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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Monday, 5 November 2018

Last Minute Changes / News

Sunset this Saturday (24 February) will be at 5.32pm, with light for walking until 6pm.

A day when spring seemed to be just around the corner - see Nature Blog

Advance Tickets: Brecon.
2018 Plans - Brecon: 04-07 May (see below); Scotland (Dornie): 28 May - 04 June (see below); Peak District: 18/19 August (SWC 302 & 303/304).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

La traviata at Opera Holland Park

La traviata, inspired by Alexandre Dumas fils’s play La Dame aux camélias– itself based on the true story of the courtesan Marie Duplessis – is one of the most popular operas by Verdi combining drama, profound emotion and wonderful melody.

To book, please click here.  Several walkers have already booked.  Pre-opera picnic details will be posted near the time.  I expect the opera will sell out (in fact it is already ~70% sold), so book early to avoid disappointment. 

Monday, 28 May 2018

Scotland 2018.......Dornie

A good sized group of walkers will be going to Dornie for our annual Scottish hill walking extravaganza.  Dornie is a small village on the route to the Isle of Skye, not far from the Kyle of Loch Alsh or Glen Shiel and the famous Eileen Donan Castle. The trip will run from Monday 28 May for 7 nights.  All of the pre-booked accommodation is now taken, so if you are interested in coming, you would need to find your own accommodation.  For inquiries on the trip generally, please contact goepfertkarenATyahooDOTcom.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Nine Night at National Theatre

Nine Night is a touching and very funny exploration of the rituals of family. 
Nine Night is a touching and very funny exploration of the rituals of family. 

Gloria is gravely sick. When her time comes, the celebration begins; the traditional Jamaican Nine Night Wake. But for Gloria’s children and grandchildren, marking her death with a party that lasts over a week is a test. Nine nights of music, food, sharing stories.....

To book, click here.  Pre-theatre food & drink will be posted near the time. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Brecon Beacons Trip - Preliminary Schedule

The Brecon Beacons – 4 Days of Walking (with up to 4 extra days for the keen ones)

Arrive in Brecon anytime on Friday 4th of May, either by car, or by train and bus:
·        Paddington – Abergavenny plus Bus Line 43/X43  from the bottom of Station Road,
·        Paddington – Merthyr Tydfil or Cardiff plus Bus Line T4,
·        Paddington – Neath (or Swansea) and Bus Line T6  from Neath Bus Station [5 mins away]).

Advance Train Tickets are now on sale for weekday journeys. For Paddington – Abergavenny, please be aware that – to get the best prices – you have to book separate tickets Paddington – Newport (South Wales) and Newport – Abergavenny, as these lines are run by different operators. Also make sure that you arrive in good time to catch a bus to Brecon.

Stay either in Brecon  (lots of B&B’s, some hotels), or in the Llwyn-y-Celyn Youth Hostel (some distance away, but on Bus Line T4) or anywhere else in the area if you have a car.

Preliminary proposed schedule, based on the current bus schedules (picnic lunch on all but one of the walks):

·    Friday 4th of May
Arrival Day Walk!!!: meet at 15.00 hours for this gentle introduction into the area.
The Usk and Ysgir rivers, a Roman Fort, a low ridge, woodlands, an ancient hillfort site and a covered well (and a cathedral and an optional woodland gorge), 4 ½ hours of walking, then straight to the group dinner. Too long? Too early? Start an hour later for the short version of the walk (cuts out the low ridge), or start two hours later and just walk the woodland gorge loop (details in the pdf).

·    Saturday 5th of May
Easily accessible ridge walk leading to and around South Wales’ largest natural lake then up to an Iron Age hillfort site. Great views of The Black Mountains, the Central Beacons and Llangynidr and Llangattock Hills; pub lunch. Easily accessible, but not easy, that is the main walk (10/10), but cut out the 260m ascent to Mynydd Troed, and it’s only 7/10. There is another option to cut out some of the ascent to the Iron Age hillfort site near the end. Tougher Option: head east from Mynydd Troed via its ridge and down and up Pen Tir and down and up Cefn Moel (picnic lunch). Bus 43/X43 from Brecon to Bwlch.

·    Sunday 6th of May
This is a traverse of the dramatic massif of the Fforest Fawr (‘The Great Forest’, with ‘Forest’ here denoting a former Royal Hunting Ground, rather than an area full of trees), one of the least frequented parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park, linking the Black Mountain to the west with the Central Brecon Beacons to the east. 10/10, tough, no shortcuts unless you want to call a taxi to the one road that’s being crossed 2/3 through (there is some phone reception on the descent to that road).
8 of us reccied this last year on the first extra-day. Any of those people may want to join me  in exploring a variation of the route, by following the Beacons Way between Penwyllt Quarry and Fan Dringarth, through the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve of Shake Holes and caves and along Sarn Helen (an old Roman Road) past an ancient standing stone (Maen Madoc) and an old Roman Camp (see route map on the webpage).
For those that want an easier walk:
The first one was a great success last year, with loads of bluebells (and also mud) and a nice lunch pub and a café at the end. Same start point as the tough walk above. 
The second one is the short out-and-back walk up to Black Mountain, a longer version of which we walked last year. Same bus line as the other two walks.

·    Monday 7th of May
From Brecon up to the ridge (takes about 3 hours), east along the less frequented tops and the upland peat bog plateau of the Waun Rydd (past the airplane memorial) and down into the Usk Valley to Talybont (2 pubs, but no buses on the Bank Holiday, so taxi back or follow the Monmouth & Brecon Canal).
Not so tough option: descend from Fan y Big back to Brecon, still a full day…
(infrequent bus service though on the Bank Holiday).

