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Walk reports 2015 : February to March

Reports on SWC walks from February to March

For April reports onwards please use the post above

63 comments:

Ian T said...

Sun 1 Feb Tring Circular
Just 3 for this walk on a fine, if chilly, day. Particularly biting wind up on the ridge. Remnants of snow in places but apparently not cold enough to freeze the shallow, slippery mud that was a constant feature. Bridgewater Arms quite busy. Tea at the Brownslow café then back to Tring for the 3:35.

Pete G said...

Wed 4 Feb Chesham to Great Missenden
9 of us braved the cold, and even got some weak winter sunshine for the morning. Not too muddy for the time of year, perhaps helped by the frost. 6 of us cut the afternoon short by cutting off the loop after the pub - too much pasta weighing us down!

Walker said...

Sunday 8 February: SWC walk 208 Etchingham to Wadhurst. 10 (or possibly 11) on this walk, which made a fine winter outing, with mice views in places and not much mud. The latter was partly due to the walk having several sections on tracks and lanes, but also maybe to a week of cold, dry windy weather.

For lunch we split between the upmarket Bell in Ticehurst - nice food, I hear, but service a bit slow - and the wonderfully friendly Bull in Three Legged Cross who reassured us when we found the restaurant area fully booked with the words "Don't worry: we WILL feed you" directing us to a table in the bar where food of huge portions was promptly produced.

By the time we emerged the brightish cloud had given way to full sun and we had an idyllic walk along the lanes and over the hills to Wadhurst that for about an hour felt - dare I say it? - springlike. Several primroses and one drumming woodpecker seemed to be of the same opinion.

We had tea at the Greyhound in Wadhurst - nice teapots, though one felt a bit wistful for cake - and departed severally down the back lanes or main road to get 5pm, 5.30pm or later trains.

No Bewl Water options were attempted today - something for spring or summer maybe? - but the standard walk nicely filled the daylight and all seemed content.

Walker said...

Just to clarify that no mice were harmed during the writing of the previous comment, nor seen on the walk either. But some of the views were NICE (a word I was taught in primary school that one should never use in descriptions, so maybe extensive, panoramic, sweeping, charming...)

JohnL said...

Sunday 8 February Goring Circular, Seven walkers. The train from Reading to Goring broke down / was cancelled and passengers were put into taxis or at least a taxi queue with their fare paid by First not so Great Western. Five decided to start the walk at Pangbourne whilst two car drivers set off separately from Goring. At various points in the day I met Saturday Walkers coming the other way as they made their way round the circuit. Brilliant sunshine for most of the day along what is one of the least spoilt stretches of the Thames. Two of us had lunch in the Greyhound, plenty of tables free at 13:00, with good beer and reasonable prices. It got busier at around 14:00 and with only two staff, one on the bar and one in the kitchen, would possibly be overwhelmed by 15 walkers all arriving at the same time. Neither of the two cafes in Goring are open on Sundays.

Bill S said...

Saturday 8 February: Book 2, Walk 2 - Saunderton circular via Bledlow Ridge. Five of us set out from Marylebone on a train that had been inexplicably rescheduled to leave 20 minutes later than it should have done according to the timetable. One bailed out at South Ruislip after a ticket inspector claimed that he was unable to see them a boundary zone 6 to Saunderton ticket, insisting instead that they should pay the full fare from Marylebone, despite their having a Freedom pass that was valid to zone 6. That left four of us to set off from Saunderton under an overcast sky that stayed that for the rest of the day. Plenty of slippery mud underfoot, and one or two cultivated fields where it stuck to our boots making walking a tad more difficult. Here and there traces of the previous Thursday's snow
lingered in shaded furrows and hedgerows, and in the form of compacted ice, on paths sheltered by trees. Plenty of red kites, including one sitting in a tree alongside our path. More surprising were the pair of plump wallabies sharing a filed with a couple of Jacobs Sheep, and after lunch a roe deer which bounced off as we approached before disappearing under a fence into woodland.

All of us had lunch at the Lions in Bledlow Ridge. We had phoned ahead, but needn't had done so on this occasion as it was empty when we entered at 1pm (even the barman was nowhere to be seen). The service was friendly, the barman - when he appeared from the back, happily checking with the chef which of the items on the menu was suitable for vegetarians and vegans (a surprisingly good selection, so much so that I even succumbed to a vegetarian option myself). The food, a good selection of well kept real ale and a log fire added made for a very pleasant stop.

We arrived back at Saunderton station as the light was starting to fade. Three decided to carry on to the pub for a post walk drink (or two?) whilst I opted for the train. An enjoyable day out.

P.S. I noticed that someone has posted a report on Saturday's Hassocks to Upper Beedings walk in the Forum section. Can it be moved?

KathyH said...

Saturday Feb 8, SWC walk 185: Guildford Circular via Albury Park
Train from London to Guildford was delayed almost 30 minutes but eventually everyone met up at the station and 14 walkers set off. The fast walkers ate lunch at the William IV in Little London, with the slower group stopping there also after previously having coffee and a snack at Newlands Corner (the snack bar rather than Tillings Cornershouse, although that was discovered afterwards and seemed to be serving lunch too). On the morning stretch the old Saxon church in Albury had a lovely wall painting and a real delight (and rather difficult to find) was the Silent Pool. For the slower group, it was already after 5pm by the time Shalford was reached, so after tea at the Seahorse Inn, we walked the last stretch to the station along the road (which has a footpath all the way).

Anonymous said...

Blogger BrightSpark said...

