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Walk reports 2014 : December to January

Reports on SWC walks from December to January

69 comments:

Thomas G said...

Wednesday 03/12/14 Extra Walk 32 Holmwood - Reigate
8 Walkers, a train delay of 20 minutes, fair weather until lunch, then about an hour of spittle. Nice, varied walk with plenty of pretty woodlands, if maybe a tad too much tarmac/concrete.
Excellent lunch pub The Plough, on a pretty green, with good value food and an exceptionally welcoming publican. 4 paced ahead (sandwichers and fast eaters), 4 didn't.
We had also lost 10-15 minutes by making a wrong turn just before lunch (left at a hedge corner, yes, but THIS side of the hedge, rather than on the other side, grrrh!). Meaning we probably walked 17 km in total. Despite that: 16.38 train for the stragglers, and time for a swift one on the way to the station at The Market Stores, as well.

Thomas G said...

Saturday 06/12/14 Extra Walk 129 Berwick to (East Dean or) Birling Gap
I didn't count the crowd, but at a glance it looked like mid-20s to maybe a bit more. Maybe someone from the main group can report ? I and 1 other pulled away from the group, as we wanted to walk the full walk. We were soon overtaken though(unheard of!!!!) by a third walker, whom we never saw again. Wilmington came too early for lunch, so we just checked out church and yew tree and continued to the 8 Bells in Jevington. Lunch there was lovely, their Specials Board providing far more interesting choices than the online menu suggests. Just before leaving, SWC stalwart Pete B arrived for coffee and crips (what a combination!), but he intended to shortcut from the next ridge directly into Eastbourne. So we didn't wait for him and off we went, arriving at Flagstaff Point minutes before sunset, which kept us looking back over our shoulder all the way to Birling Gap. With the cafe closed by then, we roadwalked up to East Dean for the 16.51 bus.
A flawless walk, thoroughly enjoyable, on a blue sky day.

Bill S said...

Saturday 6 December: Book 1 Walk 43 - Otford Circular. 30 on this walk I thing, if you include the couple of late starters. Almost perfect walking weather: blue sky all day with warm (for December) sunshine, though some frost lingered all day where it was shaded my hedgerow. Plenty of mud, but mostly of the slippery surface variety (two, at least, of our number lost their footing and went over) rather than the deep, boggy stuff. As the Fox and Hounds was reportedly closed (a fact confirmed by one walker who took a detour to check it out) all I think pressed on to Shoreham for lunch where most of those not did not have sandwiches ate in the Ye Olde George. I can't speak for the rest, most of who disapeared to the rear of the pub to find a table, but the two of us who were first to order were served our food with commendable speed (and in my case, an excellent pint). The small group of us who left the pub first made it back to back in Otford before 3.00 and, deciding to forgo the pleasure of tea and cake (too soon after lunch), had all departed from the station to destinations various by quarter past. A glorious day out.

Walker said...

Saturday 6 December: Berwick to East Dean: To expand on Thomas G's account, I actually counted 16 or 17 at the start, but am happy to be contradicted. Certainly a lovely friendly group on a perfect day - blue skies, golden sun, not a breath of wind, ground frozen on the hollows and on the north face of the downs. All winter days should be like this..

The bulk of us lunched at wonderful Giant's Rest in Wilmington, enjoying its food and tabletop puzzles. Then up onto the lovely downs. On the way into Jevington we stopped at the church which was offering free teas (for a donation). Then straight up onto the downs again, in beautiful low sunlight, for the last stretch to East Dean. Most reached this in daylight. Three lingered to see the moonrise.

A few got the bus here. But eleven of us regrouped in the Tiger Inn and nine set off from here to walk in the moonlight to Birling Gap and Beachy Head. We ate dinner in the pub there and then got taxis at 9pm to Eastbourne (Just £6.30 per car for future reference) for the 9.30 train.

PeteB said...

Er... just to add a point or two to Thomas' post below. My coffee and crisps were just a mid-afternoon snack after my picnic lunch soaking up the sun in the church at Wilmington. After the long climb from Jevington I decided to go on to East Dean where I cheated on the route to Birling Gap by taking a more direct path (thank you GPS) rather than the "dog leg". I too then had 30 mins road walking to the main road before catching a bus all the way to Brighton where I took a fast train at around 6.20pm. A fine walk apart from the first three miles which frankly to me are a bit tedious especially in winter mud.

ramblinros said...

Variation of Guildford 2 Gomshall short, Bk2 Wlk 13
I waited to see reports of posted muddy walks, to recommend this un-posted sandy walk which I enjoyed on Saturday - went via sandy Chantrey Wood and then on along still sandy paths to Shere and Gomshall - glorious views on a a sunny day - great walk and instructions - lots of variations possible with a useful bus back as trains infrequent - see my comments on the walk if interested.

Ian T said...

Sat 6 Dec Otford Circular
Approximately 30 on this walk. A fine if frosty day. Occasionally muddy.(Which, I guess, is a given till spring). Scenic, varied, some slopes. The Fox and Hounds was closed but we made Shoreham by 1:30, 2:00 and the Old George made an adequate and friendly replacement. The ambience was probably enhanced by the abundance of Hobgoblin.
This late stop made for a shorter afternoon. I should think most made a three-ish train. Not satisfied with such an easy finish, however, I decided to take a detour across muddy fields and approach Otford from a different angle, catching the 16:16. And what a fine train it was.

Pete G said...

Sun 7th Dec Amberley to Arundel
Just 2 of us on this walk. It was raining as the train left us on the station, but it stopped once we got going and it turned into a lovely sunny day. The George was fully booked but we had a space for a drink on the sofa
a by the fire. The stretch along the river was surprisingly solid underfoot.

Andrew said...