·    8th May to 11th May Bus-based recce walking from either of: Llangynidr, Llangattock, Crickhowell, Abergavenny, Llanvihangel Crucorney, Talgarth or Three Cocks/Aberllynfi. Maybe based in Crickhowell or Abergavenny for some of those days (contact me if interested).

p.s. for a mountain weather forecast for the area we’ll walk in, either check our very own website on the respective walk’s page, for example here, or try the ever reliable Mountain Weather Information Service and their forecast for the Brecon Beacons here. There are also live webcams at the Brecon Beacons National Park’s Visitor Centre, available here.
p.p.s. your options for getting out of Brecon by bus on the Sunday or the Bank Holiday Monday are fairly limited.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Chess at London Coliseum

Written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ SuperstarThe Lion KingEvita), This is the first major West End revival in over 30 years.

Chess tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends.

Take the opportunity of seeing a west end musical at a bargain price.  Ticket price from £15.  To book click here.  Pre-musical food and drink will be posted in due course. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Caroline, Or Change at Hampstead Theatre

Following a sellout season at Chichester Festival Theatre, the production is transferred to Hampstead Theatre.  It has excellent reviews from all major press.  To book, please click here.  Pre-theatre F&B will be posted in due course.

1963. In quiet Lake Charles, Louisiana, the destruction of a Confederate statue might just signal that change is in the air… But, whatever the progress of the civil rights movement, in the Gellman household things seem just the same – for now at least.
Eight year old Noah, heartbroken by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage, sneaks down to the basement to spend time with the black maid he idolises, Caroline Thibodeaux: Caroline who runs everything. Whilst the basement may seem a fantastical place - even the appliances have a voice of their own - Caroline’s work there is repetitive and badly paid. But when Mrs Gellman comes up with a way for her to take a little more money home, the consequences for Caroline and Noah’s relationship are not what anybody might have expected…

An Olivier Award winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Change creates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval.

★★★★★ Sunday Times | ★★★★★ Mail on Sunday | ★★★★★ The Telegraph ★★★★ The Guardian | ★★★★ The Times | ★★★★ Financial Times ★★★★ The Independent | ★★★★ Evening Standard | ★★★★★ The Stage

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sunday Walk - Pewsey Vale and Marlborough Downs: Pewsey Circular

Length: 26.1 km (16.2 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent:  370 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness:  7 out of 10 

Take the 09.57 Plymouth train from Paddington (10.32 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 11.03.
Return trains: 16.11 (77 mins), 18.13 (77 mins) or 22.00 (88 mins) 
Buy a Pewsey return (the full undiscounted off-peak price is £39.20, but it’s of course cheaper with Railcards, and in any case cheaper if you buy separate return tickets London-Reading and Reading-Pewsey). !! For example, if you are using a Network Railcard, you buy a discounted London-Reading return and a separate off-peak Reading-Pewsey return for a total cost of £29.30 !! The costs are lower for other railcards. 
Advance Tickets shave off a few quid for all of these combinations, but they tie you to a fixed return train, of course. Your choice…

Exhilarating excursion through the solitude of the Vale of Pewsey, which separates the chalk upland of the North Wessex Downs to the north from that of Salisbury Plain to the south, including an ascent up the southerly hill chain of the Marlborough Downs, from where there are stunning far views in all directions over this land of wave-like hills, with its scarps, ridges and valleys. It is a mysterious landscape, full of pre-historic earthworks and hillforts as well as barrows – burial mounds of kings and warriors. 
After a scenic descent back into the Vale of Pewsey, a tea option exists in the hamlet of Honeystreet. Finally, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey. 

Two Shortcuts on the downs are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or 3.4 km (2.1 mi) and the rating to 6/10; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (19.2 km/305m height gain). See route map and pdf for details. 

Note 1:  this is not  Pewsey Circular (via Avebury), there are no standing stones on this walk.
Note 2: there is no lunch pub en route, so prepare for picnic on the Downs, then tea in Honeystreet and/or Pewsey.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here
The  en route café in Honeystreet is now shut due to being too successful (!!!), read here. 2 minutes away is The Barge Inn  (19.8 km/12.3 mi, food to 17.00), which used to market itself as ‘Crop Circle Central’ but seems to be a more serious enterprise these days. For the tea and dinner options en route to and in Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions pdf. T=swc.127

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Wednesday Walk - Seafront Walk with the wind (usually) in the back: Eastbourne to St. Leonards Warrior Square (via Bexhill)

Length: 25.1 km (15.6 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  negligible
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness:  3 out of 10 (if we hit the shingle stretch at low tide, which we should)

Take the 10.17 Eastbourne train from Victoria (10.23 CJ, 10.33 EC), arriving Eastbourne at 11.46.
Return trains: 17.00 (Victoria), 17.22 (Charing Cross), 17.53 (Charing Cross), 17.58 (Victoria) etc. There are also services to Ashford, connecting to High Speed trains to St. Pancras.
Buy a St. Leonards Warrior Square return.

This gentle walk follows the 24 km of flat coastline between Eastbourne and Hastings. It is in 3 parts - 2 seafront promenades with a quiet shingle beach in between which is nice to walk on only at low tide when the flat sandy part of the beach is uncovered. Although the entire walk is quite long, there are shorter options, as there is a railway line following the coast, with several stations en-route (see route map for details).

