Southern Regional Ramble - 5th December 2019 - Deerleap to Beaulieu Road Pony Auction, nr Lyndhurst, New Forest, Hampshire. This is the last pony auction of the season and it was the perfect day for it - the forest was frosty underfoot with a mist lingering among the trees, but the sun was trying to come out and brighten everything up, which made for perfect conditions to travel across heathland and grassy plain to this iconic event. We originally had 8 booked in, but as ever (and unavoidably), 2 cancellations due to not being well left 6 of us to enjoy this trip. This had to become a linear ramble as the circular route was not possible, this being a very boggy area and with the rain that has fallen this Autumn one particular part is simply not passable probably until the Spring. On the way we stopped for coffee at a dew pond which had frozen over, and Barney (Jo’s lovely dog), was quite surprised when his foot slipped through the ice at the edge of the pond. Just after this we were a bit apprehensive to hear bellowing and mooing and saw a huge herd of cows coming across the plain and entering the very track through a boggy wood that we needed. There were about a 100 head of cattle, so we had decided to let them go through ahead of us when they suddenly about turned and the farmer appeared in his truck carrying their food and led them away from our path, thank goodness! It was quite a sight to see, and one of those things to be remembered for a long time. Then onward through the now churned up path and across a huge grassy plain until we reached the pony auctions. Some people don’t like these events, but they are managed scrupulously by the New Forest Livestock Society and there is no cruelty, the ponies are all carefully handled and seem to go to good homes to be brought on as children’s riding ponies or similar. There were a couple of donkeys, who let their presence be known! Also, some really large horses that were definitely not NF ponies, but looked like ex-racehorses, a good mixture of stock today. Added to this there is the humour and tough-ness of the locals, many of whom live in the forest and are known as “commoners” and the ponies are the very ones that we see grazing in the forest all year round. Another bonus is that there are food vans with hot dogs, coffee, hot chocolate etc. so it’s a good day out. A colourful country event, and well worth seeing. It was still fairly early, about 1.30 and the ponies were being loaded up to go to their new homes so we went off for a further ramble of about 2 miles to see more of the scenery, before heading back to the car park. Just before the car park on a very boggy stretch, we saw a white egret land, a very unusual bird to see in this part of the forest. There’s always something different happening on our rambles, and it makes it all the more worth while to make the effort to get out there and do it!! Thanks to all for coming, we go every year - so if you couldn’t make it this time keep your eyes open and perhaps next year you will be able to. Val and Bob.
Regional Ramble - Petworth House Deer Park, West Sussex - 25th October 2019 This ramble was proposed by our DR member Roger W, who lives in West Sussex and this stands a good chance of becoming an annual favourite as the Park is so lovely and it is very interesting to watch the deer and their antics at this time of year, unfortunately, on our visit the weather wasn’t perfect - rather damp and cold - so although we did linger at various points, we would have liked to have spent more time watching these lovely creatures. The bellowing of the stags and the hinds rushing around in little groups, plus the occasional clashing of antlers as two stags fought for possession of their harem, was very atmospheric and interesting. Many of the stags were limping, so they must have been injured whilst fighting one of their fellow stags. Lovely to see and watch. We all see it on TV but to witness it in person is really something. We had 9 scooterists originally, but one cancellation reduced this to 8 and 2 walkers. There is a rather unusual snack bar in the car park, The Flying Ducks based in a vintage caravan, which is very popular, but just for this day it had been closed! We had hoped to have had a lovely hot chocolate and chat at the end of the ramble but this was not to be. However, we all set off with fingers crossed for good weather as the forecast was not brilliant, it was OK until just before lunch when a rainy squall set in for about an hour or so, but it wasn’t too bad and cleared up after that. The park is huge and is mainly mature oaks, chestnut, maple trees and was landscaped by the famous Capability Brown, and the setting also inspired the landscape painter, JMW Turner which you can clearly see from the lakes especially. It is a lovely area to walk in, very green with the ancient trees all around and there are many grassy paths to choose from, easy to take the wrong one - as I did on the day - we had to turn round no less than 3 times! Luckily, thanks to my trusty ViewRanger we only went a few wheel turns before I realised, good practice for our members at three point turns anyway! That was my excuse. Plenty of deer, especially after lunch as the route we devised took us through all the main areas that are occupied by very large herds of fallow deer. Our morning route took us past the kennels, home to a pack of hounds who welcomed us very loudly as we passed by. Then across the back of this grand, massive house inspired by the Baroque palaces of Europe, towards the large Upper Pond where there are many wildfowl. We had lunch there before progressing on through the main part of the deer park where we watched them for quite a while, before returning to the car park in the nick of time before another heavy squall of rain came through, by this time we were all loaded up and away. A very good day and a venue we will definitely return to. Thanks to all for coming, some from a considerable distance, and to Roger for suggesting it in the first place. Val and Bob.
Regional Ramble - Rhinefield Circular - Disabled Ramblers & New Forest Walking Festival - Tuesday 22nd October 2019. Lovely day today, we were out early into the beautiful misty Forest before our DR members arrived to check the path as, due to surprise roadworks, we had to change the start point and needed a memory refresh, this in spite of a reccy 2 or 3 days before the ramble! Again, we had 11 scooterists plus 2 cyclists, and 7 walkers. This was a completely different ramble to Day 1 and is a very “watery” one, ie it passes Ober Water, Bolderford Bridge and on the way home Fletchers Water, so it’s forest streams and meanders (the name for the forest streams) all the way. There is plenty of water in the Forest at the moment and the route is very varied and goes through woodland tracks, open plains and forest tracks plus a little road work here and there, quiet roads luckily. We also welcomed a member of public, Anne and her husband, Ted, and friend, Sandra. Anne was a DR member some years ago and wanted to come and join us today as part of the New Forest Walking Festival. We had coffee at Bolderford Bridge looking out over the swollen stream. We then set off towards lunch stop, sadly Sheila (cyclist) lost her glasses at Bolderford and had to retrace her steps (by bicycle) to look for them, but no luck, unfortunately. On the way to lunch at Blackwater car park, which was our original starting point, we pass what is called the “dead forest” a group of trees that stand in very boggy, waterlogged ground as a consequence of which they are just eerie-looking tall, leafless and stark tree trunks and branches, bleached white by the elements. This area is also a conservation area where, on our reccy, we saw about 6 red deer last week. Today we heard the roar of a stag coming from the woods and a sighting of a group of fallow deer. Lunch at Blackwater car park, all mod cons - ice cream van, loos, bbq site etc. Then off again on the homeward trek. This is a really nice ramble and is a little different because of the streams etc. all the way. On the final hill back to Whitefield Moor we had a battery problem from one of our scooters, but just a little push and we got up the hill with no further trouble. Two very enjoyable days for us, all photos by courtesy of our backmarker and official photographer, Bob McLellan. We were also delighted because our radios worked! Very useful they were too. Many thanks to a super group of people who made these two rambles very enjoyable, friendly and fun. Val and Bob.
Regional Ramble - DR/New Forest Walking Festival - Wilverley Figure of Eight, New Forest, Hampshire…...Monday 21st October 2019. Thankfully, not raining - just dull. Anything is acceptable as long as it doesn’t rain! 11 Scooterists, 1 cyclist and 3 Walkers set off from Wilverley Inclosure to start this ramble we were running for DR and the New Forest Walking Festival. We were pleased to welcome a member of public, Terry, who hopefully will become a frequent attendee and DR member. Several faces we haven’t seen for a bit too - Paul W Dean, Arthur, Roy and Ann & Paul - so it was good to see them. The Inclosure is very pretty and the autumn colours are just beginning to show, although not at their full potential yet, another week or two will see all the different hues appearing. We lunched back at the starting point, the walkers were pleased to be able to sit down on the picnic benches in the bbq area. It was a very jolly crowd and a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We then set off to Hinchelsea Moor. Last year we reported a difficult pathway over a boggy area called Holm Hill, near Duck Hole (love the names!) - and they have cut back the gorse and repaired the wooden path support over the bog. This is now giving away again after a summer season so we will report that back to the NPA. Also, we had to make the route linear and not circular as, after our reccy, we found that the path up a steep hill had been carved by the rain into a deep fissure and the remaining path we would have had to use was only just wide enough and necessitated going at a tilt and uphill while trying not to fall into the fissure! We decided it was too risky without adequate able-bodied support - we would have needed at least 3 strong husky chaps to help - so just turned round at the bottom of the valley and made it a linear route instead. Still very nice, with super views over the forest, the complete opposite to the morning route which is on good tracks through wonderful old and massive trees. It was a very good day and all appeared to enjoy it. Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such a success. Val and Bob.
