I had done this route a couple of times before, but on this occasion it wouldn't be over a leisurely two days (Uxbridge to Amersham, and Amersham to Wendover) with some pub stops, this time it would be a marathon distance of 26 miles in one day! The main reason was so Jim and Diane could get some long distance mileage in before attempting Will4Adventure's 50 Mile Challenge 4 Charity at the end of March, but I'd always hankered at completing it in one go. Today was the day!
8:10am, we set off from my house. We reached Denham and the 5km mark in an hour, so good going, but by the second hour we had slowed the pace and it was apparent to me that we weren't going to make Wendover by the estimated target of 6pm. The first half of the South Bucks Way isn't very inspiring; a mixture of high end real estate and low end council, it's quite an urban trail. Once you break free of the shackles of the M25 at 10km, the countryside is more interesting, and we were lifted by a sighting of a Kingfisher perched by a pond on a golf course near Chalfont St. Peter.
From Chalfont St. Giles it is a long, fairly straight haul through fields, following the River Misbourne, to Amersham, the half way mark, which we reached around 12:45pm.
Once out of the old town, we stopped near the cricket pavilion on the impressive Shardeloes Estate for lunch and to apply some zinc oxide to various points on my feet. In all, there were two stops for running repairs on my feet; in hindsight, maybe not a good idea to walk a marathon distance with boots that only have 31 miles on the clock!
Once through Shardeloes, the scenery changes to large tracts of undulating farmland and pockets of woodland and we started to see Red Kites riding the thermals. With the weather getting better as the day progressed, it was a joy to be out!
From Great Missenden, you start to get the feeling you are now in the Chiltern Hills with the first real hills on the route.
The final push from Little Hampden, to our left we could see the sun settting through the trees, and it was obvious we were going to run out of daylight. The muddy trail through the woods was getting harder to follow in the failing light but we managed to reach Coombe Hill and the monument (the official end of the South Bucks Way) without the need for head torches. The walk down into Wendover did require some illumination, though, and with a clear night sky, it was a little chilly. We eventually strolled into town at 7:10pm, a total of eleven hours! My feet were blistered, our muscles were stiffening, but it did seem worth it! I don't envy Jim and Diane doing that fifty at the end of the month, though!!
Now where's that Curry House...