Sundays. Even the greyest ones. The most unmistakably January ones. Who doesn’t love them? Throw in a hearty, cobweb-blowing walk with fun friends and it’s the perfect way to see out a weekend.
We started the day with bacon butties and Bloody Marys to banish the effects of the night before. Then off we went to the Three Horseshoes Inn at Bennett End, Radnage – the start and end point of our walk. Parking up at the pub, we made our way downhill towards Grange Farm Road.
The route, approximately 3 miles, is just long enough to raise some cheek colour and sweat out our excesses. And to give our London friends a taste of the Chiltern countryside – gorgeous, even against the grey backdrop of January.
The first mile is a flat bridleway surrounded by open farmland. I was pretty pleased with how well Dave and I were playing the roles of Hardy Country Folk. Pointing out different characteristics of the Chiltern landscape. Identifying various game birds. We were probably making most of it up, but I was starting to convince myself we’d just about pass as countrified. Then, mid-monologue about red kite population, I took off into a sprint, startled by a pheasant who had come a bit too close for comfort. A pair of Hunter Wellies and one episode of Countryfile do not a ruddy rural chick make.
Our route took us sharply right through a muddy passage, where the track forked. Favouring a short walk (of course), we turned right again and up the mega-steep hill into the trees. This was the test. 500 yards of slippery slope to conquer. Too far along to turn back. We put our heads down and powered on.
At a clearing in the trees, near the crest of the hill, two Muntjac Deer crossed my path. Too slow to capture the moment on camera (must sign up for that outdoor photography course), I watched them as they eyed us (Dave’s paprika cords especially) with suspicion and bolted downhill behind us.
Having survived the toughest part of the route, we were reinvigorated for the remainder of the walk. The fact it was all downhill from here helped too.
We turned right at the bottom of the hill and traced the outer edge of the woodland. Give or take a few deep plunges into sludgy mud puddles, we were on the home straight. Passing a farm on the right, we rejoined the original flat track where the pheasants lay in wait once again. Half running, half trotting, we headed back along the open stretch and then up the hill to the safety of The Three Horseshoes.
If well known drinks brands did January walks. Delightful.
Do you have a favourite Chiltern walk you could recommend? Please leave a reply below if so!