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    CHICCHANTAL   29,262
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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
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.

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.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
RUBYEAGLE134 3/10/2013 6:50PM

    Great blog as always. Makes me wish to be there! Mom would be with you on the horses. One time, we had mine & my brothers horses out in the front yard to mow the grass when mom came home from work. They chased her right up onto the front porch & acted as if they wanted to come in the house with her. They were such big pets (literally as well as figuratively speaking).

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GOANNA2 3/10/2013 6:42PM

    You sure had quite a day. That is a lot of steps
my dear. I love going along on your walks. emoticon

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MARYJEANSL 3/10/2013 6:34PM

  Wow - quite an adventure, though most of your walks seem to be on the adventurous side. I'm sorry the weather was so unpleasant, but at least you got your miles in.

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JOYINKY 3/10/2013 6:27PM

    I am in awe of your adventuresome spirit! I love your blog; both the photos and the prose. You are a very engaging writer. It's all good! Thanks for sharing.

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MARIANNE9855 3/10/2013 6:14PM

    great blog as usual- I trust cows much more than horses as well- they don't run very fast! emoticon

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ALIHIKES 3/10/2013 5:52PM

    Thanks for sharing your hike ! I really enjoyed the photos. It is muddy here too, from the snow melt.

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LECATES 3/10/2013 5:29PM

    I liked the first picture best---kind of reminds me of Robert Frost and taking the less traveled by route----although it looks like a pretty good path---enjoyed the walk with you.

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NELLIEH1 3/10/2013 5:27PM

    The views are lovely, even in the snow and sleet! Thanks for being willing to share all this with us. We took a wee walk today, but the mud was just too much and we also turned back. It was only about town, so no beautiful meadows and fields, just lots of white buildings with green trim...New England traditionals. emoticon

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LADYKATHLEEN5 3/10/2013 5:17PM

  You are absolutely amazing. What energy. I love your blogs.

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NILLAPEPSI 3/10/2013 5:03PM

    Hope you found a place to "go." emoticon Thanks for taking us on a walk with you today. emoticon

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610PEACH 3/10/2013 4:57PM

    I would TOTALLY pretend I was a Stone Age woman herding sheep, too! Perfect!! And I would give quite a lot to be able to trek a 5000 year old path. Everything where I live is really steep up or down (and then down or up). Maybe someday I'll get there. In the meantime, I'm so happy I found your hiking blogs! Have a wonderful week!

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SLIMLEAF 3/10/2013 4:51PM

    I enjoyed 'accompanying' you on your walk today. Thanks for the blog and pictures.

I went for a sort-of walk of my own today, just round the local pavements as crutches and slippery mud don't make good companions. Even in town, though, I saw lots of snowdrops and crocuses and the nearby hills covered in snow.

There were a few snow flurries whilst I was out, but nothing significant and it was sunny for quite a bit of the time - excellent for those in need of a Vitamin D boost!

My hobble was much shorter than yours, but at just under an hour, it's the longest one I've been on since breaking my leg, so I reckon we can both congratulate ourselves today. :-)

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RAINBOWCHOC 3/10/2013 4:43PM

    you're back in the land of my yoof, geography walks, field trips and bank holiday rambles. We'd often go into Aylesbury for 10 pin bowling too.

The snow held off until 6 in this part of the world but it was too blustery to settle. The worst weather was Friday's rain.

Hope you are warm indoors now. "They" are forecasting a wind chillfactor of -7C tomorrow.

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DANAPRIME 3/10/2013 4:22PM

    You are becoming a hard core hiker! Way to go!!!

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PHOENIX1949 3/10/2013 3:57PM

    IMAGINATION is great. . . . Try to pretend I am a Stone Age herdswoman driving sheep along it . . .

PLANNING for and following through on food that is "cheap, nutritious, and plenty of protein . . . is great.

VIEWS are great in spite of the dreary weather & will be much more inviting next time we go along this walk with you.



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PIMPINELLAN50 3/10/2013 3:53PM

    Awesome blog!Hopefully your next hike will be a bit warmer.

emoticon emoticon

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NOTSPEEDY 3/10/2013 3:53PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LOOKINGUP2012 3/10/2013 3:49PM

    Fantastic hike! Thanks for letting us look over your shoulder. Hope your are good and warmed up by now.

