Archive of 2018 & 2019 Holiday Reports

 

 

 

High Weald Landscape Trail Weekend – Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September 2019

For three days, beginning on Friday 13th September, a group of us walked along the High Weald Landscape Trail, starting at Eridge Green and ending at Benenden. The High Weald is a consistently attractive landscape and each day was just a little different from each other. On the first day we walked eight miles to Pembury. This part of the trail is hilly, with steep downs invariably followed by equally steep ups. One saving grace was the complete lack of stiles but after eight miles of ups and downs we were all glad to see the site of the coach in Pembury waiting to take us back to Lewes.

 

Day two was sunnier than day one and the hills were less hilly but the large number of stiles definitely slowed us down. We had entered Kent so there were orchards full of heavily laden apple trees, a few vineyards and rather magically a large field of hops which draped themselves over you as you pushed your way through creating a slight sense of other worldliness.

 

On Sunday the temperature was even higher and it made us all the more aware of how many woods the trail passes through as we enjoyed the cool of the offered shade, disturbing a large number of pheasants on our way through. In Cranbrook we stopped for a very welcome ice cream and then got a little lost whilst crossing Crane Brook before the final push to Benenden. Graham and Hilda led the way.

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NORFOLK RAMBLING – Monday 1 to 6 APRIL 2019

Twenty of us travelled up to Norwich by train to start 4 days of walking in the flatlands of Norfolk.

 

We had excellent accommodation at the rambling Dunstan Hall Hotel for what proved to be a very cold week!

 

Our first walk was about 7.5 miles, taking in part of The Wherrymans Way which takes its name from the wherry, a large cargo carrying barge whose black sails were once a common side on the broads. The route ran along the banks of the River Yare through open marshes, reed beds, grazing meadows and riverside villages. We started our walk at the Saxon church at church Surlingham to the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve. Then rejoined the river before visiting the villages of Clayton and Thurton from where the bus took us back to the hotel.

 

On day two we walked from the hotel to the site of the Romano-British town of Venta Icenorum, an important town for both the Iceni tribe and the Romans. We then followed the Boudica Way which runs roughly parallel to the old roman ‘Pye” road. After lunch we progressed to Tasburgh to meet the bus, visiting Saxlingham Nethergate church on the way.

 

Day three took us by bus to Burnham Market, then through Holkham National Nature Reserve and gently downhill to the coast at Burnham Overy Staithe. We then followed the coast path alongside Burnham Creek to the vast expanse of Holkham Beach, then along the beach and through woodland to Holkham Gap ending at the pretty coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea.

 

The final day saw us walking across the marshes to re-join the River Yare. We then followed the combined Weavers and Wherrymans Way along the river to Great Yarmouth from where we took a bus back to Norwich and a guided tour of the city finishing at the cathedral.

 

The next day we made our way home on the train.

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Northumberland Holiday - Friday 5 to 12 July 2019.

Sixteen of us caught the train up to Alnmouth, near Alnwick, for a week’s walking holiday staying at Nether Grange, the HF House, in Northumberland. Fourteen of us were doing the “Walking with Sightseeing” - option mixing short walks with visits - and two members opted for the walks programme.

 

We had a lovely time visiting part of Hadrian’s wall passing the famous Robin Hood tree at Sycamore Gap. Following the wall was hilly in parts but stunning views of the surrounding countryside made it all worth the effort! The  coach took us on to the superb Vindolanda - a Roman fort and museum just south of Hadrian’s wall. Back at the hotel, some people joined in the Volcano Night on the beach where competitors built sandcastles as a base for a wood fire then waited to see which one burnt longest once the tide came in.

 

Another beautiful walk along the River All to Alnwick gave us time to explore the formal gardens created by the Duchess of Northumberland set around a cascading fountain. Some of us went on to the famous second-hand Barter Bookshop situated in a Victorian railway station.

 

Monday was a free day. On Tuesday there was persistent heavy rain all day but we still enjoyed a boat trip around the Farne Islands and then a walk to Bamburgh Castle. Three of us went on a different boat trip and landed on the islands where we took many photographs of puffins, artic terns, guillemots and many other nesting birds and seals.

 

On Wednesday we walked to Craster, the home of the kipper, passing the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle perched on a remote headland. From there, we travelled by coach to visit the Holy island of Lindisfarne where an Irish monk Saint Aiden founded the monastery around 634. After passing the ruined monastery, we walked out to the castle based on a Tudor fort and refurbished in the Arts and Crafts style by Sir Edwin Lutyens. His friend, Gertrude Jekyll, laid out a tiny garden north of the castle in 1911. After a circular walk, we returned to the town where a cream tea awaited us!

