Oxfordshire Area Ramblers

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AGM November 2015

Henley & Goring group’s AGMs and social evenings are always well attended and enjoyed by members. We usually have between 60 and 70 members and friends attending; this year was no exception. Christchurch Centre in Henley is a good place to hold the event as it has a range of rooms of different sizes for different purposes. We make full use of the facilities and need their biggest hall for our sit-down supper! People were greeted with a complementary drink and a chance to chat with friends and to look at displays of our activities before the business part of the evening. 

 The new H&G committee - missing from the photo are Judith Hill, Events Events Team Coordinator, Valerie Friend our new Publicity Officer and Joan Clark, News Editor, who took the photo.2015 01 14 22.26.33 Copy

After the Chairman and Treasurer’s reports, Alie Haagedoorn, our Walks Co-ordinator, showed us the walks statistics for the year – a good year with a wide variety of walks of different lengths on different days of the week. Alie then reminded people about the Big Pathwatch project; she showed how much of our area has been covered, reminded people how to get involved and appealed to people to adopt a square so we could complete coverage of the area by Christmas. 
A new committee was elected with a mix of new faces and existing members who have agreed to carry on. Peter Stone stood down as Chairman (after 4 years in the role); Alie Haagedoorn takes over. Peter continues as Walks Co-ordinator (a job swap with Alie!) and Trips Coordinator. Bruce Gomersall, who joined the committee last year, takes on the role of Footpaths Officer. We have a new secretary, Claire Symons (taking over from Marie Catto who has had to stand down owing to family health problems) and a new (co-opted ) Publicity Officer, Valerie Friend. Other members of the committee were re-elected, as was Viv Boorman as independent examiner of accounts. Robin Hanson stood down for health reasons and was sent a card and bottle of wine as a token of thanks for his many years of service on the committee in a number of roles. 

Next came a photo presentation about what the group has been up to over the past year with photos taken on trips, long distance and local walks and on our social events. The presentation ended with a look ahead to 2016 – the trips and events we are planning. 
Official business over we moved to the biggest hall where the tables were set for a splendid supper organised by the ever efficient Events Team. A good way to ensure an enjoyable evening! 

Offa’s Dyke on a windy weekend in November [2015]

Knighton in Powys is the halfway point on the Offa’s Dyke Trail – 88 miles south to the start near Chepstow and 88 miles north to the end at Prestatyn. A weekend trip to sample two of the best stages of this national long distance trail, organised by Henley and Goring Group’s Susan Maguire, was enjoyed by walkers from several Oxfordshire groups. 

 A IMG 9121break in the walk to enjoy the scenery

Most of us arrived early on the Friday so we had time to visit the Offa’s Dyke Centre in the town. Some of us also were able to watch the cattle being loaded into trucks at the end of the huge stock market in the town. Most of the cattle being bought and sold were young Limousin and Charolais. Apparently the native breeds, although producing better tasting beef, put on weight more slowly than the continental breeds so are less suitable for the supermarkets. 

Saturday started wet and windy – not unexpected in Wales, though the 13 miles walk, from Kington to Knighton, did take us in and out of Shropshire too – but things improved and we soon dried out with the sun and brisk breeze later in the morning. We walked through the hilly border country with lots of ups and downs, lovely valleys, some steep slopes and ridges with fine views. The terrain is ever changing and this must be one of the best stages of the trail. For a lot of the time the walk is alongside, or on top of the Dyke itself. 

On Sunday we headed in the opposite direction and walked the 10 miles back to Knighton from the north. This is another wonderfully varied walk through hilly terrain, just as enjoyable as the walk on the previous day. We got back just as the rain started in earnest. The autumn colours were spectacular. Who needs to go to New England for autumn splendour! 

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 Walking along Offa’s Dyke - the photo is a bit blurry as it was so windy it was difficult to hold the camera!