Hassocks to Upper Beeding - Saturday 7 February. 15 on this attractive South Downs walk. Not too muddy and the weather wasn't too bad either. Hikers Rest was closed so everyone carried onto the Devil's Dyke pub for lunch. After lunch I think everyone resisted the the alternative ending via the valley and instead stayed on the ridge. The alternative ending (via the valley) is better because you don't end up walking along a busy road to finish the walk. However, during Winter, stay on the ridge, as it's dry under-foot. Four of us stayed on in Shoreham-by-Sea for tea and cakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:16:00 am

Arthur Dent said...

Woldingham to Oxted 11th February. 13 set off on this walk on a greyish day. Relatively mud free with pleasant scenery and views (apart from the brief encounter with the A22 and M25). Most took lunch at The Bell in Godstone. Food was excellent and reasonably priced for it's quality and staff very friendly. Daffodils spotted in the afternoon section and some took tea at Robertson's in Oxted before heading back to London.
Mike A

Walker said...

Saturday 14 February: SWC walk 53 Overton to Whitchurch: 19 on this walk, 17 at the start, two late starters. One of the latter had been scuppered when the connecting train from Clapham Junction was cancelled, so possibly others may have been caught out by this.

The sun shone as we set off and love was in the air, not so much because of the oh-so-witty Valentine's Day changes SWT had made to the train indicators - "Waterlove", "When Harry met Salisbury" - as because for the first time this year chaffinches and greenfinches were singing. It soon clouded up, alas, but there were plenty of snowdrops to cheer us, and the walk proved light on mud and easy underfoot.

The Watership Down Inn declined to serve us - according to some reports because a large running group had booked the place out. While a few of the party managed to get around this prohibition, most of us simply pushed on. The famous River Test trout had to do without the slice of bread I had brought to feed them because I snaffled it to quell my tummy rumbles, but in fact we got to the Kings Arms in Whitchurch by 1.30pm and enjoyed a very good value lunch there.

Most of us then did the afternoon loop to Tufton, enjoying a feast of snowdrops near the start in Whitchurch cemetery. The rest of the loop was pleasant enough, though a bit beset with noise from the A34. I could not help reflecting how much more idyllic it would be in a couple of months time, however.

We had a lingering tea at H's Coffee Shop, made even more lingering perhaps than it needed to be by the confusion the young staff got into over order handling (you put a tea bag in a pot, add boiling water, take a slice of cake and put it on a plate - what is so hard about that?), and then caught the 5.14 train back to whatever romantic evenings we had planned.

PeteB said...

Sunday 15 February Download walk 1a Lenham to Hollingbourne. 7 on this real curate's egg of a walk which has a superb lunchtime pub and a lovely last 2 miles but in between some of the most adhesive mud I have ever experienced and massive fields of crops. One field which had been recently ploughed was virtually impassable so he hacked our way along the field edge. Another car-wide track section was so muddy we improvised a tarmac lane route to avoid it. At the excellent Ringlestone Inn in Harrietsham I admit to scrolling through my mapping app to find a tarmac route back to Hollingbourne - there is one and it reduces the route by quite a bit - but I'm glad I stuck with it as the post lunch route is far more attractive.

Its difficult either to recommend this walk or decide the best time of year to do it. Route finding across massive fields with no discernable path to find cunningly hidden stiles is hard enough with no foliage but in summer they would be invisible! Perhaps Spring or Autumn after a dry period.

Finally one experienced GPS user who always measures the distance she covers had this walk at just over 11 miles and this despite taking a short cut to the station and as she was a late starter she did the proper route and not the lane option before lunch so the distance needs to be checked. it's certainly more than a 3/10.

An interesting day out but the walk needs to be reviewed and checked.

PeteB said...

Lenham to Hollingbourne additional point. I have just checked that the posted distance for this walk of 9 miles excludes the distance from Lenham station to the war memorial where you turn left on the NDW. This makes this walk option around 11 miles in total.

Thomas G said...

Saturday 14 Feb - New Walk Halnaker to Chichester (walk-check with early train)
13 walkers in total, 12 right from the start, 1 of which left us after lunch to explore other paths in the area for an own walk (so I think), but we were joined at the pub by 1 other walker, who had only time for an afternoon walk on the day.
Our train arrived on time, so we had a quick connection to the bus to Halnaker, from where it's almost straight northerly along a lane and then ascending through a varied wood (Goodwood Estate) across the first ridge. The paths in the woods were muddy, and later on the chalky slopes also pretty slippy, but in reality only a 100 metre stretch of a holloway in East Dean proved challenging. We were lucky with seeing rain fronts moving to the left and right of us for the next hours, but never passing above us. So we had far views on the hilly parts in the Lavant Valley, and then - after a sumptous, good quality luch in Singleton - later from St. Roche's Hill. The Isle of Wight was hidden in low clouds, but Bognor and parts of the coast further east bathed in sunshine at the same time, strangely surreal.
Strange for me was to finally see the Lavant River in full flow, I had last seen it in late summer, when it's always completely dry...
We then descended from St. Roche's into a last steep coombe, followed the Lavant River to Chichester Old Town and got there for 17.15 hours. Some faster walkers had pulled away much earlier, some headed straight for the station, five had a drink (or two) discussing the vexing "Long Walks in Winter"-issue...
The walk was unanimously praised, and should be even better after a dry period.

tartanrug said...

New walk Halnaker to Chichester.

