12 February, Chesham Circular

By the time I arrived in Chesham, 24 Poly Ramblers had assembled for a walk, which was a good turnout for a winter walk. Some, like me, had arrived on a combination of the Chilterns Railways and Met Line and others had driven directly to Chesham the start point for our walk. We had three new members and a number of members we hadn’t seen for a long time so it was really nice to welcome them to the fold. It took us a while to set off because I had to confirm numbers of people who were going to be eating at the pub and then phone through their orders to the pub who wanted to have some notice to be prepared for us. I wasn’t expecting to have to do this, so this created a bit of stress for me. But after the briefing, we were ready to get going. It was a very bright sunny day perfect for walking!

After crossing a busy road, we made our way out of Chesham high street and into the old part of the town where there are some lovely old characterful houses. Our walk then took us along a narrow quiet country lane called Drydell Lane. I had pointed out in the briefing that we needed to take particular care walking along this lane and all stay in single file as it could potentially be dangerous if a speeding car came up behind us. Eventually we came off the lane and along a bridleway passing through an avenue of trees and hedges offering glimpses of fine views of a valley. Eventually we came on to a lane passing several farms and a small number of houses. Our path came off this lane and we went into a wood taking us to the first of a number of short steep hills as we crossed a number of dry chalk valleys that radiate out from Chesham. Everyone managed the hills without too much difficulty, and the compensation was the lovely views of the rolling Chilterns countryside. We allowed ourselves time to look back and admire the views. We came off the path to a brief look at Pednor House, an old seventeenth red brick manor house which had a particularly splendid dovecote in the centre of the courtyard. It was then a short walk up yet another hill to the outskirts of village of Chartridge and our lunchtime stop, the Bell pub. The landlady was the only person behind the bar and it took a while to serve everyone with their drinks and lunch. But we forgave her. The warmth of her welcome and the good lunch more than made up for the delay. Those who didn’t lunch at the pub had packed lunches in the pub garden and came inside to buy a drink. By now a brisk wind was blowing, so people appreciated the opportunity to get inside the pub for some warmth.
We had about two thirds of the walk remaining by the time we set out from the pub. The rest of the walk took us through classic Chilterns countryside – pretty woodlands and across fields with ubiquitous kites whirling above us. It wasn’t as muddy as I had been expecting. I had underestimated the number of hills on this walk but everyone took the fourth hill in their stride being the fit walkers they are. This brought us back into the outskirts of Chesham. Eventually, the town came fully into view as we emerged out of a small wood and into Lowndes Park. We stopped to read a plaque explaining the origins of the park which were that it was private land that had been donated to the town by the Lowndes family, hence the name Lowndes Park. It is a very large green space on a hillside that is very much a feature of Chesham. At this point we discovered that two of our party, Carol and Sunita, had birthdays that day and Carol started handing around ‘Bliss Cakes’ that she had made. They certainly lived up to their name and were so delicious that I had two! After singing happy birthday we walked down into the town where we ended our walk. Some dashed off to get the next train back into London, whilst the rest of us decided to find a tea shop and prolong our relaxed state a little longer.
Mary King   Leader