SEAFORD TO BERWICK – SATURDAY 18 JUNE

A select band of 9 Poly Ramblers undeterred by the heat and distance from London, turned out for a spectacular varied walk along the east sussex coast and inland through the beautiful south downs national park.

We started with a briefing on the Seaford seafront and then began the walk up the steep ascent of Seaford Head. Once on the top the walk was relatively flat and the sea breezes made the heat bearable. In the distance we could see the unmistakable chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. At Cuckmere Haven we turned inland, still on the Vanguard Way, until we reached Exceat bridge where we had to negotiate a busy section of road with heavy traffic. We crossed this and decided to stop for lunch at a magnificent viewpoint above Exceat overlooking the Cuckmere River as it made great sweeping loops out to sea. We felt a few spots of rain but it didn’t amount to much.

We continued through woods which provided much welcomed shade from the fierce sun. We eventually reached the village of Litlington where we walked along the banks of the river Cuckmere into the village of Alfriston. Alfriston is one of the oldest villages in the county and is full of quaint half timbered houses. We decided to treat ourselves to ice creams and sat and ate them on benches in the middle of the village high street. In Alfriston there were unisex public toilets that we all visited and I have to say they were the cleanest free toilets I have seen in a long time.

Refreshed by our ice creams we continued our walk. We passed by a white horse on the hillside, a reminder that this was chalk downland. We walked across magnificent fields of wheat and barley gently blowing in the wind. At the end of a field path was the little church of Berwick. Nothing out of the ordinary on the outside, we decided to make a detour to look at the inside of the church which is truly extraordinary. It contains the most brightly coloured and exquisite wall paintings, scenes from the scriptures, rural sussex life and a reminder they were done during the second world war with figures from the military. These paintings were done by members of the Bloomsbury set, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf), who made frequent visits to this part of the world.

A stone’s throw from the church was the Cricketers Arms, an eighteenth pub where we sat in the garden resplendent with summer flowers and were served with drinks at our table. Ida and Stephen decided to have fish and chips and pretty good they looked too.

From here it was a short walk across fields to little Berwick station, where we caught our train back to Lewes and London.

Mary King.  Photos by Mary, Ida and Stuart

Saturday 11th June Berkhamsted to Tring

I arrived at Euston early and Geoffrey did too so we were able to have a chat about railways while waiting.  We were a bit late arriving at Berkhamsted, having been held up by a slow train ahead of us.  12 of us set off from Berko, after a further delay while I fiddled with my new pole.  I had been worried about a narrow muddy path on one section of the walk.  However what was muddy in March was bone dry in June and I didn’t need to use my steep alternative route.

We started the steady climb to Berko Common, enjoying extensive views on a bright sunny day.  Although I have done the walk several times I still managed to take a wrong path.  Fortunately I was able to correct my mistake with the aid of my OS Maps app.  I attribute my mistake to the fact that the map shows a path which does not exist on the ground,  and realise that some people might see a slight contradiction here.

Continue reading Saturday 11th June Berkhamsted to Tring

Kew Gardens May 22nd. Walk with blind ramblers

Fifteen blind ramblers and helpers and nine Polyramblers enjoyed a wonderful day in Kew Gardens. We started by ascending to the Temple of Aeolus, the god of wind, who thankfully was not active that day. In fact it was beautifully sunny between the clouds! Walking back through plant evolution in the Evolution Garden we reached the colourful Rock Garden where we listened to the waterfall before passing through the Alpine House, describing the insectivorous plants in the pond on the way. We smelled crushed fallen leaves of the Eucalyptus trees before experiencing the different climatic zones of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Homage was paid to the bee at ‘The Hive’ a structure created by Wolfgang Buttress which several of us entered to further explore and listen to the local bees humming in the key of C major!

Continue reading Kew Gardens May 22nd. Walk with blind ramblers

THE LINE WALK: STRATFORD TO NORTH GREENWICH – 15 MAY

On a rather grey Sunday morning, a very respectable turn-out of twenty-five members met at Stratford Station for the walk with a further two joining enroute. The Line is London’s first dedicated public art walk. It starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and that’s where the group joined it, alongside the Waterworks River. The first of twenty exhibits was the AccelorMittal Orbit by Anish Kapoor, then its slide by Carsten Holler followed by a series of Madge Gill works under a railway bridge. Soon after, we reached the Greenway with a distinct aroma signalling the Northern Outfall Sewer beneath! After crossing Stratford High Street, we joined the Three Mills Wall River towpath with a tall structure in the style of the 2012 Olympic torch on the opposite bank. Continue reading THE LINE WALK: STRATFORD TO NORTH GREENWICH – 15 MAY

HASLEMERE DOUBLE LOOP TO BLACKDOWN AND HINDHEAD – 21 MAY

Fourteen Poly Ramblers undertook the challenge of a strenuous 13 mile/22k figure of 8 walk from Haslemere.

The weather was perfect for walking, partly sunny with good visibility. We walked through Haslemere which has been decked out in 70th Jubilee bunting, and then ascended up towards Black Down following the Serpent’s way (a well signposted trail). The terrain was varied, walking through fields then shady woods until we got to the Down. The hill was kind, spreading out the ascent and everyone made it comfortably. On the Down there was a magnificent view to the west, although there were not many obvious landmarks. 10 minutes later, lovely views from the Temple of the Winds viewpoint from North West to South West. There were views of the South Downs. This was a good spot for mid-morning refreshments.

We then, after negotiating random cows took a lovely return down to Haslemere through beech woods. We had a short break for lunch, finding some outside seating or in one of the many cafes/hostelries. There was an option at this point to cut the hike short, but pleased to say there were no takers. Continue reading HASLEMERE DOUBLE LOOP TO BLACKDOWN AND HINDHEAD – 21 MAY