All posts by Chris Maslen


It was a sunny day when 9 Polyramblers met at the Elizabeth Line Woolwich station. We walked up to Woolwich Common, passing St George’s Garrison Church which was bombed during the Second World War. The beautiful mosaics have been restored and are protected from the elements by a canopy roof. We crossed the common which was covered with Queen Anne’s Lace (am I right, Kim?) as far as the eyes could see.

After Hornfair Park, we arrived in Charlton Park. We had lunch in the sun on the terrace of Charlton House, one of the finest Jacobean houses in the country. Geoffrey used to go to the library there but it is now a venue for different events. We had a look at a small exhibition on saris and sneaked a glance at the beautiful room which served as a library. 

After lunch and a group photo, we passed what was formerly a summer house and is the only part of the Charlton buildings attributable to Inigo Jones. The Borough Council converted it into public toilets in 1936. Geoffrey remembers when the building was a public toilet. It is now unused and empty. Then, we walked through Charlton village, went back to Charlton Park and crossed into Maryon-Wilson Park. The Maryon-Wilson family used to own Charlton House but sold it to Greenwich Borough Council. It’s a nice park with animal enclosures (sheep, pigs and poultry). We continued through Maryon Park and up and down Cox Mount (89 ft) to the Thames Barrier. We followed the Thames, first through a tunnel under the Barrier buildings, then along industrial estates and newly built flats.

In the middle of all this is the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, a small oasis with a lake and a visitor centre. We stopped there for a rest and to have a look at the birds from one of the hides. We then crossed the Greenwich Peninsula going above the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach – better forget this part of the walk which, although not very pleasant, is thankfully short. The last part of the walk was towards Greenwich with, at first, newly built flats, then Greenwich Power Station built in 1906, The Trinity Hospital which is being renovated, Crane Street and the Trafalgar Tavern and, finally, the Royal Naval College buildings, the Cutty Sark and the end of the walk.


Manningtree Circular – May 18th 2024

The BBC had forecast that there would be rain in the morning but the rain had arrived very early and by the time 19 ramblers assembled outside Manningtree station the clouds had rolled back and the sun was shining.  We were lucky that it remained dry and sunny all day.  

After the briefing we set out.  The walk in its entirety was relatively flat and there were mud and puddles in only a few places which was not as bad as I had feared.   We walked through lovely quiet spring countryside and sometimes all we could hear was the sound of birds in full song.  We came to the pretty village of Dedham with its brightly coloured houses where we stopped for lunch, with those who had brought a packed lunch sitting in a nearby park watching the local team play cricket and a small group of poly’s eating at a café in the Arts and Craft Centre.  

After lunch we made our way out of the village until our path turned off the road and across fields towards the village of Stratford St Mary.  There was an ominous sign saying ‘Beware of the Bull’ on the stile entering the field.  There was no sign of a bull or any cattle, so we decided to cross the field.  Then in the distance we saw cattle in a field beyond that we would have to pass through.  It was clear as we got close that there was a large number of cows and some young animals which always makes me wary.  However, as they were some distance from us we decided to venture across the field keeping close to its edge and in quiet single file so that we did not excite them.  Thankfully we managed to get everyone across safely and it was only when I looked back that I spotted a large bull amongst the herd.  I might not have been quite so confident about leading the group into that field if I had seen him.  

Our peaceful walk was soon shattered by the drone of traffic on the A12 which we passed very close to, but this soon faded as we struck out across ploughed fields in the direction of the village of East Bergholt where the eighteenth century English painter John Constable was born and brought up.  Although Constable spent much of his time in London, he always returned to the Stour valley to paint and many of his iconic landscape paintings are of scenes from this area.

Whilst in East Bergholt we went to look at the church and, in the churchyard, the Bell cage built in 1531 to house the church bells as a temporary measure whilst the tower was being rebuilt.  It became a permanent structure and houses the heaviest peal of five bells in the country which are still rung by a team of ringers for special occasions.  

