On a misty November morning in Leicestershire our group of 14 (7 scooters and 7 walkers) set off from Newtown Linford car park along the Leicestershire Round towards the Deer Barn Visitor Centre. We passed numerous Fallow and Red Deer on the way which kept our photographers in the group very busy. We climbed and circled the perimeter of Bradgate House and Chapel remains just before having our first stop at the Visitor Centre where some members enjoyed coffee and goodies whilst others, including the trampers went inside to view the exhibition which told the story of the park. We continued and climbed to a viewing point overlooking Cropston Reservoir descending to the to the newly opened Memorial Wood. Our lunch stop was at Hallgates before climbing the fairly steep hill up to Old John Tower. From there we would have viewed the countryside but the mist denied the group of that pleasure. After passing the War Memorial Del had a puncture which Bernard and Vincent repaired before descending the hill and returning to the car park at Newtown Linford. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day, including two prospective members who we hope to see again next year on future rambles. Judy.
After the gales on Monday and the rain on Thursday, today was positively benign. Worcestershire Beacon is quite a hill to climb and takes its toll on batteries. Unfortunately those on one scooter gave up but our team of volunteers pushed pulled and towed it to safety. Great views all the way up and so after a short spell on the summit we made our way down to the coll for lunch. The descent was much easier and so we were soon back at our vehicles at the end of the last ramble on our 2017 Programme. Many thanks to all our volunteers who have made these rambles possible. JC
A fascinating story of how the Croome Estate was developed in the 18C by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown as the grand home of the 6th Earl of Coventry through to being the site where RADAR was invented through to decay and almost loss until it was rescued in the brink of time by the National Trust. Croome with the autumn sunshine dappling through the trees is a wonderful sight. Unfortunately today it rained. And rained. Well done to our dedicated ramblers.
After a steady climb up the village road through Westmancote, the tarmac suddenly ends and the fun begins – fun, that is, if you like steep, rocky tracks. After a coffee stop to let the motors and walkers cool down there was one final rocky climb before the going became easier. After passing the King and Queen Stones, we were soon meandering through Warren Wood with shafts of sunshine playing through the canopy. At the end of the wood is The Drop. Instead of carrying on to Bredon Tower, where we had lunch in the gale yesterday, we turned sharp left downhill very steeply. Not for the less experienced! A section of rocky path follows which soon opens out to give glorious views across the Severn Valley to the Malvern Hills (and Wales if it hadn’t been obscured by the mist). Down and down to Bredon’s Norton where we were able to take a new path across fields to the first of two new bridges which Worcestershire Countryside Service have recently installed in response to requests from Andy – well done to both! An awkward manoeuvre through a wooded boundary and gate and then it was plain sailing back to our cars. Thanks Andy for an exciting and picturesque day in great weather.
Were we all mad? The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia were about to hit us with winds of up to 50 mph expected and yet we were heading up to the summit of Bredon Hill. Situated in Worcestershire on the side of the Severn Valley, the southwesterly winds had nothing to stop them from sweeping us off the hill. Setting out from Kemerton, near to the village of Bredon, Andy had changed the route to avoid going through woodland near to the summit. We still had the very rough and steep hill to contend with which took our minds off the impending doom brought on by the orange sun hanging in the strangely coloured sky. It turned out this this was due to the hurricane having sucked up sand from the deserts and ash from the wild fires currently devastating much of Spain. In the end, although it was very windy on the top we were able to find shelter for our lunch stop behind the ramparts of Kemerton Camp, an Iron Age hill fort. We even managed to put up the toilet tent for those brave enough to use it. Thanks Andy for a memorable day on the hill.
Soon after leaving our base at The Earth Trust we were climbing over Wittenham Clumps, an Iron Age hill fort. Fortunately Veronica, a keen archaeologist, was with us and so able to tell us more about this area and the digs she has been on in Dorchester. A lovely descent through autumnal woodland brought us to Shillingford Hotel where our new friends from the Ramblers went for their coffee while we stayed by the river bank and celebrated both Bob’s & Veronica’s birthdays with generous portions of Bob’s cake. After passing through the back alleys of Shillingford and crossing the busy A4074 we were soon back into the countryside crossing large fields to reach our lunch spot next to a pool. Thoughts of a dip in the pool were soon dispelled when Veronica produced large pieces of her cake! A stretch of Priest’s Moor Lane brought us to an underpass, a much nicer way to re-cross the main road. Soon we were in Dorchester where another slice of history was recounted before passing through the ancient earthworks of Dyke Hills. A narrow lane led us to Little Wittenham Bridge, the location for the annual international ‘Poo Sticks’ competition. After passing Little Wittenham church we re-entered fields belonging to The Earth Trust where we found a docile heard of Hereford cattle. They were all lying down either side of our path and not one of them gave us even a glance as we passed between them. Soon we were climbing back up between Wittenham Clumps and so back to The Earth Trust and were loaded up and away just before the rain started. Many thanks to The Earth Trust for allowing us to use their facilities. JC
West Dean to East Lavant. This is the last of our four rambles in the Southern Tour, it has been a super week and we have been very fortunate with the weather, each day has been cloudy with sunny intervals, and only one really heavy shower on our first ramble. We had a sprinkling today at lunch time but it didn’t last long, thankfully! Seven Points car park has the most marvellous views over Chichester and its harbour, with the headland of the Isle of Wight and the Southern coastline in the west, people come here just to sit and look. We were lucky to get the top car park all to ourselves, thanks to some forward planning in the shape of a traffic cone and a strategically placed Supersport! We just fitted all our members in, with two having to go to the lower tier. We followed a bridleway through woods forming part of the West Dean estate and along the flint wall that borders part of the estate which leads to the pretty little village of West Dean with its flint cottages, past the now dry River Lavant - a winterbourne river which means it dries up at the end of July and reflows in February - we stopped here for our coffee break in lovely warm sunshine on a little green area next to the famous West Dean gardens. From here we proceeded down a cycle path, which forms part of the Centurion Way, bordered by a lovely verge of wild flowers, clematis - which will become what we call Old Man’s Beard, wild basil, pink mallow, campion, toadflax, mullein or verbascum, hawkweed (something like a tall dandelion), and all sorts of other varieties making a last appearance before winter sets in. Lots of blackberries, rose hips and sloes along here too, the A286 runs past but the path is separated by trees and foliage with a lovely view over fields to the left. Then down into the valley and along the Centurion Way and onto the West Sussex Literary Trail, we had lunch here before proceeding to the base of Hayes Down and up a very steep green hill and through a huge field of sheep with two Alpacas keeping an eye on the flock as apparently they protect them from foxes etc, this was well worth the long climb as at the top the view is really tremendous giving almost panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Then on up a field of white, ghostly stalks that was obviously a harvested crop - not sure what it was and guessed it may be rape of something similar. Again, from this field the views are staggering all over Chichester with its cathedral very prominent in the centre of the vista. Wherever you go in Sussex the views are just there for us to enjoy, we have had a terrific week with our four rambles and we would like to thank all for coming, some from as far away as Lancashire and Derbyshire - we take it as a great compliment that people make the effort to come from such a distance and hope that our rambles were worth it for them - I am sure they were. As ever, a great big huge thank you to Veronica for so stoically towing the MSU all over the place, John BHX and all the team (Pete, Roger, Dave (bro of Pete) and the walkers and volunteers) who sort the portable loo out and unload the Trampers for the members, and also to the volunteers and walkers who so gallantly push us out of the mud and other difficult situations. We couldn’t manage without all this support and help. A very happy and rewarding week. Val and Bob.
Angmering Park Estate This lovely estate in West Sussex is privately owned and is a traditional huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ establishment, with facilities also for the recuperation and care of horses as well as a racing stable with 50 horses currently being trained, and as we went through the woods we met some of these lovely animals with their riders, we always pull over as experience has shown that some horses get very jumpy when confronted with our scooters, but all was well apart from a few “whites of eyes” as they went past. We had the use of a Children’s Hospice overflow car park for the day to avoid taking up too much room in the local dog walkers car park just up the road - this was a lovely tranquil little field all to ourselves, (apart from the A27 zipping past on the other side of the hedge). From there we proceeded through the woods, very varied pine, ash, beech, coppice, oak, and covered in bluebells in Spring, to our coffee stop on an open area. We were rather worried that some trees may have been down after the ferocious winds here in the last few days, but apart from several fairly large branches we didn’t have any trouble. What we did have though was mud, mud, glorious mud!!! The best ever I think. My heart sank as we proceeded through the woods and came across patch after patch of thick mud, but much to my surprise all the group loved it and everyone managed to get through without too much trouble. Luckily, we had Peter J with us with his spiked walking pole and he felt through the mud to see if it had a firm base and we followed the route according to his findings. One particular bridle path was deep, glutinous mud nearly its’ whole length but, again we all got through, it was certainly not something I would tackle without the back up we had today. From this path we entered the actual Estate with it’s lovely big house and beautiful manicured lawns, we had lunch on the edge of a lovely beech wood which is a carpet of blue in the spring, while there we saw some deer run from the trees which was lovely. After lunch it was a short ride through the wood but before proceeding we had to use some manpower to move a large part of a multi trunked tree blocking our path before reaching the main track and slowly back to base. We collected a donation to give to the Childrens Hospice for so kindly letting us use their field as without some of these very generous people letting us use their facilities we often couldn’t hold the ramble because the parking is often not adequate. Our DR members were terrific today and very “game” when faced with the muddy challenge and not a single complaint! In fact, they all said it was great fun. Thanks to all for their help and support. Val and Bob.
Highdown Hill, nr Worthing, West Sussex. Highdown Hill overlooks the town of Worthing in West Sussex and has fine sea views as far east as the white cliffs called The Seven Sisters at Seaford, and Beachy Head beyond and the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth to the west. The new Rampion wind farm is also visible in the distance. Again, we had great help with this ramble, this time from Adur and Worthing Council and namely, Gary from Highdown Gardens, which are lovely gardens run by the Council and well worth a visit, who unlocked the gate onto Highdown so that we could access it on our scooters, and we were also allowed to use the overflow car park just off the public car park for our vehicles and MSU. The weather was perfect and we set off up the hill to visit the Millers Tomb - the story goes that a Miller built his coffin when he was 56 and stored it under his bed for probably suspicious smuggling purposes and used the sails of the local windmill to signal to his accomplices when the coast was clear! Then on up to the little hill fort on the top of the Highdown where we enjoyed the scenic coastal views while having our coffee break. On down a steep incline to the bridle way that goes along the base of the hill to Angmering, pretty little village near Worthing, today the bridleway was so lovely with butterflies everywhere, mostly red admirals, after the nectar in the newly formed ivy florets. Along this bridleway was a badger hole on the edge of the path with a steep drop the other side, which Bob covered with a big board just in case a wheel went down it - took a bit of forward planning but it was worth the trouble for peace of mind! At Angmering we took a very rough bridle path to the Worthing rugby club field for our lunch break, and again our thanks to them for letting us use the corner of their field. So far, I don’t think any request from us to Authorities, clubs, farmers has been denied and it makes our life much easier when planning a ramble. After lunch, back the same way for part of the distance then a lower route round the hill but with breathtaking views all around. We got back in time to enjoy a cuppa and scones outside in the sunshine at the Highdown Tea Room before loading up and going happily home after yet another delightful ramble. While at the tea room we think we may have recruited a new member, a gentleman having tea with his wife was really taken with our scooters and ended up zipping up and down the car park on Bob’s Supersport. Not sure if his wife was that pleased though, as she was on her own while the chaps played on the scooter! Now for a day of rest before the last two rambles on the Southern Tour which, so far, has been thoroughly enjoyable. Val and Bob.