Bradenham As the forecast was the worst of this week we decided to get going promptly and set off uphill on a path which had deteriorated significantly since it was first identified for this ramble, however we all managed to negotiate the ruts, and then came the mud. Inevitably due to the recent rain, there was much more of it than a week ago, but we all coped without getting stuck. Having started on one pretty village green, Bradenham, we had coffee an hour later on another one, Downley Common. We returned the same way and after lunch and a rest for the walkers we then set off in the opposite direction, on a much more open route with sweeping views across the valley. Unfortunately at this point the weather caught us and we made our way back in driving rain being blown into our faces. As Mike said “ Well, you said you wanted to give us a variety of experiences! " Lucy
Swyncombe with Henley and Goring Ramblers We parked (as last year for a regional ramble) at Ewelme Park Farm, with the kind permission of the owner, Michael Colston, who was quite happy to have us back again. Ewelme consists of some beautiful old buildings which go back to before the time of Henry VIII; it was originally a monastery but Henry wanted it as his hunting lodge, and as we know, he usually got what he wanted. This ramble was extremely varied in scenery, with some fabulous views of rolling Oxfordshire farmland and the Ridgeway as well as some woodland paths. Unbelievably the same member who had battery trouble on Monday experienced the same issue with a loan Tramper on this ramble ; the scooter towing then began to struggle as well but luckily we were close enough to our endpoint for another loan scooter to be fetched for the final small section. We were very lucky to be accompanied yet again by Alie and colleagues from Henley Ramblers who have done a great deal to help develop suitable rambles in this area. Lucy
Cliveden National Trust 8 October This ramble was ably led by John Birmingham who, as a regular volunteer at Cliveden is extremely well qualified to show us many of the lesser known points of the estate. These included the house known for its connection with the Profumo affair as well as Lady Astor’s boathouse and a shrine to her memory. I live not far from Cliveden but have never dared go down any of the paths to the Thames so it was really enjoyable to not only see many glimpses of the river through the trees but also to be able to get right down to it quite safely. After a very enjoyable morning touring the wider estate we set off after lunch to explore the formal gardens, however as predicted the weather worsened and while some members decide to turn back a few hardy souls battled on round the hugely ornate fountains and flower beds, eventually conceding that the tea shop seemed a good option. Lucy
Chalfont Ramble 7 Oct We negotiated the machinery doing maintenance in the Forestry Car park and nine scooters set off with the forecast sounding fairly dire for the afternoon. However we were pretty lucky- the rain was very light and could mostly be ignored. The exciting moments of the day included not being able to get the trailer through one of the kissing gates on the South Bucks Way, the ramble leader getting stuck in a hole and only just managing to stay on her Tramper while searching for a suitable bush, a Tramper deciding to go ‘ very slow’ on the uphill slopes and the sight of an interesting variety of farm animals down in a valley, including emu and Shetland ponies. Ironically the kissing gate which looked the most challenging was no problem. We were impressed with the patience of several drivers who waited for us all to pass on the sweetly named Bottom House Lane where there were few passing places. Lucy
Regional Ramble in the Surrey Hills Peaslake to Pitch Hill 18th September 2019 On this sunny Indian summer day six members with able companions set off on this 5 mile figure of eight ramble. From the forestry car park west of Peaslake the group proceeded along the valley bottom of the Hurtwood, a large area of woodland and common land forming part of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Then the climb began up the aptly named Zig Zags in our endeavour to reach Pitch Hill. After this short but steep climb a stop for a well deserved coffee break by all was in order. Onwards and gently upwards around the Hurtwood we arrived at Pitch Hill for lunch. Above the village of Ewhurst Pitch Hill (831ft above sea level) stands out from the Greensand escarpment with commanding views over the Weald to the South Downs and on a clear day the sea is just visible on the south coast. After lunch a descent on another track through the Hurtwood, then a short sharp climb again to reach the final route back to the village of Peaslake. “Polly” blew a fuse halfway up this ascent but a quick response by the recovery team “Peter” and the fuse replaced she was off again to join up with the others. A gradual descent passing by the secluded and peaceful cemetery on Ridge Hill above the village we then entered the village by St Mark’s Church. Built in the late 1800s and consecrated on St. Mark's day in 1889. A very short circuit around the village centre much to the bemusement of the onlookers sitting outside the Hurtwood Inn our convoy proceeded the short distance along the lane back to the start with Brian’s beacon flashing taking up at the rear. Thanks for having a great group of ramblers coming along to my inaugural ramble and also to Bob for photos kindly supplied as a record of the day. Ian
Mellerstain House Today we were welcomed by Stephen, Operations Manager for Mellerstain, who gave us an interesting talk on the house and gardens. We set off heading out of the estate and climbing a track which gave us splendid views of the surrounding area in glorious sunshine, such a difference to yesterday. We stopped for our coffee break overlooking the countryside and then went along an estate track where we joined the road. Here, just by chance, we met up with James and Ann in their car driving towards the car park. They joined us for lunch at the café besides the house and it was lovely to see them and have them join us as we rambled around the gardens and lake in the afternoon. After the rain yesterday the off-road sections were very muddy under the trees. I would like thank James and Ann for reccying the rambles and paying the entrance fees for us all to enjoy the beautiful grounds. Also, Bernard and I would like to thank Dave who each day towed the FSU and together with John helped load and unload the MSU which was a great help to us. Judy
Bowhill House, Buccleuch Estate We were met this morning by Michael, Learning & Engagement Ranger, who gave us some information on the area before we set off on our ramble in light rain. As we progressed uphill along Duchess Drive the rain intensified, and the fog came down so that we couldn’t see the magnificent views of the hills around the area. As we stopped for the morning coffee break 2 members were so cold that they returned down the hill to the car park. I contacted Michael in the office to keep a look out for them and they returned safely to their car. We passed a large group of ramblers from the Walking Festival in the area having their lunch and who were amazed that we were up there in the hills with them. I did wonder if we too should return but our group wanted to continue despite the weather, so we had a very short lunch break and continued down the hill with the sun starting to poke through the low clouds giving a glimpses of the beautiful scenery. When we returned to the courtyard out came the sun, just in time for the very wet group photo call with Michael welcoming us back outside Bowhill House. I have added 2 photos which Bernard and I took on Sunday to show what a difference the sun being out makes to the landscape. Judy
Tweed Valley Forest Park – Glentress We were welcomed in the car park by Lynn from the Rangers Office, who stayed for a while but was unable to give her talk owing to the time factor. A group of 7 scooters and 8 walkers met and set off in the rain from the Buzzard’s Nest car park onto the green cycle track which headed firstly downhill and then wound its way upwards through the zig zag tracks of the forest, on the gravel tracks. Eventually the rain stopped and out came the sun by the time of our coffee stop in a layby overlooking Peebles Hydro. Afterwards we continued climbing higher and higher until we reached the lunch stop. Where we were able to further appreciate the views of the countryside. After lunch we continued, on the green track for a while and then we joined the harder and steeper blue track which went into the forest high above the car park. This is where the skill of scooters riders came in as we negotiated the tree roots and narrow winding paths to the road and more rugged long downward recent returning to the car park. Before leaving the area some of us visited the café for the usual tea and cakes. Judy
Traquair House With our leader James unable to join us today Bernard and I lead the ramble with thanks to ViewRanger. We started our ramble in light rain. Having first signed their Image Consent form, we had a group photo taken in front of the house by a member of staff. We set off and before long had to negotiate a narrow gateway which needed the FSU to be unhitched to be able to get through with the rest and onto a new track. We crossed the road to start our steady accent that became more rugged the further up we went this became rocky and with the drizzle, more muddy and slippery the higher we went until we reached our coffee break. This took a toll on the scooters and caused 2 members to decide to return with Bee escorting them, back to the café by the House. The rest of us continued slowly up to the lunch break where just before arriving we had more problems with 2 more scooters overheating. With walkers helping the scooters up the hill we reached the top where the climb was worth it as the views across the hills were lovely. Returning in sunshine and for a while following the tyres tracks we had made earlier, we then turned off this track onto a gravel one, downhill for most of the way with the views of the valley and hills getting better and better. We met up again with the others in the café by the House for tea and cakes ending an eventful and enjoyable day. Judy
As we started the Christmas Common ramble it really felt like autumn though some people were in t shirts by the middle of the day. In the very narrow and atmospheric sunken lane which formed the first section of our route we managed to encounter three oncoming vehicles and one horse and rider, however all was well and they got past our scooters with no problem. Although the sunken lane made viewing the scenery challenging our in house photographer did an excellent (if slightly heart stopping) job of getting some shots. We were so hungry and thirsty that we didn’t make it to the planned lunch/ coffee stop, flopping instead in a field with beautiful views of rolling Oxfordshire farmland the minute we left the lane. Our very able co-leader, Sheila from Henley and Goring Ramblers, who had kindly agreed to accompany us at short notice, was able to point out various landmarks in the distance including a farm which has been owned by the same family since Norman times. Our actual lunch stop was taken in patchy sunshine with one very noisy flock of sheep behind us and a view of several much quieter ones in a field facing us. The last section involved returning through woodland where despite Wednesday’s rain we managed to avoid getting stuck in mud so no towing was needed this time. All in all everyone seemed to have had a very enjoyable ramble.” Lucy.
