New Year at the Pole. January 1st, 2019

Somewhat surprisingly, nine of us turned up to celebrate the beginning of 2019 – even though I’d done my best in promoting the event to confuse people and to suggest that it would be a foolhardy mission.

Well, - apart from myself, of course – seven hardy fools from EFOG attended, and even my friend Sue who isn’t even an EFOG member. Most of us assembled – eventually – in the designated meeting-place at some time around or after 11pm and after ascertaining that the couple whom we had been waiting for were ascending from an alternative starting point, we began the long and dark haul uphill to reach the summit.

Pole Hill is something like 300ft A.S.L, and our starting point was just 200ft. Rudimentary mathematics (of which I am not part, nor do partake, nor am particular to) would indicate (apparently) that we had a 100ft climb ahead of us, which in non-brexit terminology (note the small ‘b’) is 30.48 metres. This – by the way – is an unlit and un-signposted route, and as at least two of our party had neglected (forgotten) to bring their obligatory torches was accomplished with – surprisingly – no incidents apart from slightly muddy footwear.

We reached the Pole after about 15 minutes of almost totally non-arduous uphilling, to find that it was still dark, not yet midnight, and still 2018. We also found the two rebel go-it-alone-from-another-starting-place EFOG members. Kathy and Brian’s names will not be mentioned.

There were other – less definable – persons up there already. We had been beaten to the Pole. There was also at least one dog. It was possible to make out London in the distance to the south-west, and with the help of a pair of binoculars even to see the London Eye, 10.5 miles away.

Although two other EFOG members who had proposed to come hadn’t been able to, Lynne had brought some mulled wine along, so – even without Pam’s intended contribution – we were able to have a pre-2019 celebratory drink, and I was forced to give my traditional rendering of ‘The Owl’.

And then one of the by-then multiplicity of shadowy figures that had assembled began a countdown to 24.00, or 00.00, or 2019. Naturally, with somebody going “ten, nine, eight...” etc. nearby, it was impossible to hear the chimes of Big Ben ten miles away. Still, we all cheered and said “Happy New Year”, and shook hands and hugged and kissed and that, and of course that led to fireworks.

efog fireworks pole hill 2019artFireworks at New Year, viewed from Pole Hill (but not this year's photo)

Probably Chingford and Stewardstone are in mourning or suffering from economic depression, or just depression or S.A.D., which is sad, because compared to previous years I would say that there were less local fireworks. But then think of the environment! However, the display that we could see from around Westminster, and other places, was sufficient for us to realise that an event had or was taking place.

After standing around a bit, wondering what to do next, I made a walk-leader’s decision (somewhat based on others’ suggestions and the fact that others were deserting the Pole anyway) that we should attempt to find our way down. I have always found that going down is harder than going up (I’m talking about hills here, not psychology), but the going was firm, and our route took us to where we needed to go. That is, back to our cars, or in the case of Sue and I (with a little help from Amina who gave us a lift to the bus-station) to our buses.

You don’t have to pay on the buses on this particular night – which is a bit of a let-down if you don’t have to anyway – but on the other hand at coming up to one o’clock in the morning buses aren’t that frequent, though we managed to get two late and Happy New Year’y buses to Wanstead. That’s fine for Sue, who lives there, but there are no buses from Wanstead to Manor Park, so a bit more walking was involved for me. Luckily, the night was mild, and even though cloudy there was enough light to see by. The walk across Wanstead Flats at 1.30 in the morning was without incident and I arrived home to find it was 2019 and not quite 2am.

Paul Ferris, 1st January 2019

Paul, Sue, Amina, Parviz, Lynne, Ken, Diana, Kathy, Brian.


A walk in the Mistley area.

Lynne, Paul, Ken, Kathy, Richard, Trevor and Gill met each other on Saturday 8th December at the Mistley train station for a walk through the Mistley Woods.

efog Mistley Wood 181208 121740798 artOld Knobbly, in Mistley WoodStarting at the English Diastatic Malt Extract Company (Edme) factory, we walked partly along an Essex green way to Furze Hill to visit Old Knobbly, an 800 year-old tree which was a sanctuary for witches in the 18th century. Old Knobbly has lots of history: it has survived a big fire in the past, it has its own website, and it has starred in a children's book!

As we walked along the green way we came across a stray spaniel puppy. He joined us and played with Serena. We were worried about who the owner was and we asked a local couple that we met if they knew. They didn't but offered to take the dog and try to find out.

Much later oefog Mistley 181208 1154artAn Essex Green Wayn in our walk they saw us and stopped in their car. They had found who the owner was and was taking him home.

Although rain was forecast, luckily it stayed dry throughout the walk although part of the walk was quite muddy, especially through the woods, and  around the lake.

efog Mistley Stour 181208 1334artThe River StourMistley is well known for its Grade 1 listed Mistley Towers, all that remain of a Neoclassical Georgian parish church designed by Robert Adam.

Continuing, we walked along the beautiful River Stour towards Manningtree where we noticed a man feeding the gulls and swans, and surrounded by the hungry birds. The Mute Swans at Mistley are famous, and Mistley Coucil and Swan Rescue make sure their local birds survive the winter by feeding them twice a day.

After our 3.5 mile walk, lunch at Mistley's authentic Quay Tearooms was lovely. Our table overlooked the beautiful River Stour. A visit to the craft shop inside the tearooms building added to the finish of a lovely few hours in Mistley.

Gill Light, 8th December 2018

Rodings Rally 2018 Clues – The Answers: (grid reference in bold)


  1.  7830 2165   7810 2160   7890 2155

            Get up high on your rocking horse                              (Woodridden Hill)

  1.   7940 2240   7970 2240   7965 2225

            Orange piece for stalker                                             (Hunter’s Segment)

  1.  8070 2175   8040 2185   8025 2195

            In the beginning God created…                                  (Genesis Slade)

  1.  (1) 7895 2045   7885 2015   7905 2025

            All that glitters is wet                                                  (Goldings Hill ponds)

  1.  (2) 7785 1955   7805 1960   7785 1935

            Empty money                                                             (Penny Hollow)

  1.  (3) 7740 1780   7720 1770   7745 1765

            SSTZOSSZ                                                                (first letter 7720 1770)

  1.  7465 1770   7470 1810   7505 1795

            Henry VIII scales                                                        (Tudor Way)

  1.  (4) 7635 1860   7620 1875   7635 1845

            Between. What do carpenters do?                             (Plain & Wood)

  1.  7735 1990   7750 2005   7705 1980

            Equine undulations                                                     (Up and Down Ride)



A Report on the 62nd Rodings Rally

Well that’s it! Our 62nd, and final, Rodings Rally has been completed. The results are available HERE as a downloadable document (.doc) form, the answers to the CLUES are HERE, and some competitors' comments are at the bottom of this page.

We have given many competitors over the past 62 years the frustration, dismay, and joy of having taken part in the Rodings Rally. Likewise with the many group members, who over the years have given their time organising and running this unique event.

It started at High Roding Youth Hostel, and when it closed we moved onto Ivinghoe YH, near Tring. This was not convenient, as we had to bicycle, or hitch hike to and from there. No cars in the group in those days. Then the small High Beach YH opened. We tried Hatfield Forest YH for a few years, and then went back to High Beach YH, and several years later the village hall because the hostel was too small when cooking for so many.

In the beginning the rally was only open to YHA (Youth Hostel Association) local groups, and when these groups started to close, the rally was opened up to all. In the early days the route map was the one-inch Ordnance Survey, so the courses were simple compared to the last three decades of having our own maps.

It has been fun organising the rally for so many years, but we are getting too long in the tooth to man the checkpoints, and others staying up all night without any rest, and because like so many other types of clubs no young people have joined us since the 90s.

So no more having to seek permission to run the rally in Epping Forest, and book the village hall at High Beach, before the group, as a whole, gets to know about the rally.

No more delightful walks in Epping Forest checkpoint plotting after the group had worked out the route one Thursday evening. Frustrating sometimes when the teams checkpoint plotting coming in from the three different directions do not meet up at the checkpoint grid reference, but happiness when we did get it right.

No more evenings thinking up the clues, or that rally meal before we went about our jobs.

No more having a night out at the start wondering what did I do to deserve this. Sitting in the cold some times with inadequate shelter, and light. Trying to sort out teams who have not done the RR before, or who turn up late, or not at all.

