Tag Archives: Late Summer

Day 6 – Cami No Royal

Cami-flage Day 6 Wednesday 16th September 2020

Once again, the major difference in weather between Surrey and Menorca was simply a 6-degree difference in temperature, with both otherwise having the prospect of a sunny day. Frankly, walking in 24°C is a nicer prospect than 30°C, so I feel we’re on the plus side of the equation at the moment.

Here’s the outline of today’s walk, which was around the Royal Estate of Windsor Great Park. The Queen is not in at the Castle today, hence the title of this post.

As you can see, because you’ve been paying attention, haven’t you, this is in very much the same neck of the woods as yesterday’s walk, though we tried to minimise overlap.

We started from the Saville Gardens, which has a recently rebuilt and good-looking visitor centre (and shop, of course!)

and headed north into the Great Park, stopping at Cow Pond for a photo.

A pair of Egyptian Geese were fossicking around among the water lilies.

There’s a very photogenic bridge at the top end of the pond

which seemed a perfect opportunity for the first shot of gin for today.

Moving further north into the park (note to readers – don’t bother to try to find a short cut out through the rhododendrons at the top end of the pond, just be sensible and go back to where you came in. You’re welcome) brings you to Bishopsgate, one of the main entrances to the park, near the Royal Lodge, a set of official buildings in the park’s rather fetching Official Pink colour

and the path then heads out across the park in a westerly direction. We noted some more fine fungi, it being that time of year

and eventually arrived at the classic view of Windsor Castle, down the two miles of the Long Walk.

It seemed a good idea to exploit this for a second gin bottle shot.

(Interestingly, bicycles are not currently allowed into this part of the park, although they have been permitted at other times. It’s a deer sanctuary and I wonder if that’s got something to do with it).

As you look at the castle, behind you is the statue of George III,

and over to the side of it is a wooded area, where we found some of the deer; this is a group of the adolescent males, hangin’ out and chillin’ until one of them can take on Sir who’s busy looking after all the lady deer in another part of the park.

To enter or leave the deer park involves going through some fairly imposing gates. I rather like the consideration given to horse riding in the park – on the right hand side of the road is a release button on a post, at shoulder height for a rider, making it easy to press to open the gates for entry and exit.

Moving on westwards, as you head for the edge of the park, you come across The Village, which has sinister overtones for anyone who remembers The Prisoner but in every other way is a pleasant collection of buildings which house people and businesses to do with running the park and the Crown Estates – that’s all the bits of the country owned by the Queen.

It has an attractive pond

and, among other things, a Weeping Birch, which appears to be about to leap upon passing tourists.

The village green is also very picturesque

but, more to the point, also features a post office and village shop.

Which sells ice creams. Which it would be rude not to sample, wouldn’t it?

Also around there is another pond, with a wonderful weeping willow

and further reminders that Autumn is on its way.

Turning left brings you to Sandpit Gate, which has a gatehouse in the Official Pink colour.

It also has buildings in a part labelled as a Private Area. If there were any doubt what this actually meant, a chap in an official-looking Land Rover stopped by us as we looked in and made throat-slitting gestures, so we moved on after taking a couple of snaps.

The road then took us past Queen’s Ride, which offers a long look down towards the Castle

and is overseen by a statue of Her Maj which dates from her Golden Jubilee: 50 years on the throne in 2002, which gives a good idea of her famous dedication to duty.

I had planned a route going thence past Great Meadow Pond, as the map seemed to tell us that there were paths leading that way, and it’s a part of the Park that I’ve never visited. The reason for this became clear as we looked for the route: it would actually take us into another Private Area, so we thought we’d be good citizens and headed back to Duke’s Lane, which is a road leading South and back towards Virginia Water Lake. It’s pleasant enough, particularly on the sort of nice sunny day we had, but is long and somewhat short of variety. There was some excitement as we spotted a tree being held up by guy ropes, for example, which shows you how little there is to feast one’s eyes upon.

After a mile or so of Duke’s Lane, one can dive off left along a track, which is actually a good idea for people on foot; the alternative is to exit the park and then have a very unrewarding mile or so along a main road with no footpath. However, the track, which is intended mainly for horse riders to disport themselves along, is also long and somewhat short of variety.

although there was one fine fungus to be seen.

