Monday, 30 January 2012

The Chiltern Way 2: Chalfont St Giles to Marlow Bottom

I am absolutely convinced that I am a medical conundrum! Whenever I make an effort to get into shape, my immune system gets tipped off and immediately proceeds to behave like a London Underground worker by striking at the thought of any physical exertion! This always happens; I begin a regime, start eating those odd things they call vegetables on a regular basis, and a couple of weeks later I am laid down with a virus. I may well be allergic to what the so-called experts call healthy food! Hmm.. maybe I have evolved to be a true carnivore; time will tell if I will have to be muzzled during the next lambing season…

I’ve been clearly frustrated for the last fortnight; my plans of continuing the Chiltern Way were postponed, whilst I shook off a niggling cold and fooled my body into thinking I wasn’t up to no good!
So this Saturday, I forced myself out onto the second section of the Chiltern Way; lying in bed feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to get me anywhere!

I caught the bus to Chalfont St Giles, and set off at 9am. It was a five minute walk into the village, a pit stop at a local deli to pick up a tasty tuna mayo baguette for lunch, and then it was off on the trail.

I had high hopes the route would be firmer underfoot today, but although there was a nip in the air, the temperature hadn’t dipped low enough to freeze the quagmire paths. An hour in, after the first ascent, I had already hit a wall! When this happens, my mind races through the escape routes, the excuses, the piss poor reasons to retire at the first road with a decent bus service!
I had to have a little chat to myself; “Man up! This is the Chilterns for God’s sake, how are you going to scale Marion’s Lookout in April when you’re getting floored within five kilometres of a stroll in the countryside?”

As it was, I just needed to loosen the limbs and get my second wind. I passed the first escape, the A355, without even looking for the bus stop, and continued on to the small village of Coleshill.
Later in the day, the Red Lion pub might have persuaded me to retire, but it wasn’t open yet, so I took a quick photo to remind me to return one day. Passed the pretty church, and on to Winchmore Hill, where I stopped at a bench on the common for a coffee break and a bite to eat, around eleven.

I was feeling a lot better now; the chill air was an incentive to keep moving. By the time I reached Wycombe Heights Golf Course, the sun was breaking through, and was a very welcome addition to the day.
My energy levels took another dip, and with it my resolve, and once again I eyed up the possibility of a shorter walk. The busy A40 at Loudwater; the 16km / 10 mile mark, was my next opportunity to bail, but by the time I reached there, I was feeling stronger, and decided to continue on.

Up to the M40, and through an intimidating tunnel to the other side, I reached a clearing in small wood, and stopped for lunch. I was definitely out of sorts, but the end was a lot closer than I initially realised. Turning the map and seeing the finish is always a positive, and it was here that I knew I’d get it done.

Soon after some food, I was descending through fields, and watching the Red Kites riding the thermals. I even spotted one sitting in a tree, over a hundred metres away, and really tested the zoom on my Canon Powershot SX210 IS.
Sheepridge is a small hamlet, with another quaint public house, The Crooked Billet. But I was way passed the need for a pint (I must really be ill) and strode on west, with just 3 kilometres to go.

Through a section of woodland, I stopped for a quick look at an ancient enclosure, where I read of the training trenches from the first world war; there are many dotted within the woods of the Chilterns. For now, though, I was having my own private battle. I descended steeply to a narrow road, then followed it for about half a kilometre, before the last slippery ascent. I was ready to get off this trail. After today, one thing is certain; I’ve a long way to go before I’m match fit!
My last obstacle, was probably the most dangerous one. Negotiating the speeding traffic on the A404 is quite intimidating; I had expected to see a tunnel or a bridge, but no such luck. Instead, it called for some nimble footwork across this dual carriageway.

As happened on the first section a few weeks ago, my timing proved impeccable. I reached the bus stop at 2.45pm, with only a wait of seven minutes for the bus. Just enough time to quickly rid the boots of mud, with a stiff brush, and stow the gaiters, before heading for my connecting bus in High Wycombe.
to be continued…