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.
Eleven polys made their way in small groups to Upper Warlingham in Surrey. Where was the 12th member of the party? The second leader had missed the train, due to the closure of the district line and was on the next one arriving in 30 minutes! While we used the facilities at the station one at a time, we regrouped and I set off with 5 members, leaving some ‘faster’ walkers behind to wait for their leader. After a fairly short steep climb up some earth steps we made our way through woods and farmland and after a while the second group had caught up. They must have bounded up the steps. We arrived at the wood in which we had got lost on the recce and triumphantly entered it by the path we had struggled to find before. Unfortunately, due to the paths being covered by fallen leaves, it was difficult to see which one to take and we proceeded on the wrong one AGAIN!! We came out at a different place and fortunately found some kind ladies who directed us back towards the old Croydon mental hospital, now a gated residential area, from where we should have been able to get back on track. However, we seemed to have approached it from a different angle and the path remained elusive! Some walkers were mentioning lunch so we partook of our picnic among the trees, all extremely rigorously socially distanced. Hilary and I searched for the path but to no avail while Jennifer gained some useful information from a passer by. Refreshed, we set off and thanks to some helpful locals we made our way towards the next landmark, the Old Bear pub in Fickleshole. From there we were back on the correct route and the rest of the walk was uneventful except for both leaders slipping on a slope! Irene brought out her always comprehensive first aid kit to disinfect Jennifer’s finger. Continue reading SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER: UPPER WANBOROUGH TO HAYES→
Fifteen Polyramblers, in two socially isolated groups with the Ramblers rules for outdoor physical activity events in place, set off for a 17km circular walk.
Our gently undulating morning route took us through woods and open pastures, including Hillyfields Park and Whitewebbs Wood, to the medieval St Mary’s Church in the old part of the Hertfordshire town of Cheshunt. Our steepest climb was over a bridge crossing the M25 from which, despite a light shower, we had views of the Shard and Canary Wharf and spied our other group in the distance. Continue reading GORDON HILL CIRCULAR – SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER→
On one of the best days of this strange year, 12 of us set out from Box Hill & Westhumble station into the gorgeous early autumn. Geoffrey & his 5 walkers took a slightly more leisurely approach & Harriet’s group went off first & bit more swiftly so as to keep an appropriate distance. It was a beautiful morning with a slightly autumnal smell in the air but still hot enough to feel that the world wasn’t yet closing down for winter. We were seduced by a refreshment van at Ranmore Common, the feeling being that we Continue reading SURREY HILLS CIRCULAR – SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER→
The Polytechnic Rambling Club – Walking with friends