A blog written by Katie Shaw, Operations Manager, Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA)
HCGA is an environmental charity that manages several community gardens and a range of projects, which includes: conservation training schemes, volunteer gardening sessions, health and well-being projects, environmental play-schemes and environmental education.
HCGA received TfL WCGL funding for their project, Wildlife Walks, which promotes wildlife walks around London for socially isolated and vulnerable local people.
Our day began in Central London for our third Wildlife Walk out of a programme of ten. As soon as we were kitted out with sandwiches, drinks and the appropriate footwear, we headed for the nearest tube station before making our way to Chalfont & Latimer station (on the Met Line) in the Chilterns countryside. An area of outstanding natural beauty.
As a group of ten, we began our scenic route on a beautifully sunny winter’s day. We were a group with an interesting mix of people with varying levels of experience; some new to countryside walking, some lacking a little in confidence and some with usually no-one to accompany them on walks.
We followed the Chess Valley walk path, a route that was easy to follow and relatively flat, so perfect for beginners and families. Not only did we get the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature and truly stunning landscapes, but also benefited from both the physical and mental aspects of exercising in lovely countryside air.
Along the way we passed historic buildings, estates, water meadows, fields with a variety of uses and nature reserves.For quite a lot of the route we walked alongside the picturesque River Chess which is a 'chalk stream' fed by groundwater. The river, with its clean mineral-rich spring water, is ideal for producing watercress and we got the opportunity to see the traditional watercress beds of Crestyl Barn.
We strolled through Frogmore Meadows, a Nature Reserve, managed by Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust. We saw an abundance of grasses and a wide variety of wildlife such as swans, geese, cranes, red kites, other species of birds and, unexpectedly, a couple of alpaca farms.
Red kites were flying very low and we were able to identify them easily with their distinctive forked tails. We continued our walk via Campbells Meadow admiring the pretty snowdrops and mushrooms and enjoyed the distant views of Chorleywood House Estate and Lady Ela's Museum in the Summer House.
Our walk concluded conveniently at Chorleywood station (Met Line) via the picturesque and very popular Chorleywood Common where we admired the numerous wood carvings along the way.
The whole group returned to London feeling happy, energised and grateful for the opportunity to get out and about enjoying the great outdoors in the company of others. We walked for around two and a half hours at a gentle pace and are all very much looking forward to the next.