Some pages have changed slightly, so they work better on mobiles (with narrower screens)

Andrew said...

Did any midweek walker's make it to Stone Point? Feedback/piccies appreciated to update the walk

Thomas G said...

Wednesday 10/12/14 Extra Walk 52 Clacton-on-Sea to Walton-on-the Naze
Just one walker, despite perfect weather for this walk: sun all day and a breeze from behind. An offshore wind farm right off Clacton (Gunfleet Sands) adds to the scenery and a long stretch of the coast walk is currently barred off because of works to fortify the sea defences, meaning walking along the higher roadside path. This was interesting to watch, actually: a dredger a few hundred meters out pumping sand and gravel through a floating pipeline to right in front of the promenade, where massive diggers distributed it. The level of the beach will be raised by quite a few meters (plus new rock groynes replace wooden ones etc.).
Nice curry at The Oakwood Inn (full of OAPs, but with space at the bar). Onwards along the tarmac sea wall path (the tide was in all the way to Walton, so no walking on the sand on the main walk).
Extension through Walton, for a short stretch along a new cliff-protecting Crag Walk, and then along the sand below the cliff, but not all the way out to Stone Point, Andrew, but rather anti-clockwise around the Naze peninsula into the dusk. Torch for the last 10 minutes or so. No pics from me, anyway, sorry!

Walker said...

Saturday 13 December: SWC walk 196 - Wadhurst to Tunbridge Wells: 34 on this walk, including two late starters, on yet another perfect blue sky day (the third sunny Saturday in a row). The morning was particularly stunning, with a series of glorious hilltop views and we all, I think, managed to squeeze into the cosy, busy George Inn.

I hear some faster walkers got turned away from the Juliet tea room. Arriving a bit later five or six of us were luckier and can highly recommend this venue. Later eight of us had drinks at the Opera House and a Thai meal.

PeteB said...

Saturday 13 December. Book 1 Walk 4 Pangbourne Circular. Just 2 of us on this lovely Thames Valley walk in perfect blue sky weather. The new lunch pub - the Sun Inn is excellent and reasonably cheap,I had a lovely big bowl of warming pumpkin soup with warm bread and butter.
Consideration should be given to re-working the directions and the gpx route file as it is now a little pointless taking you past the White Lion as it looks unlikely it is going to reopen as a pub.

PeteB said...

Sunday 14 December. Book 2 Walk 18a Wadhurst Circular - short walk. 8 on this walk plus 1 who took an earlier train and did the full circular version. Excellent day out in good company. Weather generally fine apart from a couple of short and light showers. After lunch at the White Hart in Wadhurst where we were given complimentary mince pies 5 of us decided to extend the walk by taking a longer loop back to Wadhurst station. This took us to the edge of Bewl Water and subsequently some fine views of the reservoir on the way to Cousley Wood before picking up the original loop route at Turners Green. Overall this made the total walk around did 8.5-9 miles. In order to catch the 15.30 train we took an (ahem) "shortened" route at the back of the Rock Robin flats to meet our early starter on the platform with the train pulling into the station. An anarchic day out with lots of laughs.

JohnE said...

Sun 14 Dec - SWC walk 83a (short version) Crowthorne to Sandhurst or Blackwater. 5 walkers. Fine walking weather. A very varied and pleasant morning incorporating views of the remarkable Wellingtonia Avenue, an avenue of sequoias planted in 1869 and now of significant height, the delightful Heath Pond, and Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve, former aggregate extraction pits now supporting good numbers of wildfowl. Towards the end of the morning we came across a couple of flooded sections of the path, the first of which we negotiated somewhat hesitantly. At the second, four of us improvised a detour through some neighbouring fields, while the remaining member of the group, wearing wellies, braved the flood. Unfortunately the flood was deeper than the wellies were high! The Frog and Wicket at Eversley Cross was unable to provide bar food until 2pm, so we moved on to the nearby Chequers, which, although crowded, provided Sunday lunches in reasonable time but rather expensively. The afternoon, mostly along the River Blackwater, was undemanding and less varied. We arrived at Sandhurst soon after 3pm, where four took the train towards Guilford. The fifth continued alongside the river to Blackwater, taking a further 40 mins or so, arriving well before darkness descended and in good time for the 1614 train to Reading. An enjoyable day out, but the flood was a problem - three options: turn round and go back to find another route, trespass, water in boots. I suppose we should have taken the first of these.

tartanrug said...

Wednesday 17 Dec - Tring variations
3 walkers, one for the longer route with beacon and Berkhamptead, two for the monument and a long lunch at the Greyhound in Albury, returning from Tring. Quite warm and fairly muddy. Well worth getting out of bed for.

Walker said...

Saturday 13 December: Edenbridge to Westerham: Probably around 12 on this walk according to one walker. One group split off to go to an off route pub. Another found the Chartwell self service restaurant very crowded and had sandwiches instead. The off route pub group had finished the walk by 2.30pm.

Walker said...

Saturday 20 December: Second walk: SWC walk 35 Cuxton to Sole Street: 12 on this walk plus one late starter who soon caught up by doing the shorter start. All but one of the rest of us did the main walk. It was yet another glorious sunny day - the fourth sunny Saturday in a row - though this one differed from its predecessors by clouding up later.

This proved to be a fine winter outing with nice views and not excessive amounts of mud. We knocked off the 7 mike morning with ease, reaching lunch after 2.5 hours at 1.45pm. We tried the Golden Lion first but they were not doing food (making one wonder just how they proposed to make money on such an isolated spot) but the nearby Cock Inn was both welcoming and offered a decent menu.

After lunch one or two headed for the 3.49 train. The rest of us made use of the remaining hour of light to do the afternoon loop. Some then skipped tea in Cobham to head for the 4.49, but four of us were enticed into the Darnley Arms by the offer of tea and cake for £3.50 and had a big pot of tea and delicious eatables. We then had a nice walk in the dark across field and down lane to the station, where we had a brief drink in the busy Railway Inn and caught the 5.49 back to the bright lights.

