R6: Sparsholt to Ogbourne St George 18.1 miles UFFINGTON

Once, in the Chilterns, we’d discovered a glade with an abandoned rope swing. We’d laughed at each other as we’d swung and glided among the trees.

Best accommodation… quirky Wendover

Best sleep…..cave-like Streatley

Best food …. our beginning at Aldbury

We hugged.

Emma got into her electric Green taxi and waved as it took her soundlessly out of Streatley towards Wantage and on to London.

I trudged back along the quiet lane up to where we had left the Ridgeway yesterday.

No Strada today… but my key aim and objective of the walk was ahead.

Rejoining the path west at Sparsholt Firs

A dog walker with earphones approached and I asked how far to Uffington.

‘Just 4km along the path’ he said ‘that’s where I’m parked, not far now’.

Twenty minutes later, a father and daughter approached…they were a little younger than me and Emma… but these were serious walkers, I spotted a tent and accosted them.

Yes they were walking the Ridgeway and had camped in a farmer’s field last night. He had just come back from a successful bid on the Pennine Way. I asked whether many people do it these days and he said that it was now fashionable to take it in as part of the Land’s End to John O’ Grotes trek.

Really…the peat bogs and the hypothermia….all my struggles over it and eventually the final conquest in 89…So now it was just a snack in a greater challenge !

A good conversation and a nice couple… but I felt chastened… and quite honestly a bit of a ‘light-weight’ as I walked on with my tentless rucksack and my fancy B & Bs…. it wasn’t a competition of course.

I paused for a drink… and the dog walker caught me up again.

‘Almost there’ he said.

I said that I wanted to see the White Horse because I was employed by the National Trust and had worked on the Cerne Abbas Giant.

‘ They’ve recently dated that’ he said ‘ I heard a podcast on it. A great thing to listen to when you are walking the dog’ He walked on.

I began thinking that perhaps I should listen to podcasts rather than just contribute to them. No twitter no instagram…I am falling behind. But my current conclusion is … in the time that I have… better to write this.. writing’s fun…a diary of sorts.

And then I was upon it….a National Trust Omega sign announcing White Horse Hill.

I crossed the long grass and sat on the escarpment edge and ate a picnic bar from the snack pack as I chatted to Jan on the phone. I could see the upper edge of the Horse’s head but the figure itself was roped off. A sign pointed to Dragon Hill.

Remembering the Cerne Giant viewing lay-by and the need to protect chalk figures from visitor foot fall erosion. I respectfully followed the signs down to Dragon Hill. There it was below me, a perfect viewing platform. How had I not read about this? I would check my David Miles book when I got home.

What a fine, prehistoric, designed monumental landscape this must be. The later Bronze Age uniquely flowing white horse lines etched in the hillside (OSL dated over 20 years ago and the inspiration of our Cerne Abbas sampling), created so that people could assemble on this high flat-topped mound looking back at the Uffington Horse.

Dragon Hill

A group of grumpy people were coming down Dragon Hill. An American woman was carrying a small dog. They looked disappointed.

I climbed the hill and my theory fell apart. I got sort of an oblique view of the horse. I should have listened…the dog walker had told me… ‘the best view is from the car park’

The disappointing view of the Horse from Dragon Hill

I sat on the grass and the wind blew my map away. It landed out of reach, I walked casually towards it and another gust sent it spinning to the edge of the platform. I dived after it and just caught it. Time to retrace my steps.

I headed back through Uffington hillfort which lies on the crest of the hill above the White Horse. It consists of two ramparts either side of a ditch with a western entrance. It once had an opposing entrance on the east but it was later blocked. This is a common pattern. It was built 8th-7th century BC and was used through much of the Iron Age and overlay Bronze Age evidence. A lot of Roman pottery had been found here.. and Anglo Saxon burials. A busy place archaeologically.

