It was difficult to believe I was nearing the end of my journey along the Ridgeway National Trail. The walking from Princes Risborough to Wendover was varied and interesting, challenging but rewarding.
Day Six of the Ridgeway Trail started from the Whiteleaf Cross Car Park just outside Princes Risborough. The lovely T dropped me off exactly where he had picked me up late afternoon the day before and we arranged to meet several hours later at Tring Station. Much of this day’s walking was through woods. My journey happened to coincide with Saturday with many people out for a weekend stroll and I was also closer to some areas of urban settlement today so I met quite a few people. However, I still had many moments of peace and quiet with only the birds for company.
The first wood I entered was Giles Wood, soon following the path around with a drop known as The Hangings on my right. Following the hilly path I descended down to Cadsdean Road, went through more beech woodland, then climbed again entering the nature reserve of Grangelands. Land which had been used to grow crops during the war had reverted to chalky downlands. This reserve was soon followed by the Chequers Nature reserve. Butterflies were flitting around the wild thyme and dog roses. Following a well-worn path alongside a wood a country house became apparent on the left – Chequers – the Prime Ministers Country Residence. The Ridgeway bears left and goes right through the grounds of the estate. Security cameras were apparent, along with prohibition signs along the way warning walkers not to pass over the boundary of the pathway. I was surprised at how open the area was and how close I could get to the house – but no doubt I was being watched!
The Ridgeway National Trail is very well-signposted and I soon came across a direction marker showing me that I was making good progress.
Several times along the trail where the bridleway is heavily rutted a short alternative path is signposted for walkers alongside. I always found it useful to take these.
More hills and woodlands followed, up and down, across stiles and through kissing gates with occasional fantastic views when there was a break in the trees. Eventually I reached the top of Coombe Hill and its memorial to the men of Buckinghamshire who died in the Boer War. Again the views here were spectacular. I could see the line of the Ridgeway I had previously walked, yet again Didcot just about visible in the long distance. The grounds of Chequers were down below to my far left. I could also see Pulpit Hill, across towards the village of Ellesborough and far round to the right I could just see my eventual destination of Ivinghoe Beacon.
Red Kites circled like planes in flight formation round and around the top of the Hill (unfortunately I am not a good enough photographer to have got a good shot!). The walk continued along the top of the ridge to Bacombe Hill reserve giving wide-ranging views over the Aylesbury Vale and descended down to the roadway into Wendover.
This section of my walk along the Ridgeway National Trail coincided with a Saturday and it was great to see the small town buzzing with atmosphere. There was such an assortment of traditional shops, including a chocolatier!
I stopped for coffee and took the time to browse around a couple of charity shops. There were several posters in the town campaigning against the High Speed Rail line proposal and indeed on the top of Coombe Hill stickers had been placed around the memorial in the same vein. The walking up on the downs around here was stunning and peaceful and the town so unspoilt, yet thriving – I could certainly sympathise with the campaigners who were against this area being spoilt forever.
From Wendover I headed towards the clock tower and then turned right down a little pathway called Heron Lane. This passed the church of St Mary and followed a pretty stream, before again ascending into woodland. So much of today’s walking had been through beechwoods. Although the weather was good and the sun shining the dense leaf canopy meant that the woods were shaded and quiet, save for the constant chatter of birds. The terrain underfoot was still chalky and apart from the trees the only other vegetation were hollies and yews. Some exotic looking fungi, however, thrived at the base of some trees.
Continuing through Wendover woods I could occasionally see down to RAF Halton below. I eventually left the densely wooded area and after crossing several minor roads arrived at the hamlet of Hastoe.
I had originally thought of meeting T just a little further on at the pub in the village of Wiggington – this was a pretty place with its-fashioned road sign positioned at the crossroads by the parish church of St Bartholomews. Much of the land around this area had at one time belonged to the Rothschild family. However, as I was making good time I decided to carry on to Tring Station.
I left the woodlands now and the terrain became chalk grassland. After crossing the major A roads outside Tring the Ridgeway reaches the Grand Union Canal before passing by Tring Station.
Here my walk for the day officially ended. (However, I had a romantic dream of arriving on top of Ivinghoe Beacon at dawn! – hence I again changed my plans slightly. I walked the last few miles to the foot of the Beacon to return early the next morning.)
For a full index of my posts on Walking the Ridgeway National Trail please click here.
To subscribe to this blog and read about my walking treks along National Trails, including the Ridgeway National Trail , The Hertfordshire Way and the Pilgrims’ Way, walks in Dorset and routes in Beds and Herts, please add your e mail address in the box at the foot of the page.
My book “The Woman Who Walked Through Fear” will be published shortly.