New Year's day
Report from Richard
As usual we assembled at Berkhamsted, and this year we drove to Tring to start a circular walk up over the Chilterns. Present were Geof, Bill, Mark T., Richard, and David A. We returned to the town for lunch at the King's Arms. There we were met by John and Josephine.
Canal reconstruction work
In the afternoon we had a walk around the reservoirs which supply the Grand Union canal, and followed the track of part of the Wendover arm which is now dry, but being painstakingly reinstated. We crossed a bridge which has been raised to pass over a stretch of canal recently restored. The photo above shows some of the construction work which is being carried out within the dry bed of the original canal. It looks like shuttering for concrete wall, is this going to be a new lock?. As we finished the walk the sun came through to give a dramatic evening sky.
Day Ramble in Kent - 4 February
Report from Richard
Mark S., Esin, Steve, Mark T. arrived early at the rendezvous in Westerham. Bill and Geof, met me at exactly the arranged time of 10.15, while Frank who had taken the bus from Bromley, arrived early enough to have a snack at one of the tea rooms on the Green.
When we had prised Frank and Mark T. away from the tea shop, we crossed the A25 and set off through Squerryes Park, climbing the Greensand ridge via Hosey Common and thence by woodland to French Street. Here we paused at the iron gate of a small private burial ground containing a yew tree certified to be over 450 years old [just a young one!]. After a week of cold grey weather, the cloud cover now started to break up a little, and at last the sun put in a brief appearance to cheer us up. More fields and woodland took us to the boundary of the National Trust property, Emmetts Garden, on a high point of the ridge. Apparently "emmett" is an old local word for anthill, and these were to be found in the woods around until the 1950s. Why they disappeared I do not know. At one time the property was owned by Frederick Lubbock, a brother of Lord Avebury, who was an expert on ants and bees, and a relative of Eric Lubbock, the Liberal politician who famously won the Orpington by-election in 1962. DETAILS FROM NATIONAL TRUST
The footpath passes though the grounds, picture above, and down the drive we walked, with the church steeple of Ide Hill in sight. In the field to our left was a large flock of redwings. Taking the road up to the village green, and turning left to "The Cock", a Greene King pub, we paused for lunch at about 12.30.
Feeling replenished, the group posed while I took a photograph in front of the pub, and we resumed our way via a footpath towards Toys Hill. There were some complaints as we descended a steepish hill, that we would only have to climb up the other side, but I pointed out that we needed to burn off the calories to make room for the visit to the tea shop later. From Toys Hill we took Puddledock Lane and the footpath past Chartwell, where we were able to admire the house and grounds that were Winston Churchill's country home, and are now administered by the National Trust - picture below.
This is one of the Trust's most popular attractions in the south east, and a large car park has been provided to cope with the summer visitors. The house and cultivated gardens are closed in the winter, but the car park and surrounding paths are open for walkers. DETAILS FROM NATIONAL TRUST
Taking a footpath over Mariner's Hill, we started descending back to the parkland south of Westerham, and thence into the town again where we visited the Tudor Rose tea shop for a refreshing pot of tea as the light started to fade.
Stow-on-the-Wold - 4/5 March
Stow-on-the-Wold Youth Hostel
The Cotswold area is noted for its style of archtechture with yellow brown stonework, steep pitched stone tiled roofs and charachteristic stone ledges above the windows. The villages and small towns really enhance the farmland and woodland of the countryside and there are not many places you can say that of any kind of architecture. The Youth Hostel in the town square at Stow-on-the-Wold is a typical traditional Cotswolds town house.
Saturday:The area was new to our group so as soon as the tourist office opened a few doors away from the Hostel we went in and picked one of a wide selection of walking guides. We then we drove to Snowshill to start a wiggly walk of about eight miles through the villages of Stanton and Stanway then back to our cars. This is one of the hilliest and most wooded parts of the cotswolds, lying on the steep side of an escarpment with long views accross the Vale of Evesham to the North West. There was a sprinkling of snow on the ground, not so common in the UK in recent years
We lunched in the village pub at Stanton. Those steep gables and stonework 'eyebrows' over the stone windows in the picture above are very typical of the architecture in this area.
