Report on Thursday Walks
You will recall that the Committee thought that, as Kingston was the second-largest group in Surrey, there was scope for us to provide more than our previous three walks per week.
Secondly, we thought that, rather than obliging leaders to commit themselves to a date up to six months ahead, we would enable leaders to lead walks at short notice.
We decided upon Thursday as the new day and to start a trial in the current programme that began on 1 July. How have we got on? At the time of writing, we have had three Thursday walks.
The first, an evening walk around Bushy Park led by Brenda and David, attracted ten walkers and finished with a drink in a pub garden.
On 13 July, we were back in Bushy Park on one of Bob’s ‘ambles’. Bob will typically be leading an amble on the first Thursday of every month. One aim of the ambles is to cater for members who might find even a 5-mile walk rather demanding but want to continue walking for pleasure. The distance will be around 5 miles but there will be a rest break somewhere in the middle. Previously, we have done little for this kind of member so consequently we saw less and less of them until they fell out of touch altogether.
Bob’s amble attracted 19 walkers and it was heartening to see some old faces again. The morning break was at the Pheasantry Cafe (pleasant but not cheap). After visiting the restored Water Gardens, lunch was a picnic there or at cafes nearby in the High Street, Hampton Hill. In the spirit of the amble, some left at this stage. After lunch, we walked largely around the park perimeter to Teddington Gate, where most of us caught the bus to Kingston.
The third walk was Colin Brick’s walk from the source of the Hogsmill to its confluence with the Thames. This attracted 14 walkers with Bob making an appearance at Ewell West station to send us on our way. Colin’s habit of pausing to update his notes, using his left thigh as a writing desk, meant that he was often leading from the rear. Fortunately, walking downstream along a river bank presents fewer navigational challenges than most walks so the vanguard never strayed too far off course and the group paused to consolidate itself at various points.
As we were walking through essentially urban areas with fair public transport, the walk took on some of characteristics of an amble à la carte, with people opting out at suitable points. Lunch was at The Berrylands Hotel and we continued to the Thames.
On the evidence of these three walks, Thursdays are a success. Numbers are lower than the established Wednesday walks but that’s only to be expected. Sunny weather and the novelty value may have helped numbers, of course, so the Committee will be monitoring progress.
Having discussed ambles, we emphasise that Thursdays are not for short walks exclusively. Any walk that you might lead on a Wednesday (that is, by off peak public transport) is suitable for a Thursday walk.
Paradoxically, although Thursday walks were aimed at giving leaders the flexibility of short notice, many Thursdays were booked ahead and are in the printed programme. At the time of writing, available days are 17 August, 14 & 28 September, and 12 & 26 October. So, if the spirit moves you, please lead a walk!
Thursday 21 September is set for the inauguration of the John Hauxwell kissing gate; see above.
When vacant Thursdays are filled by leaders, we will post walks on the Walks Finder and send emails. There are a handful of regular walkers who have infrequent or no internet access. If you see one of these on a walk, be sure to update them.
by David Cooper