Thirty one Polyramblers including one new member, welcome Shola, joined me in near freezing conditions for a gentle walk through the streets of the City of London. This square mile is the oldest part of London dating back to AD50 when the invading Romans established a settlement they called Londinium.
Most of us started the walk with a visit to the Mithraeum which displays the ruins of the Roman Temple of Mithras that stood on this site 2000 years ago. A short sound and light show attempts to recreate the rituals of the Mythrean cult practiced by the Roman army. Sections of the old City wall were viewed, the best preserved being adjacent to the church of St Giles without Cripplegate close to our much needed lunch break at the Barbican Centre. We also saw remains of the Roman fort and visited those of the amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall Art Gallery with its graphics cleverly showing how it would have originally appeared when it had a capacity not far off that of the Royal Albert Hall.
The walk also focused on Medieval London. We saw several Livery Halls and many churches often rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London and the sites of several public executions and red light districts.
A visit to the church of St Bartholomew the Great, the finest Norman church left in London, afforded a welcome escape from the cold. Used in many films it is home to stunning contemporary pieces of art including Damien Hirst’s Exquisite Pain, The Risen Christ by Josephina de Vasconcellos and Roldan’s Madonna and Child.
We also visited Postman’s Park with its unique memorial wall to heroic ordinary men, women and children which was created in 1900 by the Victorian painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts. Briefly entering Islington we saw Peabody buildings and walked through the historic Burnhill Field cemetery burial place for London non-conformists including such great poets and writers as Milton, Defoe, Blake and Bunyan.
In spite of the wet conditions and a discouraging forecast, 15 Poly Ramblers gathered at Ruislip station for a walk through woodland, open countryside and canal towpath. The rain had largely stopped by the time we set off but the sun failed to make an appearance all day. Even without the sunshine the woodland of Bayhurst Country Park and Ruislip nature reserve was lovely, although the HS2 works we had to divert around were a little less lovely and some of the stiles were in poor condition. Eventually the route took us to woodland above Harefield Parish Church and a peal of bells heralded our arrival (or maybe they were for the wedding). We made our way uphill to Harefield Village and then down, up and down again to reach the Grand Union canal towpath. We headed north and stopped at the Coy Carp pub for lunch. After refreshments we continued north on the towpath to Rickmansworth where the majority of the party went in search of tea. Having searched in vain for an independent tea shop we ended up in one of the chains.
It was lovely to see Julie again on a visit from Brisbane. She enjoyed the weather if no-one else did.
Gillian. Photos from Joyanna, Hilary, Melida and Gillian
Ten intrepid Polys met at Totteridge and Whetstone station on a bleak, wet morning. They were rewarded by an unexpectedly lovely walk, all within the London Borough of Barnet, and some good
weather including quite a bit of sunshine. After walking for a short while along by the Dollis Brook, we briefly passed through some typical suburban streets before reaching Totteridge green and from there on to Darlands Lake Nature Reserve, where we followed the Folly Brook. The terrain was extremely waterlogged but fortunately a raised walkway has been installed. In the spring wild anemones, rare snakeshead fritillary and wild garlic flowers can be found here. Darlands Lake used to be the boating lake for the grand Copped Hall, which dominated the hillside. We emerged from the woodland into what used to be the the parkland of Copped Hall and made our way steadily uphill towards Totteridge Lane with its grand houses. By this time the sun had come out and we were able to enjoy views all the way to Canary Wharf. The area is extremely rural, with farms and stables, as it is protected as part of the greenbelt. We stopped to picnic in the grounds of the church in Mill Hill, just before it started to rain, and enjoyed a drink at The Three Hammers Pub. We passed the Sheepwash Pond where animals were washed before being driven to London for slaughter. We struggled to drag ourselves out of the warmth of the pub, but after waiting for a heavy downpour to stop, we set off and again the sun came out! The afternoon took us through several soggy meadows before we went uphill to Totteridge Common and from there back to the tube station. We agreed that we had been lucky with the weather and that this walk should be repeated in future in the spring to appreciate the flora.