Recent outings and activities...

A Roding Valley Walk - Saturday 8th September 2012

Saturday's walk was arranged and led by Jill V. and Sue S. – relatively newer members of our group who took on what can be quite a daunting undertaking. They were road (or maybe footpath?) testing the new 'Tips for Walk leaders', recently produced by Committee member Pam, to see if they were helpful.

Fifteen of the Group met at Roding Valley Station, a venue and station that was new to me, and left promptly at 10am to walk up the road to Knighton Wood. This wood is part of Epping Forest, though separated from the bulk of it. It is a remnant of ancient woodland – which in Britain is woodland which has been used continuously since 1600 or before. I hadn't done my revision homework before the walk, so questions put to me about the history and ecology were embarrassing! I remembered the fact that the wood contains a substantial number of Wild Service trees - an ancient-woodland indicator species - and remembered that the rocks by the lake were man-made. I hadn't remembered the details, though: that they were made by Pulham & Son, a family of Victorian and Edwardian landscape artists who specialised in the construction of picturesque rock gardens and the like. Knighton Wood was enclosed in the 18th Century and remained in private ownership until 1930, when it was returned to the Forest and became a public open space. So, as well as the ancient trees, the wood – especially around the pond - still has some exotic plant species such as Royal Fern.

We crossed the ancient trackway of Monkhams Lane – which was the Anglo-Saxon boundary between the Manors of Chigwell and Woodford - into Lord's Bushes and took some toe-tripping animal tracks through the wood to emerge near Buckhurst Hill Station. It is a short walk through streets to reach the River Roding at Roding Lane, and from there a variety of footpaths and wide open spaces is available for walking or other recreation.

roding valley walk 120908 1502 scSome of the walkers enjoying a snack-breakThe day was particularly warm, with the sun beating down, and thankfully Jill and Sue had chosen to cross to the east bank of the Roding and walk alongside it in the shelter of trees. This area is part of the Roding Valley Nature Reserve, but is adjacent to the Roding Valley Recreation Ground and contiguous with the Roding Valley Park, which serves as a green corridor running from Redbridge Roundabout to Debden. After a short snack break by the side of a tree-sheltered pond, we continued our walk along the river. Nearing Debden, we crossed to the west bank by means of Charlie Moule's Bridge. During the 1950s Councillor Charles Moules lead a campaign to have this bridge built into the meadows that had recently been given to the council.

The walk back towards Buckhurst Hill was more exposed to the sun and some members may have been flagging; the group – by now joined by another two members - was extremely well spread out by the time we got back to Roding Lane! Again we had to pass through streets – albeit nice enough ones - to regain the Roding, and some of the group elected to leave us at this point. The remainder walked south along the river until we reached Ray Park at Woodford Bridge. This is a London Borough of Redbridge open space, with a convenient cafe in which – not surprisingly – those that had remained to complete the walk partook of refreshments.

After something of an energy intake and cool-down we made our various ways back home, some by way of Roding Valley Way Station, others by way of Woodford Station and maybe one or two by car.

The walk – in my case completed at Woodford Station – was just over 7 miles, somewhat over the estimated 4.5, but then we had elected to do an extension towards Debden earlier on. The weather had been lovely, albeit hot sunshine, but I'm not complaining about that. It had also been well planned and pre-walked by Jill and Sue, and competently led too, keeping the timing (if not quite the distance!) well in order.

Paul Ferris, 10 September 2012

Report on UKML 1 Day Navigational Skills Course

run for EFOG Members on Sunday, 12th August 2012

Leader:   Danny Crump  -   UKML Mountain Leader

EFOG Members participating:      Gill Light, Amina Ali, Val Shepherd, Lynne Edmond, Eileen Cullen, Louise Bloom, Pam Fleisch and Ken Kennedy

As the starting point was adjacent to the coffee stall it was inevitable that most of the group had a coffee during the assembly time.   By 9-50 a.m. we were ready to start.     After introductions Danny issued copies of the 1 : 25,000 Epping Forest & Lea Valley map 174 to everyone and a compass to those who needed one.    Each grid square on the map represented 1 km. on the ground.   4 cm. = 1 km.    He started with the basics assuming that we had little or no previous knowledge.    First he carefully indicated each of the main elements of the compass and explained its purpose and use.   He demonstrated how to orientate the map to the physical landscape by using the compass.    Group members were given individual assistance with the tasks where necessary.

In setting and using a compass bearing to assist navigation we were advised to remember the 3 D’s.   DIRECTION     DISTANCE   and   DESCRIPTION.

