Recent outings and activities...

A Simple Night Walk?

It started out at programme planning with me suggesting a night walk, and at the end of the walk, having fish and chips in Copped Hall, a Georgian mansion near Epping, which is being restored after a fire in 1917 and subsequent neglect.

Towards the date an e-mail was sent by Cliff to members listing the varieties of fish and food which were available. The responses started to come in and in and in.

In the past when I’ve organised these walks we have had about fifteen to twenty members turning out to enjoy trampling about in the mud of Epping Forest. By Thursday we were up to thirty-two, and then Peter B. asked if he could bring some of his Scouts and parents, which of course he could, bringing the numbers up to forty-two.

I had a route in mind using horse rides in the forest, but what with the recently melted snow it proved to be too wet to get to the rides with so many people. I had a route we’d used before that was only a couple of miles long, circumnavigating the land of Copped Hall. On the Saturday morning the dogs and I proved we wouldn’t need a wet suit and snorkel to walk the route that night, and with the fish and food order confirmed, all was ready.

We arrived at the Hall to open up and I left Maz there to collect the money whilst I returned to the gate, ticking the group off as they arrived. Needless to say I blundered by not noticing that Lynne hadn’t turned up when I went back to the Hall. Oops! Thanks to mobile telephones that was sorted.

Eventually we were all ready to go. Duncan was staying behind to light the fire in the room where we were going to eat.

The Scouts were great looking after the dogs, Katie and Eddie, on the walk. The weather was a bit misty, but as far as I was concerned OK, as I didn’t get lost in the dark and got back to the gate in time to go and collect the food. To get forty plus people around the course in the dark without losing anybody is quite a feat, and that was down to Jim, as tail-end-charlie. Well done. I hope everybody enjoyed the mini-adventure and the food that followed.

Peter G.


Each year the Group makes a donation from the proceeds of the Rodings Rally to a charity of our members' choice. This year members voted to support the Essex Wildlife Trust's Tile Wood Appeal to the extent of £200. This would go towards the £50,000 needed to buy this 17 acre tract of ancient woodland, already a reserve managed by EWT.

Essex Wildlife Trust later reported that "With very generous support, Essex Wildlife Trust has raised £50,000! Tile Wood has been Saved Forever. A massive thank you goes to all those people who donated to the appeal. This is a fantastic achievement and all those who donated will be invited to a special guided walk in May."




An unusual weekend in Cambridgeshire!

How many people can you sleep in a 3-bedroomed house in Cambridgeshire?  We certainly found out on the weekend of 23rd/24th January.  Inger and Bill, members of our Group, moved to Cambridgeshire some years ago, and kindly invite the Group to visit from time to time.  In the summer, some can camp in the garden, but in the depths of January, that is not such an inviting prospect!  We ended up with 13 of us (and one dog), plus Inger and Bill, sharing the whole house - with one bathroom!  There were camp-beds and sleeping-bags in nearly every room in the house.  Such is our Group that everyone mucks in together, queues patiently for the bathroom, helps with the washing up, and can still have a good laugh about it!  It was a fantastic weekend.

We started off on the Saturday morning with a walk.  Cambridgeshire is flat fen country.  After all the snow and rain, many fields had turned into lakes, and the paths were thick with mud!  We plodded on - at least it wasn't raining!  Back to the house for lunch, and on to Welney Wetlands Centre in the afternoon.  At this time of the year the Whooper swans have migrated here to join the Mute swans, and if we could have seen further afield, the Bewick swans had also arrived.  The Whoopers attack the Bewicks, apparently, so they stay back from the hides.  The Whooper and Bewick swans travel great distances to get here - the Whoopers mainly from Iceland and the Bewicks from Russia.  The Pochard ducks were there in abundance, too - most of them male.  We were told that the females have the sense to migrate to Spain, leaving the males to continue here on their own!  Thousands of birds - what an amazing site that is!  At dusk the swans start to fly in from the fields.  It is wonderful to see them landing in groups on the water.  They were fed while we were there - not a necessity as there is plenty of food around for them, but to attract them to the hides for the visitors.  Some of the cheeky Pochards seemed to take great pleasure in nipping the swans on their backsides!  Most of the swans seemed oblivious to this!

