As we set off from Frieth high on the hill above the Hambleden valley we were serenaded by birdsong and hardly anyone around. The walk down to Fingest is sensational with views across to Turville windmill, the village church in Fingest surrounded by typical brick and flint houses and the village pub – quintissential England! https://www.englandthisway.com/places/frieth.php
We are so lucky to have such a beautiful area to walk in, undulating countryside to provide the views and give us exercise up the hills.
From there to Turville Village and along the valley towards Skirmett before climbing back up the hill still in glorious sunshine through the beechwoods – beechnuts crunching under our feet which will be replaced by carpets of bluebells in a few months time.
Weather in a morning. This has been an interesting winter so far – pretty dry but some snow, storms and beautiful sunshine too.
Last week the 7.30am walk saw snow then bright skies and finally cloudy skies all in a few hours
On January 13th 4 people gained their Nordic Walking UK passport having completed the Learn to Nordic
walk course with Anthea Osborn-Jones of A Foot in the Chilterns Nordic walking.
They are now able to walk with any NWUK accredited instructor.
Classes took place in Hambleden village https://www.visitchilterns.co.uk/market-towns/hambleden-valley.html and Greys Court National Trust Property https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court near Henley on Thames https://www.visitchilterns.co.uk/market-towns/henley-on-thames.html
Following a steep and long walk around Ipsden and Wormsley we enjoyed a visit to the Walled Garden
Dating from the mid-1700s, the 2 acre gardens were originally designed by Richard Woods, a contemporary of Capability Brown.
Neglected for the better part of a century, the gardens were brought back to life when Sir Paul and Lady Getty commissioned distinguished garden designer Penelope Hobhouse to reimagine this beautiful space. Hobhouse divided the space into garden rooms, enabling visitors to move from “room to room” as they explore.
What a wonderful evening we were treated to at Greenfields where Andrew Ingram gave us a guided tour of his wildflower meadows. The weather was perfect – sunshine with a light breeze providing some respite from the day’s heat and Andrew’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the flora and fauna in the Chilterns is infectious.
In June this year a group of 20 Nordic walkers from A Foot in the Chilterns travelled to Seefeld in the
Tyrol. We were lucky to be guided by Friends who live there for much of the year – Gillian and Klaus Sichau whose knowledge of the area, the walks and just as importantly the best Alms was invaluable in making the holiday such a success.
A recce last year had identified Hotel Charlotte https://www.hotel-charlotte.com/tyrol/ to be the accommodation of choice and they certainly came up trumps. The location and facilities that the hotel offered and the way that they looked after us was fantastic. They managed a fairly diverse group with a variety of dietary needs and accommodation preferences and the presence of the spa with swimming pool greatly enhanced our health and wellbeing.
Outside Hotel Charlotte Seefeld
Flying to Innsbruck from Heathrow with British Airways was ideal and we were met by our hosts and a very effcient taxi service run by Mr Haslwanter http://www.taxihaslwanter.at/. There is an easy train journey with spectacular views from Innsbruck to Seefeld direct which is always an option especially if you are travelling light.
Seefeld is a charming village with a wide variety of walk options including some organised by the village. Our trip coincided with Corpus Christie festivals and we were treated to processions and religious ceremonies, Heart shaped fires lit on the top of the mountains and a host of other Tirolean traditions.
Lots of traditional dishes had to be sampled – the walking was neccessary to counteract the effects of all the extra calories. This all combined with near perfect weather conditions led to a most enjoyable week in the Tyrol.
Strange weather this year and the bluebells have flowered late but now they are splendid. The most wonderful shades of blue amongst the wild garlic, celandines and wood anenomes all amongst the canopy of fresh green beech leaves. The Chilterns really do look amazing.
Having posted walks most days in April where bluebells thrive, they kept us waiting a while and for most of the month there was the carpet of green leaves with no sign of any flowers. It is always amazing how they almost come alive overnight – one day there are hardly any visible buds and then they burst forth with that wonderful aroma and distinctive bright blue haze.
This year each plant seems to be having its moment of glory – first the snowdrops poking up their heads in cold weather and brightening up the woodland and churchyards, then primroses – fantastic banks of yellow flowers, celandines glistening in the early spring sunshine, the smell of wild garlic on woodland edges obvious before the white flowers came out and now the bluebells.
The Chiltern chalkland https://www.visitchilterns.co.uk/is a diverse and wonderful habitat with a number of nature reserves mostly managed by the Wildlife Trusts http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/. Farmers and the Chiltern Society https://chilternsociety.org.uk/ensure the legacy is there for all to enjoy while keeping up traditions and farming the land in a way that encourages the natural flora and fauna.
Beechwood in spring
The Maharaja’s well in Stoke Row has had its renovations completed. This unusual monument was a working well paid for by the Maharaja of Benares to provide water for the village. They also planted a cherry orchard to fund the ongoing maintenance of the well and a cottage next to it.
Many of our walks are around Stoke Row which has everything anyone would want for a good walk in the Chilterns countryside – several pubs, a wonderful village shop/cafe, lovely scenery, wildlife, woodland, country houses and so on
Nordic walking is best done on mixed terrain and there is plenty of that in this area
On Thursday a large group of us met for a Nordic walk with the highlight being a beautifully organised lunch at the Barn. Robin and his staff put on a fantastic feast and Glynis and Anne Marie organised the whole day perfectly including decorating the barn beautifully.
Thew Barn is truly on of the real Gems in the Chilterns – with fresh produce perfectly cooked, catering for special dietary needs and maintaining a low carbon footprint – being a no car cafe with very local produce. They champion local producers and work with local people – you really should pay them a visit