6th May We've parked in front of the village hall at Greys Green and, as we leave the car park, we're clocked by a villager from inside...clearly there's going to be an event today. We make a hasty escape before anyone can catch up with us. Tucked away on the high ground above Henley, this sleepy corner of The Chilterns is largely undisturbed by the 21st Century. Today's walk is mostly a 'walk in the woods' and the first of the year in which Nature has shaken off the last of winter's tentacles. The over-whelming colour is green..bright, luminous, 'hurt-your-eyes' green. Suddenly the beech trees are fully decked and the morning sun dials up the colours to full volume. That said, the northerly wind is intent on reminding us not to get too carried away.
20th April Easter Saturday and we're out before most of the world is awake. As we wander through Park Wood, behind Nuffield Place, the milky light through the trees combined with the lilac carpet of bluebells is a magical experience. It's worth getting up early for this! We turn south and head for Ipsden Heath. It's hard to find paths around here that we've not walked but it's no less agreeable for that. The sun is warm and the early morning peace is thoroughly enjoyable. This is better than working, any day!
13th April It sits at the top of the Ipsden valley, hidden from most of the world...but up here, amongst the tranquility of this gentle Chiltern valley, it raises two fingers to the everyone else. It is a matter of record that, when Rowan Atkinson applied for permission to build his dream house, it wasn't popular with the locals. As the planning application was disputed, it was variously described as 'inappropriate', 'a sore thumb', and a 'space age petrol station'. Stumbling upon it during our walk today, we had to agree, they were right! Because you have lots of money it doesn't guarantee good taste. The building jars with the surrounding countryside...at least it is hidden enough not to spoil the view for too many people.
16th February We've had a series of Bedfordshire walks over the last few weeks and it was high time we did a quintessentially Chiltern walk...and this was going to be it....except that the muppet who arranges the weekly walks forgot to load up the coordinates on the GPS before leaving...and I only discover this as we're getting ready to walk out of Rotherfield Peppard.
30th December As we walk down to the Thames there are views across to the Berkshire Downs in the distance and memories of Susan the Unready. South Stoke is a quiet village except for the trains heading west that thunder though at regular intervals, even on the penultimate day of the year. The Thames footpath takes us north passed Moulsford School on the other bank and once again old memories are evoked.
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.
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.