SOC Walks Programme 2015

Wednesday 21st January - SOC Annual Walkers Dinner - London

Not so much a walk, more of a tube ride! At the Oxford Pub in Kentish Town from 6pm to 10pm. This is the official launch of the 2015 Walks Programme. It's a great opportunity to meet old friends, discuss the walks, have a nice meal, great beer etc. Four hours of nude bliss in mid-Winter in Central London - it's worth it almost for its novelity value! Tickets are £26.50 and need to be reserved in advance from Steve Allott. The pub is almost opposite Rio's Naturist Health Spa, where several of us will be before the dinner.


Tuesday 28th April - Charlton Forest, Chichester

This was new in 2014 and proved to be a great success. After passing through the forest it emerges onto the high downland with some superb views. This walk does contain some steep climbs! It starts from one of several East Dean villages in Sussex and Hampshire, not to be confused with the East Dean at the start and finish of the Friston Forest walk. The Charlton Forest East Dean is 6 miles north-east of Chichester.

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Thursday 7th May - Leith Hill, Dorking

At 9 miles this is now the shortest of our walks. Nonetheless, it is much enjoyed and provides an excellent route through pleasant sheltered woodland and very attractive valleys sloping gently up to Leith Hill Tower, 1000ft (317m) above sea level on the crest of the Greensand Ridge. From here it is possible to see high buildings in London.

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Thursday 21st May - Mayfield

We did this walk in East Sussex for the first time in 2011. It follows a delightful wiggling route through a mixture of pasture and woodland combining great views across the Weald with some enchanting almost Alpine settings. We stopped then for lunch in Wadhurst Park where herds of deer are often seen grazing.

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Tuesday 2nd June - Bury Down, Didcot

This is a wonderful walk over the downs between Reading and Didcot. It now has a new start point; - The Swan in East Ilsley, but it will be the same walk! From the village, we will climb up onto and along the Ridgeway with its great views, before turning south to drop down through a winding valley to make a wide circle back to East Ilsley.


Wednesday 10th June - Whiteways, Amberley

This is a new Whiteways walk for 2015! It follows the best bits of the old Whiteways walk, but much of it is new. The revised walk goes north to follow the high downland for some magnificent open walking along the South Downs Way. Although we pass though Whiteways Cross, the walk now starts from the George and Dragon in Houghton.

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Wednesday 17th June - Turville Valley, High Wycombe

This was a new walk for 2012, but we have not done too well with the weather since! It lies broadly between our Maidensgrove walk to the west and the M40 to the north, and includes all the best features for which the Chilterns are rightly famed. Bill Haynes who organised these walks for 12 years, devised this (and many other walks) and it lives on in his name. So come on Bill, can we have some better weather for 2015!

 Thursday 25th June - Dean's Bottom, Goring-on-Thames

This is now a popular walk our programme, and it is the sixth walk in our collection to make use - briefly this time - of The Ridgeway long distance path. We meet in the village of Aldworth in Berkshire and walk through superb downland scenery in a large figure of eight. There are ups and downs, so you have to be able to cope with several steep climbs.

Tuesday 7th July - Wepham Down, Arundel

This is new for 2015, however it is not totally new as it takes the best bits from the old Patching walk, and then goes off north into the high chalk downland. We have created a brilliant walk - very open and nude friendly with magnificent views. Parts of it are quite remote, almost reminiscent of the Lakes! The walk is about 13 miles (which is on the long side by SOC standards) so note the earlier 11.30am start time.

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Thursday 16th July - Harting Down, Petersfield

Downland walks are always popular and this circuit starts at the southernmost point. We head north-east gradually ascending the dip slope to the crest of the South Downs where we enjoy splendid views over the countryside around the village of South Harting. After heading west along the ridge, we close the loop through rolling fields and woods.

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Saturday 25th July - Hoo Peninsula, Gravesend

This walk is in a most unusual setting where we start in hills and woodland before exploring a huge and virtually deserted area of marshland alongside the Thames Estuary, which is why we can do it on a Saturday. This area is full of historical interest, and has a chequered history of smuggling exploited by Charles Dickens for Great Expectations.

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Tuesday 4th August - Grovely Woods, Salisbury

This was a new walk in 2014 and proved a great success. For many years we have looked north across the wide valley when walking along the top of escarpment that is a major feature of our Broad Chalke walk, and admired a wooded parallel ridge with woods on top but open sides. When we investigated we were far from disappointed.

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Wednesday 12th August - Friston Forest, Eastbourne

This beautiful walk featured in our first 1993 programme and is still a favourite, with forest, open downs and precipitous chalk cliffs. As the walk is not a closed circuit we board a bus in East Dean to start our walk at the Cuckmere Inn where the A259 crosses the Cuckmere River. We take a route heading north along the east bank of the river, where a quick swim might be in order, before leaving it to climb up through a winding valley and emerge on the top of the downs. We finish up by striding across closely cropped turf along the top of the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs to Birling Gap before walking back to The Tiger Inn for dinner.

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Thursday 20th August - Red Shoot, Ringwood

This year we repeat our usual route heading north from the Red Shoot Inn & Brewery up onto the New Forest. The walk typifies the Forest with vast expanses of heather and heathland along with magnificent views. Not to mention ponies, ponds, and relics from WW2!

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Wednesday 26th August - Ackling Dyke, Salisbury

Ackling Dyke is a name bestowed locally on the Roman road between Sarum (now Salisbury) and Poole harbour, which we follow for several miles. We are again on the high chalk downland and much of the scenery is spectacular with lunch in a secluded Alpine meadow.

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Thursday 3rd September - Sugar Hill, Swindon

This is a magnificent walk on the high chalk downland between Hungerford and Swindon. Its start point is the pretty village of Albourne, with its pub and village green. The walk follows the ridge up to the impressive Liddington Castle which was one of the earliest Iron Age hill forts in Britain, with first occupation dating to the seventh century BC! We then follow a fine route along a west facing escarpment partly parallel to, and then on, the Ridgeway before heading east back to the village.

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Thursday 10th September - Box Hill Maze, Dorking

What was a new walk for 2013 and has proved very popular. It starts where the River Mole cuts through the North Downs and follows an amazing tangle of footpaths through beautiful wooded and also open territory with splendid views. But you have to be able to cope with several steep climbs. Please note that due to the nature of the walk it will start at 12 mid-day prompt!

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Wednesday 16th September - Chiltern Scarp, High Wycombe

On leaving the pub, we pile into some of the cars to reach our starting point on The Ridgeway Path near Lewknor. Passing under the M40, we climb to the summit of Beacon Hill for an early lunch. This walk includes two assaults on the scarp and is not suitable for weak hearts or knees.


Thursday 1st October - Mereworth Woods, Maidstone

This walk takes us through extensive woodland but there are open stretches where the Medway valley can be viewed. It is well sheltered so we walk here early or late in the season, and if it does rain hard we can drive to Silverleigh in West Kingsdown for indoor naturism.

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