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: The Moorings in Pevensey Bay (8.1 km/5.0 mi, food all day).
Tea: Loads of options along the route, incl. a wine bar right by Warrior Square station. T=swc.66

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Sunday Walk: Tring Circular

Tring Circular Book 2 walk 5
Difficulty 4/10
Main walk 16.3km (10.1 miles) or shorter 8 mile option (see below)

Follow the Ridgeway along the Chiltern escarpment to Ivinghoe Beacon  with scenery as fine as anything on the South Downs. The easier afternoon plunges into the ancient Chiltern beechwoods of the Ashridge Estate. A shorter option (a) bypasses the lunch pub and heads for the Brownlow cafe instead.
Trains Get the 10:01 Northampton train from Euston, arriving Tring at 10:36. Return at xx:35 and xx:14.
The Bridgewater Arms in Little Gaddesden, tel 01442 842 408, a fine old country inn which offers a gourmet restaurant and somewhat cheaper bar meals from noon daily.
(For the shorter walk, the Brownlow Cafe as below)
The Brownlow Cafe a National Trust-run kiosk with outside seating at the Ashridge Estate Visitors Centre (tel 01442 851227), next to the Bridgewater Monument. It is open until 4pm in winter, and serves some hot food options as well as cakes.
The Greyhound Inn and Valiant Trooper pubs in Aldbury are both open all afternoon for drinks.
Directions: here

Sunday Walk: Etchingham to Wadhurst

Etchingham to Wadhurst  SWC Walk 208
Length: 16.9km (10.5 miles)
Difficulty 5/10 hilly but gentle
This classic Wealden walk, a mix of pasture and woodland, features fine panoramic views, oast houses, and the villages of Ticehurst and Wadhurst. Optional loops will take you past Bewl Water reservoir.
Get the 09:55 Hastings train from Charing Cross (London Bridge 10:04) arriving 11:12. Return from Wadhurst at xx:00 and xx:29. Get a return to Etchingham.
The notes recommend the Bull Inn in Three Legged Cross (01580 200 586)
An earlier quirkier option is the Bell in Ticehurst (01580 200234) quirky garden, quirky décor.
There is another (untried) pub near the Bell - the Chequers.
You are unlikely to make Wadhurst’s teahouses before closing time (if indeed they open on Sunday) but there are two pubs, The Greyhound, encountered first, being perhaps the more amenable (serves tea in pots) and the White Hart a little later. Note that its still quite a trek from Wadhurst to the station so allow 40-50 mins minutes for the recommended route, 25-35 for the roadside route.
Directions: here

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Petts Wood Circular


Length: 12km (8m)
Tougness: 1 / 10
Transport: Two options: Either take the 9:55 from London Victoria arriving at 10:30 or take the 10:05 from London Charing Cross arriving 10:36. The walkers from Victoria should wait for the walkers from Charing Cross. Return trains are frequent to either Victoria or Charing Cross.

This is the first outing of this new walk. From the description:

This is an easy and pleasant walk through woodlands nestled in the middle of London's South-Eastern suburbs. Petts Wood was saved by locals from developers in the early part of the 20th century while Scadbury Park has been in private ownership for centuries until it was bought by Bromley Council in 1983. Bromley Council declared it a Nature Reserve and opened it to the public. In Petts Wood there is a memorial to William Willett who built many houses in South-East London and campaigned for the introduction of Daylight Savings Time. Scadbury Park was for some time owned by the Walsingham family who had close relationships with Tudor monarchs including Elizabeth I. The ruins of their manor house can still be seen.

Saturday walk - Berwick to Seaford - Over the South Downs, possibly with a moonlight walk

Length: 14km (8.7 miles) to Exceat, 20km (12.4 miles) to Seaford

Longer option: Over the Seven Sisters to East Dean: 21.4km (13.3 miles)

Catch the 9.46 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, changing there for the 11.09 to Berwick, arriving 11.20.

Buy a day return to Berwick (Sussex): this is usually accepted for return from Seaford. If you definitely plan to do the longer option, a day return to Eastbourne might be useful.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

This is a grand walk over the South Downs, taking in the Long Man of Wilmington chalk figure and scenic High and Over Hill, with an optional extra finish over Seaford Head with magnificent backward views of the Seven Sisters.

Much of the walk is on chalk downland, which should be rather less muddy than the lowlands (though this does not apply to the first 2.8 miles of the walk and I am not saying it will NOT be muddy, just that it is LESS muddy....)

This is also (almost **) the last chance this winter for a moonlight walk (once the clocks go forward, it gets dark too late): this is obviously weather-dependent, but for more details see below.

There are lots of nice refreshment options on this walk. I find it hard to pass by the wonderful Giant's Rest in Wilmington, a lovely pub with magnificent food. But it is quite early in the walk (after 2.8 miles) and so you may care to carry on another 2.6 miles to Alfriston, which has both pubs and tea rooms. On the other hand, if you lunch in Wilmington, you can have tea in Alfriston....

The next staging post is the Cuckmere Inn in Exceat. Vegans might like to note it has a new menu, with a choice of vegan mains and puddings. You can end the walk here by taking very regular number 12 buses into Seaford, or carry on for another 3.7 miles over Seaford Head to Seaford. The Trawlers fish and chip shop here is recommended. The pub by the church is also nice.

