Walking in Austria

We were blessed with wonderful weather for our recce trip to Seefeld in Austria https://www.seefeld.com/en/ 4 days walking in the alps and looking at options for accommodation for a group holiday in the autumn of 2018.

Train from Reading to Gatwick went according to plan, the Easyjet flight threatened to be delayed by

some considerable time but due to a feisty sounding pilot we took off sooner than he had been advised and landed almost on time in Innsbruck. From there a very efficient bus to the station and a train to Seefeld – all very affordable despite the poor exchange rate with the Euro and everything in  Austria seems to run on time.

On this occasion we were staying in a lovely apartment 5 minutes walk from the station – marketed as ‘sleeping under the stars in Seefeld’ – they were in fact artificial stars but they brightened as it got darker and moved around! https://www.seefeld.com/en/hotel-tyrol/hotel-search-and-book/seefeld/holiday-apartment/a-haus-alpengruss-1

The walking in the region is wonderful, ranging from easy bike and walking routes, to steep mountain paths and all graded according to difficulty. You can gain height on a vehicle width path and still experience the majesty of the mountains. We were lucky with spectacular views on account of the

sunny conditions and clear skies – it could of course be a bit different. One night there were spectacular thunderstorms with lightning over the mountain peaks.

The village bandstand has regular music played for all to enjoy – both local bands and visiting bands,

Pony drawn traps are available if the legs are tired and E-bikes plentiful for hire which make the hilly bits easy.

It would seem to be a perfect place for a Nordic walking holiday – an area set up for walking and steeped in customs and tradition from cows with bells to Leiderhosen and traditional dress.



Chiltern Way – Bovingdon to Ewelme so far

We are walking the Chiltern Way http://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/219/137/chiltern-way.html starting and finishing at Bovingdon in Hertfordshire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovingdon

Nearly all of us are Nordic walking which really helps especially on the hills and keeps us fit.

We chose to start in Bovingdon where it was easy to park and our first day took us to Chalfont St Giles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalfont_St_Giles a pretty Buckinghamshire village. We were lucky to be invited for tea at the end of the walk by one of our party who lives there and it was a very welcome finish to a lovely day. The route had taken us through varied countryside – Flaunden, Sarratt where we had a delicious lunch in one of the 3 pubs the Boot http://www.thebootsarratt.com/ who were extremely welcoming to humans and dogs alike, Chenies, Chorleywood and on to Chalfont St Giles

The second leg was Chalfont St Giles to Sheepridge so a few more hills, lovely countryside and

spectacular views across the southern counties and London in the distance. Bluebells were out, the larks singing high in the skies and we were blessed with lovely spring weather.

A well earned lunch at the Crooked Billet at Sheepridge which was fantastic value and really delicious.

The third section we tackled was Sheepridge to Fingest so into the Hambleden valley – famous for its filming locations and iconic Chilterns countryside. The blossom was beautiful, the bluebells almost at their best and tea at the village shop worth the walk before journeying on towards Fingest further up the valley. Hambleden http://www.visitchilterns.co.uk/market-towns/hambleden-valley.html was once owned by Viscount Hambleden (WH Smith) but was sold fairly recently to a swiss banker who has invested in the estate and adjoining estates renaming it Culdenfaw – incorporating Culham, Hambleden and Fawley.

The fourth was Fingest to Ewelme passing Stonor House http://www.stonor.com/ nestling in a perfect position in the Stonor valley. It has been the home of the Stonor family for hundreds of years.

The footpath winds through the deer park with lovely views and one is surrounded by deer grazing in the parkland. The Stonor cricket pitch is down in the valley – home of village cricket in the summer months.

Up again to Maidensgrove Common http://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/1421/137/russell-s-water-and-maidensgrove-commons.html right on the top of the hill above the Warburg nature reserve http://www.bbowt.org.uk/reserves/warburg-nature-reserve home to wonderful wild flowers, birdlife and doormice amongst other things. Down a steep hillside to the reserve – steep enough to warrant steps that deter erosion, along a bluebell valley, across lovely grassy fields with lambs and calves grazing happily, until we reached Park Corner and cross the busy Nettlebed to Watlington road.

We are then sort of on the final stretch past Nuffield Place https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nuffield-place and Huntercombe to walk down the path to the Old London Road – a restricted byway leading out to open fields and on towards Ewelme. The route approached Ewelme https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewelme from above giving lovely views of this beautiful village. It has a strong community feel – the shop is now run by volunteers from the village and serves tea and cakes amongst other things, there is a primary school, alms houses , church and a pub and there are the historical watercress beds now run by the Chiltern Society https://chilternsociety.org.uk/our-sites/ewelme-watercress-beds/

Chiltern Food And Drink Festival 2017

Walks took place as part of the Chiltern Food and Drink Festival 2017 and were planned to introduce newcomers to the area and the delights of the Chilterns

Walkers could choose to walk or Nordic walk and those from far afield – Salisbury as well as those nearer to home experienced some real delights both walks and vies and food providers

