Holiday Report Archive (2006 to 2013)

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IPSWICH, SUFFOLK 4 – 7 October 2013

The Lewes Footpaths Group Autumn Holiday was based in Ipswich, Suffolk with walks both in Suffolk and Essex in ‘Constable’ country with eighteen members enjoying fine walking and excellent weather.


The group travelled on Friday morning to the National Trust property Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge the home of Edith Pretty which the group visited and afterwards went on a conducted tour of the ancient burial mounds which had lain undisturbed for 1,300 years, containing an Anglo-Saxon King and his treasured possessions until they were unearthed just before the Second World War changing perceptions of the past.


On Saturday the group started at Walderingfield on the River Deben, initially alongside the river then across fields to the hamlet and Church of Hemley. The longer walkers parted company here from the shorter walkers soon finding their way back onto the bank of the River Deben.  The tide was high and the boats were out and about, some with sails up in the light wind, but many were motoring.  Along the way we spotted many birds which we attempted to identify with greater or lesser certainty.  There were certainly a number of Herons, Shags and a solitary Egret.  Also identified were small flocks of Oyster Catchers, some Godwits and Lapwings, and various Ducks and Gulls.  All in all, there was the best-part of twenty species to be seen.  Heading inland we climbed to the dizzying heights of 25 metres, which afforded splendid views of the surrounding countryside.  At Newbourne we enjoyed a well-earned drink at The Fox, where there was a pond full of carp of many and varied colours, before making our way through the Nature Reserve on our way back to the starting point at Waldringfield.


The shorter walkers made their way to Newbourne passing through the Springs Nature Reserve returning to the Maybush Inn to take tea by the River Deben.


On Sunday the group headed for Flatford Mill where the walk began, crossing fields and some undulating terrain rising to over 100 feet above sea level giving fine views of the countryside and onwards to Dedham. Here the party enjoyed a tour of the magnificent Dedham Church Tower which was completed soon after 1519, and is more then 40metres (131 feet) high. The tower is an independent structure with quoins and tracery of Caen stone, and unlike the chancel and nave, was finished in  flint flushwork (napped flints) to a high standard. The tour concluded with the group ringing a short peal.


Having enjoyed our picnic lunch, the party doing the longer walk followed the path towards Langham, crossed over the busy and noisy A12, walked round to the River Stour and crossed under the A12 to find ourselves on the north bank of the river, following the Stour Valley Path.  The sun had brought out all the other Sunday trippers, mostly walking by the river like us, some trying their hand, with greater or lesser success, at rowing on the river in the hire boats available at Dedham.  The walk back to Flatford could hardly have been more pleasant and we arrived back in plenty of time for tea at the National Trust café, with the shorter walkers returning to Flatford alongside the River Stour.


On Monday morning the group started at Alton Water walking on the ‘Stour and Orwell Walk’ passing the River Stour and on to Holbrook Mill. Then through woodland alongside another waterway to reach the final mile of our walk beside the shore of Alton Water, Which completed a circle around the prominent Royal Hospital School building. The group ended their holiday having lunch at the Carriers Arms, East Bergholt.


The walks were devised and led by Hilda, Graham and Bert who organised the weekend.

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WALLINGFORD in the THAMES VALLEY 19 – 22 April 2013

24 members of our Group recently stayed in Wallingford for the weekend, a historic town situated on the Thames between Oxford and Reading. On the Friday we walked along the Thames and had a short and chaotic game of Pooh Sticks at the site of the World Poohsticks Championship.  As well as the river walks, we also enjoyed walks which took us through picturesque hamlets, woods carpeted with wild flowers and iron age forts all with Didcot power station in the distance.  We finished the weekend with a visit to Basildon Park owned by the National Trust.  It was a delightful weekend led by Hilda and Graham who took these pictures.


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             In the beginning                                        Playing Poohsticks                        Poetry Reading at Castle Hill

    Didcot Power Station behind



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                                  Coffee Stop on Saturday                                        Waiting for the Bus at Goring



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                                   Long Walkers on Sunday                                                 Wallingford Castle



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20 members took part in a weekend holiday at Stratton near Cirencester, in the Cotswolds, and were blessed with a fine hotel, originally the mansion of a leading wool merchant, as well as fine weather for each of their walks.  Their first walk was from the Cotswold Water Park centre and took in parts of Cerney Wick and South Cerney as well as a number of the lakes formed from former mineral workings around which there is now much affluent housing.  The second walk took them by bus from Stratton to Rencomb where they saw parts of the public school there before walking back down the Churn valley to Stratton through the delightful villages of  North Cerney and Baunton. Their last walk was in the River Frome valley from Sapperton through Dorvel and Siccaridge woods down a steep hill to the former Thames and Severn canal.  This was followed firstly towards Frampton Mansell before returning eastwards to Daneway Bridge and the mouth of the 2 and a half mile long Sapperton canal tunnel.  A brisk climb then ensued to return to Sapperton village.  Each walk was arranged so that members could then enjoy some of the many tourist attractions in the area on their own before returning to the hotel.  This aspect was particularly enjoyed by the members some of whom were new participants in a Footaths Group holiday.


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On Friday 27th March 28 people set off, the majority by rail, to spend the weekend at the Royal Hotel in Weymouth.


Shortly after arriving, in the afternoon, we strolled the Weymouth Town Walk. In glorious sunny weather this took us around the Old Harbour and Nothe Fort before returning across the Town Bridge to the marina and town centre.                       


For Saturday's walk we travelled by bus to Portland Heights before taking the National Coastal Path around Portland in a clockwise direction. During the 9 mile walk we enjoyed views of the Jurassic Coastline, including Chesil Beach and Weymouth Bay. During the day it was mainly breezy and overcast, but was dry for our lunch break at Portland Bill.


On Sunday morning we awoke to a howling gale and driving rain but fortunately a coach had been booked for the day! This took us to Lulworth Castle, part of the Lulworth Estate, which has remained with the Weld family since 1641. There was much to see during the morning but the weather did not improve. Over lunch-time we decided to visit Lulworth Cove where there was also a Heritage Centre and eateries. In the afternoon the weather started to improve slightly so some people left the coach at Osmington on the way back to Weymouth. From here they walked southwards to the National Coastal Path before heading westwards to Weymouth, with good views    of Weymouth Bay and Portland.


For our last morning, before heading home, we took the bus to Ferry Bridge where we walked along  the National Coastal Path back to Weymouth, following part of the Rodwell Trail. This is a popular green link which follows the course of the old Weymouth to Portland Railway. The weather was much improved and we had good views of Portland Harbour the site for the sailing events to be held during the 2012 Olympics.


