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.
17th February Probably the first spring-like walk of the year and Hannah's joined us. Some mix-up over ordering a new printer and she's back to collect. Whatever the reason, any weekend either of them are back is special...and at last we pick the sunny day to go for a walk. Not that the first part of the walk goes to plan. I'd hoped to be able to walk through the grounds of Taplow Court but we're accosted just inside the gate and directed back to the road.
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.
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.
16th June Leaving the car, we walk south across the fields to Cookham Rise before the long, gentle climb to Fultness and Quarry Woods, high above Bisham. Through the trees we glimpse Marlow but to tell the truth, for the most part the view is obscured by leaves and trees. The return takes in some views from Winter Hill, a gentle stroll along the Thames and a stop for an ice cream at The Bounty.