Walk 3: Princes Risborough to Lewknor
It says a lot that there is a gap in my OS Maps app record. If the tech is to be believed, I didn’t actually do this walk! I’d planned an 8-mile section today to be home for mid-afternoon, and the get-out points (bus stops) are proving more tricky to get home in time for tea.
My start point was a mere 3 miles from home, so a 10-minute bus ride down the hill. I’d be on the trail in no time! Then a 40-minute wait for a bus that comes every half hour. Finally, I jumped off the bus and started to walk.
The day was warm and overcast, and I wasn't entirely feeling the love for a long walk today, so my pace was slow as I climbed out of Risborough along sleepy country lanes, across the existing main London to Birmingham rail line and across a golf course. This definitely feels like commuter land today.
I wander through farmlands and today feels steep, but it is not - I started at 125m and ‘peaked’ at 207m. My summit (which I have seen referred to as a mountain online!) was Lodge Hill, an area supported by the Chilterns Farmer Cluster. They are a like-minded group of farmers supporting conservation and educating on unique wildlife and habitats in the chalk fields of the Chilterns. Here is area is left to its devices. There are abundant wildflowers and butterflies on the same patch of land surrounded by dry, hard fields struggling to grow crops (it's July 2022, and we are in the middle of the hottest, driest summer ever - climate change is affecting our farmlands now too).
Upon the hill, I came across a dog walker who asked if I was walking the Ridgeway, and I explained my endeavours to him and that my house was on the next ridge, so I hadn’t strayed far from home today. We chatted about this beautiful hilltop and heard ravens calling in the hills below.
This friend chap had lived in the area for years and told me this is a new sound in these parts. The reintroduction of Red Kites led to ravens, and buzzards also returned to the area (https://bucksbirdclub.co.uk/Pictures/Raven.htm), a triumphant story of biodiversity improving in areas that rely on farming. If only we gave over a little more land to these wondrous wild areas.
Today's walk quickly turned into a nature observing walk as I realised I wasn’t into it! The following section was along a track through woodland, so I stopped at every tree to identify it through Seek (a must-have for all budding naturalists who don’t have a clue (me!)). The canopy is mainly maple and beech here, and the shade of the lush green is appreciated after a good few miles of the blazing sun.
The following section passes above Chinnor. It was flat, hard, with no view and boring. The most interesting was a “no swimming” sign which naturally brought curiosity to a wild swimmer.
So I started on the Seek app again and bindweed, knapweed, a weird lily called cuckoo-pint and St John’s Wort (I did find a giggle for this one given the humph of a mood I was in!).
As the hum of the M40 got louder, I knew the end was in sight, and I skirted the bottom of Beacon Hill - I would return to climb it. I passed under the M40 and onto a hot road to finish in Lewknor. For the first time today, I saw Red Kites - most unusual in the Chilterns.
I found the bus stop and got mighty confused as to why the bus I expected to find did not depart from the village. I retreated to the pub for a quick local refreshment before the second attempt at finding a bus. Type 3 fun had kicked in!
Back on the main road, I accosted a local teenager who told me the bus to High Wycombe went from a road I crossed a mile ago, and I had quite a short time to get to the bus stop. The walk was along a busy A road, back under the M40, and I made it just in time for the bus (which was on time!). Whilst on the bus, I decided to do a re-route. Rather than go all the way to High Wycombe and change buses, I could get off at West Wycombe, change there and walk a mile and a half home from the next stop. Up one last hill and regretting my choices halfway up.
I did find the reason for my grumpy day - the realisation that school holidays were about to start and my Ridgeway adventures would be on hold until September. Or were they? I spent the little of the afternoon I had left hatching a plan.
Distance walked: 8 miles (plus 1 mile back to the bus stop and the extra 1.5 miles home)
Time on feet: Too many
Cost: £9 (not including the pint and crisps!)
Accumulated miles: 27.5miles