Okehampton ramble Today 12 members of DR joined the Cornwall Rolling Ramblers and WAGS led by the Moorland Guides set off from high up over the town of Okehampton, on a bright sunny day with a brisk wind, into the hills. The higher up we went the more stunning the views became. Our first challenge was a fast-flowing ford which everyone negotiated carefully under the supervision of the leaders. Before lunch there was a long steep hill up to the top where we sheltered close to a barn owing to the high, gusty wind and I had visions of the toilet tent making its own descent back to the car park but fortunately the straps held securely. We were joined during lunch by a very unusual tracklaying vehicle which caused a stir and many photos. Shortly after setting off from lunch one of the trampers developed a rear wheel puncture. As the leaders couldn’t repair it Bernard and 2 others walked the tramper back to the car park and the scooter rider changed onto the spare tramper taken for just such an incident. I would like to thank the leaders for all their efforts in producing the 4 days of rambles for us. Judy
Bellever Forest We left from the village of Postbridge and were soon on lovely wide tracks in Bellever Forest. Luckily, there are very picturesque vistas all around in spite of the trees and all day we looked out upon the Tors and surrounding sweeping hills. We had a little rain to start, needing to “tog up” but this soon stopped and the sun came out. Quite a varied route with one section over rough grass with great views all around, but I should think this part would be dodgy in the winter as it could be very boggy by the feel of the terrain. We stopped for lunch with wonderful countryside and distant Tors to look upon before carrying on to our intended afternoon stop at the old clapper bridge near the quaint old village of Bellever, which used to be a crossing place over the East Dart River in days gone by, this has now lost its central clapper (large granite slab, these measured two and a half metres in length and were only suitable for foot passengers) and was replaced by a 19th century bridge, which is also rather a picturesque sight. This area is very popular with families and is very beautiful with the river running through that people can swim and paddle in, and use the large rocks to cross from side to side. We met some very friendly people during the day, including two hikers one resplendent in kilt and tartan shirt with their backpacks, always ready for a chat and to exchange experiences. Then homeward, tinged with a little sadness as tomorrow is the last ramble of what has been a really great week. Again, thank you to Dawn, the Moorland Guide who came with us today and once more, thanks to Gordon and the rest of the WAGS group for their constant, hard work (even though I know it is enjoyable), in reccying and checking all these routes. Val
Rattlebrook Tramway This is a disused railway, built in 1879, to extract naptha oil from the peat that blanketed the moors, this could be converted into candles and mothballs as well as other uses, such as flares for lighting the evening markets of the country towns nearby. On the outward journey it is a sustained climb of 1:10 for about three miles on very bumpy and rocky loose surfaces. We started off from the Fox & Hounds Hotel nr Okehampton and travelled up the stony track from the car park, suddenly, coming towards us was a farmer on his quadbike followed by a large herd of cows, calves and one huge bull. We all pulled in as close as we could to the left while they stampeded past, they looked terrified - but not as terrified as we were I bet! It was an interesting experience to say the least, but a little worrying especially when the bull went past, massive and powerful as he was. All was well however, and we carried on our way. This is a really beautiful, scenic route going high up on the western flank of Dartmoor giving amazing views over the surrounding countryside for miles. Added to this was the flowers of the heather and gorse, which intermingled and gave an amazing display. As you can see from the photos, we were going between banks of these colourful flowers and it was really lovely. We had an interesting combination of scooters today: a terrain hopper, a Mayan, 2 Kymcos, a Boma 7, TGA Supersport, TWS’s, Trampers. We often hear that DR is a “Tramper” group but there were many other makes here today, and on Fernworthy the day before we also had a Mybility 4X powerchair. All managed very well too. We had lunch with terrific views to enjoy as well as our sandwiches, and then progressed onto the upper part of the track which led to the top of the hill. This was an extremely bumpy track, although beautiful, and this last part defeated two of us - not because of the steepness, it was the constant bumping on our spines - and we had to admit we would have to stop and wait for the others. This was no bad thing though, because we were able to sit and have a good look round and enjoy the scenery and let our poor vertebrae’s recover in time for the downward trip! There were lots of little ponies and cattle to watch and in the distance was the old viaduct that was used to connect all the villages in the valley by train, this is now a cycle track and is once again useful for cyclists and walkers alike. This was a truly awesome route from the scenic point of view and we all enjoyed it very much. Again, thanks Moorland Guides and WAGS for the work you put in, and for sharing this route with DR.
