Glorious snow, Hackney Marsh and Wick

Good things come to those who wait, we’ve been on high alert for snow all day yesterday, nothing happening. Rewarded this morning by lots and lots of snowfall. Fortified by a good breakfast, we set off towards Lee Valley and ended up doing 5 miles around Hackney Downs, Marsh and Wick then got a train back home. So brilliant to have this bleakness not too far from where we live:

hackney marsh in snowLast time we walked on Hackney Marsh it was packed full of people playing football and daffodils were coming up. Today it was pretty empty, only a few dog walkers and families. I love how the line of trees at the other end of the marsh almost completely disappears into whiteness.

flowers in snow h marshthistle in snow h marshFurther down, Wick woodland was completely deserted, only snow covered trees, a few birds and us.

wick woodlandwick woodland tree canopy

 

A most enjoyable walk! Quite glad we were out early-ish too and had all this whiteness practically to ourselves.

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Knole Park and surrounding area

A lovely first walk of the new year yesterday, to Knole Park and surrounding woodland. As we haven’t done a long walk in almost two months, thought we should ease ourselves back into it with 8 miles over fairly flat ground. The house and park are only a mile or so walk from Sevenoaks station so pretty easy to get to. Knole big treeA big tree near the house. The weather stayed dry but cloudy so photos are a bit dark. The house is closed out of season and I only took a photo of it from distance:Knole houseTo be honest, I wasn’t really that interested in looking at the house, I just loved the setting and the approach to it, especially at this time of the year when it all looks a bit bleak. Now owned by the National Trust, it is apparently the biggest house in England with 365 rooms. According to the National Trust website, it has some great tapestries, should have just knocked on the door and said ‘We’ve come to see the tapestries’ in my best Harrison-Ford-does-bad-Scottish-accent. We walked down the length of the deer park, spotted some deer, too far away for a decent photo. Beloved kept complaining that there simply weren’t enough deer in the deer park but we did spot a few more in the distance later on. We walked back up towards the house via Chestnut Walk, which had lots and lots of fabulously gnarly chestnut trees: Knole gnarly treeThis side of the park was much more visually interesting and I can imagine it being lovely in early summer. We then continued towards One Tree Hill and up towards Godden Green to Bucks Head pub for a pint, at least we thought that’s what we were doing that but took a wrong path somewhere along the way and ended up in an entirely different bit of woodland. A bit silly really as I worked out our route and printed a map but never really thought to check the compass to make sure we were going in the right direction. There were quite a few marked paths on my map, most of which weren’t really marked on the ground and some seemed to have been completely closed off by local farmers too. Pub being our main goal, we decided to get out of the woodland and follow the road instead and were rewarded a few minutes later by a good pint of Kentish ale, the name of which I immediately forgot. We headed back via Godden Wood and Knole golf club, which was rather wonderfully rugged (more deer spots here), then back to Sevenoaks station and train home.

Another photo taken from Chestnut Walk earlier in the day:Knole deer parkPaths through Knole Park were mostly mud-free and there were quite a few walkers about, mainly families and kids with scooters. The nearby Fawke Common and Godden Wood were completely empty though, probably because all the paths were very muddy – our new walking boots coped wonderfully. Very excited about these although they’re in a complete state now and will take ages to clean…

Capital ring walk, Mottingham to Gallions Reach

Fantastic weather for a long walk today, clear, crisp, sunny. We did 10.6 miles from Mottingham to Gallions Reach and I am feeling it now… This walk had everything, all sorts of animals, great views, woodland, greens, river and wonderful autumnal colours everywhere. From Mottingham, it’s a short walk to Eltham Palace, we didn’t go in as we had a long way ahead but would quite like to come back as the Art Deco interior is meant to be pretty fabulous. Further on, Eltham Park North:

Great colours everywhere. To the other side of this pond was a great view into central London (well, the tall buildings really). We crossed over to Oxleas Wood, which we both said we’re definitely coming back to. It’s very old and I took lots of photographs of trees, canopies and yellowing leaves:

Then I got lucky with a squirrel, which amazingly did not run off but stood there quite happily for a while:

And a little while later, there was a good robin photo op:

That’s it for animal photos. We also spotted a green parrot at Oxleas Wood, which I thought quite funny but too far to take a photo and well camouflaged in the tree canopy. We’re hoping it’ll snow this winter, would be lovely to come back when everything is covered in snow. Beloved said this was his favourite woodland around London apart from Richmond Park. Beloved is not a great fan of Epping, too many people. What struck us both about this part of Capital Ring walk was how well maintained and signposted all the paths were, yes it got a bit muddy in places but not too bad and clearly, Greenwich council is better than some others at signposting.

After a few more smaller parks and commons, we finally got to the Thames Path and here I got trigger happy again, taking photos of the Thames Barrier, we were about a mile beyond it, heading for Woolwich Ferry/ footpath:

 Woolwich Ferry was actually quite busy, don’t know why I was so surprised – there aren’t any bridges across Thames for miles around. This ferry boat was just anchored in the middle of the river:

We crossed the river via the subway and the other side just wasn’t very nice I am afraid. Paths weren’t kept that well, especially towards the end of the Thames path. Shame, as the scenery up to this point was pretty fab. Here, I only got some photos of the river mud and rubbish people throw into it, shopping trolleys, cooking pots, that sort of thing. We were glad to get to Gallions Reach eventually and get a train back. Bit exhausted but a great day.