 

Our final day was spent on a beautiful walk following historical carriage tracks, through woodlands and across the edge of the moor towards Cragside. It is a Victorian mansion in Tudor revival style near Rothbury which was the home of Lord William Armstrong. He was an industrial magnate, scientist and inventor of the Armstrong gun. Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power. The extensive, hillside gardens were a pleasure to explore.

 

Thank you Jeannette for organising a lovely walking holiday. 

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Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall

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View along Hadrian’s Wall

 

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Walking towards Alnwick Castle

 

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Alnwick Castle

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Group photo by Harry Hotspur in Alnwick

 

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Cascading fountains at Alnwick gardens

 

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Nesting guillemots on Farne Island

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Puffins on Farne Island

 

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Artic tern

 

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Puffin with a mouthful of sand eels

 

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Lindisfarne Monastery

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 Cragside

 

 

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Beach volcanoes on Alnmouth beach

 

 

 

BOURTON ON THE WATER 28 SEPT TO 1 OCTOBER 2018

Fifteen of us spent a very happy weekend at the Holiday Fellowship Hotel at Bourton-on-the-Water. We all travelled by car and some of us stopped off at Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford on the way there. We looked around the beautiful gardens, had lunch and enjoyed a tour of the Queen Anne house with its contemporary frescoes that stretch over three floors of the building.  

 

The Saturday walks all started from Bourton and followed the Monarch’s Way to Clapton-on-the-Hill and returned to Bourton via the quarry lakes. Option two included Little Rissington and the third option went as far as Sherborne returning via the Windrush valley. There was time to explore the town and enjoy a cream tea.

 

On Sunday, the coach dropped us in different places but we all visited Snowshill where we enjoyed a drink in the pub before continuing to Broadway. On the option one walk, there was time to explore the lovely town and have a cream tea before the coach picked us up. Those on option two also visited Temple Guiting.

 

On the way home, some of us stopped at Cirencester for lunch and a guided walk around the ancient market town. The guide was most informative and enthusiastic.

 

The holiday was organised by Margaret

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Harrington House, the Hf Hotel at Bourton-on-the Water

where we stayed for three nights.

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Some of us enjoying a break during our walk

around Bourton-the-Water.

 

 

 

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We visited this charming little church, St James at

Clapton on the Hill which overlooks the

Windrush Valley, 3 miles south of Bourton.

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Lake close to Bourton-on-the-Water

which is popular with fishermen.

 

 

 

 

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A view of the river flowing through Bourton-on-the-Water.

 

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On one of our walks, we spotted this fungus

growing on a rotting branch.

 

 

 

 

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An impressive front door seen in Broadway

where we ended our Sunday walk.

 

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Wander Round the Weald 8 – 11 JUNE 2018

Some 30 members of the group followed the High Weald Landscape Trail from Ardingly to Eridge Green for the holiday weekend that in 2018 was in the summer for a change.  This was a continuation of our walk along the first part of the trail the year before. We set off from Balcombe Viaduct and joined the trail near Ardingly reservoir, followed it though the college and then skirted Ardingly village before heading for West Hoathly by way of the valley of Cob Brook.  About half the group chose to partake of the refreshments on offer at the Cat Inn whilst the rest pressed on to Kingscote station on the Bluebell Line where an engine resplendent in its green Southern Railway colours steamed into view. The following morning we were again entertained by another blast of steam nostalgia before setting off for Forest Row and Heathfield.  The morning drinks stop was spent clambering over the huge Stone Hill Rocks with magnificent views of Weir Wood Reservoir.  The heat was becoming oppressive so after a somewhat taxing time walking through the outskirts of East Grinstead, crossing the Greenwich Meridian in the process, we enjoyed some easy walking along the shady Forest Way to Forest Row. Those of the group who carried on to Hartfield enjoyed some wide views across the valley of the River Medway, encountered some muddy cows with a, thankfully indifferent to our presence, bull, crossed the line of the Lewes to London Roman Road and managed to arrive in the village at precisely the same time that the coach arrived to pick us up.  The character of the trail changes to some extent after Hartfield becoming less hilly with more undulating farm land and with that many more stiles to clamber over.  At Buckhurst Park there is a perfect chalybeate spring just by the entrance gate from which they used to obtain their water.  It looked delicious in the heat! The day finished at Eridge Green where we set off from the following day for an easy walk back to Groombridge by way of Eridge Rocks, where the significance of the ripples in the rock strata was explained to us, and the valley of the River Grom to finish with very welcome drinks sitting outside the Crown Inn.  The countryside was very pretty, the weather was almost too good and the celebratory dinner at the end rounded off the holiday nicely.