It transpired that having to go along the last half of this track was an error; officer i/c navigation (that would be me, then) wasn’t paying attention and we should have left the riding track and walked along the side of Virginia Water Lake at one point. However, we weren’t tempted to go back and find the right track because we were (a) headed in basically the right direction and (b) imminently due to arrive at the Blacknest Gate exit of the Park in order to have a Nice Lunch, which, having walked 7½ miles at this point, we felt we deserved. And we duly got it at this splendid restaurant.

Bluebells was once in Sunningdale and we thought it had shut down; it turns out that it had moved, and it is every bit as good in its new location as it had been. Thoroughly recommended.

After lunch, we tottered back into the Park, passing some lovely hydrangeas

on the way towards Smith’s Lawn, which is a vast area of beautifully-maintained turf whose main purpose is to support the playing of Polo; the Guards Club runs the matches there.

Our luck was in – there was some Polo being played! So we watched for a bit (without actually understanding what was going on, but being impressed by the horsemanship and the thundering of hooves)

and I used it as the excuse for another gin bottle shot.

The final leg of the journey was to circumambulate the Obelisk Pond, which is just south of the Saville Gardens. Using a route we have rarely walked before, we discovered a lovely scene of a bridge across the end of the pond

crossing which offered a good view of the eponymous obelisk,

and enabled a final gin bottle shot before getting back to the car. This bottle is a well-travelled entity.

So, we are nearly half way through the 13 days of walking. Today we covered 10.47 miles and so far we have walked over 50 miles, which is over three miles more than we would have covered by this stage had we been walking round Menorca. Tomorrow is going to be something of a test of our fitness and stamina as we take on an 11-mile walk that we have found quite challenging in the past. In theory, we are both lighter and fitter than we were when we last took it on; tune in tomorrow to see whether the practice matches up to the theory!

Day 5 – Cami To The Garden, Maud

Cami-flage Day 5 – Tuesday 15th September 2020

I shan’t bore you with the weather comparison between Surrey and Menorca today – suffice it to say that the two were pretty much comparable, with the sun shining in both places and Mahon (30°C) simply being warmer by 4°.  So the conditions were set fine for a fine walk around Virginia Water Lake with a sideways shuffle into the Valley Gardens (the justification for today’s headline).

Here’s an outline of the walk, which lies just north of the A30 and the Wentworth estate (the golfers among you will know where that is, of course). Being largely beside a lake it’s rather unsurprisingly rather flat

but full of lovely greenery and scenery.  The basic walk around the perimeter of the lake is some 4½ miles, and we expanded it by around the mile necessary to match the Menorca equivalent by wandering into the neighbouring Valley Gardens.

Along the path one sees a variety of things from majestic trees right down to rather engaging  things you can make from them.

Shortly after the start of the walk, there’s a pond called Wick Pond, which is normally very pretty, but today it was lifeless and covered in algae.  However, there was one attractive thing about it.

We may be halfway through September, but Summer is not yet dead (though Autumn is on its way – see later).

The next landmark is the famous Totem Pole, not an item you normally expect to find in Surrey.  But there it is, and there was nothing for it but to show it to our gin bottle.

Incidentally, the chap at the top looks rather as if he is scared of heights.

Walking along towards and into the lovely Heather Garden, one could see the first stirrings of approaching Autumn.

and the colours can be wonderful.

The Heather Garden is always a pleasure to visit at any time of year.  You can always find pleasant scenes.

(We can’t decide whether to call the above Dougal or The Very Hungry Caterpillar.)

We mooched about afterwards in a wooded area on the way back to the waterside

and I tried my hand at a true photographic cliché.

after which we made our way around the far end of the lake where it would have been rude not to stop for tea and cake.

Just before the café the path crosses a five-arch bridge, which you can’t see at the time, since you’re actually on it.  But you can get a nice view of it from the later path and this seemed a good excuse to get the gin bottle out again.

On the home stretch, there’s another item which one wouldn’t normally expect to find by a Surrey lake – Roman ruins.

Leptis Magna was a 2nd century Byzantine city.  Bits of its ruins were transported to Surrey in the 1800s. Whatever, it made a good backdrop for yet another gin bottle photo.