Fernworthy Forest and Reservoir The trip to the starting point was, in itself, very scenic across very wild moorland for about 2 miles or more with lovely views either side and plenty of sheep grazing by the roadside. The day was perfect and we had a good attendance of 18 or more scooters plus volunteers and walkers, it was our pleasure to welcome a new member, Shail, on his first ramble with DR and he had a great time testing the Tramper and exploring. We were led by Andy of the Moorland Guides who work closely with the Devon group called WAGS, Wheelchair Access Group. Fernworthy Forest was lovely with thick moss covering the floor of the forest under the tall pine trees and we had lunch in a Bronze Age Stone circle of 26 blocks of granite which is known as Froggymead, evidence of charcoal was found when it was excavated which suggests usage in days gone by. There are other stone circles in the area too, so the area has occupied by humans for many hundreds of years. We then progressed on to the Reservoir where some had a paddle and Jack’s little chihuahua had a lovely swim! Fernworthy Reservoir feeds Torquay, Totnes and Brixham and there is an abundance of wildlife on the reserve as well as much interesting archaeology, fishing is popular and brown trout are one of the fish in the reservoir. Autumn was evident with berries and beech nuts in great abundance. There are several walks that can be started from this point, so it is a very popular area for locals and holidaymakers alike. It was a really super start to the week and very many thanks to Andy, the Moorland Guide, who accompanied us on this ramble and for the work put in by Gordon and his team of WAGS in putting this tour together. Val
Elvaston Castle We set off on our first Saturday ramble in glorious sunshine alongside the Elvaston Castle lake, with the walkers jumping over, scooter riders driving through, the large puddles left from the heavy rain the day before. The further we went the drier it became and we enjoyed our coffee alongside the weir where the waters were ‘boiling’ with severity and a local told us he had never seen the River Derwent so high. We continued for a while and then stopped to pick some blackberries along the lane before returning to the Castle grounds for our lunchbreak near to the castle. After lunch we continued, passing the Italian and English Gardens to the Golden Gate for a photo call, before heading back through the woodlands and pausing for our afternoon break on the opposite side of the lake watching the ducks and geese. Judy Cunningham
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. 5th August 2019. Much to our disappointment, as soon as we got out of our cars - down came the rain AND wind! However, it wasn’t too cold so we held onto the hope that it would clear up later and carried on with our long awaited ramble. We were accompanied by James of the West Sussex Wildlife Trust and who is passionate about nature and has a wealth of knowledge at his fingertips about the reserve and its wildlife occupants. Rye Harbour is one of Britain’s most important conservation sites and is composed of interlocking shingle ridges, saltmarsh, intertidal grazing, reed beds and saline lagoons with some 4275 species of plants, animals and birds including more than 200 rare or endangered birds and mammals. There are five birdwatching hides accessible to wheelchairs and mobility scooters from where we were able to watch a huge colony of Cormorants, some perched in trees around the lagoon, as well as some fascinating water fowl such as Greenshank, Little Grebe, Crested Grebe, Lapwings, an unusual visitor called a Ruff - a wader not often seen so very exciting, mute Swans and their cygnets, Little Egret, Shellduck, Greylag geese, Oystercatcher and many, many others. Everywhere you looked there was something to see or something developing. Even for a not too keen birdwatcher it made compelling viewing, as well as giving a little shelter from the rain and somewhere to have lunch. We went past the abandoned Mary Stanford Lifeboat House which remains as a memorial to the 17 men forming the lifeboat crew that perished in the 1928 disaster while they were trying to go to the aid of the “Alice of Riga” a small steamer which had been involved in a collision. We then progressed away from the coastal path over the fields to Camber Castle which was built by Henry VIII between 1512 and 1514 as an artillery tower, in 1539 it was extended and further extended during 1542/3 until it became a large concentric artillery fort with a central keep surrounded by four circular bastions and a circular entrance bastion. A very commanding sight it is too. There is a memorial stone there for Fl/lt. Harry R Hamilton who died on 29th August 1940 when his Hurricane crashed near the Castle as he was protecting our coast from enemy bombers. All details on https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk. Makes very interesting reading. From there we went past Castle Water where there are even reedbed specialists the Bittern, not that we saw one on the day. There is a lot of history to Rye Harbour and it is easy to look up on the internet and learn more of the interesting facts I have very briefly outlined. An interesting plant growing profusely on our way homeward bound was the Marshmallow plant, very like the wild pink mallow we see everywhere but a very erect growing plant covered in ghostly pinky-grey flowers, very beautiful and favours salt marshes with moist sandy soil for their habitat. We arrived back at the car park after a rather wild wet & windy, but then sunny, day with everything explained with great expertise by James. A super day and we hope to repeat it next year, perhaps in the breeding season when the birds will be even more active than today. Many thanks to all who took the trouble to travel the long distance involved, and to James for his patience and knowledge. We were able to give a nice donation to the Wildlife Trust as a small gesture of thanks for such a good time. Val and Bob.
Winchcombe Path opening - with Disabled Ramblers and Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Wednesday 12th June 2019. Back in 2015 our DR member, Eileen Scannell, led the pioneering reccy of this route which highlighted where improvements were needed and this has, in turn, enabled the inaugural ramble to take place, sadly Eileen couldn’t attend on the day and we all missed her. Arthur Lee led on behalf of Disabled Ramblers, and Mr Paul Clark, Chair of Cotswolds Voluntary Wardens was their representative for this very scenic ramble also accompanied by some of his colleagues as well as some representatives from Natural England Lady Ashcombe of Sudeley Castle, generously hosted the event and following refreshments, kindly provided by the Cotswold Vol. Wardens, we made our way across Home Park and along the Wardens Way, to hold a formal opening ceremony by the new ramp and RADAR gate at the exit from the park before climbing up to Parks Farm and on to Deadmanbury Gate, where the views open out across the Cotswolds. After stopping for lunch, the route passes Roel Hill Farm and Roel Hill Gate before descending back to Sudeley Castle for tea. This ramble is a Cat 3. 5.5 miles distance. The going can be fairly challenging depending on the conditions at the time, some rough grassland, field edges, steep hills but all the way it is very beautiful with terrific scenery over the surrounding countryside. We had a good turnout on the day and great fun was had by all, including a tumble or 2 (or 3 or 4) but no harm done, so all adds to the excitement! The ViewRanger link is as follows: https://my.viewranger.com/route/details/MjA5NTQ4NA== The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, the voluntary arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, have been working on easily accessible paths across the Cotswolds for many years, but this new route marks the beginning of longer, more challenging routes for use by off road mobility scooters. The project has involved hundreds of hours of voluntary effort on installing gates, surface improvements and negotiations; working with the support of the Disabled Ramblers, landowners and the Gloucestershire Council rights of way team. The route will be available for everyone to freely download after the launch on the Conservation Boards website at www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk. We are very grateful to them for all their hard work and dedication in making this route accessible for us, bearing in mind a lot of the work was undertaken in the depth of the winter. Many thanks to all involved.
Southern Regional Ramble - Washington to Thakeham - 22.7.19 Our starting point for the 8 scooters on this varied ramble led by our DR member Roger, was at Roger’s house by the side of one of his lakes for coffee and biscuits, supplied with great grace and elegance by Gina, Roger’s lovely wife. Sufficiently fed and watered we set off alongside the busy A24, on the cycle path I hasten to add, for about half a mile, although we also went off the cycle path onto the old road past various cottages and an antique auction house (very interesting), until we reached our first little quiet path through lovely cool woodland. Along a quiet country lane, never any traffic until today when we met about 5 cars! Then through a lovely area of farmland where Roger had contacted the farmer to arrange for the gate to be left unlocked for us, in fact, it had been left wide open by our kindly farmer, so that was really appreciated. So nice to be able to appreciate the countryside in this way, and then we entered the lovely little village of Thakeham with its ancient cottages and beautiful gardens, it’s really tiny here with a lot of history, see the photos for pictures and a history board. At Thakeham we went to The White Lion pub for our lunch, loved the chips, before departing along another grassy path through farmland until we came to Strawberry Lane, a lovely old track through woodland. This is often impassable due to mud, but it has recently been partly re-surfaced so hopefully, that may help in the winter. We then came out to Little Thakeham House, an Edward Lutyens designed house that Roger had permission for us to go and have a look at from the gardens surrounding it. It was really impressive. From there along quiet lanes, private roads and bridleways to Washington Common where we had the “piece de resistance” at the end - a very steep downhill route back to the A24 and the underpass to Roger’s house. This downhill part is deceptive, about halfway down it suddenly becomes very tricky and with a camber and drop to the left hand side it does need some concentration. We all managed it very well, (even me), but the dear old Trampers were skidding a bit, as they do on steep hills sometimes. Then back to Roger’s for a trip round his private nature reserve where he photographs all manner of nature, kingfishers, buzzards and much more, it is really lovely and all man made with several lakes and ponds. Finally, into the garden where Gina served us tea, coffee and cream scones. We were really spoilt, but appreciate the hospitality and generosity of both Roger and Gina. This was a very special day thanks to our visit to Roger’s house and also a really good mix of super DR members with a lot in common. Thanks so much to you all for coming, and now we look forward to Rye in just under two weeks time. Best wishes, Val and Bob.