Thomas G said...

Saturday 20 December: SWC Extra Walk 30 Battle Circular - early train (8.45) for a long-ish walk (20.3 km) due to a walk-check taking place
9 walkers (some "I will always take the longest walk on offer"-walkers, some others, but almost all chatty folks), most of which stuck together for most of the time, even volunteering (!) to extend the lunch at the pleasant Netherfield Arms for the walk-checker to finish his meal, so we could re-start together. Lovely walk despite the very muddy ground (London Clay apparently), with some great vistas, especially in the morning towards teh South Downs and from the lunch destination Netherfield.
1 fast non-pub lunch walker was last seen way before lunch, 1 other sped off at the end in Battle to buy socks (?), the rest tried - and approved of - the Battle Deli & Coffee Shop. 16.44 train.

Anonymous said...

Saturday 20th Dec Wanborough to Godalming. I didn't count but about 20 or so walkers. Near the start, a new and pleasant route was found to avoid the almost-always-muddy footpath (an update has been added to the comments section for that). A sunny day, the usual good food at The Withies and most stopped for refreshments at Mila's Cafe in Godalming.

PeteB said...

Sunday 21 December Book 2 Walk 4 variant Chesham circular. 12 on this excellent Chilterns ramble with some fine views and one or two tricky descents on slippery mud. The mud was not too bad however apart from a difficult cattle and tractor churned field crossing just before the Bell Inn which served excellent Xmas food plus a veggie option. After lunch we took the "park" option rather than endure a long road walk back into Chesham and this route is excellent and should be incorporated as the main route option. 4 of us had delicious tea and cakes at the Drawing Room before the long tube ride home. Great company and an excellent short winter walk with lots of red kites swooping and soaring around.

David Colver said...

To echo PeteB: the Drawing Room's chocolate and ginger cake with melting bits of chocolate embedded in it is, in the phrase reserved by Michael Winner for the truly memorable, historic, and worth a special journey. Definitely the highlight of the cake year.

tartanrug said...

Wednesday 24 December - Leigh Circular
Nineteen walkers at the start, with sone welcome sun on the approach to Penshurst. Fifteen had lunch at the Leicester Arms. Not sure if all opted for the short route to Leigh, but a few made the 16.23 with a stop in the pub in Leigh, and four caught the 16.47 after a carol in the church, which was packed to bursting, and a quickie in the pub. A good Christmas Eve.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday 24.12.14 Christmas eve short walk with a longish lunch
21 people turned up for this
The weather started as grey but mild and then the sun burst through for half an hour before lunch making for a warm morning – we saw men going about in shorts ( though thankfully none of them was with us ).
15 of us sat down to lunch at the Leicester Arms in our own dining room and it was excellent though it was noted much to the chagrin of some that Christmas pud was not on the dessert menu.
The afternoon stroll back was somewhat cloudy with sun shining in the distance but never actually on us. Not too cold however and virtually no mud for the whole day, so even me as a milquetoast, had no worries about slipping or getting my shoes too dirty
The bird chatter was very loud in the hedgerows, surprisingly so, and we saw a fly fisherman catch a large ( say 30 inch ) trout on a lake at Penshurst Place.
Some finished at a carol service in the church at Leigh whilst some others eschewed that option and went for refreshment at Fleur de Lis before the train home with an ohhh so gentle snooze.
Happy Christmas all

Anonymous said...

Wednesday 24.12.14 Xmas Eve Leigh walk. Just to add to the previous comments that some did a longer walk, 3 started from Penshurst and a small group extended the walk to Tonbridge. This area offers possibilities for a number of shorter/longer walk options, meeting at Penshurst at lunchtime, such as Penshurst to Tonbridge, Penshurst to Leigh, Hever to Leigh, all can be done with or without the Chiddingstone loop.

Walker said...

Saturday 27 December: Book 2, walk 13 Guildford to Gomshall: 12 on this walk. Congratulations to Bridie for an excellent choice, which had all the elements one wanted from a post-Christmas walk: pleasant sunny intervals, some energetic climbs to work off those festive calories, and almost no mud.

The weather was a particular surprise given that we had awoken to leaden skies and a none too cheerful forecast. It got a bit more cloudy as the day wore on but not excessively so, and the frequent sunbursts lit up the landscape very pleasingly.

There was a somewhat brisk pace and the group stretched out a bit, but at least five of us lunched in the White Horse. Two of us did option c) the longer afternoon loop, which is highly recommended - fabulous views and the whole thing only took us 45 minutes. We still managed to just about squeeze into Tillings Tea Room and got the 4.04pm train. Others in the group got the 3.53pm, we presume.

Sean said...

Saturday 16 March, Extra Walk 177: Chipstead to Kingswood (or rather, back to Chipstead). Nine walkers set out on a bleak day which looked as if it might brighten up but never did. For a midwinter walk after overnight rain the mud wasn't too bad; we probably avoided the worst by taking the shorter route through Banstead Wood. Another party of walkers had beaten us to the Well House Inn but the pub wasn't full and those eating were served their soup and baguettes promptly enough.

As the walk design lamentably included an open downland route into a strong cold wind no one quibbled with the suggestion to take the shorter ending back to Chipstead. All but one then took up J&J's very generous invitation back to Coulsdon for tea, home-made mince pies and cakes, and much more besides. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Saturday 27 December 2014. Just to add to walkers comment above, at least 2 others did option C in the afternoon and we were rewarded with some stunning views plus sunshine coming through later on. Tillings was closed when we reached Gomshall but the Mill and Compasses were open so after some refreshments we took the later train. A stunning walk, I thought.

