15 November: Duo
Today it was a matter of quality rather than quantity as just Terry and the Webmeister had a pleasant trundle around Wroxall and Baddesley Clinton.
P.S. Well that's probably the last 'previous walks' report; words can never really do justice to the full magnificence of our excursions so you'll just have to join us to experience them for yourself.
18 October: Sloes
In what is now a traditional highlight of the WSW year, Jeff led us on our annual sloe-plundering jaunt, this time from Tilton on the Hill in Leicestershire. The strain of having to carry several sloe-stuffed receptacles around with us for most of the walk was eased by the pleasant countryside and the taste of last year's classic Red Fox vintage, judged by Jeff himself to be the finest yet (and that's saying something). Maybe Red Fleece 09 (named after Gill's startling fashion statement), which we hope to sample in the New Year, will be even better. We each received a free pedometer from Jeff's friend Theresa, so now there is a danger of an Outbreak of Stats.
4 October: Arrows
We returned to red kite country in the Chilterns armed only with a bit of photocopied map. On the way there we sought in vain in M40 services for a 'proper' map of the area, but we need not have worried because the walk went witout a hitch, thanks mainly to the Webmeister's navigational brilliance and partly (I suppose) to the white directional arrows which were daubed on trees every ten yards round the route, sometimes accompanied by mysterious codes. The kites seemed to be hiding for the first part of the day but later they put on their usual arial display for us. The superiority of their mode of travel was confirmed later as we sat stewing in a mega motorway tailback which delayed us for about 2 hours.
27 September: Villages
Everyone else having apparently been thrown by the change of date for this walk, just two of us enjoyed the delights of Stanton, Stanway and Snowshill, three of the most appealing Cotswold villages, and the bits in between. Stanton was so nice that we went round and round it for a bit before starting the walk proper (this of course had nothing to do with not being able to find the right path). As it happened this later enabled us to direct some people in Snowshill to a mystery pub they were seeking, which turned out to be the Mount in Stanton. Alas it was closed by the time we arrived back hopng for some well-earned refreshment.
6 September: Views
The first 'serious' walk of the new season took us to the wide-open expanses of Cleeve Common, the Cotswold Everest, featuring expansive vistas of Cheltenham, the Malverns, the Forest of Dean and the Black Mountains. There were a few navigational challenges, both on the way there and during the walk, but they did not detract from an excellent day, and the allegedly unfit new-comer Krysia stormed round the course.
12 July: Lost
A pleasant day on Bredon Hill and all was going to plan, with a satisfying correlation between the map and the paths on the ground. Then after lunch it dawned on us that we had entered a parallel universe where all was not as we thought it should be. The map, the walk book, the paths and the very landscape itself, not the navigator, were to blame for the fact that we were eventually reduced to asking the way. But it all ended perfectly as we tucked into tea and home-made cake in a garden in Overbury which just happened to be open to the public that afternoon. All part of the plan, of course.
17 May: Wet
Although two of our number, who were bound for Mediterranean climes, wimped out, the 'differently sunny' conditions did not deter four of us from setting out on an excellent Jeff-led walk along the Welland Valley & the Jurassic Way around Harringworth, Barrowden & Wakerley. Highlights included views of the viaduct at Harringworth and lunch by the village pond (complete with palatial and topical duck house) in Barrowden. Some of the dry spells lasted a good 30 seconds.
19 April: Hills
A return visit to the marvellous Malverns, in fine weather like last August. Even the breeze eventually moderated for the hang-gliding and paragliding nutters to have their fun. And those St Anne's Well tea room cake slices were still as massive as ever, so there can't be anything too much wrong with the world (at least not when viewed from the heart of complacent Middle England).
5 April: Trees
Our annual trip to Cannock Chase, this time to the more wooded eastern half starting at the Chase's highest point, the Iron Age settlement of Castle Ring. To make up for the curtailed walk last time, we put in a good 9 miles in quite up and down terrain. The distance was probably slightly extended by a police-enforced detour arising from a road accident. As it happened this alternative route gave us views we would not otherwise have had and so it will be stored in the Webmeister's memory bank.
22 March: Wind
A typically blowy excursion the Burton Dasset Hills with their panoramic views. The Webmeister, who was leading the walk, was not his usual dynamic self due to a bout of flu, so he didn't have enough steam to continue the walk after lunch. But still a good way to spend a fine Sunday morning.
8 March: Tumble
The fates were against us on this Terry-led walk starting in Hampton in Arden. We endured a burst of horizontal sleet, and then one of our number, in attempting to run through a quagmire, became too closely acquainted with Mother Earth. As this unfortunate person has connections in High Places (University House) it is probably more than the Webmeister's job is worth to name her. Anyway, she gave us all the excuse we needed to abort the walk.
22 February: Snowdrops
An unspectacular but pleasant route starting at Bubbenhall and going through gentle Warwickshire countryside and well-heeled villages. The real stars of this show were the huge throngs of snowdrops of several different varieties. A tough act for the bluebells to follow in May. Are you up for it, Jeff?
8 February: Buses
On a perfectly crafted carless outing, we were whisked by Stagecoach to Harbury from where we walked back to Leamington via the Centenary Way, the Grand Union Canal, the Leam Valley and Jephson Gardens. The snow that fell earlier in the week was decorative rather than a nuisance (just as Mother Nature should be generally), and we even passed some swings and a rope-slide for our intellectual heavyweights from the physical and social sciences to try out. And despite the walk leader having to jog some way back down the towpath to retrieve his map, we had time at the end for refreshments in the Pump Room before boarding the U2 Pink'un for home. Don't you just love it when it all goes to plan?
25 January: Gloop
A Tony-led bog-trot round Meon Hill, starting at Quinton and going through Mickleton. By the end of it , boots, gaiters, trousers, jackets, rucksacks and even hats (at least in your correspondent's case) all bore the marks of this epic battle with the unrelenting Cotswold Crud. At one point Gill and Terry were rendered immobile whilst crossing a field and were in danger of joining the two other scarecrows we had seen. But as newcomer Johanna discovered, such challenges are nothing to the crack troops of the WSW, especially when Solveig's homemade blueberry muffins are on hand.
11 January: Gunge
The year started with a modest excursion straight from the central campus across the university's domain to the Berkswell Greenway, Crackley Farm and back. No doubt when Warwick completes its plan for world domination this walk will be through urban sprawl and we will be able to sit in pubs in our dotage and say: "I remember when it was all fields round here". The hard frost of the previous weeks had relented somewhat so we were re-acquainted with our old friend Mr Mud, who in places was in particularly boot-clinging mood. We spruced up as well as we were able and enjoyed Solveig's excellent Heronbank hospitality as we thrashed out what the whole walking world has been waiting for, Our Current Programme.