Foxton Locks Thursday 18th July 2019 We met at Foxton Locks to grey skies and some rain but before we started the skies brightened and the sun came out. Our group comprised of 7 scooters and 5 walkers including Val & Bob who came quite some distance to be with us. We set off along the road to the Bottom Lock and crossed the canal by the swing bridge. Leaving the canal onto a narrow very quiet lane, we met only one car and timed it just right as a very large tractor was approaching hedge trimming, just before our turning onto farmland towards Debdale Wharf. Our coffee break was at the top of the hill with lovely views over the surrounding Leicestershire countryside and then continued passing sheep and horses in the fields. We re-joined the canal opposite Debdale Marina and headed back towards Foxton Locks. After crossing Rainbow Bridge, a cobble stone bridge, we stopped for toilets at Bottom Lock before continuing to Top Lock for lunch. With the sun still shining we continued to the viewpoint and returned passing the old canal to the Museum and back to the road where we had our afternoon tea at the café before returning to the car park in Gumley Road. Judy Cunningham
This was a linear ramble around the most beautiful side of Llyn Trawsfynydd, some on a quiet dead end private road and the rest on a crushed stone surface. It is the ups and downs, some steep, then the twists and turns which made this route challenging. Overall ascent/descent 750 feet - so not flat. Once across the dam the trail went over open moorland before entering fenced off areas with occasional glimpses of the beautiful views across the Llyn.
A stunning, predominately linear, ramble alongside the Afons (Rivers) Gwynant (white water) and Mawddach with spectacular views of the Snowdonia mountains and Mawddach estuary. Sightings of heron, cormorants, little egrets, oyster catchers, canada geese, blue tits, chaffinches and mallard ducks. The ramble was mostly on a crushed slate track, wide enough for socialising, but with a bumpier ride through the woods and a very bumpy ride along a bridleway for the lunch loop providing a wonderful view of the combined railway and foot bridge over the mouth of the estuary, against a backdrop of Snowdonia’s mountains. This trail runs on the south side of the estuary so we were predominately in the shade and wet! from plenty of trees and rock formations, plus the whole valley acts as a wind tunnel, surrounded as it is by Snowdonia’s mountains.
On our second ramble in this forested area we climbed up to a viewpoint eastwards before descending to the Afon (river) Mawddach, on a grassy track. We then turned upstream towards our first waterfall where we crossed the Afon Gain by the Pistyll Cain waterfalls before crossing the Afon Mawddach with a view of the Waterfalls Rhaeadr Mawddach - and all before lunch by the Afon Mawddach. Continuing downstream we then crossed back over the Afon Mawddach (via a footbridge) and continued along forestry roads before entering a magical fairy kingdom on a footpath through trees mosses and ferns. This forest was very varied with a good mix of conifer and deciduous trees and a multitude of different mosses and ferns not forgetting the pine needle ant hills. Our route was mainly on reasonably good forestry tracks, many wide enough for socialising. We had 1,160 feet of ascent/descent on this very up and down ramble.
In this forest ramble we had two beautiful viewpoints, first to the west of Rhinog Fach then to the east of Rhobell-y-big. We also descended to a bridge to admire the River Gain. Later we descended to the River Eden which we followed for a while. We used a part of the old Roman Road ‘Sarn Helen’ which we came across in the Brecon Beacons tour in 2016. This forest was very varied with a good mix of conifer and deciduous trees and a multitude of different mosses and ferns and including the large pine needle ant hills, which many of us had never seen before. We mainly travelled on reasonably good forestry tracks, some bumpy, many wide enough for socialising.
At the start of our day we were all surprised how chilly it was, given that I was expecting to need sun cream. However as you can see from the photos we had a beautiful sunny day that quickly warmed up. The route took us from Nuffield Place National Trust, past the fencing of Her Majesty’s Prison Huntercombe, passing through woods that were still pretty muddy even in midsummer before opening out on to downland. The reccy in early December hadn’t been as muddy as now; we were fine on the outward section but some of us did get stuck on the return. However we were rescued by our stalwart walkers who did a fantastic job! All in all it was a lovely day with fantastic views over the Ridgeway as we climbed; as you see the vegetation was flourishing on the footpaths; we felt like explorers battling through jungle. Our lunch stop had no sounds except the occasional sheep and the skylarks singing- just perfect. The final treat was to have a red kite swoop to pick up a left over sandwich in the car park about a metre from our vehicle; the kind of display normally done by trained falcons.” We are really grateful to Annette Weiss of Chilterns AONB for helping to plan and jointly lead this ramble. Lucy Savage
Final day of the Cornwall Tour. We parked at the Old Count House with superb views of Bollatack Mine, real Poldark country! We then headed west past other mine workings, before turning north to a disused quarry overlooking Cape Cornwall, again with superb views. Then back to the start for cream teas. A fitting and fabulous end to our Cornwall Tour!
Day Three of the Cornwall tour took us into the Penrose Estate and along the Loe Valley to Loe Pool. We had coffee at The Stables then on to cliff top views over the sea at Loe Bar, where we stopped for lunch. Ww then climbed onto the headland and circled back to The Stables for afternoon tea. A super day!
Disabled Ramblers Wiltshire Tour - Tilshead & Copehill Down - Friday 24th May 2019. A different part of Salisbury Plain and completely different from the day before, more rugged - mainly due to tank activity on the paths and tracks which when dried out by the sun make for a rather bumpy ride! 12 scooters booked but 1 cancellation so 11 of us set out from the Water Tower (we only just missed Steven Spielberg filming with Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch, on the reccy there was plenty of activity, but they didn’t ask us to take part in the film!). We were accompanied on the ramble by James Nevitt the Senior Access & Recreation Advisor to the MOD on Salisbury Plain, plus two of his colleagues and they were very helpful in answering any questions we had about the area. We went along the edge of a longbarrow which is very ancient and dates back to between 5,000 and 3,000 BC or thereabouts and is a protected ancient monument, this path was very like a switchback and in the winter would be impassable for us due to the deep hollows being filled with water, but this time of year it is dry. The MOD is very mindful of not damaging this area and we had a very interesting talk from one of Jame’s colleagues, an archaeologist attached to the MOD, and he gave a very detailed outline of the history of the Longbarrow which held everybody’s attention for half an hour or more, from there we progressed along the tracks to Copehill Village which is a military training area, specially built so that the soldiers can learn how to attack houses and climb in and out of windows while carrying all their accoutrements etc. as safely as is possible in wartime situations. There are 88 houses there of all shapes and sizes, and we had a talk by Andy a serving soldier about the activities that take place there, it is the largest training area in the country being about as big as the Isle of Wight. The tanks can cross the Plain from one side to the other on their training exercises. We were a little disappointed because there was supposed to be an exercise taking place but it was silent, so obviously there had been a change of plan. We scared them off I think!! Some beautiful flowers today - when we arrived I saw a member of the orchid family, a white heleborine (which I had never seen before), during the day we saw birds foot trefoil, many species of vetch and a beautiful pink plant called Sainfoin (member of the pea family), rather like a dainty lupin. The butterfly in the photos is a Marsh Fritillary, and up there on the Plain there is also a good colony of the dainty blue butterfly family, especially later in the summer. By now it was way past lunch time, so we went on to a wood we knew and where we could get some much needed shade and had a late lunch before setting on back to the car park. I think during the two days the group did exceedingly well as both rambles were very challenging and were, perhaps, slightly more than a Cat 3. It is so difficult to get it exactly right, but congratulations to all you who came - you were marvellous! Many thanks, as ever, to Veronica, John B, P & P, and the walkers and volunteers who are always there to help when needed. Thanks also to James and his colleagues from the MOD for their help before and during the ramble. Val and Bob.