Trains back from Seaford are at 25 past till 19.25, then 20.28, 21.28, 22.20. There are also trains at 57 past until 20.57 but note that due to reduced Southern services today these do not offer connections at Lewes to London. You have to change at Brighton instead (your ticket will be valid) and once you have done this you only get to London a few minutes before the next 25/28 past train.

The longer option - for which there are now full directions in the walk document/GPX (see paragraph 116 on page 10) - is to carry on over the Seven Sisters to East Dean. This is not much longer (21.4km/13.3 miles versus 20km/12.4km to Seaford) but a lot more strenuous. Very regular number 12 buses go from East Dean to both Seaford and Eastbourne, but to Eastbourne is quicker. Trains back from Eastbourne are hourly only today - at 35 past the hour until 21.35 and then 22.18.

The moonlight option - if skies are clear, those interested could delay their departure from the Cuckmere Inn until dusk (about 6pm) and then do the remaining section of the walk over Seaford Head in the moonlight. It is a bit more than a half moon today - so not the brightest, but bright enough to see by if the skies are clear. If I have my calculations correct it should be high in the southern sky, fairly near its zenith in fact, and so shining over the sea as we walk over Seaford Head. Cross fingers....

** Saturday 3 March will be one day after the full moon, when it will not rise at 7.39pm. But we may be able to think of a moonlight option to accommodate that.


Saturday Walk - The Cotswolds: Moreton-in-Marsh Circular (via Chipping Campden), now with words

Length: 24.1 km (15.0 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  420 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours
Toughness:  7 out of 10 

or longer (via Dover’s Hill)
Length: 27.8 km (17.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  490 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 ½ hours
Toughness:  9 out of 10 

or shorter (not via Chipping Campden)
Length: 19.9 km (12.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  370 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ½ hours
Toughness:  6 out of 10 

Take the 09.22 Worcester Foregate Street train from Paddington (09.38 Slough, 09.53 Reading, 10.23 Oxford), arriving Moreton-in-Marsh at 10.59.  
From Ealing B’way: 09.05 to Slough (09.27). From NW London the 09.06 Oxford service from Marylebone (via Haddenham & Thame) may be a better option.
Return trains: 16.42, 17.45, 18.48, 19.47, 20.48 & 21.56.

A Cotswold Classic from the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, formerly map-led, but now (after a long gestation period) fully revised and written up (only the short version though, for now). It provides a fine introduction to the gentle rolling landscape of the Cotswolds and passes through some charming honey coloured villages for which the area is famous.
It is a peaceful anti-clockwise circular walk heading north from Moreton through the gentle foot hills of the Cotswolds visiting a number of pretty honey coloured villages, including Paxford, Broad Campden and Blockley. The morning route passes through some gently rolling fields before commencing a steady climb up a hill with lovely views then descending down to Broad Campden. The afternoon stretch again gently climbs up and follows the top edge of a picturesque valley for a spell before passing through a dramatic dip on the approach to Blockley.
Walk Options: From Broad Campden a map-based extension via Chipping Campden (24.1 km version) or onto Dover's Hill (27.8 km version) is possible. The latter is of course a stretch target to finish before darkness falls.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: Churchill Arms in Paxford (6.7 km/4.2 mi) or Bakers Arms in Broad Campden (10.1 km/6.3 mi, food to 14.00).  
Tea: a pub and a café (to 16.00) en route in Blockley, loads of options in Moreton. T=swc.115.a

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Evening walk - Sole Street Circular

CW2 17a - Sole Street Circular
Length: 13.5km (8.4 miles)

Catch the 17:26 train from London Blackfriars, arrives Sole Street 18:16.
Alternatively travel from Victoria, changing at Bromley South to pick up the 17:48 to Sole Street.
Return trains: 22:31, 23:47

Will stop for a drink / meal at the Amazon & Tiger* half way into the walk at Harvel.

At the end of walk there is the choice of The Cock Inn, Henley Street with ~20 min walk to the station, or The Railway Inn, next door.

*Note whatspub says they serve food 19:00 - 21:00 on Thursdays. Answerphone message when phoning, so unable to confirm. Bring emergency food if apprehensive. T=2.17.a

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Wednesday Walk - The Low Weald and the Mole Valley: Holmwood to Reigate

Length: 16.1 km (10.0 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  170 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 3 ½ hours
Toughness:  2 out of 10 

Take the 10.31 Horsham train from Victoria (10.38 CJ, 10.59 Sutton), arriving Holmwood at 11.32.
Return trains: xx.14 (fast and direct, from 37 mins), xx.34 (chg Redhill, from 47 mins). Other trains connect at Redhill for London Bridge. Buy a Holmwood return.

This walk in the Low Weald of Surrey in the Mole Valley provides broad paths through gently undulating country with glimpses of the North Downs ridge to the north. In the morning the walk passes through Hammond's Copse Nature Reserve, an ancient semi-natural woodland, with a wide variety of bird-life. The lunch stop is in the attractive village of Leigh with its village green, pub and church. In the afternoon the walk crosses the Mole at Flanchford Bridge and then rises on the Greensand ridge near Reigate Priory to give extensive views of the North Downs and on a clear day the South Downs near Devil's Dyke.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: The Plough in Leigh (8.6 km/5.4 mi, food all day).
Tea: Café Rouge, TEA or The Tea House. T=swc.32

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunday walk: Cambridge Circular

Note: this walk replaces the Laindon Circular walk originally posted for 18th February, part of which is reported to be exceptionally muddy at present

Cambridge Circular
Length: 15km (9.3 miles) Toughness: 1/10

This walk starts with a City Centre tour of the University Colleges before heading out to Grantchester on a path beside the River Cam, stopping for tea at the famous Orchard tearooms, and then returning to Cambridge, either via Trumpington or alongside the Cam. A visit to Cambridge University Botanic Gardens is possible at the end of the walk. The walk is mostly on footpaths and paved paths and should be relatively free of mud.

