Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hildenborough to Tonbridge – (Kent) – 30/10/11 – 6.75 Miles – IVC

One of the great things about a walking group like IVC, is that you can be absent for well over four months, and then slot straight back in again, as if you have never been away. Anyway with an extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back, there was no excuse for not getting up for this one.

This was basically a short walk, down the Medway Valley, admiring the autumnal colours as one strolled along. Although given my long absence, I tended to do more chinwagging about what I have been up to, then I did admiring the scenery. Thus some three and a bit miles in we had arrived in Leigh for lunch.

Lunch was at the Fleur De Lis pub, who promptly explained that all the tables were booked inside, and even with us sitting outside, we could forget about ordering any roast dinners. Thus we made the best of it, by ordering a variety of baquetee’s, which were served promptly enough. They then seemed a bit undecided about whether we could order pudding, but eventually our pleading hungry faces won through, and for my part I had a sticky toffee one with ice cream.

The second half of the walk continued on much the same undemanding territory as the first. Now as you will notice there is only the one photograph on this occasion. Now there are two explanations for this, so choose whichever you prefer.

One – People pulling cameras out are not always welcomed on group walks, especially when you try and surrepticiously include other walkers in said pictures for effect. It’s also quite difficult to take pictures when you are constantly having conversations with people. So what I often do is hang back from the rest of the group, on the pretext (true or not) of having a call of nature, and thus get a group shot that way. On this occasion however whilst I was taking my picture, one group member in front of me and to my left, actually was having a call of nature. Thus he was somewhat panicked by my flash going off, as was I by his startled shout (see picture for proof of me being startled, which he is not in by the way). Anyway despite my embarrassed explanations he no doubt has me down now as some weird pervert. Trying to explain that I wanted the picture for my website (this blog actually) would no doubt have made matters worse, so I left bad enough alone.


Two – When I saw how much my photograph resembled one of the great ‘impressionist masters’ I decided I couldn’t possibly top that, and decided that was all I needed to take for the day.

Anyway we ended up in Tonbridge for our much vaunted afternoon tea stop, in some grimy local café. The menu was pretty ropey, but for my part I had a hot chocolate that tasted like slime and a toasted tea cake. One elderly drunk who had been having his lunch tried to claim, some twenty minutes after we came in, that someone in our party had brushed past him, ruining both his dinner and his life. There are some people in this world who are worth apologising too, and some who just need to be told to fuck off. He was in the latter category, but because the people in this group are of the civilised variety they wrongly tried to take the former approach. Anyway this was all going off at the far end of the table from me, but when I managed to get his attention, and asked him, why didn’t he say this at the time and not twenty minutes later, he stormed out of the café ranting away still.

Still nice to be back walking with IVC again. I wasn’t sure back in June whether that would be the last time, I would be out with them, and for that matter the same applies to today. So watch this space.

Walks since last blog entry:

1 x 7 miles – Osterley Park/Grand Union
1 x 7 miles – Grand Union/Osterley Park
1 x 2.5 miles – Lineacre Reservoir
1 x 6.5 miles – Putney to Kew Bridge

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Bath Skyline (Circular) – (Somerset) – 09/10/11 – 8.5 Miles – Helen

So yes things have been a little quiet on the blogging front as of late, especially given the walks that I have been doing (see list at bottom), are ones that have been covered many times before. So I decided what was required to invigorate the blog was somewhere untrodden, and looking at October’s Country Walking magazine I opted to do the Bath Skyline one (as featured on pages 44-48, and as cut out route (2)). Well alright I just happened to be in Bath this particular weekend for a long planned trip anyway, but hey why not run with it.

So if you are groping for the magazine even as you are reading this, the first thing to note is that we started/finished at point 3 on Bathwick Hill, as per route cut out. However to get to that point we actually started the walk at the bus station, which in itself required a mile each way to the official start (hence 8 miles, and add another half again allowing for us getting lost).

So as such our start point as per the cut out, was the one that really affords the classic view of Bath’s skyline. However as you have probably noticed already, the picture of me here isn’t as good as the one on pages 44-45 of Country Walking magazine. However I can come up with three reasons for this: (1) – Helen wasn’t standing on a ladder to take the picture, (2) – It was a bit dull and grey for our walk, and (3) – unlike CW magazine, I don’t have the facility to airbrush out the gasworks. Oh yes and if you are wondering why I am looking like the ‘elephant man’ it was because my cheeks were full of Galaxy Minstrels.

Now I accept that not all cut out walks in CW magazine are of uniform standard, however we found the instructions early on to be particularly ropey, getting lost immediately past Richens Orchard. However by a process of elimination we finally decided that when presented with three options ‘bear diagonally L uphill’ really means ‘bear diagonally R uphill’. Anyway given that this is a standard signed walk (as featured at the tourist information centre) the best option in fact was to follow the circular post markers.

There was a fair bit of climbing involved early on, which led to us briefly taking our jackets off. In fact we made such an attractive couple at this point, that we were stopped by a National Trust warden who asked permission to take our picture (God knows what for). However he went down in my estimation when he showed no interest in looking at the pictures on my camera screen. However he did say we had done the worst of the climbing at this point.

The wind was blowing up a bit and with one o clock fast approaching, there didn’t seem anywhere particularly suitable to have our sandwiches (save for a bench inbetween a load of American Footballers). Eventually however we settled on a wall in earshot of Bath Cats and Dogs home (guess which species made its presence most felt there).

As we made our way onwards towards Bathampton Woods, we came across a number of cavaliers, roundheads and student types, who eventually overtook us, before we in turn overtook them. By this time the mizzly nature of the day was making itself felt as we passed the TV mast. Thus when we reached the bench for the ‘great viewpoint’, both the weather and the canopy was giving us anything but. Helen decided she could live without the diversion off to Sham Castle (no doubt fearing being financially mugged at yet another visitor centre), and thus we headed back down towards our start point at the junction of Cleveland Walk/Bathwick Hill. The instructions surpassed themselves yet again at this point however, as we ended up somewhere else entirely. Following which the walk came to something of an indeterminate end as we wound our way through the centre of Bath looking at greeting card and coffee shops.

Walks since last blog entry:

2 x 7 miles – Osterley Park/Grand Union
1 x 9.25 miles – Putney to Osterley
1 x 4.5 miles – Osterley Park (inner/outer loops)
1 x 9.44 miles – Richmond Park (outer loop + rtn. Richmond stn.) – Helen
1 x 7 miles – Hellbank/Chatsworth (circular) – Helen (Molly)