Disabled Ramblers Wiltshire Tour - Ramble 1907/Salisbury Plain - Tidworth Tracks & Byeways - Thursday 23rd May 2019 After weeks of worrying we were so lucky to have perfect weather for this very scenic and lovely ramble over the many tracks, byeways and hills around the garrison town of Tidworth. We had 15 scooters booked but 1 cancellation due to a nasty cold that has been doing the rounds. This is a deceptive ramble with two or three very steep hills en route. We left the car park across a lovely level green sward but soon reached the first of the steep slopes on loose gravelly scree which lead to the trig point overlooking the barracks of Tidworth, with lovely views all round. We then progressed across the hill towards the worst of the slopes, which when approaching it looks almost impossible, but once going up it’s not nearly so bad and all of the group managed it amazingly well, with no problem - so I needn’t have worried after all! We had a lovely lunch stop and you could take your choice - either have a fantastic view all over the valley or go into the lovely cool wood with plenty of shade, which was very welcome. When we did the reccy for this ramble this wood was completely overtaken by soldiers doing an exercise complete with gunfire, but today it was peaceful and tranquil. On the way home we took a short cut down a track we had reccied, without incident, but today, unfortunately, the leader toppled off the middle verge into the deep trench at the side and had to be valiantly rescued by Pete and John B. No damage done either to the Tramper or rider, so all was well, only hurt pride - first time in 10 years that it’s happened, so not a bad record! Nobody else did the same trick I am pleased to say. A super ramble, and great group - harder than any of us expected but we all managed excellently. Val and Bob.
Shearwater to Heavens Gate Day 2 of the Wiltshire tour took us to Shearwater Lake on the Longleat Estate. We had once again a good turnout of 17 scooters and 12 walkers. We also had beautiful weather and the sun made the lake and surrounding area look very pretty. The ramble started by the lake and we then went up into the woods, where we found a nice spot for coffee. This was interrupted by a very large lorry carrying lots of log. We were all amazed at how the lorry managed to get down the small paths of the woods. After coffee we carried on up to the car park at Heavens Gate. We carried on across the road into the start of the Capability Brown designed arboretum. We stopped for a brief talk on Heavens Gate and the stone sculptures. The sculptures were designed by Paul Norris for the Millennium. Heavens Gate is the view point. It shows amazing views over Longleat House and gardens as well as on a good day across to Somerset. We were not disappointed. We stopped there for lunch and to give everyone a chance to take photos. After group photos and food, we headed back down through the woods. Finishing up at the café, for coffees and cakes. Thank you to all who helped to make this a fabulous day. Paula
Wiltshire National Rambles – Stourhead 20.04.2019 We started the ramble from the National Trust Stourhead car park. Although the weather was meant to be wet, we were very fortunate to have a sunny day. This was the first time I had led a national ramble and I was a little nervous to say the least. We had a good turn out of 17 scooters and 12 walkers. The first part was on a short bit of road. We headed up onto the land surrounding the gardens and house. Passing by a pretty water wheel and swans nesting. The morning route took us up through the forestry up to King Alfred’s Tower. We stopped here for lunch and photographs. The tower was built to commemorate the ending of the 7-year war. Building started in 1769. The name derived from King Alfred the Great and the location is meant to be on the site near to where Egberts stone was. It is believed to be the spot when in 878 King Alfred rallied the Saxons to the battle of Ethundan. After lunch we headed towards the Stourhead House. On the way we went through a field of ewes and lambs, we were greeted very noisily by them, some were brave enough to take a peek of one of the Trampers. We ended the ramble in front of the house. Everyone had a good day and I had survived and found it to be an enjoyable and fun day. Paula Brunt
Southern Regional Rambles - Angmering Bluebell Ramble - Friday 3rd May 2019. In spite of a bad weather forecast our ramble day dawned cloudy but dry, we were lucky to have the use of the overflow “bluebell” car park which made it much easier to park and unload, so 9 of us departed from Dover Lane up through the fields to the beautiful beech woods to see the carpets of bluebells. We had a really super crowd along for this ramble and it was a very nice atmosphere all day. The beech trees were resplendent in fresh green spring foliage and made a pretty sight with the blue carpet of bluebells beneath, Roger commented that he’d like to come in the Autumn as it would be equally spectacular with the changing colours. The route is through the Angmering Estate woods, on public bridleways and paths, but it can be extremely muddy. Fortunately, with the dry weather recently we didn’t encounter much mud at all, instead we had really hard, rutted, uneven areas which bounced us about a bit from time to time, but the intrepid gang managed without a single moan. We stopped for coffee near a lovely little coppice where Bob and I got stung by bees on our reccy the day before the ramble, so we kept well away from the bee hives this time. We travelled onward along a little byeway (usually a sea of mud, but now bumpy and quite difficult in places) to the racing stables with their beautiful horses. It’s a lovely estate with a grand house overlooking from the top of a hill. Also on the reccy we saw a kestrel eating its lunch on the path ahead of us, it flew up onto a branch and continued its feast while we watched from the path below. We didn’t see it again on the ramble but did see a few deer running through the woods. One super surprise was from Jadzia and Simon in the form of a delicious Apple Cake which Jadzia had baked the evening before, really tasty - thanks very much, nothing like home made cake. Thanks to all who attended, we had a good turnout - 12 altogether, but 3 cancellations - so we were very pleased. Don’t forget - if you know a good route you’d like to share get in touch with email@example.com and enjoy a really super day out with fellow DRers. Val and Bob.
Disabled Ramblers -Southern Regional Rambles - Pondhead Bluebells, New Forest - 26th April 2019. Pondhead Inclosure is one of our favourite places, it is now a charity called Pondhead Conservation Trust and is run entirely by volunteers (as is DR of course) with the aim of restoring the hazel coppice, woodland, understorey and track network in order to enhance the public enjoyment of this unique area of New Forest woodland. The birdsong in the woods was wonderful which shows how well the volunteer’s hard work is succeeding and each year they open up a little more of the woodland so that the bluebells can flourish. They do hedge laying, hurdle making, rustic furniture such as chairs, benches etc., pea and bean sticks, charcoal burning which is of the highest quality and some is used by artists for their sketching and large supplies are in great demand from local businesses for barbecues. We parked in central Lyndhurst in order to be able to be near all facilities and it’s only a short trip from there to Bolton’s Bench and then onto Pondhead. The bluebell wood is not huge but is very lovely with the flowers and birdsong all around. From there we went on a woodland path to Beechen Lane, a wide track which leads through beech woods, as you will see from the photos it is very green and lush at present with the canopy of new leaves, to our lunch stop by a really picturesque New Forest meandering stream where it is so peaceful, under huge Alder trees. There was wood sorrel out on the banks, a lovely delicate little woodland flower. Then on up to cross the Beaulieu Road and back to Lyndhurst along the chalky, sandy, rutted Ridge with sweeping views all across the forest. The ramble was a good test for one of our member’s new scooter, a Mayan AC with lithium batteries called “Swampy”. After some teething troubles he is now more than delighted with it. We’ll break him in gently!!! A week of DR nationals would be an eyeopener! Well done, Paul, and Sheila - who coped really well on her new bike bought specially so she can accompany Paul on the rambles. Sadly, we had brought chocolate treats but completely forgot to offer them round so are now forced to eat the lot ourselves, the sacrifices one has to make are endless! A lovely day for us with our DR friends. Val and Bob.