Not everybody took part in all the walks but a good time was had by all.


The holiday was arranged and led by Jill and Graham.

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Limpney Stoke near Bath 2011

The Footpath Group’s final holiday of 2011 was based at Limpley Stoke just outside Bath.  25 members took part in the holiday which was organised by Janet with the walks being led by Bath & West Country Walks. We met up at Stourhead for a 6 mile ramble around the grounds including the beech tree lined Carriage Ride and a visit to King Alfred’s Tower.  Those who didn’t do the walk enjoyed the House, the lake and gardens and had a look round the pottery, art gallery and shops.

On Saturday we set out from the hotel along the Kennet & Avon canal before climbing through Bathampton woods,  before taking in the spectacular views over the Georgian city of Bath.  We then dropped down to rejoin the canal, finishing the walk at Bath Abbey with time to enjoy some of the delights of the city including tea and the famous Bath buns.   On Sunday we took the river valley to Freshford continuing to the pretty village of Iford and returning to the hotel along the Kennet & Avon canal.  It was interesting to see the thriving life along the canal with plenty of people enjoying a holiday or a day out on long boats several of which were lived on full time, with solar panels and small wind turbines as well as herbs and vegetables growing in containers on the roof.   On Monday, on our way home, the morning walk started at the National Trust conservation village of Lacock. The attractions of this lovely little village were too much for many to let slip and they chose to look round the Abbey and the Fox Talbot museum leaving just 8 of us to enjoy a 6 mile circular walk through the gentle surrounding countryside of the river Avon.    Our hotel in Limpley Stoke was very comfortable with good food and service.  The weather was kind throughout and everyone had a good time.

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Buxton Derbyshire. Sat 18 - Sat 25 June 2011

11 members enjoyed a week's holiday at a splendid family run hotel in Buxton.  The walks were not too long so as to give participants the opportunity to visit places of interest in the Peak District and enjoy a welcome afternoon tea. Many of the destinations were reached by bus whilst the walks included a circular one from Castleton to the ridge separating it from Edale; descending the beautiful Lathkill Dale from Monyash and returning by the Limestone Way; traversing nearly all of the Monsal trail; going round the Fernilee reservoir in the Goyt valley and walking through Biggin, Wolfscote and Beresford Dales from Biggin to Hartington.  Other places visited include a number of National Trust properties, Chatsworth House, Crich tramway museum whilst one member ventured on the bus to Nottingham.  For most of the week the weather was not too hot for walking with occasional short showers; prolonged rain only being experienced once.  In Buxton the famous Pavilion Gardens were close to the hotel whilst an evening lecture by Ed Stafford, who took 2 and a half years to walk down the Amazon, was enjoyed at the Opera House.

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Greenwich Meridian Trail - Part 3.  9th May 20011 – 14th May 2011

All thirteen of us arrived on parade promptly for the 9.18am train to London. Nine of us had already walked part one and two, and very much looked forward to this next section. The weather was ideal and our journey to Rye House, the starting point, went ‘like clockwork’.  We were met by Graham’s Taxis to transport our luggage to the Feathers at Wadesmill, ready for our arrival after walking 7 miles.  Those interested in the history of Rye House, check out the internet

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We began our walk up the Lee Navigation, along the canal, into Stanstead Abbots. Then turned right onto the Hertfordshire Way, signposted to Wareside, where we were met by the steepest part of whole walk! After the climb we saw the most amazing wide views and stopped to eat our picnic. The route carried on along the Harcamlow Way and crossed the River Ash via a footbridge. We then followed a bridleway to Cold Christmas, turned left before a ford over the River Rib, to our first night’s accommodation.

Meridian Way 2011 007

We woke to another beautiful day and the longest walk to come 11 miles. We retraced our steps to the ford, some went through but most used the bridge!  As we were walking along, Graham suddenly stopped us and pointed out that it was our last chance to see the top of Canary Wharf, our last glimpse of London. Soon after that we crossed the Greenwich Meridian Line. We followed the delightful Rib Valley, the views were spectacular. Our first stop was at Barwick Ford, which we crossed either through the River Rib or over the bridge. Our walk took us past The Lordship built by Sir Ralph Sadlleir, one time secretary of Henry VIII and richest commoner in England at that time.

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Continuing to Standon, we found its famous puddingstone, a large rock resembling a Christmas pudding.  It is a conglomerate of sedimentary and glacial rock.


We bought our picnic lunch in Standon and ate in St. Mary’s Churchyard. The church is unique in Hertfordshire because of its detached tower. It is a large processional church built by the Knight’s of St. John of Jerusalem. Our walk after lunch then took us onto Braughing, more beautiful countryside and a few kissing gates were negotiated. The other delight was the black and white tudor houses to admire. One then, as always appreciates what a fantastic country we live in. Braughing was an old Roman Town, when the Romans left, it became an Anglo-Saxon Town called Breahinga. Our second day of walking ended at St Mary’s Church, Little Hormead. Inside the church is a preserved 12th century north door and the carved and coloured Royal Arms of Charles II. The very welcome mini buses soon arrived to take us back to the Feathers.

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For our third day of walking the weather was more overcast and we even had a brief shower, by the time we’d put some of our waterproofs on, it had stopped! The route was less well marked and more difficult to negotiate and, consequently, we were slower. Our coffee stop was at Wyddial, again the location was very charming. We came across a modest Meridian marker.


The next part of the walk was exciting, because of an uncooperative farmer, who was unwilling to mark footpaths across his land clearly. We were walking through numerous fields of rape and it was difficult to find the correct footpath, so the two Grahams became inventive and took a deviation along tractor tracks. Fortunately, the correct route was eventually found that took us to Reed, our day’s final destination. A rather exclusive pub/restaurant called ‘The Cabinet’ served expensive snacks and drinks.

The mini buses picked us up and back to the Feathers. Some spent the afternoon visiting Ware, a local town on the River Lee.


Our fourth day, Thursday, began at Reed and we had a 3 mile walk to Royston. The route took us through a mixture of terrain, some paths clear, some narrow and overgrown. We actually reached the highest point north of the Thames, 160 meters. In Royston we bought our lunch and had a real-coffee stop! The next part of the walk was long and steady through to Shepreth, where we caught the 4.10 pm train to Cambridge. With much relief we all flopped down at the Double Tree Hotel, Cambridge, before some of us revived ourselves swimming and lounging in the Jacuzzi, steam room or sauna.