Cissbury Ring, West Sussex. This ramble could only take place because of a very generous local farmer who has now let us use one of his fields twice, once for a regional ramble and now for our national ramble to Cissbury Ring as part of the Southern Tour. Sadly, the local car park is much too small for all of our vehicles. We had a little trouble with the MSU which got stuck in the field but a very kind lady, whose exit from the farm was blocked, offered to tow it to a less sticky place with her Landy, nice people everywhere. Fingers were double crossed today for no rain as we were travelling on chalk, often bare chalk in places with no grass, which is as slippery as ice and so off we went up the chalk track from the farm to join the main track that joins Cissbury hill fort to Chanctonbury hill fort. Part of this track had become very muddy, rutted and slippery but the intrepid bunch managed to get through very expertly with no major problems. The gate to the beginning of the upward climb to Cissbury had become very difficult to access with the main track affected by rain making channels and fissures in the surface so we had a trench across the gate entrance and a quite nasty steep, uneven climb through the gate itself then on up a chalky bank - not nice. The Ranger, Andy, came to the rescue with his wheelbarrow and spade in the days leading to the ramble and filled in the trench and flattened the gate entrance which, although it was still steep, made it 100% easier. Cissbury is a magical place with terrific views all around and the top you can see the white cliffs of The Seven Sisters and Beachy Head in the distance, (see pics), we then went right round the hill fort on a lovely grassy path until we reached our lunch spot under some spreading beech trees, I forgot to mention - almost a gale force wind was blowing! Just after lunch a huge black cloud appeared, we all put on our waterproofs just in time before we had thunder, lightning and very heavy rain (trickling down the neck stuff), but it didn’t last much longer than 10 minutes but was enough to soak us, but undeterred, we went on up to the very top to the trig point, before embarking back the way we came, we couldn’t take the planned route down as that particular path is pure chalk with no grass and it would have been too dangerous. As it was, one of the dogs with us kept doing the splits on the exposed chalky areas even with little outcrops of grass and wild flowers. We all made it OK and wended our way back to the farm, fortunately, we had no trouble getting out of the field and I think all agreed it was a really special ramble. We were pleased to welcome Allison, the Strategy Lead Access & Recreation, from the South Downs NPA along on the ramble and hope to help to produce some routes for other mobility scooter users to be able to access. A great day with a great crowd of DR members - many thanks for coming and here’s to many more. Val & Bob.
We met in the Visitors Centre car park at Pitsford a small but happy group of 2 scooters, 3 walkers joined later by Eileen Scannel her friend Jac and dog making a total of 3 scooters, 4 walkers and a dog. The weather was fine until about 2 miles into our ramble when we had a short sharp shower but this didn't deter us or the many others using the track, from observing the lovely views across the reservoir and the countryside. We stopped for lunch at the Causeway car park and were entertained by an aerial display from 4 Spitfires and Hurricans practising their manoeuvres complete with smoke trails. Had we had been at the lunch stop earlier we would have witnessed a joint exercise by the Military and Fire service who were constructing flood relief barriers. Lunch ended with a real treat of large ice creams. Continuing on we spotted a lone Heron and also encountered flying Canadian geese and swans. The ramble ended with a well - deserved cuppa at the visitor centre café. Our thanks to Andy, Ranger, and his team for all the help they gave us in preparation and on the day.
Southern Regional Ramble - Kingley Vale - 21.8.17 We had hoped for bright sunshine for this chalky downland ramble but no, we got clouds and fine drizzle. To start off, once we had unloaded, we had arranged with the Ranger from Natural England, Steve, who manages Kingley Vale to try a Tramper in the new kissing gates installed this year, as you can see - a very tight fit! Hopefully, they can adjust it a little to make it easier to enter, it can be done but not without assistance. We were accompanied on the ramble by Chloe, a Ranger with the South Downs National Park Authority. We went up the west side of the Vale first where the terrain is a steep ascent on chalky, furrowed, bumpy tracks and after the first climb we had to rest the scooters as they were complaining, but after a while we were able to continue and fortunately the route across the top of the Vale is less steep and it wasn't too bad at all. Beautiful views across Chichester Harbour on a good day, but today it was misty so no view at all at this point. The chalky tracks were like ice as they were slightly damp so we had to take great care and our two walkers were in a worse position than us as they found it very slippery on foot. We sheltered under some overhanging trees instead of enjoying the view from the Devil's Humps as we had planned, but spirits were high and so we continued down the steep descent on the east side of the Vale. Surprisingly, we all got down it without any problem and much to our relief the weather was clearing and we were able to enjoy the panoramic scenery at last, and all felt it was a bit of a challenge. At the bottom we went into Kingley Vale and followed the track into a Yew Tree grove, which was very dark and eerie. These yews are very ancient and reputed to be some of the oldest living trees in Britain. We then went on into the bowl of the Vale where the wild flowers were really superb, typical chalky downland soil had produced a wonderful show, and there was also a dew pond which has been restored complete with water lilies. There were many dragonflies flying all around and it was really atmospheric, not to be missed! We hope to do it again next year. Great to be able to access all these amazing places on our scooters and we really appreciate it. This ramble and the Downs Link one the day before produced the best wild flowers this year. Thanks to all who came, and onwards to the next ramble and hopefully, many more to come. Val and Bob.