The final landmark came as a bit of a shock.  Again, somewhat counterintuitively as you walk alongside a lake, there’s a fairly substantial waterfall called, somewhat less counterintuitively, the Cascade.  It’s normally very photogenic, as you can see from a photo I took there about a year ago.

But today…..

It looks as if something fairly horrible has happened – trees have been cut down, perhaps because of storm damage earlier in the year, and the water supply is either inadequate or has been cut off whilst work is carried out.  In any case, it’s a sad scene.

It was a shame we couldn’t end our walk with a great scene, but the rest of it was very pleasant – a nice walk in splendid scenery in agreeable weather, plus ice cream, tea and cake.  What, as they say, is not to like?

And so ended the walk on day 5 of our Menorca substitute holiday.  We will be back in the neighbourhood again tomorrow, walking around Windsor Great Park; a somewhat longer walk after which, as a reward, we will have a Nice Lunch.  We’re looking forward to it and hope that we can virtually enjoy your company, too.  See you tomorrow!


Day 4 – Cami-knickers

Cami-flage Day 4Monday 14th September 2020

The obligatory weather comparison showed very little to choose between Surrey and Menorca; in either case we would be walking in the heat of the day.

We had some domestic admin to handle (to do with a septic tank – better not to ask, really) before we could go walking. Today’s walk was shorter than some, but more intense than others, involving climbing a couple of hills.

So it was just after 12.00 when we mad dogs went out into the midday sun, starting from a car park, engagingly called “Walking Bottom” (the rather tenuous justification for the title of this post).

The track leads from the car park, down into the rather pretty village of Peaslake.

Normally, Peaslake is absolutely awash with cyclists, as it’s in the Surrey Hills, and thus attractive to the MAMIL road cyclists; and also at the foot of Pitch Hill, hence a magnet for the grunge of the cycling world, mountain bikers. But today, the village was quiet and pleasant.

The downhill track into the village transforms swiftly into an uphill climb out of it.

(that’s me down the path, using the need to take a photo as an excuse to have a breather).  Once up the climb, the track takes the form of the sort of woodland and heathland trails that are familiar to anyone who has walked in this part of Surrey – and, I hope, to you, dear reader, as you will have been following these posts closely, of course, won’t you?  Good.

We passed a couple of ponds

neither of which were bounteously supplied with water, and one even looked entirely dry, a consequence of a very dry Spring and Summer round these ‘ere parts.

The next part of the track leads into what the Fancy-Free Walks website describes as a “delicious veldt”.  Indeed, when we first did this walk (several years ago, now), that’s exactly what it was.  It’s a bit overgrown now…

…but has some lovely clumps of heather and some interesting-looking fungi.

An inexorable climb for another couple of kilometres brought us to the top of the first hill, Holmbury Hill.  You’ll have seen the gin bottle photo from day 2, of course.  The views are quite spectacular.

but there were people there, so we moved on to a place a little further down where there is an access path for those of different ability and a rather nice little seating circle.  I whizzed the drone up and took a photo or two.

and then we headed down the path to the bottom of Holmbury Hill

to the start of the ascent up the next hill, Pitch Hill, which is marked by the rather fabulous buildings of the Duke of Kent School.

We thought it would be nice to exhibit our gin bottle here, so despite the signs saying that photography was prohibited, we took a quick snap.

and then moved on to the track, which goes up

and up, and up

and up and up and up and up. And up.

until eventually we got to the top of Pitch Hill.  The view repaid the effort.

and we took a couple of photos of the gin bottle as well, using the handy trig point as a plinth in one case

before heading down.  The route down bifurcates and you can choose the “high road” or the “low road”.  Our opinion is that the low road is more interesting,  Actually, they’re both just wide forestry tracks, but there’s more peripheral scenery on the low road.

And this took us back to the car, some 6.81 miles after we left it (by comparison, the Menorca equivalent would be 6.77, so we’re still ahead of the game).

Like all of the walks we plan, this is a nice one.  It can be quite hard work in places, but the general scenery and the hilltop views are lovely.  Of course the fact that it was a sunny day helped enormously.

Tomorrow’s walk sees us leave the Surrey Hills for a couple of excursions around Windsor Great Park.  We’re looking forward to circumambling Virginia Water Lake tomorrow, so please join us – same Cami-time, same Cami-channel – to see what the day was like.  ‘Bye for now!