Bradgate Park Today Michael Miller, friend of member Chris Southwood, joined us and he told us about the history of the area as we rambled alongside the River Lin. Soon we left the road climbing up a grassy track, where the deer were behind the remains of Bradgate House. Our coffee break was at the visitor centre where there I met Peter Tyldesley, Director of Bradgate Park and told him about Disabled Ramblers. We continued on turning left uphill onto a rugged track overlooking Cropston Reservoir with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside, bathed in sunshine. We went into the Memorial Wood, an area for reflection, where beautiful bronze leaves are displayed on wooden posts and can be inscribed with a dedication to a loved one. Lunch at Hallgates, where the Rangers came to open the gate for us to access the disabled toilets. We were also joined by a professional photographer who asked if we would like photos taken for the Bradgate Newsletter. After lunch we started the very steep, rugged climb up towards Old John, a landmark which can be seen for miles. This took its toll on one of the smaller scooters which overheated and had to be towed to the foot of Old John. After a short break the scooter cooled down enough for us all to continue back to the car park. Judy
Beacon Hill On Thursday a large group of members set off on a bright sunny but rather cold day, which warmed up as the day went on. We travelled around the park through the woodlands, which boasts one of the highest points in Leicestershire and has spectacular views of Charnwood Forest and the Soar Valley. Our coffee break was under the trees before continuing to Beacon Hill for our lunch where there were picnic tables and BBQ’s. After lunch we headed towards the Beacon for a photo call, with fantastic views overlooking over the countryside. Coming down from the Beacon we passed large rock formations which enthralled many of the group. We continued through the park passing many wood carvings and Lamas in the fields. We then had a very busy road to cross with the help of our volunteers, over to Broombriggs Farm and Windmill Hill where some went up the rocky track to the windmill to admire the views whilst others chose to wait at the bottom. Downhill then into the village of Woodhouse Eaves and along the footpath to the farm gate where we went back into the fields and up the hill. Heading back to the road to cross again before returning to the car park. Judy
Calke Abbey – 9th April On a chilly overcast morning, we set off towards the Abbey for a photo call before leaving the traffic onto the grassy pathways uphill towards the Tramway Trail which was built between 1799 and 1802. Coffee was at the top of the hill near Middle Lodge close to the bluebell wood, where the sun started to shine. Then heading north towards Ticknall, we turned sharply left, downhill onto the Tramway Trail where tonnes of stone was previously transported by horses from Ticknall to Ashby returning with, coal and merchandizes. After lunch, we continued along the trail before climbing steeply through the woods to farmland. Here we needed the walkers to help with a broken down tramper pushing/pulling it up 2 hills onto the flat - not an easy task. After regrouping we decided that this tramper would return to the car park downhill with Bernard, the remainder of the group went uphill towards the deer barn and church where another tramper starter to falter. So, it was decided at the church that we turn left and catch up with the smaller group and also return to the car park. Judy
Donisthorpe Woodland Park On a bright, sunny but cold, morning a large group of 30 scooter riders and walkers met and in Donisthorpe Woodland Park, which is in the National Forest in Leicestershire. This area was a formally a colliery now reclaimed into a picturesque new landscape. The first part of the ramble was along the Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail that led through to Conkers Adventure Park where we had our coffee break before continuing to the level crossing and had to wait for the train to pass. Then through Sarah’s Wood, where Alan Titchmarsh planted some of the first trees and along the Ashby Canal to Moira Furnace where we stopped for lunch in the sunshine and indulged in chocolate cakes from the café. After lunch we followed the canal back into the Donisthorpe Woodland Park area and followed the pathways through the woods back to the car park where we were made welcome at the café for tea and cakes before setting off home. Judy Cunningham
Southern Regional Rambles. Linwood Loop, New Forest, Hampshire - 30th March 2019 Another lovely day dawns for our ramble around the Linwood area of the New Forest. We had 9 booked to come so a good crowd plus we were pleased to welcome Suzi Shilling from the National Park Authority who was coming along to see what we do, how we organise the rambles, and what people get out of getting out into the countryside - as we all know, it makes a world of difference to our mental wellbeing. Some of her findings will appear on YouTube and when it does we will send the link so DR members can have a look. We parked at the iconic High Corner Inn pub down the end of a stoney, bumpy track. It is set in a remote part of the forest, when we arrived it was really quiet with just the birdsong to listen to plus two ponies in the car park having a scratch on the trees and fences. By the time we got back for our meal at 2.30 it was swamped with people all enjoying the lovely sunshine, its remote position in the forest doesn’t put anyone off in the slightest!! We set off through the reasonably gentle tracks passing great tall pine and deciduous trees, a little later in the month this area is a sea of bluebells and is extra beautiful, strangely, the NF only has a few places where bluebells are abundant, probably due to the dense canopy of trees which prevents the bulbs from getting the sunshine etc they need to produce flowers. We stopped for coffee at Splash Bridge, a pretty little place over a stream which is a favourite of ours. Then off up a sandy track to reach a higher path leading us onto the next leg of the ramble. Here, we had a hitch! One of our newest members had great faith in his rather small scooter + all terrain tyres being able to cope with the sandy track (we had already expressed doubts but decided to take his word for it!). Sadly, it just didn’t happen and the little scooter stubbornly refused to go through the sand so consequently, Bob escorted our disappointed member back to the car park as one feels duty bound to make sure anyone attending our rambles is delivered back safely to the destination. We went on slowly, and eventually Bob caught up with us again, but of course the double trip does have an effect on the bigger batteries too and they were quite depleted by this time, however, all was well and Bob did finish the day without any trouble on his trusty Supersport! We had hoped to see deer as we did on the reccy, but not one appeared all day, always happens. The rest of the ramble went without any problems - just a lovely relaxing day through lovely parts of the forest and then back to the pub for a meal arriving there at the allotted time of 2.30pm where we all enjoyed a very nice meal outside in the sunshine. Suzi was able to do some video-ing and interview several of those attending for their comments on how being outside with DR helps them and we were pleased to welcome her along, especially as she made us a batch of “Rocky Road” tray bakes to keep us going. Delicious!! Thank you all for coming, without you all it would be a lonely ramble! Bluebell ramble on the 26th April - just let me know you want to come and directions etc will be sent out about a week before. Don’t forget, if you have a ramble you would like to put on for others to share please let one us know via firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you to organise it. Val and Bob.
Widewater to Worthing Pier - 25th March 2019 Couldn’t believe our luck!! A really beautiful day, a little nippy to start off with but soon warmed up and showed the coastal scenery off to full advantage. 7 of us left from Widewater Lagoon - this is a man-made feature which lies south of the Brighton Road between Lancing and Shoreham. Hidden from view by houses along the road it is a landlocked brackish lagoon (approximately 1 km long but narrow) bordered on its south side by the sea defences and shingle beach. Water levels rise following high tides and heavy rainfall, but the varied levels produce a unique area for plant life and a resting place for a variety of birds including herons, swans and other wildfowl, plus an egret when we were there. “Brackish” sounds a bit dismal, but it’s actually very nice and interesting with lots of birdwatchers arriving with their ‘scopes and ‘bins. From there along the Prom towards Worthing - on our left out to sea we had a good view of the Rampion Wind Farm, 8 miles offshore and with 116 turbines which supplies 350,000 homes, which has recently been completed, with some controversy (as usual), it looks quite impressive from the shore. En route we dropped in to Brooklands Park where the boardwalk across the lake has been renewed allowing us to try this out, there is also a golf course, playground, accessible exercise equipment and walks. More improvements are in the pipeline to bring this nice little park up to date including a new cafe in due course. Onward to the Pier - and Harry Ramsden’s!! Bob went and got some of us some delicious chips and we went onto the Pier to survey the view and enjoy our lunch. From the Pier you can see the whole coastline as far as Seaford Head and the Seven Sisters white cliffs, and Brighton and its new i360degrees viewing pod from where there is an excellent view of the South Downs and the Sussex coastline. Worthing Pier was originally built in 1861 but after a series of disasters over the years, such as storm damage, fire and general neglect it was finally rebuilt in 1949 and continues to be a source of enjoyment for residents and visitors to Worthing with cafe, amusement arcades, night club and theatre. Along the length are windows where artwork is etched into the glass, or coloured glass pictures have been made of commemorative events etc making a very colourful display as well as offering some shelter from the wind. After lunch we wended our way back to our starting point taking in all the things we had missed in the morning, it’s surprising what you see on the return journey of a linear route - I never find them boring as it all looks different going the other way - if you see what I mean! All in all, a very good day - quite a long ramble 9+ miles, but it didn’t seem that long at all. We hope to do another one from the opposite direction later in the summer, that is, from Ferring to the Pier a trip of about 7+ miles and totally different. Thanks to all for coming, and to Brian for his local knowledge and help. Val and Bob.
