Long Walk 5th July led by Chris Mansfield
Eleven of us met at the river end of Ferry Lane in Medmenham on a rather warm, dry day. We set off at 9.50 to walk up Ferry Lane, cross the main road and take an uphill woodland path leading to the site of a Celtic hill fort. We continued on through woodland then passing some very nice properties before descending passing yet more lovely properties before turning off onto a footpath running in woodland along the edge of a valley. Later we descended into the valley, leaving the woods to cross over and climb gently up the other side passing a wonderful field of wild flowers and then back into woodland where we followed arrows on trees. Leaving the woods once more we walked along narrow lanes before turning off into Homefield Wood where we followed a flat path along the bottom of a valley.
After half a mile we turned uphill following a narrow path leading out of the wood and along tracks where we passed the site of the lost hamlet of Holywick – no visible signs at all! We continued on now into fields full of barley, nearly waist height walking in full sun! We managed to find a path through it to reach a lane and after another half mile or so on the lane turned off on a footpath to reach the hamlet of Pheasants, the highest point on the walk. So now it was all downhill through lots of woodland to reach the village of Colestrope and on down to the Hambleden valley where we followed a path to Hamblden and the Stag & Huntsman for lunch, arriving at 1.40. A table had been reserved for us inside and as it was so hot and we still had another 3 miles to walk we decided inside was a good idea. The service was very good but the menu rather expensive but everyone enjoyed a drink, food and a rest before tackling the last leg back along the river. By now it was very hot and our steps were faltering but we all made it back albeit somewhat tired and overheated. A good walk with lots of diversity.
Strollers 10th July led by Jacqui Kennedy
As Brendan had broken his leg Jacqui nobly stepped in to lead his walk.
Just four of us set off from Towersey on what should have been a nice, level, easy stroll. It started well – we took the path alongside the pub, over a small field with what used to be the village pond in it, through a back lane coming out on Manor Road. A short way along here, we took the footpath to our right over the Phoenix Trail, and alongside some fields; we then bore left and took a path through the edge of a wood, then over a field of ripening wheat, over a stile and then several connected fields of sheep and lambs who protested loudly at having to move out of our way, We picked up a track, which took us right, coming out in the centre of Emmington. Following this road to the end, we found the footpath which should have continued straight on, had been blocked with a barbed-wire fence. I entered the lefthand field, but could find no way through to the footpath. We walked back into the village and, after chatting to a couple of locals, were advised to go past the Church in the village and take the footpath on the right, then right again, which would link with the original path. Sounded SO straightforward! We found the path, turned off it to the right and then left onto what we thought was the original path. However, before long we realised all was not well and we were lost! We continued on for a bit but when we caught sight on a familiar landmark in the distance, we realised we were too far to the west. Eventually, we climbed over a gate and headed towards some farm buildings where we found a farmer working. He told us the quickest way back was to take the farm track to the Thame/Chinnor road, and then the road back to Towersey. We followed his advice and were relieved to reach the Three Horseshoes where we enjoyed very welcome refreshments.
My deepest apologies to my fellow walkers and heartfelt thanks for their patience and support.
Medium Walk July 15th led by Chris Mansfield
Ten people met in the carpark of the Valiant Trooper at Aldbury on a dry and warm day. We set off at 9.30 to walk out of the village, along the edge of woodand then descending over fields with long views to reach and cross the busy train line via a footbridge and arrive on the Grand Union canal at Cow Roast lock. We walked along the canal for a mile and a half then turned off to re-cross the railway, reach and cross the main road into Aldbury then turned left along a track leading along the edge of chalk pits with Pitstone hill to our right. Our path was to take us up the hill but we turned uphill too soon and were soon scrambling over uneven grassy hummocks on little more than an animal track – sometimes on our hands and knees! However, after a while we were able to join the correct path coming up and soon reached the top of Pitstone Hill and its junction with the Ridgeway where we had excellent views all round. We turned right to follow the Ridgeway path along the ridge then down through Aldbury Nowers, then leaving it to go across the golf course and back to Aldbury and the Valiant Trooper where we had lunch sitting in the garden. The good value food was quickly served and we spent a happy hour eating, drinking and chatting before setting off for home. An interesting walk with lots of variety especially scrambling on hands and knees!
GUC Walk July 20th Solihull to Birmingham – Last One!
Fifteen of us met in Monks Risborough for the mini bus to take us to Solihull. It rained all the way up the M40 and was still raining when we arrived at the canal. We set off with waterproofs on but after five minutes the rain stopped and later the sun came out and it was a lovely day. The canal was really beautiful here, quiet and peaceful with lovely reflections, you would not know you were in such a built-up area. We met Peter Dixon and his brother after a mile so it was now 17 of us walking the last leg. It was very easy walking, mostly on a good tarmac path and we made good time before stopping at the Lock 1 with just 3.8 kms to go. The locks now came thick and fast, very deep and narrow but alas no boats until we reached Aston Junction. The canal was lined at times with enormous bushes of purple and white buddleia – though hardly any butterflies.- quite a spectacular sight. We walked through two tunnels and along stretches with new buildings now replacing most of the old warehouses and factories to reach many locks and bridges, some partly under buildings – a really fascinating sight. It was now getting quite busy with people around as we neared Gas Street with all its eateries and bridges with flowers on – we could have been in Venice! We arrived at the Pitcher & Piano Bar at 3pm where tables had been reserved for us upstairs overlooking the canal with barges going by – a really interesting spot. The staff were very welcoming and friendly and were soon serving us drinks followed by food. As we had plenty of time some had dessert and coffee before we left soon after 5pm to walk through Centenary Square and on down New Street and on to Moor Street station for the train home. The train was a little late in leaving but our connection at Bicester North waited so we were only a few minutes late into Princes Risborough. What a lovely day and the end of a wonderful project – so what’s next?
Main Walk July 24th led by Angela Wall
It had rained most of the night and despite the forecast telling us that it was only going to be damp and grey when we woke up, the rain was still falling when we met at 10.00am in the car park in West Wycombe. So we were not surprised that only five people turned up! We set off in light mizzle starting to walk up West Wycombe Hill, but quickly taking a sharp left turn below the first steps, we walked up a gradually inclined track sheltered by trees. On reaching the top of the hill we turned left along a wide track leading from West Wycombe Church and again mostly in woods, we walked for about a mile to Nobles Farm. We then turned sharp right taking a fairly steep path through the woods towards the bottom of the valley until we reached the A4010 opposite Bradenham Village. Crossing the road and the large green in front of Bradenham Manor, the rain had stopped and so we had pit stop to admire the view. Taking the track to the right of the manor we walked for about 100 yards before turning right onto a path which led into the woods. The broad path gradually led us up a gentle hill and after about a mile of level walking through woodland and holly scrub, we turned right onto a path leading downwards and eventually through a lovely avenue of trees to the railway line. Here we turned left along a gravel path which led us back to the main road just before West Wycombe. After crossing the road and walking across a rather wet field – good for cleaning our boots – we arrived in West Wycombe village and a good lunch at The George and Dragon for those who stayed.