I was doing this walk in aid of the excellent Iain Rennie Hospice At Home charity, and also as part of my preparation for Peru. It follows a stretch of the Ridgeway, and left from Princes Risborough School, taking a route through the peaks of Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill, before finishing at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, meaning a total of 18 miles on the course I walked. Shorter versions were available and walked by others.
I left the school at 0915 and just followed people who had already started off. There were marshalls along the way, and no real need to use the maps provided. Maybe if I had been following a map I would have realised I had completed the first peak. Instead, the first landmark I passed was The Plough at Cadsden, which I reached after 30 minutes. Next was Chequers, after an hour. I was told later that David Cameron was in residence, had seen all the walkers in their white tshirts, and came out to see what they were walking in aid of. Hopefully the charity can get some good publicity from that. At the end of the field on the other side of the Chequers driveway I caught up with a small group of people, and that is when I met Alice and her mother, Linda, who became my walking companions for the day, and made the walk a lot more fun than it might have been. We chatted throughtout the rest of the walk, only moving to silence while concentrating on our breathing going uphill, which Alice did at a blistering pace while myself and Linda just tried to keep up. I was fine on the flat, and could make up any lost ground, but it became very clear to me that I need to work on my climbs.
The route to Coombe Hill was 5 miles, and we got to the top of Coombe Hill (260m, 852ft)after an hour and a half. From Coombe Hill it was a matter of passing through Wendover on the way to Tring, and we made it to Tring Station after 4 hours and 20 minutes, having covered the 9 miles inbetween. This left the 4 mile walk up to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon (230m, 760ft), which was certainly harder than anything we had previously encountered, but we still made it to the top 5 hours and 33 minutes after we had set off, which was not a bad pace for 18 miles.
And here’s my soundtrack for the part of the walk I did alone :
Godspeed You ! Black Emperor – Providence; UFO – Rock Bottom (live); Porcupine Tree – Fear Of A Blank Planet; Tinyfish – Motorville; Crippled Black Phoenix – We Forgotten Who We Are; The Waterboys – The Pan Within; Porcupine Tree – Arriving Somewhere But Not Here; Porcupine Tree – Halo.