Why am I walking round in circles?

Regular readers of this drivel may be wondering why I seem to have been walking round in circles for the last few months – normally my walks are ‘there and back’ along sections of long-distance paths, suddenly I seem to have developed a penchant for circular walks. Not only that, but you may have noticed that I only seem to be walking about 12 miles a day instead of my more usual 15 miles.

You may remember that a couple of months ago I revealed that I was looking at creating my own unofficial long-distance path. I wanted to research and design a long-distance route of my own, and then walk it and write a journal for it. Well, the time has come to reveal that I’m calling my long-distance path the Chiltern Chain Walk. It will consist of 20 circular walks that connect to each other, so that on a map they look like a ‘chain’, stretching from Dunstable Downs in the northeast of the Chiltern Hills to Goring-on-Thames. And yes, I freely admit that I nicked the idea from the Hertfordshire Chain Walk! There are already several long-distance paths through the Chilterns, so I thought that if I was going to create another one, I ought to make it a bit different.

Each of the circular walks will be about 12 miles long. I decided on that distance because, as far as I can tell, most walking groups only do walks of up to 11-12 miles. So if I’d made the walks 15 miles long, the route would have appealed to fewer people. Having said that, I’m not really expecting other people to walk the route – it is simply a personal challenge to devise and walk my own long-distance route. But I will document the walks so that if other people want to do them they can. Certainly some of the walks are so good that it would be a shame if no-one else tried them out – when I’ve finished, I will contact some local branches of the Ramblers Association and let them know about it.

I have more or less finished planning the Chiltern Chain Walk, and have walked about 95% of the route already (either where it overlaps other long-distance routes that I’ve done already, or else on one of the ‘research’ walks I’ve been doing over the last few months). The 20 circular walks split fairly evenly between clockwise and anti-clockwise (usually a fairly arbitrary decision on my part). I am currently walking them all in the ‘wrong’ direction, partly because I want to check that I have chosen the best direction (clockwise/anti-clockwise) for them, partly to check out the few remaining sections that I have yet to walk, and partly because I want to be able able to say that I’ve walked the route in both directions, as I have with most of the long-distance paths that I’ve walked.

I hope to walk and journal the route in the ‘correct’ direction in the Spring, when the wildflowers will be an added attraction to the route.

In the meantime, I have just updated my web site with the walk I did yesterday – it is in the ‘Chiltern Hills’ section and called ‘Coombe Hill and the Hampdens’. The walk is one section of my proposed Chiltern Chain Walk but in the wrong (clockwise) direction.

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