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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.

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Saturday Third Walk – the River Great Ouse

Extra Walk 31b – Huntingdon Circular (long walk, via St Ives)
Length: 24½ km (15.2 miles). Toughness: 3/10
Shorter Options: 18½ km (11.5 miles) or 15 km (9.3 miles), both 2/10.

10:22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:28) arriving Huntingdon at 11:22.

Trains back are at 00 & 34 minutes past (the ones on the hour are quicker).

A couple of years ago I researched an extension to this walk to take in the interesting market town of St Ives (not the town where you can surf, alas). Its first posting was predictably blighted by miserable weather and I think the two brave souls who ventured out switched to one of the shorter options, so in effect this is the Long Walk's début. Whichever walk option you take you'll find a flat landscape with plenty of water features so it should be bearable if this hot weather continues (and swimming might be a possibility, but you'll have to do your own research to see if that's advisable).

You don't have to decide which option to take until you come to the linked villages of Wyton and Houghton, after 6½ km. The Three Jolly Butchers has always provided us with a good pub lunch but if you're doing the Long Walk you might want to carry on: you'll pass a couple more village pubs on the leg to St Ives (including a very up-market one which you'd need to book). My research didn't encompass any of the town's pubs but you won't be short of refreshment choices there either. There are frequent buses back to Huntingdon if you want to finish the walk at the halfway stage.

If you spurn St Ives for one of the shorter options you'll have time to visit the last working watermill on the River Great Ouse, the National Trust's Houghton Mill. The return leg from St Ives rejoins the other routes here and all groups should be in time for some more refreshment at the NT tearoom by the mill. At the end of the walk the George Hotel in Huntingdon's town centre has some comfortable armchairs if you're not in a hurry to catch a train.

You'll need to print the walk directions from the Extra Walk 31 page. Unless you're sure which option you're going to take I suggest printing the whole document.


Pia said...

Is it just me or is the 3/10 for a 24.5km, albeit flat, walk a little odd if last week's 31km, with some ups and downs, attracted a wapping 10/10?
Ok, it 's a detail. looks fabulous walk, nice along lots of water. Now see whether my sister from Paris can be persuaded to ditch London galleries for some fresh English countryside with a 'passionate' group of walkers? My daughter was bemused at our intense exchange of opinions online and thought we were passionate. Not a bad reputation to have at all, I think.

Sean said...

Pia: I use a walk's toughness rating (T) to estimate how long a walk will take (not counting stops for lunch and tea). My rule of thumb is to divide the walk length by my normal speed (a moderate 3mph) and add 10 minutes per T. So I'd expect this walk to take me 15/3 = 5 hours plus 3×10 mins = 5½ hours. Last Saturday's walk would have taken me 19/3 + 100 mins = 8 hours. To my mind T should reflect both the amount of climbing and the walk length (because you slow down on longer walks). A few of our walks have anomalous ratings but I would have said that these two were accurately rated. My rule usually works quite well and gives me an idea of which bus/train I'm likely to catch.

Pia said...

Thank you so much for explaining Sean, very helpful.

Little Draculas
Please everyone be careful and vigilant, I found a little Dracula aka a tick burrowed in my leg on Tuesday am which had been there at least since Sat pm, so a good 60 hours. very likely caught on Saturday's fabulous Midhurst walk going through the current high vegetation. I also walked near Chichester on Friday but mostly along coast and canals, so possible but less likely.

It came out spontaneously, having overgorged itself on my sweet blood. I noticed a small black spot, thought it was dried blood from an earlier scratch, but when I put it on the side of the bath, I noticed the 'spot' had little legs and started to move about. yikes! panic! It's given a whole new meaning to little monsters.

After some Googling and lots of frightening prospects mentioned there, took myself to GP who told me to 'wait and see' if a red ring will form around the now vague red mark its bite has left behind; however the ring will only form in 50% of cases of Lyme disease anyway. Has anyone any experience of being bitten by a tick? and should I insist on prophylactic antibiotics? Not keen on those, but Lyme's is a lot worse and there are other frightful diseases possible as well (I won't bore or frighten you here). Let me know if you have any helpful ideas.

Advice: check your body every night for alien blood gorging parasites!!!

Walker said...