DIRECTION:  We were shown and practised setting a bearing to proceed from a given known point on the map to a further location.      Essentials here were :

1)  ensuring the direction of travel arrow was pointing from the current location to the one you wished to attain  
2)   keeping the base plate firm on the map whilst you turned the compass housing to align with magnetic north  
3) allowing for magnetic variation – currently + 2 degrees in S. E. England.   Again Danny was readily available to give individual help.

DISTANCE:   Being aware of one’s distance travelled along a route is important for estimating the overall time a walk is likely to take and for looking out for essential landmarks and turn-off points along the route.   This can be done in two ways:  by pacing and by timing.    We practised our average individual number of paces over 100 metres.   Danny paced off his (known) average and then we all did ours several times to get a reasonable average.   Mine is 72 double steps.    Also allowance should be made for ascents and descents where more steps will be needed.    Pacing is useful over short distances.  Estimating by timing is better for longer distances.   This can be done by following Naismith’s Rule  -  5 Km. per hour or an average of 20 minutes per mile.   Beyond this one needs to add roughly 10 minutes for each 100 m. of altitude (or descent)

DESCRIPTION:   This is about being aware of the physical and man-made features of the terrain over which you are travelling.   Some lines on the map may not be obvious or present.   Boundaries can change over time.   Features such as ponds, woods, roads, paths and field boundaries along a chosen route can be noted and ticked off as they are reached thus confirming that you are on the correct route.   Danny also dealt briefly with contours, contour intervals and contour patterns.   These also can confirm whether or not you are keeping to your chosen route.

The consensus among group members at the end of the day was that we had a much better understanding of map reading and navigation.    However, it was recognised that practising our new skills would be essential.    Plans are in hand for follow-up practise days.   We navigated our way over a  5 Km. circular route from High Beach via Tile Hill Farm, Wake Valley Pond, Great Monk Wood, the Lost Pond and Robin Hood roundabout.   At this point there was unanimous agreement that refreshments were necessary before making our way back to the car park.

Ken Kennedy, August 2012

From Piccadilly Circus, London to Catfish Row, Cape Town

On Saturday 14th July a select group of EFOGers assembled beneath Eros, to explore the secret world of “Gentlemen’s Clubs” and their environs. We found that the St. James area, after more than 300 years of building and re-building, is still undergoing change but retains lots of hidden passages, alleyways, courts and mews.

Most of these clubs maintain their anonymity, not by hiding in secret alleyways, but by existing in grand buildings which fit seamlessly into London’s varied architecture yet remain nameless. This makes it easy to pass them by unnoticed unless you are “in the know”.

london 120714 img 5585-webPausing - and posing - with Beau Brummell in Jermyn StreetMost began in the first half of the 19th century, but some much earlier. White’s, “the father of all clubs”, was founded in 1693. It moved to Jermyn Street in 1753. Its membership list still reads like Burke’s Peerage.

The clubs were places where ‘gentlemen’ could meet, eat, drink and gamble with “their own sort”. They initially served the aristocracy but developed to include clubs for men of different political persuasions. Charles James Fox claimed that a life of all night eating, drinking and gambling in Brook’s Club (founded in 1764) helped him to make his brilliant speeches in parliament in the 1770s.

The Carlton Club and The Reform Club represented those who were, respectively, either anti or pro the 1832 Reform Act which, when passed, helped reduce aristocratic influence in Parliament and thus increased democracy.

The clubs themselves were usually created by the servants of the men who founded them, or tradesmen who served them. White’s developed from a Chocolate House; William Pratt (Pratt’s Club) was the steward of the Duke of Beaufort; Edward Boodle (Boodle’s Club) was the son of a Shropshire innkeeper.

london 120714img 5598-webThe Athenium, Waterloo PlaceMy favourite, and I think the grandest, The Atheneum in Waterloo Place, was founded by author and civil servant John William Croker, in 1824. It still has a reputation for elegance and as a meeting place for intellectuals. Anthony Trollope was fond of working there.

The East India Club, founded in 1849, was formed for ‘servants and officers’ of the East India Company. It has survived into the 21st century by amalgamating with other clubs: the Devonshire, Sports and Public Schools Club. Like others it also now serves as a prestigious meeting centre. Now, of course, membership is open to women as well as men.

Pall Mall hosts a number of clubs such as The United Oxford and Cambridge University Club, founded in 1830 and The RAC, formed in 1897, “for the protection, encouragement and development of “automobilism”. It has its own swimming pool and rifle range and a reputation as the most ‘open’ club.

