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.
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