I slept a bit extra on Friday morning before getting ready for the day. I had been planning this trip out to visit Gilwell Park since I discovered I was going to England. I made myself a sandwich for lunch, looked up travel routes and took off for my hour journey 11 miles out to the home of the UK Scout Association and Wood Badge. I took the Victoria Line of the Tube to Walthamstow Central where I changed to the London Overground for Chingford (the end of the line). Here it was a simple mile and a quarter walk to Gilwell.
Once I finally arrived at Gilwell, I immediately felt a sense of home and belonging. I walked up the drive, taking several pictures along the way, and sought out the reception area. Here I asked what I should/could do, and was given the history trail and faith walk brochure. I also met a gentleman who was getting married the next day and had his brother-in-law up with him (the brother-in-law is from Florida). I went back out and took some pictures so I could post on Facebook about my pilgrimage.
I then started the history trail so that I could see different sites around the park and read about their historical significance. I saw a bust of the founder of seascouting, the original building at Gilwell, the commerotive jaguar gates, a bomb hole and so much more. I wandered slowly throughout the park since I felt so at home. I talked to some of the staff and ran into a gentleman by the name of Frank Brittain, the County Scout Historian for Hertfordshire. He was telling another UK scooter about the history of the Jim Green Gate.
After meeting them I was then shown around Gilwell by Mr. Brittain and got to learn about some of the projects going on on the property. There is a path going in to commemorate scouters from around the world and improvements being made to many of the existing facilities. After walking through the park we all sat down for some refreshments inside the reception area where we talked about world jamborees, past and future.
After exchanging contact information and shaking hands, we parted ways. I went to finish the history trail and have some lunch. I had the sandwich I made earlier in the day and finished writing my previous blog post. After lunch I went into the Gilwell Park Scout Shop, and spent way too much money. Okay, it was only £54 but still, its more than I should’ve spent. Thankfully I kept myself from spending more than I did, which I may ad, was a real danger. Then I packed up and headed back to Chingford.
I took a slightly different route back to town. There was a forest that had some trails that ran in the same direction as the road, so I decided to use those. It was nice and shady and I quite enjoymed my stroll, especially since I didnt have to worry about cars approaching from behind me. I hopped on a waiting train, and ten minutes later it departed and I was on my way back to King’s Cross.
Once back I wondered what to do with the rest of my evening. I booked the rest of my plans for Monday, Go Ape and Stomp. Then I started cleaning up my room so it wasn’t quite so messy since I may have company tomorrow. After that I still had plenty of time and I couldnt concentrate on my homework so I booked tickets to Aladdin that evening. Having done that I decided if I wanted dinner or not, I went with not since I ate a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s about an hour before that, and then left for the play.
Aladdin was a fantastic performance full of good current satire and a fantastic cast. The Genie did marvelously and had some great audience interaction. Also, from afar Aladdin looked a lot like my friend Sean back home. Too bad he wasnt there to see it, though I don’t think he would be the Aladdin goer. All in all it was a fantastic day and I have continued to have wonderful experiences here.
Martin “Mixy” McNichols
Until we meet again