28th October This morning the clocks went back 1 hour. What to do with an extra hour? Well, we decided we'd use it out walking. Today, we're in Stoke Row. I'd planned a walk to take in a couple of sights that somehow we've managed to miss up to now. There are some good write-ups on the origins of the Maharajah's Well (here and here) so no need for me to repeat them. A common feature of the Chilterns is the lack of rivers and the need for a village well explains this, with the interesting involvement of the Maharajah of Varanasi. The Nuba Survival is less well known, situated on the edge of a field just outside Checkendon...no signposts and no plaques to explain its meaning...you have to dig around a bit to discover the backstory. It turns out I'm already familiar with the artist's work from childhood trips to Oxford...the Headington shark is similarly enigmatic.
27th October We have walked The Ashridge Estate before (here and here) but our route today is new and that much enjoyable for it. I wanted to try the Ashridge Boundary walk, 16 miles in total. Sue agreed because we've had some lovely walks on Ashridge and the weather was set to be fine. It's a long walk and the days are getting shorter now so we park up in the National Trust car park and the Bridgewater Monument at 7-45am on a Saturday morning.
20th October 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 woods are suffused by the full range of autumn colours...russet reds, honeycomb yellows and lime greens.
13th October We're out early enough to catch the last of the sunrise over Codicote and the early morning light against the gathering gloom in the west makes for some special colours. This is a flat walk, not climbs, no views but some great skies and, this morning, a rainbow. I don't think our pictures do it justice but we enjoyed watching the weather slowly creep our way. We've walked as far as Crouch Green before the rain finally arrives.
7th October A really enjoyable stroll on a glorious Autumnal afternoon. We picked this walk to explore the woods around Checkendon and, given that we'd started to notice the change of the seasons over the last few weeks, we had hoped for some rich browns, yellows and oranges. As it happens, the leaves are still holding on and deep inside the woods the predominant colour is still green.
We're staying here and the Trail is a short walk from the cottage and within 10mins we're in Okehampton. From here we follow the Okement River as far as Charlotte's Bridge (a tragic story) before turning north east for Stockley Hamlet, leaving the Trail behind. We zig-zag through the lanes as far as Brightly where we stumble upon Priory Cottage and both agree that we wouldn't mind living there.
A 11.6 mile walk in which I channel my inner Bear Grylls. It wasn't the intention but, once you're 8 miles in and the path disappears in the bog, then you're kind of committed. It's still early as we climb away from the car park by the Meldon Reservoir. It's mostly deserted apart from a few eager dog walkers and a couple equipped with full waterproofs and walking poles...perhaps, with hindsight, we should have taken the hint! The recent rain has left the ground muddy and we're not long into the walk before the rain returns. Still, as we splash along the disused railway lines over Coombe and Southerly Down, there's plenty to talk about and it doesn't dampen our spirits.