As much as I can say. The 1989-95 Uffington Project is published in the 2003 Oxford Archaeology book.. (see reference below)

The hillfort was being looked after well by NT. Rough grass and a few mole hills but nothing to see in them. I walked back to the stile and met a cyclist who had propped his bike against a black Ridgeway sign. He said he was cycling the 350km King Alfred’s Way and was loving it.

Just 2km west was Wayland’s Smithy an English Heritage megalithic long barrow managed by NT. It lies within a grove of beech trees and the legend tells how Wayland, the invisible Smith, will shoe your horse if you leave money. I didn’t have a horse so sat on a log and had lunch there. Looking at the stone facade and the burial chamber… where someone had left some flowers.

The site is an Early Neolithic communal burial monument but when Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson excavated here in 1962-3 they found two phases of burial, the first was an oval timber-chambered barrow containing the remains of 14 people and built around 3600 BC. The later was the stone chambered barrow of about 3400 BC. This too had bones representing family or clan groups but the megalithic barrow had been badly robbed. The site looks well preserved today but it is a reconstruction. Early 20th century photos show the large stones fallen and the mound dug over and damaged.

Waylands Smithy Megalithic long barrow

A quiet place, National Trust rangers had repaired erosion to the barrow mound and it looked good. I finished lunch just as a group of cyclists crashed into the clearing. I slipped away and a short while later stopped to take a photo of the information board…but there was no phone in the front pocket of the rucksack. I retraced my steps found the phone lying in front of the long barrow. Wayland had left it for me ( I must concentrate). Top tip always double check you have everything before moving on.

So… I was half way through the day and I was 8km into a 28km walk. I had devoted too much time to the archaeology and needed to push on.

I went past a large converted horse box on the path, tucked into a verge by the path… bicycle, car, chairs all overgrown.. a bit Mary Celeste.. What had happened here?

The abandoned horsebox beside the path

It was becoming overcast and there was a chill wind. I started to cough so put on extra layers. I got to a road, saw a pub but it was now an Indian restaurant… I looked too unsavoury and I was too late for hot drinks apparently.

I was tired by the time I crossed the M4, did a dog-leg across the Swindon road and threw myself down on a verge before the ascent to Liddington Castle.

I’d crossed the border into Wiltshire and was back in the South West! I peeled an orange in celebration as two blokes wandered down the hill towards me. One of them looked at me and said ‘Are you alright ?’ (oh dear, I must look rough).

‘I’m just resting, I’ve come a long way today. Is it OK to walk round Liddington Castle?’

‘Yes you just need to go right on the field boundary at the top of the hill. We live in Swindon and often go for walks here. We’ve been looking at the WWII decoy site up there. The diversion to stop them bombing the town and the railway works.’

We talked of barrows as monuments to be seen by a community and they talked of a grove of trees clearly visible from Swindon where people came to remember loved ones.

‘The trees are full of pictures and flowers and ribbons they said’

They wished me good luck and went on their way.

A few hundred metres on and I walked off the map. 170 went back in the rucksack and out came 157 Marlborough and the Savernake Forest.

No time for Liddington. I left its double ramparts behind me as I turned south. This is Wiltshire’s candidate for the 5th-6th century sub-Roman battle of Mount Badon. There are Badbury place names nearby. Being a Dorset archaeologist, the true location is Badbury Rings of course…..but there are other places available.

Liddington Castle from the black bench

I needed another Ridgeway black bench and one emerged in a perfect location sheltered by trees with huge views across the countryside. I looked back toward Liddington on the horizon. Emma rang, she was safe back in London.

The last part was a wearisome slow descent and encirclement of Ogbourne St George. I plodded along noticing how the patterns of blossom, floated down, settled on the ponds and were blown to the edges. One path had stripes where white and pink blossom alternated.

I needed a rest.

At last I found Ogbourne High Street and walked its length to get to the pub.

As ever, but particularly it seemed tonight…it was so great to be shown a room and to just crash out on a bed.

