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 Chiltern hills walk one.

Ever since I did my retirement walk home from Poplar Dock on the Isle of Dogs to my home in Oakley I have been wanting to get to know the Chiltern Hills a bit better. I got a tempting glimpse of them then so when the Oakley garden club invited Gay Fallows to talk to us about wild flowers and where to find them in the Chilterns I was hooked. I bought her eponymous book and was very pleased to find that it included a series of eighteen walks covering most of the Chiltern range.

So now I have a little project and when Margaret and Terry expressed more than a passing interest as well, a plan was born. Hopefully, this will be the first of a series of walks in the Chilterns, based on those to be found in the book.

Of course our series of walks will also include the added element of beer and lunch and you can be sure that this is likely to be as important as the orchids and may prove to be equally elusive.

Pegsdon and Barton hills.

This is walk eighteen in the book and is in two parts which fitted in well with our lunchtime stop. Before we went, I spent some time searching for a suitable pub for lunch. Now when I say lunch, I don't necessarily mean lunch. What I mean is a pub with good real ale that also serves food. Internet searches revealed lots of places that waxed lyrical about their food, their wine lists, their whisky selections but made no mention of what sort of beers they were serving. This meant that we headed for our walk still undecided as to where we should 'bate. as Sam Pepys would have said. Margaret was joining us by train from Herne Hill so I had a little time for a quick recce and settled on The Raven at Hexam.


How do you tell if they are viola ordorata or just common early violets [v. reichenbaciana]? You SMELL them, and they didn't.


In Barton Hills


Chalk showing through the ploughed field


Casualties on their way to mate

Our walk ended along the lane past the church in Barton-le-Clay. Feeling rather badly about the poor flattened frogs we came across. But not enough to spoil the prospect of lunch at the The Raven in Hexam.

We arrived at the pub just after 1200 and being re-assured by the hand beer pumps, my first question was 'are you doing food' 'yes' they said 'just find a table without a reserved sign on it'. Now I thought they were taking the piss as there were hardly any diners and lots of empty tables. As the afternoon continued, first the white haired and zimmered brigade arrived and then the 'maternity leave mums' with their ever more complicated baby, and shopping, conveyances. Anyone who thinks that a perambulator was a substantial bit of kit should see these. At least there is hope that their present occupants may get to make the best go-carts for generations in a few years time.

After lunch we moved on to Pegsdon and the Pegsdon hills

Returning along the Icknield Way

With conveniently arranged places to sit

Celandines [Ranunculus ficaria}

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