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!
18th April Sun's out, go for a walk...easy decision! But where? There's not much of the Chilterns that we've missed. We opt for Great Missenden and a walk that takes in the Chiltern woods. You'd hardly notice it as you walk through but Angling Spring Wood has quite a following. Roald Dahl used to live close by, at Gipsy Cottage, and for all you aficionados, this is where Danny's dad gets trapped trying to poach pheasants belonging to Mr Hazell. No sign of Danny or his dad this morning but the bluebells are starting to appear.
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.
30th March At last we choose the correct day to go for a walk. Saturday turns out to be beautiful! Today, walking Tottenhoe's green lanes is an opportunity to leave it all behind and just enjoy the moment. We leave the lanes as we cross the A5 and we're out onto the Bedfordshire flatlands. Here, only a couple of weeks ago, we disturbed boxing hares. No sign of them today. We skirt Tebworth and, at Hockliffe, cross Watling Street. The northward march of Roman legions have long been replaced by an on-rushing stream of juggernauts and white vans. Getting across we take our lives in our hands...but survive!
1st January Start the year as you mean to go on! We're up while the rest of the world is still asleep, recovering from having seen in the New Year. This is more a reflection of our traditional way of seeing in the New Year, fast asleep. It certainly doesn't mean we're able to party hard and still get up early! A couple of dog walkers are the only other people to have made it up this early...and they're missing a good start to the year. The skies start heavy and grey but within 30 minutes the sun starts to break through and by the time we reach Chalfont St Giles the sky is blue and the fresh breeze carries clouds at breakneck speed across the Misbourne Valley.
9th December An early start yesterday, a late start today. After the early church service we're parking up on Chorleywood Common by mid-day. Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow so today the priority is to make the best of it...and, when the sun's out like it is, that's no chore. The football pitches next to Chorleywood House are heaving with energy and the air is full of 'football dads' barking orders to 'Close him down' and 'Get rid'. Leaving them behind we drop down into the Chess Valley. Here the tranquility is broken only by the occasional dog walker. For a while we're retracing yesterday's route (well, in reverse) and we have the place to ourselves. More shouting as we pass the ford near Valley Farm. Someone's been exercising a falcon, of all things, and the bird is sitting up in a tree by The Chess, enjoying the sun. The encouraging whistles and accompanying curses seem to be having little effect. We leave them to it.
8th December When your body clock has been habituated to early morning starts Saturday lie-ins become a trial rather than a pleasure. No different today. We're in Sarratt before sunrise, parking on the Green. It's only then that a side effect of early morning starts becomes apparent...I've not been alert enough to load the correct gpx coordinates for our walk. We'll be free-styling! I have at the back of my mind that we were to walk north out of the village before looping back to the Chess and return to the car. Well, the route we eventually take bears no resemblance to the planned (see below)! Nevertheless the early start is rewarded by a 10-15 minute window as the sun rises over Sarratt. We walk as far as Chipperfield Common before following the footpaths to Venus Hill and Flaunden. Rumour has it Flaunden used to be at the bottom of the hill, in Buckinghamshire but, due to constant flooding, the locals decided to re-locate to Hertfordshire, at the top of the hill...makes sense to me, no decent football teams in Buckinghamshire!
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.