Great walk (high praise indeed from a "late, short, slow" walker ). Hope it will be posted in the summer as inferior walks seem to come up with monotonous regularity. There are several short cut options and buses to carry the tired homewards.

Walker said...

The two comments posted here about problems with ticket inspectors have been transferred to the FORUM which is a better place for them.

Further remarks on this topic welcome!

Karen said...

Saturday 14 Feb - New Walk Halnaker to Chichester

A St.Valentine's Day walk with lunch in the village of Singleton.

This fantastic walk through some lovely countryside more than compensated for the train journey and short bus ride (very cheerful driver) it took to get there. A few short climbs were made more challenging due to the muddy conditions. With the days still being quite short, a nice brisk pace was kept up to make sure we reached Chichester before dark. Lunch at the Partridge Inn was well-timed so that we arrived about halfway through the walk. This meant that we had time to build up a good appetite for the inn's tasty fare. And with a good portion of the walk to complete after lunch, the pre-train glass of wine was all the more well-deserved.

This lazy walker was tempted out of hibernation by the distance (23kms) and description (strenuous). Looking forward to more long options, if the kindly walk-creating elves be willing.

Ian T said...

Sunday 15 Feb: Princes Risborough to Great Missenden
5 on this walk – one of whom bailed out early and sloped off back to the station.
A misty murky start. Early fields a bit muddy
Slippy not deep
Probably brightened up later.
Can’t say anymore because, readers, I was the one who sloped off.

BrightSpark said...

Garston to St. Albans - Saturday 14 February. 10 walkers set off on a dreary, overcast day. The rain held off until 2 of us stopped for lunch at some attractive ponds. Then after just half a sandwich it stated to rain! How anyone can believe in God I don't know! Anyway, having been rudely moved on by the elements we met another walker in the pub and enjoyed some refreshments. In the afternoon a memorable moment was seeing St. Albans Abbey, some 2 miles away, high up on the hill, it looked splendid. I believe everyone had an enjoyable day out although it would have been nice if God could have provided a little bit more sun.

JohnE said...

Sat 21 Feb - Bk1/45 - Princes Risborough to Great Missenden. 8, including 3 new to SWC walks, on this Chilterns walk. A moderately challenging walk with some fine views and plenty of mud, but quite acceptable mud, not the sort that really weighs you down. Lunch at The Gate at Bryant's Bottom seemed well enough received by those who partook. On arrival at Great Missenden, we all passed on Café Twit, which was rather crowded. 4 caught the 1519 train, 4 took tea or beer at the Cross Keys, which was fine, and caught the 1549. Good weather (intermittently sunny with a cool, light breeze), good company. All in all a good day out.

Walker said...

Saturday 21 February: SWC Walk 57: Guildford via Chantries Hill: 22 on this walk, including at least two late starters, and two others who were supposed to be on a Meet-Up walk but joined ours by mistake. (They seemed to have a nice day and we did our best to convert them to SWCism).

This proved a very well chosen walk for the time of year, with the sandy soils which meant dry, firm paths underfoot for the most part (though inevitably not always) Also not many stiles. Generous sunny intervals throughout the day, though also grey cloud at times.

The Drummond in Albury coped well with our influx and served monster portions of food. Unusually some of the faster walkers waited for us slow-coaches so that we left the pub together. Debenhams at the end of the walk proved a nice place for tea for those of us not bothered about tramping over their floors in muddy boots: their riverside cafe has an excellent selection of cakes and gave us a lovely view of the river and the late afternoon sun lighting up the weeping willows.

Anonymous said...

Only 2 walkers on the scheduled train after 7 comments about the timing of the train and length of the shorter version as posted which frankly was really off putting as it was a perfect choice of time for both of us. HOWEVER as we had no maps or GPS we were totally dependent on the accuracy of the walk instructions which proved to be problematic in places.

If the walk author Mike? would care to email me his address and phone number I should like to explain our difficulties and offer suggestions for correction and clarity.

We lunched at the suggested Windmill pub which had just sacked the chef! The landlady was offering a 2 course set menu of roast beef or lamb with delicious veggies, fantastic gravy followed by apple crumble and custard-all home made for £11.50. We had intended to order soup as we both had food with us but as the limited offering was so enticing and the locals urged us to try it we would have been rude to refuse. They even said that next time we were in the area just ring in advance to check the menu and they'd put soup on the menu next time agreeing that this was a serious omission. We were quite wet from the rain and must have looked like we needed some warming soup.

The afternoon walk section took 2 and a half hours of confusion in pouring rain to reach The Foresters pub at Church Crookham where we dried off with a large pot of tea. The really helpful and hansome young barman tried to order us a taxi to Fleet station but nothing under £15 was quoted and a 40 minute wait. So a young couple with dog offered to lead us through the woods as a short cut to Fleet station with torches which we gratefully accepted and it only took 30 mins.

We thoroughly enjoyed the walking through the MOD land which was extensive and of course not signed. We had to ask where we were on occasions as the walk details needed to be followed in minute detail and the rain obscured our vision.

It would be interesting to hear of other walkers experiences either on the earlier train or on previous outings as the instructions need a bit of tweaking to improve clarity we felt.

email marion.watkinson xxxatxxx gmail.com [obscured email -ed]

David Colver said...

Sun 23 Feb 2015: SWC Walk 194, Aylesbury Parkway to Aylesbury with Weedon shortcut. Three on this walk.

Lunch comes early in this version of the route, and was taken at the one small table not reserved long before at The Five Elms at Weedon.