I still had a long way to go.

Miles, D., Palmer, S., Lock, G., Gosden,C. & Cromarty, A.M., 2003, ‘Uffington White Horse and Its Landscape, Investigations at White Horse Hill Uffington, 1989-95 and Tower Hill Ashbury 1993-4’, Oxford Archaeology Unit Monograph 18, Oxford University Press

R5: Streatley to Sparsholt, Segbury Castle 18.6 miles

It seemed that the Thames had been the boundary that had cut the walk in two.

Last night we’d had a drink in a smart bar by the twilight river.

The Thames at Streatley

In the morning, Emma decided she could spare another day. She had to be in London but was invested in the walk.

Refreshed, we donned rucksacks, left Streatley along a busy commuter A road, then to a lane, to a track to a path…up, up ..but now into something recognisable as Wessex style downlands. The wooded Chiltern Hills falling steadily and ever more distantly behind us.

The sign at the start of the path that ascended to the downs.

In an unploughed hollow near the summit, nice earthworks; gullies, terraces and house platforms. It was marked as ‘The Warren’ …I wondered what it was.

We had walked off OS 171 West Chilterns and onto the 170 Vale of the White Horse. I was closing on Uffington.

In front, high exposed chalky undulations.

Good progress, Emma checked strada… good pace, still over 5km an hour as we neared the top.

A brooding day, overcast and.. windy with the promise of rain.

Suddenly, a very large and insufficiently nervous rabbit, lolloped round a corner to confront us. It watched from the side as we walked past. The black ear tips gave it away, a young hare.

We spotted two women approaching us.

They seemed like rare Ridgeway compatriots so I confronted them… they said they were. They’d been overtaken by another walker but had met nobody else doing the walk since Avebury. I guessed he had been the one I’d seen on the other side of Grim’s ditch yesterday.

They were sisters from Trowbridge but had spend much of their life in Canada.. coming home for a while to re-experience Wiltshire and beyond.

They asked if we were going all the way to Overton Hill. I said I would keep going until I reached home in Warminster. ‘You can always change your mind they said’.

It was good to chat ..but as we walked on.. their comment was shocking….my destination was set.. change my mind indeed…something pretty drastic would be needed to deflect me from my goal… though of course drastic things do happen.

Then the hedges disappeared and we were out on the exposed Gallops. Well guarded land, lots of notices telling us to stick to the path.

I had promised a pub stop at East Ilsley but it turned out that the path kinked towards the village but turned back to the crest of the ridge. It was a long way down and then back up again…and pubs on maps can be notoriously fickle…and today would be our longest day so far. We couldn’t really afford another 4km.

So, we threw ourselves down on a verge against some bushes, for shelter, on the edge of the concrete track. I unzipped the blue snack pack and posed the question

‘picnic or double decker’

Both types of chocolate looked worse for wear after 80km.. but it was definitely a double decker day.

The verge between cyclists and equestrians

We lay back in the grass. Behind us, the ground vibrated with sets of approaching and diminishing thudding sounds… and in front of us the sudden rapid whizz of a set of bikers in uniform speeding by. Followed by more thudding behind.

We rested in an island between cyclists and equestrians.

Emma laughed at the sudden busyness of our bleak world.

Re-rucksacked we plodded on through a huge virtually tree-less landscape …broken only by the A34 underpass which was unexpectedly decorated by murals of the local village churches…though the art was faded and graffitied….it had seen better days.

The graffiti in the underpass

The rain came and went.

We were now into a landscape of large wheat fields. The wide wildflowered verges along the ribbon of our path. Regular signs told of an Oxford University investigation of wildlife restoration.

We approached another road with a car park… but before we got there.. an ideally placed black Ridgeway bench loomed up to welcome us. Another memorial to a walker who loved this place.

In the afternoon, a shower so intense that we had time to don full waterproof protection before it stopped.