Lunch can be taken at any of the numerous cafes and pubs in the city centre, followed later by tea at the Orchard Tea Rooms.

10:01 Kings Lynn train from Kings Cross arriving Cambridge at 11:01. Buy a Super Off-Peak Day Return.

Direct return trains to Kings Cross are at xx:20 and xx:28 (journey time about 57 mins), with some slower trains going to Liverpool Street.

You will need to download the
walk directions.


Sunday walk - Sunningdale to Windsor or Runnymede

Sunningdale to Windsor or Staines
Length: 16km (9.9 miles) Toughness: 2/10

The original walk explores Virginia Water, Valley Gardens, Windsor Great Park and the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. A good part of the walk can be done on tarmac paths, which may be a welcome relief from the mud that currently afflicts many fields and footpaths.

Lunch is taken in a cafeteria overlooking the Savill Gardens. Those preferring a pub lunch could divert to the nearby Sun Inn (01784 432515) to which directions can be found in the Runnymede variation.

This alternative afternoon route diverts through fields and tracks to the historical Magna Carta monument at Runnymede meadows and then along the Thames path to Staines. The route is about 1km longer than the route to Windsor. Finishing in Staines simplifies your choice of train ticket, as you just buy a return to Sunningdale, rather then two separate tickets.

09:36 Reading train from Waterloo (Vauxhall 09:40, Clapham Junction 09:45, Wimbledon 09:52, Kingston 10:04, etc) arriving Sunningdale at 10:46. Note that these services are being diverted and not calling at Richmond. See the walk directions for train ticket options.

Return trains from Windsor and Eton Central to Paddington are at xx:02 and xx:22 (change at Slough, journey time 49 mins), or from Windsor and Eton Riverside to Waterloo at xx:01 (journey time 93 minutes). Trains from Staines to Waterloo are at xx:11 and xx:41 (journey time 59 minutes)and at xx:19 (journey time 75 minutes). All the Waterloo services are being diverted after Twickenham.

You will need to download the
walk directions, and also the Runnymede variation (see above) if you might want to do the alternative afternoon route.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday Walk – A varied walk in west London (Ealing to Kew)

Extra Walk 104 (short variation) – Ealing Broadway to Kew Bridge
Length: About 14 km (8.7 miles), or 18.8 km (11.7 miles) if you return to Ealing. Toughness: 1/10

Meet in the booking hall of Ealing Broadway station to start at 11:10. There's a 10:57 Didcot train from Paddington arriving at 11:05, or you can travel by Central or District Line tube (just under half an hour from central London). Use Oyster/contactless or buy a Travelcard covering Zones 3-4.

If you finish at Kew you can return from Kew Gardens station (District Line & Overground), or take a train from Kew Bridge station to Clapham Jct & Waterloo (every 15 minutes at xx:11, xx:26, etc). There are frequent trains and tubes back from Ealing Broadway if you complete the full walk.

I'm surprised this walk doesn't get more club outings – its last Saturday posting was in 2010 – as it has plenty of variety in its journey through the green spaces of west London. It takes in the Grand Union Canal, Boston Manor and Syon House as well as a long undeveloped stretch of the Thames alongside Old Deer Park and Kew Gardens, with views of Syon's landscaped grounds across the river.

If you want a pub lunch you'll be passing the riverside London Apprentice in Old Isleworth at around 12:45. Kew Green seems a nice spot to end the walk but you could of course complete the full circuit with an extra hour or so across Gunnersbury Park and more open spaces to Ealing. Conversely you could curtail the walk by diverting into Richmond after crossing the river, and as with any London walk there are plenty of drop-out points along the way.

You'll need to print the directions from the Ealing Broadway Circular Walk page; you might also find a London street map helpful.

Saturday walk - Balcombe Circular via Ardingly Reservoir Winter Walk (possibly with a new lunch pub)

Length: 16.2km (10 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.42 train from London Bridge (9.56 East Croydon) to Balcombe, arriving 10.22

From Clapham Junction get the 9.29 East Grinstead train and change at East Croydon (arrive 9.40).

Buy a day return to Balcombe: if coming from London Bridge you will be going out and back on Thameslink services, so can buy a "Thameslink only" ticket if offered one

For walk directions click here (you only need pages 1-7).

For GPX click here.

There are very few walks on the SWC website that were actually designed to be done in winter, but this is one of them. It is a winter walk because it has reasonably long stretches on firm surfaces, particularly in the first half of the morning and in the afternoon. That being said, there are some gloopy bits: just a lot fewer of them than on other walks.

The first 2.2km is all on a quiet road. A bit later there is a kilometre or so on farm tracks. Once you are out into the fields you have the distraction of passing under the wonderful Ouse Valley Viaduct which is very impressive close up (your train journey to Brighton will never seem the same again). Then there is a potentially muddy bit as far as the Ardingly Reservoir, your water feature for the day, as one of our midweek posters likes to say.

Lunch has traditionally been at the Ardingly Arms, but I have been alerted to a new option, the Gardener's Arms, which is a bit off the walk route but not much further away than the Ardingly Arms as far as I can see. To get to it, just after the right turn at the T-junction by the church in paragraph 33, turn left and keep straight ahead up the side of the agricultural show ground, with the ground to your RIGHT. 800 metres or so of walking brings you to a road and the pub.