Animals seen: donkeys, horses, ponies, lots of dogs being walked including a very, very ratlike creature that Beloved claimed could not have possibly been a dog, all sorts of birds including that parrot, squirrels, a fox, deer, chicken, ducks, geese, sheep and a fantastic turkey that I wanted to take home just to stare at – these were in animal enclosures in Maryon Wilson Park.

All photos taken with Nikon D3200.

Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common walk

Rain was forecast for today but we’ve had so much rain while walking in the Lake District over the summer so it didn’t really matter. Beloved said we should set off early so we did. Our plan was to get a train to Richmond, walk through Richmond Park, then Wimbledon Common and eventually get a train back, continuing with the anti-clockwise Capital Ring walk we started a while back. In the end, we cut the walk a bit short, skipping Wandsworth Common and getting a train back from Earlsfield. All in all, we walked around 8 miles I think.

Richmond Park was glorious, even on a cloudy and crisp morning. Great to see the changing seasons, yellowing leaves, conkers falling everywhere, woodland full of mushrooms like this little puffball:

  A bit nibbled on but still a lovely burst of colour. I wasn’t sure whether to take the Nikon camera at all but am very glad I did. As we were leaving the woodland, you could hear deer calling out to each other and you could see their antlers above the bracken, fallow deer are pretty good at camouflage:

 Took me a while to get a photo where you can actually see one (just about), does are even more difficult to spot. There were a few deer spotters around with telescopic lenses, waiting quietly for the deer to get close and then a walker would go past and scare them off. Eventually the little herd moved on and so did we.

 Good autumnal colours in this photo, think this was still in Richmond Park. And, finally, a good tree on Wimbledon Common:

 As we were having a little break eating sticky toffee apple buns I made yesterday, we both said this part of Capital Ring Walk is much more interesting than the Grand Union Canal and Brent River part we did a couple of weeks ago. Next time, I’d like to get to Crystal Palace.

Kennet and Avon Canal walk

Yesterday’s walk, along a short, 2 mile stretch of Kennet and Avon Canal between Aldermaston and Woolhampton, then up towards Bucklebury for lunch in a friend’s pub.

Also walked through Carbins Wood but didn’t take any pictures of it as was a bit difficult to  pick out a path through bog and mud and we were running late. Weather was rubbish as usual, canal bit was the nicest part of the walk despite the rain. Lunch was excellent including a pint of great local ale. Would like to return in better weather perhaps and walk through Bucklebury Common – it sounds like it belongs in the Shire/ Hobiton, no? Definitely avoid going on a Saturday when there are races at Newbury as train full of yobs wearing suits and drinking beer. Smelly and loud. Canal walk so peaceful and quiet in contrast.

Photos manipulated and filtered with Pixlromatic – have installed some new filters and effects (paid for them too, which I don’t do very often!). Am going to try and use apps other than Instagram for photos now that Instagram has reinstalled ‘share’ button for all photos. Why can’t you just save and then decide for yourself whether you want to share instead of being forced to?  Am blaming stupid facebook.

Off to Kew today for a walk and lunch with beloved’s family. Meant to be sunny for a change, yay!

Long weekend in the Lakes

Spending a long weekend walking around Keswick in Lake District – this is Ashness Bridge, very picturesque.

Weather is pretty decent for walking if not for photography. There have been a few light showers here and there since we arrived on Friday lunchtime but not as bad as the forecast said. However it’s cloudy and the peaks are very windy, I had this marvellous plan to walk across several yesterday between Buttermere and Keswick but turned away when we got to the summit of the first, Whiteless Pike. A few other walkers, who looked way more experienced than us also turned back. It got too windy to really stop and admire the view at the top too. We caught the bus back towards Keswick and climbed up Cat Bells instead.

View of Keswick and Skiddaw Little Man in the back from Catbells. Skiddaw itself has been covered in clouds for the past couple of days.

What I really love about Lake District is the sheer variety of landscape and nature, every walk brings some new surprise. On Friday, we came across some truly fabulous waterfalls on High Lodore – we encountered hardly a soul too and yesterday, the views from Whiteless Breast and Whiteless Pike were totally breathtaking, also lots of lovely wild flowers and ferns everywhere.

So, no baking this weekend but I’ve used some leftovers – bridge rolls I made for the Jubilee weekend provided sustenance on the journey up while banana bran cake (leftover from muffin mix) has been brilliant to take with us on walks.

 

Black pepper rye bread + walking in Oxfordshire

I love the fact that I started a bread this morning assuming I’ve enough flour. Ha! I didn’t, only had a little of strong white flour left. So, in today’s bread, Black pepper rye from Dan Lepard’s Short and sweet, I used a mix of rye and wholemeal flours to make up for the lack of white. I knew it wouldn’t rise quite so much but didn’t particularly care. It came out slightly baby size, especially when compared to last Saturday’s Challah:

Lovely crust, strong peppery flavour, here it is sliced:

Photography not quite outstanding today… oh well, I was hungry and didn’t fancy spending too long picture taking. Thought the peppery rye would go very well with buttery, creamy scrambled eggs so that’s what we had for breakfast:

Again, love my choice of green table + green plate for photography. Should really work on my ‘styling’. As I said, I was hungry and it tasted lovely.

Finishing today’s post with a photo from yesterday’s walk, just outside Oxford, glorious countryside, an exhilarating walk through windswept fields after a boozy lunch. Did not take pics of windswept meadows as didn’t think iphone camera was up to it but this little stream was very pretty: