20 walkers and one dog assembled on a sunny May morning at The
George in Desborough, unaware that they were about to begin "Chris’s challenge”.
After a short briefing on the history of Desborough and its
delights, along with warnings of crossing busy roads and difficult terrain, we
all set off ready to rise to the challenges ahead. We walked along Station Road, past numerous
takeaways and the Heritage Centre where copies of the Desborough mirror and
Desborough necklace can be seen. (The originals are at the British Museum
although they were recently on show at Kettering Manor House.)
We then walked
over the railway bridge to enter the Plens, a former ironstone quarry. We
crossed through the Grange estate into a grassy, undulating field to Challenge
1. This was a stile with a narrow
footpath on rough ground followed by crossing the busy road near West Lodge.
Challenge 2 awaited in the form of a field of frisky
bullocks that scared several members of the group as they almost charged
towards us. (They seemed to be disturbed
by the dog as the bullocks had not been at all interested when Chris and
Gervais had practised the walk the previous week.)
Challenge 3 followed closely when we crossed the stile into
a rough field, which had a wooden plank to traverse as well as another small,
wooden bridge. With all 20 ramblers having succeeded in the challenges, the
rest of the walk was relatively easy. We
walked up a tarmac road onto Desborough Airfield, where we felt a few drops of
rain which, thankfully, did not materialise. We walked around the concrete
paths then took our lives in our hands as we walked along the grass verge along
the Stoke Albany Road and crossed over it to a track down to Stoke Wood for our
The birds were singing
and the bluebells were in flower. The
sun shone as if to smile on the intrepid explorers.
After refuelling, we were off again, over several stiles and
fields to cross the Stoke Albany road again.
After another short footpath, we crossed the West Lodge road again into
a grassy field with shaggy ponies.
was then an easy walk around the Great Bear (estate of light industry), then
through the Grange estate and down the main road back to the George for a
well-earned lunch. Congratulations to
all the walkers for completing the course.
Special thanks are extended to Gervais for helping to bash
down foliage as well as cutting back brambles and trees in the practice walk;
to Julie S for being the back-marker and chief photographer; and to Gervais for
helping with the traffic crossings.
A big thank you to Chris S for organising and leading this walk which did not seem to lack challenges.
Additional thanks to her for providing this most enjoyable report.
Below are all the pictures received from Julie S, Vonnie Mc and Carna B in hopefully the right sequence.
At the cafe in the Italian Gardens
Not him again!
Italian Garden Fountains
What won the 2.30 at Kempton Park Jem?
Kensington Garden Allotments
With the Parakeets
Peter Pan Statue
Chairman with carers.
At the hotel.
Whilst we welcome well behaved
dogs on club walks, they must be kept on a short lead. Long leads or flexi leads will no longer be allowed.
21 members met on the platform of a very windy
Kettering station eagerly anticipating
the Annual London walk taking in the Royal Parks. Included in this number were three
first timers who are fairly new to the club. The train’s first stop was at Wellinborough
where we were joined by Ian and Carna B.
On arrival at St. Pancras we met up outside the Rolling
Luggage shop for a headcount, not the easiest thing to do with people drifting
off to the toilet etc.
Finally we set off for the underground where the value of
wearing hi-vis jackets by the leaders and back markers was proved when moving
through the throngs of passengers especially with holdups due to non-
functioning tube tickets.
Eventually with all present we exited the tube at Lancaster Gate
and entered Kensington Gardens for a welcome refreshment stop at the café in
the Italian Gardens where the forecast high winds made their presence known. An
ice cream van had been specially arranged for Ann R but she was nowhere to be
Feeling suitably refreshed we then made our way through the
park where the first stop was to admire "The Arch” which is
a six metre high Roman travertine statue by the sculptor Henry Moore and
through which Kensington Palace was nicely framed in the distance.
Continuing through the park the first
Parakeets were seen but more of them later.
The next port of call was a real surprise
in the form of Kensington Garden allotments. How many in the group realised they existed? Very few would be the author’s guess.
Judging by the notice in the Allotments urban foxes are at large in the park
Continuing on our way we finally reached
the Parakeets area and boy were there some very tame Green Ring Tailed
parakeets here. There were also numerous pigeons probably refugees from
Trafalgar Square where their presence is now discouraged.
Several members of the public were hand
feeding the parakeets, apples being the preferred fodder.
A few yards further on the statue of
Peter Pan was visited.
After retracing our steps a pause was
made to look at a very informative board showing the species of flora and fauna
contained within the park.
Then on to the Physical Energy Statue which is a bronze
statue of a man on horseback by George
Frederick Watts. It has a somewhat modernistic appearance but was actually
erected in 1907 by the artist’s widow.
