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    CHICCHANTAL   23,113
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Back in the Ice Age

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Can't make up my mind where to go for a hike today. In the end I take the train to a place called Tring in Hertfordshire which is not a synthetic fibre although it sounds as though it should be, but a small town, inconveniently situated 1.5 miles from its own railway station (what do they think this is , France or something?). Just how inconvenient this is becomes clear when I enquire about a lavatory at the station.

'No, sorry. Only if you go into town.' Peruse the bus timetables outside the station (three miles is a long way to walk for a pee) and discover that there are no buses from Tring station to Tring on a Sunday. In fact having asked google, it seems this is not true. You can travel by bus from Tring station to Tring via Hemel Hempstead which is 12 miles away from Tring, a journey of 45 minutes or so.

I've got a horrible feeling that this is not an error on my part. You know how you guys say 'Only in America' with a sort of rueful pride? In England, we wrote the book.

As I leave the station I note with interest that there are a few flakes of snow blowing in the breeze. Quite a stiff breeze too, and it's nearly freezing so it's . . . er . . . bottom-numbing.



Anyway, walk up the road to the start of the footpath. This is the walk I was going to take Stonecot on a few weeks ago when we ended up in Maidenhead. I'm pleased and proud to say that the footpath is part of the Ridgeway www.nationaltrail
.co.uk/ridgeway/
which I've always wanted to walk along. You want old? This path at least 5,000 years old and very likely more. We're talking Stone Age motorway here.

So, I walk up a little lane, take a pic of the view which would be a lot better if it were sunny.



The National Trust own this bit of land (they own many of the best bits in England) and tell me this is Aldbury Nowers. Please don't ask me what a nower is. I've just been looking and apparently the name looks old but isn't and I can't find the etymology of nower. I did try. It has loads of butterflies and rare flowers but not today, today it's sort of grey-green and muddy.

Keep walking. Pass a seat without sitting on it and come to some woodland and slither about in it for the next mile or so. It is very muddy (surprise) because we had some rain a few days ago. Try to pretend I am a Stone Age herdswoman driving sheep along it and feel increasingly glad that in fact I'm not and am wearing 21st century synthetic wadding to keep the cold out with.




There are very nice views despite the weather and I'm sure this woodland will be beautiful if we ever have spring again.

Walk up some mud steps and after further slithering and cursing, reach the end of the woodland and meet with some interesting signage.




You do get the impression they don't really want you here don't you? There are bovine things about and I think they are bullocks because they have the tuft of hair under their tums that you tend to get with male cattle. I'm not going close to look though. Without going close I can tell you that they are Belted Galloways. That'll impress all the farmers amongst you. This is a Scottish breed, not all that common in England (we get a lot of Herefords and Friesians which are chestnut brown with white faces, and black and white blotchy respectively).

So anyway, I haven't got a dog for the cattle to chase but a couple come up behind me with a red setter that is not on the lead and seem happy to sacrifice it so I follow them at a safe distance. The cattle ignore us. There are loads of people on the path and they've clearly seen it all before.

The weather has been thinking things over for a while and has decided to sleet for a bit. However I am ignoring it and giving it the opportunity to behave better. I also have a new download on iPod, you could call it opera's greatest hits. Actually it's called 'The best opera album in the world . . . EVER!' Don't beat about the bush guys, big yourselves up. So I'm striding up chalk downland with some of the most sublime music ever created in my ear, the Toreadors' Chorus from Carmen, and wishing I had a 'voice' so I could join in. www.youtube.com/w
atch?v=4g_otRgzerI





Get to the top of the hill, and look at the view. It's not looking too clever, to be honest. I keep walking and come to a road, and it's another 1.25 miles to Ivinghoe Beacon, where I'm headed for. The wind's like a knife and the point about the beacon is it's high up. The snow has decided to snow a bit harder.

Now you know me, I don't usually wimp out, but the only way back is more or less the way I've come, and things are looking increasingly blizzardy. I'm what 'real' hikers call a fair weather hiker. I may have proper hiking boots on but I'm not wearing a waterproof and I'm not geared up for snow or rain. The weather forecast today, curse it, said cloudy and cold but no rain or snow, so the person who wrote that is coming off my Christmas card list because I wouldn't have gone out for a hike in weather like this if I'd known it was coming.



Say humph to myself, take a photo of the beacon (the high bit in the distance) and turn round to walk back.

As I'm walking along the path back I see that there is a lot of low cloud forming, and realise that I turned back at the right time.



Somehow I miss the path (there are several tracks all going in the same direction) and come to a signpost that points downhill a bit saying 'Ridgeway this way'. As I look the way it points, one of the cattle settles itself down in the middle of the path for a snooze. Two of the other cattle are already lying on the path.