When The Travellers Club was founded in 1819, you needed to have travelled at least 500 miles from London to be a member, now you need to have travelled abroad, and preferably have spent some time living abroad.

london 120714img 5595-webThere were times on the walk when it was a trifle damp...The shops and services in the area still reflect the status of the clientele, from Berry Brother’s Wine Shop with its vast (and still growing) underground cellars, to Lock’s The Hatters and Lobb’s the Boot and Shoe Makers.  It was definitely only a window shopping area for most of us. Do fellas of a certain class still wear night shirts I wonder – or at £90 each are they simply used as an expensive giggle?

Our walk took us to some other places: St James’ Church (with a quick look at its market); Blue Ball Yard which retains  picturesque mews cottages (built as coach houses in 1741); Spencer House and Bridgewater House, backing on to Green Park; Selwyn House (where Maz once worked – but no plaque yet), St James’ Palace and Clarence House.

We ended up in Trafalgar Square, with most of us having something to eat in St Martin’s Crypt before going on to see a brilliant performance of Porgy and Bess at The London Coliseum. The show was performed by Cape Town Opera who had transferred Catfish Row to Cape Town.

The show was fantastic and the music still playing in some of our heads several days later ……. The weather was relatively kind if a trifle damp in parts ….. Thanks to all for making it such a nice day!

Pam, July 2012

A walk from Hassocks to Brighton led by Lynne. Saturday 30th June

Most of the walkers undertaking the walk over the South Downs went by train; Julie and I decided to drive down. It was a bit worrying going through a rain storm on the M25/M23, but the skies cleared nearer to our destination and we meet the rest of the group at Hassocks Station in the sunshine.

efog south downs 120630 60578artOn the South DownsThe weather held good all day; with lots of clouds skittering by and with quite a stiff breeze it made a good day for walking. We walked steeply uphill past the Jack and Jill windmills, and once up on the South Downs as well as the lovely clear views on both sides the flora was spectacular. There were Orchids, Poppies & Bellflowers in abundance and in the skies above was the sound of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits (thank you Paul for the  bird song lesson).

The walk was excellently prepared and led by Lynne, although most of us did feel that it must have been a bit more than the suggested 12 miles. In fact it turned out to be just over 14 when measured afterwards.efog south downs 120630 60594artPhotographing the Poppies It certainly felt like it when we finally came off the downs and past the racecourse to Brighton Marina!  The group split up then, with some of us heading straight back to the station and some heading off for fish & chips, I believe!!.  For those of us heading to the station the sight of Clive getting off the bus and crossing the road to Brighton Station gave us such a laugh. Sorry not to give you more sympathy Clive, but it was a sight to see, and I hope that you recovered well  after a nice hot bath when you got home!

Thank you Lynne for an excellent walk - it was a brilliant day.


