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.
29th September Looking back, it was almost exactly 13 months ago that we were here last and, although not so warm, it's just as sunny. The paths across the Estate are busy...we're not the only ones enjoying the autumn sun. As we cross Berryend Plantation we meet an early morning photographer on his way home. Enormous camera lens slung from his hip, he was out at 5am this morning, hoping for wildlife pictures in the early mist. He has left disappointed this morning but I suspect his standards are higher than ours!
15th September According to Lemony Snicket “Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” Whether you believe such tosh or not, we're in Great Offley by 7-15am, mostly because we have a busy weekend and this is the only time for a walk. This will be the last of our walks in this part of Hertfordshire for the moment.
8th September A week later and we're back to Whitwell, parking in almost the same spot. The locals will be getting suspicious. Grabbing our stuff, we're off before anyone can challenge us. Compared to last week the weather is grey and overcast...and to tell the truth it sets the tone for our walk. There's nothing to dislike about this walk but we're learning that this part of Hertfordshire is just not very exciting...no good views or quaint villages, just countryside. That in itself is no bad thing but it doesn't make for much to write home about. This time we walk south from the village and follow tracks and paths as far as Ayot St Laurence.
1st September We've a series of walks in Hertfordshire planned for the next few weeks. It may only be the first day of meteorologic autumn but already you can feel the turning of the seasons . There's a thin mist in the Mimram Valley and the milky light evokes memories of walks last year...we spend a few minutes wishing we'd started out earlier...the dawn would have been great to see.
25th August Our best Thames walk...I think. It has great views (possibly one of the best in the UK), history and a mix of river, park, woods and castles...what more do you need on a walk? A really enjoyable 11.2 miles and, I'm sure the variety made the time pass much more quickly than usual. A thoroughly recommended walk!
27th August We were last here 30 years ago and, even then, the place was a well known for gridlock, with traffic queuing both sides to cross the narrow bridge at Sonning Eye. We're parking up at 8am on Bank Holiday Monday and already there's a short queue for the bridge. How do local celebs cope living around here? Perhaps the Clooney's arrive and leave by boat. This is a gentle, morning walk. Nothing too strenuous, just a pleasant climb onto the high ground above Sonning at Dunsden Green, followed by a loop past Binfield Heath and back to The Thames at Shiplake.
17th August The first of several Thames walks and I'm kicking myself. I meant to set off in a broadly clockwise direction but walking out of the Lardon Chase car park I get confused and we end up walking through Common Wood and down the hill to Streatley. I do my best to pass it off as a planned diversion but to tell the truth it annoys me for a large part of the walk...we've already walked along this stretch of the Thames and in this direction...I'd wanted to do it in the opposite direction! Sue reckons I'm a bit up-tight sometimes.
15th August It's been quiet a while since we were walking in The Chilterns proper. A holiday in The Forest of Dean and, before that, some walks around Ruislip Woods, have distracted us. So this is an opportunity to get back to some typical Chiltern scenery. From Christmas Common this walk drops down off the escarpment and heads west before steadily climbing to the Ewelme Park Estate. Harvest is in full swing as we pass through and tractors scurry backwards and forwards staking hay bales. There's rain in the forecast.
10th August The end of the good weather coincides with the end of our holiday. On the way home we stop off in The Cotswolds to break the journey. We've parked in the back streets of Bourton because we suspect the centre of the village will be heaving...more later! It's pouring with rain as we set out and it's still heavy as we pass through Lower and Upper Slaughter but the weather doesn't spoil our enjoyment. We follow Warden's Way as far as Naunton and its ancient dovecote before returning to Bourton along the Windrush Way.