West Wycombe to Fingest and back

 I didn’t walk yesterday (which was a nice day weatherwise) as I’d tweaked my back very slightly. I’ve arranged to meet up with Tim Bertuchi for a walk again on Thursday, so I was keen to walk today rather than tomorrow, even though it was a typically grey and ‘dank’ November morning. In the event it remained that way throughout the walk, I was always in a very fine mist.

I started at the car park in West Wycombe (I started another walk from here just a few weeks ago) and went a short distance west along the A40 before turning left down Toweridge Lane. This went uphill into a wood, where I forked right onto  a track past a couple of isolated houses and continued on into another wood. I turned right onto a footpath that continued through the wood, soon running parallel to a track a few yards to my left at the foot of a small valley. On the edge of the wood I turned left onto a bridleway, but soon turned off it, taking a path on the right through another smaller wood. I then crossed an empty pasture to reach a lane in Wheeler End.

I went a few yards left down the lane, then took a path on the right across Wheeler End Common. Across a road I continued on across Cadmore End Common, which was more wooded than the previous common – there were a lot of minor paths going off in every direction here, and it was difficult to be sure which was the footpath I was trying to follow. There was also the constant drone of traffic noise from the nearby M40. I managed to find my way to the far side of the common though, and turned left on a lane that immediately took me over the motorway and on to a road near Cadmore End (I’d been a few hundred yards west of here on my walk on Thursday).

I continued down a farm drive opposite, then took a path forking right across an empty field of long grass. The path then continued downhill beside a couple of pastures, briefly entering a wood before returning to a pasture. It then crossed a large grass field on a clear path – I could now see ahead to where the village of Fingest lay at the crossroads where four valleys meet, with the Hambleden Valley going south.

I continued on towards Fingest,  and soon saw 6-7 Red Kites close by. I followed a left-hand hedgerow through a sheep pasture and then on an old track between hedges. This eventually met a road into the village. I turned left immediately before Fingest (which I’d visited on my last walk), and followed a path steadily uphill, curving to my left beside a wood on my right. This was part of the Chiltern Way, and at the top of the slope was “FieldFare’s Stile”, a memorial to a populare writer about Nature. There’s normally a great view over Fingest here, but today visibility was greatly reduced by the grey and misty conditions, so I couldn’t even see Cobstone Mill on its hill behind Fingest.

I went through a narrow part of Fingest Wood and crossed a grassy field to a gate. The Chiltern Way soon took a path on the right, but I continued on a track ahead. I soon came to another path junction, where I turned left onto a footpath. This ran through a large wood for half a mile, before I turned left to reach the village of Frieth.

I followed a short lane through the village and crossed a road. A footpath then went across a large paddock, then followed the edge of a wood through an empty pasture. I went through a kissing gate into the wood, and turned left on a track that took me to a road. I crossed over and took a path going half-left across Moorend Common. The ground was very boggy here, and the path was not at all well-marked in the initial stages. I eventually picked up a line of white arrows marked on trees, but for several minutes wasn’t at all sure I was on the right path (though there was no other shown on the map).

As I reached some houses in Moor Common, I turned right. This path took me across another large but empty pasture. I then went past the remains of a chapel (marked on the map – just some low fragments of old wall, unlike the ruins of other chapels and churches I’ve seen on my walks). The path soon switched from the left to the right of a hedge, and I then met three walkers coming out of a wood. They asked me where they were, and warned me that they’d been lost twice in the wood, saying there were few arrows or waymarks. I don’t  think they had a map with them.

I followed a clear track through the wood, and had no difficult finding my way. On the far side, I turned left on a bridleway then forked right on a path uphill. I then crossed a grassy field where a few hens were feeding. I then turned right on a road – I only had to follow it for maybe quarter of a mile, but it was quite nasty as there was a lot of fast traffic both ways and no real verge to walk on.  I turned left into a belt of trees, a nature reserve, where I stopped and sat on a tree stump to eat my lunch.

As I carried on, there was some shooting going on very close to the path. I went on through another wood, passing a couple of signs warning that there was a shooting area to my right. I then went round two sides of a reservoir surrounded by an iron fence, and followed the drive from the reservoir for a hundred yards or so before turning right on another short woodland path. This took me to a road, where I turned right and crossed back over the M40.

My route next took me left on a field path beside a wood on my right and then on beside a hedge. I went over a stile in the hedge and crossed a corner of an empty paddock near an old farm, then continued on a bridleway on a track. I soon left the bridleway though to follow a parallel path through a wood. This eventually left the wood and went across a corner of a grassy field, before going very steeply uphill a short distance between trees. I then followed a path beside a hedge to return to Towerage, and then follow Toweridge Lane (no, I dont understand the difference in the names!) back to West Wycombe.

I probably walked about 11 miles today. I saw a few Kites, so it can’t have been a bad walk! On a better day, some sections would have been very pleasant, especially either side of Fingest. But it was the least interesting walk I’ve had recently – I was basically exploring alternative routes I might use to take my Chiltern Chain Walk over the M40, and I wasn’t really happy with either of the two I tried today, for various reasons.

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