Winter? Who said it was winter? The weather at the weekend certainly didn’t feel like it and gave Shelli and I a perfect excuse to get out into the fresh air for a weekend of walking.
I got some great presents at Christmas and knowing that I’ve now properly got the walking bug – I suppose I can call myself a walker now? – Val and Tony (Shelli’s mum and dad) got me “1001 Walks in Britain”, a ring binder containing details of – funnily enough – 1001 walks around Britain. Gasp!
Not wanting to travel too far from home I’d spent some time last week looking at the walks in Berkshire/Buckinghamshire to find a couple of walks: one for Saturday, one for Sunday, both not too long but long enough to get us out of the house for a few hours.
Friday night I spent some time plotting the route for Saturday, a route that would take us from my house out to Wargrave, out through some of the surrounding lanes, fields and woods, and then back home again. All in the route was 10.86 miles.
Route plotted and loaded onto my GPS we enjoyed a relaxing evening – well, after my 5 miles on the exercise bike and 5km run – sampling a very fine, and well deserved, curry.
Knowing that we had all day on Saturday to do the walk we didn’t rush ourselves out the door. We had a bit of a lie-in, had breakfast (scrummy scrambled eggs on toast), made lunch, packed our bags and headed out around 10:30am.
As expected, the first bit of the walk out to Wargrave wasn’t exactly inspiring as it was all on the main roads. Once in Wargrave though we headed out the top of the village and out through the much quieter country lanes, snapping away with our cameras as we went along.
Other than one field it wasn’t until we got to Hennerton Golf Club that the real cross-country part of the walk started. After all of the rain of late most of the ground was pretty good but as we made our way back towards Crazies Hill a clearly well-used but path had some serious drainage problems. The mud was ridiculous. It stuck to your boots like you wouldn’t believe and certainly made for slow, slippery, exhausting progress. It was hilarious! At one point I stopped to take a photo of Shelli struggling through the slop, but as I turned to head off again my boots were almost stuck in the mud, popping out with a slurping sound. The girls would have loved it!
Boots covered in mud (thankfully the gaiters took the brunt away from the trousers) we carried on to High Knowl Wood, where we found a quiet spot to take a rest and have a spot of lunch.
The rest of the walk down through the woods threw up some more interesting moments with mud covered paths but we didn’t care. Our boots were already ridiculously dirty from the earlier episode so it didn’t really matter if they got worse. The only important thing was to stay on our feet, which I’m pleased to report we both managed to do. No falling on your bum this time eh Shelli? 🙂
One thing that did make us laugh – in a quizzical way – was when we passed a couple walking up the trail. Their boots were spotless and as we made our way down the path we didn’t have a clue how they managed to get where they were without getting mud on them as the paths were caked in mud and there wasn’t really an easy way of getting through it without getting at least a little bit muddy. Very strange?
The rest of the walk back to Twyford was pretty uneventful but we definitely had a great time being out in the fresh air. The weather was great and if you didn’t know better when looking at the photos you’d swear they were from a hot summer’s day.
Before attacking the final mile home we popped in to Duke of Wellington for a well deserved pint and a half of Oxford Gold. Fortunately our boots had dried out quite a lot and a lot of the mud had dropped off while walking along the paths back home so we didn’t make too much mess in the pub.
All in all a fantastic day’s walking, covering the distance in a leisurely 4.5 hours. Like I said, we didn’t have anything to rush back for and it was just fantastic being out, together, enjoying the walk.
I think the exercise and the fresh air got to Shelli a bit as she pretty much crashed out on the sofa after dinner, just about managing to keep her eyes open to watch a film.
Sunday morning was again a pretty relaxed affair. The walk ahead was round West Wycombe – a short drive away – and was shorter than the day before (only 6.23 miles), so we took it easy getting ourselves ready. Saying that, being a nutter I got up a little earlier than Shelli to rack up 10 miles on my exercise bike before plotting the day’s route for my GPS.
Fed, watered and packed we headed out, arriving at the start point of the walk – the top of West Wycombe hill – in time to head off at 11:30am.
I mentioned that the walk was shorter but it was considerably more hilly than the day before. The first hill was fine as we scrambled down the side of West Wycombe Hill but it wasn’t long before we started to head back up again, and didn’t my calf muscles know it?! They were screaming at me by the time we hit the top of the first incline. Not a good sign.
Unlike the previous day the vast majority of the walk was either across fields or through woodland which was all very pretty, even if most of the trees were bare and the paths were covered in fallen leaves. It wasn’t as muddy as the day before either which made for easier walking.
As we made our way through Common Wood at Downley my GPS battery gave up the ghost. I foolishly thought it would have enough battery for the day and so didn’t bother recharging it over night. Stupid! I should have known better than to do something like that. All wasn’t lost though. I got my phone out, loaded up the route on there as well as looking at Google maps. With a little bit of a minor detour we got back on track. Phew!
After that minor hiccough we soon found a bench just outside the woods where we sat for 15 or 20 minutes for our lunch stop. It was nice to have a proper seat to sit on, unlike the tree routes the day before.
Refreshed we headed off and made excellent time back to West Wycombe. The end of the route took us through West Wycombe high street, past all the old wood-beamed buildings but it meant we had to make our way up West Wycombe hill following the road we’d driven up to the car park at the top. It was a bit of a slog as it’s not exactly a gentle hill but we managed to get back to the car having taken two and half hours to cover the distance. Still not our fastest pace but better than the day before.
All in all it was a fantastic weekend in the lovely January fresh air. We had such a good time walking, talking and having a laugh. I can’t wait for our next free weekend to tick off some more of the 1001 walks!
Photos are now online if you’d not spotted them already.