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Our final day of walking was from Shepreth through to Cambridge. We caught the train from Cambridge to Shepreth and were again greeted by the delightful pongee smells from a nearby pig farm, so quickly walked to find the correct path to Grantchester. Our legs were beginning to ache after 4 days of walking, but we plodded on and with much relief arrived at the famous watering hole - The Orchard, which has provided refreshments since 1868 - for our lunch. Rupert Brooks lodged there while studying at Cambridge. The walk after lunch was very attractive, alongside the River Cam, through beautiful water meadows. The weather for our last day of walking was excellent. We had travelled approximately 45 miles from Rye House through to Cambridge. The ‘piece de resistance’ was our celebratory dinner, a great jollity to round off an excellent 5 days of walking, through some very scenic countryside, ‘oh so good to live in Great Britain’.

Grateful, thanks to Graham King who led the walk, and to Graham and Hilda Heap who devised and planned the walk.

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Cotswolds, Bourton on the Water. 29 Sept to 2 October 2010

On Wednesday, after a longish drive from Lewes, 28 of us met at The Lamb Inn at Great Rissington to start our holiday. After a welcome lunch, 19 set of for a rather wet walk from the pub, across fields and alongside the local river. On our return we set off for Harrington House where we were staying for a welcome cream tea. The HF leaders introduced themselves that evening and described the four walks we could choose from the next day.


We set off in a coach on Thursday, with the various walks being dropped off at their respective starting points and enjoyed either a half-day or full day’s walking in the hills. We went to Coopers Hill, the site of the annual cheese rolling event and later three of the groups met on the highest point in the Cotswolds and enjoyed a wonderful view in all directions.


The formula was repeated for Friday, although the weather was very wet and some chose to do other things that day.


Each evening the leaders arranged entertainment for us all, ranging from  quizzes to treasure hunts to poetry readings, story telling and dancing. On the last night there was a competition to build boats. We each placed money on the boat we felt was the best design and this money went to support an HF charity, After the judging, the boats were taken to the river which runs through the village to race.  John Coxeter won the design award and Grace Blaker won the race.


On the last day most of the party met on a sunny morning in the little village of Asthall for our final walk. Expecting it to be very muddy underfoot following the rain of the day before, we were pleasantly surprised to find it easy going. The views across the river where we stopped for coffee were beautiful and the little village of Swinbrook was picture perfect. We returned to Asthall for and excellent lunch at The Maytime Inn which set us up for the return journey to Lewes.


This was a very enjoyable holiday in a beautiful part of the country. The hotel was comfortable with good food and attentive staff. The leaders looked after us well for our short stay. The holiday was organised by Eileen and Gordon.


On Friday It Rained-All Day

Walkers getting in the way of the scenery

Gate to Nowhere

Group Photo

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Isle of Man. 26 June – 3 July 2010

17 members of Lewes Footpaths Group took part in a week long holiday on the Isle of Man.   Staying in an excellent hotel in Douglas they were able to visit most parts of this interesting and historic island.  Most members opted for shorter half day walks which allowed time to visit attractions but a few took part in longer all day walks such as that from Port Erin to Peel in the sparsely inhabited but very beautiful and hilly scenery of the south west part of the island.  Using the good public transport system to get to and from walks every member was able to get to Snaefell although for most it was still in a little swirling cloud at the time.  However apart from one overcast day and a sharp shower on another day the weather was very good with much sun.   At the end of the holiday those members who have been on previous Group holidays felt that it had been one of  the best they had taken part in and that the variety of things on the Isle of man made it an inspired choice.

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Greenwich Meridian Trail.  Weekend Away: 1st - 3rd May 2010


Saturday was a lovely, warm, sunny day.  When the 18 members of the group arrived at Greenwich Railway Station ten minutes early, the taxi booked to transport our luggage to the hotel in Stratford had not arrived.  When it had not arrived 15 minutes later we began eyeing up the taxis that were waiting outside.  Then the mobile rang, the taxi driver's Tom Tom had taken him to the back entrance of the station.  Why? 


The Greenwich Meridian Trail (GMT) runs from Peacehaven in East Sussex to Sand le Mere in East Yorkshire.  Two years ago, some of the more intrepid members of the Footpaths Group had walked the first part, from Peacehaven to Greenwich, now we were walking the next section to Rye House in the Lee Valley, a distance of 28 miles in three days. 


The Greenwich Foot Tunnel takes you to the Isle of Dogs, turn left and you are on the Thames Path which is most interesting.  Having passed Canary Wharf, the group felt a sudden need to slake their collective thirst, so repaired to The Grapes in Limehouse, the pub where it is reported that Charles Dickens, as a boy, stood on a table to sing for the customers. 


Continuing up Limehouse Cut, the oldest canal in London, we admired the eighteenth century tidal mill at Three Mills and then Abbey Mills Pumping Station.  Inaugurated in 1868, it used to pump raw sewage up from 40 foot underground; it is Victorian bombast at its best.  Shortly after we arrived in Stratford it began to rain. 


The rain continued more or less non-stop till the middle of Sunday afternoon, which made the walking on Sunday only suitable for the most intrepid.  So intrepidly we set off on Sunday morning for Epping Forest, which was surprisingly muddy considering how dry the previous three weeks had been.  Steady walking saw us arrive at Chingford at lunchtime.  Some of the group ate their picnic at the Queen's table in Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge; others took advantage of the light lunches on offer at the pub next door.  Either way, the loos were most useful.  The next section to Waltham Abbey was not particularly long and the views over the huge reservoirs in the Lee Valley are impressive, even in the rain, which had more or less stopped by then.  But the last mile and a half along the road to the hotel was definitely demanding on the last dregs of energy left in our weary legs.  Then we checked into the Marriot Hotel and it was all worth it.  Huge beds with eight pillows to choose from, a swimming pool, spa, sauna and steam room and a sumptuous dinner to celebrate the walk rounded off a memorable day.


On Monday we had to cover nine miles in four hours, easy you might think but the biting north east wind blowing straight in our faces definitely slowed us down.  That and a chaotic look round Waltham Abbey Church meant that we only just arrived at the pub at Rye House on time.  It was Bank Holiday and the place was busy, but we all crowded into one room and our food arrived quite quickly.  The train back to Lewes took three hours.  Our thanks go to Graham King who led us through three days of completely different countryside doing his best to follow the directions concocted by the walk organisers, Hilda and Graham Heap.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

             Setting off from Greenwich

On the Line at Abbey Mills

                       You call this fun?

