23 September 2008


For all the photos of this day, click here (4 pages). For a map of the second day's walk, scroll to the end of this post.

The second day of our walk dawned brisk and cloudy, and after a delicious breakfast (I was defeated, and couldn’t finish it!), we sent E off with her and SJ’s suitcases to the next place. As with the night before, the taxi driver thought we wanted to go to London. What? D, SJ and I grabbed some Kit Kats from our Egg of Mantombi fridge, said goodbye to our host and started off - through the back of the garden, and into the woods – making our way back to the main trail.

The day before had brought sunshine for most of it, and we had spent the first half of the day beside the Thames on fairly flat footpaths, while the second half had stayed mainly on the line of Grim’s Ditch (lots of little ups and downs, but few major hills). We were hoping that the coolness would keep up as we left the river further behind and started to do some more climbing, and we were generally quite lucky.

Our first wee rest was at Swyncombe Church, which has two main points of interest for me – one is the snowdrops in the church grounds (only in spring), and the other being the fact that one of the stained glass windows has, instead of a traditional religious scene, an RAF biplane and a farmer in a wheat field. My pic of that didn’t turn out so well. Our second rest came not long after, and was instigated by our first rather daunting looking hill, where the path dips down into a valley then climbs straight back up the other side. We stopped to take pictures of flowers and scenery. Good excuse! We used it a lot.

At the church, we were passed by an old man and a lovely dog going the other way. Later in the morning he overtook us again, and asked us where we were headed. “Chinnor,” we replied. “Oh,” said he, “that’s not very far.” We resolved from then on to LIE, LIE, LIE whenever someone asked us where we had come from or where we were going. That resolution was soon forgotten, however, when we came across a pig farm, AND PIGLETS!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! This was totally the highlight of the day! The piglets were so small that they could scamper right under the electric fence and they came over to say hello. Cute!

After a short discussion, we decided to go into Watlington for lunch. It’s only about 1km off the track, meaning we were only going to have to walk an extra 2km, but I reserved the right to say at a point 2kms before our destination, “You know, If we hadn’t gone into Watlington, we’d be there by now!” As it turned out, Watlington was quite lovely, and we not only saw lots of Midsomer Murders locations (including a shop from the Orlando Bloom getting stabbed with a pitchfork episode), but found the Granary Delicatessen, which is full of delicious cheese. Needless to say, we ate quite a lot of cheese for lunch.

Unfortunately the deli has, like the other shop we went into in Watlington, a very ‘local shop for local people’ vibe, and the shop people could do with a bit of a lesson in interacting nicely with strangers. However, what can you expect from a town where its major landmark (the triangular white mark on the hill nearby) was allegedly carved by a disgruntled priest in order to create the illusion when he looked from his rectory window that his church had a spire (it did not). ALLEGEDLY. You can see the white mark in the top left of this photo.

We pressed on after lunch, but we were all flagging as we approached the M40, and the Red Kites circled rather menacingly above us. This was a combination of second day weariness (despite our best intentions, we never did more than a day at a time of training), the extra hills, and the muddiness of the path. Mud and puddles (go together like love and cuddles – one of our great walking tunes) means having to cross from side to side all the time, and it means being constantly aware – it’s very draining. SJ stepped in a couple of large puddles, and she was much more good humoured about it than I think I would have been. Kudos to her.

This was us on our afternoon tea break. Exhausted. Tea, however, is our saviour, and we worship it with the kind of zeal usually reserved for cult leaders and football teams.

The tea revived us somewhat, and the blackberries along the path also helped me at least. I did eat quite a lot, as this charming photo shows.

The last stretch felt the longest – partly because it was rather extended, and partly because we kept stopping to read every possible sign, take photos and make slightly hysterical videos (I’ll post them later).

When we eventually stumbled into Chinnor, we sat at the bus stop and stuffed our faces with trail mix (well, I did). We then caught the bus the wrong way, got off, crossed the road, caught the bus the right way, got off, and stayed in a lovely place called the Inn at Emmington. The manager there went out of his way to accommodate vegetarian and gluten free guests, and the mushroom stroganoff was DELICIOUS!!! I highly recommend the Inn for dinner!

Anyway, Day 2 was the hardest day. I think we all agree on that!!! But we didn’t pike, we didn’t give up, and we didn’t break down. Yay team us! Here is the map of where we walked.


  1. The map does not do this day justice. It looks like such a little walk.

    My boot was quite muddy, wasn't it?

    In conclusion, piglets!

    (In other news, Jane and Cassandra Austen = codeword: sisters.)

  2. i know! i almost didn't post it! however, if you click through and select 'show elevation' it starts to look a little bit more impressive.


    also, yay we get to see you again tomorrow! i miss you already!

  3. piglets!! cheese!! eeeeep! Looks utterly wonderful. (Why am I now thinking about bacon? Mmm, bacon!)

    I want to see this "Orlando stabbed with a pitchfork" episode. Sounds entertaining and LOLarious.

    That pic with the blackberries made me LOL. Miss you. :D

  4. nix is not signed in5:31 pm, September 24, 2008

    re: the pic with the blackberries . . . I'VE CHANGED! (except really not, hee!)

    the piglets were SO SWEET! i have a little video of them, so i'll upload it to flickr later and share with the world. glee!

  5. the biplane window made me have a bit of a nerd wig out... a little... the english can never be too english..