The Boy and I actually had a free weekend this weekend (a rare occurrence over the last few months) so we decided to get out of London for the day and go for a walk in the country.
I have to say, this isn't really something we've done before. Usually we are either away for the weekend and go walking as part of that or we go for a walk in London. I don't know the countryside around London that well, so wasn't sure what we could do.
After doing some googling, I ended up stumbling across the Saturday Walkers Club and found on there the walk that we eventually did. You can check out the route map and directions here.
So, I thought rather than take you through the route in detail, which you can easily read on their site, I'd just mention a few of the highlights and my impressions of the Chilterns on my first proper visit.
One of the things I love about going walking with The Boy is that he gets excited about what I would think of as standard countryside animal sightings.
For example, he still gets excited seeing sheep, cows and horses, which I'm so used to from my childhood full of walking that they don't really create the same excitement for me. It's quite nice to have someone to share these things with who isn't used to them. The Chilterns certainly seem to be farming country, and so there was no lack of these animals to spot. In fact, at one point we got a bit too close for comfort....
I have to say that, after my last experience, this did somewhat freak me out. The cows weren't full-on running at us, but they weren't exactly slow either and I have to admit, we both quickened our pace significantly and tried to reach the gate as fast as we could, with the cows not far behind. We both got through and turned to see the scene above, just as we got the gate closed!
Typically, once we were the other side of the gate The Boy found it all pretty funny. As more and more cows crowded around he even proclaimed, "I am your leader," which made us both laugh. To be fair to the cows, I think they were being curious rather than aggressive - perhaps they thought we had food - but I'm still glad they didn't catch up with us as curious or aggressive they're still big enough to do a lot of harm!
Somewhat less dramatically, and considerably more pleasantly, we also spotted quite a lot of wild animals and birds as we walked along.
Having an avid birdwatcher for a mother, I'm relatively up on my bird spotting knowledge and (as you may have guessed from the post title) we spotted a hell of a lot of buzzards - some very close up - which was great. More excitingly though, there were also quite a few Red Kites around. I know they are now quite common in and around the Chilterns, but given how rare they used to be, I still find it quite exciting to spot so many of them.
As well as the birds of prey - which I have to admit I have a real soft spot for - we also spotted quite a few pheasants and some rabbits as well. Not unusual by any stretch of the imagination, but nice to see them when we spend most of our time in the middle of London where the most common thing to spot is a pigeon!
The Chilterns is certainly a beautiful area and the woodland we passed through was particularly lovely. The area really does conjure up the idyllic image of the British countryside, with rolling hills and green pastures. If you want to see more of the photos from the walk, you can find them here.
The Chilterns isn't, however, what I would call challenging or particularly wild, and I was again reminded sharply of the fact that I prefer the rougher, more rugged landscapes in the north. It's difficult to truly escape civilisation in the Chilterns from what I saw of it at the weekend, but even so it still provides a very welcome break from the overwhelming noise and bustling crowds in London.
Overall, I'd say it was a successful first day trip out of the city for us and I would think we'll be doing it again before long. Hopefully next time we'll manage to avoid the cows though!