Last December “The Times” featured “A Good Walk – Eversholt and Toddington Park, Beds”. Using Christopher Somerville’s route as a starting point for this local walk and particularly to celebrate the birth of my grandson on Valentine’s Day just four days before I set out walking hopeful of some sunshine. In his birth congratulations card I had written the dedication “Younger than Springtime” to the new born infant and I walked looking for signs of a forthcoming Spring. The weather forecast on “Look East” the day before had been promising……….. had they got it right this time?
Somerville talks in his article of James, Duke of Monmouth (illegitimate son of Charles II) and his association with Toddington Park. However, the route he suggests to take does not follow the Monmouth Way but rather a shorter, more triangulated route from Toddington to Eversholt and back again. I wanted to stretch my legs a little further than his five and a half miles so on leaving Park Road in Toddington I stayed with the Monmouth Way all the way to Eversholt then followed Somerville’s return route. Perhaps prompted by thoughts of my grandson I pondered on the passing of time. On leaving Toddington I had seen a clock set into a house frontage.
Here I was again just putting one foot in front of the other as I have now been doing for so many years and particularly now in these blogs for a year. A whole year of changes. A year ago my son and his wife had just returned from a wonderful holiday in Australia and he helped me set up this website. A full year of planning and planting seeds, seeing my garden in the fullness of summer and harvesting in the Autumn. The excitement of expectation of new life. The walks I took alone and with friends – finally climbing Helvellyn, walking in Menorca, the joy of that early morning climb up Barton Springs, appreciation of all the beauty on my doorstep and as always returning time and again to Wessex. The highlight, of course, being my gratitude pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury – an experience so profound that I am at present still struggling to turn my blogs into the book that I have been promising to write because the emotions are still so heightened. My father passed away and three months later his great grandson was born. And, of course, I had seen a young fox on Flitwick Moor.
The terrain started muddy and remained muddy for most of the walk. The Monmouth Way passed Toddington Manor and wound through farmland and small copses. I took my obligatory photograph of a horse. At times there were unexpected long-ranging views over the Bedfordshire countryside but the weather remained misty and murky. A cold wind blew across the open fields and I was glad I had worn my sunglasses – to protect my eyes from the icy blasts.
A respite from the mud came when I reached Washer’s Wood and passed under some conifer trees before seeing the village of Eversholt in the distance.
I passed through Eversholt when walking the Millenium Trail last year and remarked then at what a peaceful, pretty village it was with an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Today, however, there seemed to be rather a traffic jam – horses going one way passing horses going another!
After reaching Eversholt Church I retraced my steps, crossed a field and completed a heavy trudge up a hill to Palmer’s Shrubs. I searched in vain for the sun through the clouds. Another field and another delightful copse but I had to take a close look at the trees to see any buds. I heard a woodpecker in the distance. There were lovely if misty and lonely views again of the Bedfordshire countryside.
Further plodding took me through more fields. In his article Somerville talks of finding ancient pottery and a “nacreous fragment of Roman glass”. Despite my love of “TimeWatch” and peering into exhibition cases in museums I really wouldn’t know how to identify anything interesting I may see when out walking. There were certainly lots of flints and interesting looking fragments in the fields. I was reminded of how when my son was very young, when out walking he would never take his eyes off the ground, always looking for fossils and treasures. We had stacks upon stacks of stones under the bed – I wondered whether this characteristic would be passed on? I saw some interesting footprints.?………………………….
After crossing Park Road the route then runs parallel to it, past Herne Grange and back into Toddington with its shops and refreshments.
The only sign of Spring I spied were some snowdrops but they appeared as a simple greeting for a new born infant. Welcome to our wonderful world – Fox James Manly McClean – “Younger than Springtime”. We are blessed. You are loved.
Christopher Somerville Walk – 5 1/2 miles; total including Monmouth Way Section which I walked – 7 miles. Detailed directions at christophersommerville.co.uk
OS Explorer 192, 193 (route crosses the border between both maps)
For further details of my walking adventures in Beds, Herts and Bucks, my long-distance trails, including the Pilgrims’ Way and the Ridgeway and walks around Wessex and add your e mail address in the box at the foot of this page.