In the afternoon you follow the edge of the Ardingly Reservoir on a largely firm (though not entirely mud-free) path. Tea is at the Balcombe Tea Rooms, which can close their doors as early as 4pm, or otherwise at the Half Moon Pub, assuming it is still open, which has in the past offered cakes as well as tea.

Trains back are 22 past. The back lane route to the station is recommended. T=3.22

Saturday Walk - South Downs: Lewes to Seaford or Bishopstone (via West Firle)

Length: 23.3 km (14.5 mi) or 21.4 km to Bishopstone [shorter walks possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent:  500 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours
Toughness:  8 out of 10 

Take the 09.17 Eastbourne train from Victoria (09.23 CJ, 09.33 EC), arriving Lewes at 10.24.
Return trains from Seaford: xx.25 (92 mins), xx.57 (90 mins), change at Lewes. [departure from Bishopstone is 2 minutes later]. Buy a Seaford return.

This walk, along with the shorter options below, is mainly along ridges and offers superb downland views throughout with an excellent lunch-time pub. The beauty of this walk is that you can see the way ahead so direction finding is fairly easy. In detail: The route crosses the River Ouse in Lewes’s centre and then climbs a lane to a golf club car-park. You then take a signposted path following a circular ridge route, with glorious views throughout followed by a long descent into Glynde. From Glynde pass the (now closed) Trevor Arms , go through the village to cross over the busy A 24 and then take a route passing Preston Court Farm. You go through the entrance to Firle Park, cross a field and enter the village of West Firle for lunch at the Ram Inn. From the pub you take the road through the village to start a long climb up to a spot near Firle Beacon. Follow a ridge top path heading for two large radio masts and then find a gently descending path which eventually brings you to Bishopstone and then along the coast to Seaford.

Two Shortcuts are possible
A – cut out West Firle (cut 4.3 Km, --> picnic lunch); 
B – start at Glynde station (cut 6.1 km) --> 10.50 train from Victoria, chg. Brighton, arr. 12.14

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile and gpx/kml files click here
Lunch: The Ram Inn, West Firle (9.0 km/5.6 mi, food to 15.00, bar menu all day). 
Tea: Plenty of choice in Seaford, the walk author recommends Salts Café. T=swc.181

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Wednesday Walk - County Hall to Greenwich - a respite from mud - and a lesson in sociology

London County Hall to Greenwich

Length: about 12 km (7.5 miles)  Option to extend by crossing the river and heading back to Central London
Toughness: 2 out of 10   Hard on the feet (hard surfaces all day), so suggest wearing well cushioned trainers instead of walking boots

Meet on the Embankment next to County Hall, just before the Aquarium, at 10-45 hrs.

Return from Greenwich: suggest the river launch. Alternatively, you have the DLR and LT Jubilee Line.  If you cross the river by taking the Greenwich foot tunnel, you will have DLR and Jubilee line stations for your return journey, depending on how far you walk on the northern side of the river.

You may need a break from muddy walks come mid-February, and this mud-free inner city walk usually makes for a nice change to the soggy countryside.
Leaving County Hall along the embankment we head towards London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, then the Tower of London, passing Ken's wigwam on the way. We then continue on the Thames Path into Bermondsey then Rotherhithe, passing on the way the modern, expensive riverside flat developments in their juxtaposition to GLC blocks which know their place, set well back from the river front.
We will stop for lunch on the river in Rotherhithe at the atmospheric Mayflower pub, which claims to be the oldest pub on the Thames. Onwards then via Greenland Dock to Deptford and on into Greenwich, passing the Cutty Sark on the way.  Greenwich Pier for your launch back to Westminster is nearby, as is the Greenwich foot tunnel for those who wish to continue their walk along the north bank of the Thames.
I hope this makes for a nice, suitable and undemanding walk for Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent ! Wearing of hair shirts optional............
As it is also Valentine's Day today you should be home in good time to make a fuss of your beloved.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sunday Walk: Witley to Haslemere

Witley to Haslemere  Book 1 Walk 44
14.2km 8.8miles
Difficulty 2/10
A walk to the medieval village of Chiddingfold, then through Frillinghurst Wood and several National Trust estates to Haslemere. Don't wear your best shoes, may be muddy in places.
Trains Get the 10:00 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo (Clapham Junction 10:09), arriving Witley 10:59.
Trains return from Haslemere at xx:17 and xx:42. Get a return to Haslemere.
Lunch is at the 600 year old Crown Inn in Chiddingfold. Best to phone (01428 682 255). There's another pub nearby, the Swan (01428 684 688).
There's also a tea-shop, Treacle’s, nearby on The Green.
Tea: Choose between  Darnley's in Haslemere High St or Hemingway's across the road. There's pubs too.
Directions here.