Then another memorial that described an old war or rather an old warrior. Inscribed with Inkerman, Alma and Sevastopol. The Crimea, still in the news of course. This was really a love token from a wife to her lost husband. To remember Lord Wantage, Robert Loyd-Lindsay VC. A great local benefactor.

We sat on the steps to rest. While looking out over Oxfordshire, we read the inscription.

“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. Psalm 121.

We prepared to move on. A dog barked at us as its owners walked past.

Mid afternoon, 10km to go and we were slowing.

At the the A road down to Wantage, we saw a sign which told us that the Ridgeway centre was just up the road (imagine the potential civilized delights in such a place) but no time for the deviation (top tip: do less miles a day and see more).

The sign beyond Segbury Camp

A few hundred metres further on brought us to Segbury Camp. We rested as the sun came out and observed the ramparts while peeling a clementine. A dig in 1871 found an Anglo-Saxon grave against the southern rampart (a secondary intrusion) but excavations from 1996-7 found dating evidence to show Segbury had been occupied from the 6th-2nd century BC..so early to mid Iron Age as would be expected… but we needed to meet Sharon at 5.30pm.

We aimed for the Devil’s Punchbowl and Sparsholt Firs…and slowly, slowly we approached them. The Punchbowl was a deep,steep coombe and our path followed its south side. Just beyond it, the Firs marked the road we would take down into civilisation.

The day had been remote and far from nearly any occupied building. To find somewhere to stay, I had booked a place in one of the spring-line villages 2km downhill at the foot of the Ridgeway.

A long quiet lane took us down to Sparsholt and we found Sharon waiting. The pub had been emptied of facilities while being refurbished, but the barn was still occupiable. She showed us around and said she would be back with breakfast in the morning.

We crashed out and eventually found the strength to order pizza from Wantage.

Revived, we explored Sparsholt and noted the Platinum Jubilee itinerary on the signposts and the gathering bunting. The church was huge and its stones from various geological sources were steadily being revealed under peeling render.

Sparsholt Church

A barn owl flitted white and silent between the trees.

R4: Watlington to Streatley, Grim’s Ditch 16 miles

Last night, with our pub closed, we were forced out into wider Watlington and due to lack of alternatives settled for a Thai meal in another pub. Emma said that it would be fine… and it was.

Breakfast observed by Cluedo sugar confections. Rev Green 2nd from left.

This morning, we had found a cafe in the brick and timber-framed High Street… and were eating smashed avocado on toast overlooked by a line of unexpected… but finely crafted, sugar confection Cluedo characters. . Colonel Mustard looked on disapprovingly as we discussed the day.

With a missed tutorial and an assessment due in a few days, Emma needed to get back… so this would probably be her last day. A convenient train station beckoned in Goring… at the end of today’s walk.

We stocked up in the local shop and retraced our route to the Ridgeway and soon reached our first Ridgeway information board map. This time with a faded photo of a smiling man pinned to it.

Watlington High Street

there were some words on the back….’almost finished my love, wishing you were here to help me complete this walk’.

We fell quiet.. and when, later in the day, we found another photo of the middle-aged man…still smiling but fallen and lying in the grass… we fixed him back to the information board where his widowed wife had placed him, before walking on.

We found a large, ultra-modern farm …and a few fields beyond, the cluster of brick and flint ruins which had once been North Farm. The economies of scale and the changing needs of agriculture.

Woods and fields: up and down over hills, we bumped into the flint St Botolph’s church, a quiet place near a hidden mansion house. We sat on the bench by the porch and a lady invited us in to see the wall paintings. The opposing entrance arches, though one was now blocked, had the simple semi-circular look of the Saxon period and the apsidal ended chancel was very rare.

The chancel apse, St Botolph’s Chruch, Swyncombe

The apse’s open decorated stars and vine leaf motifs reminded me of the 13th century painting I had seen uncovered in 1996 at NT’s Treasurer’s House in Martock, Somerset.