We stayed at the Knighton Hotel in the centre of town. The hotel was renovated five years ago (from what was basically an empty shell) and has some interesting architectural features. It also has a spa in the basement which pampered the aching limbs of several of the group. As we were having dinner a local fireworks display started and we had an excellent view of the spectacular through the large dining room window without having to go out in the cold. Nice of the locals to arrange that for us! 
Joan Clark 

Snowdonia Trip 24th – 27th September 2015

We met for lunch at the Ty Gwyn Hotel just outside Betws-y-Coed, a popular holiday destination following the introduction of the railway in the 19th C, before taking cars up a narrow lane to Capel Garmon, high on the eastern side of the Conwy Valley. The skies were clearing, so during our 4 ½ miles walk (lead by Jeanne and Peter Stone) we had magnificent views of the Snowdonia mountain range. We investigated a Neolithic communal burial chamber before descending gently to the valley. We walked through oak woodlands just above the Conwy Falls, close to Fairy Glen, a famous tree lined ravine so named by romantic Victorians. A steep climb back through woodland gave us a taste of more challenging climbs to come. A 20 mile drive through dramatic landscapes took us to the Royal Goat Hotel Beddgelert, our base for the next 4 days. 

P9250013 CopyClimbing Snowdon on the Pyg track

The next day there was a choice of two walks. The longer walk was from the Pen-y-Pass up to the summit of Snowdon via the Pyg Track, returning via the Miners Track and was led by Joan Clark, Inge Mikkelsen and Eileen Burroughs. The distance is only about of about 7½ miles but entails 2,500 feet of climbing. The walk started warm and dry but clouds were covering the peaks. There was a steady climb on a well-defined, albeit rocky, path up to a saddle where several paths met including the Llanberis path which goes alongside the Snowdon railway track. The temperature here was lower as the effect of the wind was felt so hats and gloves were donned. Although the cloud persisted there were occasional, tantalising glimpses of the fantastic view to warm us. So onward and upwards to the summit to join the throng of other walkers and train travellers at the trig point. For a few moments this point 'belonged ' to our group, and Peanut (our four legged guardian resplendent in her fluorescent yellow dog coat) sat proudly on the trig point as she was declared the 'highest dog in England and Wales'. The hardier of the group then had lunch outside where the temperature was about 6 ºC. However this was soon followed by a trip to the summit cafe for hot drinks. Whilst there the clouds still enveloped the summit and it was like being inside a smoke filled bubble when suddenly it was as if the 'bubble' had been popped and beautiful views were revealed. This unveiling was accompanied by a joint cry of, 'Oh' from many in the cafe followed by the sound of clicking from all the photos being taken. This was a truly magical moment. The group then gathered together to begin the walk down. Once back at the saddle the Pyg Track was retraced until it met the Miners Track. Following this latter path meant an initial steeper descent then came the reward of a mix of more gentle decline and flat path later. By now the sun was high in the sky and the cloud had left the peaks. Following the Miners Track meant passing numerous lakes all of which were still and beautifully reflecting the surrounding peaks. In one such lake there were some 'brave' souls who decided it was a good idea to paddle and even swim which provided entertainment for the majority who didn't. The finish of the walk left all elated; however it was noticed that most went to bed earlier that night! 

 Top dog in England and Wales!

Meanwhile the shorter walkers covered a circuit around Beddgelert, again led by Jeanne and Peter. This 6 mile walk was a delightful mixture of mountain and valley walking, some of it challenging, with evidence of Snowdonia's industrial past and a steam train to boot! On a day of clear blue skies and sunshine we walked along the river from the pretty village of Beddgelert, stopping briefly at the museum of Sygun Copper Mine, to Llyn (lake) Dinas with its superb mountain backdrop. We then took a long slow climb, pausing several times to admire and photograph the amazing panorama to the heather covered plateau at Bwylch -y Sygyn. The descent through Cwm Bychan to Nantmor alongside a bubbling stream, and occasional remains of previous mining works, gave us far reaching views across to the Irish Sea. From Nantmor the walk back to Beddgelert was not quite as expected – since the extension of the Welsh Highland Railway to Porthmadoc the easy route along a disused railway track is now replaced by an exhilarating walk through “The Gorge“ alongside the fast flowing Glaswyn River. The path is mainly on rocky boulders and at one point has metal grab bars set in the rocks. As we neared the village there was a toot of a whistle and a steam train passed close by. Soon afterwards we were rewarding ourselves sitting in the sunshine eating ice-cream from the award winning Glaswyn Ices shop in Beddgelert. 