The view from Welney Hide - illuminated swansThe view from Welney Hide - illuminated swansBack to Inger and Bill's to rush off to a quiz in the cricket hall near their house in the evening.  Oh dear - a great quiz, but the mud on the walk must have befuddled our brains!  We won't be applying to go on Mastermind!  Lovely food during the evening, most of which was prepared by Inger - and a bar there, of course!

After a much-needed night's sleep, we were given an amazing breakfast at the Inger/Bill "hotel" - cereals, porridge, boiled eggs, toast.  Just the thing to set us up for another day.  We drove into Ely for a walk along the tow-path (even that was muddy!), and back into Ely for tea/coffee and cakes.  A visit to the beautiful Ely Cathedral finished the day.

Our thanks to Inger and Bill for their wonderful hospitality, and for putting up with us all for a whole weekend.  It was great!



A Great Day out in the Cairngorms   -  October 2009

Last October half-term 14 group members made a near perfect trip to Aviemore at the southern end of the Cairngorm plateau.   We travelled by train at an extremely advantageous fare courtesy of a special offer by National Express East Coast.

Our accommodation in the SHYA hostel in Aviemore village was comfortable and very convenient.    Local bus services took us to the start points of our walks on days one and three and returned us to the village from the end points of the walks.   The weather throughout was bright and dry if not always sunny.   We had three wonderful walking days but for brevity I will give an account only of the first.

The day was so gloriously sunny we decided to tackle the hardest of the three projected walks  -  an ascent of Cairn Gorm mountain via the northern corries.   We started from the car park of the ski lift and followed a beautiful route which took us almost immediately away from all the rather ugly paraphernalia of the ski resort.


The climb was fairly gentle at first but became steeper as made our way up and around the westernmost of the corries on the southern edge of the plateau.   We had lunch in bright sunshine at Cairn Lochan on the very rim of Corrie an Lochain looking down on Glenmore and Loch Morlich. So far so good.

We pressed on with some sizable ascents and descents along the edge of the northern corries towards the peak of Cairn Gorm.   At 1245 m. it isn’t the highest of the mountains in this area but especially by this route is one of the most pleasing.   The last short but steep climb to the summit taxed already aching muscles.

After taking our celebratory group photo we made our descent by the direct route down the ridges of the ski slopes to the day lodge.    Our rather tired but happy group of eleven members on the climb were relieved to be able to sit on the bus for the ride down Glenmore back to Aviemore and the comforts of the hostel.




During a recent walk in the fens led by Inger, Sue S. produced a container of snack bars that she'd made. They went down very well, and some of us lusted after the recipe...

Supercalorific snack bars for peckish walkers, otherwise known as ---

Granola Bars

6oz unsalted butter

5oz clear honey

9oz demerara sugar

12oz porridge oats

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3oz shelled pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped

3oz raisins

3oz dried papaya or mango, chopped

3oz dried apricots, chopped

3oz pumpkin seeds

2oz ground almonds

2oz sesame seeds


1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190OC

2. Line base of 23cm/9in square 5cm/2in deep cake tin with greaseproof paper. (Note: I used a tin 23cm x 30cm, and 3cm deep)

3. Grease the greaseproof paper

4. Melt butter and honey in saucepan, then stir in sugar

5. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes stirring until sugar has dissolved

6. Bring to boil then boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring all the time until thickened into a smooth caramel sauce

7. Mix together remaining ingredients and stir into sauce until well combined

8. Spoon into tin and press down well with the back of a warm wet spoon

9. Back for 15 minutes until beginning to brown around the edges

10. Cool

11. Run a sharp knife around edge of tin to loosen

12. Turn out and peel off greaseproof paper.

13. Cut into squares (if possible freeze for an hour first, then cut)

recipe courtesy of Sue S.