Hi! Karen here. I thought I would start putting some of my walking holidays on the blog too…
I’ve just spent Monday to Friday leading at Lulworth, and although the weather was a bit mixed, a great time was had by all!
Monday was a free day, and I arrived about lunchtime. I had a sandwich waiting for me and decided to head down to the horseshoe cove whilst waiting for my room to be ready.
Over a cream tea at 4pm, I perused the three walks allocated to me for the rest of the week.
I started with the Medium walk; Corfe Castle to Studland village via Agglestone Rock. 9 miles. 1275 feet of ascent.
A lovely varied walk, starting at Corfe Castle Visitor Centre, through the village, picking up the Purbeck Way with views towards Poole and the harbour along the ridge – only mist, driving rain and wind obliterated everything! I had two male guests only, and we just put our heads down and marched on. I pointed out all the tumuli, and got brief grunts in reply…
It did clear up as we descended to cross a road and then climb up a stepped steep hill to an obelisk where we sheltered from the wind to have lunch.
We then crossed heathland and stopped at Agglestone Rock, a 30 foot high rock in the middle of the heath – very strange.
We then made our way to the beach and up into the village of Studland – and a pub – before the coach pick up.
Today, I was leading the Harder walk. 10.5 miles, 1550 feet of ascent. I had 4 guests this time and we started from the Cerne Abbas car park and viewpoint. This was an up and down walk, over lots of hills, taking in the pretty villages of Buckland Newton and Minterne Magna. We eventually ended back at the car park with 40 minutes to spare before the coach came, so we dashed down into the village for a quick half!
I led the Easier walk today, 6 miles, 1000 feet of ascent. I had 5 guests this time and we were dropped off at West Chaldon Farm, walked south to the coast and turned left to get back along the South West Coast Path to Lulworth House.
It was a lovely sunny day, and the views of the white cliffs and Durdle Door were stunning.
A lovely group of people and 3 good walks.
Friday 8 September 2017. I wrote in my last blog post that the weekend weather forecast was grim and the rain this morning came as no surprise. The Met Office 10 day weather forecast re-affirmed the view that it would be a wet weekend and then went on to suggest that there would be an area of low pressure centred on the UK throughout next week bringing strong winds and more rain.
Having seen the weather forecast, I took my caravan awning down while it was still dry and contemplated cutting this trip short by returning on Monday 11 September. It didn’t take long to convince myself that this was a good plan but why wait until Monday when I could just as easily return home today. There would be no walking over the weekend and watching TV at home is more preferable to sitting in my caravan.
Unlike the Camping and Caravanning Club where there are no returns for early departures the Caravan Club operates a more liberal policy, although you have to pay the pitch fee for the night on your day of departure. This meant that I could cancel the last 9 nights of my stay and get a refund of £127.80. The caravan site was far from being great as it is right next to the busy road between Marlow and Henley with a disturbing amount of road noise at all times of night and day. Throw in the lack of a satellite signal and I had no regrets in going home. I took the non-motorway route home via Princes Risborough and Aylesbury. This was about the same in distance and time as my motorway journey on the way down but was considerably less stressful.
This is the end of my planned caravanning holidays but if we get something resembling an Indian Summer then I could quite easily find myself making a trip to the Lakes for hill walking and the autumn colours.
Thursday 7 September 2017. I only had a 3 mile drive to the start of today’s walk near Mill End. My route took me uphill before crossing fields to drop down again into the valley bottom on the edge of Hambleden. From here there was the main climb of the day (only 270ft) following the Shakespeare’s Way/Chiltern Way up through North Cot Wood.
The next couple of miles were on field edges to Rockwell End. Dark clouds were forming at about the 4.5 mile point and I could see that it was raining away in the distance. It wasn’t long before the band of showery rain was upon me, forcing me to stop to don my jacket and backpack rain cover. I still had some way to go to complete the walk and decided to cut it short by dropping down into the village of Pheasant’s Hill to pick up the Chiltern Way again and on to Hambleden. The rain had stopped by now but I was committed to my shortcut back to the car which was just a couple of fields away.
The walk was 6.35 miles with just over 600ft of ascent. The weather forecast for tomorrow and the weekend looks grim so I may be watching a lot of sport by whatever means are at my disposal.
Hambleden – walk route
Wednesday 6 September 2017. Today’s 6.3 mile walk with 1,100ft of ascent was a circuit of Chequers. This involved a 20 mile drive to just north of Princes Risborough. Starting the drive at 08:15 was perhaps a little too early as I got caught up in the school/commuter traffic in Marlow and High Wycombe. The plus point was that I now know the first part of my non-motorway route for the drive home with the caravan in tow.
