I realised on 1 April that it was only two months until Ramblers Cymru’s Big Welsh Walk in Ceredigion. In a rash moment I signed up for 20 miles, and I can’t remember when I last walked that far. So definitely time for some practice.
I set off on an eight-mile walk from Turville. This was the same walk that I did on 26 March last year though this year it was muddier. I go anti-clockwise, taking in Ibstone church, Hellcorner, the Wormsley valley, Northend and then along the county boundary with Oxfordshire for some distance before heading north-east to Turville Heath and thence to Turville.
The Chiltern hills are generally less steep and numerous than those in Ceredigion, but there were some ups and downs. The first hill is at the start of the walk.
I followed the path through Parsonage Wood to Hellcorner.
Then I came to the top of the Wormsley Valley. Thirty years ago I sat here and looked down on Hale Wood where red kites were first introduced.
Today the view is entirely obscured by secondary growth of ash.
To start with I kept my binoculars in my backpack, the aim being to keep walking. However, when I reached Hale Wood I heard a bird calling and out came the bins. I managed to spot a treecreeper, which began to sing (quite like a chaffinch), and there was another one singing further away.
The second hill is the bridleway up to Northend.
It’s a lovely old track and should probably be recorded at a higher status than bridleway.
I then walked along the edge of Northend Common and saw my first goldcrest of the year (late, I know).
As I mentioned last year, Turville footpath 24A, from Northend to the county boundary to the west, has been fenced in. It seems pointless and has resulted in the path becoming extremely muddy.
The path continues in a straight line, diagonally across part of a field, to join the bridleway on the county boundary at grid reference 728926. It has been waymarked as a dog-leg along the hedge, an irritating mistake which I have reported to the council.
It was good to see a pair of yellowhammers flying in and out of the hedge.
The county boundary used to have hedges on both sides, but these have been reduced to a lone tree. I am glad it is still there.
I followed the county boundary past Turville Park Farm, and then turned north-east up Turville footpath 23. This path is always marked out with different cultivation either side. This was the third main hill on the walk.
At the top, a fine oak tree in the field south-east of Turville Park is reminiscent of the old parkland.
Some Jacob sheep and lambs were a cheering sight.
And then it was back over Turville Heath, past Turville Court and through the woods to home.
I certainly could have gone further, but whether I could have done that distance one and a half times over to make the total 20 miles, in hillier country, I’m not sure. Oh well, there are still two months to go before the challenge of the Big Welsh Walk!