Thursday, March 30, 2023

Thursday 30th March Harlington to Sharpenhoe, 6 miles, led by Tony P. 12 ramblers.


Most of this walk was along gravelled tracks which was good news as we all know about Harlington mud! But the first part, getting out of Harlington across fields to the Willow Farm track, was a bit of a quagmire.  


 Later there was plenty of rough grass to scrape off the worst, and the boot ended up quite clean. 

The advance party turned left and walked a few hundred meters until Tony P waved to us: we had gone the wrong way! We should not get ahead of our leader! We passed a nature reserve, past the Moleskin, coming out at the bottom of the 99 steps (or are there more?) and turned left to the Barton Road. We paused briefly on the corner by the converted pub, but decided to push on for coffee break as it was a busy road and only seating for three.  


 Instead we headed along the John Bunyan Trail making for a fallen log and we were disconcerted to see another rambling group standing having their coffee break. They were the U3A from Northwood. Aren’t we lucky to have such nice walking on our doorstep!! They were not at our chosen logs: the advantage of local knowledge. 

 We settled down on the logs for our coffee as Tony P received a text from Tony R to say his hospital visit had gone well and he was back home. We were all thinking of you, Tony!


 The return trip headed for the hill bypassing the Bunyan Oak, and inevitably our cleaned boots picked up more Harlington Clay. We spread out somewhat and waited at the top to let everyone catch up and have a breather. 

Then for the last kilometre, various ramblers peeled off home, leaving just a core to return to the carpark. We got home just before a torrential downpour. That makes us feel so smug!

Track of walk, walked on anti-clockwise direction


Friday, March 24, 2023

Thursday 23rd March Clophill, 4 miles, 17 ramblers, led by Sheila and Mike


Report on a circular walk starting at The Green, Clophill. Thursday, 23rd March 2023. (Two hours & 20minutes.)
Leaders Sheila and Mike Briggs.
On a sunny but blustery morning, seventeen walkers set out at 10am from The Green in Clophill. We had welcomed some guests from Toddington Striders. The route initially took us along Clophill High Street with it's interesting assortment of house styles, turning left up Mill Lane to the junction with Kiln Lane. Forking right here, we passed the Village Hall and the Recreation Ground.

 Meeting at Clophill to start the walk

We crossed the top of Little Lane and took the footpath past a newly built house. Passing a small private wood we noticed that children had obviously been having fun den building, decorating trees and having a campfire. This path then lead us past an orchard and across a lane, up an incline along a field edge to Clophill Ecolodges. The lodges are available to hire and use only 'eco' friendly products. They are run by a charitable trust and have their own waste composting systems. The Briggs' family hired the cabins during a restricted period in October 2020, for a fun Halloween outdoor get together.

Footpath past a well-pruned orchard


Clophill eco lodges

Opposite the Ecolodges, we visited the remains of Old St Mary's church high above the village with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Information boards give comprehensive descriptions of the church and the geology of the area. Hilary remembered that some of the walkers had been up the church tower in the past on an 'open' day, including Angela who sadly died so recently.

Crossing through the graveyard, the walk continued along a section of the Greensand Ridge. This was a wet, muddy section leading to a grassy open space with a small bench. We decided to have a 'coffee stop' here. We were entertained by red kites gliding and swooping overhead.

Coffee break - and signing Tony's get well card


The foot-bridge: we have to return to this after our loop

The walk continued through a grassy field to a small footbridge over a stream. We turned right to make a short loop on a permissive path through Pedley Wood, part of the larger Chicksands Wood. Clumps of primroses beside the path were a welcome sign of early Spring. Retracing our steps to the footbridge we continued along the field to the road.
 (although someone was heard to say that there were more in his back garden!!!)

After a short walk on the road we followed a path along the hedge line of an arable field, turning left and walking to a footpath through a gap in the hedge. Continuing over a couple of grassy fields, past stables and down some steps we arrived in The Slade, Clophill. Passing the houses and gardens we turned right into Back Street. Sadly, we didn't stop at the popular Clophill pub, the Stone Jug, as it's very small and lunch reservations have to be made well in advance. We walked back to The Green having made the most of a lovely Spring morning.
Track of walk, walked in anti-clockwise direction


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Thursday 16th March Wrest Park / Shillington

This 6 mile walk was led by Jenny & Ged with 19 walkers
Meeting on the grass space outside the house entrance, we were informed by the gate guardians that we were not to park our cars there as they were expecting droves of people turning up to visit the house, really on a Thursday!
Duly complying with our orders, cars were moved so we could then commence walking.
Making our way past the house and associated building’s, we then made our way along the track that brought us into Whitehall Plantation, which due to the recent weather and also being used by horses, proved to be very muddy in place’s
We then crossed the road at Ion lodge and on towards College Farm, where we saw the new council pot hole machine in action.
Some road walking followed as we made our way out to Hanscombe End and up to Shillington church for a well earned coffee break.