The walk continued past the Diana Playground down
to the Round Pond. Here we paused by the Queen Victoria Statue and the
imposing Kensington Palace home to several Royals over the years.
The Regency style Band Stand , near the edge of the
park, gained permission from Queen Victoria for music to be played in Kensington
Gardens. This was rescinded after a protest from the Archbishop of
Canterbury who thought music in the gardens would be 'unseemly and
working people could do without band concerts !
Our walk then passed by the immensely imposing
Albert Memorial. It commemorates the death of Prince Albert of typhoid in
1861. The monument shows Prince Albert holding a catalogue of the Great
Exhibition which he inspired and he led to organise in 1851.
On exiting Kensington Gardens we entered the vast
expanse of Hyde Park and were met by the sight of some pony and traps preparing
for a trot along Rotten Row. Unfortunately these were not available to carry
any footsore walkers with them.
A short walk took us to the very evocative
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain which was opened by the Queen in July 2004.
Lunch was taken at The Lido.
Unfortunately it was too early in the season and the pool was not open
for swimming although as there was an extremely cold wind I don’t imagine there
would have been many takers!
After lunch we set off alongside The Serpentine where
numerous varieties of water fowl were passed. At one point a man approached a
Golden Eye Duck which was sitting quite peacefully on the ground then at his
approach it got up to reveal a number of duckling underneath.
We then made our way out through the Rose Garden to Hyde
Park Corner. There, with the aid of
several pelican crossings, we made our way into Green Park. Rumour has it that there are no formal flower
beds in this park as King Charles II wife ordered all the flower beds to be dug
up after she caught her husband picking flowers there for another woman!
At the edge of the park we crossed in front of Buckingham
Palace. There was a considerable amount
going on as the Marathon was being run the next day and railing, signposting
and seating were all being erected ready for the event. Obviously many tourists were milling around
and our walk leader, in her hi-vis jacket, was stopped a couple of times and
We made our way into St James’s Park which has lots of
wildlife, particularly water fowl. The
Blue Bridge gave a lovely view of the Palace and the attractive lake. At the end of the lake there were a group of
pelicans enjoying being the centre of attention.
The walk then concluded by wending its way back to Green
Park and up to the underground station.
Here a group caught the bus, some the underground and one adventurous
traveller walked back to The President Hotel.
Time was spent in the bar catching up on the day before we enjoyed the
evening meal prior to which the chairman made a mercifully brief speech
thanking all those involved in organising what can only be described as a truly
memorable London walk.
Thanks are due to the following Sue and Peter H, Jem and Sue
C for organising, leading and back marking the walk and to Ian B for assisting
on the day.
The amount of work involved in the planning and execution of
this cannot be overestimated.
Extra thanks are due to Sue H for her very informative and
interesting running commentary at the various points of interest around the
route and for providing this report.
Photographs were provided by Julie S, Vonnie Mc. and Carna
Only a small selection of these have been used in this post
and the remainder will be the subject of a separate post in the near future.
Cheers to all involved in making such a successful day out in London.
23 walkers met at the Cross Keys pub at Kings Cliffe on a
dry bright and sunny Spring morning ready for a 10.00a.m. start following what
for some had been a mystery tour around Corby to avoid the holdups due to
roadworks at Weldon. It was good to see Margaret B join us for her first walk
in a long time.
After leaving the pub we passed the renovated water mill
which has now been converted to generate electricity ( climate activists take
Then we climbed out of the village onto Morehay Lane for a short spell and
passed an equestrian centre which was being built and some old clay pits to our
Some sheep were being fed as we passed and captured the
attention of the photographers in our midst.
Just before arriving at Apethorpe the chairman and
Margaret B opted for a shortcut with the aim of meeting the main body later.
On passing Apethorpe we noted the Dovecote belonging to
the Hall and continued a good road o Cheeseman’s Lodge and Farm, the former
belonging at one time to Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean and Blackadder.
We stopped at Tomlin’s Wood which was full of bluebells
for our banana break.
Was it something he said?
Then onto Calvey Wood to see a large herd of fallow deer
including several albinos.
At Spa farm Cottages we were greeted by two Labradors who
gave us a loud barking welcome.
Then over some field edge paths.
Downhill all the way ( Honestly!)
Arriving back at Morehay Lane
where we met our two escapees.
Re-tracing our steps and crossing the bridge over the Willow Brook from earlier.
Great to see Margaret B out with us after a long absence.
We passed an
informative map of the village and then the church.
We arrived back at
the pub for lunch at 1.00pm where the Cottage pie was deemed to be excellent.
Thanks to John A for leading this walk and providing this report.
Thanks to Julie S for acting as back marker and providing some of the photographs.
Additional photo credits are due to Carna B and Caroline C.