Rain came early too. The weather forecast is always pessimistic. It's never as bad as it says it will be, particularly if it's sourced from the BBC. That rule broke down on this occasion. An expected 95% chance of rain by 3pm turned out to be a 100% certainty of rain by 1:15pm, leaving the afternoon a saga of strong winds, constant rain and occasional hail adding to the meadows already waterlogged to calf height and claggy mud in ploughed fields. This made for conditions as relevant as south east England can provide for the SWC newcomer who came in search of practice for a planned arctic circle hiking holiday. It was handy that those present included the walk author, checking this previously untried short cut, saving me the need to consult the printed directions which were later found as a ball of paste in the sodden interior of the backpack in which they had remained throughout the day.

The staff of Cafe Nero in Aylesbury were surprisingly tolerant of the by now very cold trio dripping on their floor and amused by the sight of one of the group extracting payment from the trousers of another because fingers were too numb to accomplish it more conventionally. Back on the 1735 train.

This felt more of an adventure than the ordeal it might sound. The walk is certainly worth repeating in conditions of lower moisture.

Anonymous said...

Reading to Henley-on-Thames 25th February
Nine folks on this walk, initially confused by the Thames Path section that was closed near Reading Station. Black Swans, Mallards, Grebe and Mandarin wildfowl on the Thames. Lunch at the Bull was a little disappointing (one meal had to be sent back). A little muddy between Sonning and Shiplake, but bright sunlight while we rested in the grassy area by the College boating sheds. Theatre Cafe provided excellent service at the end of the walk

Anonymous said...

Sat 22 Feb Yalding walk to Borough Green with The Swann on the Green variation
15 walkers slipped and slid throughout the day
5 lunched in the Swann ( West Peckham is very nice ) and were well pleased
Loads of snowdrops everywhere and a very unusual / rare / rarely seen fungus was spotted and pointed out by someone who knows about these things
No rain and a little sunshine
Must do this walk in the summer

Walker said...

Thursday 26 February: Social - Ten Pin bowling in Bayswater: Six of us had a cheerful night. The first round of the bowling produced the interesting score of one strike (ten pins down with one ball) and five zero scores, but we soon got into our stride and had a very pleasant hour. There was then dinner in the very noisy restaurant. Our food was late because a big group had ordered just before us but we were given a 20 percent discount as a result. Maybe some pubs should adopt this policy...

Walker said...

Saturday 28 February: SWC Walk 108 Burgess Hill to Hassocks or Hassocks Circular: 7 fast walkers starting from Burgess Hill, 8 standard walkers from Hassocks. The weather was dreadful - rain driven on a southerly gale, thick mist on the downs, and abominably squelchy fields (boot-topping in places) on the lowland sections.

We standard walkers gave up on the walk route once on the downs - it was cold, wet and there was nothing to see so we headed straight for the pub in Pycombe via the South Downs Way. Alas seven of the eight missed a key turning so initially only one (me) got to the very nice Plough. Three later joined me and later still the very bedraggled faster walkers turned up (minus one who had whizzed past us in the morning and was not been seen again). They had followed the walk route to the letter and so deserve medals.

After lunch some got taxis, two went on to I know not where, and four of us took a modified route over Wolstonbury Hill and more quaqmire tracks and fields to Hurstpierpoint, which is a lovely old town. Its cafes had just shut but the New Inn did a generous pot of tea. We walked from there by paths to the north of the road to get the 18.18 from Hassocks.

Despite the above, let it be said clearly that this is a lovely walk. It deserves - and will get - an outing in May, June or July. The faster walkers reported that the directions from Burgess Hill to Ditchling could do with updating in places though.

JohnL said...

Saturday 28 Feb 15, Book2 Walk 10, Alton Circular, Short version. Four walkers including one new who wanted to visit Jane Austin’s house. There may have been others on the long version via Selborne but we did not see them. Fine rain most of the morning but not much mud. The Rose and Crown in Upper Farringdon was welcoming with a good range of light lunches and more substantial mains. Those of us not visiting Jane’s house went into Cassadra’s cup for tea and cakes. This is a good, almost mud-free, short winter walk.

Steffi said...

Sunday, 1 March 15, Book 3 Walk, Folkestone Circular. Coastal Walk with fantastic sea views throughout the walk. Sunny all day. I wrote more about the walk on my blog: https://hikingmadness.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/folkestone-circular-a-tale-about-a-little-hot-chocolate-cup/

Anonymous said...

Saturday 28 Feb 15, Book 2 Walk 10, Alton Circular, Long Version. only two walkers on this longer very muddy option. There was fine rain in the morning which restricted some of the views leading in to Selborne. After leaving the Selborne Arms the rain had stopped and the weather was fine for the rest of the walk. More mud was to come through Selborne common. overall a good walk which may have been better on a dry day.

KathyH said...

Saturday 28 Feb, Book 1, walk 1, Henley Circular. 6 on this walk, a little muddy at times, but no more than expected, it was quite mild and the rain stayed away! I recall a lovely walk, we stayed as a group and seemed to chat all the way. In the morning we watched the rowers on the Thames and then later we all stopped for a while admiring several magnificent kites flying very close to the ground - and close to us, maybe they were checking out if any of us looked like we might fall behind the others and become a feast for them! Lunch at the Stag and Huntsman was good as was tea at Henley Tea Rooms.

Anonymous said...