On Day three there was a choice of a long walk or 'other activities'. The former involved taking the local bus to Rhyd-Ddu then walking back to Beddgelert, a distance of about 8½ miles, and was again lead by Joan, Inge and Eileen. The route took in the foothills of Snowdon that are overlooked by the Watkin Path and passed much evidence of the slate mining of days gone by. Here we met a path warden who informed us that only about 10% of slate mined was usable – hence the large slag heaps. Lunch was taken in the sunshine and gave us the opportunity to look up to where we had been only the day before. With the weather being even sunnier than the previous day the Snowdon visitors were out in force. They could be clearly seen queuing to climb to the summit trig point and their brightly coloured clothing made it look like confetti had been strewn on the mountain top. The walk continued passed some small waterfalls then a steep slope that showed a distinct line between the rocky outcrops and woodland as we entered into the valley of the River Glaslyn. A drink stop by the pretty Llyn Dinas was a prelude to the final stretch following the river back to Beddgelert. Once there with the sun still shining; it was perfect for an ice-cream – a delicious ending to a lovely walk. 

 It was’t all climbing mountains

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Meanwhile most of those of the group who had decided against the climb to the summit of Snowdon the previous day took the easy option of the famous Mountain Railway, which has been attracting visitors since 1896.Our luck was in as the day was unusually clear and sunny. On the hour long journey we passed many people trudging up the well-worn path and at the top we jostled with crowds clambering on the rocks to reach the summit – at least one of us managed it! We then had just 30 minutes drinking in the awe inspiring views before our return trip back to Llanberis, There some us had a fascinating tour of the Electric Mountain, a hydroelectric plant built deep in the mountain while the others took advantage of the sunshine walking around beautiful Llyn Peris. All of us agreed it was an experience we would never forget. The fourth and final day had a chilly start with layers of mist rising ethereally through the valley. However this was to be a precursor to another lovely, sunny day. We made our way to the tiny village of Croesor for the start of the last walk (again led by Jeanne and Peter). The idea was to walk as far as you could/wanted up to the peak of Cnicht (known as the Welsh Matterhorn because of its pointed peak) then return the same way so as to get back in time for lunch. Those who made it to the summit had a wonderful 360 degree panoramic view. However, regardless of how far one walked the views were magnificent from the start including Cardigan Bay to the west and Snowdon to the north. A superb walk to end a great trip to Snowdonia. 

Our thanks go to Peter, Jeanne, Joan, Inge and Eileen for making our trip to. Snowdonia such a delightful one. 
Audrey Parsons and Gill Heaven

Waterfalls, Snow and Sunshine in Norway 

Wonderful waterfalls, stunning scenery, sparkling sunshine and vivid blue skies sum up Henley and Goring Ramblers’ trip to Norway in August. 
The trip was organised superbly by Alie Hagedoorn and Wim Klaucke who had lived in Norway for many years and had the advantage of speaking Norwegian. The holiday was based in the Rondane National Park, which has a unique mountain landscape with most of the mountains being over 5000ft high. Long and short walks were offered every day. Wim led the long walks totalling about 74 miles overall. Shorter (though not always easy) walks, led by Alie, were about 8 miles long. We often started out together or met for lunch and it was good to swap notes in the evening. 

We walked beside waterfalls, bubbling turquoise rivers, through grassy, heather, lichen terrain, past mountain huts with grass covered roofs; we clambered over stones and boulders; we waded through mud and bog; we climbed many a hill, and walked across the snow. We loved every minute of this amazing mountainous countryside lit up most days by brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies. Each day found us on a different trail. On day one we went from Hotel Rondablikk to climb Sukkertoppen (sugar hill) where we were rewarded with wonderful views of the wild snow-capped peaks of Jotunheimen. We were amazed by the lichen terrain which is reindeer food, but unfortunately did not see the reindeer. As it was cold and exposed on top the long walkers continued quickly on to the higher peak of Tjonnseterfjellet (1411m) before dropping down for lunch and our return to the hotel. 

tired boots Rondane Spa 016 CopyRuth Gibson, who took this photo, called it ‘Tired Boots’!