Southern Regional Ramble - 20th August 2017 - Shoreham to Bramber. This is an especially terrific ramble along the banks of the River Adur following the disused railway line, the Downs Link, which is a 36.7 mile footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way at St Martha's Hill in Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning in West Sussex and then on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham by Sea, which is the portion we were doing - Shoreham to the pretty village of Bramber. This is the third time we have done it counting the 2 reccies and today's ramble and it never gets boring even though it is fairly flat, because of the wonderful West Sussex scenery and the riparian landscape along the way. Also, as it's late summer the wild flowers are particularly beautiful and although most are going to seed they line the whole route and give a wonderful and colourful show, along with the various fragrances. There was lots of Old Man's Beard, or clematis, some had gone to the fluffy seed heads but there were still some of the little delicate white flowers creeping all over the other plants. A real sense of Autumn just round the corner. Also, berries everywhere - blackberries, elderberries, hawthorn, buckthorn and many more I don't know the name of, lucky birds they will have a feast this winter. It was nice to see so many cyclists out too, many families among them, all enjoying the day and all except one were cheerful and polite. We had lunch at the ruined Bramber Castle, plus a delicious ice cream! On the way home we were able to slightly alter the route by taking different little paths and going along part of the R Adur bankside, rather bumpy but good fun, before we arrived back at our cars parked at the Shoreham Toll Bridge where there is a temporary memorial to the 11 people killed in the terrible Shoreham aircrash over two years ago. There are 11 sculptures being commissioned in memory of these unfortunate souls but these are not yet completed. We had a lovely day in perfect weather, many thanks to David for leading and suggesting this ramble and to all who came and made it such fun. Val and Bob.
This year our section of Britain’s oldest road, The Ridgeway, lead us from Bury Down to the Lord Wantage Monument for lunch via another ancient way “Old Street”. Returning straight along the Ridgeway, we visited Scutchamer Knob. This is an early iron age round barrow. Originally called Cwichelmeshlaew or Cwichelm's Barrow, it is recorded as having been the place where King Edwin of Northumbria killed Cwichelm of Wessex in AD 636 and, in the Middle Ages, became the meeting point of the Shire Moot (or market) which was abolished in 1620. It was long thought to be the actual burial place of Cwichelm but the mound has been excavated several times without serious finds. In 1006, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that the Danes marched to Cuckhamsley Hill as they believed that if they reached the Hill, they would never return to the sea. The knob appears to have once been a round barrow, but now is a semi-circular bank with a round front. Its appearance may have changed in part due to vandalism based on the belief it was used to hoard treasure. The name "Scutchamer" may have derived from "Cwichelmeshlaew". An alternate explanation is that the name is based on the word "scutcher", someone who "scutched" or beat out flax to loosen its fibres, and the knob was a location of local fairs trading in local products deriving from this practice.
From the Sue Ryder Care Home we rambled along quiet lanes and through woods to Nuffield where we touch the Ridgeway. Return via different lanes to Devil’s Hill. However, despite a reccy only 7 days ago, today was the day they chose to dig a trench across our route. The workmen were very helpful and created a way for us along a filed and through the hedge.
Southern Regional Ramble - Fleet Pond - 30th July 2017 We had a really super day at Fleet Pond. This is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire and is dedicated solely to wildlife it is believed to have been constructed in the 12th century as a fishery to provide nutritious food to local farms and villages. It has lots of different areas that make it a diverse and interesting ramble. There are wetlands, woodland, heathland and even a little sandy bay on the way round, we also a followed the towpath of the Basingstoke Canal for a short distance. On a previous visit we watched a narrow boat come up the canal and pass where we were having our coffee break. Surrounding the lake is MOD land with lovely woods and some good hills for exploration purposes! Lunch was on Pyestock Hill, again, MOD land, and we were lucky enough to watch a buzzard riding the thermals directly above us. We saw lots of butterflies, among them were a Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Peacock, a tiny blue, and a Brown China Mark Moth (see pics). A lot of thought has been put into this Reserve and there are many wood carvings to see as well. Cattle are put into some of the areas during the autumn and winter to graze down the foliage. All in all, a very good day, many thanks to Arthur for leading this ramble. Val and Bob.
Entertainment whilst assembling watching the helicopter take scalping up to the Storey Arms to Pen-y-Fan footpath for the National Trust to repair. An interesting days ramble along the old coach road following the valley up. With glorious views of Fan Frynych and Craig Cerrig Gleisiad across the valley and surrounded by sheep. Many thanks to Warden Richard Farquhar and Trainee Warden Henry for their help and support.
Tues 11th July Libanus Hill Forts Unfortunately a wet day which didn't deter most of us. An interesting day exploring the history of Libanus hill forts. A detour back to the visitor centre for a hot lunch was appreciated by all. Many thanks to Brecon Beacons Warden Richard Farquhar and Trainee Warden Tom for their help and support.
