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Twenty four Poly Ramblers met at Richmond station and crossed the Green to reach the first of our historic houses, the remains of Richmond Palace. Sandy recounted that Elizabeth 1 died here necessitating a courtier to ride to Scotland to inform the future James I of her demise and consequently the union of the Scottish and English crowns.
We then followed the Thames towpath upstream through Petersham Meadows, entered Richmond Park and walked onward to the Isabella Plantation. It is a gamble to choose the date of a walk based on seeing flowers but we were lucky and the rhododendrons were spectacular. After picnicking close to the Silent Pond we left the Plantation and Park and walked through Ham Common Woods. Passing between Ham House and a polo match we returned to the riverside and took the ferry to the other bank of the Thames.
Patricia, who is a resident of the area, led us to Orleans House named after Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans where we admired the extravagant baroque style Octagon Room. After looking across to Eel Pie Island, famous in the 50s and 60s for its jazz and blues sessions, and reading the quotes from Twickenham’s favourite son Alexander Pope engraved on surrounding benches we entered the riverside gardens of York House home to the rockery and water cascade known as the “Naked Ladies” or “Oceanides”. Our walk finished alongside the Palladium villa, Marble Hill House, built for Henrietta Howard the official mistress of king George II, not currently open to the public.
A huge thank you to Patricia for sharing her local knowledge and providing tea and flapjacks in her garden and to Ida and Stuart for the photos.
Sunita and Jennifer.
What was the Hippodrome Racecourse , potteries and piggeries in a notorious slum area, is now a world-known neighbourhood with beautiful and colourful houses alongside council estates. Notting Hill Gate is known for its carnival, Hugh Grant film and the Portobello Road market which began in the 1860/70s. Ten of us set off from Notting Hill Gate tube station to explore the area. From Pembridge Gardens, we went to Portobello Road. The beginning of the road is lined with very pretty, colourful houses with nice front gardens. We passed a few mews, but their entrance was not as impressive as the arched entrance to Pencombe Mews. We made a pit stop in the purpose-built toilets in Westbourne Grove then headed towards All Saints Notting Hill & St Michael’s North Kensington. The church has an interesting history and the Reverend Dr Samuel Walker who began its build, had very ambitious plans, intending to crown the tower with a spire as lofty as that of Salisbury Cathedral. The marshy ground put a stop to his plans. We would see this church a few more times on the walk to the amusement of the walkers. We continued towards the Tabernacle – a Grade II-listed building built in 1887 as a church – and Vicky persuaded us to go in. We received a warm welcome from two QPR and Fulham supporters who told us about the history of the church and its impact on the community and the carnival. We passed the Ledbury but did not stop for dinner (tasting menu £185 and matching wines £120). We headed towards Elgin crescent. As we walked west along this street, the houses became more luxurious. We went up and then down as we were in a hilly area, passing the street where Andrew used to live as a child and continued towards Portobello Road, passing the blue door from the film Notting Hill. Then I got mixed up and, as it was getting late, we headed towards Westbourne Park tube station where the walk finished. Five of us went in search of food. We were walking along a small industrial estate when we saw the words ‘Restaurant’ and ‘Bar’ and a few people outside one of the units. We were told to come in and did not know what to expect but people at the Portuguese Sporting Clube de Londres welcomed us with open arms and we had an excellent meal accompanied by three nice bottles of wine.
Dominique. Photos by Ida
Our weekend adventure formally began in Marriott’s Warehouse, on the historic waterfront of King’s Lynn. My husband Neil’s first introduction to the world of polyrambling at the evening meal was a jolly affair and everyone made him feel welcome as we ate dinner together to fortify us for the challenge ahead.
We had arrived into the town earlier in the day and the Russet House hotel looked comfortable and in a great position near the park. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring the medieval streets and old buildings near the Quay. We popped into the museum to see the Bronze Age timber circle discovered at Holme-next-the-Sea, the very destination of our weekend walk, so that made us even more excited about hiking to that part of the coast.
To start our walk on Saturday morning, we all took a very smart public bus (double decker, with tables) to the town of Swaffham and then rambled 1.8 miles, mainly along a road, to join the trail. At that point the sign pointed 24 miles ahead to Holme-next-the-Sea and 23 miles back to Knettishall Heath. We took the path to the sea.