Sunday Walk: Harlington Circular

Harlington Circular SWC walk 230
17.3 km 10.7 miles. Toughness 4/10
This walk takes us over a northern outcrop of the Chilterns, following the John Bunyan Trail across the Sundon Hills and the Sharpenhoe Clappers. Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress, was a native of of these parts.
After lunch in Pulloxhill, the alternative ending returns us to Harlington past Bunyan’s Oak, where he used to preach.
(Days are still a little too short for the full walk to Flitwick but there is an 11.9 mile version using shortcuts 1 and 2, if you prefer. This stops at a different lunch pub.)
Trains Get the Thameslink (Bedford direction) from Blackfriars at 9:54 or St Pancras at 10:04. (This train stops at a number of stations on its way through London including East Croydon 9:17 and Kentish Town 10:08). Arrives Harlington at 11:02.
Return from Harlington, at xx:20 & xx:50.
A return to Harlington will do for the circular. A return to Flitwick, further along, costs no more and covers both endings. (Trains return from Flitwick at xx:16, & xx:46.)
For the circular, The Cross Keys, Pulloxhill, (01525 712 442).
If heading for Flitwick via the shortcuts, The Chequers (01525 712 967) or The Bell (01525 712 511) both in Westoning.
Harlington has two pubs: The Carpenters Arms (01525 872 384) and The Old Sun (01525 877 330)
See text for pubs in Flitwick.
Walk Directions here.
The circular walk uses the “alternative ending in Harlington”.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Saturday Walk - West Byfleet to Hampton Court

SWC Walk 45 - West Byfleet to Hampton Court
10.7 miles / 17.2km
1 out of 10

An easy walk along the Wey Navigation and the Thames Path to Hampton Court.  The route can easily be extended beyond Hampton Court with some exploration of Bushy Park with its deer, waterways and woodland gardens.

Trains:  Take the 9:53 from London Waterloo to West Byfleet, arriving at 10:21.  Trains from Hampton Court at xx24/54.  You may need to buy a single or use Oyster to get from Hampton Court station to Surbiton to connect with the outward route.

Lunch: The Old CrownWeybridge (01932 842844), on Ship Street, where the canal joins the Thames.  The Swan, Walton-on-Thames (01932 225964).  The Anglers at Walton is currently closed for refurbishment.


Saturday walk - Newhaven to Brighton: a (largely) mud-free walk by the sea

Length: 18.8km (11.2 miles) to Brighton station, but you can take a bus at almost any point on the walk

Possible extension to Portslade: 23.8km (14.8 miles)

Toughness: 2 out of 10: undulating grass to start with, then tarmac paths

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.47, changing there for the 10.57 to Newhaven Town, arriving 11.06.

Buy a day return to Newhaven Town, which will be accepted for return from Brighton (and probably from Portslade).

Walk directions are mostly not needed, but for some notes to help you on the walk, see here. The directions of SWC walk 65 are useful in the afternoon: see below. For GPS click here.

I have had my eye on this walk for some time. Perhaps a tad too urban as a summer walk, but also much less urban than you think in its early stages. In the summer one might say "mud free: wear trainers not boots". In the winter, maybe some mud in the early stages: but wear footwear that will be comfortable on tarmac as well as on grass.

You start in Newhaven, which is a town best swiftly left behind. But beyond is a surprise - a pleasant headland with an interesting fort and (the walk instructions suggest) a breakwater that is worth walking out onto. This is a bit of the South Coast I bet you have never been to.

From there westwards you are for 1.5 miles or so on grassy clifftop as good as any on the south coast. 3.4 miles into the walk houses start to your right, but a reasonable grassy strip is preserved (if my memory serves me right) for another 3 miles to Saltdean. Dotted along this stretch are several pubs - see the walk notes for details, eg the Smuggler's Rest 5.3 miles into the walk.

From Saltdean you can switch to a promenade along the bottom of the cliff, which gets you away from traffic noise. There are seaside tea options at Saltdean, Rottingdean and - my personal favourite - the kiosk at Ovingdean about 1km beyond Rottingdean (may only be open when the weather is good), where you can sit on the beach with your tea and cake and dream of summer.

From Rottingdean onwards, you could use the directions for walk 65 - see pages 7-8, starting in paragraph 63: these will take you all the way to Brighton station via the Pier, with a diversion into Brighton Marina. (This document also has full details of the tea options in Rottingdean: see page 2-3).

If you can time your arrival at Brighton Pier to 4.45pm or so (twenty minutes before sunset) you can enjoy the spectacle of some 20,000 starlings circling in formation in the sky before roosting under the pier (which they do roughly at sunset).

From there the walk 65 directions take you up through the North Laines to Brighton station, but if you have finished too early, you can carry on along the seafront to Hove, a pleasant stretch which passes the new i360 observation tower, cutting inland to get a bus back to Brighton station when you feel like it. If you follow the GPS track to the end you come to Portslade station, from where there are regular trains back to Brighton.

The fastest trains back from Brighton are at 18, 28 48 and 58 to Victoria, but the 02 and 32 to London Bridge are only a few minutes slower. The Thameslink trains to St Pancras are slower still, but not much slower if you going to change at East Croydon. T=3.213

Wadhurst circular

CW2 18 Wadhurst circular
Length: 19 km (11.8 miles).
Toughness: 4/10

Catch the 9:15 from London Charing Cross (Waterloo East 9:18 London Bridge 9:24) arrives Wadhurst 10:19.

Longer walk option: Wadhurst to Robertsbridge 34.5 km (21.4 miles). After leaving the shorter Wadhurst walk, this longer walk heads north to go around the Northern side of Bewl Water, to follow the peaceful Sussex Border path, with a potential drop out point at Etchingham (cuts 4.5km) and into Robertsbridge. Walking at a faster pace allow 8 hours for the 34km walk. Although likely to finish in the dark the last 5km are straightforward for those used to night time walking. Bring a torch.

Buy a day return to Robertsbridge for this longer walk option.