The Brecon Beacons Tour started on Monday at the Usk Reservoir with a group of 15 scooters and 13 walkers. We met at the car park by the dam with the weather misty and the odd spot of rain. However, the mist soon lifted into light cloud and it remained dry for the rest of the ramble. We set off in a clockwise direction around the reservoir and soon lost sight of the water for some time as we travelled through the pine trees. When we emerged at the top of the hill we were greeted by a superb view over the water. At our coffee break Sue appeared with a delicious container of shortbread which she handed out to everyone saying it was to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Lunch was overlooking the reservoir which was in a sheltered spot away from the breeze that tried to take hold of the toilet tent which was firmly tied down. We continued over some undulating ground and completed the route by crossing the dam returning to the car park. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day and many thanks go to Arthur Lee for leading the ramble and to Paul Dann from Natural Resources Wales for his help & support. Judy
Starting with a pleasant wander across the open common land, once Gullet Quarry lake is passed this is very much a 3+ ramble once The Gullet is reached. This is a fairly narrow, dark, rocky and steep path up to the ridge-way which runs along the length of the Malvern Hills. One water-worn gully gets more 'interesting' to cross each year - but adds to the challenge of this ramble. Once climbed we regain open countryside and the Obelisk is soon reached and makes for a lovely lunch stop.
DR Regional Ramble - Anderwood to Knightwood Oak, New Forest. Unfortunately, after several sparkling sunny days our ramble day dawned with thick cloud cover, but as long as we didn’t have rain - we were quite happy! We had a good turnout of 9 scooters and two walkers and little Ella - Mike’s lovely black spaniel. For some reason, up to now, we haven’t made good enough use of Anderwood Inclosure and now we have discovered it I’m sure it will become very popular as there are barbecue facilities and best of all - loos. On a count we had 4 TWS’s, 2 Supersports. 1 Tramper, a Mini Crosser and a Hill Climber. The interesting, and rewarding, thing to see was all the chaps discussing their various adaptions to their TWS’s and getting ideas from each other, rather like a motor cycle convention only watered down! The support we all get from each other is invaluable and one of the really good things about DR. We made our way from Anderwood through the forest on fairly level and well defined tracks and cycleways, all very lovely in the forest at this time of year. We had a bit of road work but were able to keep on the wide verge most of the time, we reached the Knightwood Oak at about 1.45 for lunch. It is estimated that this tree is between 450 to 600 years old. The girth of the trunk at ground level is just over 7 metres, and what makes it different to many other oaks in the New Forest is that it is a pollarded oak, this method was used in ancient times to promote the growth of numerous new branches to increase the yield of timber from the tree. However, this practice was stopped when the Royal Navy needed oak timber for shipbuilding at nearby Bucklers Hard as it inhibited the growth of tall solid trunks ideal for cutting into long planks that were required for the ships of Nelson’s fleet. We had a little shower here but it didn’t last long. On our return journey we also saw the ancient Eagle Oak, so called because in 1810 a Keeper shot the last Sea Eagle from its branches. It has a Yew entwined in its branches and at first glance it doesn’t look like an oak tree as the Yew hides the foliage, which then rises above the needles of the Yew. By now, the sun had started to emerge and our last leg of the ramble which was on a little footpath through a wood was in wonderful bright sunshine, this was our bit of “off piste” and during the winter would be out of the question. A lovely ramble with very good company. Thanks all for coming, as ever, some from a considerable distance, we’re looking forward to the next one. Val & Bob
Bowhill Estate, nr Peebles, Scottish Borders. Bowhill House is a historic house nr Bowhill at Selkirk in the Scottish Borders and is one of the homes of the Duke of Buccleuch. It is in the heart of the ancient royal hunting forest of Ettrick it is an ideal centre for outdoor activities, field sports - such as fishing, walking trails, adventure playground, etc and with an area of 58,000 acres there is plenty of scope for exploring. We met in a specially designated little area and it was a lovely day, no rain! Our leader, James Babington-Smith, warned us of the long climb, so we set off with a little concern re our batteries, but what a beautiful climb it was. We actually climbed to 1,435 feet and it was approximately a 3 mile trek to the top of the grouse moor with beautiful views over the surrounding countryside. Absolutely breathtaking, batteries were panting! The very helpful Ranger of Bowhill met us at the top in his Landy and took some photos, he was very pleased that we had managed to get to the top. As you can see from the photos, we met some very nice horse riders - we always stop for horses as they can get quite jumpy at the strange sight of scooters, but these were impeccably behaved with no trouble at all, apart from a sidelong glance of disdain! After lunch, we set off back down a steep gorge called Newarkburn, it was very lovely with steep sides clad in ferns, foxgloves and other wild flowers. It was a shame that we had to concentrate so hard on the steepness and muddy path as we couldn’t quite take it all in, but it was a rare treat and James had special permission to use that route from the estate so we were very fortunate to be able to appreciate it as much as we could, and towards the end it did even out and we stopped to really enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding area. We then came out onto the estate roads, which were very quiet and wended their way through the estate back to the car park. A very unusual and enjoyable ramble, thank you James and Anne, and special thanks to the Bowhill Estate. Val & Bob
A select group of ramblers first drove 1½ miles gaining 500 feet of height to the Buzzards Nest car park on the summit of Cardie Hill. The ramble route took us up and down along the edge of the forest with great views over the Tweed Valley and the town of Peebles. Lunch was at a hill fort and later we saw the site of an Iron Age village. The weather was a mix of sunshine and showers – sadly with more showers than sunshine! At least the rain kept the midges away. Thanks James for a lovely ramble.
