Walking Watton-at-Stone Circular - December alt text

For the last walk of the year Jules and I headed out to Hertfordshire to try a variation on the SWC club route #94 Watton-at-Stone Circular. This turned out to be a very pleasant walk through rolling hills, in very good weather indeed (not a cloud in the sky for the entire day).

We did a variation on the walk, on account of the short day and the travelling time, starting from Sacomb to get us to Watton for lunch. From Sacomb we took a long loop round through the grounds of Woodhall Estate (which was rather impressive) passing the very pretty churches of St. Catherine’s in Sacomb and St Mary & Andrews in Watton. After a good lunch in The Bull at Watton-at-Stone we took a short-cut back, passing through Whempstead before cutting back to Sacomb.

En route we say the obligatory Red Kite, as well as a couple of herons in a field (bit confused by that) and a large fox in the grass at the edge of the woods. Overall the 10 miles took 3hrs 35 and we’d rate it 2/10 for difficulty.

Walking Capital Ring # 11 - December alt text

For a bit of a change of pace, Jules and I decided to head out to try a section of the Capital Ring section 11 from Hendon to Highgate. The weather was lovely for the time of year, bright and mild, and great for walking.

The route itself turned out to be a pleasant 5.5 mile walk through surprisingly green surroundings, broadly following the route of the North Circular across the north of London. The majority of the walk is through parks and along streams, with only a few sections particularly urban (for the location). Navigation was quite easy – the route is well signposted, but we did refer to the map a couple of times.

Overall the walk took us 2hrs 35, including a stop for a coffee and a danish pastry, and we’d rate it 1/10 for difficulty.

Walking Moulton Circular - November Packhorse Bridge in Moulton - medieval flint bridge

Combining two of the things we quite enjoy (eating and walking), Jules and I headed to Moulton in Suffolk to visit The Packhorse Inn, and to stretch our legs on the three churches walk round the local villages.

Many thanks to Amanda for finding us a seat in the middle of a busy lunch service (must book next time we go!) and after a lovely lunch we headed off around the circular route to see the churches in Moulton, Grazley and Dalham. The trees were lovely in colour and the villages very pretty and all in all it was a very satisfying walk.

Overall the 6.2 miles took us slightly over 2 hours (we didn't bother stopping for breaks) and we'd rate this walk 3/10 for difficulty.

Walking Saunderton Circular - November alt text

With the Beech trees changing into their Autumn coats Jules and I headed out to the Chilterns to do our first walk for a little while.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't the bright sunny day that we'd hoped for, but it was still good to get out. The trees were lovely - the colours are always special at this time of year and the walk (which we've done before in early summer) is a good route through the rolling hills so typical of this part of the world.

The route itself was pretty much as we remembered - although we did manage not to get lost in the cow field this time - and we say a red Kite and a very angy squirrel on route, just making it to the finish before the light failed us.

Walking South Downs Way - July View along the ridge of the South downs, and north face slopes

With a stunning day forecast, Jules, Andy and I headed down south to walk a section of the South Downs Way, between Amberley and Shoreham-by-Sea.

This turned out to be a lovely 16 mile walk along the crest of the Southdowns way, dropping down for lunch, before meandering gently into Shoreham-by-Sea. The combination of good weather and stunning views made for a fantastic walk in great conditions. The walk is almost entirely off road (5 minutes at each end getting to and from the SDW), and easy to navigate as it follows the wide and well signed long distance route. It was very quiet despite the glorious weather, and aside from the occasional mountain-biker we hardly saw anyone all day.

Overall it took us 7:05 to cover the 16 miles, including lunch in the Frankland Arms in Washington, and we’d rate it 6/10 in the heat.

