The Buckinghamshire Way – first walk this weekend

The Buckinghamshire Way has been a long time in contemplation, but I will finally be starting it on Saturday, 13 July 2019. The starting point will by Buckinghamshire’s south-easternmost point, in Hythe End. I will then walk down to the Thames and the National Trust’s Ankerwycke meadows, and follow upstream to Eton and to Clivedon before turning due north. The next day should see me through the Chilterns and on to Aylesbury.

Some of the route is on paths I know, while most is completely new – in any case, the Buckinghamshire Way is no more than a line on a map until it is actually walked.


What would Wainwright do?

There are more stories about Alfred Wainwright than about any other fellwalker. A list of his favourite places would fill volumes. He once though tried to sum up the best places of the lakes in a walk. No one but Wainwright would have thought of inviting his friends for a weekend walking 107 miles across the highest tops of Lakeland, but he did.

The Wainwright Memorial Walk is Wainwright’s own account of the epic walk. It loops over many tops, the best in Westmorland and Cumberland, and with the best views of the shining waters which lie between the fells. It is not a walk I would recommend trying in even a long weekend, but when challenged, the sights seen are spectacular.

Slieve Donard 2: Mourne with joy

Slieve Donard, the county top of County Down, Prince of the Mourne Mountains, stands looming above Newcastle; the silly seaside boutiques and rides, gaudy ice-cream stalls and beachwear shops looking tiny beneath its silent, majestic presence.
Previously I described the initial climb from the beach, though the woods by the Glen River up to the Ice House. It is here, having emerged from the woods, that the walk opens up, and the way to the top of the mountain appears.

Slieve Donard 1: up to highest of Down

Slieve Donard, the highest mountain of the gorgeous Mourne Mountains, and the highest point of County Down and of all Ulster, was a challenge not to be missed, and gave me another county top to tick off the list.
The distinctive shape of this mountain, its bulk and whale-like profile, was visible from many of the places we visited around the edge of the Mournes, and called out to be trodden. It is not without neighbours equally haunting in their shape and immensity, but Slieve Donard is the greatest of them. For those who have not been among the Mourne Mountains, they create in a relatively small compass in the southernmost of one county a sudden landscape of rare intensity.

The Gerald Colton Way

The Gerald Colton Way looks an oddity, but there is a sharp logic to it. It runs from the South Bank Centre in Central London, out to the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, with loops and eccentricities on the way.
The route is 65 miles long, so do not expect to walk it in one weekend. It was devised in 1994 by Gerald Colton, a founder member and long-time Walks Organiser of the Hampstead Ramblers, to mark the first multi-racial elections in South Africa that year. He named it the ‘Mandela Way’ and it ran from a statue of Nelson Mandela by the Royal Festival Hall, out to the Boer War monument on Combe Hill in Buckinghamshire. It has no other connection with South Africa though and so after Mr Colton’s death the next year, the Hampstead Ramblers renamed his route in honour of its inventor.

Climbing Snowdon: The Watkin Path

The Watkin Path is the toughest of the standard routes up Snowdon. There may be other routes known to climbers considered more challenging, such as the haul up Crib Goch, but of those normal routes straight to the top, the Watkin is the one. It also has the greatest ascent from start to finish: 3,330 feet.
The walk start at the ‘back of the mountain’ on the south side in the valley of the Nant Gwynant, at Bethania, between the two long lakes of the valley. A short walk in leads first through lovely woodland, then it begins to mean business as you walk up a dry valley carved into the mountainside, where Snowdon was heavily quarried for slate.