Guest Walks

We extend an invitation to all our clients and guests who visit this site, to send us details of their favourite walks.
Please follow a similar format to those walks already published, i.e. provide the location and a word description of the route.  Also if possible, a gpx file or screenshot of the walk from your mapping software, plus distance walked and estimate of the time taken to walk. Oh, and not forgetting photographs please.

The walks don’t have to be in the areas we list, and we will endeavour to publish as soon as possible.
It would be great to see what kind of walk you love.

Thanks for you interest, and hope to hear from you.

SecretHills

Here is our first submission to the Guest Walks Page:

Buckinghamshire - Saunderton and the Chiltern Hills - By James Betteridge

This is one of a series of walks originally published in the Times by Christopher Somerville.   I have walked several of his routes and they are all very well described and easy to follow.   The link to this one is here: Saunderton Walk  

This walk is 7½ miles (12 km) taking approx 3-4 hours (OS Explorer 172, 171) and has a few undulations (to quote Jill).   Lowest point 99m, highest 192m, total ascent 357m.  

Start and end point is Saunderton rail station, near West Wycombe, Bucks HP14 4LJ (OS ref SU 813981) Parking available here for a few cars.   Potential lunch venues are the Golden Cross pub, Saunderton or the Dashwood Arms, Piddington (when pubs are open again!).   I ate my sandwiches on a log pile just before reaching Ham Farm.

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Above left, Milk Thistle, right Pyramidal Orchid

The classic Chilterns landscape is rolling hills; more akin to the Cotswolds than the Lake District.   The steepest ascents are in the last quarter of the walk as you head up from Ham Farm to Chawley Wood and again up Loxboro Hill through the nature reserve, but there's a fine view if you look over your shoulder and a sense of achievement when you reach the top!   The rest of the route is a mixture of footpaths, woods, lanes, farmland and open grassland.   There are two approx 2km sections of beech woodland which is another classic Chilterns feature; a remnant of the ancient beechwoods which once covered the whole region and can be now be only be found in isolated pockets like this and Burnham Beeches.

Classic Chiltern Woodland Path

A couple of points to note are that the exit from Bledlow Ridge cricket ground is not well marked and is a narrow gap in the SW corner of the field which then drops steeply down some rustic steps into the woods.   Another section was a bit overgrown with thorns and nettles for 1-200m so I'd recommend long sleeves and a stick.   You can expect to see and hear red kites, which are ubiquitous in the Chilterns and on the July day I walked the route there were many butterflies.

Thank you James.

South Wales - The Angidy and Gaer Hill - By Clifford Strover

Start the walk at the wire works car park in Tintern, it is quieter than the car park at the Abbey and is free. You may park next to the Abbey if you wish. There are many plaques in the wire works car park detailing the history of the wire works. There were various wire works stretching from Tintern up to the iron furnaces at the head of the Angidy valley, in all they formed the largest industrial complex in Wales in the 1600s.

Follow the road out of the car park then as the road turns right fork left and follow the path behind and between the houses beside the Angidy. When the path reaches a road turn left and then right to follow a path uphill beside a house into the woods. The path soon levels out and becomes a broad track follow this through the woods, keep low beside the river. Emerge from the woods by the road follow this to the ironworks. These date from the 1500s and were the first to use pistons rather than bellows to supply the air for the furnaces.

Return back to the road, turn right up the valley, follow the road for a few hundred yards. When the woods return to the road side on your left take the path up through the woods. Climb steeply up to the forestry track. Turn right on this and follow the wide level forestry track through the woods. The track dives into the woods following the contours and takes a sharp U turn. After this U turn at each fork in the track keep to the left. After the second fork the track climbs gently upwards. The woods clear first to the left then to the right and you emerge in a hamlet called “The Cot”. Turn left at the road then, at the end of the hamlet, right into the woods. Keep left and follow the path along the side of the woods. Pass the ornamental lake on the left, ignore the tracks pass on the right and left. The one on the left leaves it may be tricky to ensure you are on the correct path. It soon becomes apparent as the path climbs steeply up through the woods, which can be still and airless on a hot day. Emerge on a forest track. Not shown properly on the map but you will join a slightly lower track turn right to reach the main level track in about 10 yards then left. In 100 yards you’ll see another forest track on the right follow this one. It climbs gently, before it turns hard right there is a small footpath on the left take this path. The path is fairly short but steep and deeply cut in places. It comes out at a stile at the edge of the woods. Cross over the stile into the meadow. There may be English Long Horn cattle grazing in the field. Follow the path behind the barn on to the farm road. When the farm road turns right turn left and go through the stile and up the hill towards the wireless masts, the path goes just to the left of these. The stiles are of an unusual design being a flap that sides to one side. At the top of the hill on the right is the ditch of the iron age hillfort, one edge of which runs just below the trees.

At the top of Gaer Hill turn and admire the fantastic views across the Severn Estuary to the Mendips and beyond. It is possible to see both of the Severn bridges the M4 climbing up the hill near Almonsbury north of Bristol, Clevedon, down to Chepstow and west across to Twmbarlwm. For me this is the best view anywhere in the Wye Valley. I have climbed the hill late on a winters evening to see the bridges lit up in the dark, although it is better view in the day light. Like all good views the photo doesn’t do it justice since the view is much wider than a camera lens.

