This being the day after the Coronation, the train was busy with people en route to friends and family gatherings. There were 15 of us on the train and there was plenty to talk about, some of our members having been in the crowd lining the mall. There was general agreement as to the high quality of the music.
Changing trains at Guildford, we trundled two stops to Chilworth in a 3 coach diesel unit. It was dry but overcast as we set off; to the North we could see St Martha’s Church on the North Downs, that we would reach in the afternoon. Walking eastwards, and then north, through farmland and heath we reached Shere. Shere was celebrating the Coronation big time. The road down by the river was closed with tables full of happy diners. Some of us had our lunch behind the parish church, St James. This is famous, not just for being in Bridget Jones Diary but also for the unsettling history of the Anchoress of 1329.
This was a rearranged walk, the planned one from Pulborough to Amberley being cancelled due to lack of trains. Thirteen of us started from St James’s Park station then through St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. With the exception of one or two areas of formal planting, the Royal Parks were all looking pretty brown though it was interesting to see what plants had done better in the long hot spell. The Canadian water feature in Green Park was turned off.
Reaching Kensington Gardens, we turned south, down the side of the former Derry and Toms department store. The older members could recall when this was occupied by BIBA, the epitome of 60’s and 70’s British fashion. We meandered down through some of the smarter Kensington streets and squares, reaching West Brompton Cemetery. Here we had a picnic lunch, and were joined by Harriet and Sandra. The cemetery was built in the 19th century as a commercial venture with imposing neo classical buildings to convince the public it was a suitable last resting place for their loved ones. There are many notable people buried there, including Emmeline Pankhurst.
For third time in a week, I headed to Bexley to undertake a circular walk via Joyden’s Wood and alongside the River Cray. The previous two visits were for walkovers but on the first I got lost so I was unable to complete the circuit! The second was more successful after I downloaded an excellent map of the Woods showing all the paths. Still a bit apprehensive, I met up with nineteen members at the station and then we proceeded through the attractive village High Street, past some fine houses and the church with its unusual cone & pyramid spire. On the approach to Joyden’s Wood, we passed numerous stables as the area is popular for horse riding. Fortunately, there were no problems with way finding this time and we enjoyed the tree cover providing shade from the strong sunshine. We stopped at the scheduled ancient monument of Faesten Dic and admired the wooden replica of a Hurricane plane, commemorating the bailing out a pilot there in the war. Leaving the woods, we crossed over to the fields fringing the River Cray and stood on Five Arch Bridge looking at the wildlife in the water. Next, we headed for the White Cross pub for our lunch stop where the sausage sandwich was particularly tasty! Finally, a stretch of the London Loop brought us past a match in progress at Bexley Cricket Club and back to the station for our train home.
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.
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!