Chris L said...

Sunday 28 December, Extra Walk 228, Totteridge Circular. 16 walkers on a bright, crisp winter's day appreciated this pleasant area of rural countryside so close to the London suburbs. The ubiquitous mud was easily negotiable, and a small promised quagmire did not disappoint. The food at the Three Hammers was good, plentiful and arrived reasonably quickly, though the service might be less prompt on busier days.

The group stayed together for most of the day until 6 chose to complete the main walk to Totteridge & Whetstone station, and an excellent tea & cakes at Coffee Culture. The direct ending to Totteridge along the Dollis Brook would probably be nicer than the main ending through suburban streets. The rest of the group headed off on the optional extensions to High Barnet or Cockfosters, which they may have reached before dusk fell.

Walker said...

Tuesday 30 December: SWC walk 21 Sevenoaks Circular: 14 on this walk, including at least one newcomer. A perfect sunny, frosty day (ground frozen in many places) and this walk seemed perfectly made for it. Most of us even sat outside, in little patches of sun, having lunch at Ightham Mote. (Two or three possibly also went to the Padwell Arms). It clouded up from 2pm, but we had flashes of sun later . The Malabar cafe (new to me) was a cosy place in Sevenoaks for tea, with a nice selection of cakes.

Mike said...

Sunday 28/12 Horsley-West Byfleet and Monday 29/12 Box Hill.
Only 3 for each of these walks, with myself as the common denominator, on sunny cold days. We made good progress from Horsley admiring Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower (posters to note - this one would benefit from being posted on heritage day when workings of said tower can be seen for free). The forced detour to avoid a missing bridge added to the distance, but we did well to reach the canal side Anchor pub for 1.45 - very busy but fast service, good food. Caught the 3.05/3.10 trains.
Later start for Box Hill walk. Familiar route to Mickleham for lunch then new paths for the return to station, on West side of River Mole. We decided against continuing to Bookham - personally I'd have done this if we'd started earlier.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday 31 December Epping to Chingford. 16 walkers on this pleasant and easy walk through Epping Forest on mainly dry, wide paths. We stopped at the Kings Oak for lunch and Butlers Retreat by Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge offered a tea stop with pleasant views. This walk makes a nice addition to the SWC collection.

Anonymous said...

Thursday 1 January Westhumble Circular. It was hard to count how many exactly, about 30-40 walkers. A pleasant walk with some nice open views and a cloudy, slightly misty day and a tad milder than recently. Some headed off on a short cut in the morning with others following their lead and celebrated New Year with champagne at Polesden Lacey. Others did the full morning section which was apparently very pleasant and not particularly muddy. The restaurant and cafe at Polesden Lacey worked well as a lunchtime stop for a big group and was not overly busy. I think all did the full afternoon walk. Most went to The Stepping Stones for post walk drinks and a few to Pilgrim Cycles Cafe for tea.

Anonymous said...

On 29th December Bea, Mike and Jane did a very pleasant ascent of Boxhill and then return walk to
Boxhill via Norbury Park in bright sunshine.Two other Saturday walkers were doing different versions on that same day. The walk was slightly curtailed because of christmas commitments jfk

Anonymous said...

Saturday third January Guildford round
One walker, accompanied by smirr and rain for most of the walk. A superb lunch at Withies Inn, as usual. Rather a dreadful journey back on the train due to PEW and a passenger taken ill.

Walker said...

Saturday 3 January: SWC walk 236 Cowden to Eridge via Fordcombe: 9 on this fine new Weald walk, NOT including its creator, who baulked at the weather forecast. Emblazon it in gold letters across this website, embroider it on a cushion and scatter it on your sofa: the weather is rarely anything like as bad as forecast. We had a kind of misty drizzle in the morning and clearer air with only the odd spot of rain in the afternoon (and one exciting though brief sunny interval.) The only heavier rain came conveniently as we approached the lunch pub.

It was squelchy, however: it was muddy. But no worse that Weald walks in January are wont to be. In the afternoon there were some stunning views and I am sure that when this walk gets a rerun in the spring or summer it will become a firm favourite. Future SWC-ites will doze on those hills in the sunshine (I reminded myself).

The lunch pub was cosy enough inside and the food was excellent, but the landlord was more than a bit grumpy, moaning about us arriving in wet clothes and taking the food orders sullenly. Let's hope he was just having an off day.

The tea place is weird - you walk right into a hospital annex, sure you are trespassing or that the place is shut. But no, there it is and it serves decent cakes, albeit in a somewhat institutional atmosphere. In summer it would have a nice outside terrace with a view down the hill.

One of the group left the pub in indignation at the landlord's unfriendliness and was never seen again. Two split off before tea to go a shorter route even than the one in the document to Ashurst. Six of us paddled on, getting to Eridge as the last light faded. Three then took the train home and three of us went to the Huntsman for a drink.

Later the skies cleared and a bright near full moon cast a ghostly pallor over the meadows as I went for a moonlight walk. But that, alas, was when I was back home in my local greenbelt.

Walker said...

A farewell to Platform 5 on London Bridge, which closes for rebuilding on 12 January. Many a happy SWC expedition has started from this unlovely 1970s slab of tarmac (albeit with a stunning view of the Shard) - trains to Stonegate and Wadhurst and Pluckley and Folkestone and Wye. From what I gather when Charing Cross services call once again at London Bridge from mid 2016 they will be on one of the new through platforms. So cheerio, platform 5: you did good.

PeteB said...

