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.
After last week's detour via East London we're back in the Chilterns. As last week, the weather is dull as dishwater and it's left to the autumn colours to lift our spirits. As per normal we meet few people, which by and large, is the way we like it! The odd dog walker with an over-excitable puppy, a young couple with rucksacks who look like they mean serious business and 'Tory Boy' landowner!
We join the River at the Woolwich ferry pier and within a few minutes we've reached the Thames Barrier. The great silver domes could be made for a day like today, they blend perfectly with the dull skies and river. From here we head towards Canary Wharf, something which we appeared to be doing for the next 3 hours as it looms menacingly to our right The lazy meanders of the Thames mean we pretty much walk around three sides of Canary Wharf and by the time we leave it behind I'm glad to see the back of it!
We park in Beech Road and head across the fields to Cuddesden. Rain's in the forecast but for now the sun's out and we can see the full length of the Chilterns stretched out from Ivinghoe to Woodcote. I get the feeling a clear evening's view, with the sun in the west, would be spectacular. From Cuddesden we skirt Garsington and Horspath before the steep climb into Shotover Country Park.
This is smugglers' territory and you can see why. Hidden away in the Cuckmere Valley, Alfriston could be miles from anywhere. The sort of place to go if you don't want to be spotted. As we drive through the village at 12 o'clock it's clear the village is no longer a secret. The main street throngs with walkers and cyclists who've arrived in the village from a morning spent on the Downs, just in time for lunch. We'll be back in the village...but much later. Our walk starts at the far side of the village, high up on the Downs overlooking the Cuckmere at High and Over (Hindover).
An early Autumn walk along the Thames near Henley. It's been a while since we last walked and we'd been looking forward to getting out again all week. If the weather let us down the walk itself had plenty to keep us interested. The Thames, river boats and posh houses mean we do little talking.