Since our trip around the Capital Ring in 2012 (covered in this blog) I’ve continued to do a fair amount of walking at weekends: I simply haven’t sat down and blogged about it. So here’s an account of two pleasant walks in the Chilterns, both sections of the Ridgeway National Trail which itself covers a route that has been in use since prehistoric times.
One walk, which we did a few weeks ago while schools were on their half-term break, was from Princes Risborough to Wendover. It’s easily accessible by public transport, because each end is served by a different arm of the Chltern Railways line out of Marylebone, and runs past Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence. Related to this, there’s a convenient pub at which to stop for lunch – the Plough at Cadsden – a couple of miles into the walk, which makes much of its proximity to Chequers, and which briefly hit the headlines a few years ago when David Cameron’s young daughter was accidentlly left behind when the rest of the family, and their entourage, had returned to Chequers.
Lunch at the Plough was excellent and substantial, appropriately so because this is a fairly hilly walk and a touch more strenuous than might be expected of a walk of this length, 6½ miles, around London. The walk starts with a significant climb leading to great views across Princes Risborough, and continues with a variety of scenery.
Because it’s part of a long-distance path, it’s well signposted and easy to follow. And a bonus at the end of May is that we caught the very end of the bluebell season. Maybe not quite the striking displays which we’d seen a few weeks earlier, but still enough bluebells to create a fine effect in the woodland stretches approaching the attractive small country town of Wendover.
About ten days later we followed this up with a walk starting at Wendover. From Wendover to Tring is slightly longer than the previous walk (8 miles), though on balance entails slightly less effort, because it’s less undulating. The easternmost point of the Ridgeway is in fact Ivinghoe Beacon, a few miles beyond Tring, and for anybody walking the Ridgeway in its entirety from west to east, the approach to Tring brings the first sight of their eventual destination. Another memorable feature of this stretch is a fine arched bridge which takes the path over a the A41 road, which runs in a wide cutting: it’s an unusually elaborate structure for one that only carries people on foot.
This section covers a mixture of countryside and parkland – Tring Park was cultivated in the 19th century by the Rothschild family and the walk runs through the park, above the town of Tring itself. Tring rail station is a couple of miles out of the town but is on the Ridgeway path. The local historians writing here record that in 1859 a correspondent to the Bucks Herald complained about the lack of a bookstall or catering facilities at the station. When we were there, the small, functional, station building was closed but there appears to be a coffee stall at some times during the week, which must qualify as one piece of tangible progress in 156 years.