Sunday 4 January. Book 2 Walk 28 variation - Seaford to Birling Gap. 12 on this 8m shortened version of the Book 2 classic. 2 people caught an early train; 9 of us left on the scheduled 9.47 and one caught a bus to Exceat to start the walk from there, thus cleverly avoiding the only muddy stretch on the way to the lunch-time pub.
The journey stated in fog and gloom in London but at Seaford the clouds parted and we had glorious sunshine throughout the day

The Cuckmere Inn has a slow waitress service so 5 of us went on the short distance to the Saltmarsh tea rooms which serves excellent cheap food. Most of us had warming soups with tasty fresh bread which set us up nicely for the up and down to Birling Gap with the Downs looking superb in the beautiful winter light. We all met up around 3.15pm in the incredibly busy Birling Gap tea rooms with their huge portions of delicious cake before a group of us caught the bus all the way back to Brighton. On the way we took in a beautiful sunset over the Cuckmere meanders as we descended into Exceat; a fitting end to what all agreed had been a marvellous day out.

If the weather is dry and fine I might set another South Downs excursion for one of my February Sunday slots.

KathyH said...

Sunday Jan 5. SWC walk 37 Knockholt to Otford. 18 eager walkers on a very misty (but dry) day not too far from London. The George Inn at Shoreham managed to squeeze in 8 who wanted lunch there, the church at Shoreham was as lovely as ever and apparently we just missed sherry and cakes in honour of the vicar who was leaving this weekend. I don’t think anyone stopped for tea as, despite the walk described as only 7.9 miles, it seemed to take quite a while to complete (perhaps it was the mud.., or maybe the many stiles..), and by 3.30 the mist was rapidly turning into darkness, still, I think the trains all ran more-or-less on time, so not a bad day out for a Winter Sunday - although I am envious of the Seaford group who reportedly had "glorious sunshine"!)

branchline said...

Seaford to Birling Gap 4th Jan 2015

I can confirm that there was glorious sunshine on Sunday. A lovely walk.
I can also confirm that the early bird definitely gets the worm - or, in this case the early starters got served lunch quickly but this could be because we were almost the only ones in the pub at 12.05!

Sean said...

Wednesday 7 January, Extra Walk 43: Whyteleafe to Woldingham. Three walkers sensibly ignored Anon's misleading advice to travel to a different station and alighted at Upper Warlingham as directed. They soon encountered a local ne'er-do-well sprawled across a park bench, who had been tempted out on this overcast day by Pie Day at the Harrow Inn. The leading two of the foursome duly took a short cut to this hostelry and consumed enough calories to replenish those lost on the walk, or indeed several walks. Meanwhile the back markers had taken a slightly longer route and were overhauled just before their own lunch at the Coach House (with its famously large omelettes), allowing a brief reunion before the leaders set off on the shorter afternoon leg and a small top-up at the Dene Coffee Shop.

This walk's charms are not easily revealed at the best of times, and a poster in King's Wood proclaiming its delights in all seasons (spring bluebells, summer foliage, autumn colours) could only offer "winter tracery", whatever that is. Rather more prominent was the incessant mud, although not quite as bad this time as it can be. I shall be back for the bluebells (and the pies...)

Walker said...

Saturday 10 January: SWC walk 112 Stonegate to Robertsbridge: 8 on this walk, including one late starter. A great choice, with fine panoramic views and there was general agreement that it should be done more often. There seemed to be a less mud than usual on Wealden walks (though it was not mud-free: I still looked like a building worker on the tube home).

The seven of us on the specified train all set off to do the longer Book 2 morning, but the three faster walkers unwittingly diverted onto the shorter standard option and so got to lunch even further ahead of us than might be expected. They had sandwiches in the churchyard, and we hope they found some way to extend the afternoon walk to make up for their morning shortfall.

The rest of us had a pleasant lunch in the not over-crowded Rose and Crown, at which we were joined by the late starter who had also done the standard (ie shorter) morning. The five of us then had a very pleasant afternoon, enjoying the backward views of Burwash and a "hidden valley" on a country estate.

We were using the very last dregs of the light as we approached Robertsbridge (it was maybe fully dark for the last quarter hour) and we got to the Ostrich pub at 5.10pm. Some then got the 5.44 train and others stayed until….7.14, was it?

Anonymous said...

Saturday January 3rd: Belated report Bow Brickhill to Leighton Buzzard. Just one on this walk. Perhaps the wet weather?

Anonymous said...

Sat 10th Witley to Haslemere. 12 walkers, very nice walk, at one point we thought it would rain but by the time we got kitted up it stopped again, sunshine and gentle breezes for the rest of the day. Quite a bit of mud along the bridleways after the recent heavy rain.

Thomas G said...

Sunday 11 Jan 15, SWC 3/69 Welwyn Garden City Circular.
20.8km/12.9mi per the gpx file, as it was walked today, with the out-and-back to Wheathampstead for lunch. 10.05 train, 26 mins journey, £5,60 for the Super-Off-Peak Return with a Network Railcard.

I walked this today with Capital Walkers (a 35-55 year subset of The Ramblers) and I'm putting this up here, as I was astounded by the number of people turning up, and - of course - in light of the ongoing discussion about posting longer walks here.

47 walkers off the allocated train plus 3 others who had missed that train, gone to an Internet Cafe, googled for 'Welwyn Circular', found our walk, printed the directions and caught up with the group mid-afternoon. Plus 3 others who walked independently of us with the printout in hand, just ahead initially, but eventually out of sight.
This was deemed a high number for CW, probably on account of there unusually having been no walk yesterday, plus because of the good weather forecast.
About 10 first-timers other than me, no other familiar SWC-faces.

Very slow pace, in light of the large group and some reaaally slow folk, with lots of stop-starting for the leading walkers.
Despite that, back in Welwyn at 16.30 hours.

tartanrug said...