Southern Regional Ramble - Burley Byeways - 25th February 2019 We were so lucky to choose this day as it was within the timescale of the record breaking temperatures for February and was really warm with perfect blue skies. 9 of us met at Burley, plus 2 walkers (so helpful when it comes to gates and cakes!), with a great assortment of scooters: 3xTWS, 2x4 wheel Trampers, 1 Breeze 4, 1 large Pride with dual motors, 1 Hillclimber with dual motors, 1 TGA Supersport, with this interesting ensemble we set off through the little village of Burley, with its reputation of witches and ghouls, and through a little wood which leads onto the open forest where we took the track which was a new route for us, the whole ramble is only 4 miles in total but just right for a winter event, with a pub lunch at the end. The track led us over Turf Hill and we hadn’t realised it was negotiable for us until we reccied it during January finding it to be really super with lovely views plus a few challenges as well, these being some steep downhill slopes with a loose, stoney surface and various ruts which presented a few problems for some, but these were soon overcome without being overturned!! This track led onto the disused railway line which runs from Burley to Holmsley Road Station, although straight and flat it has some lovely scenery along the way. From there we go up a quiet forest road, much of which could be navigated on the verges, which also gives some practice on how to drive your scooter over the bumps and furrows along the way! Progressing onto a green area to take us a little further up the main B road to cross away from the brow of a hill leading out of Burley, not a good place to go over the road as visibility is very limited and traffic is fast, so this little diversion helped a lot. After crossing we take the route along Cott Lane, a lovely little hidden track which emerges next to the cricket pitch at Burley, from there it’s across the road and into the little wood, taking us back into the village centre. Burley is quite a fascinating place with lots of little quiet lanes and tracks and you can spend a pleasant afternoon with your ViewRanger going round these lanes and exploring. We then went into the very nice and convenient pub called the Queens Head and had a really tasty lunch, a very good ending to a super day. Pleased to welcome Gary & Lyn and hope they will become members in due course. Roy’s friend Lyn brought along a lovely selection of cakes for our coffee break which was very much enjoyed by us all. Now looking forward to the next rambles in March. Thanks to all for coming and making it such a super day. Val and Bob.
Southern Regional Ramble - Downs Link Section 2 - from Partridge Green, nr Horsham, West Sussex Dry, but dull, start from an Industrial Estate in Partridge Green in West Sussex. We had kindly been given permission to use one of the business’s car park for the day, people are surprisingly co-operative when you phone up and ask if you can use their premises, there is a lot of good will about and it’s always appreciated. We had 7 scoots and 1 walker and 2 dogs for the day, and very pleased to welcome new member Simon, his wife and their little dog, Holly. Much to our astonishment Simon arrived in an SUV and out of it came a Tramper TWS! Specially adapted with fold down handlebars and a special lightweight seat so that it would go in, Beamer worked their magic for Simon so he could keep his much loved car. We were amazed and impressed, to say the least. The Downs Link is a disused railway that runs for 37+ miles from Shoreham in West Sussex to Martha’s Hill in Surrey, it is very varied and with some superb scenery on all the different Sections. This was Section No. 2 and passed through lovely open countryside, much of it was wetlands and brooks with all the appropriate birdlife. A flock of Widgeon rose from one of the lakes pursued by a bird of prey, Roger our resident bird expert thought it was a peregrine falcon, it was a lovely sight although they were some distance away. There was also some enclosed “tunnel” like parts, and even a little road work through the little village of Henfield. A very suitable route for the winter as it is mainly flat and on a good track. It is a linear route, ie “there and back”, but personally, I never mind that as it all looks so different when returning and you see lots of things you may have missed on the way. En route we passed a gun pill box from WW2, still in good repair but without it’s gun! It is a popular route with cyclists in their lycra and all day we were pulling over and what a good natured lot they were, without exception. Very polite and cheery. Sadly, we had a puncture, we tried pumping it up with no luck so Roger, who is one of the most experienced ramblers and spends his life on the South Downs covered in mud, opted to ride it home as was and we got back without further incident and it had all stayed intact, just flat! We kept a close eye on it and it wasn’t coming off the rim or anything equally awful. Added to that, David (our Leader) had trouble with his battery - it was flashing practically all the way back but again but with a bit of a help up one hill he made it safely back to base. All adds to the excitement. A very good day, not too cold, no rain and plenty of good company - a lovely way to spend a February day and to know that not too far away Spring is just round the corner and before long all the wild flowers will be making an appearance once more. Many thanks for all those who came along and made it so enjoyable, and to David for all his research into this project and who led this ramble on behalf of DR.
Southern Regional Ramble - Hatchet Pond to East Boldre via Turfcutters Arms, nr Beaulieu, New Forest. - 19th January 2019. What a forecast!! Rain showers all day and cold, it put 4 of our valiant members off but as we were leading the ramble we had to show up, so in the end it was 5 of us plus 2 walkers that met in the car park in light rain, but miraculously, within half an hour of arriving - and before we left for the ramble - it stopped and kept away all day. This was such a relief to us all and we set off up a quiet lane opposite Hatchet Pond to make our way through lovely woodland tracks for the first part of this 5.5 mile winter ramble. Strange thing was, we had 5 different machines - a Tramper, Supersport, Boma, Breeze 4 and Mayan - plus Sheila on her mountain bike and Pete on foot. En route we met a large family gathering on bikes with a lot of very little children, also on their little bikes, having a great time in Hawkhill Inclosure and making the most of whizzing up and down the hills. We were pleased to welcome Derek, a recent new member who lives near the pond and so met us there on his Breeze 4. Coming out of the woodland we went onto a good tarmac track across open heathland, there were quite a few ponies about making the most of the gorse flowers that were out in abundance. Upon reaching a quiet little car park we had to then go onto a much wilder path that wends its way across more heathland - this was the “problem” bit that we were worried about as we had a feeling it may have become extremely muddy with the recent rain over the preceding few days. It was, indeed, very wet and quite muddy but we all coped with it with no problem and on the way met a horse rider whose mount was obviously convinced we were up to no good, however, we stopped and she brought the horse over to us and it obligingly had a look at Paula in her Boma and snorted in a very friendly fashion! Bit disconcerting for Paula as she was low down and the horse towered over her, but it was a good way to introduce us to this particular equine. We had a nice chat and continued on our way over the marshy, wet heathland to the village of East Boldre and our destination for lunch at the Turfcutters Arms. This was heaven! We were quite cold by now, and as we entered the pub we were greeted by a lovely rush of warmth and the sight of a super open fire - this is a typical New Forest country pub and they welcome dogs and walkers etc with no quandaries. We think it is a very old pub as you can see from the photo of one of the quaint signs inside. We went in and had a good warming lunch and hot drinks, it was just what we needed. Suddenly, it was 3 o’clock and so we had to depart for our short journey back to Hatchet Pond about half a mile away. This is a really nice little ramble and perfect for a winter trip and to take in the pub en route. We would like to thank all who came, and to say we missed those who couldn’t make it, but hopefully, next month we will have another New Forest ramble also visiting a pub for a meal and warm up. Thanks all, Val and Bob.