Hambleden and Ibstone

I looked at my maps last night, and made a change to the route I’d planned for today. Today’s walk was going to be about 15 miles, which is a bit long for my proposed Chiltern Chain Walk where I’m aiming to average 12 miles per walk. The reason it was so long was because the next walk was so good when I did it as an ‘exploratory’ walk a few weeks ago that I didn’t want to change it at all – this meant that I needed to add in a big section to this walk, which was based on a good walk I did at the beginning of last year. However, last night I realised that I’d probably ruined a very high standard walk by adding in those extra miles. Fortunately, looking at the maps again I saw a way to reduce today’s walk by a couple of miles, which involved only a very slight change to the next walk and shouldn’t detract from it at all.

The walk started at Hambleden (a very interesting and picturesque village close to the Thames) and first followed a very good bridleway for many miles, along a valley and then steadily uphill through woods before emerging at a farm on a lane. I then followed a short section of the Shakespear Way, before another good bridleway through another wood took me most of the way to Turville (the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ village).

The next section was new to me. A very good path led uphill from Turville, across a field and then through more woods to reach Ibstone. From there, a bridleway on a cement farm drive led downhill to a valley bottom, where I turned right and followed the bridleway for some distance to reach a lane that took me into Fingest (which I went through on my last walk).

I ate my lunch on a bench on a hillside above Fingest. The rest of the walk followed the route of the Chiltern Way. I went downhill through a wood and across pastures to the hamlet of Skirmett, then continued south down the Hambleden valley through the hamlets of Colstrope and Pheasant’s Hill to return to my starting point at Hambleden. The walk took me about 4.5 hours – it was an excellent route (if I do say so myself!) and I’m looking forward to doing it in the opposite direction when I walk the Chiltern Chain Walk.

I’d hoped to get some photos of Red Kites and Buzzards, but the weather put paid to that idea. It was foggy and misty all morning, and remained grey and gloomy all afternoon, the light being too poor to take bird photos. I did see a lot of Kites though (13-14 in the sky near Turville at one point), and several Buzzzards too, with one particularly good buzzard siting near Turville. I also startled a hare when I stopped for some water, towards the end of the wooded section before Turville. I also saw a very large number of Fallow deer in a field between Turville and Ibstone – I calculated there were over 100, and if that sounds a bit fanciful, I did count 180 deer a couple of miles from here about a year ago.

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