Richmond circular Sunday 11 January

12 walkers. A beautiful sunny day for our most enjoyable short walk from Richmond station. An ideal choice in my view for a winter walk. It made a very pleasant change from sliding around in the mud. Pembroke Lodge is temporarily closed. Whilst we did try to get in to the Lass O'Richmond Hill for lunch, it was full, and we had to make do with the barely adequate Roebuck. However what the pub lacked in culinary flair the jovial company more than compensated. Four walked on the extra mile or so to Kew bridge and the Express Tavern which is highly recommended. A good day out. Possibly a great day out.

Pauline

PeteB said...

Sunday 13 January. Extra walk 235i Tonbridge to Penshurst shorter afternoon version. 14 on this walk setting out in lovely weather. Muddy in parts but not demoralisingly so. At Penshurst a couple went to the Porcupine Pantry, a few others had sandwiches but the majority ate at the Leicester Arms hotel where the walk author's famed diplomatic skills managed to convince the pub/hotel to open up a separate room so the group could all eat together so top marks to the Leicester Arms. The food was pretty good too by alláccounts.

In the afternoon most of the group went to visit the Chiding stone for some mutual chiding and thence to the tea rooms whilst a small group of us set off for Penshurst station and a cuppa in the Little Brown Jug. We all met up again at the station and with the weather starting to close in caught a train to Redhill around 4.40pm to pick up connecting trains to London. An excellent day out in vibrant company and another fine walk to add to our Penshurst collection.

branchline said...

Saturday 10 January: Dorking to Reigate – about 30 on the walk with a couple of people joining us later in the walk.
A pretty walk – and although very muddy in places, there were some stretches on tarmac paths which made for easier walking.
Good views over to Box Hill, and a lot of the walk done by the River Mole, which was in places narrow and still, and in others, massive and gushing.
Very efficient service in the Dolphin Pub (one walker had kindly phoned ahead) and really nice food.

Tea (not in the advertised Tearooms) was OK – and then it seemed most of us caught the 3.34 train back to London.

Anonymous said...

Sat Jan 17, Otford to Eynsford, 25-30 walker - I lost count. As forecast, we were greeted by sleet at the station, but it soon stopped and sun came out by 12pm. Lovely walk with some mud (nothing too taxing). Most had lunch at King's Arms - excellent food with generous portions - value for money. The pub was full, so booking is recommended for future outings. Tea at Lullingstone Park Visitor Center - convenient but uninspiring (tea served in a cup just not do for some). A group of us did a detour after tea then visited the ruins of Eynsford Castle. Some then went to a pub, whilst others caught 5:13pm train back to London. A very nice day out in good company.

Ian T said...

Sat 17 Jan. Hayes to Knockholt.
26 on this walk. Sunny day, frosty to start but got milder. About half of us went to the Queens Head for lunch which was fine. The rest went to the Blacksmiths in Cudham which they also said was fine. In fact when the two groups reassembled for the 16:16, they wouldn’t stop banging on about how good the Blacksmiths was, how cheap the food, was etc etc and how I should be sure to mention it. Okay! Okay! One or two stopped off at Darwin’s House. Walk quite scenic after lunch. Directions ok but the section through the disused golf course a bit vague.

Ian T said...

Sun 18 Jan. Saunderton to Princes Risborough
4 on the suggested walk, 2 got a later train and did the start of the circular. A murky start but a dry day getting brighter. One or two claggy fields and (in the afternoon) waterlogged gates.The early train may have deterred some and, with hindsight a later start with lunch at the Whip would have made for a more balanced walk. But then we would have missed lunch in Bledlow. It is 3 hours walk to the Lions and then a short afternoon, so we got to Princes Ris about 3:30. That said, the morning is enjoyable with good scenery and makes an interesting change to the standard walk. And the Lions was good though sadly the veg chilli has disappeared from the menu. That’s like Big Ben not chiming or the moon disappearing from orbit.

PeteB said...

Sunday 18 January Book 2 Walk 15b Coulsdon South Circular. 4 on this walk setting off in very gloomy but atmospheric weather, Because of the late start we reached the Fox on Coulsdon Common just after 12 which meant the pub was virtually empty and we could easily get a table. The pub looks far more spruce than I remember it and is a very pleasant place to enjoy a meal.

In the afternoon we had a bit of slog along muddy enclosed paths but were rewarded with some fine views. The weather improved and the last leg along the ridge at Farthing Down was done in glorious sunshine with tremendous views. We all caught a packed train back to London Bridge. A fine day out and I picked up some very useful info about replacement combi boilers so thanks for that Sylvia.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday mid week walk 14 Jan
Borough Green to Sevenoaks

5 walkers apparently.

Arthur Dent said...

Wednesday mid week walk 14 Jan
Borough Green to Sevenoaks
Five of us on the Walk. Although predominantly overcast, no rain and the sun peeked through from time to time. There's a Co-op and cash point just outside Borough Green station - so great for folks needing to pick up cash and something to eat if necessary. Then on to Basted village (always a pleasure to walk through) to Ightham Mote for soup at the NT café. In view of the mud, we walked back on the more northern Stone Street route, passing the new lavender plantation just beforehand. The orchard on the right just before Great Rodger's Wood now sadly gone. On to Sevenoaks Preparatory School where there was a Sports Day. We managed to avoid being drawn into any activities as we negotiated the right of way through their playing field. Next, Knole Park with the NT Café still shut, however the building work looks well under way. We didn't dally in Sevenoaks, but made straight for the Station (where you could pick up a cuppa if there was time) and back to the Metropoles

DAC said...

Saturday 10 January: Extra Walk 34 – Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton. 4 of us only just made the change over at Reading due to a late running train out of Paddington. The basic directions held up fairly well since the last walk check in January 2008. 3 of the group took the longer walk option to finish at Thatcham.

JohnE said...

