This was the first walk since lock down in December & it was a gorgeous reminder of why we would get up early on a Saturday. As we left Guildford we gazed at the curious sight of a huge hedge, sprayed with pink paint & chained to the ground. Hedging being much in demand & supply being short, hedge theft is big business now in Surrey & householders with large front gardens take what steps they can to deter persons who come in the night with forks & spades. An old sunken path took us out into fields where, being fairly flat, we saw more sky than most of us have seen for months. Then a meadow with three llamas dozing in a nice warm scrape they must have made & being gazed at with total concentration by a Westie, temporarily deaf to his owners’ irate calls. Just outside Chillworth we admired two fine pigs who, when younger, were covered with curly sheep-like wool but now just looked like abandoned rugs as someone said. After Chilworth’s ponds & water channels we took a small path that wended its way up the hill under dappled sunlight. through carpets of bluebells, celandines, wood anemones & violets. So beautiful was it, particularly after having been confined to a built-up environment for months, that we kept stopping to listen to the birdsong & enjoy the peace. We had a picnic in the sun at St Martha’s, high up on the North Downs Way & then walked down through the very different, more coniferous woods to the cafes & delights of Guildford.
Ten Poly Ramblers met at Turnham Green station to begin our walk with a tour of the Bedford Park estate. (Norman Shaw architecture) A number of artists and poets lived here including WB Yeats. We then went onto Stamford Brook and into Ravenscourt Park a very traditional London Park with a lake and gardens and a tennis court. Both Danny and Sandy attended schools in the locality and shared memories of their escapades in the park. We continued to a café and toilets where at this point three of our walkers diverted into a local garden centre café whilst the rest of us continued on our route. We left Ravenscourt Park to cut across Hammersmith to reach the subway under the A4 to join the Thames path at Furnival Gardens. High tide resulted in a group split headed by Danny going a longer way round leaving Marga and myself to wade through a few yards to re-join the ramblers at Hogarth’s grave by the side of St Nicholas Church where some group members went inside to admire the interior. The current church dates from 1882-84 when most of the building except the tower was demolished and rebuilt at the expense of the brewer Henry Smith of the nearby Fuller, Smith and Turner brewery. We walked through Chiswick old cemetery to cross Burlington lane and into Chiswick House grounds. We had lunch (including mulled wine for a few of us) at the main café by Chiswick House followed by a wander around the grounds kindly led by Stephen who with Rochelle and Cathy had finally caught up with us! We completed our walk by leaving the grounds and under the subway back towards Chiswick Park Station. A very enjoyable pre-Xmas ramble.
Jennifer, a volunteer guide at Kew Gardens, gave 4 Poly Ramblers a tour of this arboretum with its royal history. Two stunning examples of Eucalyptus met us in the Australian section. From Argentine, we were equally impressed by a handsome Monkey Puzzle tree. These are either male or female, known as dioecious, and this species have existing since the age of the dinosaurs. The rugged bark of a Spanish Cork Oak was admired and the method of harvesting the cork regrowth every 10 years. In the Californian section, there were some young Redwoods, not a patch on the natives in USA where their trunks have been known to exceed 27’ or 8.2 m in diameter. Other trees that also stood out were: an orange Mexican Swamp Cypress by the lakeside, the avenue of Holm oaks, the Ginkgoes and a Hornbeam.
In between these beautiful trees, we also visited the Bamboo garden, the Rhododendron Dell, the Woodland boardwalk, the Japanese garden and the Great Pagoda with its brightly coloured dragons on every roof level!
It was a mainly bright sunny day with just one short & heavy downpour. A very pleasant and informative walk from 10.30- 3pm.
Sarah Photos Ida and Sunita
This turned out to be our last walk before lockdown. It was a shame that the group due to visit on Sunday missed out but we hope there will be opportunities for many more walks in 2021.
Wishing all our members a safe and happy festive season
Emerging from the second lockdown, 9 Polys assembled outside Chesham tube station – a 10th confirmed booking was a no-show due to a defunct clutch on the A1 – in winter sunshine (a pleasant surprise after the heavy snow briefly forecast earlier in the week) to listen to the neophyte leader’s safety briefing. He concentrated on one particular piece of road with no footways. Not sure whether he should have mentioned anything else (no – it was absolutely fine – Editor).
We set off on the prescribed route, starting with a mile or so past the alleged site of a Quaker meeting house visited by Cromwell in 1642, in truth located several hundred yards away; a mosque; and a cemetery; before hitting greenery where the advertised steep pitch into a wood had on second thoughts been replaced with a gentle diagonal rise on open fields. The tricky road section proved uneventful, and we slowly ascended on a stony path to Ashley Green. From there we gradually descended through open fields before crossing a fence into a field with four horses, who ignored us as we climbed up to the lunch spot.
After lunch we traversed a caravan park before skirting Bovingdon airfield, disused now but with a WW2 history as a USAF training base. At the far end one could see a VHF omnidirectional range combined with distance-measuring equipment, one of four radio beacons around London aiding navigation to Heathrow along standard arrival routes. No one seemed to recollect that as recently as the end of October and just 16.5 nautical miles away, the Polys had already set eyes on such a Martian-looking contraption near Brookmans Park, during the Bayford walk. We continued past the White Hart pub, frequented in the war by those U.S. pilots, including Clark Gable and James Stewart. Then on past the remnants of a Neolithic fort, which the chronicler found difficult to make out. On across muddy fields, over a wobbly stile and through a flooded gate back to the outskirts of Chesham and a pavement descent to the tube station. About 8.5 miles.
Eleven polys made their way in small groups to Upper Warlingham in Surrey. Where was the 12th member of the party? The second leader had missed the train, due to the closure of the district line and was on the next one arriving in 30 minutes! While we used the facilities at the station one at a time, we regrouped and I set off with 5 members, leaving some ‘faster’ walkers behind to wait for their leader. After a fairly short steep climb up some earth steps we made our way through woods and farmland and after a while the second group had caught up. They must have bounded up the steps. We arrived at the wood in which we had got lost on the recce and triumphantly entered it by the path we had struggled to find before. Unfortunately, due to the paths being covered by fallen leaves, it was difficult to see which one to take and we proceeded on the wrong one AGAIN!! We came out at a different place and fortunately found some kind ladies who directed us back towards the old Croydon mental hospital, now a gated residential area, from where we should have been able to get back on track. However, we seemed to have approached it from a different angle and the path remained elusive! Some walkers were mentioning lunch so we partook of our picnic among the trees, all extremely rigorously socially distanced. Hilary and I searched for the path but to no avail while Jennifer gained some useful information from a passer by. Refreshed, we set off and thanks to some helpful locals we made our way towards the next landmark, the Old Bear pub in Fickleshole. From there we were back on the correct route and the rest of the walk was uneventful except for both leaders slipping on a slope! Irene brought out her always comprehensive first aid kit to disinfect Jennifer’s finger. Continue reading SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER: UPPER WANBOROUGH TO HAYES→
The Polytechnic Rambling Club – Walking with friends