Day two was wet and misty which added atmosphere to our trek across wild and rolling hills, cliffs and lakes to Mysuseter. The area was very remote and we kept an eye out for trolls especially when crossing the rickety rackety bridges. Luckily no one fell into the deep and murky lake as we picked our way gingerly along a very tiny path to arrive safely at our second hotel, wet and bedraggled but also elated by a wonderful walk. 
Day three took us to Spranget and a beautiful lake with the welcoming café, Cabin Rondvassbu, serving delicious waffles covered with jam and soured cream. This set us up nicely for an adventurous walk above the River Ulna. It was slow going in some places as we were on a high and steep escarpment overlooking the lake below. The long walkers went on ahead wading across many a stream. At one quite wide river the engineers in the group set about creating a bridge of boulders so others could cross more easily, something the following walkers were very glad to use. On the way back to the hotel we walked in the Imbertglupen Gorge, passing magnificent waterfalls one of which was named The Bride’s Train. 
One highlight was the walk on day 4 which took us past Peer Gynt’s hut. We walked up a steep path beside the River Ulna, visited the Veslulfossen Waterfall then on across a plain to the hut where we saw more waterfalls, streams and lakes before arriving for a welcome drink at Smuksjoseter Fjellstue. Here we were able to bask in hot sunshine beside a tranquil blue lake before continuing to our third and final hotel at Hovringen. 
On day five we walked from Hovringen, which was originally the largest area with mountain farms. We passed sheep with bells round their necks as we climbed towards Anaripigg then on to Putten Setter for lunch. Energised we then climbed 1000feet up Karihaugen for more glorious views before returning cross country to our hotel. 
On our last day we followed a moraine ridge along the River Kvannsladalsae to a hunting lodge at Kvanndalsbua. The day was chilly with plenty of snow lying around but the sun was shining still on the mountain tops. On return to the hotel there was time to bask in the warm sunshine before a most amazing evening meal. We were presented with an enormous buffet of whole salmon and many varieties of fish and cold meats all beautifully decorated, followed by a huge selection of delectable desserts. A truly wonderful finish to a very memorable holiday. 
Everyone agreed that the walks were very well planned and led. Wim and Allie had worked extremely hard to provide us with an excellent, enjoyable, exciting holiday and our sincere thanks go to them both. A good introduction to the delights of Norway! 
 Tilley Smith and Barbara Wood 

Askrigg and the North Yorkshire Dales: June 2015

The North Yorkshire Dales in June are a delight for all the senses. A group of 24 Henley and Goring Ramblers drove up to Wensleydale for a 4 day trip staying at the White Rose hotel in the middle of Askrigg. We arrived at Muker in time for an afternoon walk up Swaledale which provided us with a taste of what was to come: beautiful views of the dales; fields of lush grass with abundant buttercups and daisies; sheep and lambs everywhere; varied bird song; attractive stone buildings and plenty of bracing fresh air. 

083 Copy 2Walking in the Dales, near Hawes in Wensleydale

On Saturday we had a choice of walks. Brian led the shorter option. We took the bus to see the pretty little waterfall at West Burton. The undulating and at times steep walk took us to Aysgarth where there was an old mill and wider more spectacular waterfalls gushing over the limestone rocks on the river Ure. The artist JMW Turner sketched and painted these waterfalls in 1816. We saw the upper and middle sections of these falls. After our coffee stop we walked up hill and down dale passing through the pretty little villages of Carpedy, Woodhall and Newbiggin. We had our picnic lunch sitting on conveniently placed old ant hills in a sheltered spot admiring bluebells in a little copse. After lunch as the wind showed no sign of abating Brian modified the walk to avoid the high areas. We wondered how the rest of our party was faring up high on the ridges! We finally returned to Askrigg along part of the old railway line. 
The longer walkers, led by Susan, followed a similar route, but stayed on the bus a bit longer so started farther away and walked to West Burton. The wind was very strong and we too debated whether or not to return via the higher route or a lower one that entailed some road walking. Intrepid / foolish folk that we are, we decided to take the higher route and avoid the road. The scenery was wonderful – open dales, big skies, remains of the old lead mines that once provided work for local people, but we were walking into the wind so we did not enjoy the walk as much as we would have in calmer conditions. It was quite an experience to walk hard then find you hadn’t actually gone very far! 

