After the previous day’s National Trust gentle jaunt, it was back to some serious walking for this wander through the North of the Chilterns. Now most of us were confused in some way or other by the travel instructions, from Marylebone to Chesham. Not least me who for the third time now have paid the return train fare on this line, when my Oyster would have taken me all the way to Chesham. Thus I only really needed a single ticket back from Wendover to Amersham. Hopefully by the time I get to lead my Chequers walk, I will get it right and save some money. Another member getting it wrong was the guy who pulled his car up outside Chalfont & Latimer for the irregular branch line to Chesham, only to see us pull out and thus requiring him to come and chase us in his car.
All this served to wind up our leader who was fretting about missing the hourly train home, before the walk had even started, and which was to become a theme throughout. Thus given that he is one of the fastest walkers in IVC, this served only to encourage him to really push the pace, and for quite a few stretches I was the only one (when I had a mind to) who could catch him up and stay with him. That said I found it refreshing to be walking at a decent pace, and according to my (pinch of salt) GPS, when we were moving (as opposed to waiting for everyone to catch up) we averaged 3.5mph throughout the walk.
At one point whilst comparing general GPS readings with our (much slower) leader of all leaders, I popped mine back in my rucksack side pocket and walked on. By some miracle I decided I would get it out again to give it a second check, only to discover I had missed the pocket and thrown it some way back on the ground (thankfully its bright yellow casing called out to me to in the Sun to come and rescue it). Thus by this time the Sun had come out to give a much brighter day than Saturday, and one that was slightly less humid as well. Our nine strong group also found itself being joined at different points by two small dogs and further on by two larger ponies.
Lunch was at the Cock and Rabbit which seemed part pub and part Italian bistro. Thus the Don Corleone figure who took our orders at the bar left one in no doubt about the authenticity of the establishment, or the potential consequences if you didn’t pay your bill. The rather impressive young waitress also had an Italian name, so we are definately talking family here (if you know what I mean). Anyway given that my flat is full of ready meals coming near their sell by date (plus the fact that I had fish & chips in the pub yesterday, thus limiting my choices) I chose to slurp away on the vegetable soup and garlic bread (+ pint of Strongbow).
Post lunch and our leader went straight back into his fretting about the train mode. All of this was quite amusing given that on the one hand he felt we had to be at Wendover station for five o clock, but on the other hand didn’t actually know when the train actually left. Even more amusing was that soon afterwards he had taken us all on a wrong turn, confirmed by yours truly’s GPS (not that I was given any thanks for this assistance). Thus our leader then officially announced with some exasperation that we now had no chance of making the five o clock (?) train, an opinion he was continually to revise throughout the rest of the afternoon.
After walking through a number of beautiful sunbaked Weetabox fields, we eventually picked up the Ridgeway (parts of which I covered on the Coombe Hill/Chequers excursion). Running alongside it was basically a sheer drop into a valley below. The only problem being that our leader required us all to descend straight down it (paths not included). This however was too much for four of our group, who led by the slower leader of all leaders, decided they were taking a different route at this point. Wisely, given age and ability considerations, they decided risking missing the train, was better than risking breaking their necks. Anyway five of us did it, although it was certainly precarious not least for the bracken and wood one had to trip ones way through (believe me the picture does not do this descent justice). No sooner had we reached the bottom of this valley however, we were then required to make an immediate ascent back up the lions share of Boddington Hill. Yet even then the endurance test wasn’t over, as yet again we were required to make the steepest of descents again. This time yes, it was on a smooth wide path, however such was the drop you could barely stop yourself from breaking into a run down it.
Once all that aerobic activity had come to a finish we walked through the virtually closed town of Wendover, arriving at the station at 1645, leaving us plenty of time for the 1713 train to Marylebone. Thus according to my (pinch of salt) GPS, we had covered 10.2 miles which our leader seemed in broad agreement with. There was some worry whether the other four who had taken a different route would make the train, but despite adding another mile, they were all present and correct on the platform by 1705.