Sloe, sloe quick sip sloe

Hedgerow Liqueurs 2014

Hannah from Woodlands Farm e-mailed to say that the sloes on the farm are ready to be harvested already, a lot earlier than usual, so they have hastily arranged their annual Hedgerow Liqueurs day for Saturday 4th October 2014 :

Join us for a tramp and forage around the hedgerows, followed by sloe gin making.
Bring your own gin or spirit of choice together with at least a one litre, wide neck (>2.5cm) container. Alternatively, Kilner type jars, 1.5 litre, will be available at cost price. Sugar, sloes and wild damsons will be provided by Woodlands Farm.
Book early via the Farm Office, numbers limited
Please dress appropriately for outdoor activities and bring a packed lunch

Price £15 (£10 members)
18+years only

You can contact the farm to book a place by phone on 020 8319 8900 or by e-mail on

There’s another new arrival to visit at the farm: a British White calf  born recently, seen below with her mother Clover.

Clover the British White and her new calf at Woodlands Farm
Clover the British White and her new calf at Woodlands Farm

Green Chain Mega-amble this weekend

Green Chain Megawalkers gather at Crystal Palace Station
Green Chain Megawalkers gather at Crystal Palace Station

Walk London‘s series of free guided walks this weekend – their Autumn Ambles – includes one of the longest but most rewarding “ambles” in London: the Green Chain Megawalk. The 22 mile amble actually moves along at a steady average walking speed, and will be led once again by Ian Bull, our favourite leader of walks in South-East London and a bit of an expert on the Green Chain, not to mention a part-time restorer of steam locomotives. The walk starts at Crystal Palace railway station at 9.15am on Saturday, 27th September and finishes more than 9 hours later down at the Thames near Erith railway station. The Walk London web site has the details:

The Green Chain Megawalk is by a considerable margin the longest established long-distance guided walk in London and many hundreds have participated. Some thought they wouldn’t complete such a distance, yet the camaraderie and expert guidance have seen all but a handful achieve an on-time finish. Every one of the participants has taken wonderful memories from the day. Here’s your chance to join the institution!
We’ll gently climb to some of the highest points in the city, suburbia giving way to outstanding views and miles of London’s best woodland, some established for 8,000 years. For lengthy sections you won’t know you are in a town, let alone the Metropolis as well over half the route is off-road. Despite travelling around an entire quartile of London we’ll cross just 40 surfaced thoroughfares.
The route is steep in its latter parts, a packed lunch is essential, and of course you must be reasonably fit. You must also be able to sustain three miles per hour for most of a day and if you think you can, this particularly friendly event is the one Walk London walk that you should do. There is no need to book, just turn up and go, a remarkable day awaits you.

One of the good things about the walk is that if 22 miles proves too much then it is possible to drop out along the way and get a bus or train home, and for those living in Shooters Hill the late lunchtime stop at the Oxleas Café can be an early finishing point if the legs are ready to give up after 16 miles.

There’s an interactive map of the route of the Green Chain Walk on the Green Chain web site here. For further information about the walk contact Ian by phone,  020 7223 3572 or  email – ianbull at btinternet dot com.

The Green Chain Megawalk is by far the longest of the Autumn Ambles; most of them are just a couple of miles, and there are walks taking in Soho, St. Paul’s and the City of London. Looks like a good weekend for a walk.

Ian Bull leads Green Chain walkers cross Eaglesfield Park
Ian Bull leads Green Chain walkers cross Eaglesfield Park


Pet Cemetery Presentation

Headstone in the pet cemetery, Hornfair Park
Headstone in the pet cemetery, Hornfair Park

Liz, who chairs the  Friends of the Pet Cemetery, wrote to let me know about a presentation she is giving about the cemetery’s history at Charlton House on Saturday. The Friends’ latest newsletter has the details:

If you would like to hear more about the history of the former Blue Cross Cemetery, our Chair, Liz McDermott, will be giving a PowerPoint presentation for the Charlton History Society, Charlton House, Saturday 13th September, commencing at 2.30pm.  All welcome.