The first part of the walk took me through Pulpit Wood and around the side of Beacon Hill before making my only stop, after 2 miles, for coffee at Ellesborough church. From here I made my way to the foot of Coombe Hill for the 300ft climb to the top. This had me “glowing” but it really wasn’t too steep. I need more practice on hill climbing. Whilst at the top, I thought that I’d experiment with taking a selfie on my camera rather than my smartphone. I attached a Gorilla Grip to the base of my camera and put it on a 10 second timer. The flash went off producing a rather odd picture.
Soon after, I was walking on The Ridgeway looking down on Chequers. The rest of the walk was through some rather nice Beech woods which will take on a golden brown hue when autumn fully sets in.
Chequers – walk route
Tuesday 5 September 2017. Yesterday’s 115 mile drive to Henley on Thames was something of an ordeal taking 3 hours to complete without any real opportunity for a stop. I took what was perceived to be the quickest route on the A421, M1, M25 and M40. The M1, near Luton, and most of the 20 miles on the M25 resembled a car park. Needless to say, I won’t be going home this way and instead will take the slightly shorter and probably quicker non-motorway route via Princes Risborough and Aylesbury; picking up the A421 near Milton Keynes.
The Four Oaks Caravan Club site is okay but is next to a busy road. The site was almost full when I arrived yesterday and pitch choice was limited. I’ve ended up on a pitch where the trees obscure the line of sight for my satellite dish. This means that I can’t get the sports channels on my TV. I’m connected through a 25m aerial lead that I carry with me to the site’s TV system which means that I can watch terrestrial stations via Freeview. Luckily the site broadband is reasonably good and I can access Sky and BT Sports through my tablet/laptop and will be able to watch football and rugby at the weekend.
The weather today can best be described as mixed but warm. There were heavy showers for most of the morning. It brightened up a bit around lunchtime so I took the opportunity to walk the mile or so into Henley. I had a Tesco voucher for to use food at Pizza Express . Perhaps this wasn’t the best day to do this as the restaurant was full of families(CHILDREN) prior to the start of school later this week. I had a Margherita Pizza and Polenta Chips (something I’d never heard of before let alone eaten). My restricted food diet must be having an effect on me as I couldn’t finish the meal or, perhaps it was my stomach/conscience telling me that I shouldn’t have had it to start with.
As one would expect, Henly is full of posh shops and eateries with estate agents advertising properties starting at £400k. I was glad to get out of town and back to my caravan without getting caught in more rain showers. My walk was just over 3 miles. I’m looking forward to getting out into the Chilterns countryside tomorrow and will probably do a walk near Chequers.
Henley – walk route
Sunday 3 September 2017. This linear 7 mile walk with just 200ft of ascent was only possible by parking the car at Waterbeach, getting the train into Cambridge and walking back beside the River Cam. I paid my £2 car parking fee but held off buying a £1.90 train ticket until some other members of the group turned up. Had I been on my own then I might well have not done the walk. Helen and Linda W pitched up so I was committed to doing the walk which probably was for the best as I had some exercise and a chat.
The ticket machine at Waterbeach is a pain as it doesn’t take cash. There is a lot of button pressing before eventually paying by contactless card. It was only a 10 minute train ride into Cambridge and we then made our way through noisy city streets before stopping for coffee by the river. The rest of the walk was an easy stroll stopping once more for a rest before having lunch at Baits Bite Lock.
Cambridge – walk route
Sunday 20 August 2017. The caravan site wi-fi was so slow that I’ve had to wait until I got home to post this blog update. The weather on Friday wasn’t great so I took the opportunity to visit my brother , Mal, in Harrogate. Saturday’s weather was even worse with heavy showers and strong winds. Sitting in my caravan resembled being in a car wash.
Thankfully, Sunday was a much better day. I met with Jacqui for the last time on this holiday and possibly the last time this year. I seem to have walked more with her this year than with the Fenland Ramblers. We met at Towneley Hall on the outskirts of Burnley. Finding our way out of the park grounds and on to the Burnley Way was problematic but we eventually made our way out into the countryside.
The Singing Ringing Tree marked the halfway point of this 6.25 mile walk with a total ascent of just over 1,100ft. We had a brief lunch stop here whilst listening to the wind blowing through the pipes of the Singing Ringing Tree. Soon after, on the way down, I was chatting to Jacqui about navigation training when I realised that we’d crossed a wall and we were heading in the wrong direction. We were on open moorland without any clearly defined footpaths and it was all too easy to go wrong. Anquet to the rescue, we were soon back on track without adding too much distance.
The rest of the walk was relatively easy although finding a path through a recently built housing estate proved a challenge.
Singing Ringing Tree – walk route