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COCK-ROBIN 3/10/2013 3:43PM

    Very good!

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JACKIE542 3/10/2013 3:39PM

    Some beautiful view shots, glad you did get out for a bit. I would have turned around too.
Thank you and have a great day. emoticon

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CELEST 3/10/2013 3:38PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed walking along with you. I had to google a few things to appreciate them fully such as the bovines you spoke of (quite beautiful they were too) 6 miles is quite a distance. Do you belong to a hiking club or just go by yourself?

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LINDAK25 3/10/2013 3:28PM

    Yikes! The scenery is beautiful. This would be a great walk on a cloudy, warmer day--not so sure about rain, sleet and snow (and mud!). Great walk, at least for me. Thanks for being so intrepid.

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CATLADY52 3/10/2013 3:20PM

    You did quite well. emoticon

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TDEMAIO2 3/10/2013 3:16PM

    Thank you for sharing your walks with us : ) I am so glad I am sitting here in my warm house reading about your walk :D You are AWESOME for going out in the cold, rain and snow for your walks. I must say I am a fair weather walker and my journeys are not as beautiful as yours either. I am glad you are feeling better to venture out for a walk :D emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/10/2013 3:18:56 PM

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A-DAY-AT-A-TIME 3/10/2013 3:07PM

  emoticon emoticon

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POPSY190 3/10/2013 2:55PM

    A bracing walk?

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FIRECOM 3/10/2013 2:54PM

    Your obviously feeling better as your blog is great as usual. Great work.

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IAMWINNING 3/10/2013 2:48PM

    Wonderful descriptions, as always, and I like the pictures, even tho' the weather wasn't cooperating. Thanks again for sharing.

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AUNTB63 3/10/2013 2:38PM

    Thank you for sharing your hiking experience along with the pictures. Made me feel like I was there with you. I'm not a hiker, but enjoyed your descriptive blog. Hope your next adventure isn't so dreary. Have a wonderful week.

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DR1939 3/10/2013 2:30PM

    You must go back there in the Spring. It looks lovely and we all need to see it. A 5,000 year-old trail, how cool is that!

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BRENDAGAIL9 3/10/2013 2:22PM

    What an adventure you shared with us. Did you ever find the lavatory? How inconvienient at the train station.

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RAINBOWMF 3/10/2013 2:07PM

    emoticon great miles.

emoticon for sharing, very nice pictures.


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LYNCHD05 3/10/2013 1:52PM

    Another great walk. Tanks for taking us along!!!

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JERICHO1991 3/10/2013 1:51PM

    What a great attitude, considering the weather, and other circumstances, you were dealing with. I really enjoy reading about your hiking adventures. I'm starting to think about finding trails this spring/summer to hike.

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NEW-CAZ 3/10/2013 1:50PM

    Great walk despite the chill.

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JENAE954 3/10/2013 1:49PM

Thanks for sharing it with us!

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LIVEDAILY 3/10/2013 1:47PM

    I'm sorry the weather turned on you. Belted Galloways!! I call them "Oreo Cows" for obvious reasons. emoticon
Sunny yesterday and today here. We got 6 inches of snow on Friday, and yesterday the temps climbed up to 55 F. Today I don't think we'll get quite that high, but it's a nice day, nonetheless.

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STONECOT 3/10/2013 1:46PM

    By hook or by crook I'll be first on the blog! I'm impressed you know the breed of cattle! I've been out smartarsed! I'm happily reading this while imbibing a holiday beer. Hope you've warmed up now. I'm looking forward to tackling this walk later on when I'm back.

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CAMSEDGE 3/10/2013 1:45PM

    Delightfull, as usual.

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KAYYAK1 3/10/2013 1:45PM

  You have such energy to do your walks. Keep it up.

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RAWCOOKIE 3/10/2013 1:40PM

    That was a pretty brisk walk across country - well done!
emoticon cuppa?

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GABY1948 3/10/2013 1:39PM

    Thank you for the wonderful blog! Have a great day!

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