A 14.5 mile walk today, a bit more like the usual distance after a couple of months of mainly 12-mile walks. The forecast said there might be showers in the afternoon, but I chose to walk anyway as it looked like this would be the best day weather-wise all week. It started bright, clouded over after an hour or so, brightened up again by lunchtime and was starting to cloud over again when I got back to the car – fortunately the showers never came my way.
I started at the car park by the railway station in Chesham. I followed a paved footpath, then went left over a railway bridge and was soon puffing as I climbed a steep and muddy hillside. I crossed a ploughed field following very muddy tractor tracks, then followed hedgerows round two sides of a grassy field close to a farm. After crossing an empty paddock, I followed another hedgerow beside a school, and then crossed another ploughed field on more muddy tractor tracks.
I said ‘Good Morning!’ to a dog walker as I turned right at the bottom of a valley, and followed Bottom Lane for some distance. I then bore left up Green Lane, another bridleway betwen hedges, gradually going uphill for some distance then passing a farm to reach a lane. I went a short distance left then, as I was about to take a path on the right, the same dog walker appeared again from the left, and we both said ‘Hello again!’. The path now took me across a pasture, over a lane and across another field to a wood. There was a good path through the wood, then a narrow but clear path across a large arable field – although the Chess valley was only a short distance away, this seemed quite flat, with woods close by in most directions. I then had half a mile or so of lane walking before crossing a meadow into the charming village of Latimer.
From there I took a path for quarter of a mile or so along the delightful Chess valley. Here I had the good fortune to get a distant view of some Little Egrets – I’ve seen these a lot along the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk, but this was the first time I’d seen them inland. There were some buzzards and/or kites here too, but they’d disappeared by the time I got my camera sorted out.
Little Egret (honest!)
I turned left on a bridleway going uphill out of the valley, soon passing through quite a large wood. The path here was very muddy in places. On the other side of the wood I continued on a track between hedges, turning left onto a similar track, then descending steeply through a narrow wood to a lane in the valley of Flaunden Bottom. I went right for quarter of a mile, then bore left on another bridleway, gradually going uphill. This was also very muddy in places, as bridleways tend to be this time of year. I heard and then saw a pair of buzzards over to the right, above an old chalk quarry, and also got a glimpse of a bullfinch flying the other side of a hedge.
The bridleway flattened out and eventually reached a road by a farm. I turned right and followed the road for a third of a mile into Ley Hill, with a golf course either side of the road. I took a path, initially between garden fences and then across a paddock, to reach a wood. The paths are a little confusing here, but as I’d been here a couple of times before I managed to navigate my way through to the correct stile on the other side. I crossed an empty passture, following an intermittent old hedge, then turned left along a track called Broomstick Lane.
When I reached a lane, I turned right, uphill a short distance into Botley. I took a path through a farmyard, then continued northwards alongside hedgerows (I saw some redwings here). I crossed a minor road and continued on through a large empty pasture to reach Lye Green. A path across fields soon took me to the A416, the main road between Berkhamstead and Chesham. Here I turned from north to west, still on a route almost ‘circumnavigating’ Chesham. Another path through green fields gave me nice views north over Chesham Vale. The path descended and passed through a farmyard. Across a lane, I followed a track to reach the Ostrich farm in White Hawridge Bottom.
I turned left, going quite steeply uphill – I noticed that work was being carried out on the path along the valley next to the far end of the ostrich farm, which had been impassable due to deep sloppy mud a few weeks ago. My path took me through the edge of Ramscoat Wood, and on to a road near Great Hivings. I crossed over, and followed a farm drive a short distance, before crossing a field of rough grass to Captain’s Wood, where I took a path going left. When this reached a crossroads of paths, I turned right, going downhill through the wood, then on between paddocks to a lane in a valley bottom. I then followed a track that went uphill again to reach the village of Chartridge.
Here I turned left, and followed the residential road for about half a mile, entering Chesham again. I then took a path on the right, which ran for some distance between garden fences and hedges, then followed hedge on the left with the fence of a large paddock on my right. This was an attractive valley, right on the edge of Chesham. The path continued past a field of very rough grass, then reached a park and took me back into the centre of Chesham. It was then a short stroll along the high street and back to the car park by the station.
It was 2.30 when I got back to the car, and I then ate my packed lunch – there had been nowhere to stop and sit down, so I’d just had a couple of extra Alpen bars to keep me going. It had just turned a bit windy in the last 20 minutes, and clouds were now racing across the sky. It looked like the forecast showers were on the way, but it remained dry as I drove home.
This was another enjoyable walk, despite the muddy conditions. Seeing the Little Egrets was an added bonus!