Now I like cows. And bullocks. I do prefer them on the other side of a stout fence, to be honest, but I will walk through a field of bovines rather than a field of horses. However given the warnings about these particular cattle I'm less than keen on walking right under their noses. So I make a detour across the downland and slither back on to the right path and through the wicket gate into the woods again.

I'm looking for signs of spring but the only thing in flower is Dog's Mercury, which has a beatiful name but is not much to look at.



Half an hour later I am back at the bench I didn't sit on before and sit on it this time and have my lunch. I seem to have sort of identified my own personal iron rations for hiking: peanut butter sarnie, lentil soup and usually a banana but I didn't have any today. Also water with Rose's lime cordial in it. There is much debate on hiking websites about food etc but the above seems to suit me quite well: cheap, nutritious and plenty of protein. There's also very little work involved because I make the soup in large batches and freeze it.

After ten minutes, get up and continue, finishing with a shortcut that gets me back to the station just in time to miss a train by 30 seconds and have 45 minutes' wait for the next one.

Some days are just like that.

6 miles, 15,000 steps, two hours 15 minutes.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BMCKEOW1 3/11/2013 11:52AM

    I love your blogs the pictures are always incredible. That sucks that you missed the train by that little bit of time. Still what an adventure.

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SHOAPIE 3/11/2013 11:21AM

    emoticon

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TINY67 3/11/2013 11:21AM

    Great blog and pics.

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NEPTUNE1939 3/11/2013 11:14AM

    emoticon

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CLAYARTIST 3/11/2013 11:07AM

  emoticon We call Belted Galloway cows "Oreo cookie cows" where I live in Virginia... emoticon emoticon

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PATTISTAMPS 3/11/2013 10:59AM

    What a wonderful walk, despite not getting as far as you wanted. 6 miles is quite a respectable stroll, especially up and down hills and slogging through mud! I love reading your blogs!

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SUSIEMT 3/11/2013 10:49AM

    Good Job!

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KARRENLYNN 3/11/2013 10:27AM

    What a beautiful place to hike! and Congratulations on doing 6 miles and 15,000 steps!

Have a great day!

Karen emoticon

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CINDYSDAY 3/11/2013 10:19AM

    emoticon

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GRIZ1GIRL 3/11/2013 10:18AM

    Do you secretly write for the Travel Channel? :) Seriously--awesome blogs...I feel so worldly & well-traveled now. And does that count as my daily exercise??? Just kidding...

THANKS for sharing!

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WORKNPROGRESS49 3/11/2013 9:20AM

    emoticon

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 3/11/2013 9:20AM

    Thanks for bringing us along on your trek.
And, for your pic's and commentary.
Audra

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DJSHIP46 3/11/2013 9:16AM

    Beautiful even on what looks like a dreary day... Thanks for sharing :)

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NETTYDAWG 3/11/2013 8:48AM

    Thanks for another great blog and hike. It was cool seeing you mention Hemel Hempstead (or Hammy Hampstead as my hubby calls it). That's my home town but never heard of Tring. However, when we go back (which we are planning in the next few years with the kids) I would love to hike some of those wonderful trails. Thank you. emoticon

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LIFETIMER54 3/11/2013 8:34AM

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GOOSIEMOON 3/11/2013 8:30AM

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L1ZB3TH354 3/11/2013 8:21AM

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CHERYLHURT 3/11/2013 8:17AM

  Amazing blog!

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MOMMY445 3/11/2013 8:01AM

    sounds like you had a great hike, despite the cold weather! great pictures! have a wonderful day!

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DIANNEMT 3/11/2013 7:50AM

    You had a nice hike--sorry it was cold!!

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BKNOCK 3/11/2013 7:45AM

    Great blog! I love the pictures. I hope you take them again in the spring!

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MIMIDOT 3/11/2013 7:44AM

    What a trip! Nice pictures. Thanks for taking me along.

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MILLEDGE2 3/11/2013 7:39AM

    I'm reading this on a dark Monday morning (went on Daylight Saving Time over the weekend), listening to it rain outside and about to do my indoor cardio...after reading another one of your wonderful adventures, I'll just quit my complaining and chuckle over the adventures you can make out of a cold, sleety, muddy day and gratefully push on with my wimpy form of exercise.

Here's to YOU, CHICCHANTAL, and all the humor-filled adventure you bring into my day, a half a planet away! Have a great week and it adds a lovely icing on the cake that you were listening to great music throughout this adventure! emoticon

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WORKINGANGEL 3/11/2013 7:37AM

    I feel like I walked with you. Your descriptions are wonderful. And, by the way...I know exactly what a Belted Galloway is. I lived on a farm in Ohio where we had them. Thank you for the wonderful blog.
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TERMITEMOM 3/11/2013 7:16AM

    Wonderful blog! The way you describe your hikes is just amazing: I have the feeling to have been there beside you! I am sure you are happy Spring is amost here and I look forward to your next hike! emoticon emoticon

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AMANDACOETZER 3/11/2013 6:52AM

    emoticon

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BESSHAILE 3/11/2013 6:44AM

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful countryside with us.

