Walk With Me Marathon 2016

When most sane people are still in bed we were doing a warm up routine in a school hall before taking part in the Walk With Me 2016 marathon from Moulsford School near Wallingford.

It was a lovely day in terms of weather and over 200 people turned out to do the walk and raise money for Action for Cancer.
The walk follows a lovely route through the Chilterns and Thames path, though at times it not seem a particularly pleasant thing to be spending your Sunday doing. The comaraderie was evident and stories of bravery were humbling. Everyone had different reasons for doing it and the total I believe this year so far is over £80k which goes direct to the cause and more money is still being donated.

Klaus, Helen and I started together but we always knew that Klaus would speed up and get round quicker.
The first over the line were 6 hours, Klaus was 7 hours and Helen and I managed a respectable 7.5 hours – very relieved to finish.

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Launch of Henley Midsomer and Town tours

Henley Hosts launched its new guided walk around Henley on Thames visiting Midsomer Murder filming locations and taking in the history of Henley and some of its iconic buildings.
Henley Hosts are Neil, the landlord at the Argyll pub in the market place, Sarah Osborne from Visit Midsomer and Anthea Osborn-Jones from A Foot in the Chilterns.
Tours are bookable via info@theargyllhenley.co.uk and run on Saturday mornings 10.30-11.30 from the pub. Cost £5 per person
Bespoke tours for groups bookable on request

http://www.visitmidsomer.com/new-guided-walking-tour-of-henley-launches-2016/

Views of Henley on Thames

Views of Henley on Thames

Henley Town Mayor Lorraine Hillier launching the tour

Henley Town Mayor Lorraine Hillier launching the tour


Featured in The Black Book and Last Year's Model

Featured in The Black Book and Last Year’s Model

Swyncombe Down in July

We set off from St Botolph’s church http://www.st-botolphs-swyncombe.info/about-st-botolph/
a charming Saxon Church in the grounds of Swyncombe House. The start of the walk takes you up the Ridgeway which is steep climb – a bit of a challenge in hot weather but well worth it for the views on reaching the top.
You can see across the Oxfordshire plain one way and miles in the other direction from the top of the down.
The whole area is managed for wildlife and diversity and wild flower meadows – some included in amenity access areas cover the hillsides. The area open to the public was quite heavily grazed and worn from human traffic whereas the inaccessible areas are better protected – a visual reminder of the effect of humans positive and negative – and how ground becomes eroded.
There are earthworks up the ridge and ancient trees http://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/584/137/swyncombe-down.html so plenty of research to be done to find out more about the area.
part of the path follows the Swan Way and also the Icknield Way – ancient routes used by our forefathers.

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Stonesfield to Kirtlington via Blenhiem Palace

Walking the Oxfordshire way in Spring definitely has a lot more to recommend it than a damp February!
The sun was shining and the terrain provided easy walking.
We set off from Stonesfield down towards the bathing pool and then across the fields towards Blenheim.
The route takes you across a common with ancient hedgerows and steep hillsides and on to Akeman Street with views over the Evenlode valley. Eventually we came to Stonesfield steps – a high wooden ‘stile’ over the stone wall surrounding Blenheim estate.

The path leads you up and over the wall surrounding Blenheim estate

The path leads you up and over the wall surrounding Blenheim estate


Once in the park we deviated off the Oxfordshire Way on a footpath leading up towards the Palace along an avenue of trees which provided welcome shade for the, by now, strong sunshine. It led us to the monument
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Then it was a walk down towards the lake and through a door in to Woodstock. We had a very good lunch at Hampers deli and cafe with a menu that seemed to suit everyone and provided the opportunity for a rest.
Back towards the Oxfordshire way, the detour had added about 2.5 miles, we headed off over the river Glyme and towards Kirtlington once again.
There are numerous footbridges along this stretch of the route
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You pass a beautiful watermill on the way to Pigeons lock on the Oxford canal
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and then it was the long lane up to Kirtlington where we had left some cars in the morning.

Walking the Oxfordshire Way in February

The intrepid group set off from Bourton on the Water one grey day in February with rather grey skies and a 3 day trek ahead. We planned to do the majority of the route, leaving the final bit to Henley on Thames for another day.

Jock, the spaniel, was unaware what was in store and rushed around as if it was an hour’s walk when in fact due to the mud the first day took 8.5 hours!

Bourton on the Water is very different to the Chilterns

Bourton on the Water is very different to the Chilterns

Impossible to keep dry

Impossible to keep dry

Muddy feet

No escape

No escape

Walking was the order of the day with no cheating

Walking was the order of the day with no cheating

There were a few of these

There were a few of these

There were some nice bits even on the first day

There were some nice bits even on the first day

Just to prove it is not always like this

Just to prove it is not always like this

We found the route easily with very good directions provided by Oxfordshire County Council and were kept motivated by the ‘interesting facts’ provided. It was not all mud and the first day there were some lovely bits and thankfully mostly rain free but it was a pretty tired and bedraggled group that tripped in to Charlbury in the dusk. The last 2 fields we encountered first some very excitable horses and then some happily sleepy and docile cattle so we were very pleased to see the car and get home to a hot bath.

