Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Local walk with a twist

What a great day for a local walk.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and warm temperatures.  A route of approximately 18km was planned using local public footpaths from the OSM.  You can see the planned and actual routes in the screen dump below.   Red is planned and purple is actual.  I didn’t record the beginning of the actual route.  The idea was to see if some high ground could be reached in an effort to get an idea of the terrain.

It was a gentle stroll of 3.5 hours as I’m breaking in a new pair of ‘all terrain’ shoes (Meindl from Germany).  Thirty years ago I would have broken them in by wearing them in the shower for 15 minutes getting them well soaked and then continue to wear them wet for the remainder of the day.  By then they would have moulded to the shape of my wrinkly feet.  Today I took a second (older) pair of shoes with me and changed ¾ of the way around once the new shoes started to rub.

After 4km I ended up on some slightly higher ground with views to the south.  It is almost impossible to see in the following photo, but with the naked eye it was possible to see Harlow (left arrow) and the Scottish Power generating station at the junction of the Rivers Lee & Stort at Hoddesdon (right arrow).

The hedgerows are in bloom and this next part of the local footpath was well mowed.

A couple of kilometres later I arrived at the junction of three narrow lanes.  Standing on the verge in full view and without a care in the world was this…..

No time to get out the camera so I took a photo with the cheap, low resolution camera in the gps.  Can you see the peacock in the middle ground to the right.  To the left, and out of view, were three peahens.  They were still behind the wire.  Mr Peacock might be an escape artist.  Further down the Bridle Path five birds were foraging in the sunlight.

Guinea Fowl according to Jan.  She tells me they are tasty.  Never tried them myself….. only guineapig! Smile The farmers around here are either growing rape or corn.  The rape appears to be coming along faster than the corn.

Halfway through the walk I noticed a bright red windsock and what appeared to be the radio and control tower for an airfield (point A on the map above).  But the field between them had corn growing in it?

Then I realised the two parallel grass runways were over my right shoulder along with a hanger and buildings painted green.

During WW2 this airfield was RAF Hunsdon and it was from here that in February 1944 the N°140 Wing (Mosquito’s) implemented Operation Jericho attacking Amiens prison in occupied France.  The aim of the operation was to free a large number of capture members of the French Resistance who were scheduled for execution.  In a precision attack the Mosquito’s were able to breach the outer prison walls and kill many of the guards.  Unfortunately about 100 prisoners were also killed and more than 50% of the escapees were subsequently recaptured.  The raid was carried out by No. 21 Squadron RAF, 464 Squadron (Australia) RAF, and 487 Squadron (New Zealand) RAF.  So both an Aussie and Kiwi connection to the airfield.

At one point the planned route almost doubled back on itself.  That’s when I noticed the stately home off to the right.  This is Gilston Park House, which in 1851 replaced an earlier house on the same site (point B on the map above).

In the late 1990’s is was purchased and converted to 31 apartments as part of a program of country house conversion.  Additional homes were constructed in the adjacent grounds.

During the final part of the walk I noticed two more of those 6ft high concrete plinths in the middle of a boggy meadow.  I managed to climb a tree (something not done for quite some years!) and took a distant photo of the top of the plinth (point C on the map).

It has a grate!  My conclusion is these plinths must be part of a stormwater or drainage system!  The footpath actually took me near this plinth only for me to discover 40 metres of the path was actually swamp.  I ended up wading through mud halfway up my calves. Wrong pair of shoes got a good soaking!

Back on Waiouru Jan had taken the final bag of last years blackberries from the freezer and baked a blackberry sponge pudding. <good girl>.  This afternoon we spend time going through the clothing lockers working on the principle of “If in doubt – throw it out!”  My winter pyjamas and long-john underwear have been cut up for rags. 

We bought them thinking it would be cold on Waiouru. I wore the winter pyjamas during our first winter on the hire boat in Aldermaston as it was very cold with the walls dripping condensation, but Waiouru is so warm I could now go “commando” during winter.  Jan doesn’t seem nearly as keen!

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