I’m back in the Chilterns again. The weather forecast told me it would be a clear, sunny day so I decided today would be just right for a trip out to Buckinghamshire.
And, by jove, I’m just glad I got up at 5:30 this morning, even though I’d only been asleep for about four hours. For the first time in months I’ve seen at first hand the beauty of the Chilterns in the morning. I’ve been through Chesham, the Lee, Ballinger and now Wendover.
Just one fly in the ointment: I took a detour round the woods above Wendover. They’re everything I’ve come to expect in a wooded area in these parts. But the recent rain has turned parts of the paths into a quagmire. I was too busy trying to avoid them and coming a cropper on my bike to appreciate the woods.
Anyway, I’m bound to see more of the countryside as the day goes on.
It was on this day in 1992 (23rd January) that I made my first excursion into Buckinghamshire. Or at least the first since the previous August when I took the Chiltern line out to Wendover and walked to Little Kimble. On this occasion I travelled on the Metropolitan line all the way out to Amersham and from there walked all the way out to Chesham. Actually it was quite an unremarkable day as I remember. The only real difference between this and any other day was I was in a county that I had only visited a few times before. And of course I didn’t have a bike.
Well, today I’m marking that anniversary. Like this day in 1992, it’s a dull, damp day. However, I’ve been able to do plenty of exploring on my bike. I arrived at Chesham at midday, took off up Drydell Lane to Pednor and Chartridge, passed St Leonards and ended up back here just before 2:00pm.
And I’m not going to miss out Amersham. I’m planning to catch the train from there to Marylebone.
Chalfont St Giles, the Green. And Milton's cottage is up the street to the right.
St Mary the Virgin, Denham
After a week out of action with a puncture and a wonky rear wheel my bike is back on the road.
I’m having a hair-raisingly expensive pot of tea and a cookie in “The Deli” – not the capital of India – in Chalfont St Giles – and, no, I’m not talking about haemorrhoids.
It’s just down the road from Milton’s cottage, as it happens. Now the museum there was closed and I didn’t pick up a copy of “Paradise Lost” (though I’m sure I’ll be able to find the text on the Internet). What I did pick up was a paperback edition of “Vet in a Spin” by James Herriot, withdrawn from the local library.
So now I’ve got a souvenir of Chalfont St Giles, I’m going to jump on my bike and whizz off to Denham and Uxbridge…
7th July 1990 was the first time I visited Buckinghamshire. I got the train to Aylesbury and visited Wendover. I didn’t have a bike back then. I did all my travelling by bus and train. On 7th July 2010 I took the train to Chesham then cycled to Wendover, detoured to Weston Turville and Aston Clinton, then to Aylesbury, Bierton, Hulcott, back to Wendover, the Kimbles, Great and Little Missenden, Amersham and finally back on the train at Northwood… all in 16 hours!
My bicycle ride today took me from Moor Park to Harefield, over the River Colne to Maple Cross, to Chalfont St Giles, through Hodgemoor Woods to Penn Street, Mp End Lane and Fullers Hill to Chesham. Thence to Amersham back to Chalfont St Giles then to Chalfont St Peter to Denham back to Harefield, finishing at Ickenham. I loved every minute of my day, even the heavy showers.
No, there wouldn’t be a repeat of last November’s washout the last time I visited the Chilterns. The clouds were doing well at blotting out the sun but then at 2.30pm they began to falter. Now their resistance has completely collapsed. And for the first time in months I can see at first hand the beauty of the Chilterns in spring! It reminds me of why I love this place so much and why I keep coming back.
I spent about two hours cycling in the pouring rain. My trousers were saturated, my shoes and socks were flooded… So why didn’t I feel miserable? In fact, why was I happy? Maybe it’s because I was riding carefree around the Chilterns, something I love to do, something I don’t do often enough.