Leaving the church behind, we continued on towards Upper Gravenhurst, where we tackled the incline through the village that led us up to the track taking us back into Wrest Park.

With the wind blowing against us we passed Gravenhurst Lodge and noted how much mistletoe was in all the trees we were passing.
Pressing on we made it back to where the cars were parked, and low & behold, not a single extra car in sight, a lot of fuss over nothing.
This brought us to the end of a lovely walk and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the walkers 

Track of walk, walked in anti-clockwise direction


Sunday, March 12, 2023

Saturday 11th March Great Billington to Tiddenfoot


7 Ramblers, 9 miles, led by Ruth

I nearly postponed the walk on Friday morning as I looked out onto a blizzard: but the forecast said it would be fine the next day and for once they were absolutely right. The sun, that we hadn’t seen in the previous week, came out, the snow had vanished and it even turned warm at times!!

The first footpath down the sides of some houses was a bit muddy, but once we got to the fields it was really dry. We turned down a side-lane in Great Billington, admired a tree house and a house with a small turret, and puzzled over this contraption alongside the footpath: Any suggestions?







We walked briskly and soon got the  river Ousel, following it for a few miles. Coltsfoot flowers were coming out, and a flock of sheep skidaddled as we passed them. We stopped for coffee at a fallen log. 




We then continued under the by-pass to a bridge crossing both the river and the canal. There was looked at the old quarry site, which was worked between 1920 and 1964, extracting green-sand. This was exported to Birmingham where it was used to make plate glass of high quality. It was used to glaze Crystal Palace, the clock faces of Big Ben and the White House!

We passed Cedar School, once Cedar House which was owned by Mary Norton (the borrowers),  then stopped at an information sign. No toilets!  We then reached the lake. This flooded greatly in January 2021, and there was a dispute as to whether the water came from the canal or the river.  We also viewed a drowned wood, and various water birds, including a Crested Grebe. 


The pylon gave us some entertainment: they are so huge close up! 


Next was the bird hide, followed by the Sands of Time path, once used by waggons and horses, taking sand to the wharf. We stopped for lunch on the convenient bench here.  We left Tiddenfoot by the ‘green bridge, stopped to see the remains of the railway tracks (our lunch stop in the background)


We returned along the canal, retracted part of our steps along the river, and then Ruth made a decision to go back a different way. That was a mistake: it looked fine on the map but it turned into an adventure. First we had to squeeze through a hedge, cross a stile into a mud bath, got verbally abused by three traveller boys, and having just got our boots clean, finished the diversion through a wet and muddy field. Heigh-ho … the benefits of reccying the entire route! Fortunately the co-ramblers were very sanguine over our adventure. 

I will put a 3 mile version of this ramble on the Easy-go programme in the near future as the Tiddenfoot Canal Nature Reserve is very interesting (and mud free!!)


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Thursday 2nd March Toddington to Tingrith


This 6 mile walk was led by Cathy & Kate with assistance from Neil.
Leaving TVH, we made our way down Manor Rd, joining the footpaths that would lead us through the fields & on towards Toddington Park
Keeping to the tracks,we passed Herne Green farm on our way through to Daintry Wood, where we then joined Eversholt to Tingrith track that led us through to Castle Farm 

Carrying on towards Tingrith, we stopped at the bus shelter, where a well earned coffee break was taken in the beautiful sunshine 

When leaving Tingrith, we made our way towards Lodge Farm, with all the tracks still firm underfoot, despite the rain of the previous day.
The end was in sight, however we had one last incline to climb to get us back up to Long Lane, which we all successfully completed.
A bit of road walking soon had us back at the village hall for the end of a lovely walk, on a nice bright sunny but at times cold morning.
Track of walk, walked in clockwise direction.