It was a short walk from East Bergholt to Flatford Mill, the scene of John Constable’s most famous painting, The Haywain, where we saw the old mill and Willy Lot’s cottage.  The old mill is now a field study centre, and the National Trust have a very nice tea room where we stopped and had refreshments in the garden next to the river.  

From Flatford Mill it was a short walk across water meadows bordering the Stour that were full of birdsong, back to Manningtree station where the train for London was already waiting.  Thankfully the guard held up the train to allow us to all embark before the train left for London.  

Mary K

Photos by Ida, Mary and Chris

Romford to Havering Park (Linear) 5.4 miles – 6th May

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, twenty-five members assembled at Romford station for this year’s May Day Bank Holiday walk. With the  predicted rain holding off for the time being, we initially traversed a short urban section. We then entered Lodge Farm Park, the first of a string of municipal parks, formed from Havering’s ancient private estates to realise an interwar local councillor’s vision of a ‘green lung’ winding up through the borough.

A miniature railway, sadly not in operation on the day, attracted our attention before we crossed into Raphael Park. Skirting a lake and an abundance of waterborne wildlife, we reached woodland containing wooden sculptures of ‘Percy the Park Keeper’ and some of his animal friends.

Another short urban section followed before we entered Rise Park and undertook a gentle incline suggested by the name. Bedfords Park was next and a steeper section took us to the top of Foxes Hill with its extensive views across London, partly obscured on the day by low clouds.

Some muddy patches were then encountered before we reached a visitor centre and its adjacent deer enclosure. Here we stopped for refreshments but while we were inside it started raining heavily. Venturing outside, we headed to the north end of the park where we joined the road into Havering-Atte-Bower, passing a splendid water tower and a scenic cricket ground enroute. Finally, in a rather soggy state, we reached the Orange Tree pub where the leader bought everyone a drink to celebrate his recent birthday. The group then proceeded to embarrass him by singing the traditional refrain.

Half our number decided to book Ubers to take them back to Romford as the promised bus unfortunately didn’t run on a bank holiday. After some refreshment, the remainder of the group had a short walk through Havering Country Park, past a Redwood Tree, to a bus stop which fortunately did have a service to Romford station.


Photos courtesy of Patricia, Nita and Hilary.

Oxford – 30th March

The sun was shining when twenty five members met at Oxford station for an Easter Saturday walk around its green and urban areas. One of our members, Gini, missed her train so I directed her to meet us at the lunchtime pub. We headed for the Thames towpath but soon found that a stretch of it was flooded because the river level was very high due to the recent heavy rainfall. We detoured through a new housing estate and reached a drier section of the path.

We crossed Rainbow Bridge to a temporary bar being set up at Medley Manor Farm but we resisted the urge to stop. Similarly we passed the Perch pub further on which was a haunt of the author Lewis Carroll. As we approached Wolvercote, we came upon another flooded area which proved impossible to pass without getting our footwear extremely wet. Therefore we decided to return to the Perch pub for our lunch. Although it was busy, we were able to enjoy the sunshine in its extensive garden with its outside bar and food offerings.

We then retraced our steps to the Rainbow Bridge and then headed across the Port Meadow to the Oxford Canal towpath. That took us along a pleasant stretch of waterway to the edge of the city centre where some of our number left us for the station. The remainder stayed for a short tour of Oxford. We saw Ronnie Barker’s old school and the adjacent Four Candles pub named after his famous comedy sketch with Ronnie Corbet.

Then we passed the Ashmolean Museum before reaching busy Broad Street with its original Oxfam shop and an Anthony Gormley sculpture on top of an adjacent building. The Sheldonian Theatre, the Bridge of Sighs, the Bodlean Library and the Radcliffe Camera were then seen before we reached a park area adjacent to Christ Church College. A short walk brought us back to the station for our return journey home. In case you’re wondering what happened to Gini, she enjoyed the planned lunch stop in Wolvercote and made her own way back along the canal to the city.


Photos courtesy of Ida Kwan.