Yes, St Botolph’s paintings were also 13th century ‘but restored when the Victorian’s rediscovered them’ the lady watering the church flowers told us.

They looked good..

A fluctuating day of warm sunshine but with sudden showers.

The rain came down just as we entered a wood…. but the Chilterns West OS map promised a pub on the other side. There it was…. and open… but now turned into a tea shop. Emma plumped for something extravagantly herbal and I had English Breakfast…. though we shared a delectable apple and blackberry sponge cake.

Then sunshine again. A huge field of Oxeye daisies flickering white, almost full open… about to ignite…

We spoke of … imbalances…the established privileges of the political class.. why should people be allowed to inherit? Why should people fill their lives with the mundane? That every choice in life may close a door on another… we pondered opportunity cost …..as we dropped down into ‘Grim’s Ditch’

Grim’s Ditch

This was an impressive earthwork, shrouded in secondary neglected woodland which included many fading or dead ash trees. A serious looking walker was glimpsed briefly on the far side. Perhaps a fellow Ridgeway devotee.. but heading towards Ivinghoe.

Grim’s Ditch is undated, about 10m wide and 3-4m deep and sometimes with a surviving bank on the north side. We followed it west for over 5km to the River Thames. It is presumed that this was a Late Iron Age territorial /defensive boundary though its straightness reminded me of something like the early medieval /sub Roman Wansdyke (due to be crossed in Wiltshire), dividing up political units about 1400 rather than 2000 years ago. However, the Iron Age of the east is comparatively sophisticated and differs from the West Country….I was out of my territory here.

A long walk, weaving through trees… we spent our time looking at arborglyphs. There was MP again, someone had been carving that into trees since we started. Liz was 4 Gary but nothing was older than 1963, none were deeply cut and they were all gently fading back into the bark. Past moments and voices fading.

A phone call…’Mr Papworth?’ I trudged through a puddle ‘Yes’

‘it’s Sharon at the pub at Sparsholt, just checking you are still staying with us tomorrow night. You know the kitchen has been stripped out and there is no food’

‘Yes someone let me know a few weeks ago and I said it was OK but forgot to say I was walking so will not have transport. Are there other places in the village to eat?’

‘I can hear you walking now… no, I’m afraid that the next place is over 2 miles away’

‘Oh’ …I imagined an evening of dry roasted peanuts and nibbling a walk-crushed Double Decker.

‘Unfortunately, only Dominoes Pizza are willing to deliver food from Wantage’

‘That’s fine’

‘You don’t mind? That’s good, I’ll see you tomorrow’

We held on for the Thames. I had promised a quiet grassy riverside bank for lunch but the Grim’s Ditch went on and on and when the path did turn along the River… there was no wide flowing waterway in sight… instead, the path was lined with a golf course.. so at 1.30 we crashed out on a verge with a Watlington pasta pot and a Warminster picnic bar.

At North Stoke, the path took us close to the river via the parish church with its more doomy and messy 14th-century wall paintings (I much prefer 13th century….I guess, pre-pandemic, things tended to be more decorative and upbeat).

14th century wall paintings North Stoke Church

Suddenly; buildings, private landings and golf courses fell away and the dreamed for quiet meadow beside the Thames materialised. We settled down and watched geese honking as they drifted up river… doing nothing in particular. Then a flash of turquoise beside us as a Kingfisher projectile flew low and fast across the broad flowing water…. and then another.

A finely made brick and stone bridge, courtesy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, built to carry the GWR trains across the Thames.

Brunel’s Great Western Railway bridge across the Thames

Through a deserted South Stoke and then we were in Goring, a place which had clearly been fashionable in the later 19th century. Lots of wealthy villas with their riverside views and boat houses.

The last bit always seems the longest.

We crossed the Thames by the Streatley bridge and trudged uphill a little until we found the pub.