Wed 21 Jan - Bk1/33 Mortimer to Aldermaston. 3 walkers on a humid but rainless day. Very interesting to see the Roman remains of Calleva, including the amphitheatre outside the town walls. Lunch at the Calleva Arms for one walker. Afternoon tea at the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust's cosy little café after crossing the complex system of weirs.

Anonymous said...

Jan 24/15, Shiplake to Henley, 18 enjoyed this lovely walk in glorious winter sun. A race to the pub in the morning, most got to Malsters Arms about 1-1:15pm after bagged in 7 miles in just over 2 hours. Lunch was delightful, generous portions and reasonable price. The group split to two in the afternoon. The pace was relaxing, 7 went to Valerie Patisserie for tea (this could be an alternative if you'd like a change from the recommended venue)and the other 7, after a 'scenic detour' in the woods went to the usual Chocolate Theatre Café in Henley. All met up at the station to take 5:24pm train. At least one did the long version Shiplake circular. I lost the track of the remaining three. A very nice day out in good company - some old and some new.

Anonymous said...

Saturday 24 January Higham Circular

Roughly 30 walkers, at least some of who had chosen this walk because of the later start. The Six Bells in Cliffe had just been taken over by new management and not yet serving food so the village store did a good trade in sandwiches and drinks were had in the pub. A lovely sunny day but a cold wind on the open stretches round Cliffe Pools. Some did the alternative to Gravesend and others returned to Higham. We passed semi-wild ponies, sheep and, of course, birds. There was some flooding and plenty of mud in the afternoon, quite deep in places and possibly churned up by the ponies so this one is best not done after heavy rain. Apparently one walker fell in the mud and ended up with a minor cut to the face.

Anonymous said...

Saturday 24th January Shiplake to Henley

20 walkers turned up, proving that an early start and longer walk is popular.I walked ahead of the main group, so perhaps someone else can report on the events of the day. The directions at para 31 need to be changed, since some new fencing has been constructed and there is no wooden field gate or "gap in the fence ahead". One of the highlights of this very varied walk was passing Shiplake church, where Alfred, Lord Tennyson married Emily Sellwood on 13th June 1850.

Walker said...

Saturday 24 January: Lewes to Saltdean, Southease or Berwick: 26 on this walk, which taken with the other three walks today makes a record Saturday turnout (since September 2011 when my records start) of 76.

It was a glorious day of sparkling sun and only a bit of a cold breeze at times - the perfect day to be on the downs, which were also relatively dry underfoot. The group all walked as far as Glynde and the crossing of the A27, using the SWC walk 47 route over Mount Caburn. Eleven walkers - all of whom had sandwiches with them - then decided to carry straight on up onto the downs (still the walk 47 route), with nine aiming to go on to Saltdean and two to Berwick over the downs. The rest of us would love to hear how they got on.

The other half of the group went to The Ram in West Firle (this lowland section having some mud), which served us with great dispatch despite being very busy. It was warm enough to sit outside.

After lunch one walker retired with a tendon injury (not serious we hope), one or two carried on along the published Lewis to Berwick route along the bottom of the downs judging from the comment they have posted on that walk's page, and 12 of us ascended onto the downs via the normal book two route.

Three then turned right to Southease, with nine of us turning left to follow the ridge in the opposite direction. We intended to descend to Berwick, but this would have put us in the shade and it was so nice up there on the ridge in the sunshine that we instead carried on to Alfriston and its pleasant tea/pub options.

The idea was then to take a bus at 4.53pm to Lewes, but when the time came seven of us decided to walk to Berwick station instead. The first third of this walk was in beautiful dusk - with the ridge of the downs silhouetted against an orange sky - and the rest in darkness, with some field crossings rather squelchy. But there was a lovely crescent moon (22.9% of a full moon) that gave just about enough light to see, and the stars twinkled overhead, and all in all this was a beautiful night walk.

We arrived at Berwick station just in time for a train. One took this, the rest of us went to the Berwick Arms, which has had a total revamp and is now a very comfortable and pleasant pub with sofas in front of a roaring fire (albeit that one disgruntled local we met on the platform of the station said it was now full of "Hooray Henries"). We ended spending two hours here and eating (nice food) before taking the 20.18 train home.

Those of us that walked all the way to Berwick calculate the walk at a shade over 13 miles, while the Saltdean walk would have been 12.2 miles (19.5km)…but maybe those walkers finished the job and carried on into Brighton?

Anonymous said...

Saturday 24 January: Lewes to Saltdean, Southease or Berwick

Report on the walk after lunch (when group divided with some going to the pub in West Firle and others continuing before stopping for packed lunch on the ascent to the downs).

Of the packed lunch group, some nine (?) continued up onto the South Downs Way (using section 2 of walk 47). The walk along the ridge was beautiful with clear panoramic views of the downland and sea with lots of fresh air.

Not long after passing a trig point (and what looked like an imprint of ancient hill fort?) we descended into the valley and across the A26 near Southease.

There three walkers decided to make their way to Lewes. The rest of us (six walkers) refuelled with very good tea and cake (and two with a belated lunch) at the YHA Itford farm (attractive place, quite busy).

Using walk 25 (alternative ending) we then continued over the River Ouse stopping briefly to check out the church in a quiet Southease (dating back almost a thousand years) before switching to part of walk 24 (from point 25?) towards Saltdean via a farm, Telscombe and s d way (not Rodmell itself).

We reached Saltdean around 4.30/5pm (?). There, two walkers caught the bus to Brighton, and the remaining four of us walked (alongside the sea on the undercliff path) in time to see the sun set and be replaced by the moon and what might have been Jupiter (??) in a clear night sky.

By the time Brighton pier came into view it was lit up like a Christmas tree. Great approach.

One walker recorded the length but I've forgotten. Felt like a long walk but in a good way.