P6080650 Copy North Yorkshire Dales

On Sunday we again had a choice of shorter or longer walks. The shorter walk was led by Sheila starting from the hotel and walking through fields to Worton Bridge, up to Worton Scar, along Brough Scar and then dropping down to Bainbridge for coffee and cake. Back uphill again and in due course we followed the meandering little river Bain to Semer water, one of the only two natural lakes in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There we sat on the seat which marked the spot where Turner sketched his painting of this lake “Simmer Lake”. An uphill climb on Countersett Hill afforded beautiful views of the lake and a good sunny place to sit for lunch amongst the buttercups and daisies. At the top of the hill we joined the Roman Road and followed this down towards Bainbridge for tea, more cake and ice cream before returning to Askrigg along another stretch of the old railway line. 

This time the longer walkers followed a completely different route. We took the bus out to a small village in Swaledale, Thwaite, then followed the Pennine Way over Great Shunner Fell. The ascent is gradual and the long gently undulating walk along the ridge affords spectacular views of the wild empty moorland that stretches as far as the eye can see. A gradual descent takes us back to Wensleydale, just north of Hawes. We made our way back to Askrigg contouring the lower slopes of the Dale. 

P6070633 CopyA welcome sight after the open moorland walk

On the last day we all walked together, led by Brian, on a circular walk from Simonstone hotel calling at Hawes on the way. The coffee stop was at the impressive Hawes visitor centre where some of us skipped coffee in order to feast our eyes (and try some samples) on the vast display of cheeses laid out for trying and buying. An enjoyable lunch at the beautifully located Simonstone hotel brought our trip to an end. 
Very many thanks to Susan and Ray Brian and Sheila for taking us such beautiful walks and giving us a good taste of the wonderful varied landscape in the Yorkshire Dales.
 Jeanne Stone and Joan Clark 


A Walking Week in May [2015]
We had a wonderfully varied walking week between 17 and 25 May this year.

We began on Sunday with a 10 miles circular walk along both sides of the Thames. Starting at Hurley we crossed to walk on the north bank then back across the river at Mill End to return to Hurley, taking in a lunch stop in the garden at the Flower Pot in Aston. Tuesday saw the group who are walking the Thames from source to barrier tackling stage 9 from Cholsey to Tilehurst with a detour to look at the orchids on the chalk hills of the Goring Gap. 

Drnks stop besides the Thames

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Thursday brought a full day trip to Silchester with a walk round the Roman site of Calleva, a visit to St. Mary’s Church for coffee, homemade biscuits and a talk about the mediaeval church which is located on the site of a Roman temple. For those who still had the energy on Friday there was an evening walk in the lovely countryside round Hailey which ended with supper in the King William pub. 
Our short walk programme continued on Saturday when walkers took the bus to Binfield Heath and walked back to Henley. 

The week ended with a trip - to London. We took the train to Tottenham Hale tube station then walked down the Lea valley pathway to the Olympic Park. As you walk alongside the river surrounded by trees and the sounds and sights of the natural world it is hard to imagine that you are surrounded by a major city. The Olympic Park on a sunny Bank Holiday was full of families enjoying picnics in the open spaces and play areas. We were able to visit the velodrome and the aquatic centre and enjoy the spectacular buildings. The day ended on a high note (literally) as we took the Emirates Air Line to cross high above the Thames to the O2 stadium in a gondola with spectacular views down to the barrier and up to the City. What a week! 