A challenging ramble in places but thanks to great teamwork we all got up to Hadrian’s Wall and safely back to Housesteads Roman Fort where Veronica gave us an excellent tour of its layout. If you ever visit you might like to be aware that there is an accessible toilet in the museum but you will need to persuade the English Heritage staff to let you use it. Hopefully this situation will change soon following complaints to their management. JC
A windy but fairly dry start to the Borders Tour with the first of two visits to Hadrian’s Wall. After the long ramble along the line of the Roman Vallum (protective ditch) we turned uphill into the remains of Great Chesters fort (called Aesica by the Romans) where Veronica gave a short talk about the layout of Roman forts with the promise of more detail tomorrow when we visit Housesteads. Another half mile saw us at Cawfields Quarry picnic site for lunch. Both Walltown and Cawfield quarries destroyed sections of The Wall while removing the very hard Whin Sill rock for use in building the M6 and other roads. (The Whin Sill is a tabular layer of the igneous rock dolerite in County Durham and Northumberland.) After lunch we climbed up Hole Gap to reach Mile Castle 42, passing right through Hadrian's Wall on the way and giving some of our members their first chance to touch The Wall. Then back the way we came to Walltown Quarry Country Park. JC
9/6/2017 Sutton Bank. At last some good weather; we even saw the sun! In the morning we followed the ‘Easy Access Trail’ south from Sutton Bank Visitor Centre along Sutton Bank to over the top of the White Horse where we stopped for coffee. Carrying on took us past the Yorkshire Gliding Club where we watched gliders being launched. After crossing the main road the route took us through woodland back to the Visitor Centre for lunch where we were delighted to meet up with Vic and Leslie who also joined us for part of the afternoon ramble. Ian Lawson had intended to lead this ramble but his meeting with Yorkshire Council was changed to this day so I offered to lead the ramble so that he could attend his access campaigning meeting. As I’d only reccied the second half by head-torch late one day in November I wasn’t happy just to see what happened. Very fortunately Flora was with us and she kindly offered to run (yes, run!) around the 2.5 mile route while we had lunch. The information she gathered was invaluable in showing us the safest track to take as we followed Sutton Bank to the north – thanks again Flora! All-in-all a delightful end to an exciting week of rambling in the North York Moors. Thanks Ian, we will be back for more.
Old Byland to Rievaulx Abbey 8/6/2017 At last the bad weather started to ease. Although we still had some rain it was as nothing compared to Monday & Tuesday – in fact we even had some sun for a few minutes in the afternoon. Thanks to the kindness of the locals at Old Byland, we were able to park on their village green. From there our path led down to Rievaulx by way of road and farm track – steep and rough in places. Lunch at Rievaulx Abbey gave us the opportunity to eat in their café or sandwiches outside. They have a disabled toilet we could use and they allowed dogs into the café area. A not-so-quiet lane led on to an estate track back up hill towards Cold Kirby. En-route we came to a ford which gave some the chance to test their scooters – and themselves – while the rest took the by-pass way. The long, but steady, climb tested the legs of the walkers and caused a bit of a problem with a couple of the scooters but in the end we all got back to Old Byland after a lovely ramble. Thanks again Ian. JC.
The second day of our North York Moors tour started fairly dry so at least we weren’t cold and wet before we even began today. The first 2½ miles are a steady uphill climb to a trig point. As we climbed further so the rain got stronger and the ‘puddles’ deeper. After a short coffee stop just after the trig point the track began to descend more steeply towards Cowhouse Bank car park, our intended lunch stop. Just after we entered the woods one of the TWS Trampers started stopping and then starting again. A minute later one of the loan scooters stopped completely – water had got into the electrics. A tow rope was deployed and Stuart kindly towed the scooter back to the start while Bryan and Mike acted as brake-men for the steeper downhill sections. What excitement will Thursday bring? JC
“Rain across the whole of the country” said the forecasters – and they were not kidding! So there we were, high up on the North York Moors with a choice between retreating to the warm firesides of the Lion Inn or braving the elements along the old railway which used to bring ironstone from the mines at Rosedale to the main line railway at Battersby. So, of course, 12 members on scooters and 10 walkers bravely set off. When reccied in November the views across the valley to the old workings at East Mines were lovely but today we were lucky to see from one end of the train of ramblers to the other. The first ½ mile was on road and we were fortunate to have Flora with us as she followed the convoy in her car with hazards going to give us much-needed protection. After a tricky section going from the car park at Blakey Junction down onto the old track-bed we turned east and headed off into the stinging rain. After about 1½ hours of ‘head-down and pretend you are enjoying this’ stuff, we stopped. JC decided that this was as good a place for lunch as any. However, not many wanted to eat so about fifteen minutes later we were on our way back but this time the wind-blown rain was behind us and we made good time back to the cars and soon many of us were warming up by the fireside of the Lion Inn. Looks like we are going to get the same weather tomorrow – oh well! Many thanks to Ian for organising and leading the ramble – we enjoyed it really! JC.
