Back in 2015 I did a circular walk round Woodcote, creating a route that ended up being 13.65 miles long. With Shelli being out for the day, and the hope that the weather was going to be okay for a day out on the trails, I headed out to take in the local scenery with Snow.
With an initial plan of around 12 miles loaded into my GPS we walked to the bus stop with Shelli, said our goodbyes, and headed out over the A4074 to start out loop round Checkendon and down to Cane End.
The weather was playing ball. It was cool but the rain that had been forecast was so far holding off. The good thing about the route I’d plan was, if the weather got really bad (the wind was supposed to be reaching over 40mph) I could easily plot a route home and we’d be there in under an hour.
Snow and I had already walked the first part of the day’s route before until we turned left in the woods at Braziers Common. When we’ve walked this way before I’ve always turned left but this time I was heading up to – and around – Garsons Farm before heading across Yewtree Brow, The Covert and Scot’s Common. Who names these woods?
As expected after the recent weather, there were some lovely muddy paths for us to enjoy. I must admit I was glad I decided to put my walking boots and gaiters on instead of my trail shoes, which although giving excellent grip in the wet and the mud are absolutely not waterproof! This is by design I hasten to add, but I definitely made the correct choice with my boots!
Everything was going well and Snow was loving all of the smells of the woods, along with the sticks, until we got to the field we needed to cross to reach Uxmore Road. Here, the stile to get into the field had no way for Snow to go under or through. Not a problem on a nice sunny summers day; just pick Snow up and over and carry on. By this point though Snow’s legs and belly were absolutely covered in mud – nice!
I picked her up, got very muddy hands and arms for the pleasure, and we carried on, only to have to repeat the process the other side of the field!
Having made our way through Ipsden Wood, we had about half a mile along the Busgrove Lane before turning into Chartersfield Wood. And, as is the way whenever we walk on any of the really small, quiet lanes around home, a car just had to come along and force us onto the side to allow it to pass!
Just north of Wyfold Court my route showed that I needed to take a right, but could I see the path for the trees where it was supposed to be? There was a trail marker pointing to the left to show where the path I was already following went, but nothing that I could see that showed where the path I needed went. So, I headed off to the right in what I thought was the right direction but it wasn’t long before my GPS told me I was wrong; clever little thing.
I made my way back up to the path I was originally following – a bit further along from where I left it – and as I headed back to where the path I needed was supposed to be, there it was! How had I missed it the first time?!
Course corrected and back on track we passed the rather large houses and back into the wood again. This was where I made another mistake, being overly confident in where I thought I needed to go. I took the wrong path and instead of heading towards Wyfold Grange I ended up at going towards Rumerhedge Wood. By the time I realised I was on the wrong path I couldn’t be bothered to backtrack. Instead, I quickly figured out another way to get down to Whitewood Heath and on we went.
In Rumerhedge Wood we came across an old pile of logs, the end one looking like a perfect seat for a break. It was just gone midday and the double fried egg sandwich I’d had for breakfast was long gone and my belly was beginning to rumble. Knowing that places to sit are few and far between I decided to take the weight off for a bit and have a bite to eat; Snow having some dog biscuits I’d brought along for her.
We sat there for 20 minutes, ignoring the first spot of rain for the day, and then headed off again to Hook End and down to Whitewood Heath. Thankfully the rain was only a passing shower and by the time I was ready to put my pack on it had stopped.
At this point in the walk, whenever I’ve reached Whitewood Heath on my previous strolls I’ve always turned towards the A4074, crossed it and headed down Deadman’s Lane. Not this time though. The new route took me out across the fields behind Kempwood and down to the A4074 at Cane End.
The wind was picking up a bit now and walking over the open land was interesting. The wind did a good job of catching my pack and trying its best to push me sideways. Snow wasn’t concerned at all and happily plodded along in front of me.
Before hitting the A4074 we again came across another awkward stile which I thought I was going to have to carry Snow over. Fortunately, after a little bit of coaxing she managed to get through it and on we went along the side of the busy A4074. We didn’t have far to walk on the raised grass verge but I wouldn’t like to guess how many cars passed us as we covered the 50 or so metres to more relative safety. That’s definitely a road I would never walk along!
