Archive for August, 2008

Local walk, Saturday afternoon

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Yesterday, Saturday 30/08/08, I did a local walk just in the afternoon for a couple of hours or so.

I’d intended to do a full day’s walk, my regular local route to Redbourn and back. The morning started grey and overcast yet again, but the forecast was for the skies to clear and for most of the day to be warm and sunny. So I thought that at last I’d be able to do a long local walk on a decent day, take some photos and put the walk on my web site. Just before I set off, I remembered I needed to pay my car tax urgently. No problem, I’d got all the necessary paperwork and the walk took me past the village Post Office anyway. But when I’d walked half a mile down the village street, I found the PO was closed for a couple of weeks due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. This rather threw me – I really needed to get my car tax sorted out. So I went home, and drove to another PO to pay the car tax, deciding to just do an afternoon walk instead.

I set off again about 1.30pm, walking up the road then turning left across a couple of fields to Whipsnade Heath. I followed the path through the woods, then walked along the main road to Whipsnade. I turned left along the path through the churchyard, then went right at a path junction to reach the old lane between Whipsnade and Holywell. Unusually I followed the old lane all the way to its end in Holywell, and then took the road through Holywell (which is largely an estate of large bungalows or chalet bungalows). I’m not sure I’ve ever walked through the estate here before, but I had no problem finding where the usual footpath I follow comes into Holywell.

It was then just a hundred yards or so further on that another familiar path started, running between the properties of Holywell and Buckwood Lane. Near the end of the path, I started up Dovehouse Lane (for seemingly the umpteenth time recently!). I ignored the path on the left that I usually follow to return to the Whipsnade road, and continued along the lane as it went up and down a shallow valley. When I last walked along here a week or so ago, there were about half a dozen blokes with metal detectors scouring the recently ploughed field on the right.

By a bend in the lane, I turned right onto a footpath – although it started only half a mile or so from my home, I’d only ever walked it once before (and that was in the opposite direction). It initially ran along the gravel drive to a sawmill, then continued between a hedge and the railings surrounding the sawmill. Further on there were hedges either side. I was pleased to see that the path was evidently well used. After about a third of a mile it turned left, and followed the lengthy drive of a large house to reach the main road through Kensworth almost opposite the Old Red Lion pub.

I continued on the footpath opposite (part of Walk 1 of my Chiltern Chain Walk), which led between a couple of properties and then descended the steep valley that runs immediately north of the village. At the bottom of the valley I admired the views in each direction, of mainly pale gold wheat fields rising up both sides of the valley, interspersed with occasional hedgerows. The path continued as a wide green strip between the wheat, rising steeply up the other side of the valley to reach a corner of Spratt’s Lane near the old vicarage. I went on down the lane towards Church End – there should have been a path further on to my right, but I either missed it or it was completely overgrown. No matter, it only cut a small corner off, and I just needed to turn right when I reached the minor crossroad a little further on instead.

After a hundred yards or so, I turned left onto a footpath following a hedge on my left. There was a wide uncultivated strip beside the hedge, but the path wasn’t at all clear as it obviously wasn’t often used. There was just some evidence that someone had trodden a way through the long grass sometime before me. The path went very gently uphill and after a few hundred yards, at the top of the slope, the path went through a gap in the hedge (by a yellow marker post) and continued along the other side. I was now beside a wide ploughed field – I knew I was going to have to cross this on my way back, but I could see the path had not been reinstated.

Never mind, for now the path beside the hedge was perfectly clear, a good farm track that descended gradually into another shallow valley. At the bottom, the path switched again to the right of the hedge. The field on my right was some sort of blackened bean crop. At the end of the field I went through a hedge gap, and turned right on a very broad and rutted farm track bordered and overshadowed by mature trees. Within a hundred yards I turned left, going through an old iron gate and following a left-hand hedge through an empty paddock. I crossed a stile and continued a few yards further through some industrial yard where a couple of lorries were parked by numerous stacks of wooden pallets.