QE Hunting Lodge by Lynne

                    Hares and Tortoises. Lee Valley

Homage to the Gods of the Greenwich Meridian

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Princes Risborough.  11 September 2009

Nineteen members of Lewes Footpaths Group recently visited the Chilterns, staying at the Rose and Crown near Princes Risborough for 3 nights. It was perfect walking weather – hot and sunny at times and always dry. The first three circular walks left from the hotel, which reduced the use of cars and was popular and convenient.

Friday afternoon was an introduction to the area, with its open fields and beech woods, which were a recurring feature of the weekend. As on following days, much of the route made use of ancient long distance paths, such as Ridgeway, Chiltern and Icknield Ways. There were panoramic views from Lodge Hill and Bledlow Ridge.

On Saturday we headed south, stopping for a short break on the village green in front of Bradenham Manor, the birthplace of Disraeli. The lunch stop was by the Mausoleum at West Wycombe where the ashes of the Dashwood family continue to be interred. Coincidentally, it was a national heritage day that meant that the adjacent church, renovated by the Dashwoods, could be visited to see the wonderful painted ceiling. There was time later for those who wished to drive to nearby Hughenden Manor, a National Trust property and former home of Disraeli when he was Prime Minister.

The climb up Whiteleaf Hill on Sunday was rewarded with sweeping views of the area from a conveniently placed seat, long enough for us all to rest and reflect before continuing on our way. Later in the afternoon our goal was a restored smock mill, open to the public on Sundays during the season. After a fascinating tour and a welcome cup of tea in the nearby pub, we descended back to the hotel over a huge and very bumpy ploughed field.

On the final morning we drove to Wendover for a morning walk which included Coombe Hill with its Monument and yet more wonderful views, including the secluded setting of Chequers. The holiday was rounded off with lunch together at the Shoulder of Mutton.

The holiday was organised and led by Graham and Jill King. Photographs and captions thanks to Graham Heap.


And Downs

Coffee Stop at Bradenham

At Brush Hill

Smock Mill

Any one would think it is a minefield

More Corn & Poppies

Boar War Memorial

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Northumberland. 27 June 2009

18 members enjoyed an exciting holiday in Northumberland.  Staying at Alnmouth we enjoyed walks on the glorious unspoilt coastline, the challenging Cheviots, the Scottish Border Country and the lovely Simonside Hills.

We visited the National Trust property of Cragside and had an unforgettable visit to Lindisfarne where we were caught in a spectacular storm, which brought the whole island to a standstill.  Further excitement was to be had on the Farne Islands where we had to run the gauntlet of attacking terns; luckily we had been warned to wear hats!  We saw thousands of puffins and other sea birds, which were all busy feeding their young.

We stayed at the very comfortable Country House at Alnmouth that is run by HF Holidays who specialise in walking and activity holidays.


On the last night we entertained other guests with a hearty rendition of Sussex by the Sea, conducted with a walking stick, which, literally, nearly brought the chandelier down! 

 Altogether, a holiday to be remembered.









(Photo by Jill)

Graham took these shots to remind members of the excellent holiday but he did wonder why he ends up at the back of the walk.

Harder Walkers at Linhope Spout

In the Cheviots

Misty Beach at Seahouses

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Bournemouth 24-27 April 2009


On Friday afternoon we walked round Hengistbury Head.  It juts out into The Channel below Christchurch, forming Christchurch Harbour in the process.  Once it was an Iron Age Settlement with a double ditch defence, then an ironstone quarry, now it is a nature reserve with natterjack toads.   It rises to 20 metres, but looks higher.  On the sandy spit is a collection of beach huts that once sold for silly money before the credit crunch.  We were muffled up against the wind, but the man walking towards us near the beach huts appeared oblivious of the cold wind in his swimming trunks.   When we looked back in amazement we realised that his 'trunks' was only a posing pouch.  For all intents and purposes he looked naked.   We hunkered down out of the wind to enjoy our lunch and the lovely views across the harbour to Christchurch and Muddiford.  This was a pleasantly easy ramble to start the holiday.

Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head Huts

New Forest on Saturday


Saturday saw us in the New Forest.   We travelled to Ashurst New Forest by train and walked back to Brockenhurst.   The first part was across open scrubland with some trees.  The second part was through woods with some open areas.  As the day warmed up, layers were shed.  The New Forest ponies were dotted around the landscape, herds of deer, including two or three albinos, were seen in the distance.   Lunch was taken at the Oak in Bank and the walk continued along the charming stream called Highland Water.   As we entered Brockenhurst a pony was seen in a garden devouring a hydrangea bush.   Afternoon tea was taken in The Buttery and because of bad organisation by one of the leaders; we just missed one train then missed the next train because it left from the "wrong" platform.   Most people seemed to forgive him.


On Sunday, a minibus took us to the Isle of Purbeck.  The wind, a feature of most of the holiday, was particularly biting as we emerged from the warm inside of the minibus at Worth Matravers.   Everybody wrapped up.   The 'long walk' walkers struck south to the coast and joined the South West Coast Path to St. Aldhelm's Head.   Dark clouds gathered and a few spots of rain were felt but gradually the sun warmed up and at St Aldhelm's Chapel we lay on the grass and enjoyed the skylark above singing its heart out.   The chapel itself looks solid enough to withstand a nuclear bomb.   However, that initial impression was somewhat spoilt by the presence of scaffolding against one wall.  The major feature of this section of the Coast Path is a deep dry valley.  From the top the path falls precipitously away down many steps.  On the other side is an equally steep climb up.  It looked daunting, but we survived and rested awhile at the memorial to the Royal Marines overlooking Chapman's Pool, where we ate our picnic lunch. 


The 'short walk' walkers left Worth Matravers along a busy narrow winding lane and a broad grassy path to the top of the 'cliffs' overlooking Chapman's Pool, nearly 400 feet below.   In spite of the grey clouds and cold wind, morning coffee on the beach seemed like a good idea.   Not all of the party enjoyed the steep decent, but well made steps eased the first part.   A broken stile and a scramble down the last bit was more challenging.  After this heroic effort, access to the beach was blocked by a large landslide of the local loose blue lias rock.   Thwarted, the group turned inland and followed the path to Corfe Castle up a pretty wooded valley full of wild flowers and bird song.  As the clouds lifted so did our spirits.  We were hugely amused by the ' elastic’ Dorset miles evident on the well-made wooden finger posts.  That something odd was happening first became apparent when the distances on the ground seemed not to match those on the finger posts.   Our suspicions were confirmed when Corfe Castle was shown to be 1.3/4 miles away, but a little further on was then shown to be 2 miles away, very odd.


