Here is a selection of comments written by some of those who have enjoyed my hikes:
We moved to London in Sept 1996 and left Jan 2009. I really found joy in the walks with Hugh — the chance to be in countryside, the camaraderie with other women and an understanding of British history and traditions. Truly the best part of living in London. Thanks a million Hugh!
I was fortunate enough to live in London from 1995 through 2001. Almost overwhelmed from the start of what to do, what to see, where to go first, I relied on The SJWWC to help me plan my, almost daily, activities. While I enjoyed the museums and bus tours, I am at home in the outdoors; when my path crossed with Hugh’s, I knew I’d found my most favorite part of living in England. I walked on as many walks as I could with Hugh leading the way, following the public paths, learning to interpret the detailed Ordnance Survey maps (I still have my collection- I can’t bear to part with them!), experiencing the variety of English villages and landscapes…rain, sunshine, or snow! I eventually began taking my family and visitors out on my own weekend hikes. It was a special bonus when Hugh proposed weekend and out-of-country tours to the club. I met most of my (still!) closest friends on these outings and had such fun on each and every one! I urge all club members to get a backpack, a set of waterproofs, a decent pair of hiking boots and set aside time monthly for a wonderful day in the English countryside with Hugh and friends. It will be time well spent!
It was fortunate years ago that a friend suggested the SJWWC Long Country Hikes as an activity I might enjoy. I was dubious at first—5 to 6 hours of hiking—rain or shine or hail or snow or MUD?! Turns out these hikes are among the most enjoyable activities the SJWWC offers. They provide a wonderful opportunity to make friends, enjoy the beautiful countryside, get exercise, and discover quaint pubs. They’re easy—all you have to do is meet our intrepid guide Hugh at the designated train station, board the train, get off when instructed, and follow the group through fields and down country lanes. If you’re lucky, you’ll come to a Kissing Gate and get Hugh’s explanation of what they’re all about. Or, maybe the hike will present stile after stile—good for those thighs! And, you’ll discover that many SJWWC alums return each year to go on one of the hikes—especially the overnight ones.
Hugh is a wonderful leader. He has many years experience guiding for many different groups. Hugh knows the terrain, plans the routes, informs his groups about the history, handles the logistics (trains, pub lunches, timing required), copes with every eventuality and is great company as well. The country is beautiful, always. The weather can be gorgeous and it can be bad, Hugh always kept us laughing and saw us through. I hope you have the good fortune to experience his country walks.
Dorothy and John Leonard
I loved living in London and enjoying the city, but the real England is out in the wonderful countryside. Those are my best memories, they fill many photo albums here at home. His walks were filled with so much history and introduced many new walks for me. All wonderful memories, Hugh, the walks are what I miss most of all. I loved the pubs with the best goat cheese salads!! And the fireplaces!!
Jeanette and Clark Goode
I just recently ran across my prized SJWWC “walk badges” and they brought back many happy memories of days spent walking with you and the club. It was absolutely the best possible way to actually experience the beauty of the English countryside. Although the value of the exercise we received was usually cancelled out by the pub lunches we enjoyed, the walks were one of my favorite activities with the club. It allowed me to meet and get to know some amazing women while enjoying the history and beauty of the areas visited and those memories are highlights of the time we spent in the UK.
The SJWWC Country Walks is what I miss most about living in London. Since returning to the US I have tried other walking groups in the New York City area, but it is not the same as walking in England. The English countryside is uniquely beautiful, walks in the US required a tolerance for heat and humidity, and the way you organized the walks around a pub lunch made the day very relaxing and fun. Thank you, Hugh, for introducing me to such beautiful areas….the North and South Downs, Cornwall, Devon, Isle of Wight, and many more. Do you remember a Henley Round Walk when the village of Hambledon was staged for a Poirot episode? What fun it was to see that episode on Masterpiece Mystery! Again, thanks for making this aspect of living in London so memorable. You were a marvelous guide with impeccable organizational skills. I can heartily recommend your walks to the ladies in the SJWWC.Websie amendments
I regularly attended Hugh’s walks as it allowed me to see different parts of England and to meet all different kinds of people that I would not have otherwise met. I went on Hugh’s walks from 2006 to 2008, but every year since, when I return to London to visit friends, I have arranged to go on a walk with Hugh. The walks are always the right length – not too long or too short. We stop at an interesting pub for lunch where the food is always excellent. And Hugh always provides interesting information about the area that we are visiting. I always have a fun time!
There are so many wonderful adventure memories I have of London but by far and large the “walking days with Hugh” was an event I continue to think about year after year. The camaraderie of the walks combined with Hugh’s knowledge of the different areas is not to be missed. The pub lunches were the best! Remember the “Devil’s Punchbowl”
I have so many wonderful memories (and photos!) to remind me of the great times we had hiking the beautiful English countryside, come rain or shine. In fact, it seems to me, the more “inclement” the weather, the more we enjoyed ourselves! And more often than not, we had clear skies by the time we reached our mid-day stop at the pub. Who could forget slogging, falling and laughing as we crossed that muddy field. . . and oh, the magnificent walks amongst the bluebells!
Long country walks with Hugh were the best part of my stay in London – Aug 2006 – July 2008. Since returning to the US I have continued walking but just around the Boston area on Sundays with my husband and friends. I really loved the overnight treks – they inspired me so much that I plan on doing the Camino de Santiago (500 mile pilgrimage/trek) when we are empty nesters!!
The walks Hugh led were a big part of my enjoyment of the UK during my four years in London. I saw many ‘small’ places I would have otherwise missed, enjoyed Hugh’s perspective on English life, and made great friends as we trekked through hill and dale.
Earlier this year my husband and I decided to move back to London and one of my first thoughts was… YAY! I can join Hugh’s walks again! I loved everything about my time living in London from 2001 to 2003 and Hugh’s country walks were truly one of the highlights. I made great friends, experienced beautiful landscapes and was even inspired to make my own pilgrimage across Spain. One of the coolest parts of Hugh’s walks for me is that he does all of the planning and guiding. As the travel planner in the family I rarely get the chance to just relax and follow. Thank you Hugh, for not only enhancing my London experience, but for giving me the confidence to walk and explore wherever I am in the world.