Garden wall at Stanway house
Passing the entrance to the grounds of Stanway house we noticed a high stone wall fitted with these interesting 'portholes'. A little further on we were walking into Lidcombe wood when we heard a rythic clanging noise in the distance. Further investigation revealed that the loud noise was comming from a concrete pillar to which various pulsating and rather leaky pipes were attached. Inside the pillar was a hydraulic ram, a rather unusual device which uses a water hammer effect to pump water up a hill. The water hammer causes the loud noise.
Some of the children were misbehaving in the snow
Sunday: It was a bright Sunday morning and the last of the snow was melting away. The first stage of our walk was fromt he hostel at Stow to the village of lower Slaughter where a shallow stream with stone footbridges and greensward each side makes a feature in the centre of the village. The stream powers the working water mill, picture below. There was a bakery alongside the mill, was the chimney for the bakery or was it for a steam engine to supplement the water power?
Mill at Lower Slaughter
Stream at Lower Slaughter
We continued to the town of Bourton-on-the-Water which also features a stream with little footbridges and a number of cafes and tourist shops. It was pretty crowded on this fine Sunday afternoon.
Cafes and tourist shops at Bourton-on-the-Water
From Bourton we returned to Stow, arriving back at dusk to complete a walk of about ten miles.
Llanbedr - Easter weekend - 13/17 April
Thursday: We broke the journey to Wales by spending Thursday evening at Bridges Hostel near the Long Mynd in Shropshire. A converted school building, this is a smallish hostel and the helpful lady warden, who is also a keen cyclist, cooked us suppper then made up a log fire for us to sit round in the evening.
Bridges Youth Hostel
Good Friday: In the morning we took a walk to Manstone Rock and the Devil's chair which are rocky outcrops on the Shropshire hills. This area of shropshire is quite hilly, altitude aclimatisation for next days walking in Snowdonia.
HSC Group on the Devil's Chair
Continuing our journey into Wales we stopped for lunch at Welshpool where we took a short stroll along the Montgomery Canal, then stopped again at Barmouth befor ariving at Llanbedr youth hostel.
The hostel is right by the river bridge in the middle of the village and is a couple of miles from the beach at Shell Island. There are good walks up the valley to the Rhinog mountains and Snowdonia is not far away. Unfortunately this hostel is on the list of hostels which the YHA plans to shut down in a few months time due to financial difficulties.
Saturday: We decided to climb Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales. We drove to Nantgynant then took the Watkin path to the summit. This is one of the steeper paths up Snowdon, although I am sure there are harder ways up. It is about six years since our group climbed a mountain of any significance, (last time was I think Helvelyn in Cumbria) so it was good to prove that we can still do it (mountaineers, don't laugh please). We did find that there are plenty of other people willing and able to climb Snowdon. Even though the mountain railway to the summit was closed, as was the summit cafe, there were probably a hundred people milling around the top of the mountain at any one time. Although it was a dullish day the clouds were high enough to allow a good view from the top. When you start to climb a mountain you see peaks high above you all round, then when you get to the top of the highest peak you look down on the lower peaks as if they were just molehills.
Snowdon - the huge cairn at the top
We walked back down a path on the opoosite side of the valley to the Watkin path, then after getting back to Llanbedr we did an evening walk to the beach at Llandanwg. A tiring day.
Easter Sunday: The hostel warden provided us with a sheet headed 'Hill and Bog Walk'. We followed the instructions on this sheet which led us on a nine mile walk from the hostel inland to the foothills of the Rhinog mountains then back down to Llanbedr along the river at the bottom of the valley. It was a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed views out over Shell Island and Cardigan bay and in the other direction, inland towards the Rhinogs, the hills we climbed on a previous visit to Llanbedr YHA
A rest stop, looking down accross Shell Island and Cardigan Bay
Looking up the stream to the Rhinog hills
Easter Monday: We left Llanbedr and drove south to visit the Dolgoch Falls. Here a stream tumbles down a steep valley and there are prepared walks up the valley sides with steps where the paths are steep and viewing points with fences so you can gaze at the waterfalls without falling in. Dolgoch is also a station on the Talyllyn light railway. There are quite a number of these small railways in Wales and they seem popular with the tourists. A good way to return from a linear walk.