The path should have  continued between the metal fence of this yard and a hedge, but the way was completely overgrown and impassable. No matter, as I wanted to turn round at the A5 beyond the blocked section anyway – I’d only really come this way to see if this section was passable or not, as I suspected it would be blocked. If it was open, I could use the path in a circular walk that would take me to Caddington. I’ll probably report the problem to the parish council – the paths round here are usually fairly clear.

I headed back the way I’d come, as far as the yellow marker post. Here I had no option but to make my way as best I could across the ploughed field, heading in the direction of Kensworth church which I could see a short distance away.  For the first few yards there was no difficulty as the field had been harrowed as well as ploughed, but then I was trying to cut across the deep furrows left by the plough, treading on large clumps off earth turned over by the plough which tended to give way under me as I stumbled on. I soon saw a yellow marker post on the far side, and gradually made my way across to it.

I crossed over Beech Road (which goes  from Church End to the edge of Dunstable), and continued on a path on the other side, initially along a drive to a farm. The path turned right and continued along a field edge, with the churchyard to my left. I went left over a stile, across the churchyard, and then it was a simple and familiar walk home along Hollicks Lane, using the parallel path behind the right-hand hedge as the lane descended and re-ascended the steep valley again.

It had been a pleasant and interesting walk, utilising a few local paths that I rarely frequent. The afternoon had been very warm, with hazy sunshine and a stiff breeze that fortunately took the edge of the temperature. I got home about 15.50pm.

Pitstone Hill and Wigginton walk

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Further to my post yesterday, I’ve now realised that the captions under many of the photos on my web site are not being displayed by the Firefox browser. Very annoying – not sure if its a bug, or whether I’m using a feature of Microsoft Frontpage that Firefox no longer supports. I’ll have to investigate further, and report it if it is a bug. It’s because the captions have a font colour of ‘automatic’ – I really don’t fancy editing them all (there’s literally hundreds of them!) and changing the font colour to black.

Today was another day of grey overcast skies. I’m getting a bit fed up with them – I want to photograph some of my local walks and put them on my web site, but I really need nice days with bright blue skies to do it. As the photos I took on Monday’s walk confirmed, everything looks so dull and drab under heavygrey skies.

Anyway, to today’s walk. I set off to do Walk 4 of the Chiltern Chain Walk again, but ended up by varying the route slightly. I set off from the car park near Pitstone Hill just after 9.30am. It only took an hour and a quarter to go over Pitstone Hill, pass Tring Station and go on to Wigginton – I was progressing far more quickly than when I last did the walk because I wasn’t stopping to take photos. Another hour and a quarter and I’d descended back down to Cow Roast, climbed uphill to Tom’s Hill and reached the edge of Aldbury.

At this point I decided to extend the walk, otherwise I’d be back at my car by 1pm. So I took the route of the Chiltern Way that rises steeply uphill into Ashridge, then turned left along a level bridleway that eventually joined the main path from Aldbury to the Bridgewater Monument. From the Monument I took another bridleway that ran through the woods for about a mile. Not far from Ringshall, I picked up the route of the Ashridge Estate Boundary Trail. I soon stopped to eat my lunch on a fallen tree, then followed the Trail past the small Ringshall Reservoir, and through a succession of sheep pastures to reach Ward’s Hurst Farm. I followed the farm drive to a road, crossed over and followed a path through the trees to reach the main track from the Monument to Ivinghoe Beacon.

I headed towards the Beacon, soon passing the dog kennels at Clipper Down. Soon after I forked left on a good path that headed easily downhill to reach a path junction with the Ridgeway, where I turned left and was soon back at my car.

This was a shorter walk than usual, only taking about 4 hours. It was very pleasant, despite the constant grey skies, but I didn’t see anything in the way of wildlife today at all – no interesting birds, no animals at all (except some Alpaca on a farm!) and not many wildflowers. It’s been noticeable how few butterflies have been flying on these grey days. I enjoyed having the flexibility to vary my route, and enjoyed the section through Ashridge from the Monument that I hadn’t planned on walking.

Minor web site update

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I have just updated my “Pete’s Walks” web sites – there are no new walks added to it, just some more bird, butterfly and wildflower photos.