Saturday 28 Feb. One did a section of the Thames Path around Docklands to avoid forecast rain and likely mud. No rain, no mud and an interesting walk along the riverside through of an historic part of London.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday 4th March -Haslemere Circular

Eight walkers set out on this walk. And whilst it was still a tad nippy, bright sunlight lifted spirits and the mud was bearable. All agreed the food was excellent at the Red Lion in Fernhurst - goodly sized portions too. Stunning views at the Four Winds view point in the afternoon. Some had a pleasant tea stop at Hemmingways before returning to the Metropoles

Anonymous said...

Saturday March 7th: Beaconsfield Circular - 17.
A beautiful day but not a daffodil in sight in South Bucks. Directions a bit tricky in some woods as posts have gone or changed. There is a case for doing this walk one autumn as it often gets posted in March and yet would be quite a nice autumn walk with lovely woody landscapes which were, however, pretty bare. Chalfont St Giles was a major disappointment with an unheathy atmosphere. As we rushed to Merlins Cave, we found it shut but had not checked out the White Hart at the start of this long village which may have been the best option as it happens. The bakery was closed, the Feathers is a spit and sawdust pub that hardly serves anything, the Crown is a Costa, and one walker threw up after eating a chicken and chorizo pie from the deli (which others, however, enjoyed) all while witnessing a near-violent domestic incident outside the village barbers. What is the matter with this village when the road running through it is quite busy? why are the pubs in such a state? as we left the village, we saw warnings of horses that kicked and bit. As one walker comment, the village is fit to feature in JK Rowling's the casual vacancy. There is, somewhere about, however, a Fox and Hounds pub but it eluded us all. Tea was taken at Jung's, the Austrian konditorei in Beaconsfield where they had run out of archetypes but served quite a decent mni Gugelhopf. A nice day, but not as good as the last time I completed this normally lovely walk. Jordans and the Quaker village did not disappoint, however, and it was a pleasure to pass through this delightful village once again.

Walker said...

SWC Walk 162 - North Fambridge to Burnham-on-Crouch: 19 on this walk, a straightforward breeze along the sea wall of a marshy creek. It would be a bit bleak on a grey day but today the sun shone and the water was blue and oyster catchers made their curling calls, so all seemed right with the world.

There was a bit of a chill breeze on the coast but it was warmer when we turned inland and most had a pleasant al fresco lunch at the Three Horseshoes. It served vast portions: I eat like a horse but still fell before the final fence. Those who opted for the two course deal had no room for their pudding.

The terrain got a bit more varied on the way into Burnham - there was even a hill with a distant view of Southend. Burnham itself has lots of tea places but they all shut the moment we arrived at 4.30. Instead we gatecrashed the local yacht club ("Are you visiting yachtsmen?" the bar lady suggested helpfully, surveying our backpacks and walking gear)and had drinks/tea and cakes on an outside terrace watching the sun set over the estuary. Then the 6.04 home.

Oh, and no mud, apart from one soggy field at the start. For the first time this year my boots returned home more or less clean. Long may it continue.

Pia Rainey said...

SWC walk 162 North Fambridge to Burnham-on-Crouch 7 March. An absolutely glorious walk on the sunniest of days with wide expansive views over the river Crouch almost from the beginning. Luckily the fairly chilly wind was in our back so we were propelled along the dry dykes watching birds feeding on the worms on the clay banks/flats and creeks of the ebbing river (one keen birdwatcher counted 47 different birds on his way, including in a bird/nature reserve). We did manage tea and cake in the last cafe on the river side at 4pm before sneakily getting into the local (empty) yachtsclub after asking politely with a Dutch accent. We then enjoyed the best sunset so far this year sitting on their balcony with plenty of drinks.

Most importantly this was an almost 12m walk; please post more of those because many of us really appreciate a vigourous long walk; and leaving early, between 9 and 10 is not a problem either. It' s thankfully getting lighter and drier too now, bliss. From the train we enjoyed more pretty red lit skies before dozing off.

PeteB said...

Sunday 8 March Book 1 Walk 16 Balcombe circular. Eleven on this walk and its such a long time since I last did it that for long stretches it felt like a completely new walk! The weather was fine with sunny periods and underfoot conditions had dried out well after a week without rain. Parts of this walk would be quite difficult (cattle churn) and possibly treacherous after rain; particularly some steep descents.

The Chequers Inn is a lovely pub but you really must book ahead to get an inside table; there are no seats for just drinkers so you have to stand or go outside but in summer the garden tables are likely to be packed as well. Its also a lovely spot for a picnic lunch and the nearby church is worth visiting.

After lunch we stopped to watch a couple of chukkas? at a childrens fun polo game on their ponies and we then upped the pace to ensure we reached the Balcome Tea rooms by about 3.40pm where we enjoyed their heavenly cakes - the chocolate fudge being particularly popular - and cups of tea before the short amble back to the station to catch the 16.30pm train. A terrific day out.

Finally I can confirm that the new pedestrian tunnel under the A23 is open and well signposted so the original Book 1 route can be reinstalled. Also there is a new pedestrian bridge over the railway line near the end of the walk

JohnL said...

Saturday 7 March 2015, SWC 68 Rowlands Castle Circular. 17 walkers including at least two new enjoyed a fine sunny day on the South Downs. The mud had dried, the skylarks sang and we ate lunch out doors for the first time this year. The Victoria Inn in West Marsden was welcoming with good beer and well-presented, home-cooked food. The pub comes early in the walk but gives you the excuse to stop again at the Village Shop and Tea Room in Compton for afternoon tea, again outside in the sun. At this point you are only half way through the walk and it was beginning to get a bit colder as we got back to Rowlands Castle. The faster walkers caught the early train whilst the stragglers went for more pots of tea in the pub on the village green. This walk is quite a long way out from London but worth it when the sun shines with extensive views over the Downs and even the Isle of Wight visible if it’s a clear day.