Return trains from Wadhurst xx:00 xx:29 17:59 xx:29 xx:59 19:29 xx:29 until 22:29

Return trains from Robertsbridge xx:14 xx:44 19:14 xx:14 until 22:14 T=2.18

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wednesday Walk: Arundel Circular - the Arun Valley and South Stoke

SWC 100 - Arundel and Amberley

Length: 16 km (10 miles)  Longer options between 12 and 14 miles available
Toughness: 4 out of 10;   7 out of 10 if climbing up onto the South Downs

London Victoria: 10-06 hrs  Portsmouth Harbour / Bognor train. C.J  10-12 hrs;  E.C 10-23 hrs
Arrive Arundel: 11-26 hrs

Return: Arundel:  12 and 46 mins past the hour
Return: Amberley to Victoria: 17 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Arundel

We have the chance to mix and match a number of TO Book and SWC walks today, but I am going to suggest the following:

Starting with SWC 100 - Arundel and Amberley - we will head out along the River Arun's riverside path (could be muddy) for about 1 km before we divert away from the river to Warningcamp Hill, then the village of Wepham and on to Burpham for lunch at the popular George Inn. A number of places will be booked for us.
After lunch we will reverse the Book 1- Arundel to Amberley Walk 32, which takes us back along  the river Arun to the village of South Stoke, with its quaint little church, then a route above the river into Arundel Park, then down through the Park to the centre of Arundel, passing Arundel Castle and the Roman Catholic Cathedral on the way, for tea in Arundel, before the short walk to the railway station for your twice hourly journey back to London.
Today's proposed route does not take us up onto the South Downs, but if you would like a more strenuous walk over the Downs, after Burpham you could switch to Book 1 Walk 32's afternoon leg, or alternatively reverse the Book 2 Walk 22 opening leg up onto the Downs, before your descent to Amberley.  Or you could divert to North Stoke.......anything and everything goes today !  Just hope the weather is kinder to us today than when we did a version of this walk exactly one year ago - when it rained heavily for most of the day.
Walk Directions here: L=swc.100

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Sunday Walk – A Country Park and a Norman church (Cheshunt Circular)

New Walk – Cheshunt Circular
Length: Up to 15¼ km (9.5 miles). Toughness: 1/10

11:12 Cheshunt train from Liverpool Street (Hackney Downs 11:18, Tottenham Hale 11:25, etc), arriving Cheshunt at 11:40. You can use Oyster PAYG or contactless but Cheshunt is in TfL Zone 8, outside the main fare zones, so a simple day return to Cheshunt might be cheaper.

Freedom Pass holders hoping for a free ride will be disappointed since engineering works have scuppered the alternative London Overground service today. You'll need an extension from Zone 6 to Cheshunt on the West Anglia service.

Trains back to Liverpool Street are at xx:20, xx29, xx:51 & xx:59.

It seems to be obligatory these days to claim that a walk will be mud-free so I'll follow the trend and say that much of this new walk is on surfaced paths through River Lee Country Park. Even so, I expect you'll have to negotiate a few gloopy spots. You won't see all the wildlife advertised at this time of year (an abundance of dragonflies? masses of orchids?) but there should be enough features to sustain your interest.

Lunch is in the town of Waltham Abbey, which boasts a particularly fine Norman church: much smaller than in its heyday as an Augustinian Abbey, but well worth a look. There are plenty of possible watering-holes and two of the pubs are suggested – one in the western hemisphere, the other in the eastern. As always, any feedback on the ones you try would be appreciated.

A glance at the document's Walk Map will reveal that this is really a 10 km walk padded out with various loops and whorls, which does at least give you the opportunity to take some short cuts if the weather's poor. In due course it will probably acquire some longer options (northwards to Broxbourne or southwards to Enfield Lock), but as it stands it should make a decent enough walk for this time of year.

You'll need to print the directions from this temporary New Walk page.

Sunday Walk - A Cinque Port Town, a River, Camber Sands and Grassy Marshland: Rye Circular [New Variant]

Length:  17.6 km (11.0 mi) (or 19.9 km)
Ascent/Descent:  negligible
Net Walking Time:  4 hours
Toughness:  1 out of 10 

Take the 10.08 Margate train from St. Pancras I’nal (Stratford I’nal 10.15), change at Ashford (10.46/11.16) onto the Brighton train, arrives Rye 11.37
Return trains are on xx.38 (change Ashford, 76 minutes journey time).

New Variation of the Rye – Dungeness – Lydd-on-Sea walk posted on 11 November...

This is a pretty little walk on the boundary of East Sussex and Kent, from the historic Cinque Ports Town of Rye along the Rother River to Camber Sands with its shallow and wide sandy beach lined by magnificent sand dunes and with a selection of lunch stops (a well-run pub, a cafe/bistro or a bistro/restaurant). After lunch you follow the coast along the beach for a short while and turn inland from the easterly edge of the village through the grassy marsh land past the interesting ‘barn church’ in East Guldeford back to Rye, concluding with a little loop through town past plenty of old houses, inns and tea rooms, plus the odd viewpoint or two.  
An extension of the route through the marshes, to Romney Marsh Wind Farm, adds 2.3 km/1.4 mi (currently map-led only).

Lunch: The Owl (6.1 km/3.8 mi), The Rye Bay Café/Bistro (6.3 km/3.9 mi), Dunes Bar & Restaurant (6.4 km/4.0 mi).
Tea: too numerous to mention (see the pdf for details).

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. t=swc.154.a