I hadn’t intended to update the site just yet, I was going to wait until I had some more walks to add to it. But I just happened to notice that a few pages were not appearing correctly in the Firefox browser (which happens to be the one I now use in preferance to Internet Explorer). A lot of text had disappeared from the ‘tables’ on pages such as the Site History – it appears Firefox wasn’t handling the ‘automatic’ font colouring in the tables, so I had to manually change the font colour to black.

Favourite local walk

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Today I did my favourite local walk yet again, the one that goes out to Little Gaddesden and Hudnall before returning to Kensworth via Studham and Whipsnade. I’m not going to describe the walk, you’ve probably read it several times before!

I have been meaning to write this walk up and put it on my web site for ages. Today, for the second time now, I dutifully took photos of the route as I walked round, only to decide that the photos were too grey and dismal to go on the web site. Unfortunately, it had remained overcast and very grey throughout the walk, apart from a five-minute spell right at the start when I briefly glimpsed a patch of blue sky.

As always, this was a very enjoyable walk. I set off from home at 9.10am and got back about 2.30pm, so allowing 10 minutes for lunch it took a little over 5 hours (probably a bit longer than usual, because of the number of photographs).

I saw a Red Kite as I reached Studham Common, the first time I’ve seen one there. Later on, I saw three Buzzards over a wood, just as I was approaching the edge of Gaddesden Row. There were no other bird or animal sightings, but there were some colourful wildflowers about, including several of my favourites: Common Toadflax, Musk Mallow and, of course, Herb Robert. I spotted some lovely blue Flax on the path through the long lonely valley beteween Nettleden and Little Gaddesden, and just before I reached the latter village I found some lovely yellow and orangeFox-and-cubs, growing in the same spot I found it last year (the only place I’ve seen it locally). But the highlight was a Violet Helleborine (a type of orchid) – I saw my first ones ever on Friday’s walk, and was delighted to find one growing within a few miles of my home.

As it was a Bank Holiday Monday, there were more walkers about than usual, but not too many – I got as far as Great Gaddesden before I saw anyone else walking. As I came back through Studham and Whipsnade I also saw six or seven mountain bikers on the bridleways.

Coombe Hill and the Hampdens (not again!)

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Yes, today’s walk took me back to one of my favourite areas of the Chilterns yet again, Coombe Hill and the various Hampden villages. This was basically Walk 12 of the Chiltern Chain walk (see with a few minor alterations and an extension tagged on at the end.

There was some drizzle or light rain as I eat my breakfast and while I drove to Coombe Hill, but it had stopped by the time I started walking about 9.40am. The forecast indicated that the rest of the morning would be dry, but there would be showers arriving about 3pm.

From the Coombe Hill car park, I made my way to join the Ridgeway which I followed south through a beech wood back to a road.  A short distance down the road, I continued along the Ridgeway through more beech wood on the other side. I followed a sequence of waymarks and fingerposts through the trees, eventually joining a broad track that headed downhill to another road. I crossed over and continued on over a field and across the drive to Chequers, over to my right. Beyond a large pasture I turned right on a good path following the edge of a wood.I could now see Chequers over to my left with Coombe Hill behind it.

I crossed a couple of cattle pastures (yet another nasty incident with an aggressive dog in the first one – at least the owners of the uncontrollable mutt that barked and danced angrily around me had the grace to say ‘sorry!’). I then followed the charming path contouring round below Pulpit Hill, through  a couple of large flower-decked meadows. After passing the pub at Cadsden came the long ascent up Whiteleaf Hill – I’m really unfit, this climb seemed longer and harder than usual! There were a couple of walkers at the top of the hill, admiring the view out over Prince’s Risborough, Monks Risborough and the Vale of Aylesbury – apart from a few dog walkers, these were the only walkers I’d see all day.

I then took a slightly different and longer route to Parslow’s Hillock – it involved a bit more road walking than usual, but also took me through a section of woodland I’d not seen before. From there I took my usual route, along Lily Bottom Lane and then through Monkton Wood and Hampden Coppice to Hampden Common. It was too early to stop there for lunch (I’ve sat on the benches at the cricket ground before) so I carried on across the fields to Great Hampden, and then on through Lady Hampden’s Wood and down into the wide valley of Hampden Bottom.