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LEANMEAN2 3/11/2013 6:36AM

    I got chilled through hiking with you today. I love your blogs. Thanks so much.

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SANDYCRANE 3/11/2013 6:35AM

    Another great hike. I think I will stick to my country roads.

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TRYINGHARD54 3/11/2013 5:46AM

    thanks for the long, freezing cold, windy walk........ whew! I'm exhausted. lol emoticon

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NCSUE0514 3/11/2013 4:42AM

    I always love accompanying you on your walks. Thank you!

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SHANNONY84 3/11/2013 4:21AM

    Your blog is amazing! It is like walking my own trail with you! And the pictures are absolutely incredible! Thank you for sharing!

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EOWYNRUSS 3/11/2013 2:36AM

    A 5,000 year old trail? The next time I am in England, I simply must walk it, the whole thing! I saw that the chalk horse is along the way, I've longed to see it up close (I know, it probably just looks like a big white path on the ground). I happen to live in a town with a lot of good walking trails, but 87 miles of history thousands of years old,...how cool is that? I would have pretended I was a Stone Age Herdswoman as well. In fact, I don't think anyone could have stopped me. Your blogs always make me wish that YOUR hikes were MY hikes. emoticon

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CHRISBEM 3/11/2013 1:43AM

    I love the signs - I don't know about letting the dog off the lead though - my old lab always tried to be macho around the cows and giving a good tug on his lead was the only way to snap him out of it and leave the cows alone

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CBRINKLEY401 3/10/2013 11:42PM

    The scenery is beautiful, even if the weather was overcast. Must be amazing when the sun is shining and the foliage is all green!
Wouldn't mind imagining to be back in the Stone Age, as long as I still get to use indoor plumbing! Definitely not one to relish squatting somewhere in the woods and hoping no one comes by, and using leaves instead of TP.
Had lots of rain today to help melt the snow, but everything is now covered with water so no walking until it manages to seep into the ground a bit first. Thanks for taking us on your walk since I am missing taking my own at the moment.

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DNRAE1 3/10/2013 11:01PM

    You did leave us wondering about the "pee", but probably TMI! lol Another great hike, pictures, and blog! 15,000 steps is nothing to sneeze at and quite a great trek. Thanks again!!

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DEEEBEE 3/10/2013 10:22PM

    I very much enjoy reading your blogs. I have to say you are a whole lot braver than I am! And I am totally wimpy around mud, not to mention bullocks!

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Comment edited on: 3/10/2013 10:23:55 PM

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EABL81 3/10/2013 10:04PM

    You are quite intrepid! Rain, sleet, dead of winter. Our post office has a similar sort of saying, but even they don't mention bullocks!
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JGMARIE80 3/10/2013 9:17PM

  I love reading about your walks. The pictures are great too. It felt like I was walking along with you.

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ISTRALOUISE 3/10/2013 9:06PM

    Such wonderful descriptive writing! Thank you very much for including us again in your walks! I'm sorry it was so cold, maybe the next one will be dry. I love your description of your "iron rations" as well. I love lentil soup!

Can't wait for your next walk to be posted in your blog.
Well done!

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DALID414 3/10/2013 9:06PM

    Not bad for a walk cut short.

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CINDHOLM 3/10/2013 9:04PM

    Thank you for sharing your hiking journey.. emoticon

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-SHOREIDO- 3/10/2013 8:45PM

    Oh my that was a trip!! and I don't even want to ask about the "P" and what path that took!
Have a great week and thanks for the smiles and the photos. emoticon

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LAURIETAIT 3/10/2013 8:34PM

    You did the prudent thing in turning back. That walk looks gorgeous. I can't wait to pics of it in the Spring.

PS - 15,000 steps is nothing to sneeze at!

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JANETTEB553 3/10/2013 8:11PM

    emoticon

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MT-MOONCHASER 3/10/2013 7:43PM

    I clicked on your music link and really enjoyed listening to it while finishing your blog. I may go back and replay it later and watch the video.

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KIPPER15 3/10/2013 7:26PM

    Lovely pictures dispite the weather. Great fortitude you have to go out in the weather. I hate to walk in the cold. emoticon

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LYNNWILK2 3/10/2013 7:21PM

    I absolutely adore you blogs!!!!! I always feel like I have had the honor of going with you.... a 5000 motor speed way!
You are definitely feeling better, I am glad.
You can make your hikes so alive to those who get to read them.
Thank you for sharing, it's such an inspiration.
There aren't many places like this in the US, walking/hiking when outside a national forest, you can be arrested for trespassing... sort take your chances with the far off places out of town.

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DOVESEYES 3/10/2013 7:15PM

    Great views emoticon

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AUSFAM 3/10/2013 6:58PM

    You are brave I do not like cattle--especially cattle that I'm not familiar with. :)

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