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In the beginning at Balcombe Viaduct

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Horrible happenings at Ardingly College

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Steam Nostalgia One

 

 

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Steam Nostalgia Two

 

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Hi from Stone Hill Rocks

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View from on-high at Stone Hill Rocks

 

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On the Greenwich Meridian at East Grinstead

 

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A muddy cow -

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- from a very muddy pond -

 

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- with a big, white bull!

 

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On the Roman Road

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Perfect timing for the coach pick-up.

 

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Clearly a Chalybeate Spring

 

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Wavy strata at Eridge Rocks

 

 

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Drinks all round -

 

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- at The Crown in Groombridge

 

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CYPRUS 18 – 25 APRIL 2018

On April 18th 27 members of LFG flew from Gatwick to Paphos in Cyprus. Participants seemed to fall into two groups, those who arrived at the airport hours in advance of the flight, and about 10 others who turned up at the gate about 45 seconds before it closed, causing the organiser (Alan) a little anxiety. The latter group included one participant who had arrived at the airport only to discover that they had brought their spouse’s passport! However the correct passport was taxied up and arrived just in time. After that slightly inauspicious beginning, everything went smoothly. We were met at Paphos airport by Graham and Sue Robinson from Bath and West and driven to the Aphrodite Beach Hotel in the north-west corner of Cyprus, close to the Akamas peninsula. Although it was midnight when we arrived, the very hospitable hotel staff provided a soup and salad buffet for us before we retired to bed.

 

The following morning after our briefing, we were taken to Droushia, a village in the hills a few miles away and from there we walked seven miles through agricultural scenery in the hills above the hotel, ending up in the village of Kritou Terra, where some members refreshed themselves with ice-cream, whereas others waited till our return via Latchi, where the organiser had remembered from a previous visit an ice cream parlour offering 31 flavours of home-made ice cream! On the following walking days, the group split into two, the short walks being 5-6 miles and the longer walks 7-10 miles. On Day 2 the short walkers had a stroll along the beach to Polis, whereas the longer walkers were again taken up to Droushia, which was in the clouds with a howling wind – not what we’d bargained for! As we walked downhill back towards the hotel, the wind dropped and the temperature gradually increased. After that day, the weather improved – beautiful blue sky, temperatures in the lower 20’s and hardly a cloud in sight. Days 3 and 4 were spent exploring the Akamas peninsula. The longer walk on Day 3 was up to a fire tower at the top of a hill, from where there were magnificent views of the coastline in all directions. On our descent we met up with the short walkers for our lunch stop, from where we all descended via a narrow rather rough path, not helped by a water pipe running along the middle of it. We managed to all make it back in one piece. The next day the long walkers again climbed up, this time to the top of the 1200 ft Moutis Soutiros, from where there were more spectacular views. We descended to meet the other group at a lovely beach by a secluded bay, where we had lunch. Some of us swam in the sheltered bay, where the water was warmer and it was smoother underfoot than at the beach by the hotel. We returned along the coastal track. Unfortunately one member inadvertently chose to examine this track at close quarters in a horizontal position and a substantial amount of blood was shed in the process! After an excellent stitching up job at the local hospital, we were delighted that the participant was able to continue with the trip and two weeks’ later the wound was barely visible.

 

Day 5 was our day off from walking and we were taken on a coach tour visiting several sites on the island including a mouflon enclosure, where these rare mountain sheep-goats could be seen, and Kykkos, the (very overdeveloped) monastery where Archbishop Makarios started his career. We stopped for a delicious 10-dish lunch in the village of Phini, and later spent a short time in the picturesque village of Omodos for a bit of souvenir shopping, before returning to the hotel. The next day was another walk in the hills near the hotel before we returned to the UK on Day 7.

 

It was an excellent time of year for wild-flower enthusiasts. There were lots of bright yellow corn marigolds by the sides of the tracks, at least four types of orchids, wild gladioli and several types of rock roses (cistus) to name but a few. We saw many sheep and goats wandering across the hillsides. The sea by the hotel beach was pretty cold but a few stalwarts braved the waters after the days’ walking. Food at the hotel was excellent, as was the hospitality shown to us. All-in-all, a splendid trip, which was enjoyed by everyone. Our thanks to Graham and Sue from Bath and West and to the Aphrodite Beach Hotel staff for all their organisation and understanding of our needs.

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Bee orchid

 

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Agama Lizard

 

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Corn marigolds

 

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By the fire tower

 

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View of our bay

 

 

IMG_6622Atop Moutis Soutiros

 

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Deep blue Med

 

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Breakfast on the balcony

 

 

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Mouflon

 

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