Part way up the other side of the valley I stopped for lunch on a bench cut out of a tree trunk, with a nice view back over the valley. There had been threatening grey clouds a little earlier, but now it was much brighter. A Red Kite came across the valley to within about a hundred yards of where I sat. I then took a shorter route into Little Hampden, instead of following the Chiltern Way which is the route I’ve always used before. This footpath brought me out next to the Rising Sun pub, saving me a quarter mile walk along the lane through the village.

Back on my usual route, I followed the long bridleway downhill through another beech wood and up the other side. Near the top of the hill I took a short cut, by going left on a path that cut a corner off my usual route. I then turned left on a bridleway into Dunsmore, with its tiny chapel and its duck pond. I continued on the bridleway the other side of the village, following it through more woods for about a mile.

Where the bridleway goes slightly right, I normally go straight on along a path, then turn left to reach the monument on Coombe Hill. Today I extended my walk by continuing along the bridleway, which soon started a gradual descent through the trees for over a mile, almost to a road on the edge of Wendover. Just before the road, I turned very sharply left at a path junction, rejoing the route of the Ridgeway. I now had a very long but very gentle ascent over Bacombe Hill to the monument at Coombe Hill – this is a very plesant path, mainlythrough grass and bushes with an assortment of wildflowers, and good views to the right over the Vale of Aylesbury. As I passed the monument on Coombe Hill, a couple of Red Kites flew by! I then just had a simple level stroll back to the car park.

I think the walk was about 14-15 miles – it took me 5 hours and 20 minutes of walking. I was lucky with the weather, as the predicted showers in the afternoon never materialised. I’d felt as if I was struggling a bit before and after lunch, feeling low on energy, possibly because I’d not slept well for a couple of nights. But I’d perked up by the time I got to Dunsmore, and didn’t think twice about extending the route for a couple of miles down and back up Bacombe Hill.

It was a great walk – there was a wide variety of scenery, lots of woodland walking, plenty of ups and downs, a variety of historic interest (Whiteleaf Hill, Hampden House). The scenery was good almost every step of the way, with the possible exception of a couple of short lane walks. It was nice to vary the walk slightly and to extend it’s distance slightly – I’m sure I’ll do this walk or a version of it many times in the future.

Local ‘figure-of-eight’ walk

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

It didn’t start out that way, but this morning’s local walk evolved into a ‘figure-of-eight’ route.

I could only walk locally today as my car  is in for a service and MOT, and the weather forecast indicated there would be showers this afternoon. So I started off intending to repeat a walk I did recently – Whipsnade Heath, the Downs, Bison Hill, Whipsnade, Studham Church, Holywell and back to Kensworth. But the route change As I went along, and the walk ended up quite different to what I’d intended.

I walked up the road, and took the path on the left that crosses a couple of fields to reach the woods at Whipsnade Heath. I turned right here, and soon noticed that the path was very muddy after the recent rain. When I reached the road to the Downs, I decided on the spur of the moment to alter the route slightly and go a way I hadn’t been for ages. I followed the road to the right for about quarter of a mile, ignoring the bridleway I usually take here, then took a field path on the left. In the field corner, the path goes half-left across a couple of fields to join the usual bridleway route. A short distance to the right I came to a bridleway junction where I again turned right. This follows a very shallow valley, passing the Sallowsprings mobile home park on the left.

Just before reaching the huge meadow on the downs, I again varied my usual route – I turned right on the drive to Chute Farm, as I’d never actually followed this footpath before.  I passed a group of about 20 ramblers coming the other way. The drive took me to the entrance to the Chiltern Gateway Centre on top of Dunstable Downs. I turned left passed the visitor centre, and made my way to the huge meadow, following the path below the fence at its bottom. This eventually led downhill to the foot of Bison Hill, where I took the steep path back uphill parallel to the road.

