Thursday, February 2, 2023

Thursday 2nd February Three Locks carpark to Rammamere Heath

12 ramblers, 8.5 miles, led by Ruth

The sun and above-zero temperatures brought 12 ramblers out, even through this walk was a bit on the long side. We set out from the large car-park, near Stoke Hammond and walked briskly North along the Grand Union Canal towpath for about a mile before turning off towards Paper Mill Farm.


 The road became a sandy track and many of the ramblers hadn't passed the large fishing pond, nor the manicured garden with a lake before. 





 At the bridleway junction just into Rushmere Country Park, we turned right. 'We don't go this way' someone exclaimed'. 'Yes we do and I'm the leader!' Ruth retorted. 


We paused at Black Pond, and admired the oak-themed seat,  pausing for a photo,  but the weather has eroded some of its best acorns and oak-leaves,









 When we reached the lizard sculpture we stopped  for morning coffee break. 


Next we took a narrow track up to the plateau of Oak Wood. No oaks there, but the commercial pines has been thinned for heath-land restoration. There were good patches of heather that had been carefully cleared of brambles... for now. Heathland is a rare habitat, with the UK having 25% of the world's area, so its restoration is important and trumps non-native dense tree plantations. 

Soon we reached the bridleway that was familiar to the ramblers, and some ramblers wondered how we weren't going to be very early for lunch - but we soon reached a steep but short hill up to the plateau of Rammamere Heath. We looped around and into Bragenham Wood, where the maze of pathways, unmarked on the OS maps, were navigated and finally headed down a sandy wide path to the gas-pipe: 

'Oh we're at Stockgrove someone exclaimed. Yes, and half an hour before expected - only 12.30! our ramblers headed for the warmth of the cafe for various combinations of toasties, chips, burgers and buns, the rest put on the extra layers and had their packed lunch at the picnic tables. The toilets had warm water and a powerful hot air hand drier - luxury!

Finally, we walked through Bakers Wood - more undulations, then through Shire Oak Heath, one of the first heathland restorations of the country park. This led past Lord's Hill, through the meadow to Rushmere Park entrance, then over the humpback bridge to the towpath. The final 1.5 miles flew by and soon we were back to the car, at 2.35pm: not a bad pace!

Track of walk, walked in clockwise direction

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