Ramblers' 80th birthday celebration weekend walks [May 2015]

DSC00997 CopyBluebell woods near Henley on our May Bank holiday weekend walks

Henley and Goring Ramblers celebrated the 80thanniversary of the Ramblers Association with free walks over the Bank Holiday weekend. There were more than 20 walks throughout the county over the holiday weekend and five of these were led by the Henley & Goring Group. 
The bluebells were in full glory on all the walks. We started our week-end on Friday evening with a short evening walk from Turville followed by a pub supper; on Saturday we had a longer (11 miles) walk from Whitchurch Hill to Mapledurham and Holly Cross. On Sunday morning there was a 6 mile walk from Nettlebed to Nuffield and English Farm taking in 4 bluebell woods. 


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The splendid tea that greeted returning walkers at the end of the May Bank Holiday Monday Walks

Despite a rainy start the weather cleared and the walkers finished in sunshine. The grand finale was on Bank Holiday Monday when we had two walks both starting and finishing at Rotherfield Greys – a 4 mile walk in the afternoon and an all day one of 9 miles. Susan Maguire and her nine year old granddaughter Elisha led 44 people on the 4 miles walk. Elisha is a keen walker and has done this before. The longer 9 miles walk was led by Marilyn Payne and the 22 walkers enjoyed a picnic in a sunny glade in bluebell woods at lunch time. When we got back to the village hall we were greeted by a splendid tea with homemade cakes accompanied by music from Colin Heaven’s jazz band. 

New Forest in April [2015]

Henley & Goring Ramblers have a reputation for being a very sociable group, with a nucleus of long standing members going on their walking holidays. Thus, it was with some reservations that I signed up for my first holiday with the group. How would a newcomer be received? 
We met at Linwood on a bright sunny morning, forewarned that the terrain of the New Forest, England’s smallest National Park, was currently extremely boggy. Undeterred, 22 fresh, eager walkers champing at the bit set off, only to be faced immediately with a labyrinth of unmarked paths. Tilley Smith, our leader, was unfazed. Armed with map, a husband and his compass, plus a little input from modern technology, she soon had our group on track (where she admirably kept us for the next 4 days!). After the first 6 miles without a bog in sight, it was time to enjoy a pleasant lunch at the very popular Red Shoot Inn. 
A scenic afternoon car journey via Bolderwood and Rhinefield Ornamental drive found us in Brockenhurst and our first encounter with the local long horned Hampshire cattle and iconic ponies. Nibbling on the grass verges, they roamed freely through the village, before stopping to drink at the ford, aptly named the “Watersplash”. No need for lawn mowers or hedge trimmers in this village! Having checked into the Cottage Lodge hotel, where our rooms aptly took their names from places found in the forest, it was time for tea, cake and a welcome rest, prior to drinks on the patio and supper in the hotel. 
Day 2, after a full “English” with locally produced sausage and bacon, to say nothing of homemade jams and marmalade made from honey, we were fuelled for the day. We crossed open fields and moorlands scattered with ponies before arriving at Lyndhurst where we visited the church of St Michael and All Angels, stopping to see the grave of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. After lunch, we continued through beautiful forest paths, running alongside twisting, mossy streams where the dappled sunlight sparkled on the waters and deer roamed freely. A little further on we encountered what appeared to be a petrified forest, an ancient landscape of peace and tranquility. Idyllic! What a wonderful day! 
Day 3 required a picnic lunch. The local deli/bakers “meal deal” was ideal - a large, freshly baked soft roll, a drink and an iced bun the size of a dinner plate – for the princely sum of £2.50! Our walk (10 miles) took us across flat open heathland to Wilverly Inclosure – a clearing in the forest with picnic tables. Further on through marshland, the path merged with animal tracks and became less defined. Suddenly, and as if to distract us from our plight, the long awaited bog appeared … complete with log crossing, eureka! Safe on the other side, and as if from nowhere, the path re-emerged leading us into a forest enclosure where we enjoyed lunch in the sunshine. The homeward stretch took us on through further pretty woods and marshland to our hotel. We ate in the hotel that night, followed by a fun quiz evening, enjoyed by all. 
Day 4: a short drive through Lymington to Keyhaven for a 9 mile circular coastal walk along the Solent Way with the sea to our right and the adjacent mudflats and salt marshes of the Nature Reserve to our left. The Reserve supports rare species of plant life, whilst its lagoons offer a sanctuary to wildfowl and migrant wading birds: a very different terrain to previous days. We returned to Keyhaven in time to enjoy the highly acclaimed “fresh crab sandwich” at the Gun Inn. The afternoon saw a pleasant boat trip to view Hurst Castle at the spit end, though with a significantly low tide the boat’s hull could be heard scratching on the sea bed, raising concerns about our return journey! Back at the hotel, we had a birthday to celebrate - chocolate cake for everyone. Then an enjoyable farewell dinner at Le Baireau restaurant at the Carey’s Manor. 
Day 5 and our last walk before making for home. Following a drive to Beaulieu, Peter Stone led the return walk of 5 miles along the estuary to Bucklers Hard. Unspoilt by the passage of time, this 18th century village on the banks of the Beaulieu River was once a hive of shipbuilding activity, providing warships for Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. 
Had I been well received? You bet, adding a whole new connotation to the phrase “all inclusive holiday”. 
Sandra Evans May 2015 