As I started along the bridleway to Whipsnade from the car park on Bison Hil, I met the same group of ramblers again. Near the end of the bridleway, I turned left and took the path to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. I had intended to now continue the walk by followiing the path beside the zoo to Studham church, but while on the Downs I’d realised  I’d forgotten to bring any water with me, so I decided to do a shorter route, have a glass of water at home, then continue on along a short loop the other side of Kensworth.

As I crossed the green at Whipsnade it started to rain slightly. There was an ominous grey cloud overhead, so I sheltered under the yew trees at the entrance to the church and donned my waterproof jacket and put the rain cover on my rucksack. The rain stopped virtually as soon as I set off again. I took the very familiar field path from the church to Holywell, continuing on to Dovehouse Lane and the field path back to the Whipsnade Road. Turning right along the road, it was just a few minutes before I was back home.

I had a quick glass of water (the weather wasn’t too warm this morning, but walking is thirsty work!), and set off again down the road. I turned left into Malmes Close, and took the pleasant field path that led down and up a steep valley to reach Hollicks Lane. I followed the lane to the right for a short distance, but just before reaching Church End I took a footpath on the left. The path followed a hedgerow on my right for quarter of a mile or so, before switching to the left of the hedge line. In the field corner I followed the path to the right, with a small wood on my left, and then turned left at the corner of the wood. Not long after reaching the end of this side of the wood, I turned left through a kissing gate.

As I descended quite steeply I now had the gaping hole of Kensworth Quarry to my right. Halfway down the slope I went left through another kissing gate, and followed a path through a couple of meadows, gradually descending to the valley bottom, and then continued on the path as it rose up the opposite side of the valley. The path passed between a small industrial estateand Green End Farm to reach Common Road, Kensworth, leaving me with a quarter mile downhill walk back to my home.

This was a very pleasant 2.5-3 hour walk, despite the generally grey skies.

Totternhoe walk again

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Yesterday (Friday, 15.08/08) I repeated my local walk to Totternhoe and back.

When I last did this walk, a month or so ago, I concentrated on the wide variety of wildflowers I saw on the route. This time I just got on with the walk, noticing very few flowers at all on the way. The only wildlife sighting I had was a Red Kite, which I spotted while I had my lunch on Bison Hill.

I followed Hollicks Lane to Church End, then took the path round the far side of the quarry to Dunstable Downs. It was a bright sunny day (though there were a lot of small clouds about) so the view from the Downs was pretty good. After walking along the top of the downs and descending into Dunstable, I followed the green lanes and bridleway towards Sewell, and continued on to Totternhoe. As I followed the bridleway up Totternhoe Knolls, I noticed a lot of the ‘red berries’ of Cuckoo-pint – I don’t know if it’s a good year for this plant, but I’ve certainly seen much more of it this year than last year.

I followed the path from the top of the Knolls into Totternhoe and walked through the village, picking up Wellhead Lane which took me back to the main road at the foot of the Downs. I crossed over and continued on a footpath beside the gliding club, then turned right along the path that follows the bottom of the steep chalk downs. I took a new route to the car park at Bison Hill – immediately beyond a kissing gate, I turned left on a steep path up the hillside, then after a few yards turned half right on a more gently graded path. This took me to the fence at the bottom of the huge meadow on the downs, which I followed to the right. The path descended slightly, then I turned left on a familiar path that took me to the car park, where I stopped for lunch as it was now 12.55pm.

I had planned to extend the walk out to Studham in the afternoon, but my back was a little sore (as a result of my foolish idea to increase the weight in my rucksack on previous walks) so I stuck to my usual route for this walk. I took the bridleway from the car park to Whipsnade, then took the footpath to Holywell and returned to Kensworth via Dovehouse Land and the path to the Whipsnade road.I got home at 2pm, having been walking for about 4.5 hours.

This was the first nice day for sometime, generally sunny, bright and warm (about 22C) despite the many small clouds. The paths were all very wet and muddy though – there was a heavy downpour from about 5-7pm yesterday, complete with thunder and lightning.