I hear the presentation includes some great old archive photos.

The Pet Cemetery originated in the Blue Cross Quarantine Kennels which started at the end of the First World War and particularly looked after service men and women’s pets. They provided accommodation for 123 dogs along with cats and other pets including guinea pigs. It later fell into disrepair, and the Friends were set up in 2012  with the aim of  refreshing the memorial stones, replanting the garden beds, improving the seating, installing bird and bat boxes and creating a wildlife-friendly environment.

They’ve made some great progress on these objectives: old, untidy shrubs have been removed and hedges trimmed (revealing more memorial stones); the bird and bat boxes are up, and at least one of the bird boxes has had occupants;  and some of the stones have been cleaned up, with help from stonework professionals. There’s a “before” and “after” pair of photographs of one of the cleaned memorials below.

The Friends meet at the cemetery on the second Sunday of each month to continue their maintenance and restoration work, and they welcome visitors and helpers. Their future plans include a full survey of the cemetery, educational visits, more planting and possibly a pet “memorial wall”.

Pet cemetery Headstone - before
Pet cemetery Headstone – before
Pet cemetery Headstone - after
Pet cemetery Headstone – after
















Midnight Megawalk on Friday

Ian Bull's photograph of sunrise on the Green Chain Midnight Megawalk
Ian Bull’s photograph of sunrise on the Green Chain Midnight Megawalk

There’s another opportunity for an overnight ramble along the 22 miles of the Green Chain Walk from Crystal Palace to Erith on Friday, 5th September. As before the walk will be led by Ian Bull, who regularly leads walks near Shooters Hill, such as the Best Landscape and Views in London,  the Thames Path Super Walk and London’s best woodland and views – without doubt. He e-mailed to say:


At last… There’s finally a strong chance of clear skies on Friday/Saturday 5th/6th September. No rain is forecast and it’s going to be nice and warm as well. There hasn’t been a clear Friday/Saturday  since late May – not one!
This is your chance to experience a very pleasant walk in remarkable  conditions. There are miles of dense woodland on our route and in them it will be jet-black. Barely a photon will disturb us when we stand still for a moment and listen to the nocturnal wildlife quietly scurrying through the undergrowth. As first light begins to show at  about 04.00 the sky will gently become turquoise from the North  leaving black to the South and from our best vantage points, London’s  streetlights gleaming gold beneath us. The views are glorious, the darkness delicious, and the landscape is London’s best.

There’s no need to book and no charge, just turn up, but feel very  free to ask me in advance for further information.

What we’re going to do…
* We meet outside Crystal Palace railway station at 23.30 on Friday 5th September.
* The pace will be leisurely, we don’t even have to make average  walking speed.
* The aim is to see the Sun rising over East Anglia and the Lower Thames from Shooters Hill, very nearly London’s highest point, at 06.21 and we will achieve this.
* The overall distance is 21.5 miles but a 1.5 mile diversion through excellent woodland will be offered to see the Gothicky (spooky?) Severndroog Castle. There are benches for a nap for those who don’t want to do this.
* After sunrise we’ll traverse Bostall Woods and Lesnes Abbey Woods.  About four miles of these, and the latter has been there for 8,000  years, London’s finest ancient woodland.
* Finish at Erith about 08.30 for a train home. No engineering works – 33 minutes to London Bridge.
* Some participants traditionally have a breakfast together in a Café near London Bridge after the event.

Ian can be contacted by e-mail on  ianbull at btinternet dot com

If you prefer to walk the Green Chain in the light of day Ian is also planning to hold a day-time megawalk on Saturday 27th September.

Ian Bull and day-time Green Chain walkers admire the view in Shrewsbury Park
Ian Bull and day-time Green Chain walkers admire the view in Shrewsbury Park