Threats all week of a totally sodden day by the Met office, (withdrawn the day prior I should add), replaced by the uncertainty of Hurricane Katia looming, and unbelievably extensive engineering works across London, failed to deter 35 intrepid GOCettes through the streets, parks, forests and fields of SE London! In fact the weather was superb, with a mixture of warm sunny spells, some overcast patches, a fair breeze, all excellent walking weather.
The inaugeral prewalk breakfast was an overwhelming success! At least 24 ( I lost count by then) turned up, and there were energetic conversations mixed with baked beans and coffee, and some, not mentioning any names, well ok then one stood out, Amyn is a man who clearly enjoys his food and tucked into a mamouth feast! . All agreed it was a great way to start the day and the newbie attenders found it particularly welcoming.
We got off to a slightly late start, saw the ice well, city scapes over London, a glimpse into the moated gardens of Eltham Palace (and in this country Eltham is pronounced el-t-am, not the same el-th-am as we have in the northern suburbs of my home town Melbourne - we Australians do tend to bastardise everything good and pure!), the ruins of conduit head, parks and ancient forests, of which there are numerous in this part of London. There were further delays here and there. Some poor soul lost his sunglasses, then we stopped for a longer break than anticipated at the stunning Shooter's Hill, where I added to delays by taking a short, well not so short, side trip to see the impressive Severndroog Castle and the grand Edwardian water tower, then we altered our lunch break, and the final delay was the farmer forgetting to leave the gates unlocked, with GOCettes marching back and forth through the nettles and brambles - the poor farmer finally arrived all apologetic, but, unknown to him, his rugged appearance certainly changed the faces of some of the troops who had been a little disgruntled by the wait! Time running short-ish, it was decided to cut short the last mile or so (missing, or rather avoiding, the 'delights' of Erith and the 'Riverside'), have only a brief stop at Plumstead Cemetery, with its grand chapel, head swiftly through ancient Bostal and Lesnes Abbey Woods, quick look at the ruins of the Abbey and a smaller group ventured further to find the Sleeping Dryad (pic above) guarding the forest! Most of us managed to get on the 5.20pm train back to London Bridge, a jolly, chatty but exhausted bunch, 10 miles and over 7 hours since the start of breakfast, a long but good day!