Rucksack grooves in our shoulders, we were aching but the blisters were minor and things were still OK.

The Thames at South Stoke

R3: Wendover to Watlington: Pulpit Hill 17.5 miles

We walked out of Wendover at 9.30am.

Emma looked around ‘I don’t think it’s real. The whole place will probably dematerialise when we cross the railway bridge’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well the information board was upside down’

‘True.. and the people…All larger than life, the ancient waiter and the eccentric landlord.. the disturbance in the bar and the police.. perhaps we were in a game of Cluedo or a late 60s episode of the Avengers’

Wendover disappeared behind us as we turned left and we started the slow trudge up to the Ridgeway.

The wide views again and a monument at the highest vantage point. A large stone structure erected in 1903 in memory of those who died in South Africa during the Boer War.

The Boer War memorial above with views north towards Aylesbury

There are few archaeological sites associated with this conflict but Bath Skyline has Flatford Camp, a military training barracks set up in 1892. It is shown on the 1904 OS map but on no other editions.

1904 2nd edition OS map showing the Boer War training camp on Rainbow Wood Farm, Bath

Our path took us down through deciduous woodland. The sky overcast, the trees brooding… no dappled light today.

We reached the National Trust property of Pulpit Wood and Grangelands.

Reconstruction drawing of Pulpit Hill hillfort on the NT property website.

Above us, hidden by trees, was a later Bronze Age – earlier Iron Age small hillfort on the brow of Pulpit Hill. Double bank and ditch around its east and north facing edges; univallate to west and south, where the slope of the hill is much steeper. A single clear entrance on eastern side, where the ground is flat. The need to control access along the Ridgeway was clearly important.

‘How are we doing’

‘Average speed 4.6km per hour and we are approaching the 5 miles out from Wendover’

‘Where?, you know, that mirage we stayed in last night’.

Our path followed a row of security posts across a field with some battered signage on each one saying it would be wrong to cross the sign line into the wheat field on our right. It warned of security cameras (It all looked a bit low tech to me). We walked across an entrance drive behind the security gates for Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat. I spotted the great house in the distance.

The Ridgeway path crossing the entrance drive to Chequers

I thought it was quite British… and understated… that Boris and Biden might screech to a halt to let a couple of Ridgeway walkers pass by before international negotiations.

This is an AONB after all… and barbed wire, searchlights, high fencing and armed soldiers would certainly detract from the aesthetic experience of the National Trail.

Our walking banter was of English sayings. ‘You wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth’

‘What’s that mean anyway?

‘It’s linked to ‘Too long in the tooth’


‘You know… when you buy a horse… you always look in its mouth to see how old they are based on the length of their teeth.’


11am, we crossed a road and bumped into a public house. Extraordinary! How perfectly timed.

‘Well, you wouldn’t look a gift pub in the barrel, particularly if you just wanted a cup of coffee and one of those nice biscuits’

This was a useful rest as there was a steep climb through woodland after the pub. I said to Emma that it would be a shame if I just went bang. She thought it would be a shame and perhaps a little awkward.

Up, up onto Whiteleaf Hill with a great scenic view over Princes Risbororough beside a mutilated Neolithic earthen long barrow.

There were so many Red Kites. We counted a group of 15 circling (we’d run out so they introduced some from Spain a few years ago….they’ve done everso well).

We walked down towards the town. A little muntjac deer emerged from cover and watched as we passed.

We took an erratic course along a minor road, across two railway lines and a golf course.

Everywhere much quieter on a week day. Just the odd dog walker.

At the crest of another hill, at one o’clock, I checked in with Emma for a progress report.Half way, 8.7 miles, our speed average 4.65km per hour and a miraculous Ridgeway seat appeared. We sat on it to see yet more Red Kites wheeling in the sky.

Lunch time Ridgeway seat.