Walking Blenheim Palace - June View over the ornamental lake to Vanbrugh's bridge in Blenheim Palace grounds

Feeling like we hadn't been out much this year, Jules and I jumped at the chance to spend a beautiful summers afternoon walking around Oxfordshire, taking in the sights of Blenheim Palace and the ruins of an old Roman villa

The route we chose was #28 in the Rough Guide to walks in London & Southeash England. This turned out to be a fairly easy-to-follow circular route from  Long Hanborough station and after a brief spell along the busy A4095 - the highlight being visiting Woodstock -  turned into the grounds of Blenheim Palace. The grounds were lovely in the summer afternoon sun, and the (man-made!) ornamental lake was particularly spectacular. After the world's largest sausage roll and scones & tea we carried on round the grounds then ducked out the Combe gate, through Combe and then on past the Roman Villa (with an intricate and well restored mosaic floor), past East End before doubling back to Long Hanborough.

All in all the 11.5 miles took us 4:30, including a stop for lunch and afternoon tea. We'd rate the walk at 4/10 difficulty and would probably go back, but next time would do the walk in reverse and try to avoid the 12 per person charge for the grounds...

Walking Seaford to Eastbourne - May alt text

With a beautiful day forecast for the early May bank holiday ("What?" I hear you cry, but we do deserve it after the winter we've just bene through) Jules and I headed off to the south coast to do the classic Seaford to Eastbourne (Seven Sisters) walk.

The weather was a little strange at the start - thick and chilly sea mists blowing in, and we felt a bit silly wearing sunglasses in at times, but as the sun burned through we were left with sunshine for most of the day. The gorse was in flower and smelled lovely as we wound our way along the coast following the ups and downs of the rolling chalk hills, which were stunning in the late afternoon sun.

All in the walk took us 5:10 minutes for the 13.8 miles - quite fast given the terrain - but we didn't stop anywhere for very long. We'd still rate this as 10/10 for a day walk and we were grateful for the food we'd taken but in hindsight a bagel and an apple not quite enough for the whole day.

Walking Ivinghoe Beacon - April View over rolling hills of the Chilterns, from Ivinghoe Beacon

With the promise of summer (sun for two days in a row), Jules and I headed out to the Chilterns to have a wander up and around Ivinghoe Beacon.

We've done this walk at least once before, so with willful abandon and a complete  absence of navigation we headed off on the walk. As plans go, this one lasted for longer than most - all the way until the Ashridge estate to be precise - whereupon we took a slight scenic detour with accompanying sense of humour failure.
Eventually we made it to the Bridgewater monument (I mean, really. How can you lose that with your eyes still open for crying out loud) and from there it was just a  short drop back down to Tring.

All in, detour and all, the walk took us about 4hrs 30 for the approximate 10 miles (I've still not quite worked out where we were). It's still a good walk. Just consider following a route.

Walking the Thames Path Henley to Marlow - February View of Thames at Marlow

With a fairly sunny & warm winters day forecast, Jules and I headed out to Henley to go for a walk along the Thames to Marlow. The weather certianly didn't disappoint - bright and sunny for almost the whole day, with just a slight chill in the air and the bare trees to remind us that it was still February.

The route was a fairly easy and pleasant one, following the Thames Path and never venturing far from the river. Unfortunately with lots of recent rain the path was very muddy in places and completely flooded on the way into Marlow - roll the trousers up and prepare for wet feet time!

Slightly drier underfoot and this would have been a superb walk. As it was it took the award for 'muddiest day walk' we've done. All in the 8.5 miles took us 3hrs 45, including breaks for lunch & tea and we'd rate it 3/10 with the mud.

Walking along the Thames to Hampton Court - January View along the Thames River towards Richmond Bridge

Feeling like we hadn’t been out for a while - and with some rare winter sun forecast - Jules and I headed down to Kew for a walk along the Thames towards Hampton Court.

The weather was (mostly) very pleasant for January – bright blue skies although with a slight chill in the breeze. This good weather held for most of the day, with only a small shower at around 2pm and then a more determined outbreak just before we reached Hampton Court.

Overall the 12 or so miles took us about 4 hours including a fairly brief lunch, which would be about right for the distance. We’d rate this a very enjoyable 3/10 for difficulty – no hills or navigational challenges to speak of.