It was an easy trail, a baked earth path skirting the fields until we saw the village of Castle Acre on the horizon, complete with ruined Priory and ancient church, and pretty river running by. As we walked up the main street towards the portcullis, Stuart was most excited to spot Melbourne House and he felt very at home. We stopped for lunch and as a resting point it had everything – convivial benches under the village sign on the green, an atmospheric pub and a tea room with cakes. (I am not going to mention the antique shop in which I could have lingered for hours.)
An hour or so after lunch, we realised a rucksack had been left behind on a grass verge so the group was split for the rest of the day while steps were retraced and the bag safely retrieved. We then had a choice of routes off the Peddars Way and chose the one that covered more of the trail. This made the journey later from the trail to the bus stop longer but had the advantage of avoiding walking along the road. So under the leadership of Dominique and Geoffrey, we followed the OS map across country as the sun came out, away from the Peddars Way and heading at an increasingly rapid pace for the last bus back, due to leave the village of Gayton at 17.16. We made it with at least 5 minutes to spare, to everyone’s huge relief.
Another group meal followed (Grants restaurant) with apparently enormous portions, while Neil and I nipped off to the beautiful King’s Lynn Minster, for a choral and orchestral evening concert of Durufle and Poulenc, a glorious experience and a wonderful way to end an epic day.
Sunday morning we could hardly move our legs, never having knowingly walked 16 miles before. A generous breakfast at the hotel fortified us, however, and we headed back to the bus station for the only bus on the tarmac, which took us to Dersingham. We walked east to pick up the Peddars Way near Anmer, about 3-4 miles north of where we had left it yesterday. This was a prettier initial route passing colourful fields with hares running, red kites hovering and pheasants shedding their feathers for Stuart to collect.
Once on the trail and into the Sandringham Estate, we passed field after field of enormous pigs enjoying the sunshine and we stopped very close to some metal pig houses to watch them as we ate our picnic lunch. I spotted two battered land rovers on a track ahead and wondered if they contained Royalty as several members of the Windsor family were at Sandringham for the Queen’s birthday. Although sunnier today there was still a stiff breeze and when not sheltered by hedges, it was nicely chilly.
We reached the village of Ringstead mid-afternoon and it was a delightful place to stop and have a drink, before the final push to the coast. We reached Holme-next-the-Sea in good time and bade farewell to the group at the bus stop on the main road. They were heading back to King’s Lynn railway station, and then home.
Neil and I continued down Beach Rd another mile, to see the rolling sand dunes, the enormous expanse of beach and the sea shimmering in the sunlight. It was a beautiful evening and we could see four horses on the horizon, being exercised and galloping through the water. We explored the silent nature reserve and imagined the Seahenge timbers being exposed there at low tide, and the excavations in the mud 20 years ago which revealed the prehistoric burial ground (from 4,000 years ago!). It was a perfect way to end a really lovely weekend, thanks to leaders Gillian and Stuart for organising everything for us and to everyone for their companionship along the way.
Jill Forgham (photos by Ida, Stuart, Jill and others)
It was a lovely Sunny Sunday with a bit of a breeze. An opportunity for a shortish city walk to counterbalance the Peddars way challenge. We followed the Regent’s Canal from Paddington Basin to Kings Cross with a detour thought Regent’s park and Parliament hill. Vicky and Meng brought friends who enjoyed Polyrambler hospitality. We went via Little Venice. The canal dives into a tunnel at Edgware road so had to go across the top. At Regents Park we detoured round the lake and had a hospitality stop at the Tennis Courts. Then to Regents Park Zoo, outside which found some carved animals had escaped. Parliament hill gave a great view of the City skyline ranging from Docklands, and St Pauls cathedral to Crystal Palace Mast. We dropped down to Regent’s Park Road with the bustling cafe scene. Then down to Camden Lock. We wisely did not venture in as I did not want to lose anyone. There was a opportunity to buy street food in the Market and then following the Canal to Gasholder Park for a spot of Lunch. This was a park in an old Gasometer and was a surprisingly uncrowded spot and very stylishly designed. From there a short walk to Kings Cross where we stopped for final refreshments. Everyone had a great time and I would not be surprised if we had some new members joining.