The early mist is still clinging to the fields in the still morning air as we leave the car park at Cowleaze Wood. This is an early start…and would have been earlier had we got going when we intended. Nevertheless there is something strangely satisfying about being out before the rest of the world…we’re getting a head start on everyone else today.
This is a beautiful, mid-Autumn walk. The last time we were here the dominate colours and smells were provided by the bluebell display. This time we loop in the opposite direction, under the M40 at the bottom of Aston Rowant before climbing the Chiltern escarpment into Aston and Grove Woods. The woods are suffused by the full range of autumn colours…russet reds, honeycomb yellows and lime greens. The route takes us through High Wood and on to Crowell Wood, following Colliers Lane. Once the main road to London, time has long ago left this track washed up and instead, the river of traffic roars through the Chilterns on the other side of the ridge line. Down here, this morning, the peace is wonderful.
We’re glad of the break in the park at Radnage Common. A brief lunch and then we’re crossing back over the M40 just south of Stokenchurch. Before we know it we’re down in the valley below Ibstone and on the Wormsley Park Estate. For the next few miles we are reminded at regular internals that this is a Private Estate…I think the implication is that we’re jolly lucky that Sir Paul Getty allows us to walk here…and of course we’re grateful. To tell the truth, this is one of our favourite Chiltern valleys.
By the time we climb the steep hill back into Cowleaze Woods we’re ready for the end…of the walk, that is. Perhaps we’re beginning to feel our age although, in mitigation, there were more hills than recently and this is the longest (14.4 miles) walk for a while. The weather always makes a walk that much better…and in this case it has been glorious…but I think this walk could be enjoyed in any weather.
Cowleaze picture gallery (more pictures on Flickr):
Distance: 14.4 miles ; Difficulty: Moderate
Coordinates for Satnav: N51° 39.330′ W0° 57.083′