Alternative Ashridge Walk

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Yesterday (Monday 11/08/08), I did my Alternative Ashridge Walk again (there’s a description and some photos from a previous time I did this walk on my web site at: ). But instead of starting at the Bridgewater Monument I started at the car park near Pitstone Hill, and I did the walk clockwise rather than anti-clockwise.

From the car park I took the long and familiar path to Steps Hill, where I saw another Chalkhill Blue buterfly. I continued along a section of the Ridgeway to Ivinghoe Beacon, then took the path to the car park for the Beacon. A little further along the road I turned right onto the track that is themain path between the Beacon and the Monument. I passed the dogkennels at Clipper Down, and a little further diverted from the track by taking a path going steeply downhill through the trees on the right. I crossed some fields near Duncombe Farm and took a bridleway back uphill through the trees, rejoining the main track just before it reached the Monument.

I took a main bridleway continuing from the drive to the Monument. Here I almost trod on a Frog sitting in the middle of the bridleway (embarrasingly I misidentified it as a toad!). I saw about 35 Fallow Deer  in the large field on my left, next to the Ringshall-Berkhamsted road. I turned left at a major path crossroads to reach the road, and continued along the avenue of bech trees on the other side. I continued on and on in more or less the same direction, eventually reaching Frithsden Beeches and carrying on across Berkhamsted Golf Course.

On reaching a road, I took a bridleway going right and at the bottom of the slope took a feint path on the right. This is one of my favourite paths in the area, running along a valley just inside a wood, with fields just yards to my left. It continues for almost a mile – it was the first time I’d walked it in this direction for probably two years or more. Eventually I turned left onto a field path, which crossed the bottom of the valley and rose up the far side. A little further on I stopped for lunch on the bench I use when I do the walk in the opposite direction, with a nice view across fields towards Berkhamsted. By starting at the car park at Pitstone Hill, I’d timed things nicely, as it was now about 12.50pm.

I continued on after lunch, soon turning right to pass the small estate of bungalows at Northchurch where I saw six or so more Fallow Deer in a paddock on my left. I returned to the main road I’d crossed earlier, and followed it right for two or three hundred yards before re-entering the woods on the far side. The path went downhill and crossed a private drive, where I saw a few more Fallow Deer (I often see them here).The path continued, rising and falling a couple of times, again with fields close by on my left.

I emerged near the end of a lane at Norcutt Manor, where there were just a few spots of rain – it was another dreary grey day, but it otherwsie remained dry. I was soon back in the woods, again with fields close by on the left, as I walked a good distance through the trees to reach the hamlet of Toms’ Hill. I turned right along the lane here, passing a lot of Small Balsam which grows in profusion here. At the end of the lane, by a hairpin bend, I took a path on the left down to Aldbury.

From here it was the very familiar route starting between a stables and the church, soon crossing a golf course to reach Aldbury Nowers (I never know whether this is the name of the hill or of the woods on its slopes). The path through the wood is very pleasant, and is part of The Ridgeway national Trail. After a mile or so I reached the grassy slopes of Pitstone Hill, and as I followed part of the ancient Grim’s Ditch to the top of the hill I had my best wildlife sighting of the day. Four Ravens flew overhead, quite noisily, with two of them enjoying a mock ‘dogfight’ with some impressive aerobatics. I’d heard them earlier, only a mile or so away near the Dog Kennels where I’d heard them once before, so I’m hopeful that they are now resident in this area. It was now just a nice easy descent down the far side of Pitstone Hill, up and over the small ‘hillock’ and I was back at my car. It was now 3pm, the 14 or so miles having taken me 5.5 hours to walk.

I’d carried more weight in my rucksack today. I’d added a heavy book, and later realised I had 2.5 litres of water (I’d forgotten 0.5 litres that I’d loaded a couple of weeks ago when I last walked on a hot day!). The idea was to see how my back got on with a heavier load, as I’d love eventually to be able to walk entire long-distance paths carrying all my own gear. Unfortunately, my back is now (the next morning) very stiff and sore, so I’m afraid I’ll have to give up on this idea. Obviously adding just a few pounds to the weight of my normal daysack is enough to damage my back. Having been unable to do much walking for about three years when I had a slipped disc, I really don’t want to injure myself again. It’s somewhat frustrating, but to be honest I don’t think I could have an opportunity to walk a long-distance path day after day for some time anyway.

