It’s always nice to get a bit of extra time to walk when you weren’t really expecting it.
For our recent Corsica trip, our flight was scheduled for very early Sunday morning. But for some reason – some wedding, if I remember rightly – we also had an extra day off on the Friday as well, which meant we had two days to fill as we saw fit.
Friday morning, we spent packing and dipping into the wedding coverage. After an early lunch, with everything loaded and ready to go, we headed to the Chilterns – part way to the airport – where we had managed to find a cheap hotel deal for two nights. It’s only about a one-and-a-half-hour drive to the Ashridge Estate, so by 2.30pm we were parked up by the Bridgewater Monument, ready to go.
As you might imagine it was fairly busy, but by the time we had wandered a few yards away there were far less people about. We followed a level track through woods thick with carpets of Bluebells on either side, and between the trees we could see the surrounding ridges and vales.
At the end of the track we turned northwards and made our way up on to Ivinghoe Beacon, a prominent outcrop on the chalk downs and end point of the Ridgeway, the ancient track running across the high ground all the way from Overton Hill near Avebury, some 87 miles away. Hmmmm, now there’s a possibility.
The weather had been quite warm and sunny so far, but as we climbed up to the summit of the Beacon we could see a brusque storm rapidly advancing. Almost before we knew it, it had arrived. So it was waterproofs on, and quickly – the rain was quite sharp, turning to hail briefly.
We followed the track back, drying out on the way. In fact so rapid was the change back to sunny again we were pretty dry by the time we got back and couldn’t resist the lure of an ice cream!
Next morning we made the short drive to Wigginton, near Tring. Firstly, we followed a four-mile stretch of the Ridgeway through Hastoe and Chivery before swinging round to Buckland Common where we had a pint and a very nice, very long, very large lunch at the White Lion. That just left a three-mile stagger back to the car. Lovely.
Later, we did a few final errands and bits of shopping prior to turning in early since we would have to be up at 1.00am. But we had enjoyed a lovely, relaxing couple of days, completed 16 miles of easy walking by way of a warm up for Corsica, and were raring to go. And that is what you call a real bonus.
So here’s to the Royal Wedding – may there be many more of them.