We were ready to consume the wonders we had picked up in Tesco Express. Ginsters pasties regular and vegan and easy peelers. Today’s top tip is to always buy the best because dehydration when walking is a thing and an easy peeler bursting with clementine juice is a huge jolt after a long morning.

This luxurious lunch break has lulled you into a false sense of security.. because…. in fact.. there was jeopardy pent up and ready to strike as the day progressed towards its end.

Last night, the forecast had been one of continuous rain storms building from the east and the further we got from London…. by late afternoon… the better.

The meander stopped and we did a left onto the Swan Way that headed straight south west for 5 miles carrying us to our destination…. Watlington.

We pressed on… the sky increasingly gloomy. The tunnel under the M40 framed nicely the landscape beyond, then through some woods, and suddenly, a violent commotion as a sausage shaped animal with a black tail-tip leapt across our path to disappear into the undergrowth on the other side. ‘Stoat’ we said… a rare glimpse.

The Ridgeway sign near the M40

Then it rained and we changed into water proofs and it stopped and we got hot so took them off again and then it rained properly….so they went back on…. as we left the path and walked the mile into Wattlington. Emma googled the pub….. it was closed… but there was a note on the door directing us to our rooms. Phew, we had made it.

R2: Aldbury to Wendover, Ashridge Forest 8 miles

It was Sunday, so before leaving Aldbury, we stopped for a while in the medieval church of John the Baptist.

We were welcomed in, placing our rucksacks near the font

13th-century wall painting decorating the apse of St Butolph’s Church, Swyncombe

We took communion and shared the peace, worshipping God together like so many before us. We gathered and exchanged vine branches and fixed them to our rucksacks, taking them with us as we walked out into the Buckinghamshire countryside.

This land was new to me, we were walking through parts of Ashridge…. one of the great… National Trust estates. I had heard of it from Angus, fellow NT archaeologist.

Extending over 8000 acres, it has over 3,600 ancient and veteran trees; more than any other NT property.  The biggest trees lie within the Frithsden Beeches, a lapsed wood pasture full of ancient beech pollards.

Ashridge was a monastic estate founded in 1283, the medieval woodlands were established over more ancient field systems and a network of other archaeological earthworks which can now be mapped beneath the trees using LiDAR.

Just a short walk today… we would pick up pace.

Soon we were back at Tring railway station, 24 hrs after we left it and still with 125 miles to go.

I said to Emma we’d had a gentle start…things would become more intense. No problem for her of course.

I clutched my North Chilterns 181 OS map..tracing my finger along the green diamonded line that wound its way across the paper. ‘You Boomers’ she said, ‘I can track our course by smart phone’..

‘You Millennials’ I smiled ‘you’ve lost the art of map reading, the wider view’

We compromised with Strada ….and Emma plotted us digitally… giving distance and our pace in kms per hour.

Beyond Tring, our hedged path took us through buttercup fields. Then over a high narrow bridge arching over the deep cutting of the busy A41. A bright blue sky, criss-crossed by plane vapour trails. A lorry honked us as we entered countryside again.

Skyscape across the A41

Lunch was submarine rolls from Aldbury post-office with a view back to Ivinghoe Beacon.. and then we entered the woodland of Tring Park.

A dappled day, bright sunlight flickering in flecks and circles through the tree canopy. A long avenue with sudden wide vistas out over the escarpment. Every tree trunk unique.. gnarled, nobbled, smooth, grained and architectural. We enjoyed the patterns and textures as Emma captured images for a future design.

A dappled hollow-way, Boddington Hill near Wendover

The woodland became less ordered, it wound past long abandoned hollow-ways cut by overgrown quarries. There were the last nub ends of bluebells, the verges now brightened by red campion and cow parsley.

On the outskirts of Wendover a large church with advance notices of Jubilee celebrations, then the park busy with people enjoying the late afternoon sun.

We found the accommodation and Emma phone-tracked a Tesco Express… we needed to reload the fruit pouch with easy peelers.