Saturday 8th. Benfleet to Southend-on-sea

I was delighted that 17 walkers turned up for this walk although I wasn’t certain they had all taken in what I had said about the mud! Some of them had been rather derogatory on the train about the Essex landscape – riverside flood plain – so they may have been surprised to see the steep street as we left the station! The footpath continued uphill through Benfleet Downs and Hadleigh Country Park, part of which was used for the Olympic Games mountain bike course. The commemorative stones and cycle track could be seen away through the trees. At the beginning of the path we saw a blackthorn in bloom, which seems rather early but then the winter hasn’t been that cold (yet!). No sight of daffodils such as we saw last week nor snowdrops, first spotted on 17th January. As we gained height we were able to see between the trees over towards the Thames and the shores of Kent in the distance. The thin cloud rolled away and we were treated to blue skies all day. At the top of the hill at The Hub there were lots of children taking advantage of the biking trails and play area. We carried on to the rather calmer Hadleigh Farm Tea Rooms for an early lunch which our group described as very tasty and reasonably priced. I can vouch for the carrot cake! The estate of Hadleigh Farm was purchased well over 100 years ago and is still run by the Salvation Army. General Booth intended the colony for ‘the benefit of men who through misfortune need a helping hand’. They were trained in farming activities including livestock, arable, poultry, market gardening and orchards as well as brickmaking. There is a Rare Breeds Centre which can be visited in the summer season.

Continue reading Saturday 8th. Benfleet to Southend-on-sea

Tuesday 4th February Evening walk :Battersea Power Station’s First Light Festival

17 Polyramblers for this evening walk starting from Sloane Square. We passed the Duke of York’s Headquarters, built to provide a home for children of soldiers’ widows, which is now the home of the Saatchi Gallery and where the Tutankhamun exhibition is taking place. Then we continued to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, built by Christopher Wren. None of the Polyramblers meet the criteria to live there. There are carol services in the Wren Chapel in December Continue reading Tuesday 4th February Evening walk :Battersea Power Station’s First Light Festival

1st February Guildford circular

After a week of damp and dull weather, some improvement had been forecast and 16 of us stepped off the train into watery sunshine. A number of us hadn’t been to Guildford and were surprised to see the remains of the castle and it’s well manicured grounds, virtually in the town centre. (Yes, it is town, despite having a cathedral. City status is apparently granted by the monarch, and although applications have been made in the past,  they have been unsuccessful.)  We headed steadily uphill past increasing larger and desirable houses emerging onto Pewsey Downs. By this time the sun had come out properly and we enjoyed extensive views towards the South Downs. Continue reading 1st February Guildford circular

25th January Box Hill to Leatherhead

A walk of two halves on Saturday.  Fifteen Poly Ramblers, led by Harriet, alighted at Box Hill and Westhumble station along with several other walking groups.  We headed towards the stepping stones over the River Mole, but only Stuart and Chris were game to cross them as the river was quite high, the rest of the group opting for the bridge.  Then we had to tackle Box Hill itself, a long series of steep steps.  At the top we were rewarded by ……. zero visibility due to the mist.  A little later we tackled White Hill, a long series of even steeper steps.  For there it was level and then downhill to Mickleham. Continue reading 25th January Box Hill to Leatherhead

17th-20th January. Snow walking in Sharnitz Austria

Friday.  A small and bijou group this year with only 6 participants. We flew to Innsbruck with BA and took a bus to the station. After some dithering about lunch in Innsbruck or Scharnitz, we decided to take the train and make our way to Scharnitz. This train journey is very scenic. We checked in our B&B, Gastehaus Frankenhof, and then had lunch in Gasthof Risserhof, where we received a warm welcome from the owner. She told us snow was expected during the night. We did a short walk around Scharnitz and went back to the B&B for a rest. 7.00 was time for a pre-dinner drink in Dominique and Sunita’s flat. Dinner was in Gasthof Risserhof, the only hotel in the village but a substantial establishment. There was a formal dinner in the next room for about 100 firemen, in their full  uniforms. No wives seemed to be allowed but apart from some loosening of ties, it was a very  orderly event. Continue reading 17th-20th January. Snow walking in Sharnitz Austria