At the top of the ridge the wide panorama of Purbeck was set out below with Corfe Castle in the distance and the puffs of smoke from the steam train adding that necessary touch of nostalgia.  Purbeck is pretty.  The 'short walk' walkers arrived at Corfe Castle in time for a pub lunch before dispersing to explore the attractions.   The 'long walk' walkers enjoyed the same scenic delights, arriving in time for afternoon tea.   Burt Sharp, our minibus driver, had spent the day in Swanage at a vintage car rally.   He picked us all up promptly at 4 pm and we were back at the hotel in good time for our pre-prandial G&Ts.  


Wood Lodge Hotel was just the right size and looked after us very well.   It was not their fault that one of the party missed out on her jam roly poly pudding, it was one of the leaders who could not do his sums.  


On Monday, it rained all morning.  It was agreed that if any walking was going to be done it should be from the car park to the house at Mottisfont Abbey.  A diverse collection of early 20th century paintings and a "stunning drawing room decorated in the trompe l'oeil style by Rex Whistler in 1938" were the main attractions.  It was an unplanned, but satisfactory end to the holiday.

New Forest Mud

Purbeck Panorama

Short Walkers at Corfe Castle

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Loxton, Mendip Hills October 2008

18 members of Lewes Footpaths Group recently enjoyed a long weekend in the Mendips. Staying at the Webbington Hotel in Loxton they were able to appreciate the excellent walking in this limestone area as well as some of the other attractions. On the Friday afternoon a short walk from the hotel took them to Rackley and back past Crab Hole to Loxton Church. On Saturday a choice of walks was provided; each group ascended Crook Peak and went along the ridge to Wavering Down but only those doing the longer walk also ascended Shute Shelve hill and descended into Axbridge where an entrepreneurial member bought a packed cream tea to eat in a field later in the afternoon.. Both groups then returned via Cross and Compton Bishop to the hotel. The weather on Sunday morning was somewhat wet and the attractions of Cheddar Gorge were too much for some members so that only 3 hardy folk walked round the rim of the gorge although some others did walk around Cheddar reservoir. Fortunately the weather was kinder on Monday and the majority took a morning walk from Rowberrow to the hill fort on Dolebury Warren before returning home.

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East Devon Holiday July 2008

15 members of Lewes Footpaths Group recently took part in a 5 day holiday to East Devon. Staying in a Grade 1 listed hotel in Sidmouth, which provided excellent food, they were able to explore parts of the Jurassic Coast which has been designated a World Heritage site. Half day morning walks were arranged and during the holiday the South West Coastal path was walked from Sidmouth to both Branscombe and Otterton together with a further section from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth. Apart from being rich in wildlife participants were able to see the continuing operation to retrieve the remains of the vessel Napoli which went aground off Branscombe some 18 months ago. The afternoons enabled optional visits to a number of places including Seaton, Beer, Bicton Gardens, Exeter and South Molton, as well as Sidmouth itself, to be enjoyed and it was encouraging that all this was achieved using the public transport available in the area.

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Walking the Kerry Way May/June 2008

No that is not walking like they do in Kerry, its walking on one of Irelands finest long distance paths. 16 members set off from Gatwick on Wednesday 28 May to fly to Cork. We were met at the airport by the coach driver who delivered us to our hotel in Glenbeigh on the west coast. The rain as we drove along was not a good sign. That evening we met our leader Seán Ó Súilleabháin. who talked us through the week to come.

Then next morning it was off on our first walk. The weather had cleared up and we set off by minibus to drop us at Dooks beach. We started on fine, soft sand for a good way before clambering over rocks to reach a road which took us through peat bogs. It was here that we had our first experience of 'separation'. The leader called out ladies to the left, gentlemen forward; such a civilized way of dealing with the call of nature. We had our lunch sitting on rocks within the bog. Along the road we stopped to hear about how peat is cut, to admire the bog cotton growing everywhere and to smell the bog myrtle. We finished at a welcome pub with time for a drink before the minibus picked us up.

The next day was more serious walking. The minibus dropped us high up in the mountains to pick up the Kerry Way. This part of the Way is both a medieval coaching road and an early Christian route. Passing disused dwellings made from the local stone and stopping to listen to Seán's wonderful descriptions we climbed higher up a long, gradual slope. Lunch was taken overlooking Dingle Bay, then it was down the other side on our way back to Glenbeigh. The flowers were beautiful, including the Irish version of London Pride, locally called St Patrick's cabbage. We stopped to view ancient rock art in somebody's front garden. We had just passed what was an old coaching stop where they changed horses when the rain started. By the time we reached Glenbeigh it had stopped and so ended the day back at our hotel.

The next day was a rest day and most went to Killarney to see Muckross House although a few stayed in Glenbeigh or did another walk.

Day three of walking started in Glenbeigh with an ascent in clouds with no view at all. As we crested the top and began our descent, and came out of the cloud, we regained our views. A longish road walk brought us to the scenic Black Rocks bridge where we took lunch and provided lunch for the midges who clearly enjoyed foreign flesh. The walk along the Caragh river was beautiful with sightings of eels and freshwater mussels. As we drew near the end of our walk, with the minibus in sight, the thunder started to rumble but we made it to the pub before the rain started and it had stopped by the time we came out.

Our next day started at Ladies View in the Killarney National Park. The location is so called since Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting were taken there for the view when the Queen visited Muckross House at the end of the 19th century. We then picked up the Kerry Way again and headed down through forests to the lake and a coffee stop at a café beside the lake. Then the long climb to to top of the Gap of Dunloe. The walk up was long and we had lunch in a field of sheep just before the summit. It was only when we reached the summit did we realize why the Gap is so famous. The views were breathtaking. A dramatic valley with a river running through to lakes at the bottom. We saw rare plants and pony and traps plying their trade along the road. The end, sitting in the sun at Kate Kearney's Cottage having a drink was a great end to a wonderful day. After dinner we were treated to an Irish story-teller who kept us enthralled and amused.

Our last day saw us pick up the Kerry way where had started the day before but go in the opposite direction. A stiff climb to the top where we took a coffee break before descending to the river at the bottom and a lunch stop by a waterfall. The path we followed was an ancient road between Kenmare and Killarney although it is tough going now. The road led us into the grounds of Muckross House, alongside the spectacular Torc waterfall. And so the end of our walking at the café by the house.
The holiday was made by Seán, who was so helpful, full of knowledge of the social and geological history, a great leader and a delight to be with. He was ably assisted by the scenery and the weather. A great time was had by all.