Regional Ramble 2nd June 2017 - Stoughton Down to Kingley Vale, West Sussex. This is an extremely scenic and lovely ramble and many thanks to Julie and Ian Preddy for sending me the route, which we then reccied and were able to lead this Regional Ramble on a beautiful sunny day in June. To start off we met the local Forestry Commission Ranger in the car park and he was really interested in our scooters and gave us a lot of very valuable information and hints on parking etc in other areas that he manages locally, always a bonus when a chance meeting leads to very useful info that we can use in the future. 7 scooters and 1 walker set off up through a quite long uphill route through woods leading to the Devil’s Humps above Kingley Vale, lovely varied woods and tracks on our way opened out to a panoramic view over Stoughton Down and the village below from where our ramble began. Kingley Vale is famous for its ancient Yew woodlands but we didn’t see those today, we have another ramble worked out for another time to investigate the Yews (Cat 3 chaps!). The group had a bit of fun trying to get up some of the Devil’s humps - but he was not going to let them! They had to give up on the scooters and those who were able walked up the steps for an even better view from the top of these Bronze Age burial barrows at the top of Bow Hill on the South Downs. Then on along a very pleasant grass covered track to our lunch stop overlooking Chichester harbour in the distance, but the day was hazy and so the view was not good and was very vague but is normally quite spectacular. From there on down a very steep track back to the village of Stoughton where we investigated the 11th century Saxon Church of St Mary which has a fine ring of six bells and you will also see the interesting sun dial clock from the photos, it is a super old building and full of character. There is a memorial on the track leading down to Stoughton to a young Polish airman who perished there in his plane in l940. Then a little delightful detour through the fields along footpaths among the hedgerows full of spring flowers. Kites flew overhead quite low, and we were able to see them very clearly. We met a cyclist at the end of this detour who was dumbfounded by us and said it was the first time he had ever given way to anyone on the footpath let alone a group of disabled scooterists! We do meet some really nice people on our rambles. The last little part of the ramble is on the road, which is very quiet and with lovely views as you go along. A very rewarding day indeed, and many thanks to all who came - lovely to see Bernard who can’t get out very often so we were so pleased it was such a lovely day and such a typically English countryside ramble for us all to enjoy. Val and Bob.
Aston to Henley on Thames - 25th May 2017. After a tortuous journey with worse than usual traffic, it was a wonderful feeling to enter the field where we were parking in the little peaceful hamlet of Aston, and even better to see the familiar figure of Jim Mills! Jim and Dorothy had made a special trip from their home to say hello to all of those they knew, and it was a treat to see them, they couldn’t accompany us on the trip but wanted to put in an appearance. Also on the ramble it was so nice to see Jude and Carol and The Harris’s, Keith and Brenda. It was a sparkling, really hot day and around 20 of us comprising 12 scooters and approx 8 walkers set off from the Flowerpot pub and progressed along the Thames Path in the direction of Hambleden Lock. One fascinating sight was the number of Red Kites (as in birds!) we saw, we counted anything from 5 or 6 to 11 or so soaring above us. The countryside in this part of world is quite flat but very atmospheric with the River Thames wending its way through the fields, and the banks are flanked with willow trees, which in turn, are reflected in the water giving that lovely “olde English” effect. Lots of wildfowl - coots, canada geese, ducks, swans with cygnets and also a swans nest right beside the footpath and this was only separated by a make-shift barrier of plastic wire - however, most people wouldn’t want to argue with a daddy swan I shouldn’t think! Hambleden Lock is very picturesque with a massive weir and lovely old houses, we stopped here for coffee break trying to find shade while watching the Thames cruisers (gin palaces?) go through the lock. There were also some immaculate wooden Thames launches, gleaming and highly varnished going along the river, plus an energetic chap practising in a single scull. Another boat characteristic of this part of the world is the slipper launch with a lowered stern which someone suggested was to let the people in the boat have a swim and get back on board easily. En route was Temple Island, as in the photos, where apparently, weddings are sometimes held, usually very select events by the sound of it. We reached our lunch break by 12.30 under the shade of huge willow trees. This time of year the willows are shedding their seedheads and it seemed as if it was snowing at times with all the little fluffy seedheads floating all around us and the ground was coated in a thick layer of them in places along the Thames Path. After lunch we went on up river into Henley and went to The Little Angel pub for ice cream, cider, tea or a pint whichever took your fancy. An amusing pub sandwich board was advertising some rather unusual offers to draw you in - see the advert in the photos! After this refreshment we wended our way back to our starting point having had a very enjoyable day in this historic part of Oxfordshire. Many thanks, as usual, to JC, Judy & Bernard, Jan & Stuart, and especially Veronica for towing the MSU, and for all their hard work in making the day so enjoyable and to all those who travelled a long way to come on the ramble. Val.
The Shipley estate is an ancient manor mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) when it was recorded as belonging to Gilbert of Ghent, the nephew of William the Conquer. Shipley has long had an association with coal mining, which played an important part in shaping the landscape. By 1722 coal mining was in full swing on the estate and around 1765 the Miller Mundy family took over the running of the mines. Unfortunately, the light rain today seemed to put off some of the group as there were only 13 of us as we set off from the Visitor Centre towards Mapperley Reservoir for coffee. We continued to the Nutbrook Café for lunch where we were spoilt for choice by the variety of hot, cold, sweet and savoury dishes on sale. After lunch we continued uphill to the site of the remains of Shipley Hall passing Shipley Lake. Retracing our steps towards Shipley Lake we turned left along Dog Kennel Lane and Shipley Lane to Derby Lodge where we met up with Vas our webmaster, who took lots of photos, and walked with us to the Visitor Centre. Judy
Our group of 25 set off in glorious sunshine around Carsington Water which was opened in 1992 by Her Majesty the Queen and is one of Derbyshire’s most important tourist attractions that cost £107 million to build. Severn Trent has planted half a million trees and shrubs in woodlands and the result has been not only to enhance a beautiful landscape, but to create many new habitats for wildlife. The route headed across The Dam towards Millfields. We paused at the Stones Shelter to take photographs of the wooden furniture so cleverly done, then onwards up to the highest point overlooking the reservoir for lunch. We continued via Sheepwash and the Wildlife Centre back to the Visitor Centre for teas and wonderful ice creams. Judy
A large group of members met on Tuesday 16th May at Hardwick Hall which is an architecturally significant Elizabethan Country house built between 1590 and 1597 for Bess of Hardwick. The weather was overcast and dry as we set off down the steep slope across farmland towards the Stone Centre and the Row Ponds. We stopped earlier than planned, because of a sharp shower, at the Park Centre for coffee as there was shelter there and toilets. The rain soon passed and we continued alongside Miller’s Pond. Our lunch break was at the top of Broadoak Hill where we had excellent views over Hardwick Hall and the surrounding countryside. We continued out of the park and along quiet lanes passing Ault Hucknall church and returning to the park along the road between the Old and New Halls back to the Visitor Centre for refreshments. Judy
Clumber Park 1703. On Monday 15th May a group of D R members and volunteers, 24 scooter riders and walkers, met by the Cricket Ground. The weather was showery as we set off around Clumber Park, a beautiful expanse of parkland covering 3,800 acres which was home to the Dukes of Newcastle for over 300 years and was once part of Sherwood Forest. The Bluebells and Rhododendron were in bloom which added to the lovely scenery, throughout the park. We stopped at Hardwick Village for lunch alongside the lake before continuing back to the Visitor Centre passing lots of wildlife and woodland. Judy.
