A WALK IN THE WOODS

A walk in the Buckinghamshire countryside always reminds me of Russell and Callie, and a couple of Sundays ago was no exception when we took part in a 10 km charity walk in aid of the Child Bereavement Trust UK.

The walkstarted and finished at The Chequers pub in Fingest, a delightful village tucked away in the Chiltern Hills, and only about 20 minutes from home. It was a beautiful October morning, clear blue skies, a few fluffy white clouds, and unseasonably warm for the time of year.

Four of us plus dog turned left from the car park and took the footpath leading uphill into the woodland. The leaves were starting to turn vivid oranges and browns, carrying with them the smell of autumn. We saw the occasional squirrel scurrying in the undergrowth, no doubt collecting nuts to store away for the winter. The footpath was dry underfoot in spite of the heavy rain of the previous day, and the dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy above made patterns on the carpet of leaves beneath our feet. We climbed higher, keeping to the edge of the woodland enjoying the spectacular views over the valley to our left; if we didn’t know the area we could have been forgiven for not realizing how close we were to the M40; all we could hear were the sounds of the woodland and the distant voices of other families enjoying the walk.

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On reaching Twigside, we made a sharp left turn and continued uphill to meet the road leading to the ancient village of Ibstone. The village is on the boundary of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and its name is derived from the Anglo Saxon for “boundary stone”. It was near Ibstone that several pairs of red kites were re-introduced into the Chilterns about 25 yeas ago; they have been very successful and there are now around 1000 breeding pairs in the area.

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We made a short detour across the common to look at the Millennium Stone, a huge standing stone, erected to mark the year 2000. Red kites were circling overhead, changing direction with just a mere flick of a wing tip, mewing softly in the late morning sunshine. As we were now roughly half way we decided to call in at The Fox for a drink to help us get round the second half of the walk.

Millennium Stone, Ibstone
Millennium Stone, Ibstone

Our route then took us along the back of the common to start the descent through another picturesque beech wood.

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The trail dropped steeply through the woods to a path running along the side of the valley. The whole area was littered with flints, and my mind was swept back over the millennia to imagine the people who had passed this way before us; what were their lives like? Did they also look out over the valley and admire the view? Or were they more pre-occupied with catching their next meal and building a shelter for the night? I could have spent hours here, looking for an axehead or arrowhead left behind by the prehistoric occupants of this valley, but that will have to wait for another time. We continued along the path to the pretty little church of St Nicholas, some parts of which date from the 12th century.

St Nicholas Church, Ibstone
St Nicholas Church, Ibstone

We stopped in the churchyard to take a few photos, and than continued down the hill towards Turville. Emerging from another beech wood on to farmland we walked past fields of sweet corn above the valley and looked down on the kites as they swooped and circled over the fields looking for food. The views over the valley were spectacular, and as we rounded the last bend before reaching the village we could just see the sails of a windmill peeking above the trees to our left.

Ibstone Windmill
Ibstone Windmill

Turville is another pretty village nestled among the Chiltern Hills, it is probably most famous for being one of the locations for filming the TV series The Vicar of Dibley. The main street was buzzing with walkers, tourists and locals. The village pub looked like it was doing a good trade in Sunday lunches, and as we passed the church the peace was momentarily interrupted by a very noisy Ferrari, looking quite out of place amongst the old cottages around the village green.

Turville
Turville

From Turville we started uphill again, passing below the windmill – a smock mill built in the early 19th century, replacing a much earlier one; it is now a private residence, and like the village it overlooks, has been used as a location for films and television. We were now on the final stretch of our walk, and it wasn’t long before we again entered Fingest, past the church and into The Chequers for a well-earned lunch and drink. We had a really good time which could only have been improved by the addition of a special person and his dog; we will definitely be going on the next walk, would anyone like to join us?

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This had been a most enjoyable walk through some of the most beautiful countryside you could wish to find, with the added bonus of raising funds for a very worthwhile charity. http://www.childbereavementuk.org

Child Bereavement UK supports bereaved children and families who have lost a child of any age. It is a national charity based in the Wycombe area, and they organise several events over the year to raise much-needed funds.

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