Today was another outing for Hike Club, the not-so-secretive walking group I am in with six other journalists (the first rule of Hike Club is…..etc). They mainly work in TV journalism, and since I’m currently doing a stint at a TV mag, this time I could actually join in more of the conversations about who’s in what than I usually do.

Hike Club has been going for several years now, and we usually do around 4 or 5 a year if we can. It’s very tricky getting everyone together on the same day, but today there were five of us, which isn’t bad going. It’s always a bit ofa laugh, and the weather’s usually pretty good. Today our route took us through Amersham and Coombe, with a lunch stop in everyone’s favourite rhyming slang phrase, Chalfont St Giles.

Unusually, there was a choice of about four places, according to our beloved guide book, The Time Out Guide to walks in London and the South East. I say beloved; we all loathe this book with a passion, as it unfailingly manages to baffle and bamboozle us in equal measure. And that’s NOT because we’re rubbish at following instructions, or orienteering ourselves. Honest. It’s because the instructions are so obscure; where normal books would tell you to turn sharp left, or second right, or take the third path towards the forest, or whatever, this one deals in degrees, as in ‘turning 245o, you now face a field’ (particularly unhelpful when you’re actually already in a field) or ‘take the path that leads 130o away from the path you’ve been following quite happily up until now, but that is not the path that’s at 140o or 120o – any mistake you make at this point will mean you end up in Dover.’

Anyway, it’s quite handy for pointing out good pubs for lunch, and of the four that were suggested, we picked The Merlin’s Cave, which sounded a little like it could have been the regular meeting place for the local Goths. On a Sunday, however, it didn’t’ seem to be. It had a log fire, the bar staff were really friendly, and they did roasts. And the portions were HUGE. We all went for the two courses for £9.95 option, which got you either a starter and main, or main and dessert. I had the pate to start, which was rich and unctuous and served with butterered toast, followed by the roast lamb. It was swimming in delicious, meaty gravy, and came with a massive Yorkshire pudding, perfectly cooked roast potatoes, and some obligatory vegetables that were also nice. B and D had gone for the dessert option, so I felt I had to help them with their sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble with custard. It was proper hearty. And when we set off again, we didn’t even get lost or anything. A successful hike if I ever saw one.