Talyllyn Railway at Dolgoch
The locomotive in the picture was built in 1918 for moving supplies around the RAF site at Calshot on Southampton water. Presumably, in those days this would have been a state of the art aerospace establishment. The Talyllyn Railway has six steam locomotives, the oldest from 1864 and the newest having been built in the railway's own workshop in 1991.
Mine near Dolgoch Falls
There are abandoned mine workings all over the mountainous regions of Wales and this was taken in one near Dolgoch Falls. This horizontal adit leads into the bottom of a much wider vertical shaft which emerges 100 feet or so above, hence the light at the end of the tunnel. The website editor is a little wary of exploring these old mine workings since many years ago I wandered into an innocuous looking tunnel in the hillside above Coniston Youth Hostel and to my surprise the floor beneath my feet disapeared and I fell down into a vertical shaft. We discovered later that the shaft was about 1200 feet deep but fortunately (for me at least) I landed with only very minor injury on a ledge about 10 foot down. Even so there was no way out unaided and I needed to be rescued by the mountain rescue team - very embarrasing.
After our visit to Dolgoch we lunched in a cafe then we all headed for home.
Changes at Paglesham Boatyard
Over the last few years Paglesham boat yard grew into a business selling new and secondhand motor boats. This business would appear to have been successful, judging from the rapid turnover of the motor yachts and speedboats which have been on display in the yard. Indeed the yard became so full of motor boats for sale that there was no room for sailing yacht owners to lay up their boats so most of the sailing boats on the Roach have now had to lay up in other yards. Now we hear that the motor boat sales business has moved to larger premises at Wallasea marina on the Crouch and the Paglesham boatyard is under new management. Some of our members who have been down to Paglesham to work on our club fleet over the winter have reported that the motor boats have moved out, the sales office has gone and the yard is fairly empty. If anyone is thinking of joining the HSC as a boat owning member now might be a good time to investigate the possibility of keeping a boat at Paglesham. Rumour has it that the new management intend to run the yard more as a traditional boatyard, which sounds like a nice idea, we will have to wait and see.
Fitting Out Supper - 13 May
We have had several working parties at Paglesham fitting out our club boats. Meander needed a fibreglass repair at the gunwhale and repainting of floorboards - pity these are not made from something that does not need painting. The boats were launched as planned on the day of the fitting our supper and are now ready for members use. Mark S. reports that he and Frank made the first sail of the season, a trip up the Roach to Rochford, stopping for a picnic lunch sitting on the bank looking across to Carters boatyard. Mark noted that about 10 yards down river from our moorings there are a couple of heavy anchors sitting on the mud. Watch out you don't bump into these when sailing near the moorings.
Walking in South Devon - 27 to 29 May
John (that's me) and Josephine, longstanding members of HSC, moved a year ago to Wembury, a coastal village in South Devon. Now that we are starting to settle in, HSC members came to visit us for a weekend of walking, mainly along the lovely coastal footpaths.
For our first day walk we headed north west from Wembury following footpaths to Bovisand and Jennycliff, then returned along the coast path. It was one of those misty days when we cannot see to the end of our garden, and indeed we could not see from the cliff tops down to the sea. The mist lasted all day so I did not take many photographs but the one above is a large bracket fungus we noticed along the tree lined footpath which leads down a little valley to Bovisand. I understand that the stream at the bottom of this valley, which runs out accross Bovisand beach into Plymouth Sound, was the water supply for replenishing the Navy ships in Nelson's day. Somewhere in the valley there are the remains of a reservoir that was built for this purpose.
The weather was a little brighter the next day and we walked East along the coast, crossing the River Yealm by the foot ferry, see above, then returning through the estuary village of Newton Ferrers and back across the ferry. For the benefit of other walkers, you are rather dependent on the Yealm ferry if you want to follow the coast eastwards from Wembury since it would be a very long diversion to walk inland far enough to get round the head of the Yealm estuary (about 15 miles I think). The ferry runs only in the summer, normally from 10am to 4 pm.