This really is a walk of two halves and, on the hottest day this year for walking, we're glad the first 7 miles are mostly through woods. From Goring we follow the gentle climb through Great Chalk Wood, Cray's Pond and Goring Heath. It's noticeably cooler in the shade and we have the paths to ourselves...the heat seems to have selected for mad dogs and Englishmen. We pass a charcoal making camp at Cray's Pond but even they've stopped today!
Today we choose to stick close to the footpath. No running through wheat fields...you never know when those farmers might return and bite you on the bum, Mrs May! And for the most part, these footpaths are easy to follow. Parking up at the Dashwood Mausoleum we walk through Hearnton Wood as far as Nobles Farm. The last time we were here it was a cold, misty November morning and the views were obscured. Today, as we drop down off the ridge we can see far up the Bradenham Valley towards Saunderton and Lacey Green. Bradenham is as picturesque as we remember it and we stop long enough to snap some pictures across the sloping village cricket pitch before the next hill, up onto Naphill Common.
We need a break so return to South Oxfordshire. This time we plan to walk to Mapledurham by way of the wonderfully named Gallowstree Common and Kidmore End and back via Cane End. The last time we visited Mapledurham was 1992 and the intervening years have dulled my memory. The house and watermill are only open on Bank Holidays and Sundays and arriving at lunchtime the place is deserted, so much for the ice cream I'd been promising myself. We eat a rather forlorn lunch (cheese and crackers) in the graveyard before heading back.
The full range of greens are the dominant colour at the moment and the views picture postcard perfect for the Chilterns. This walk was hard work! Perhaps it's the muggy weather, certainly there are more hills than we've had for a while but from 4 miles in we were checking how far to the end. This week we're filling in the top end of the Hambleden Valley, walking from Hell Fire Caves, passed West Wycombe House and crossing the M40 at Wheeler End.
A walk through an ancient landscape on less permanent footpaths! The 8-30am sunshine is perfect and there are panoramic views north from the fort. This is an ancient landscape and from The Ridgeway we catch glimpses of Silbury Hill and Avebury in the distance.
A Sunday afternoon walk near Stokenchurch. We park on the green by the Fleur de Lis pub before walking north out of the village onto the Chiltern Way and Collier's Lane. About 300 hundred years ago Collier's Lane was the main road to London. Difficult to imagine now. This afternoon the only noise in the valley is the high-pitched mewing of circling Red Kites.
An afternoon stroll through the 'tucked away' Chilterns. Hawridge & Cholesbury Cricket records suggest a certain Sarfraz Narwaz plays for the local cricket team! Judging by the recorded scores this is not the swash-buckling former Pakistan captain...although to be fair, he'd be quite old now...so who knows! Anyway, we're back for a Saturday afternoon walk around the shallow valleys near Chesham. Most of our walk is along wooded bridleways and this is probably the first time this year it's felt like Spring has arrived fully. Two hundred years ago the beech woods around here provided the base material for a burgeoning chair-making industry in High Wycombe. Today they just provide the backdrop to a not-too strenuous afternoon walk.