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 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.
2nd November Some culture today! Continuing a theme of outdoor sculpture, and on Sally's recommendation, we've traveled a lot further east than we normally do...the aim is to include the grounds of Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in our walk. We're almost into Essex and the villages round here look very different to the Chilterns...and, thankfully, the weather has changed for the better too. Parking by the village church we head out south east, across the fields, towards Moor Place and Wynches, before following the lanes back to Hadham Mill. The sun's out and the skies are azure blue...what a contrast to yesterday! Our planned route takes us through the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation...at least it would have done had the gates not been firmly locked and adorned with threatening notices, warning of angry dog patrols. Sue's not up for an adventure today so we retrace our steps. Nevertheless we see enough Henry Moore sculptures to ask 'What is it?' and 'Is it art?' and generally scoff in our usual, unenlightened way.
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.
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.
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.