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!
27th October We have walked The Ashridge Estate before (here and here) but our route today is new and that much enjoyable for it. I wanted to try the Ashridge Boundary walk, 16 miles in total. Sue agreed because we've had some lovely walks on Ashridge and the weather was set to be fine. It's a long walk and the days are getting shorter now so we park up in the National Trust car park and the Bridgewater Monument at 7-45am on a Saturday morning.
13th October We're out early enough to catch the last of the sunrise over Codicote and the early morning light against the gathering gloom in the west makes for some special colours. This is a flat walk, not climbs, no views but some great skies and, this morning, a rainbow. I don't think our pictures do it justice but we enjoyed watching the weather slowly creep our way. We've walked as far as Crouch Green before the rain finally arrives.
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.