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Archive for February, 2011

The first signs of spring in the Chilterns

Saunderton to Wendover, Buckinghamshire

Quintessential beech woodland in the Chilterns

Quintessential beech woodland in the Chilterns

North to the Chilterns, to take advantage of early spring sunshine. A favourite area of mine, the chalk hills, downland and beautiful beech woodlands of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are very popular with walkers and riders. Generalising somewhat, the topography gives rise to two distinct landscapes: the south-east facing dip slope is heavily wooded, while the much steeper scarp slope that drops away abruptly to the north-west features valuable but rare chalk downland, a threatened habitat that, as I saw on this walk, is a priority for conservationists. A National Trail, the Ridgeway, follows an ancient trackway along the spine of the ridge for much of its route, starting (or finishing, depending on the direction in which you choose to walk) at Ivinghoe Beacon. I began a little way south of the national trail, climbing through gorgeous dappled woodlands to join the Ridgeway and pass close to a world-famous country residence, before following the line of the scarp slope to my destination; I’m accompanied for much of the way by what must be one of the greatest conservation successes of recent years.

Start: Saunderton Station SU813981

Finish: Wendover Station SP865077

Length: 10¾ miles/5 hours

How to get there: Both stations are less than an hour from London, served by Chiltern Railways services from Marylebone. Each stations lies on an entirely different line however, so there doesn’t seem to be any option other than to buy two single tickets.

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