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
On Saturday 23rd September 2017 walkers from A Foot in the Chilterns completed 5 or 10 mile walks in aid of TVAA.
Upper Thames Rowing Club http://www.utrc.org.uk/ kindly allowed us to use their club house as walk HQ and a beautiful sunny autumn day made for a fun time while raising much needed funds for a very worthwhile cause https://www.tvairambulance.org.uk/
It really was a team effort with fantastic marshalls, walk leaders, back markers, cake makers and of course walkers and sponsors.
Ruth Dunkin the fundraiser for the charity was on hand to welcome walkers back to the club, Henley and the surrounding area was looking marvellous in the sunshine and as we all packed up and said our goodbyes we reflected on a job well done.
A Small group of us set off for Purbeck and the NWUK festival on September 14th. Despite a heavy shower en route the sun came out when we arrived and the hub was bathed in sunshine on the edge of the sea.
The marquee had apparently blown away the day before so had to be replaced and thankfully the only casualty was organisation of the event which was set back a bit – no injuries from a flying marquee.
Once settled in to the wonderful cottage that Glynis had found for us, complete with hot tub we had a very convivial evening with food prepared by Mark and Mick and a little liquid refreshment to start us off.
Friday morning dawned and we togged up in our walking gear – new A Foot in the Chilterns coordinated shirts and fleeces – and Mick took us back to Swanage for our first walk – Swanage to Corfe Castle
along the ridge.
My next walk was starting from Church Knowle and was a beautiful walk but involved about 22 stiles which with 26 people was interesting. Pete was leading and was very good fun and Emma as back marker had her work cut out. Due to the stiles and overgrown path I had to make a run for it back to my car to get to the Advanced technique workshop back at the hub. From there it was back to the house to collect Linda for an amazing evening walk around Arne Nature reserve led by one of the rangers.
A very large group of Nordic walkers did not make for many sightings of wildlife but we learnt a lot and soon arrived at our camp fire supper. A delicious vegetable curry eaten sitting on logs around the fire and making new friends. Then back to the cars adorned with headlamps to light our way and falling in to bed.
The next morning it was back out again for another full day of activity – this time I was adorned with an Orange T shirt, hat and a whistle as back marker. The walk was Corfe to Creech for coffe and back to Corfe. David found us some amazing views and a lovely coffee shop with delicious Dorset ice cream as well as the coffee and cakes on offer.
Then back for lunch and for me it was off to the Power Hill Training with Marko – glorified circuit/interval training with Nordic walking poles which gave amusement to passing tourists and residents as we ran, leapt and walked up hill interspersed with squats and press ups. The aching abs lasted a while! A quick dash back to the house for a shower and spruce up and then all off to the barbeque at the hub and to attend the prize giving from the 16 mile challenge and speed hike.
As the sun set it became pretty cold and the fleeces came in handy but we soon decided drinks back at the house would be more pleasurable. Linda then had the bright idea of putting our hot tub in to commission – ‘a foot in the tub’ and even posing with a nordic walking pole each. It was in fact very effective at easing away any aches and pains from over exertion.
Our last morning dawned to lovely sunshine. Mick and Anne-Marie were leaving for Devon so once we had cleared up the house and packed up we were off for our final walk – Kimmeridge to Heaven’s Gate.
The marathon runners were coming in the opposite direction so we cheered them on as they passed and we frequently had to step aside to give them space.
Time to leave Purbeck and go to Wareham for a Sunday lunch of Fish and Chips – so fresh you could smell the sea!
The end of a good weekend and it fulfilled the bench on the hill top’s inscription of
‘Everything has to be earned but anything is possible’