24th November Dull and wet! Writing this about a month later, I'm struggling to remember much else about this walk. We were filling in some of the paths between Great Kingshill and Great Missenden and, in the process, linking several sections that we'd previously walked. More of those easily recognised Chiltern dry valleys (if you're interested in the geology it's explained in some detail here) as well as the Misbourne, one of the three Chiltern rivers (Misbourne, Chess and Gade...you tell me if there are more...). It had rained the night before and our walk is punctuated by light drizzle throughout but the walk through Longfield and on to Bryant's Bottomis pleasant enough. At Dennerhill Farm we pass one of those Kevin McCloud 'Grand Designs' barn conversions...I think time is running out for us and we should stop promising each other that one day we'll do something similar!
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.
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.
28th October This morning the clocks went back 1 hour. What to do with an extra hour? Well, we decided we'd use it out walking. Today, we're in Stoke Row. I'd planned a walk to take in a couple of sights that somehow we've managed to miss up to now. There are some good write-ups on the origins of the Maharajah's Well (here and here) so no need for me to repeat them. A common feature of the Chilterns is the lack of rivers and the need for a village well explains this, with the interesting involvement of the Maharajah of Varanasi. The Nuba Survival is less well known, situated on the edge of a field just outside Checkendon...no signposts and no plaques to explain its meaning...you have to dig around a bit to discover the backstory. It turns out I'm already familiar with the artist's work from childhood trips to Oxford...the Headington shark is similarly enigmatic.
20th October The early mist is still clinging to the fields in the still morning air as we leave the car park at Cowleaze Wood. This is an early start...and would have been earlier had we got going when we intended. Nevertheless there is something strangely satisfying about being out before the rest of the world...we're getting a head start on everyone else today. This is a beautiful, mid-Autumn walk. The woods are suffused by the full range of autumn colours...russet reds, honeycomb yellows and lime greens.
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.
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.