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The path leads you up and over the wall surrounding Blenheim estate

The path leads you up and over the wall surrounding Blenheim estate

Coming through the door on to the Woodstock Road

Coming through the door on to the Woodstock Road

We encountered numerous footbridges on the route

We encountered numerous footbridges on the route

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No extra miles

No extra miles

I forgot my poles

I forgot my poles

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Day 2 was really good starting from Charlbury we were soon walking through Stonesfield and down to the ford and ‘bathing pool’ which was lovely but not tempting for a swim! There was no mud to speak of and the day continued with dry weather and fast walking, taking us through the grounds of Blenheim Palace and other lovely places. There was a nasty moment when the hotel was found to be shut but a little exploration and we found a very friendly shop who made us sandwiches and looked after us for a short while. Day 2 took 2.5 hours less to do the same distance due to the conditions – a little rain as we arrived at Islip confirmed the decision to call it a day and not carry on to Noke until the morning.
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Pleased to arrive at the Swan at Tetsworth

Pleased to arrive at the Swan at Tetsworth


Day 3 – the final stretch until the spring
The last day as a mixture and the feet were getting tired and in some cases blisters and pain were creeping in. We went through some lovely places – Noke a very pretty village and round Ottmoor which was a very long detour around a marsh. There was a fallow deer which had been adopted by some cattle – a rather unusual sight.
We trundled across golf courses, encountered more horses, visited Waterperry gardens where a nice lady saved the day by producing some pain killers and ended up tired but elated at the Swan at Tetsworth.
The crisis had been that I had forgotten my poles so I can now say from the heart that poles really do help!!!!

Nordic walking in the Chilterns in Winter

Winter has hardly shown us its worst so far but wrap up warm and dry and there is nothing to worry about.
We have had the most wonderful autumn and winter walks with more than our share of sunshine. Even if it does not quite have the warmth of summer the sun provides a wonderful glow and there have been spectacular views, becoming more far reaching as the trees lose their leaves.
The morning frost produces wonderfully clear air and wildlife becomes more visible with fewer places to hide.

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The Go Active Christmas walk

The Go Active Christmas walk

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Today we arranged a walk for all Nordic walkers in Oxfordshire who were free to come – there was a credible 22 who beat the rain which was threatening as we arrived. The National Trust kindly allowed everyone to meet at Greys Court – a beautiful property in South Oxfordshire www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court/and we set off on a walk taking in woodland, hills and fields and the charming hamlet of Shepherds Green, the impressive Nettlebed estates – home to Ian Fleming’s family, Lambridge woods – ancient beechwoods and back to Greys Court for a well earned cake and coffee in the newly opened tea rooms.
The buzz of conversation and the Christmas spirit were evident and some members were amazed at how they managed a 6 mile route without struggling.

Tribute to Ralph

Ralph was the most inspirational and brave man. He sadly passed away on 31st October and will be missed terribly by many of us.

Ralph set up Waterford Designs – he was a talented artist and his business involved web design and printing.
His son will now take over the design and printing.

Ralph had suffered from a progressive condition but despite this and the physical limitations he endured he continued to offer expertise, professionalism and inspiration to others. He was a great support to me in setting up A Foot in the Chilterns, remaining positive when I was wavering and instilling self belief and optimism.

I was lucky enough to know him for nearly 20 years.

Farewell Ralph

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Autumn in the Chilterns

The unseasonally warm conditions have meant lovely walks among autumn colours with the grass continuing to look lush and green and flowers blooming. Today we walked through Fawley Hill where a new born alpaca cria was sunning itself – it could have been a very different world that this baby had entered if it had been born in last year’s storms.

Mother and babyAlpacas have a long gestation period of approximately 11 and a half months and are induced ovulators so  can breed at any time of year. Most owners try to ensure births occur in the spring and summer when food is more plentiful and warm weather helps the new borns. Alongside the alpacas were deer of all descriptions some native and some from further afield, emus, wallabies and all sorts of other creatures which kept the Nordic walkers entertained.

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The walk took us along the Oxfordshire way, wending our way through the Chilterns, past beautiful buildings and along the Fawley ridge following which 16 of us enjoyed a delicious lunch enjoying the view and the company and planning the weekend.

The scent of the Chilterns in Spring

Walks in the Chilterns are always great but this Spring everything has looked and smelt fantastic. The winter rains and spring warmth have produced abundant growth and early blossom. The trees are looking amazing with fresh spring leaves and flowers and there are insects and birds everywhere.

It makes you pleased to be alive and sets the mood for the rest of the day. Walking in the Chilterns is such a privelege and we owe a lot to the armies of volunteers who give up their time maintaining pathways and landscapes to keep it as we have come to know and love it.

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Oak in May

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Midsomer Murders

The Mayor hosted an event this week on the theme of Midsomer Murders. Many of the scenes for this very successful series are shot in Henley and the surrounding villages and it is possible to walk between the various places and imagine the scenes.

Plaques have been installed in some of the pubs and shops that have been used in the series such as the Argyll in the Market place in Henley.

More recent venues have been Greenlands and Hambleden Weir

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