Sue S., 1st July 2012

A crazy day out at the Thames Pageant

An EFOG day out in London to see the Queen's Jubilee flotilla on the Thames - with over a million others!  It's the sort of thing us EFOGgers take in our stride!!  Well, we are an Outdoor Group, and it was all outdoors - in the rain!  We met at Stratford Station - 10 brave souls!  We were originally going to Hammersmith to see the boats lining up for the procession, but the royal party was not joining it until Battersea, so we would not have seen them.  thames pageant pg img 4742-webTen Group members brave the rain and crowds for the Thames PageantChange of plan - we thought we would try the Embankment to see how crowded it was, so we could see the flotilla actually going past, complete with the Queen!  When we arrived, it wasn't too bad.  Seven of us decided to wait it out - after all, it was only light drizzle, and we only had 4 or 5 hours to wait!  Three others decided to go to the National Art Gallery.  I sat on some steps, and made friends with a couple of families with children over the course of the wait (and an 87 year-old lady).  One boy was playing games on some gadget or other!  They are so realistic now, but I hadn't a clue what he was doing!  There were big screens up, and if I stood up and peered round a tree and a lamp-post, I could see bits of film of the Royal Family in their younger days.  Then the flotilla started off, and the screens went to film of the procession.  That's when a large man in a huge blue cape decided to stand in front of me to watch it!!  I managed to see bits round him!  No sign of Gill (Light), Ken or Julie returning - apparently they were stopping people going through by the time they tried to get back to us!
Then the flotilla came into view.  I was standing on the steps, so I could see most of it.  Somehow, Fozi had managed to get to the front!  Boats, boats, and more boats!!  A thousand of them.  thames pageant pg img 4768-webThe sea-cadets flying Commonwealth flagsThe small rowing boats were first.  The rain had thankfully eased off for a while.  The royal barge appeared - the "Spirit of Chartwell" - beautifully decorated in red, gold and thousands of flowers.  There was the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, with the rest of the royal family standing behind them.  Flags were being waved everywhere.  More boats followed, but unfortunately the rain started to fall quite heavily by then.  We went into the road to see the royal barge go through the open Tower Bridge on the large screen, and decided to leave as we were all soaked by that time.  Jill V. left us at that point, and as everywhere was so crowded with people, we decided to walk to Tottenham Court Road Station (after all, we are a walking group!).  There were only 6 of us by then, but with all the people, it was difficult keeping an eye to make sure no-one lost us.  I was just grateful there weren't 20 of us!!  I made sure we didn't lose Sharon - a new member who had only been to the Group once.  It doesn't look good if you lose a new member on their first outing with us!!  thames pageant pg img 4754-webThe new royal barge "Gloriana"En route we found a small cafe which was not full!!  Tea, coffee and cakes - lovely (and in the warm and dry!).  However, we couldn't stay there forever!  Gill (Light) was supposed to be taking us to West India Docks when the procession had finished, to see the boat she helps with.  Where was Gill?  We hadn't seen her since the 3 of them disappeared in the morning, and we had missed 'phone calls to each other.  Eventually we made contact, and arranged to meet her at South Quay station (she was in Piccadilly by that time).  When she arrived, she didn't know where the boat was being moored, so she rang someone to find out.  They were stuck in a boat-jam!!  It was going to be 2 hours before they got there!  We abandoned that idea, went to Canary Wharf, and had a meal in "All Bar One", which made a nice finish to the day.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so glad we went - despite the weather!

Maz, 4th June 2012

A more comfortable view of proceedings from another EFOG member

The thought of braving public transport into and out of London on such a day was enough to deter me from joining the other members of the Group hoping to experience the Thames pageant. I had an idea: my sister has an apartment overlooking the Thames at Battersea, and maybe she wouldn't be using it.

thames pageant qandd 120603 1219artPhillip pointing out that we are trying to take a pictureI quickly found that she would be, and indeed friends from the far east (Lowestoft) would be staying overnight from the day before - so that precluded any chance of me sleeping there. Nevertheless, she duly invited me to come on the day. She had to, really, because she'd also invited every other member of the immediate family - my niece, nephew and assorted great nieces and nephews and their respective mum and dad.

The journey - which involved complex public transport avoidant and bridge-closure planning - necessitated getting up at 5am and driving through some unsavoury parts of south London. Anyway - I arrived as planned at 8am, and as the others arrived we began the anticipation for all that was going on. Wearing appropriate face-masks, the children and I (whose mask had particularly prominent ears) managed to get a wave from the BBC cameraman on his platform above Battersea Church. I aimed my camera at him, but he didn't reciprocate. Later, though, the camera on the Chelsea bank had a TV shot of our apartment, so we got on TV. Our waves didn't show up well, though.

thames pageant 120603 kids 1191artA nice close-up of some family peopleWell, we watched some Royal people get out of their taxis and make their way to a launch moored at Chelsea Pier. This was just opposite us, so we saw Charles and Camilla and then Elizabeth and Phillip board and then wave to us as they went past. Shortly afterwards the for-rowers of the flotilla appeared and shortly after that the rain started and was followed by nearly two hours-worth of various craft. It was quite nice to be able to watch on the television what was about to pass us and then to go outside to watch from our 6th-floor patio, or alternatively, to watch from the patio and then view on the television what we had just seen. Much of this was accompanied by food and drink, so that was alright.

thames pageant 120603 barnabas 10418artThe Cornish lugger 'Barnabas'My thoughts did turn to the other members of the Group, wherever they may have been (I envisaged them upstream, but they were in fact a bit downstream so experienced everything a bit later that we did), and I did feel a bit sorry for them and all the others in the rain. I managed to pick out the boat Gill works on (Red Watch), but for me the little steam tug Barking, the St. Ives lugger Barnabas - proudly flying an outsize Cornish Flag - and the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band & Dhol Ensemble playing as they went past were particularly memorable. The barge carrying the London Philharmonic Orchestra - which was the last in the procession - had been moored just below us for much of the time, so we were treated to some excellent live music even before the procession came.

It would have been nice to have been with other EFOG members, and I'm sure that as usual they had a grand time, but I feel that I may have had a slightly more comfortable day. What a grand day everyone had!

Paul Ferris, 5th June 2012