JohnL said...

Saturday 8 March 2015, SWC new Hampton Court and Bushy Park stroll. Initially 5 but eventually 7 strollers. Starting along the Thames from Hampton Court we explored the less well-known parts of Hampton Court Home Park with its Long Water an impressive views of the Palace. Then over into Bushey Park for lunch in The Pheasantry Café which is really very good for a park café with light lunches and beer or wine and excellent coffee. Although smaller than Richmond Park, Bushy has some very impressive Red and Fallow Deer as well as heron and many waterfowl. Back in Hampton Court there was more tea and cakes and some stayed on to tour the formal gardens. This is an interesting walk and you can feel you are much further out of London than you really are.

Red Rambler said...

1st march .. wendover circular, 4 walkers, lovely sunny day. Great italian cuisine at the cock and rabbit at Lee village.

Anonymous said...

11th March Midweek Walk - Riddlesdown to Coulsdon South.
15 of us set out on a sunny day with a definite feel of Spring. Fast walkers streaked ahead with the others investigating Kenley Aerodrome at a more leisurely pace. Receding mud and firm paths added to the enjoyment.
It was Pie day at the Fox, and whilst not a gastro pub, most agreed the food was tasty and good value. The fast 'uns had already eaten as the slow 'uns arrived and departed shortly afterwards. The slow 'uns meandered directly into Happy Valley making for a short but pleasant afternoon. Some sought out the ART Rebellion café where excellent tea, coffee and cakes were found.

Walker said...

Saturday 14 March: Book 1, walk 15: Leigh to Tunbridge Wells: 28 on this walk (including one late starter), showing that the old favourites are still very popular.

Disappointingly grey, cold and wintry in the morning, but then in the afternoon the clouds unexpectedly cleared to blue sky (albeit still with a chilly wind). The Medway meadows were rather soft but otherwise the mud was not too troublesome.

We were all accommodated with ease and cheerfulness for lunch at the Spotted Dog, though the weather meant we sat inside rather than on the lovely outside terrace with its fine views. In the afternoon there were some grand panoramas which I don't remember from previous outings of this walk.

A big surprise and disappointment for me personally was to find that in the big wood anemone wood just outside Tunbridge Wells, which normally should be in flower by now, there was not even any sign of the plants starting to grow. This is therefore now officially a LATE SPRING.

All, I think, got to the Pantilles to get tea before the 5pm curfew. Five of us stayed for stronger drink.

JohnE said...

Sat 14 March: SWC 221 version a - Hollingbourne Circular - long walk via Thurnham. 7 walkers, plus one who started an hour later, meeting us on the platform for the train home. Excellent walk on a dry day with an invigoratingly cold northerly wind. Fine views from the North Downs in the morning, followed by lunch for 5 of at the Black Horse at Thurnham, which was welcoming and just managed to squeeze us in.

After lunch we traversed a fair number of arable fields, one of which had been recently ploughed. Forunately, with the lack of recent rain, the ground was quite dry, so this was not much of a problem.

2 walkers took the early return option, while 5 continued to the grounds of Leeds Castle where we saw Black Swans, Barnacle Geese and a fair number of other waterfowl and heard the dulcet tones of the bagpipes from the castle. On arriving at Eyhorne Street, we had 40 mins before the 16.59 train, so took tea and drinks at the Sugar Loaves.

Arthur Dent said...

Saturday 14th March: Tisbury Circular.
15 Walkers on this New Walk. A grey overcast day with a bit of a nip in the wind. Scenery and buildings a little reminiscent of the Cotswolds.
Excellent food at the Angel Inn at Hindon - Landlord had suffered a sense of humour failure though. Interesting afternoon through the Fonthill Estate and Lake - Looking forward to another visit to this neck of the woods.

PeteB said...

Sunday 15 March. SWC Walk 116 Wendens Ambo circular. Seven on this pleasant amble on a raw, bleak day - but bleak seems to suit these Essex walks - with very gentle spots of rain drifting in on the breeze from time to time. The ground was rock -hard although with a bit of surface water on some tracks. This made walking much easier and more enjoyable.
Some lovely thatched cottages on the way but the pub was fully booked for food so we made do with sandwiches and snacks. We had split up before lunch with 3 others going ahead to do the short walk after suffering some boot problems. The early lunch made for a long afternoon but there are some nice views and we easily caught the 16.47 train back to London which was packed as Abellio have so much contempt for their customers they cannot be bothered to put on more than 4 coaches on what is always in my experience a busy route.
An excellent day out and I have added some comments to the walk pages to help with route finding.

KathyH said...

Sunday 15th March: Book 2. Walk 11: Petersfield to Liss. 5 walkers, a rather dank day but no actual rain, not much mud and very pleasant countryside - gentle hills (apart from one big climb up Shoulder of Mutton Hill), spring flowers, birdsong, country lanes - and we saw almost no other people. The landlord at the Hawkley Inn was very obliging and apologetic for having no room for us (there were 2 sittings of Mothers Day revellers booked in), and produced sausage rolls and pork pies for those who wanted, which we ate under cover outside. Likewise staff at the 41 Bistro in Liss, which was technically closed (but the door was open as friends of the owners were visiting), welcomed us in and produced excellent tea and cake.

PeteB said...