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Ridgeway holiday 2007

Fourteen members of the Lewes Footpaths Group spent a long weekend at the end of September walking in Wiltshire, based in Ogbourne St George near Marlborough. The walks were planned around the Ridgeway, chalk downland and 'Britain's oldest road', which crosses England from Overton Hill near Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. After a damp and misty walk on Friday afternoon, we spent the Saturday on a walk led by a member of Swindon Ramblers' Group, out northwards along the Ridgeway, visiting the site of an abandoned mediaeval village, and, although it was cloudy, some long views across the Thames plain could be seen.

On Sunday, however, the weather was on our side. We walked up onto the Ridgeway westwards to Barbury Castle, an Iron Age fortification not dissimilar to Mount Caburn, but covering a much larger area, and enjoyed some really glorious views to both north and south. The area has both livestock and arable farming, but also a lot of horses, and it was sometimes difficult to decide what was a footpath and what was a 'gallop'. We passed two racecourses, and what we ultimately decided must be an eventing training ground, as it was furnished with strangely-designed jumps and other obstacles. After a picnic lunch in the sunshine, we walked back down into the Og valley at Ogbourne St David, and back across the fields to Ogbourne St George (there is also an Ogbourne Vaizey).

On the Monday morning we left the hotel and drove to Savernake Forest, the ancient hunting ground of English kings, eventually gifted by Henry VIII to Jane Seymour's family whose descendants still live in Tottenham House at the edge of the forest. The weather this day was not kind. The rain became more and more persistent, and after we left the Forest and were walking along the towpath of the Kennet & Avon canal, it was a steady downpour. After a final very welcome hot meal in a pub at Wootton Rivers we all drove home, cars full of very wet boots and clothing, but somehow feeling both fitter and virtuous.

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Isle of Wight Holiday 2nd - 9th July, 2007

In the morning, fourteen members set off from Sussex by train to Shanklin, taking the ferry from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde pier. On arrival in Shanklin our cases were collected by Bill from the Hambledon Hotel. Most of the party opted to walk and we were met at the hotel by two who had travelled by car and Jackie (Bill's wife) with a large pot of tea. The rest of the day was spent settling in, visiting the Tourist Information office, booking theatre tickets or swimming at the leisure centre. The plan was to spend the week walking the coastal path around the island. Alternatively half day walks could be done, with an opt-out point at lunchtime or whole days could be spent visiting some of the many attractions on offer. One reason the hotel had been chosen was because they cater particularly for walkers, supplying maps and guidebooks as well as arranging transport.

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Tuesday, 3rd July - 14 miles
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast with at least eleven options, thirteen of us crossed a chalk start line drawn by Bill at the top of the cliff. On this the first day we were careful to monitor the timings at reference points on our route in order to meet our evening transport. Passing through Sandown and on up to Culver Down, the group paused to admire the panoramic view of the coastline to be covered later that day. These wonderful coastal views were to prove a feature of the holiday. From here we walked down to Bembridge, stopping near the lifeboat station for lunch. We then made our way to Bembridge harbour along the shoreline, where three people took the bus back to Shanklin. After passing many boatyards we crossed the Mill Dam Wall causeway before heading across country to Seaview. A brief pause was made at Seagrove bay slipway where it was possible to cool the feet with a quick paddle. From Seaview there was a final section of sea wall to Ryde. By now the clouds were gathering and sure enough we received a soaking before reaching the station for the train back to Shanklin. 14 miles down, quite a few more to go!

Wednesday, 4th July - 10 miles
The next day we caught the train back to Ryde. These trains were bought many years ago from London Underground and it is quite an experience to rattle along above ground in them. Having negotiated a residential area of Ryde we passed Binstead Church and walked along Quarr Road , passing two abbeys. The first of these is a ruin, but the second is a magnificent building constructed in 1912 by a Benedictine order of monks. It is possible to visit the abbey and some of the group did this later in the week. We then passed the Fishbourne ferry terminal to reach Wootton by lunchtime. From here the coastal path follows the A3054 to East Cowes but we diverted to a less busy road and visited Whippingham Church where Queen Victoria sometimes worshipped. In East Cowes we had to run to catch the chain ferry that crosses the River Medina into Cowes. The coastal path took us around the historical area famous for yachting, including the Royal Yacht Squadron club house with its sixteenth century gun platform. At this point the group became separated, but with the use of mobile phones we managed to reunite at Gurnard Bay. By now the wind was becoming increasingly strong and it was with relief that we met up with the minibus that was to be our form of transport from now on.

Thursday, 5th July - 14 miles
We began today by crossing fields to avoid a section where there is continual coastal slope movement and the path is dangerous in places. On reaching Thorness Bay we turned inland where we had to cross a very muddy section restricted by electric fencing. This was our first, and last, day with muddy boots. In Porchfield we paused for a break around the war memorial. Passing through Newtown with its distinctive Town Hall, we continued to Shalfleet where we found the church porch to shelter from the wind for lunch. After a cross-country section, several of the group decided to take a shortcut to West Hamstead farm, while the remainder continued on the coastal path. This led to Hamstead quay and a wetland area with a stunning array of wild flowers which we crossed by board walks and bridges. By now it was raining steadily. Eventually the group was reunited and by this time we were getting quite wet and the paths were becoming slippery. With heads down we plodded on through lanes and forests, diverting at time where the path is eroded. Shortly before reaching the end of the walk at Bouldnor it had stopped raining and to our surprise we were 40 minutes early for the pickup. Back at the hotel, our wet boots and outer clothes were swiftly taken by Bill to the drying area. In the evening we were entertained by a surprisingly able young magician

Friday, 6th July - 11 miles
Nearly everyone boarded the minibus in the morning back to Bouldnor, from where we followed the seawall to Yarmouth. Here we stopped briefly for supplies before setting off across the River Yar along the old military road from Fort Victoria to Cliff End Battery. There was a real seaside holiday feel at Colwell Bay towards Totland pier where we climbed steeply up onto the headland for a lunch stop. After this the path became less clear and it was Graham's turn to lead. We had fallen into the pattern of Jill leading in the morning, changing over in the middle of the day and sharing the back-marking. After passing through an area of head-high bracken and then heather, we spotted walkers on the ridge above us but could find no uphill path. Eventually we met a dead end. Here three of the group headed down, while the others found an inland route, shortly afterwards meeting up on the road to Alum Bay. Because we had lost time we paused only briefly at the pleasure park before climbing up to Tennyson Down. On our way to Freshwater Bay we stopped to take photos of the group at the Tennyson monument. There was still time for a cup of tea before heading back to Shanklin.

