After recent transport and weather issues, the luck of the Longer Walks Group seemed to have turned around! The whole group arrived on Marylebone station in plenty of time for our train, which deposited us punctually in Wendover, in lovely summer sunshine.
Although a circular, the walk was made up of two distinct parts. In the morning, we followed some less well known Chiltern paths, climbing through fields and woodlands to reach the tiny village of Dunsmore. We continued to Little Hampden Common then headed west over farmland, where we stopped to watch a group of 4 or 5 red kites soaring and gliding in the skies above, before walking on through Sergeant’s Wood. We soon reached our half way mark and our picnic spot at Whiteleaf Hill, which provided the added luxury of shady oak trees and proper picnic tables.
It was here at Whiteleaf Hill that we picked up the Ridgeway National Trail, which we followed back to Wendover, as it climbed and dipped along the edge of the Chiltern scarp. Our first steep climb was to the summit of Whiteleaf Hill where we were rewarded with glorious panoramic views of the Chiltern escarpment,
the market town of Princes Risborough, and the Vale of Aylesbury. After plunging back into the woods, we descended to Lower Cadsden, passing local hostelry the Plough. This is the pub which hit the news fairly recently as the place where David and Samantha Cameron left their eight-year-old daughter behind after Sunday lunch, as well as for the much publicised visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015.
Next came another steep climb, this time over the beautiful chalk grasslands of Pulpit Hill. Reaching the top, a slightly less steep descent brought us to the edge of Maple Wood and the boundary path around Chequers, the official country residence of the P.M.
Regrettably the latest incumbent was nowhere to be seen, (which was a shame as a number of group members would have liked a word!) so we left the warning signs and CCTV cameras behind to begin our final climb to the summit of Coombe Hill. At 260 metres above sea level, and adorned with an imposing monument to the fallen of the Boer War, Coombe Hill provided even more magnificent views over the Vale of Aylesbury. This was a spot to be savoured, so we tarried a while at the foot of the monument drinking in the glorious vista spread out before us.
By now we were on the final stretch, and with the prospect of well-earned refreshment we descended Bacombe Hill, and headed into Wendover and the Shoulder of Mutton.