Wednesday 18 March, Book 2 Walk 14 Effingham to Westhumble, 12 on this lovely Surrey walk through woods and quiet valleys. Excellent lunch at the Granary cafe at Polesden Lacy which produced food in 2 minutes from ordering to the plate appearing in front of you- a fine effort. After lunch we ambled on in perfect weather to Denbies vineyard. On the way I took the opportunity to explore some alternative woodland paths but we all met up at Denbies visitor centre's immense cafe for tea and cakes before the short amble to the station. A perfect SWC day out.

Although we have had some fine settled weather over the last few days I saw few signs of Spring breaking through, apart from a few daffodils. The bluebells had hardly started growing and there was little sign of emerging foliage. On the train to Effingham I spied a superb roe deer at the bottom of a bank which backed on to some gardens. A lovely animal in outer suburbia.... fantastic

Walker said...

Saturday 21 March: Book 2 walk 18a + SWC Walk 5 Wadhurst Figure of Eight: 8 on this walk. Two of us, wanting to preserve our strength for the afternoon, took a short cut to lunch: the other six did walk 18a, as mandated. The two had some sunny intervals: the six reported "about an hour" of sun: thereafter it was bleak, grey and cold, but at least it did not rain despite a couple of attempts.

Two of the 18a party mysteriously failed to materialise at lunch: the remaining six of us set off to to do the long loop around Bewl Water, an interesting walk that would have been idyllic on a warmer, sunnier day. We got back to Wadhurst at 5.30pm for tea/drinks in the pub and then had a nice walk down the back lanes in the gathering dusk to catch the 6.59 train. We learned that the missing two had caught the 4.29.

Anonymous said...

Saturday 21 March: Extra walk 201 Uckfield Circular: 11 + Squash the Dog on this Walk. Most started with an hour and twenty minute journey from Victoria. One walker had driven up from Hove. It was a grey day with a cold northerly wind and we reached the lunch stop at Framfield shortly after midday. A hospitable Landlord greeted us and food was freshly prepared and wholesome (but please note the landlord is moving on shortly).

With the bulk of the walk still to go, we set off from lunch crossing many styles (some in bad disrepair) through fairly mundane countryside not helped by the grey skies and lack of foliage. There were some better sections in the walk particularly through the East Sussex National Hotel and Golf course where a small wooden hut provided much welcomed tea, coffee and cakes. Loos too.
All in all a pilgrimage to the place where the Ramblers successfully overturned Van Hoogstraten's attempt to block a Public Footpath. Not a Walk I'd wish to repeat in it's present form, but I can see plenty of scope to use some sections and redesign with a later lunch stop.

Arthur Dent

Anonymous said...

Saturday 21 March 2015. Milford to Haslemere. About 20 - 25 walkers.

This old favourite has some fantastic scenery in Thursley and again after lunch in the Devil's Punchbowl. There were a few muddy bits but not much and quite a lot of sandy paths and dry lanes.

Karen said...

Sunday March 22 - SWC Walk 231: Flitwick Circular - 8 walkers

8 walkers set off from Flitwick Station. 5 chose to take the shorter option and so we parted company just outside Flitton. Those of us who chose to take the longer route took a wrong turning in Clophill, so missed out on getting a look at the ruin of Old St Mary's Church and the Eco Lodges. Our fellow walkers were just leaving as we arrived at The Flying Horse. A very enjoyable lunch was had.

The weather was lovely and the scenery varied. The afternoon portion of the walk in particular was lovely, with the sun playing through the tress in the woodlands.

Another feature of the walk worth remarking on was the large number of thatched buildings we passed.

A very enjoyable walk.

Ian T said...

Sturry Circular
16 for this walk . An overcast but dry day. Firm under foot. Even the bits described as boggy were nearly not boggy. That’s how firm underfoot it was. I was slower than the others and had brought my own lunch but, whenever I encountered the others, they seemed to be either coming out of or trying to get into a fully booked pub. So seems to be a bit of a problem Sundays. Not sure how those diverting to Ickham got on. Some finally found sustenance in the George and Dragon.
Problems with the train back too. The 16:40 was mysteriously cancelled. Fortunately a high-speed made an unscheduled stop just as a group of us arrived on platform (16:20) and whisked us (the toffs, anyway) direct to St Pancras.

IanT said...

Sturry Circular was Sunday 22nd March, btw.

PeteB said...

Re Ian's post below: The small group of us arriving at Sturry station at around 4.20pm expecting a short wait for the 4.40pm train were a bit stunned to pick up an HS1 train pulling into the station just nafter we arrived. The HS1 ticket holders gratefully hopped on and the "slow train" group could have done so as well as far as Ashford Int where they could have picked up a train to Charing Cross.

Anyway I hoped the group left behind on the platform managed to have a drink or two and that the 5.40pm train arrived on time at Sturry. What with all the pub problems - full up or closed for renovation - all in all it was an odd day out!

Anonymous said...

Sturry Circular
4 of us had dinner in the George and Dragon in Fordwich which was superb but by then I was ready to throw a Jeremy Clarkson before sinking into a hypoglycaemic coma. Still earlier in the day I thought I was going to get sacked as Lunch Monitor.

Anonymous said...

Wakes Colne to Bures - Wednesday

4 walkers enjoyed sunny but cold weather on this great walk with a super lunch at The Five Bells pub.

Marion said...

