24th November Dull and wet! Writing this about a month later, I'm struggling to remember much else about this walk. We were filling in some of the paths between Great Kingshill and Great Missenden and, in the process, linking several sections that we'd previously walked. More of those easily recognised Chiltern dry valleys (if you're interested in the geology it's explained in some detail here) as well as the Misbourne, one of the three Chiltern rivers (Misbourne, Chess and Gade...you tell me if there are more...). It had rained the night before and our walk is punctuated by light drizzle throughout but the walk through Longfield and on to Bryant's Bottomis pleasant enough. At Dennerhill Farm we pass one of those Kevin McCloud 'Grand Designs' barn conversions...I think time is running out for us and we should stop promising each other that one day we'll do something similar!
17th November This is a beautiful walk, made better by the fine, late Autumn weather. It's been said before, but bears repeating, we love the Hambleden Valley and most of the tracks have been walked by Angells over the last few years. This time we walk as far as Pullingshill Wood at Medmenham before turning north to Marlow Common. At Mundaydean Lane we stumble upon 8ft high boxing hares, frozen in mid fight! Outdoor sculptures are becoming a theme for us, first the Nuba Survival at Checkendon, then Much Hadham and some Henry Moores and now Marlow Common.
2nd November Some culture today! Continuing a theme of outdoor sculpture, and on Sally's recommendation, we've traveled a lot further east than we normally do...the aim is to include the grounds of Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in our walk. We're almost into Essex and the villages round here look very different to the Chilterns...and, thankfully, the weather has changed for the better too. Parking by the village church we head out south east, across the fields, towards Moor Place and Wynches, before following the lanes back to Hadham Mill. The sun's out and the skies are azure blue...what a contrast to yesterday! Our planned route takes us through the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation...at least it would have done had the gates not been firmly locked and adorned with threatening notices, warning of angry dog patrols. Sue's not up for an adventure today so we retrace our steps. Nevertheless we see enough Henry Moore sculptures to ask 'What is it?' and 'Is it art?' and generally scoff in our usual, unenlightened way.
1st November We set out from Hurley in the rain and it intensifies as we reach The River...big, heavy stair rods and within a couple of minutes we're soaked! By the time we reach Temple Lock it's eased off to a fine drizzle but the damage is done...I'm wet! We head north from the River Thames, eventually picking our way up onto Marlow Common. There really isn't much to report about this walk. Don't get me wrong, it's enjoyable and, as always, the conversation is good but we've completed lots of enjoyable walks through Chiltern woods and this is another of those. By the time we're descending into the Hambleden Valley it's early afternoon, the rain has eased and the gloom only serves to enhance the lime greens, canary yellows and copper browns of the beech trees. I think it's the best display of this year.
You've probably not heard of the Battle of Berkhamsted Common...it doesn't rank high on the National Curriculum. However, without it we'd not be walking on Berkhamsted Common today. During the 1860's wealthy landowners raced to enclose the common land on their estates. In February 1866 Lord Brownlow enclosed Berkhamsted Common, erecting a 5ft iron fence to keep out the great unwashed and infuriating the locals. Augustus Smith and George Shaw-Lefevre, local Liberal MPs, responded by chartering a train from Euston at midnight on 6th March. It left crammed with 120 'beered-up' Irish Navvies, rounded up from the East End. The train arrived at Tring Station at 1-30 in the morning and under cover of darkness the Navvies dismantled the fence, leaving it stacked in neat piles on the Common. The ensuing rumpus resulted in a legal battle that was finally resolved in favour of the commoners in a court judgment of 1870. Do you need a better reason to vote LibDem?
I forget where I got this walk from. I think it might have been a Ramblers walk. It's obviously been put together by someone who knows what they're doing and it's the best walk we've done in a while. If you're planning to do an autumn walk on the Chilterns, make it this one! Added to which, we hit the perfect weekend as autumn colours reached their peak and greens have finally turned to yellows, reds and browns.
Starting in the station car park at Brookman's Park, we skirt the Royal Veterinary College before crossing the A1(M) and entering Hawkshead Wood. The drone of motorway traffic is pretty much a constant background to our walk and there are plenty of others out enjoying the late autumn sun. We meet an agitated dad and distraught daughter who've lost the dog whilst having a sandwich. He's anxiously phoning whoever he can for advice and calling 'Stamford!'. There's another thing that makes me smile...Stamford?! The poor girl looks devastated and you get the feeling dad's life won't be worth living if he returns without the mutt. They disappear ahead, half running, calling at intervals. Anyway, 10 mins later a tiny, hairless terrier puppy crashes passed us, on a mission. From the sounds of rejoicing ahead it appears all are re-united and dad can return home, pride intact!