Penmachno Forest Ramble. Another beautiful day, another wonderful ramble! Six people on scooters this time, with four trusty walkers, plus one dog. We started from the Mountain Bike Centre, but few cyclists about today, so plenty of parking space. Uphill to start, then into the woods for another longish uphill section, took us to an early lunch-stop, after an early coffee-stop, due to travelling quite slowly. One of us had grave battery concerns, at this point! Decision Time!! Do we continue, or do we return? I decided on the former, as we were at the high-point of our ramble. We carried on downhill, with this concern in mind, but the brave little scooter struggled on, to new battery-levels never seen by its owner! Ever onwards we went, mostly down-hill, into new territory for all but myself. Exciting! Then, end in sight, we entered the final and best part of our route, through the sun-splashed deciduous woodland, to the minor road. Almost there, more than one battery at unknown levels. One mile of single-file on the narrow road and we were back. Success! Great ramble!
Nant Ffrancon Ramble.Snowdonia. 8/5/17. A return to a ramble last done in September 2016, in very poor weather. This time, we were much luckier, having wall-to-wall sunshine, but with a very slight, but cool east wind. The mountains were resplendent, with not a single cloud in the sky. We were a small group of five scooters and five walking Helpers. Down the steep hill, the so-called 'Lord's Road', into the valley bottom, surrounded by beautiful mountains, so peaceful in the sunlight. Continuing on we skirted the giant slate tips of Penrhyn Quarry, passing Ogwen Bank Falls, where we had a very wet lunch-break in 2016. Not today! As we were just about to leave another DR member appeared, having 'raced' to catch us! The irrepressible ET! We had heard unusual sounds from nearby, so continued on to find their source, which turned out to be the 'Big Zipper' the longest zip-wire in Europe. After a short stop admiring the 'courage' of others, we then started back. This went very well, despite the steep hill, but everybody survived, to ramble again! The very next day, for most!
Always a shame when MayDay is dull and overcast, as it always conjures up lovely sunshine daisies, morris dancers and such-like in one’s mind, but sadly this year’s MayDay was forecast as heavy rain in our area, so off we set togged up in our waterproof trousers ready for the first shower...which never came!!!! We had two cancellations already because of the forecast but it just never happened, it was dull but with a little sunshine here and there so we were more than pleased. 5 of us departed from the car park into the Angmering Park Estate, a private, traditional agricultural and sporting estate set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, activities include farming, a racing yard, shooting and other country pursuits including moorings and fishing on the rivers Arun and Adur. The Trustees of the Estate very kindly encourage the local population to walk, cycle, “scoot” and run through the many footpaths and bridleways that go all over the beautiful mixed woodlands. The Estate grounds at present are a mass of bluebells and it is a real treat to pass through the woods to see them. We found a lovely little coppice to have our coffee break sitting among a blue sea of these lovely iconic spring flowers, and we then proceeded along the bridleways to the little track that leads right through the Estate and past the lovely Angmering Park House and the stable yard, as you will see from the photos these are very lovely grounds and I think it is very generous of the Trustees to give access in this way. Lots of lovely scents in the air from the various shrubs en route and of course, among the bluebells themselves. We had lunch, again overlooking a hill of beech and hazel trees underlaid with bluebells, and were pleased to see 2 deer run along the top of the ridge. We could hear pheasants and one weird call which, in the end, we decided was a cockerel from the farm but it sounded like a banshee wail more than anything! All this time we kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain, and we were extremely lucky today as it kept as dry as a bone, in fact, we did an extra loop bringing the total distance to over 7 miles, we didn’t have any walkers today so we kept up a rather faster pace than usual and were back at the cars by just after 2 o’clock. We debated whether to explore another track but decided not to push our luck and perhaps we were wise as by 3 o’clock or so we started having showers once we got back home. It was a really enjoyable ramble, and the DRers we had were a lot of fun, namely David, Brian and Paul, Bob and Val - so it just shows that even if it is just a few people on the day it is still worth making the effort as it can, and did, turn into a very successful day. Our first this season and here’s to lots more during the summer. Photos supplied by Bob, Val and David. Val and Bob.
2.4.2017. After leaving Cannock Chase Visitor Centre we wound our way through delightful birch copses and open grassland before crossing Marquises Drive and descending, sometimes on steep loose tracks, to the ford at Fariroak Pools. Soon we reached the Forestry Commission visitor Centre at Birches Valley (the location for yesterday’s AGM) for lunch. A fairly straight run saw us back at Cannock Chase VC in plenty of time for tea and ice creams.