Thursday, 12 December 2013

Walks and walking weekends - simply fab experiences and a painting to share

Walks and walking weekends - simply fab experiences and a painting to share
By Nimmi Hutnik – Inspired by our walking weekend in Boulogne December 2013

I am delighted to share with you a painting by Nimmi Hutnik that was inspired by our recent walking weekend in Boulogne.

As a walk leader my ethos is about inspiring and motivating, bringing people together walking outdoors, on journeys of discovery and exploration to places that touch the senses.

Our recent Boulogne weekend was one full of companionship, with memories to last, the colours of the sea and sand, the acrobatics of the kite surfer skimming high over the waves, the sights and sounds of the marvellous St Nicholas Parade & fireworks, cathedrals, city walls and of course fun , great French food  and wine.

Above all, the simple joy a lovely escape weekend and walks offer us as we cope with our busy lifestyles.

In turn I never cease to be inspired by those I walk with, our conversations, experiences and companionship and as during this weekend by Nimmi’s lovely painting and Sue’s fabulous photographs.

More information on Nimmi’s art

More information on Walkfree Breakfree or email

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Hi Everyone we have been to some wonderful places in the last few weeks. Enjoy the pictures and we now heading off to Ireland and the Pyrenees. Do join us when you can Iain

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Fab News - we have been upgraded - online bookings and payments system

This month it is not just the Ramblers Worldwide website that have been upgraded. Walkfree Breakfree are delighted to announce that all of our trips can now be booked online! 

Thanks to Stuart's hard work over the past few months we have done a great deal of work to make our website as easy to use as possible and one of the key aspects to this is to make our holidays easy to book. 

Whilst you can still book via more traditional methods, it is really pleasing to announce that every one of our trips can now be booked and paid for using our secure, fast online payment system. The secure system can accept all major debit and credit cards via our Worldpay payment gateway. 

Do visit our updated website and we would welcome any feedback on the website and our new booking and payment systems, so do get in touch!

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend - we are off to Pembrokeshire and more news and photos next week then its off to Mull and Tobermory next bank holiday weekend - still time left to join us.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Fab News - We have been nominated as a finalist in the Buckinghamshire Ambassadors Enterprise Award 2013

Really exciting news as Walkfree Breakfree has been nominated as a finalist in the Buckinghamshire Ambassadors Enterprise Awards 2013 business competition. As a local business now focusing hard on bring walkers into our lovely Chiltern Hills the home base of Walkfree Breakfree it great to be recognised in this way. 

Brecon Walks in the sunshine - Easter Snow In the Lake District

WOW what a month or two we have had here at Walkfree Breakfree. During February we had quite an amazing walking weekend in the Brecon Beacons with clear blue skies as we enjoyed a stunning route along the ridges of the central Brecon Mountains in south Wales. We stayed in a hostel but in the evening normal hostel fare it was not as EIGHT was the menu.
Our group in Brecon
Little Devils on Horseback & Nibbles* * *A Glass of Kir or Fruit Cocktail* * *Gravalax of Scottish Salmon with pickled Cucumber Spaghetti drizzled with Vodka Lime Dressing* * *Roast Tomato Soup with Goats Curd* * *Sorbet* * *Beef Fillet cooked in Soy & Sake with Parsnip & Wild Mushroom Pave & Ponzu SauceORTomato, Feta, Almond & Date Baklava served with salad & Tzatziki& seasonal vegetables* * *Lemon & Pine Nut Kernel Iced Mouse with Fromage Blanc & Black Pepper Sorbet* * *A Fine Welsh Cheese with oatcakes* * *Coffee or Tea

We might not have had Michelin stars nor posh premises but it turned to be one unforgettable weekend for walking foodies and a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this a fabulous gastronomic delight.

Yes eight courses - but then again we did have the exercise didn’t we? A really terrific excuse always on Walkfree Breakfree weekends to enjoy some great food. We don’t skimp on the food budget that is for sure!
On Sunday we had a “Last of the Mohicans” experience as our walk took us behind a waterfall – fun and we did not get wet. Mind you on the route we spotted some wet suit clad Gorge Walkers jumping into pools as we walked along the river banks. Reminded me of some of our Gorge walks on university trips of old and I still remember the routes so more news on that front in the summer – it will be summer who needs wet suits.

Our Easter Weekend – The Lake District -The Darkside took us to one of the remotest valleys in England where we stayed in Low Gillerthwaite with immediate access to the high and low level walks surrounding us. Mountains, Lakes, dark skies and remoteness a truly magical combination that made for an ideal escape once of course you accepted the fact no mobile or face book all weekend. 

Bliss in my book.

Our group Alpine Style walking in the Lakes
Of course the weekend before we had those huge snow dumps and dire weather forecasts all week but during our Easter weekend thank you kindly we had perfect weather for walking. It was dry, the sun shone, no wind but of course always a little cold.

