mile road plod into Lambourne End was soon over, and we set off down a bridleway to the pretty Lambourne Church, through the woods, and finally back into New Farm Drive, leaving a couple of hundred yards back to the cars. We just made it in time for ‘tea and a bun’ at the Log Cabin Cafe.
A super day, if you didn’t go you missed a treat!
Duncan, 25 February 2010
A Simple Night Walk?
It started out at programme planning with me suggesting a night walk, and at the end of the walk, having fish and chips in Copped Hall, a Georgian mansion near Epping, which is being restored after a fire in 1917 and subsequent neglect.
Towards the date an e-mail was sent by Cliff to members listing the varieties of fish and food which were available. The responses started to come in and in and in.
In the past when I’ve organised these walks we have had about fifteen to twenty members turning out to enjoy trampling about in the mud of Epping Forest. By Thursday we were up to thirty-two, and then Peter B. asked if he could bring some of his Scouts and parents, which of course he could, bringing the numbers up to forty-two.
I had a route in mind using horse rides in the forest, but what with the recently melted snow it proved to be too wet to get to the rides with so many people. I had a route we’d used before that was only a couple of miles long, circumnavigating the land of Copped Hall. On the Saturday morning the dogs and I proved we wouldn’t need a wet suit and snorkel to walk the route that night, and with the fish and food order confirmed, all was ready.
We arrived at the Hall to open up and I left Maz there to collect the money whilst I returned to the gate, ticking the group off as they arrived. Needless to say I blundered by not noticing that Lynne hadn’t turned up when I went back to the Hall. Oops! Thanks to mobile telephones that was sorted.
Eventually we were all ready to go. Duncan was staying behind to light the fire in the room where we were going to eat.
The Scouts were great looking after the dogs, Katie and Eddie, on the walk. The weather was a bit misty, but as far as I was concerned OK, as I didn’t get lost in the dark and got back to the gate in time to go and collect the food. To get forty plus people around the course in the dark without losing anybody is quite a feat, and that was down to Jim, as tail-end-charlie. Well done. I hope everybody enjoyed the mini-adventure and the food that followed.
Each year the Group makes a donation from the proceeds of the Rodings Rally to a charity of our members' choice. This year members voted to support the Essex Wildlife Trust's Tile Wood Appeal to the extent of £200. This would go towards the £50,000 needed to buy this 17 acre tract of ancient woodland, already a reserve managed by EWT.
Essex Wildlife Trust later reported that "With very generous support, Essex Wildlife Trust has raised £50,000! Tile Wood has been Saved Forever. A massive thank you goes to all those people who donated to the appeal. This is a fantastic achievement and all those who donated will be invited to a special guided walk in May."
An unusual weekend in Cambridgeshire!
How many people can you sleep in a 3-bedroomed house in Cambridgeshire? We certainly found out on the weekend of 23rd/24th January. Inger and Bill, members of our Group, moved to Cambridgeshire some years ago, and kindly invite the Group to visit from time to time. In the summer, some can camp in the garden, but in the depths of January, that is not such an inviting prospect! We ended up with 13 of us (and one dog), plus Inger and Bill, sharing the whole house - with one bathroom! There were camp-beds and sleeping-bags in nearly every room in the house. Such is our Group that everyone mucks in together, queues patiently for the bathroom, helps with the washing up, and can still have a good laugh about it! It was a fantastic weekend.
We started off on the Saturday morning with a walk. Cambridgeshire is flat fen country. After all the snow and rain, many fields had turned into lakes, and the paths were thick with mud! We plodded on - at least it wasn't raining! Back to the house for lunch, and on to Welney Wetlands Centre in the afternoon. At this time of the year the Whooper swans have migrated here to join the Mute swans, and if we could have seen further afield, the Bewick swans had also arrived. The Whoopers attack the Bewicks, apparently, so they stay back from the hides. The Whooper and Bewick swans travel great distances to get here - the Whoopers mainly from Iceland and the Bewicks from Russia. The Pochard ducks were there in abundance, too - most of them male. We were told that the females have the sense to migrate to Spain, leaving the males to continue here on their own! Thousands of birds - what an amazing site that is! At dusk the swans start to fly in from the fields. It is wonderful to see them landing in groups on the water. They were fed while we were there - not a necessity as there is plenty of food around for them, but to attract them to the hides for the visitors. Some of the cheeky Pochards seemed to take great pleasure in nipping the swans on their backsides! Most of the swans seemed oblivious to this!
Back to Inger and Bill's to rush off to a quiz in the cricket hall near their house in the evening. Oh dear - a great quiz, but the mud on the walk must have befuddled our brains! We won't be applying to go on Mastermind! Lovely food during the evening, most of which was prepared by Inger - and a bar there, of course!
After a much-needed night's sleep, we were given an amazing breakfast at the Inger/Bill "hotel" - cereals, porridge, boiled eggs, toast. Just the thing to set us up for another day. We drove into Ely for a walk along the tow-path (even that was muddy!), and back into Ely for tea/coffee and cakes. A visit to the beautiful Ely Cathedral finished the day.
Our thanks to Inger and Bill for their wonderful hospitality, and for putting up with us all for a whole weekend. It was great!
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