We met for the first walk at the Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery http://www.chilternvalley.co.uk/ where walkers had the opportunity to browse in the shop before setting off across the Chilterns. Thankfully the weather stayed dry and our route took us down the hill to Skirmett and back up through beech woods before going down again to Turville  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turville – filming location for a multitude of films. We visited the church to see the John Piper widow http://www.hambleden-valley-churches.org.uk/TURhistory.htm before journeying on along the valley, skirting the Wormsley estate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormsley_Park which now hosts not only world class cricket but also the opera that used to take place at Garsington. The bluebells were just coming in to bud

The route then turned back up a steep bridleway to Turville Heath where our host Robin prepared a sumptuous lunch in this barn

http://www.thebarnatturvilleheath.com/ It really is a unique place blending history and innovation and Robin was able to tell us the history of the barn – the timbers being from ships from Henry V111. Ships were scrapped and the timbers sold in Henley – on of the most important inland ports

Robin’s family have farmed here for generations and have a great affinity with the land and the area. Much of the craftsmanship in the barn in recent years has been done by Robin himself


Now full of food we journeyed on across the top of the hills to Southend and back to Luxters farm

Wilfred Owen walk

A group of us met in Caversham to walk the Wilfred Owen trail plus a bit extra. This was the idea of Linda

whose husband helped by cutting back some brambles to make the walk more pleasant and avoid wading through mud.

The trail is based on Dunsden owenindunsden.org  and also took advantage of the opportunity to visit the church snowdrops.

There has been a planting programme and the churchyard has more flowers every year. They are fundraising for a Wilfred Owen window in the church.

We passed Loddon Brewery https://loddonbrewery.com/ which is a local brewery offering tours and is the set of some Midsomer Murder filming.

To celebrate this they sell a beer labelled The Night of the Stag – a title of one of the films featuring their brewery


Nordic Walking with Snowdrops in the Chilterns

The theme for A Foot in the Chilterns Nordic walking this month is Snowdrops and we have been lucky to find them on almost every walk so far in varying stages of development from just pushing up through the ground to fully flowering. They really are a sign that winter is nearly over with their graceful and generous flowers in numerous different varieties.

Churchyards in particular often offer carpets of snowdrops and locally we have included St Botolph’s Swyncombe http://www.st-botolphs-swyncombe.info/events/news/ who open their church at weekends in February, serving teas and selling cakes and home produce – it is a major source of income for the church and people travel for miles to view this spectacle.maria2 small

We walked from Ewelme http://www.oxfordshirevillages.co.uk/southoxonvillages/ewelme.html a pretty village which is also familiar to us Nordic Walkers for the annual Chiltern Chase in June http://www.chilternchase.org.uk/ which welcomes us as competitors and is always a friendly event with a wonderful atmosphere and so far for us the sun has always shone!

Ewelme is a favourite film location and Paradise Postponed, Les Miserables and Misomer Murders are among films that have used this village. Jerome K Jerome author of 3 men in a boat is buried in the church graveyard. It has iconic almshouses and brick and flint houses and the historic watercress beds once a thriving business are now run by the Chiltern Society and open to visitors providing education and conservation https://chilternsociety.org.uk/our-sites/ewelme-watercress-beds/

Dunsden Church parishioners have been planting snowdrops in the churchyard for a number of years and though not as well established as Swyncombe they open in February with tours of the church and churchyard and information about Wilfred Owen amongst the things to see and do http://owenindunsden.org Our walk crossed from Berkshire to Oxfordshire and back again, passing the Loddon Brewery https://loddonbrewery.com/brewery  another filming location for Midsomer Murders which became the secondary theme to Snowdrops of February walks!


Walking through the Chilterns we frequently come across previously undiscovered gems and because this month is snowdrops everyone has been pointing out sightings of snowdrops ranging from small clumps to under tree carpets and everything in between


Walking from Hughendon Manor and West Wycombe

On a very cold morning this week we ventured to Hughendon Manor https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hughenden where the reception staff where loathe to come out of their warm hut to scan tickets it was so cold! There were 7 hardy souls and 2 dogs who set off towards Downley Common http://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/369/137/downley-common.html down very pleasant paths with not too much mud underfoot. We were soon warmed up from walking up the hill to Downley and pausing for a photo by the Beacon on the Common. Our only company was the birdsong, our chatter and the odd dog walker also out enjoying the crisp cold morning.

Our route took us over the Common and up to Naphill Common which is a myriad of footpaths, bridleways and muddy tracks – route finding is made difficult by the number of dog wakers routes cris crossing the official paths and a compass is almost a must to ensure you are going in the right direction.


We soon found ourselves in the pretty village of Bradenham by the village green and cricket pitch overlooked by Bradenham Manor and the church https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradenham,_Buckinghamshire Bradenham Manor was once home to Disraeli as was Hughendon so there was a theme to our walk.

The Red Lion pub has closed although the notice on the door says open at weekends this does not appear to be the case.

