Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wendover and Aylesbury arms

Still, the mild climate is refusing to give way to winter. Order of the day was for Jim and I to head off for a gentle 18 mile “stroll” along the Wendover and Aylesbury arms of the Grand Union Canal.

With our head torches packed in anticipation of a long day, we started at 9am, from the village of Wendover; the first leg to the Grand Union proper is along a winding disused section, inhabited by all manner of waterfowl. The early chill was soon forgotten as any early mist was burnt off by the emerging sun. It was turning out to be a perfect day for walking.

We reached the Grand Union Canal, at Bulbourne at midday, where we stopped for lunch and a brew.

I was thrilled to be able to christen my Evernew Titanium Solo Cook Set and MSR Pocket Rocket Stove. I’m happy with the pot, but I’m a little concerned by the way it sits on the MSR stove; it might need me to dig out an old Coleman I have and see if it has the same instability.

We cracked on; not far to Marsworth Junction, where the Aylesbury arm begins, heading west, and the route we would follow.

Suddenly, as the long straight tow path came in sight, a starting pistol sounded in Jim’s head and he was off! I thought he had suddenly remembered he had left the gas on, or not set his sky+ to record X Factor or something similar! His pace saw us cover the 4.2 mile distance on the wrong side (for my liking) of 3 miles per hour. So much for a gentle stroll!

The journey south, was a little more conducive to my natural pace, thankfully because a bit of navigation was needed. The route, from where we left the canal, was along seldom trodden paths. One right of way, across a field, showed no trace of previous footsteps, and it did have me pondering if my ten year old map might need replacing. A little further on, we found ourselves in somebody’s back garden, and even with confirmation in the way of a new gate and waymark we had just passed, it still seemed like we had lost our way. We hadn’t, of course, it was just one of those wonderful quirks of the laws on rights of way here in England!

Across the busy A41, and more fields, and a golf course, where we saw an example of where the laws on rights of way, sometimes don’t make sense; Two footpaths, a mere 50 metres apart, skirted either side of a narrow field. Not such a big deal, maybe, but both had fairly expensive metal kissing gates when surely only one was needed, but I expect some old duffer in the Local Ramblers Association fought long and hard, as a matter of principle, to get them both installed; nice to see my annual contribution is being well spent!

By now, it was such a beautiful day that a couple of hot air balloons were enjoying the mid-afternoon sunshine, one passing far above us, when we reached the village of Weston Turville.

Bathed in the Autumnal light, we headed through the church yard of St. Mary the Virgin, with it’s unusual Tapsell's Lych Gate.

One final field before we re-joined the Wendover arm of the canal and, retracing our steps, we arrived back at the car at least an hour and a half earlier than I had anticipated! No need for head torches after all!