Our First Self -Catering Weekend Away [November 2014]

With only one night away, but two walks planned in the glorious Dorset countryside and needing to keep costs down, we were limited in accommodation choices. Staying in a bunk house is not everyone’s ideal venue for a comfortable night but the Bunkhouse Plus in Weymouth exceeded all our expectations. 

SE Walker SusanJan15 self cateringIMG 20141129 133800 CopyNovember sunshine in Dorset

We had it to ourselves, some rooms were en suite and it was warm and clean. In fact we were very comfortable; single occupancy has a new meaning when you have a choice of 4 beds! When we arrived, instead of disappearing to rooms to wait for our evening meal, we all had jobs, mainly in the kitchen to create our amazing meal accompanied by our own beverages. Shared washing up was fun. The next morning we could have the early breakfast we had always craved, and make our own picnics ready for another wonderful walk. This weekend break took place at the end of November when we were blessed with two warm sunny days to make this the cheapest weekend away that the group has had. From the fun point of view, I would definitely recommend self catering. 
Susan Maguire

Self Service Carol Service [December 2014]

Looking for the hymn books so we could start our self service carol service

What do you do when you get to the church for a carol service and there’s no-one there – no vicar, no organist, just an empty church! 
That was the dilemma facing Henley & Goring Ramblers when they arrived at a rural Church at the end of their walk for their annual Carol Service Walk this December, 2014. The answer is obvious – a self service carol service. The service sheets were already printed, the readers had their readings ready and we soon found the hymn books for the words of the chosen carols. Impromptu ‘vicar’ for the day was Jeanne Stone, who led us through the order of service. Marion Mawdsley became choir mistress starting us on the right notes for the carols and the rest of us contributed a capella performance of the carols. 

DSC 0017 CopyHenley & Goring carol singers outside the church after the self service carol service

We missed out on a sermon but Jeanne asked us to think about people throughout the world who were suffering in ways we find hard to imagine. With the tragedy of the mass shooting in a school in Pakistan so recent in our memories, this was not difficult.
We left the church warmed by our performance but a bit chilled by the lack of heating! Fortunately the next stage of this annual Ramblers event is a hot lunch. This year we hadn’t far to walk to the pub where we warmed up by the log fires and enjoyed an excellent lunch. 
We found out later that the vicar had got the wrong time written in his diary! 

AGM 2014

Over 70 people attended our AGM. The evening started with a welcoming glass of wine before the official business. We welcomed Marie Catto to the committee as Minutes Secretary with Judith Hill taking over from Susan as Social Events Co-ordinator. Susan was presented with flowers as a small thank you for all the things she has done in her 16 years on the committee. We now have a volunteer to scrutinise out accounts but are still looking for a Footpaths officer and someone to take on aspects of the publicity role that Glen Teasdale can’t cover. The rest of the committee were re-elected. 