Another 4 regular Wednesday walkers did the scenic Luton to Berkhamstead new walk check. One of us enjoyed a 3 course lunch for £7.95 special over sixties menu on request at the Little Gaddesdon Pub Bridgewater Arms so no room for cake at the tea stop! The ThamesLink train to Clapham Junction at 6.39 pm was cancelled so had to take the long route home via Euston. This is the second time this has happened to me at Berkhamstead

Pia Rainey said...

A whopping 28 of us turned up at Eridge station but as usual the party soon split in those who walk at leasurely, normal and slow rocket speed. There was cloud all day, occasionally very windy and the promissed rain at 1pm and sun at 3pm both failed to show. ah, you win some you lose some. The views however were wonderful, the terrain varied between fields, some muddy, and woods, and a little bit of road; there were also some lovely churches on the way which we didn't go into this time. Luckily we split for lunch and just under half went to a pub in Withyham, which had excellent reports. Thanks to bad reading skills we had a picturesque detour (serves me right for bringing 4 dead batteries for my gps, aarrgghh) on a abandoned railway line before about seven of us went to the inappropriately named The Anchor (40m from sea!) in Hartfield. excellent food, good service and great puds. If you do the whole walk it is better to eat halfway we reckoned. Equipped with fresh batteries which was going to save us from another detour later on, we set off to Forest Row where we lost more people to the excellent farmhouse tearoom (again reliable hear-say) and the bus service to East Grinstead. So the final four plowed on on same by now seemingly interminable railway to EG where we sunk into large sofas at Cafe Nero. By a stroke of excellent luck many of us were reunited in the train home to London. excellent day, and nice long (14m) walk with healthy up and downs; and good company, as ever.

DGA said...

Sat 28th March Eridge to E. Grinstead. Upwards of 25 walkers fragmented from the start as the hares zoomed off and we all looked for different route options and even pubs for lunch.
The majority seemed to be esconsced at the Dorset Arms, Withyham which seems to have gone upmarket and seemed happy to see us depart.
I didn't see a single cow on the day but we passed a piggery just before Tablehurst Farmshop & Cafe where a few of us enjoyed tea & cakes alfresco. Windy at times, going good to soft, not too muddy, at least one tricky wet meadow.
Some caught the bus from Forest Row. At least two of us followed the old rail - now cycle - track to the end (ok early Spring, liable to exhaust tired feet in summer).
We were surprised to see at E. Croydon an early finisher descending the ramp with hubby off to a folky ceiligh. If that had happened on Wednesday I'd have assumed Arthur Dent and his Vogon timewarp had been factor.

Ian T said...

Sat 28th Hassocks to Lewes
10 (+ 1 on a later train). An overcast grey day. Firm underfoot if you ignore the stretch from the station. I inevitably got separated from the others on the climb (they just couldn’t keep up). The real fun, if you can call it fun, started near the top. The downs were shrouded in low cloud which combined with a gale force wind was quite eerie. Visibility was down to about 100m. Which is hardly Everest and the SDW is pretty straightforward but, after a km or two walking blind along the top, I started to doubt my ability to find the way down at the far end. So, for once, I listened to my inner wimp, turned round, and retraced my steps to Hassocks. Don’t know how the others got on.
Jack the windmill is looking very un-windmill-like at the moment. Let’s hope that renovation of the cap and sails is still going to plan.

KathyH said...

Sat 28 March, Hassocks to Lewes, addendum to Ian's report. 9 of us struggled on in the cloud - which did make for a rather beautiful landscape, at one point a small pack of runners appeared like long, thin ghosts and were then swiftly wrapped up and swallowed by the mist again. We were blown along by the fierce wind and everyone decided to forego sandwiches and recover at the Half Moon, of course we hadn't booked and they were full but the Landlord somehow, and very kindly, made space for us. Then 2 walkers disappeared into the mist and up to the tops again (did you ever make it to Lewes?), while the rest of us, deciding we were still rather wet and cold, walked to Plumpton and got the train back to London (actually 2 of us first took the train to Lewes so as not to forego tea!).

PeteB said...

Download walk 24 Sunday 29 March. Sandling to Wye. Er... just me on this walk which I started in cloudy still weather but within 15 mins I was caught in a howling gale which occasionally made forward movement a little difficult. I continued past the Tiger Inn to check out the Five Bells Inn (see notes on walks comments page) firstly stopping to have a sandwich lunch in the covered entrance of the beautiful nearby church.
After lunch I substituted a fair amount of road walking instead of following the high exposed downland trails in order to gain some respite from the high winds and now driving rain. I eventually arrived in Wye just after 4pm to enjoy a large glass of red and some cake in the Tickled Trout with a pale sun streaming through the windows! Typical!!
Finally the excellent HS1 train from Ashford was packed. You really need to position yourself on the right spot on the platform to get a seat. A point worth noting for future walks in the area.

Anonymous said...

Sat 28 March Farnham to Godalming. only 3 of us started the walk of which one was a new walker that hasn't walked since his school day, but kept up the pace. 1 more on a later train who had taken a short cut to the pub. Mainly firm underfoot with a short shower in the morning. The Donkey was quiet for a Saturday. it seems everyone else was in Eridge.

groundhog said...

Sat 28 Mar
Hassocks to Lewes. Adding to Kathy's comment, 3 of us did not wimp out but continued on to Lewes after the lunch at Plumpton. It is worth mentioning that the soup at The Half Moon is not very substantial, although the main courses are excellent! The intrepid 3 continued on an enjoyable mist-shrouded Lewes trajectory where we deservedly celebrated our arrival in tea and cake! The others don't know what they were missing, um! ... mist and more mist, but all in all a good walk.