6th May We've parked in front of the village hall at Greys Green and, as we leave the car park, we're clocked by a villager from inside...clearly there's going to be an event today. We make a hasty escape before anyone can catch up with us. Tucked away on the high ground above Henley, this sleepy corner of The Chilterns is largely undisturbed by the 21st Century. Today's walk is mostly a 'walk in the woods' and the first of the year in which Nature has shaken off the last of winter's tentacles. The over-whelming colour is green..bright, luminous, 'hurt-your-eyes' green. Suddenly the beech trees are fully decked and the morning sun dials up the colours to full volume. That said, the northerly wind is intent on reminding us not to get too carried away.
28th April Our annual Bluebell-fest (see here and here). We're at Dockey Wood by 6-45am and we have the place to ourselves, except for two hard-core photographers. It may be my imagination, but I think the display is marginally less spectacular this year. Perhaps the recent hot weather or yesterday's heavy rain and high winds have taken their toll....nevertheless, the colours are still breath-taking. As is traditional, we wander around looking like rank amateurs, taking a few snaps, before leaving the Wood for The Coombe via Ward's Hurst Farm. The smell of the wild garlic is strong as we walk through The Coombe and we have the place to ourselves.
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!
18th April Sun's out, go for a walk...easy decision! But where? There's not much of the Chilterns that we've missed. We opt for Great Missenden and a walk that takes in the Chiltern woods. You'd hardly notice it as you walk through but Angling Spring Wood has quite a following. Roald Dahl used to live close by, at Gipsy Cottage, and for all you aficionados, this is where Danny's dad gets trapped trying to poach pheasants belonging to Mr Hazell. No sign of Danny or his dad this morning but the bluebells are starting to appear.
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.
6th April And so the encirclement of Luton is complete! As I type this it occurs to me, that sentence has probably never been used before. To be honest, I'd hoped that last week we'd achieved this but, as I examined our routes, it became clear there was a tiny section across the East Coast railway line that broke my chain of walks. So we're back to finish what we've started. I have planned a walk from Heartwood Forest. It's the start of the bluebell season...at least that's how I explain the walk to Sue.
30th March At last we choose the correct day to go for a walk. Saturday turns out to be beautiful! Today, walking Tottenhoe's green lanes is an opportunity to leave it all behind and just enjoy the moment. We leave the lanes as we cross the A5 and we're out onto the Bedfordshire flatlands. Here, only a couple of weeks ago, we disturbed boxing hares. No sign of them today. We skirt Tebworth and, at Hockliffe, cross Watling Street. The northward march of Roman legions have long been replaced by an on-rushing stream of juggernauts and white vans. Getting across we take our lives in our hands...but survive!