I know that I said I would walk whatever the weather, but that had to change when I saw the weather forecast for Saturday 7th November: rain all day and 40+mph gales in the afternoon. I was expecting to be joined by some friends who have an eight month old baby and thought she might be scarred for life if she had to endure a day of lashing rain and gale force winds. So we delayed it until the Sunday, although sadly that meant that Bev & Denis couldn’t join us. Fortunately, they were able to do the same stretch on a different day.
So here is the group for the second day: Rachael (again), Jane, Lara & Ross and their daughter Faye, plus Lara’s mum Judy. (Beth, Andy & baby Molly were all struck down with a stomach bug, so had to pull out in the end, poor things).
We started at the White Lion at Chalk Hill again, thankful that the wind had died down considerably. Picking up the Icknield Way Path over the other side of the A5, we walked up the side of a field (catching sight of our first sewage works of the day).
We continued along the edge of Blue Waters Woodland, which had been planted in the 1970s on the site of a former chalk quarry. Apparently, when they stopped extracting chalk, a blue lake appeared in the base of the quarry, due to the suspended particles of chalk and clay in the water.
Plodding over more fields and the Ouzel Brook, we crossed over the less picturesque, partly built A5/M1 link road.
Some of us preferred to tunnel our way through to the other side.
Next we went through the village of Wingfield, but disappointingly no time to stop at the Plough, except for a brief conversation about Border Terriers with some people who had caught sight of Winnie on their way into the pub.
Across a couple more fields, we reached the village of Chalgrave, with thick layers of earth stuck under our boots, and paused to have a quick look at the lovely All Saints Church.
Round the outside of the churchyard, we followed a bridleway that went over the River Flit, where we stopped to eat our much-needed lunch.
Trudging over all those ploughed fields had been hard work and we seemed to be feeling a bit tired and perhaps disappointed that we hadn’t completed more of the route. Lunch helped lift the spirits and we carried on our way, with Jane showing us how to walk the Icknield Way ….
We had the joy of passing by another sewage works, a huge electricity sub station, not to mention the crossing of the M1 to come!
And the mainline railway line….
Perhaps not the most beautiful stretch of the Icknield Way, but a reminder of how the landscape has changed.
When we reached Upper Sundon, we said goodbye to Ross, Judy and Faye (who had left a car there earlier) and they headed home to Haslingfield.
So then there were 4. The rest of the route was undoubtedly more scenic – shame for those who had departed – as the path headed over to Sundon Hills Country Park, apparently one of the highest points in Bedfordshire. No more ploughed fields, but undulating green fields and great views.
Further along this stretch, we paused to speak to a couple and a child who had set out on a walk and got lost. The woman was looking very upset as she told us that she had a plane to catch from Luton Airport and they were quite a long way from their car. We gave them a copy of our map to help them find their way back to their car, but I have a feeling that she missed her plane.
The ridge took us to the wooded spur of Sharpenhoe Clappers which is thought to be an Iron Age hill fort. The hilltop is covered with a wonderful beech wood and we decided to add an extra mile loop around the Clappers, which was well worth doing. According to the guide book, a medieval clapper is a rabbit warren.
The light was starting to fade, (or were the clouds just getting darker?) So we dragged Jane away from her swing and set off on the last stretch – going like the clappers (hoho) in order to reach the end before it got too dark. This took us along a grass track that heads across the top of the Smithcombe Valley.
By the time we reached Streatley it was certainly getting dark, hence the lack of photos of the end of the walk. We piled into my car and went back to the start to pick up Lara’s, stopping for a quick drink at the White Lion before heading home.
Another lovely day’s walking and incredibly lucky that we didn’t get soaked, despite ominous skies. Visiting places I didn’t know, but would like to go back to, particularly the last few miles. Great company and wonderful to have 3 generations of Lara’s family there. Thank you for your support – and to Rachael and Jane too.
Next stretch is Streatley to Ickleford (10 miles) on 5th December.
Remember, you can donate to this sponsored walk for Home-Start Royston & South Cambridgeshire by visiting http://www.mydonate.bt.com and search for Juliet Greer.
Until the next exciting instalment…..