I’m sorry, guys and girls, that you will not have the joy of staying up most of the night, in a tent, possibly cold, waiting for a twig to break; is that someone? Or a flash of light coming through the trees that could be hunting for you, but is now going the wrong way.

The tea tent chills, no more. Standing or sitting around waiting around for ages wondering why nobody has turned up yet for a hot drink, then so busy you don’t know which way to turn, then dribs and drabs, no-one, then the next rush.

No more final checkpoint at the hall, or welcome breakfasts to cook. They did have a warm room, but that long wait for competitors to finish, with no chance of a kip until you got home, could wear you down.

So a really big "thank you" to all members, past and present, for making it a great event for 62 years.

What will we do now? Apart from going for walks, cycle rides, visits to other countries, theatres, visits to everywhere. What will we do now?

efog rodings rally 2018 51805pm Saturday, and the pre-rally meal gets underway... efog rodings rally 2018 5174...with a selection of goodies for afterwards and during the long night


efog rodings rally 2018 5188Some time in the early hours of Sunday morning at the tea-tent...  efog rodings rally 2018 5193...and somewhat warmer at the final checkpoint at the village hall.























Peter G.,  20th November 2018


Competitors' comments, via Facebook, following the Rally:

Ian Brazier: An amazing event... Very sad to see it go.. thanks for the memories.

Russell Stebbings: Very sad to see this truly great event depart. It was a highlight of our 'adventuring' calendar and gave us a great deal of pleasure. Thank you all so much for all of your many years of hard work and dedication. We miss you already. From the Carabids of Fire/Dragonfliers.

Bert Park: As always the best challenge event of the year, as always. Will be sadly missed, nothing else gets close to the combined challenges of clue solving, uncertainty, personal and group management, and of course night time navigation. I have done 19 of these, been fortunate enough to win it a few times, and humbled/ beaten/battered a few more times !!

Antony Goodall: As a competitor of the last three years, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for putting the event on. What a wonderful experience you have enabled us to have - unlike anything else, and memories to treasure for many a year! Responding to "what did you get up to at the weekend?" has been met by both "that sounds mad", and "wow, that sounds amazing" - much more of the latter, actually. You've challenged us, frustrated us, delighted us and inspired us. Thank you.

Pam Linstead: Fond memories of manning a checkpoint in the 60s with Helga.

Yoginee Patel: Oh no. This is sooo sad. This is such a great night adventure. Glad I took the opportunity and did it when I did it. Thanks for organising. Still hoping it comes back.

Anne De Asha: Thank you for the memories. Frustrating and knackering at times but fun and we always came back for another year!!

Duncan Coneybeare: Thank you so much to everyone involved in organising such a brilliant event. I wish I had competed in more of them - I only managed 5 or 6 out of the 62 - and had a blast, something definitely out of my comfort zone!



Steins & Sausages by the Thames

Not a good start. Glorious weather apart from the one day we are going for a walk along the Thames, the route being Hampton Court to Richmond, when it decided to rain. Then the Central Line is on strike – as is South Western Railways. We struggle to Vauxhall and board a train to Kingston, having decided to change our plans and walk from Kingston to Kew Gardens.

Thames 181006 131823

Arriving at Kingston we popped into John Lewis for a coffee and grabbed a table with views over the Thames. Then off for our walk. This was when the rain started to really come down. Never mind, we are walking along a nice part of the Thames and the local rowing club had racing sculls, fours and the occasional eight smoothly cutting through the water. Incidentally, we may have had a drought but the Thames was very high above Teddington Lock. Where has all the water come from, surely not the current rain? Nice houses and good trees that are just changing colour made for a generally pleasing appearance as we plodded into a brisk wind blowing the rain into our faces. See the photo. There were plenty of other groups walking along the path, all making the best of it as we were. Eventually, with much whining from Brian on the theme of “are we there yet” we reached the riverside eating place which was the destination on the original route but was now the lunch break. German themed, we sat outside under plastic canopies with overhead heaters and gently steamed while we consumed our sausage and mash and drank lager. Very pleasant and while we looked out at the unrelenting rain, sipping our beer, it was mutely agreed that this was the end and we would make our way home rather than flog on to Kew.

A quick walk to Richmond station and we jump on a Overground train home.

Brian U., 6th October 2018