Saturday, 7th July - 13 miles
The walk today was along the cliff edge with wide open views in both directions. Coastal erosion was very evident and we were sometimes forced to divert inland. The underlying geology soon changed from chalk to crumbly sandstone, where the path crossed or skirted about ten chines of differing sizes. These were formed by streams cutting through soft rocks to form valleys. By now several of the group were carrying slight injuries but wanted to keep going, although two did drop out at lunchtime. In places the path was narrow and care had to be taken in the blustery conditions. At Whale Chine, so named because a whale drifted ashore here in 1758, we took a break and looked ahead to Chale Church, where we were eventually picked up.

Sunday, 8th July - 10 miles
On the last day, with spirits high and the final section of path ahead, the mood was very relaxed. Time was not an issue as we were walking back to the hotel and it was harder to keep our concentration. Once again there was great variety of scenery including open views from the clifftop of St Catherine's Point and the lighthouse. At St Lawrence we descended to the Undercliff before reaching the Botanic Gardens in Ventor, our lunch stop. Despite one or two aches and pains everyone was still determined to finish rather than taking the bus back. Passing along Ventnor esplanade we all enjoyed Minghella ice cream, the local speciality. We then took the path along the sea wall to Bonchurch. After passing the old church we were glad to leave the somewhat gloomy and seemingly endless path through the Landslip. The route was difficult to find in places. Passing through Luccombe Chine, we eventually emerged at the end of Luccombe Road where we soon found a tea garden and enjoyed a last drink together. It was then a matter of walking beside the beach to Shanklin Chine and back on the high cliff path. The chalk line of our starting point was still visible and there was cause for celebration, particularly by the seven who had completed the whole seventy two miles.

The next day we departed for home, having had a most enjoyable time and with some making plans for another visit as there had not been sufficient time to see or do all that the island has to offer.

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Dieppe, September 2006

Sometime shortly after the crack of dawn on Monday 18th September, 18 of us gathered at Newhaven to catch the 8am ferry to Dieppe. After a lovely sunny crossing we arrived in Dieppe to catch the shuttle bus and then walk to our hotel on the seafront. Two further members who had been on holiday in France joined us there.

After a short time we were off by taxi to Varengeville sur Mer to visit the house and gardens of Le Bois de Moutiers. The house was designed for the French banker Guillaume Mallet by Lutyens in 1898 and the gardens were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll. Lutyens went on to build two more houses for him. We wandered round the formal gardens, marvelling at the vistas, the planting and the care that was being taken of this garden by the Mallet family still living in the house. Some ventured down into the woods that form the park and all of us returned for tea at a cafe boasting 46 varieties of tea, not to mention the tarts and cakes to accompany them. Although the house was not open to the public one could admire it from the outside. Then it was taxis back to the hotel for dinner.

The next day we caught a bus to Archelle to start our walk in the forest of Arques. The forest is a mixture of ancient woodland and recent planting with broadleaf and conifers. With the sun coming through the trees it was a beautiful place to walk. There were a few hills but on the whole easy walking. A profusion of mushrooms were everywhere but they didn' t look that edible but perhaps a French guide would have told us otherwise - they seem to know their mushrooms so much better than we do. A picnic lunch was taken in the sun before descending to the village of Arques. We all descended on a small bar for a cool beer, coffee, tea or juice. Probably the best custom they had had for a long time. One person got stuck in the toilet causing some excitement and consternation for the bar owner! A few decided to catch the early bus back but most climbed the hill to the Chateau d' Arques, built in 1040 by the uncle of William the Conqueror with an obvious link to Lewes castle. It was worth the climb for the views over the countryside were spectacular, with the lakes and rivers of Arques below and the massive fortifications, moat and sheer drops at the castle itself. It was then down again to catch the bus back to Dieppe.

On Wednesday we caught the train to Longueville sur Scie. A brief climb from the village brought us onto a plateau and the walking became more gentle. Through fields and woods we followed the footpath. At one point we thought that the local farmer was aiming to spray us with liquid manure which he was spreading on his fields but we avoided disaster and moved hurriedly on. At one point the track became a little waterlogged and one of our members decided to protect her new boots so progressed with the help of Tesco bags. We were met at one stage by a field of very frisky cows who raced down the hill to greet us, fortunately separated from the path by a fence. We paused in a very pretty village with a well in the centre of the square and the obligatory town hall covered in flowers. Lunch, which most of us bought each day in the square in Dieppe, was taken sitting in the sun again before descending back down to Longueville. Since the trains are not that frequent we had a couple of hours to spend in the sleepy village of Longueville before returning to Dieppe.

Our last day was spent in the charming seaside village of Veules les Roses, west of Dieppe. One' s first impression was of a small seaside town with a cluster of houses behind the front but it turned out to be much a larger village set along side the river which came down to the sea. There is a guided route through the village with some 20 way points with information boards with details about a convent, the watercress beds, water mills, washing points alongside each house fronting on to the river, an old church built in the 11th century, and much more besides. The houses were often thatched and beautifully kept. At one point the river was used to bring cattle down to water and it was fascinating to see a farmer with his tractor filling a large tank with water to take to his cattle The river, as one would expect for cress beds, was crystal clear and fast flowing. One of the water wheels was still in operation. Some who felt in need of more exercise, climbed up to the cliff tops for a further walk and a picnic lunch, others stayed in the village and sought out a more leisurely lunch at a local restaurant. And so back to Dieppe to do some final shopping before setting off for the bus to the ferry and back to Newhaven and thence home.

The organisation of the holiday was excellent. Janet and Ann had to make three trips over to Dieppe to sort things out and for their time and efforts we were very grateful. Not having to choose dinner each night (we had a set menu) made a welcome change and took the pressure off everyone. The printed description of the walks and the time we had to start meant there was no need for lengthy briefing sessions and the whole holiday was as a result relaxed and easy going but obviously well organised. The weather was brilliant and many now know and like Dieppe better than they did before. A great taste of France making an enjoyable holiday brought to us by the team that knows how to do it. Thank you Janet and Ann.

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North Devon 2006

On Sunday 2nd July 12 members gathered at Sunnymeade Country Hotel midway between Braunton and Ilfracombe ready for a week's walking on the South West coast path.