The South Downs are known to be a risk area for ticks (and Lyme Disease), Pia, so keep an eye on the red mark as directed by your GP. If it gets wider, I would insist on antibiotics. There is also a test for Lyme Disease but it is notoriously unreliable. I once read a leaflet (in an information box on the South Downs) which said GPs are not well informed about Lyme Disease.

It would be interesting, btw, to know if you were wearing shorts at the time. Or did the tick crawl up your trouser leg? I always walk with my trousers tucked into my socks, though I am not sure how much protection this gives.

Pia said...

I did wear my cut off trousers at 3/4 length on Friday but that was mostly along sea inlet and canals; however on Saturday I wore them at full length more against nettles and thorny bushes; a tick never crossed my mind. however, looking at the speed it walks, it wouldn't have taken him/her 5 min to crawl up my lower leg, where I found it on the shin. so indeed, tucking trousers into socks sounds very wise. and yes, frequent inspections and keeping an eye on my general health will be a good thing to do for the next few weeks.

Thanks for your and some other co-walkers advice by email. The realistic chance of getting something nasty remains low. I just wanted to warn others because it's a countryside hazard that has not been a particularly hot topic recently, unlike long versus short; sea versus land; swim versus walk, pub versus picnic...oh stop it.

Anonymous said...

Would a 09.22 train not be more sensible?


Anonymous said...

NO! me and partner like the 10.22 trian

Anonymous said...

On the subject of ticks: I've also had a tick from a Saturday walk this year, from the Frant Groombridge area.

No need to worry unduly about them. Lyme disease can usually be shifted by Doxycylcin, which is a mild antibiotic casually prescribed for malaria prophylaxis.

But you do need to watch out for the symptoms, and don't be too confident that the NHS knows what it's doing.

If you are really concerned then if you visit a travel clinic and say you are going to a mild malarial area then they will prescribe Doxycyclin, though to be morally correct you should only be doing this if you really are going to a malarial area.


Sean said...

Re train time: It doesn't seem sensible to change the posted train time less than 24 hours beforehand - not everyone does a last minute check of this page. In any case the 09:22 train is too early for the lunch pub on the shorter options.

If you decide to announce that you're getting a different train and invite others to join you, bear in mind that some people are put off by the thought of the group being fragmented right at the start and the prospect of few (if any) companions. But I often catch a later train than the one posted so who am I to complain if others take an earlier one?

pia said...

From Thursday morning I started to show some of the classic symptons of the start of Lyme's disease: flu-like as in having a red, sore throat, runny nose and light coughing, and feeling a little listless; no red rings though. So off to very sympathetic GP, herself an avid walker, and very keen to prescribe the max 2 weeks of 2x100 mg a day of doxycycline. so hopefully that will nip it in the bud. thanks for all your concerns and excellent advice.

I ll take the 10.22 with my sister from Paris who is keen to meet you all. w'll do the shortish version.

Thomas G said...

n=12 w=sunny-with-some-cloud-cover-and-breeze-in-the-afternoon
The Stats:
3 off the early train (9.22), 9 off the 10.22.
9 walked the long version (24.5 km), 3 the middle one (18.5 km), incl. a guest walker.
4 went swimming (all women), 8 didn't (all men).
Of the 9 off the scheduled train 3 were of British nationality, 6 weren't.
The Nationality mix of the 3 off the early train remains unreported.
All went to the first pub en route, The Three Jolly Butchers, as far as known, which was just fine, with a large garden. 4 had an ice cream stop quayside in St. Ives. Only 1 of those had two scoops though. At least 6 had a tea stop at the NT-owned Houghton Mill (and the 3 medium-length walkers as well, surely?).

This walk suffers a little from road noise close to Huntingdon, and overall from a high tarmac count (those cycle-friendly riverside paths), but is nevertheless a very nice walk on a perfect day for this type of walk: lots of watermeadows, riverside paths, small villages, beautifully placed churches, old bridges, boats, the Hemingford Regatta (between two neighbouring villages), plenty of pretty thatched houses, a detour through a Nature Reserve on a river island in St. Ives (one SWC-stalwart had actually volunteered there to lay down the boardwalks 15 years ago).
Back in Huntingdon there was just about time for a swift one at The George Hotel, before the 19.00 train for all but one of the long walkers off the 10.22 train.