Dick & Gloria & Lesley & Michael's
Chiltern Way Walk
The Three (Red) Lions Walk
(A word of explanation before we start: I am writing this walk on Wednesday 18th October 2006. For many and boring reasons, I did not write it straight away. For the same reasons it was then neglected, most shamefully. As a result, there may be some details lacking!)
We parked the car in Chenies to the sound of hymns from the chapel opposite. Regardless of this air (not quite as bad a pun as 'note'!) of seriousness, we took our first group shot.
The footpath took us round the back of Chenies (sorry - Van Hage) garden centre and out onto the A404. Crossing at the point where, in June 2005, Michael and I helped the police and some local horsey folk round up four stray horses, we walked down the bridle path towards the Metropolitan railway line. Beyond that, we were in Whitelands Wood and, as we emerged from Carpenter's Wood, we saw a cute (and healthy) young rabbit on the path in front of us.
In the fields leading down to Newhouse Farm there were lots of horses: they sometimes appear to be this area's principal cash crop. One horse was wearing a mask which completely covered his (?) face: in this photo it looks like he is falling over - wouldn't you if your eyes were blindfolded and you lifted one leg off the floor?
From the start of Old Shire Lane until we reached Newland Park was a long stretch with no roads to cross - marvellous! In Phillipshill Wood we had a banana break, sitting on a fallen tree: I noticed that the Dog's Mercury was suffering in the drought. Crossing Gorelands Lane by the lodge gates, we started down a path which must once have been the drive to The Big House (Newland Park) - Dick spotted this huge gate post in the hedge. The path itself was very straight (another clue) and lovely.
We crossed Chesham Lane and descended towards Chalfont St Giles: after crossing the London Road we were very soon in the water meadow behind the village green. From here there was a good view of the church, nestling in the trees. Dick had noticed in the book that there was at least one famous person buried here so we went in and sure enough, to the sounds of the Merlin's Cave Jazz on Sunday Lunchtime coming from the barn adjoining the graveyard, we found the grave of Bertram Mills, circus proprietor, as the book coyly describes him.
Crossing the green, after stopping to admire the amazing array of interesting shops which were open on a Sunday (!), we walked along a path following the River Misbourne (at a distance, and what there was of it) towards and past Chalfont Mill. Having turned 90 degrees to head south west, we climbed a steep hill and decided that this was the spot for lunch: as well as being the-point-beyond-which-Michael-and-I-could-not-go-without-having-something-to-eat it also had a view (which we faced this time!) The field was quite steeply sloping, but you'd never guess from the lunch photo which I took by hanging the camera from the branch of a tree... Whilst eating, we saw the inevitable (and fairly high) Red Kite. Continuing to climb, we came to Hill Farm House where there was a signpost specifically for walkers. One of the arms points towards a place I cannot find on the map, Froghall, and another towards Amersham: that route goes through the charmingly-named Upper Bottom House Farm which is just above Lower Bottom House Farm, both of them located in Bottom House farm Lane. It's the little (NB Not childishly rude!) things that make me laugh!
Just past the farm buildings Dick pointed out that the most amazing views were to be had in all directions from south east to south west: sure enough, there was Canary Wharf and the new Wembley arch, there was a plane taking off from Heathrow and there, in the blue hazy distance, was Box Hill. If the visibility had been better, we would probably have seen the London Eye.
After passing an almost completely dried-up pond (one significant enough to appear on the OS map), we turned into a track leading north west on a sharp corner of Botterells Lane. Dick told us that the buildings nearby (marked 'Works' and 'Pit (dis)' on the map) had connections to the origins of brick-making in this area and that there was a very old brick kiln somewhere nearby.
We continued north west for about a mile and a half, crossing Bottom etc lane, passing Brentford Grange (home to the spoil from the Tesco/GX fiasco) then crossing the very busy Amersham to Beaconsfield road before heading uphill to Coleshill. The water tower appeared on the horizon long before we got there, as did a stunning daisy patch. A very fine thistle, showing all the stages of its life at the same time, just cried out to be photographed, as did other plants that day.
Still before we got to Coleshill (it was a long way!) I spotted this fine bee on a thistle. The boys, on the other hand, spotted this fine tree house: it was a long way from the nearest house and rather too large to be a nesting box...
At last we reached our second Red Lion at about 2:30 - they closed at 3, so we only just made it! Several drinks were drunk (it was a very hot day - we felt very passive!) before we set off again. Walking through yet another harvested wheat field, I somehow managed to get in front of the group: I am nearly always behind and take shots of t'other three from that angle - here's a change!
After passing through Winchmore Hill (once the home of some window boxes Dick made for Barbara Windsor), we crossed Horsemoor Lane: naturally, we saw yet more horses after this, including one wearing a very fetching fringe to keep the flies at bay - I suppose someone thought this was a clever name for such a device.
We passed a wet pond: Gawde Water is a very ancient pond with a very informative notice. Walking steeply downhill shortly afterwards towards Penn Bottom (snigger), I was struck by the pattern made by the straw awaiting baling in the field opposite. In Penn Bottom itself (stoppit Close!) we paused for a moment while Dick checked the route and rested his foot on one of a number of large boulders: these turned out to be erratics left by the retreating ice. We were defintely going the right way because, after passing Twitchels Wood, we came to the Penn Road and trudged east towards our third Red Lion and the other car.
What a lovely walk! (I am amazed how much I have been able to remember
- having lots of photos helps!)