Twelve Poly Ramblers met at Hammersmith station for a circular walk along both banks of the Thames. We split into two groups and agreed to walk in opposite directions meeting for a socially distanced lunch at Barnes Pond.   Team Danny set off along the north bank of the river past the fine, mainly eighteenth century, buildings of Hammersmith and Chiswick Malls to arrive at Chiswick Parish Church with its medieval tower. After visiting the church and Hogarth’s grave the river was left to explore the classical gardens of Chiswick House. Returning to the river a short walk along the promenade of Duke’s Meadows brought the group to Barnes Bridge which was crossed to arrive at the lunch stop.

The second group who had a far shorter walk to the lunch rendezvous sauntered the 500m to Hammersmith Bridge before stopping for a leisurely coffee break at the Riverside Studios which was hosting an exhibition by the contemporary artist Paul Muzni. A text from Danny indicating  they had already reached Chiswick House prompted a walk across the iconic bridge to the south bank of the river to follow the tree lined towpath to the Leg O’ Mutton Nature Reserve. The banks of the reservoir were resplendent with swathes of Purple Loosestrife and bulrushes and many water birds were seen. Leaving the reserve a short walk along the Barnes riverfront, observed by a cow and a stormtrooper from their balconies, led the group to Barnes High Street to welcome their fellow Poly Ramblers.

After lunch the groups continued their walks back to Hammersmith and planned to meet for a drink near the bridge. Unfortunately Jennifer’s group so enjoyed exploring the Grade 1 listed gardens at Chiswick House with their sweeping vistas, architectural delights, water features and wilderness areas that they missed Danny’s group by a few minutes.

We were blessed with ideal weather and think a pleasant time was had by all.

Danny and Jennifer

Photos by Ida.


The leaders arrived at Cowden station where they met Geoffrey who had driven from his sister’s home in Eastbourne.  The train arrived on time and after the necessary socialising we headed off on the walk.   A few minutes into the walk, cows from Cowden blocked our way on the other side of a stile.  Fortunately, they were of good manners and moved out of the way.

We passed a pub that didn’t open till noon and after a few groans continued on past Markbeech village walking through woodland where the guide’s promise of Eeyore’s house failed to materialise.  The search for the house and a debatable topic led to the group wandering past the turn for Hoath Corner.  Fortunately, the alert leader steered everybody back to a very obvious signpost (exclamations of how we missed it from everybody!) and we headed for refreshments at the Rock pub in Hoath Corner.  Staff at the Rock were very health conscious and we were told off for moving chairs which would now need further disinfection after we left.  We were then told off again at the picnic area as some of our bubbles were on (not obvious) private land.

After an extended lunch break we continued back towards Cowden.  Part way through the second half of the walk we had the option of visiting the 15th century hamlet of Bassetts.  Danny insisted we go the extra mile to see the Tudor Bassets’ farm as he had a particular interest in Tudor architecture and this would be the highlight of the walk for him. We didn’t want to disappoint and agreed to pass on an earlier train back to grant him his wish!  A final few stiles slowed us down a little, but we arrived back at the station in good time, for those who came by rail, to catch the later train home.


5 ½ miles

A wish

6 ½ miles


A brief history in time!

(after JP Donleavy)

The leader thanks everybody for a great day.



The weather forecast for our first small group walk, post-lockdown was not encouraging – heavy rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon. In spite of this the full complement of 12 pre-booked walkers turned up at Amersham.  In line with government guidelines we split into two groups of six and set off, initially on tree lined streets and then woodland paths with views across the Chess Valley. One walker turned back at this point but the rest continued down into the valley and back up the other side on a narrow lane. We passed some attractive farm properties at the top. From there we walked above the east side of the Chess valley and eventually through fields of barley and descended to emerge just above Chesham station. All this time the weather held and it was even sunny at one point. But as we ate our sandwiches in Lowndes Park the clouds threatened and half the group decided to head back on the tube. Wise decision. The remaining six set off for the final three miles back to Amersham. After 20 minutes the heavens opened as predicted and didn’t let up for the rest of the walk. We were thoroughly soaked but we can’t say we weren’t warned. Thanks to everyone who took part, especially Carol for bringing her homemade cake bites which helped to get us through the longish morning walk.


East Grinstead circular Virtual walk at the end of April

Our 10 mile walk starts through the normally busy Saturday streets of the town but we have an opportunity to socially distance ourselves from the high street and detour past the pretty church. Outside Sackville College, a Jacobean Almshouse, where all residents are currently self-isolating, we pass the statue to the NZ surgeon Archibald McIndoe who pioneered plastic surgery for WWII airmen at the local hospital. Finally, we leave the town behind and set off across mixed farm and wood land where we are bound to see bluebells at this time of year.

We pass an imposing building, Stoke Brunswick, which was a school for many years and has now returned to private ownership. It started off as a hunting lodge used by John of Gaunt and was bought by Dewars, the whisky family, in the early 20thC. Mrs Dewar declared it too small for her lavish parties so hubby bought a Tudor mansion, Dutton Hall in Cheshire, and had it moved piece by piece onto the site (as you do). To their credit the Dewars made the house available for recuperating airmen during the war.

Quite soon we turn onto Vanguard Way, a rather neglected long distance footpath as seen by the dilapidated stiles we have to negotiate. Our route then takes us through Tablehurst Community Farm, described as a social enterprise, which operates on a biodynamic basis. This means it is both organic and self-sustaining but I do recall from a previous walk in 2018 that someone got a nasty electric shock from the fence protecting their free-range chickens from foxes! The very popular farm shop is still open, but limiting the numbers allowed inside at any one time. They are also making local deliveries to self-isolators and key workers. Good for them.

Very soon we arrive in Forest Row for lunch. There are plenty of picnic spots in this pretty town, and also a good selection of pubs and cafes. It has a bit of a reputation for trendy alternative lifestyles but it’s really a posh commuter town. Its early development was down to the direct rail service to London but, after 100 years of operation, it was axed by Beeching. The disused line is now Forest Way, a foot and bike trail.

After lunch, those wanting an easy 3 mile walk back to East Grinstead can take the Forest Way whilst the more energetic will set off across fields, stopping first to admire the lovely Jacobean ruins of Brambletye House, built in the 17thC by Sir Henry Compton MP. It was abandoned less than 100 years later but no-one knows why.

Our route takes us across the bottom of Weir Wood Reservoir where there would normally be lots of sailing boats out enjoying the spring weather. But probably not in the time of coronavirus. We then follow footpaths north and largely uphill, arriving in the old town of East Grinstead via an atmospheric sunken lane. Normally there would be several afternoon tea spots to enjoy and even possibly the station cafe. Always a welcome sight and a good end to the day. However, on this occasion, we shall need to have our own flasks of tea. Now, who brought the biscuits?

Missing all the walks and the company.   Sandra Neilson

AGM 14 March 2020

On Saturday 14 March, just ahead of the more stringent advice on social distancing, the Club held its AGM at Better Bankside.   With the increasing threat of coronavirus, the organisers had thought long and hard about whether to go ahead and email reminders had been sent out about the importance of hand washing, so I was expecting a much reduced attendance. In the event 36 members turned out, only two down on last year, and this in spite of a few older members sensibly deciding to stay at home to reduce their risk of infection. Perhaps we all had an inkling that would be our last physical gathering for a while.  Hilary, in the chair, began the meeting with tributes to Solvig Starborg who had died in January and Ian Gordon who had passed away last May.  Both had been AGM regulars. Continue reading AGM 14 March 2020