Sunday 4th July
The original plan was to walk all the way from Watlington to Wendover. Then we realised it might be too far, so we thought we’d walk as far as Princes Risborough, see how we felt and then carry on to Wendover if we still wanted to. Then we realised that there was no way we were going to make it, so we settled upon Princes Risborough. I have no idea what the true distance was; I know it’s seventeen miles from Watlington to Wendover, and the signposts seemed to suggest it was about ten or eleven miles to Princes Risborough but we took a small detour into Chinnor for lunch.
There is a supermarket in Watlington which opens at 6am every day including Sunday, so we went there first to stock up on food. We arrived around 11am and the only decent thing they had left were some cheese and pasta salads. We then went to apply sun cream and had another general faff, and eventually managed to leave at 11.30. If you find yourself in Watlington on any other day of the week, you might like to have a look at the Granary Deli which looks gorgeous but is closed on Sundays.
Once we finally got going, we made good progress along the path and were glad of the trees providing at least a little shade. I was surprised when we reached the tunnel under the M40 after what seemed like only a short time.
As I mentioned on yesterday’s post, we had originally planned to stop for the night in Nuffield. There was also a brief plan for the second day to end at the ten mile point in Chinnor. I’d looked at the OS map and seen a station and a railway to enable us to get home. Upon searching, the National Rail website didn’t appear to have heard of Chinnor and I soon found out why. It’s actually a disused railway, with steam trains running as a tourist attraction at weekends. Not only that, but the line doesn’t run 100% of the way to Princes Risborough and can’t stop there, so you can’t do a one-way journey. On the plus side, however, there are toilets on the platform which are accessible to the public without a ticket. There is also a small cafe there, although I have a feeling it might only be open on Sundays, so it’s advisable to check first if you’re thinking of relying on Chinnor for a food stop. If you’re thinking of going on a return journey, some of the trains also serve food. Further into Chinnor there is a pub marked on the map, but we didn’t go that far so I can’t comment on it.
Heading back down the road to rejoin the Ridgeway, there is a small flight of steps leading up to a lovely village green which would have been a lovely place to stop for lunch.
We finally joined the path again. Around SP777012, the path turns to the right and into a huge open field. This doesn’t sound like much, but in fact it made us realise that the Ridgeway is quite fenced in and enclosed by trees. This was the most space we’d had all day, so we had to stop for a lie down.
Across the other side of the field we met a herd of cows, but luckily they weren’t blocking the gate and the next field over was a crop field.
My favourite part of the walk was on Lodge Hill. On such a hot day, it was wonderful to get to the top and feel a cool breeze.
The path also became much grassier and softer under foot.
We were absolutely knackered when we arrived in Princes Risborough. The George & Dragon pub provided some welcome food and drink, and of course we removed our boots and put some clean clothes on.
Definitely going to finish the Ridgeway at some point.