A fantastic group who enjoyed walks which took us around Ennerdale & Buttermere Lakes, down to the coast at Ravenglass an old Roman Port, walking past Muncaster Castle and steam trains. Our high level walks took us above the snowline and I had the privilege of leading a really fantastic group to summit Steeple. For many this was a first experience of walking on mountains in the snow and they were absolutely brilliant – many were out of their usual comfort zones but with effort and sense of humour they made it and they enjoyed that buzz from a sense of achievement. Fantastic and well done to you all!

What achievement -what views
The views across to the Isle of Man and the mighty mountains of Scotland were excellent.  And photos of the weekend are available here and believe me they are well worth viewing – do enjoy.  

Ennerdale - Totally blissful - Unforgettable
For me a walk leader of many years you cannot beat the feeling of helping a group and it was a lovely experience encouraging others to move on and enjoy the great world outdoors and achieve what some would never have imagined possible. Do join us on one of our walking holidays soon.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all. We are shortly due to set off for an Easter weekend in the Lake District. Whilst cold, the weather looks to be sunny so there shall be many opportunitites to take some great photos. Best wishes Iain

Thursday, 14 March 2013

War and Peace in the Chilterns

For walkers of all ages and interests the Chiltern Hills are truly delightful with fantastic walks that take you into some lovely villages. Those villages can often have some remarkable historic tales as illustrated in the excellent article below War & Peace by Jeff Griffiths

Two peaceful, riverside villages between Henley and Marlow have surprising connections with the art of war. Above the village of Medmenham lies a prehistoric hill fort, which, with another at nearby Danesfield, once controlled the river valley below. Parked incongruously in the forecourt of a house in Medmenham’s main street are two naval cannon - see photo - above which the Royal Navy’s Blue Ensign flag flies. They are two of the original seven naval guns dragged 1,500 miles overland by the crew of HMS Powerful in order to relieve the siege of Ladysmith in February 1900. Winston Churchill, acting as a Boer War correspondent, was among the relief force. On their return home, the sailors from the Naval Brigade paraded their guns through London. This led in 1907 to the inter­-port field gun competition that was a highlight of the annual Royal Tournament military tattoo for many decades.
Two of the original seven naval guns used in the siege of Ladysmith
Two of the original seven naval guns used in the siege of Ladysmith
Olde Bell Hotel - Hurley
Olde Bell Hotel - Hurley

In Medmenham’s parish churchyard is the grave of Sir Basil Liddell Hart, the war correspondent and military historian whose life was not without controversy. Formerly secret files revealed that MI5 believed Liddell Hart had known all the details of the D-Day landing plans three months before the invasion. On learning this, a furious Winston Churchill had demanded Liddell Hart’s arrest but MI5 instead placed him under careful surveillance.

The nearby Danesfield House, now a luxury hotel, once served as RAF Medmenham. Vital work was carried out at what became the Allied aerial reconnaissance interpretation unit in the Second World War. It was here that the launch sites for the V-rockets were identified, leading to the elimination of the grave threat this advanced weaponry posed at the end of the war.  Sarah Churchill, the actress daughter of the wartime Prime Minister, worked here as did Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, son of the USA President. The English actor Sir Dirk Bogarde was another who was stationed here in the war. Winston himself would pay private visits to his daughter and receive first hand briefings at RAF Medmenham.
The village of Hurley, just across the river, was the location for US Naval Intelligence in WWII. Nicholas Straussler, a military engineer, lived in the village and is reputed to have tested early models of the ‘swimming tank’ that went ashore on D-Day in the former Priory’s fish pond and mill stream. President Roosevelt and General Dwight Eisenhower are believed to have stayed during WWII in the medieval Olde Bell hotel - a claimant to being the oldest pub in the country - in the village’s High street. The vast caravan park and bungalows that line the Thames above Hurley arose from those who fled the London Blitz for the safety of the riverside meadows.

These two Thames-side communities, which could have served from their idyllic appearance as wartime Ministry of Information “this is what we are fighting for” propaganda English villages, have links with warfare right across the centuries. In the person of Liddell Hart was someone who was gassed in World War I and who later controversially claimed to have propounded theories which were then used against the Allies during World War II, viz. the practice of Blitzkrieg, lightning attacks dependent on speed and surprise. Two years before the siege of Ladysmith, Winston Churchill, who made secretive visits to the area, had taken part in the last meaningful British cavalry charge at the battle of Omdurman in 1898. When he visited RAF Medmenham four decades later its personnel, his daughter included, were locating the launch sites of Germany’s ‘Doodlebugs’, the earliest type of military cruise missiles.

By Jeff Griffiths
Walkfree Breakfree provide excellent great value walking holidays throughout The Chilterns.