Stephen Fox told us about the work of the Chiltern Society in maintaining and improving paths and we heard about the difference replacing stiles with gates means to bind walkers from Alan Futter. After a lively discussion the proposal to spend £400 on two new gates for local footpaths was passed by a substantial majority. There was a slide presentation showing highlights of the rambling year 2014 and looking forward to plans for 2015 trips and events. 68 people sat down to a splendid supper organised by the Events Committee aided by the delicious salads and desserts made by members. 

Walking The Cotswolds Way 26 & 27 October 2014

Our group were looking forward to two days walking in a lovely part of the North Cotswolds and we were not disappointed. The weather was kind to us with and we were able to enjoy the full autumn colours.

On Day one, Sunday 26th October, our circular walk took us up hill and through woods for a coffee stop at the National Trust Roman Villa at Chedworth. The site is beautifully maintained and is a well worthwhile visit. The walk ended in the early afternoon with a good lunch at the attractive 14th century Fossebridge Inn complete with log fires.

Our overnight stay was at the well known Swan Hotel at Bibury, overlooking the river Coln; we enjoyed the welcoming log fires and the products of its trout farm. Day two took us on another interesting circular walk from the Swan through deep countryside and some quiet Cotswold villages with a break at the 15th century New Inn at Coln St Aldwyn, followed by a riverside stroll along the Coln back to Bibury.
Bruce Brown

Croatia Trip October 2014 

Walking in the BiokokovbaMountains, Croatia

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All aboard for the sail to the island of Brac

 It was an early hours start from Heathrow for our flight to Croatia. However, when we arrived at Dubrovnik for the drive to our base, the Hotel Bacchus in Baska Voda on the Dalmatian coast, the early start was well worth it. Croatia is a stunningly beautiful country, with a 200 km coastline and myriad islands off shore. Baska Voda has a majestic range of mountains lying immediately behind it, offering all sorts of walking ranging from leisurely to energetic. Our walks were led by Carol and Liz, the two HF leaders, and we had two walk options each day. The harder options involved 7-10 miles and up to 660 metres of ascent with steeper and rougher terrain. Only three of our group opted for the more challenging walks every day with others choosing to vary between the easier and harder walks. We all walked in the foothills of the Biokova Mountains and were rewarded with stunning views of beautiful bays, scattered islands and picturesque harbours. 

We saw chamois looking down on us from the skyline, spectacular black and yellow salamanders, snakes and a range of birds and interesting fungi. We were lucky with the weather all week. There was some mist and cloud high up early in the week but wall to wall sunshine most of the time. It was great to be able to swim in the sea at the end of a day’s walking. On three days we enjoyed boat trips. For the first one we sailed for an hour to the island of Brac where we walked across one corner of the island through the olive groves and chatted to locals busily harvesting the crop. Another day’s walk ended at a river in the impressive Cetina Gorge. As the path came to an end on the river bank we were pleased to be picked up by the boat which took us down river back to the coast. Our third boat trip was a magical night sail to Makarska the next town down the coast. 

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Professor Sir J A Muir Gray, CBE, FRCPSGlas, FCLIP is the President of Oxfordshire Ramblers. Find out more under the ‘walking’ tab, then ‘health walks’.

Professor Sir J A Muir Gray, CBE, FRCPSGlas, FCLIP is the President of Oxfordshire Ramblers. Find out more under the ‘walking’ tab, then ‘health walks’.

Walking Partnership

Our group has joined The Walking Partnership. This partnership, supported by Ramblers Walking Holidays, provides financial contributions to local walking groups. When you book a holiday quote the name of our group, and we will receive £10 per person on UK holidays, £20 per person on short haul holidays, and £30 per person on long haul holidays. This extra funding can really help us! You look at their website on www.ramblersholidays.co.uk or call on 01707 33113 for more details or to order a brochure.

Cotswold Outdoor

As a Ramblers Member, there's now a 15% discount available at Cotswold Outdoor. They have stores in Bicester and Reading.

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And a 20% for your first purchase with the voucher which comes in the membership pack.

Friday, December 14, 2018