At the pier we then veered into town towards the station and (with a return ticket to Lewes) caught the 18.19 train back to London, giving the new walk member enough time to get a celebratory drink or two for the journey where we reunited with one of the walkers who'd got the bus from Saltdean.

A great walk - thank you very much to the creator and poster!

As instructed we used walk route 47 (section 2) walk 25 (alternative ending to Saltdean) and part of walk 24. Plus an OS map and GPS.

(p.s. not much mud. In fact my boots unscathed and won't require major industrial style clean this week).


Emma

JohnL said...

Sunday 25 January, SWC 238 Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough. Seven walkers enjoyed better than forecast day on this new walk which starts with the reverse of the Leigh to Tunbridge Wells. Lunch is in the very attractive village of Bildenborough at the Kentish Hare. It is quite posh, with a busy restaurant on Sundays but the staff were welcoming and found tables for us in the bar. Food is very good if slightly more expensive that some but worth the extra. The afternoon takes you down to the Eden / Medway valley and it is very muddy along the river bank at this time of year. Having enjoyed a good lunch we were later that we might have been and all decided to take the shorter ending into Tonbridge. This is a worthwhile addition to the walks in this part of Kent which maybe needs to be rated as a 5. An enjoyable day out in good company and thanks to Sean for finding out the originally posted TW circular was not possible.

Anonymous said...

Reading the comments above, we have 26 walkers turning up for an early start walk and 30 turning up for a late start walk last weekend and good numbers doing both longer and shorter options proving that both early/late start and shorter/longer walks are all popular. So, can we try and have a fair mix of early/late start and short/long/walks to make the walks inclusive to a wide range of people and abilities.

Anonymous said...

Sunday 25 January, Watton-at-Stone Circular

Three people on the walk.
There was some mud making things slippery but otherwise going was good.
Lunch at The Boot was OK although the Boot burger was reported as disappointing (quote "It reminded me of my first attempt at making a burger"). The service was very slow considering there were only four people in the restaurant.

The slow service meant we opted to take a shorter route back to the station to avoid walking in the dark.
Upon crossing the A road, two headed off down to A road while the author followed the cross-country route. Eventually we were reunited at the station, arriving 3 minutes before the hourly train.

Overall a pleasant walk, good weather (one very brief shower while in the pub) with nice company.

Anonymous said...

A big thank you to all the people who post walks. Especially now that there are longer/shorter options which really must add to the time spent preparing the post.

Anonymous said...

Sat Jan 31, Buxted Circular. 9 walkers battled through mud, mud and more mud to a final victory! One fast walker disappeared into the thin air from the very start. The remaining 8 stayed together in the morning. Lovely scenery with ground covered with white snow in the morning. Totally unexpected, the sun even came out for a brief period just before lunch. The group reached the pub around 1:30pm and were served with hearty food at reasonable price and quickly. Three had pies which are specialty of the pub. While we were in the pub, the weather turned against us, we were greeted with light sleet in the afternoon. 2 walkers went ahead and 6 others stayed together. We probably had one of the worst muddy paths so far this year but we overcome the challenge to arrive at Buxted shortly after 4pm. Given the state of our boots and trousers, all decided to head straight to the train station rather than trying our luck at the restaurant near the station. We met up with the other two walkers at the station and 8 of us took 4:38pm train back to London. Some had tea during the interchange at East Croydon station. A nice day out despite the mud. All agreed this walk in muddy condition should be rated 5/10.

Walker said...

Saturday 31 January: SWC Walk 138 Chilham Circular: Waking to snow and grey skies it would have been easy to stay in bed today, but in fact 16 turned out for this walk, split between high speed and normal trains. Setting off it actually felt much less cold than expected and on the climb layers soon came off. While not mud free it was never annoyingly muddy, so this seems to be a good winter walk.

Having booked at the very cosy pub we in fact found it empty but for us and a few locals. Many had the "rambler's special" of soup (a bit tepid, I was told) and sandwich, but those of us who had mains found them delicious. I had a slight pang to see our table nicely laid with wine glasses and serviettes - I think they were expecting more formal diners ordering starters and desserts - but if so they hid their disappointment well. Six non-SWC walkers doing the Wye Circular who turned up as we left assuaged my guilt a bit.

After lunch there were fine escarpment views, and only once we descended to the valley did it start to sleet and rain. The compensation on the walk into Chilham were lots of snowdrops and one lone daffodil that I am sure repented its haste in blooming.

By the time we got to the village we were starting to get soggy but Shelly's tea room was a cosy and friendly place to dry off. There was brief excitement during tea when it started to snow in earnest but it did not settle. Most then got the 5.15. Four of us had a drink on the slightly bleak pub in the square (the one down the hill would have been a better choice) and got the 6.15 back to lovely St P.

KathyH said...

Saturday Jan 31: book 1, 11, Tring to Wendover. 5 of us set out to enjoy the Chilterns, 1 proposed adding several extra miles and making the walk into a Circular, so set off at a cracking pace and wasn't seen again. The reservoirs were full of ducks, geese, swans and we saw a heron and some cormorants as well as the ubiquitous kites. The hills were nicely dusted with snow and more sleet/snow started late morning. The Oak pub had good food but hadn't really ramped up their heating enough considering the chilly weather and the 4 who went there were rather cold. The afternoon was brighter and 2 of the group struck out for the hills and a view from the highest point in the Chilterns while 2 opted for the shortcut along the towpath and then rather good hot chocolate at Rumsey's Chocolaterie in Wendover. Nice to have a walk starting just half an hour from Euston, only downside is that the return to Marylebone meant 2 expensive singles.

Chris L said...

Wed 28 Jan, Wimbledon to Kingston. Two walkers, delayed by cancelled trains, started half an hour late and navigated their own route across Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park without seeing any of the main group. Were there any in the main group?