Short local walk again

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

This morning I did the same two-hour local walk that I did a week or so ago, through Whipsnade Heath to the Downs, down to the foot of Bison Hill and back up it to Whipsnade, then returning home via Holywell and Dovehouse Lane.

It was windy but quite bright when I left home about 10.15am, but by the time I got to the Downs it had clouded over and was quite grey. There was a very brief shower just as I reached the green at Whipsnade. I didn’t see anything in the way of wildlife, and only a few wildflowers – Herb Robert, Enchanter’s Nightshade, Yellow-wort, Harebell and Clustered Bellflower (the latter three all on the steep chalky path up Bison Hill).

Again I loaded my rucksack with a couple of heavy books – I didn’t really notice the extra weight, so maybe I’m getting used to it and might try it on a longer walk. But I must admit that for some reason I feel very tired this afternoon, much more so than when I come home from an all-day walk. But I think it’s due to not sleeping too well recently, rather than the short walk this morning.

A gentleman called Stephen Dawson has posted on my guestbook  that he walked Walk 1 of the Chiltern Chain Walk yesterday! I am so glad that someone else has walked part of this long-distance path that I spent many months devising and walking! I knew Stephen was planning to walk some of it, as he had previously kindly pointed out an error on one of the maps I produced for the walk. I really must make an effort to ‘publicise’ the Chiltern Chain Walk, I’ve been meaning for ages to contact a couple of local Rambler’s groups about it.

Stephen also asked if it was possible to configure my guestbook so that it doesn’t show email addresses – I’ve emailed my web host to see if this is possible, but I’m not too hopeful. I’ve always suspected that having to have your email address displayed to all and sundry has probably put people off putting comments in the guest book.

People can of course make comments buy emailing me at, I’m always pleased to hear from people.

Wendover Woods and Wigginton

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Today I repeated the walk I did as Walk 5 of the Chiltern Chain Walk – for a full account of that walk see this page of my web site:

The forecast was for occasional scattered showers. In fact there was a light rain as I drove to Wendover Woods, which stopped just before I got there. It remained very grey and mirky as I followed the trails through the woods and took Hale Lane to reach Wendover. I walked up Hogtrough Lane and followed the Ridgeway uphill through Barn Wood. Just after leaving the Ridgeway and joining the path at the top of the hill, it started to rain quite heavily and I stopped to don my waterproofs and put the rain cover on my rucksack.

The heavy rain soon turned to drizzle as I followed a sequence of paths parallel to the ancient earthwork of Grim’s Ditch. It alternated between drizzle and light rain for the rest of the morning as I made my way to Wigginton. I saw a large bird near St Leonard’s, I’m pretty sure it was a Red Kite rather than a Buzzard.  I walked through Wigginton, and started to make my way back, initially through Tring Park. I stopped for an early lunch at 12.30 on the bench I usually use along King Charles Ride – the view over Tring Park and the Vale of Aylesbury wasn’t as good as usual in the grey and dull conditions.

It stopped raining about this time, and brightened up just a little as I continued on my way, heading now for Hastoe. The clouds seemed to raise a little, and I even got a brief glimpse of a thin slither of blue sky at one point. There was the occasionla bit more drizzle though, as I followed the byways downhill from Hastoe and then took the field paths to Aston Hill. It was a long steady pull up Aston Hill, and then a final flat section as I followed a path and then a drive back to Wendover Woods.

I got back to my car at 2pm, having been walking for 4hrs 10mins (+ 10 mins for lunch). I’d mistakenly thought the route was about 14 miles – I should have checked before going out, it’s only 12.6 miles. But in the very grey and slightly wet conditions, that was probably far enough. I actually enjoyed walking in wet conditions, it made a change for me, and the rain was never really very heavy. It was reasonably cool (16C when I got back to the car) so I was never too hot and sweaty in my waterproofs. I didn’t take a single photograph – I enjoyed being able to just keep walking for a change, without the photography breaking my rythm all the time.