Monday, December 21, 2020

 Saturday 19th December, Center Parcs, 5 ramblers led by Beryl

It was pouring with rain when I woke up and I wondered why I'd signed up. Over breakfast, the Met office stated that the sun would shine between 10am and 1pm, and I set off to Alameda School, Ampthill with great skepticism. There I met the others and a blue band of sky appeared below the horizon and swiftly broadened into a lovely sunny morning. 


We crossed the railway line and had a wide view from the bridge, then walked around the perimeter of Center Parcs, which was now closed due to the latest Lockdown announced last night. We had been warned of lots of mud: some parts did not disappoint us, but we didn't get too bogged down. We stopped for coffee and Beryl contemplated giving out the mince pies that Nita had provided. We all agreed that they would be nicer later on with our coffee at the cafe. Notice the observance of social distancing!

We passed a field of micropigs, then walked around the footpaths toward Milbrook. We noticed the black cloud to the North and were thankful that we weren't there. 

Five minutes later the cloud was upon us. We cleaned our wellies in the deep puddles, passed the Wooden Hill Cafe just too late as they close at 1pm, and when we got to the next cafe, at Ampthill Hub, the heavens opened. Hilary and Joan had not yet arrived to meet us so Beryl was left under the porch to wait for them while we abandoned her to the cars. The parting shot was 'What about these mince pies!'

We did not know at the time that we were heading for Tier 4. No more walks for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

 Thursday December 17th 2020. Stockgrove and the Grand Union Canal

5 ramblers, 6 miles, led by Ruth

What a lovely day! At last, the sun is shining with its puny winter strength, and not a cloud in the sky. But there was rain last night and five of us looked at dismay at the large puddles of water on the ground of the car park at the canal. Fortunately it was not too deep. After a short stretch of road and an even shorter bit of mud, the rest of the walk was through lovely leaf litter and well drained paths. 

We stopped briefly opposite Lord's Hill, Rushmere, to examine the Greensand Trust's latest heathland restoration project, and the huge pile of smouldering ashes left by yesterday's bonfire. Then we crossed some small paths through Shire Oak Heath and walked on a compass bearing North through the maze of routes in Baker's Wood. Coffee break was at Stockgrove cafe. 

 We then followed a largely dry, grassy,leafy or sandy route with long shadows,to the Grand Union Canal, and after a short stop at the Three Locks picnic tables, we were almost back. We were all relieved that none of the cars had got stuck in the mud at the car park!

Friday, December 11, 2020

 Thursday 10th December, Toddington, led by Cathy and Kate, 7 miles, 6 ramblers

Starting from the village hall car park, we set off down Conger Lane and headed past the new tree plantations to Charlton Manor then continued South past where the solar farm is proposed. 

Ruth, John D, Cathy, Kate & Beryl

This brought us past Grove Farm and, excitingly, on to a footbridge over the new A5 M1 Junction 11A link road. We then crossed a field to "death roundabout" at the bottom of Lords Hill. This area has had the footpaths revised, extended and joined up to make a very walkable route. A stop for coffee followed, and the Christmas spirit was entered into with a distribution of mince pies, chocolate Smartie buttons and chocolate bars. 


Photos by Tony P

We then turned West and re-crossed the A5 through Wingfield, then Tebworth before reaching the village via The Glebe. This was a lovely walk, visiting some new terrain and surprisingly mud free considering recent weather and the time of year.