We crossed to the other side of the A4074 outside the now rather closed looking Chaiyaphum Thai restaurant and headed out and up to Nuney Wood, walking towards home for the first time, which was my original plan, following the route Shelli, Alex and I had taken when we walked to the Packhorse pub the other month. But, seeing as the weather was still looking good and – even after having walked 9 miles already – Snow was going great guns and showing no signs of tiring, I decided to go rogue and make the day’s walking a little longer.
So instead of heading back to Woodcote I took the trail through Nuney Wood that headed out to Mapledurham, taking us out past Whittles farm and down to Bottom farm. Coming over the hill top after Whittles farm the wind hit us really hard and Snow looked rather hilarious with her lovely big ease flapping up and down: Dumbo anyone?!
We got to the bottom of the hill at Bottom farm and turned up to Bottom Wood. I thought we’d come across some “interesting” muddy patches already but they were nothing compared to the slop we had to walk through in Bottom Wood! Hilarious for the most part but at one point, in the middle of a very slippery section of the path, Snow pulled a little too hard to one side and I slipped a bit and pulled my left calf muscle. It wasn’t too bad but I could definitely feel a little bit of pain as I walked after that.
Pushing on we followed the path through the wood, picking up another path which looked really familiar. It took a couple of seconds for me to realise that it was it was one of the paths we walked on the Langtree Sponsored Walk a couple of weeks before. It was a particularly muddy bit, which you can imagine was lots of fun with all of the kids in the nice white trainers! I can’t imagine they weren’t told to wear something sensible but, well, you know how kids are?
At Path Hill we picked up the Chiltern Way again, following this out through Whitchurch Hill. Reaching the end of the drive of Coombe End farm – having dodged the cows in the fields – there was a very comfy looking log (it’s relative right?), and having been walking for a couple of hours I thought it was a good spot to take the weight off for a few minutes. I had some more of the food in my pack and Snow had some more treats to (1) keep her going and (2) try and get her to sit still and take a breather for 5 minutes.
Rested, we got going again, taking the familiar paths up to Cold Harbour and Blackbird’s Bottom (again, who names these places?), where I had a choice: take the shorter route home or carry on with the made up route and spend more time outside. Snow was still going strong so I decided to carry on with the made up route and headed out to Cray’s Pond, Little Heath and out to Beech Lane, High Wood, and finally through Dean Wood before getting back to Woodcote and home, adding another nearly 4 miles to the distance we’d already covered.
Snow did amazingly well on what is most definitely the longest walk she’s ever been on! That said, 5 minutes after getting through the door she was asleep in the hallway. At some point she’d clearly decided to find a more comfortable spot while I was having a shower as she was fast asleep in her crate when I came downstairs again. Bless her!
A great day’s walking and I’m pleased to say the weather was considerably better than originally forecast. That said, walking through the woods in 40mph winds might not have been the most sensible decision I’ve ever made. There were quite a few times when branches came down, hitting the path in front or behind me, or off to the side! That could have been fun being hit by one of those, erm, not!
Apologies for the quality of the photos below. Instead of taking my usual camera I borrowed Alice’s little point-and-click camera; sadly, my old little camera I took on my LEJOG walk is pretty much dead now.
I didn’t notice until I started editing the photos that the picture quality was a little bit poor, and checking the camera settings I spotted that it had been set to use a picture quality of 2MP, instead of the 14MP the camera should have been using. Doh!
|Miles||Start (HH:MM)||Finish (HH:MM)||Breaks (HH:MM)||Walking (HH:MM)||Pace (MPH)||Steps Taken|
|Start Elavation (m)||End Elavation (m)||Max Elevation (m)||Min Elevation (m)||Total Climb (m)||Total Descent (m)||Climbs on Route|
|Rating||Start Point (miles)||End Point (miles)||Length (miles)||Start Elevation (m)||End Elevation (m)||Average Grade|
More information about climb ratings can be found at Map My Walk.