Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire, UK
I had the chance to go to London with the family for 10 days and I was determined to get a country walk or two in during this time. I began my internet research and quickly found the website of the Saturday Walkers Club. I highly recommend it if you find yourself looking for an easy way of getting out of London and enjoying a walk in the countryside.
Their website, www.walkingclub.org.uk describes themselves:
The Saturday Walkers Club (SWC) is a London and South East England based walking and hiking club. The club:
Most of the walks contain very detailed walking instructions (no OS Map required!). However, all the walks have OS Explorer (1:25,000) mapping which you can print for free, and many have GPS files for your smart-phone or sat-nav.
With around three hundred walks the main problem is choosing one. I arbitrarily chose the ‘Wendover Circular via The Lee and Swan Bottom.’ There were frequent trains along the line to Oxford, it was about 20km through woods, historic villages, farmland and I got to visit a place called The Lee. I downloaded the walk notes and bought the topo map online and was ready to go on arriving in London. I didn’t go on one of their organized walks, I did this one by myself and found the trail well marked and easy to follow. I really didn’t need to use my GPS at all.
The walk starts at Wendover Railway Station about an hour out of London. I did the walk in reverse to their notes so I could time lunch at the pub in The Lee. You quickly climb up to Coombe Hill, part of the Ridgeway where a Boer War monument overlooks the valley with its farms and woods. You then follow the well-marked trail into the woods which were damp and green with many plants in flower. Being a weekday I saw very few other people. Coming out the woods I passed old farmhouses with fields of ripening corn and red poppies everywhere. This really was the nature of the whole walk, quite dense woods of birch or beech perhaps, lots of birds and flowers interspersed with farmland. There were occasional stone age/bronze age earthen work fortifications. There were great views as you topped the ridges of the Chiltern Hills.
I arrived at The Lee in time for lunch and this turned out to be an interesting old village built around an oval shaped green. It had many old homes and a very old church that was interesting to walk around. The pub had a great lunch and turned out to brew a few of its own ales. It had a great view overlooking the village green.
Up until then the weather had just been cloudy with occasional bursts of sunshine but it began to drizzle steadily after lunch. Fortunately the remaining 9km passed by three village pubs and I was in no hurry to get back to the station as trains were frequent.
Overall is was a lovely walk despite the afternoon weather and easily achievable with the info supplied by the Saturday Walkers Club.