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.
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.