Friday, 31 October 2014

Ashridge Estate and Ivinghoe Beacon, Chilterns.

It's taken 10 years to perfect my favourite walk in the Chilterns and this is it. 

A one hour drive from Harringay and you get to a slightly wild ridge walk complete with sheep. In spring the bluebells of Ashridge estate are a bonus, later the beech trees Autumn colours are your reward. You'll certainly see buzzards, usually deer and red kite too. 

It's a 7 mile circular walk, if you cut off the detour to Ivinghoe Beacon, you can cut it down to 5 miles. 

How to Get There
Park up in the picturesque village of Aldbury with duck pond and stocks. Up the M1, at junction 5 head off and up the A41 towards Aylesbury, take the Tring turning and follow signs to Tring station and then onwards to Aldbury.

Drinking and Eating 
There is one of those village shops that sells everything, where you can stock up on picnic treats. We usually stop for a pint at the end at the Greyhound pub, which also serves food. 

The Walk 
Ordnance Survey Explorer map 181 Chiltern Hills North is the one to use. 

Take the narrow path (to the left of the Greyhound pub) which runs along the back of the village, cross the football pitch and go left along the path on the other side of the pitch, shortly you take another path right, a tunnel of pollarded trees up to the golf course, straight on and left and right through the white markers up to the wood. This is when the loveliness starts. Not long into the wood you take the path on the right, the steps begin to take you up to the ridge. 

and then you just keep going 

until you hit a car park and road, cross this and straight on again towards Ivinghoe Hills 

Once you've walked up Ivinghoe Hills, you continue left to Ivinghoe Beacon (missed off the map above) 

Looking back at the walk from Ivinghoe Hills. 
and then retrace your steps, but continue along the Hills and through the woods of the Ashridge Estate. 

You can keep going at the same level, in which case you'll eventually come to a monument and National Trust Cafe and there is a path back down into the village. If the bluebells are out this may be the more rewarding route. But it can be a bit trudgey so we've taken to slipping back down into the valley, as on the map above. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Knole Park to Igtham Moat, Kent

We save this walk for Autumn when we forage for sweet chestnuts. A saunter around  Knole Park  a medieval deer park still with 400 deer descended from the herds Henry VIII hunted. Then a ridge walk with views across the Weald of Kent, there and back to Igtham Moat, a moated medieval manor house.

Around 6-7 miles. 

How to Get There 
Just over a one hour car journey. Through the Blackwall tunnel, down the A2 onto the M25, breaking off onto the A21 and into Sevenoaks. The entrance to Knole park is just after the high street. Pay at the gate and drive through the park to the car park just in front of Knole house. 

Knole House (National Trust) 

Tea and Cake
Knole Park has the usual National Trust cafe and if you choose to visit Igtham Moat at the other end, there's another one there of course.

The Walk 
The Ordnance survey explorer map 147 is the one you need. 

Although I've mapped one route, the beauty of Knole is winding your way as you wish. Just make your way up to the 'Chestnut Walk or on the map above, marked Greensand way. 

Knole Park 
Along 'Chestnut Walk', at a footpath 'cross roads', turn right along the footpath which will take you out of the park, across a road and then continue along the Greensand Way footpath  to Igtham Moat. At several points you are rewarded with views across the usually misted, wooded Weald of Kent with its oast houses and typical tiled Kent houses. 

The Weald of Kent 
After Igtham Moat, back along the ridge

Igtham Moat

Back into the park, we get off the tarmac paths and wander along grass paths around the far edge of the park, weaving our way through the golf course. 

You end up walking along the boundary wall, and come across this wonderful line of steps embedded in the wall. 

You'll shortly come across two houses on the other side of the wall, time to head left up the hill and wind your way down to the tarmac path which will take you back to the car park.