30 September 2008


All day 3 pics here. Map at end of post.

The third day of our walk began with a bit of a rush after we dallied somewhat over breakfast and had to rush out to make sure we caught the hourly bus into Chinnor. Our packs seemed extremely heavy as we crossed the railway out of town (well, mine did!), and we weren’t particularly relishing the idea of another day like the previous one. We’d decided that if it stopped being fun, we would hop on a bus to get to the end! We climbed up and around Bledlow Ridge, enjoying the cool canopy, the autumnal colours, and avoiding the muddy sections of the path, and we met a lovely man with three gorgeous Dalmatians. He stopped to talk for a while and let us take a couple of pictures of his dogs. We liked him because he made all the right comments about the walk not being too long, but also being impressed with our pack-carrying.

Out of the woods, we walked through paddocks of cows, fields of wheat and poppies, up and down hills (including one grassy knoll), through a number of kissing gates and over a couple of stiles. There is a law that you have to kiss at kissing gates, you know. *shifty eyes*

The author of our guidebook seemed to have a very subtle sense of humour, as throughout the day we went up and down a number of hills. By the middle of the day, we were reading sentences like, “After you reach the peak, the path begins its inevitable descent to the valley below” [GET QUOTE]. Hills unfortunately tend to look less steep in pictures, so we engaged in some stunt-walking for the camera.

Fortunately, the hills each afforded us some lovely views of our destination and the surrounding countryside, and the HUGE Whiteleaf Hill above Princes Risborough has a New Stone Age long barrow and lots of informative history signs around the place. We stopped for a while, several times, and soaked up the atmosphere. I also used the opportunity to stick bandaids all over my sore foot. Well, 2 bandaids. And then we began our inevitable descent to our lunch spot – the Plough at Cadsden, where we ate 5 kinds of potatoes, and they provided bags for muddy walking boots. They also have what I kept reading as “Bearded Baby Plaice” on their menu.

The highlight of the early afternoon was taking refreshments at Chequers, the PM’s country house. The path hilariously goes between the gatehouse with all the security and the house itself, crossing the road and bordered with signs reminding us that we’d be TERRORISTS if we crossed the invisible lines. I made everyone stop beside the road within the boundaries so I could have a bite to eat and a mouthful of water and claim that I’d taken refreshments at Chequers. And now I have. It’s my favourite story.

We climbed up to the next ridge and walked along through the quite airy woods, emerging to amazing views of the Vale of Aylesbury. We stopped for tea at the Wendover monument, where we sat and conversed slightly hysterically before OUR NEMESISISES powered along, stopped for a few words with us and a brief look over the view, then sped off down the hillside. Again, we were put to shame by SRS WALKERS. Wendover proved to be quite pretty, and SJ and D bought some picnic supplies for our dinner before we hopped on a bus and arrived, sore-footed, at the shittest place I’ve had the misfortune of staying on this trip.

If you are ever in the area, I suggest you avoid The Five Bells and Weston Turville. They couldn’t find our key, they had builders in, the builders had used our room (which was littered with plaster, and someone had left us a lovely little surprise in the toilet), our key then didn’t work, so we were locked out. We had a picnic on SJ and E’s bed, and E (bless her ferociousness) sorted things out for us. They brought us up a bottle of wine and some profuse apologies, but really – if you are not running a full service (i.e. not checking that the room is clean, taking 20 mins to check us in, having undertrained staff), don’t charge full price. I will be writing for at least a partial refund, and if I don’t get it I will be reviewing it badly wherever I can. As an indicator of how bad it was, I haven’t even got any pictures of it – usually I make an effort to snap an outside view, a view from the window, and a pic of the room.

However, apart from that, the third day was lovely! We had some amazing views, and after a slightly difficult start and very sore feet by the end of the day, we were quite well. I recommend this area for day walks or shorter walks to everyone – and the autumn colours would be gorgeous right now! Here is a map of the day - possibly we were feeling better because it wasn't humongously long.