Monday was a very warm, humid day. We caught the bus to Barnstaple from the stop a few yards up the road from the hotel and we started walking along the north shore of the estuary of the River Taw. The path was an old railway line and a favourite of cyclists who seemed to come up behind us without a sound, ring a small bell if we were lucky and expect us to jump out of the way. Along this path we me a squad of paratroopers running in the heat. The new Barnstaple by-pass is under construction and we had an excellent view of the high bridge. At lunch time we found ourselves on the outskirts of Braunton and the welcome sight of the Three Mariners pub where long cold drinks were the order of the day. The afternoon was spent walking behind sand dunes in the sweltering heat, enjoying the profusion of wild flowers. A toll road came as a surprise but there was no charge for walkers! We finally ended up at the Saunton Sands Hotel, built in the 1930s by Ringmer Building Works, including a relative of Jeannette's. Tea was taken in the comfort of the lounge before catching the bus back to the hotel.

We finally ended up at the Saunton Sands Hotel, built in the 1930s by Ringmer Building Works, including a relative of Jeannette's. Tea was taken in the comfort of the lounge before catching the bus back to the hotel.

Tuesday found us walking from Saunton to Woolacombe by way of Croyde. Again we enjoyed the wild flowers on the way. The small beach at Croyde was crossed, including a stream which runs across the beach. A quick stop for ice creams before heading for the headland called Baggy Point. We stopped for lunch on a hill, sharing the shade of some gorse bushes with sheep, also trying to get out of the sun. We arrived at the south end of Woolacombe beach, a great long stretch of fine sand and three members of the group found the call of a swim too irresistible and chose to walk along the beach rather then the path behind the dunes which turned out to be hard walking and very hot in the afternoon sun. The water was lovely and the swimmers came out refreshed and joined the rest in the cafe in Woolacombe for tea before catching the bus back.

Wednesday was not so hot so the walking was a little more pleasant. This part of the coast is very rocky and the path took us first to Morte Point and then Bull Point. At first all signposts seemed to lead to Mortehoe but we ignored them. Some found one section with 90 steps down rather tough. We were rewarded by the sight of seals near Morte Point. There was one particularly steep climb, probably the worst of the holiday, out of Lee and at the top we were greeted by rain. Finally, along a zig zag path we arrived in Ilfacombe.

Thursday was a day off and people went far and wide to National Trust properties, various gardens and local beauty spots.

As we left Ilfracombe on Friday we looked back at the harbour and the boat for Lundy Island. The path gave us wonderful views of the Welsh coast and Lundy Island. The lunch stop was on the front at Combe Martin with a chill wind, Then it was a stiff climb first to the top of Little Hangman Hill and then to the top of Great Hangman Hill, 1000 ft above the sea, where we placed a stone on the cairn at the top. Then came the strenuous bit as we descended to a deep valley at sea level, down a rough path with loose stones to be faced with a steep climb up the other side. On the cliff top, there was evidence of past fires with blackened gorse bushes and burnt ferns. The ash from the plants had transferred to the sheeps' coats making them look very grey. We arrived at Trentishoe Down where two cars had been parked earlier to get us back to the hotel.

Our final day routed us from Trentishoe Down to Lynton, along a wonderful cliff edge path, again with views to Wales. After a steep drop down to Hunters Inn where we had a brief stop by a bubbling stream, we climbed again to follow an undulating path, sometimes high, sometimes close to the cliff edge. Lunch was taken by a stile in an open field enjoying the sun but there was something of a shock as we set off to be faced with stiles and a steep flight of steps to climb into the woods Ð quite a challenge. Then to Woody Bay and on past Lee Abbey, through the Valley of the Rocks with its wild goats to pick up the path to Lynton. As we passed over the funicular railway linking Lynton and Lynmouth, who should we see going down in the carriage but the four who had chosen not to walk that day. Then it was cream teas followed by the community bus back to pick up the cars from Trentishoe Down and back to the hotel.


  • the heat of the first two days
  • wonderful coastal scenery
  • up and down, up and down
  • the efficiency and convenience of the bus services
  • well signed route and good organisation, planning and leadership from Robert
  • Peter's determination following his hip replacement

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Forest of Dean October 2005

27 members arrived at Beechenhurst Lodge in the Forest of Dean on Sunday 9th October in glorious sunshine to start the four day holiday arranged by Eileen and Gordon. After a picnic lunch, the first walk of 4.5 miles was led by Gordon around the sculpture trail which starts and finishes at the car park. We stopped and looked at the 18 sculptures (well, 17 actually, we managed to miss number 3) as we progressed round with the dappled sunlight coming through the tress and with sweet chestnuts on the ground. The paths were well maintained and it was easy walking. And so to our hotel, the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel in Clearwell which turned out to be wonderful, with beamed rooms, fluffy towels, attentive staff and excellent food.

Prior to the holiday, we had contacted the Forest of Dean Ramblers who had agreed to lead walks for us on the remaining three days.

The walk on Monday was led by Susan and Robin and started in Clearwell from our hotel. We headed out of the village, taking time to look at the local castle and hear of its history. We then headed eastwards to Noxon Park, Oakwood Bottom, Ellwood, Dark Hill and Little Lambsquay before returning to the hotel. On the way Robin gave us some history of the forest together with aspects of the geology. The walk was through the forest and across farm land, giving a lovely mixture of walking. We ended at the well from which the village gets its name.

The walk on Tuesday attracted only 16 walkers, the others went off sightseeing. The walk was led by Les and was about 10 miles. We started at Speech House Woodlands car park, not far from Beechenhurst Lodge. The walk took us past a coal mine and we had coffee by the lake created to hold the water pumped from the mine and subsequently to be used in the steam boilers and for other uses. We climbed to the top of Ruardean Hill, the highest point in the original forest and had wonderful views over the surrounding countryside (although the mist restricted how far we could see). At lunch we looked down on the boundary between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and later we looked down on the river Wye. Les was a mine of information on country life and the activities in the forest. The walk was a delight, through broad leaf and conifer forest, following tram ways put in for the mines, along disused railway lines, along paths which we would never have found ourselves, through fields of sheep and down ancient green lanes. We were accompanied by Loki, Les's black Labrador, who showed us how to jump a stile.

The walk on Wednesday was led by Fred and Sheila. We met south of Cannop Ponds and headed into the forest but not before watching large blocks of stone being cut by mechanical saws at the stone works. We were warned there was a steep climb and there certainly was. It was very humid and we were all rather warm by the top and glad of a pause. We took a coffee stop near Bixslade Quarries then followed the old tram way down the valley in pouring rain. This was the only rain we had so we were very lucky. We passed a working coal mine operated by free miners then into Nags Head nature reserve before returning to the ponds and our cars. Most people then had a lunch at a nearby pub before setting off for home.

Our thanks to the Forest of Dean Ramblers for making the holiday so successful. We hope that they will visit us some day when we can lead them through glorious Sussex.

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