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After admiring the view continue past the wireless masts, keeping close to them on your right, though the gate and diagonally across the field to back corner. Cross the stile on to the road, turn left. After a few yards a track appears on the left take the path on the right through the hedge, across the tranquil church meadow to Penterry Church. The church is a lovely spot. It is a very typical Monmouthshire church, having the church bell situated in a vertical extension of the gable end. The church is a quiet peaceful spot. I have been told that the church has no electricity and winter services are conducted by candle light.

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Follow the path past the end of th church, once through the gate turn right. Follow the path down the hill over a road on onto a broad old track the base of which is bed rock. The path descends rapidly in places beside a stream. Follow this path back to Tintern. As the path becomes metalled it passes behind the old Abbey Hotel. At this point you may choose to visit Tintern to see the Abbey the Mill or the tea rooms!

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Form Tintern follow the road back to the Wireworks car park by turning left at The Royal George Inn.

In total the walk is 7 miles long.

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Thank you Cliff, and who's next?

SecretHills

Suffolk - Shotley Peninsula – a walk with two rivers - By Mark Ford

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This walk covers parts of the Stour and Orwell Walk which is itself an extension of the Suffolk Coastal Path and is located in the wildlife rich Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

The Shotley Peninsula, along with Trimley on the opposite bank of the Orwell, had the last outbreak of the plague in England covering the period 1906 -1918 causing 6 deaths.

The starting point for this walk is the public car park at Shotley Marina TM2520 3384.

We are at the conflux of the rivers Stour and Orwell and in the shadow of the majestic cranes of the Port of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port and capable of handling over 2m containers a year. We set off towards the reception building skirt around it and cross the marina lock gates and take the path on the outside of the yacht basin before heading upstream along the banks of the Orwell. The footpath hugs the top of the flood bank and is only wide enough for single file walking. We soon come across the remnants of old oyster beds just before the creeks at Crane’s Hill from where a detour up the hill from the footpath junction will take you past the vineyard to Shotley Church and a small War Commission cemetery.

We continue to follow the Orwell to Collimer Point with views of the Suffolk Yacht Harbour on the opposite bank, the river provides a huge area of safe sailing, boating and sailing tuition. As we reach the shade of the National Trust’s Cliff Plantation the path widens out and we continue through the trees and where the path splits take the lower path along past the boat house moorings to reach the tiny hamlet of Pin Mill and one of my favourite lunch stops, The Butt and Oyster.

The river is tidal and a high tide may see the water level against the wall of the Inn so a check before you set off is advisable to avoid having to double back. This is our halfway stage having covered around 5 miles so far.

Historical records for the building date back to 1456 when the Water Bailiff held his court here and it was recorded as a Public House in 1553. It featured in Arthur Ransome’s 1937 book ‘We didn’t mean to go to Sea’ and in the 1993 TV series Lovejoy in which it was renamed as ‘The Three Ducks’.

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Suitably refreshed we head up the lane out of the hamlet to the village of Chelmondiston but the n is silent and it is commonly referred to as ‘Chelmo’. Here we cross the road and turn left then take the first footpath on the left and head into arable farmland and big Suffolk skies. We keep Broomfield Covert to our right and continue along the path to Warren Lane. Here we are on wider field edge paths so it is possible to walk 2 or 3 abreast and chat while you walk though this has its dangers! Please see the next paragraph.

There are quite a few variations possible to this route and a quick study of the map will show you how to add a couple of miles on. My last walk along this route was actually 12 miles just because we decided to follow a different path or because we were chatting and missed the turning?

Warren Lane leads us to Erwarton Hall, rebuilt in 1575 by Sir Phillip Parker the uncle of Anne Boleyn who was apparently a frequent visitor to the Hall. Legend has it that her wish was to be buried in Erwarton and though there is no evidence to suggest this happened a heart shaped casket was found in a wall in the church in the 1830’s and was reburied with due ceremony underneath the organ.

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Following the road to our right and keeping the Hall to our left a short 650-yard walk along the road takes us to Erwarton Church and the observant among us may have seen the alpaca in the field behind the Hall. At the Church we take the lane to our left and there is a bench at the back of the church with views across the fields down to the River Stour, worth a little break and to see if the church is open. The lane becomes a footpath after a while and we follow this to the river and climb up onto the bank of the River Stour. The footpath again hugs the top of the flood wall and single file walking resumes.

Here we have views over to Harwich International Port which is a ferry terminal for the lorry freight trade and support centre for offshore wind farms.

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We head east along the bank though the Stour and Orwell walk actually takes a higher path to the road into Shotley but, at the time of writing the shoreline footpath is readily accessible. This may change after a harsh winter or succession of storms and it is advisable to take note of any warning signs. There is a further choice before the caravan park and I prefer to drop down onto the lower path when possible and keep alongside the river which leads us back to the village of Shotley Gate and our starting point of Shotley Marina.

(Note from the editor) As a retired Royal Navy man, I'd like to mention that it might be worth stopping at the HMS Ganges Museum which is situated between Shotley Gate and Shotley Marina. Ganges taught generations of naval ratings from 1865 until it closed in 1976. One thing that all "Ganges Boys" remember is "Manning the Mast" (before the days that girls in the RN were seagoing) which saw uniformed young boys climb a 143 foot high mast in time to music.

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OS Explorer 197 covers walk - the going is easy though can be heavy in the wetter autumn and winter months on the field-side paths and the bank of the Stour.

Thank you Mark, and who's next?

SecretHills