THE GREENSAND RIDGE WALK – Leighton Buzzard to Woburn

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The Greensand Ridge Walk – Day 1

A day of sunshine and showers was forecast as the Lovely T dropped me off by the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard for the first stage of The Greensand Ridge Walk.

I always love walking along canals -being nosey peeking in  back gardens which run down to the water; admiring the  boats; considering the “geography” of the waterways and other transport links and of course, searching for that elusive kingfisher.  Robert Macfarlane’s “colour-giver, fire-bringer, flame-flicker” – will I ever spy one?

It being a Sunday morning and with the country easing out of lockdown there were many others about – joggers, cyclists, rowers and families.  It felt good to share the space.  I also enjoyed the smell of frying bacon coming from one of the boats – and thought about the rather unappetising marmite sandwich in my backpack.

The walk goes along the canal for a mile or two and then turns alongside the River Ouzel.  I am almost certain I heard a zchii zchii zchii…….. I stopped and stared a while – it remained elusive.

The path bends quietly through meadows and gently undulates until it reaches Oak Wood – aptly named.  The ground underfoot became sandier and sandier – probably as much so as when I walked along Sandy Lane on The Pilgrims’ Way several years ago.

 

I stopped and rested on a bench a while and took in the view through the trees.

The outskirts of Rushmere Country Park were reached and the environment became busier again. Someone was looking at me.

However, The Greensand Ridge walk  skirts the perimeter of the park and I soon found myself away from the crowds.  Much of the planting was also deciduous woodland in this area and had a wonderful full midsummer feel to it.

Black Pond was then reached and again I stopped and rested for a while.  I had only 9 miles to walk today and it was pleasant to take my time.

The next few miles were remarkably quiet as I walked the outskirts of Stockgrove Country Park, passed some stables and crossed more meadowland.  Clover, buttercups and self-heal were apparent along with many meadow browns – but I am no wildlife photographer.

Rammamere Heath was a wonderful surprise.  I do not live far from any of the places on today’s walk and apart from the main part of Rushmere (with the pretend digger my grandson loves), and brief walks along the canal most of the environment was new to me.  It is super how I continue to discover new secluded gems just on my doorstep.  (One of the benefits of staying much closer to home during lockdown).

Before long, however, some traffic noise became apparent.   I had been concerned about crossing Watling Street but actually it was quite easy.  Then just as I stopped a while to take a photograph of what I suspected was Sharpenhoe Clappers in the distance, the rain started.  I was right in the middle of a field of wheat and the sound of the wind and rain on the crop was magical;  it reminded me of the effervescent fizzzzz when you open a bottle of champagne.  A glorious, tinkling sound.  I suppose it made up for getting soaked through!

After this the weather turned to continual short periods of sunshine and showers as I walked through Buttermilk Wood and Lowe’s Wood.  The rather depressing conifer planting on my left was relieved by a flotilla of foxgloves.

The landscape eventually opened out and after passing a very pretty Job’s Farm (I wonder why it was so named?)  found myself on the last haul into Woburn itself.  The stately home sat imposingly on the horizon in front of me on this last stretch.  Somehow I went slightly wrong here and had to climb over a gate to meet the Lovely T who had parked in a layby just over the road ready to collect me.

A really great start to The Greensand Ridge Walk.  I found signposting fairly good but would recommend taking a map.  The official notes say the distance is 8.5 miles.  I walked 9.  The ground underfoot was like a pillow – beautiful and soft – sand or soft needles or leaf mould.  There are refreshment stops in Leighton Buzzard; a café in Rushmere (shut in lockdown); more refreshments in Woburn.  All in all a terrific start to the trail.

O S Explorer Map  192

Oh, nearly forgot – It’s “Tradition”.

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