It is a sad fact that many of the Chilterns pubs – once occurring in every village and hamlet cannot be sustained as a business and many are now turned in to houses. We crossed the busy main road to venture on under the railway line and up a steep hill in the wood to arrive at Noble Farm. With protestations from the walkers that this was not meant to be too hilly everyone was pleased to reach the top and all felt a sense of satisfaction from their achievements.

From here it was a brisk walk along the top of the ridge all the way to West Wycombe with the spectacular view from the church on the top of the hill. There was no sun glinting off the golden globe but it is still impressive. http://www.westwycombevillage.com/goldenball/

We were then rewarded with another downhill to the village of West Wycombe before climbing again towards Downley

2 more uphills and downhills before arriving at a very welcome bowl of soup in the Hughendon stable cafe.

The lovely thing about the walk was the opportunity to look back at intervals and see where you have come from – something we often cannot do on home territory around Henley with its lovely beech woods.

Nordic Walking in the Autumn with A Foot in the Chilterns

We have had an amazing autumn – frequent dry and warm spells interspersed with some cold snaps and rain.

To keep the countryside looking so wonderful rain is essential and we should not dread it. Suitable clothing especially footwear makes for a good walk and you often have the place to yourselves.

The colours have been spectacular as leaves stayed on the trees longer than usual and when they did fall were dry and fun to play in with that lovely rustle as you kick them ahead of you.

Now the leaves are nearly all off it is an opportunity to see views and wildlife often concealed at other times.

A Foot in the Chilterns Nordic walkers have covered the miles in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, introduced new people to Nordic walking and enjoyed some good early Christmas parties.

The barn at Turville Heath www.thebarnatturvilleheath.co.uk served us with the most delicious goulash preceded by soup and followed by cake – a meal suitable for the cyclists that eat there after a 50 mile cycle ride!

The Cherry Tree at Stoke Row hosted our other Christmas meal and managed a rowdy crowd of fussy eaters with skill.

We were blessed with glorious sunshine for the walks on both days which made it all the more enjoyable.


Completing the Shakespeare Way

All 146 miles now completed plus a bit extra for visiting interesting places and for good meals.

The company has been brilliant – the scenery varied and the challenge really enjoyable.

It has taken us to places we could not imagine existed and kept the fitness levels high for the summer.

It has been really gratifying to see so many people enjoying something different and forming new friendships along the way.


More Shakespeare Way

We started the day bright and early at Iffley village with a cup of coffee at the Tree Hotel who were very hospitable.

We were lucky to have ‘chauffeurs’ for this leg of the route so were dropped off by Mark and Tim.

We crossed over the lock via the bridge to get back on the Shakespeare Way and were soon on our way along the river again.

Walking across fields under the ring road and emerging at Sandford on Thames. From here the route becomes less attractive for a while – passing alongside a mobile home site and beside a sewage works which seemed to go on and on. We met a nice farmer who helped us back on our route when we had missed a sign and gone wrong.

The shade of the woodland was very welcome as the day was hot. We spotted a roe deer galloping across the field of wheat as it spotted us coming down the path.

The path goes uphill to the lovely village of Toot Baldon with its popular pub the Mole but we were too early for lunch.

We met Julia patiently waiting for us at Toot Baldon and walked on to the church with the most spectacular views across to the Chilterns.

The route from here to Marsh Baldon was very pretty with views of Wittenham Clumps – the iconic landmark visible from so may places in Oxfordshire. Some roadwork followed to get us to Chiselhampton where we had a delicious lunch at the Coach and Horses in a shady patch of the garden. Lovely food and very helpful staff.

Rejuvinated we were soon on our way again – at one point having to rely on Julia’s GPs to keep us on the right route as we wended our way through small fields by a stream and near gardens.

As we approached Stadhampton the school children were all out on the playing fields having a lovely time. We journeyed on and soon reached Ascott Park stopping to look at the old Granary and the dovecote  the mansion having apparently been burnt down in the 17th century before it was completed. We walked on to reach Chalgrove and walked through the neat and productive allotments to seek sanctuary from the sun for a drink stop in the doctors surgery. The local shop sold us ice creams and we were ready to undertake the final stretch of the walk. As we approached Brightwell Park with its impressive trees and parkland we met Tim and Mia coming towards us across the field which was a welcome sight and suggested that we were nearly at the Lord Nelson at Brightwell Baldwin – the cars awaiting us.


Iffley to Brightwell Baldwin

Iffley to Brightwell Baldwin

IMG_0885 IMG_0892 IMG_0893 IMG_0895 IMG_0887 Ascott Park RIMG0004


Nordic walking in Summer in the Chiltern Hills around Henley on Thames

Isn’t it amazing how you can walk similar routes and the views are always different depending on the seasons.

Not only is Henley buzzing with the Royal Regatta, The Festival and soon the Thames Traditional Boat Festival but the countryside is glorious, teeming with wild flowers, insects and animals benefitting from the recent rainfall and warm weather.


There is no better time to come walking or sign up to learn to Nordic walk. Our walks are varied and never the same

and you will see sights and experience spectacles you have never encountered before. Walking in company in a beautiful area so close to London and Oxford.