chiswick and Hammersmith Circular Walk 13th Dec. 2020

Ten Poly Ramblers met at Turnham Green station to begin our walk with a tour of the Bedford Park estate. (Norman Shaw architecture) A number of artists and poets lived here including WB Yeats. We then went onto Stamford Brook and into Ravenscourt Park a very traditional London Park with a lake and gardens and a tennis court. Both Danny and Sandy attended schools in the locality and shared memories of their escapades in the park. We continued to a café and toilets where at this point three of our walkers diverted into a local garden centre café whilst the rest of us continued on our route. We left Ravenscourt Park to cut across Hammersmith to reach the subway under the A4 to join the Thames path at Furnival Gardens. High tide resulted in a group split headed by Danny going a longer way round leaving Marga and myself to wade through a few yards to re-join the ramblers at Hogarth’s grave by the side of St Nicholas Church where some group members went inside to admire the interior. The current church dates from 1882-84 when most of the building except the tower was demolished and rebuilt at the expense of the brewer Henry Smith of the nearby Fuller, Smith and Turner brewery. We walked through Chiswick old cemetery to cross Burlington lane and into Chiswick House grounds. We had lunch (including mulled wine for a few of us) at the main café by Chiswick House followed by a wander around the grounds kindly led by Stephen who with Rochelle and Cathy had finally caught up with us! We completed our walk by leaving the grounds and under the subway back towards Chiswick Park Station. A very enjoyable pre-Xmas ramble.

Hilary

KEW GARDENS TOUR – 19 DECEMBER

Jennifer, a volunteer guide at Kew Gardens, gave 4 Poly Ramblers a tour of this arboretum with its royal history.  Two stunning examples of Eucalyptus met us in the Australian section.  From Argentine, we were equally impressed by a handsome Monkey Puzzle tree. These are either male or female, known as dioecious, and this species have existing since the age of the dinosaurs.  The rugged bark of a Spanish Cork Oak was admired and the method of harvesting the cork regrowth every 10 years.  In the Californian section, there were some young Redwoods, not a patch on the natives in USA where their trunks have been known to exceed 27’ or 8.2 m in diameter.  Other trees that also stood out were: an orange Mexican Swamp Cypress by the lakeside, the avenue of Holm oaks, the Ginkgoes and a Hornbeam.

In between these beautiful trees, we also visited the Bamboo garden, the Rhododendron Dell, the Woodland boardwalk, the Japanese garden and the Great Pagoda with its brightly coloured dragons on every roof level!

It was a mainly bright sunny day with just one short & heavy downpour.  A very pleasant and informative walk from 10.30- 3pm.

Sarah  Photos Ida and Sunita

This turned out to be our last walk before lockdown.  It was a shame that the group due to visit on Sunday missed out but we hope there will be opportunities for many more walks in 2021.

Wishing all our members a safe and happy festive season

Gillian

CLAPHAM COMMON TO TOOTING BEC – 12 DECEMBER

Five Polys set off from Clapham Common station for a gentle walk taking in three South London commons. Two members were waiting at the wrong Clapham station, there are five altogether, but fortunately they contacted the leader who directed them to the correct one! We set off across Clapham Common passing Holy Trinity Church where William Wilberforce and his friends in the ‘Clapham Sect’, who lived around Clapham Common, worshipped while campaigning for the abolition of slavery and the moral reformation of the nation. In Broomwood Road we admired the beautiful decorative tiles in the porches of all the houses in this long road which took us to Wandsworth Common. We proceeded across the common, past Wandsworth Common station into Balham. We noted the impressive Du Cane Court, a large art deco block of 677 flats built in 1937. A popular place to live for music hall stars in the 30s and 40s. It originally boasted a social club on the top floor and amongst other luxuries had a water softening system. It is the largest privately owned apartment building under one roof in Europe. We took in St. Mary and John the Divine church with its external baptistry. The original building was erected with funds from the wealthy members of the ‘Clapham Sect’. We stopped outside Balham station to look at the ‘Impressions of Balham’, four bronze reliefs which depict local life, before proceeding to Tooting Bec common. Here we stopped by the lake to eat our picnic lunch surrounded by geese and other wildlife. One member had to manage on a banana as her hot lunch box refused to open! One of the cons of this walk is the lack of public toilets but fortunately a helpful park warden allowed us to use theirs before we made our way towards Tooting Bec station. Although it was quite a grey day the rain held off until the end of the walk when it started to drizzle slightly.

Susan.  Photos by Ida

Nine Elms advent windows walk – 7 December

Eight Polys met outside Battersea Park station for a stroll around the local area taking in some of the Giant Advent Calendar windows, created by local artists and organised by the Nine Elms Arts Ministry. We particularly admired the first window at The Free Masons pub opposite the station. We made our way round the Battersea Exchange development and into the Doddington Rollo estate. Here the window near the community hub stood out for its clever combination of traditional nativity scene and local aspects, including a 344 bus, created in a three dimensional cut out.  After passing the windows at the library and St. Saviours church we made our way through Battersea Park, past the Peace Pagoda into the Power Station development. Unfortunately the coffee shop was closed but the lights on the chimneys and the Christmas decorations created a festive atmosphere. We proceeded through the development towards New Covent Garden Market and some more windows, the one in Linnaeum having been created by a member of my choir. By the time we passed in front of the new American Embassy building it was starting to rain. The walkers decided to make directly for Vauxhall station and miss the last section along the Thames embankment. While not all the windows were impressive, it was a pleasant evening doing something Christmassy which is proving rather difficult this year.

Susan

CHESHAM/ ASHLEY GREEN CIRCULAR – SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER

Emerging from the second lockdown, 9 Polys assembled outside Chesham tube station – a 10th confirmed booking was a no-show due to a defunct clutch on the A1 – in winter sunshine (a pleasant surprise after the heavy snow briefly forecast earlier in the week) to listen to the neophyte leader’s safety briefing. He concentrated on one particular piece of road with no footways. Not sure whether he should have mentioned anything else (no – it was absolutely fine – Editor).

We set off on the prescribed route, starting with a mile or so past the alleged site of a Quaker meeting house visited by Cromwell in 1642, in truth located several hundred yards away; a mosque; and a cemetery; before hitting greenery where the advertised steep pitch into a wood had on second thoughts been replaced with a gentle diagonal rise on open fields. The tricky road section proved uneventful, and we slowly ascended on a stony path to Ashley Green. From there we gradually descended through open fields before crossing a fence into a field with four horses, who ignored us as we climbed up to the lunch spot.

After lunch we traversed a caravan park before skirting Bovingdon airfield, disused now but with a WW2 history as a USAF training base. At the far end one could see a VHF omnidirectional range combined with distance-measuring equipment, one of four radio beacons around London aiding navigation to Heathrow along standard arrival routes. No one seemed to recollect that as recently as the end of October and just 16.5 nautical miles away, the Polys had already set eyes on such a Martian-looking contraption near Brookmans Park, during the Bayford walk. We continued past the White Hart pub, frequented in the war by those U.S. pilots, including Clark Gable and James Stewart. Then on past the remnants of a Neolithic fort, which the chronicler found difficult to make out.  On across muddy fields, over a wobbly stile and through a flooded gate back to the outskirts of Chesham and a pavement descent to the tube station. About 8.5 miles.

Andrew

Photos by Gillian