Chiltern Hills never fail to impress

SUNDAY was a perfect day for a spring walk – bright and breezy, especially up on top of the Chiltern Hills.

Tuesday, 3rd April 2012, 3:09 pm

We headed for the area between Ivinghoe and Aldbury, and once again I felt very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

Part of the reason for our expedition was to look at a lake that we’d seen from the road; having a husband obsessed with fishing, this is a regular occurrence. It turned out that we weren’t officially allowed to get to the lake, but more of that later.

We parked in the National Trust car park in Stocks Road, off the B488, which was pretty busy. Rather embarrassingly, I chose the bumpy end of the car park, and managed to get my little car stuck in a rut, and had to be pushed out by my husband.

Drama over, we headed straight up the hill and were immediately rewarded with spectacular views. You’d get the same sort of vista, I suppose, at Dunstable Downs, but up here it was much quieter, and I didn’t have to worry about getting hit on the head by a plummeting kite (which I don’t think is an altogether irrational fear).

Instead of staying at the top of the hills (the path along them is part of the 87-mile Ridgeway trail that stretches from Buckinghamshire to Wiltshire), we headed down to a footpath that runs along the edge of Brook’s Statnalls Wood, and then along the edge of the quarry below, one half of which is home to the lake.

The path is quite narrow in places, and there are rabbit holes a-plenty, so care should be taken here. But you get great views of the lake, which is a gorgeous turquoise colour.

It looked like it was accessible as we could see people down there, and at the end of the cliff edge we took the footpath downhill, which leads you through a wooded area towards the B488.

Technically you’re not allowed to get to the lake as it’s private property, but once we got down there it was clear that this doesn’t stop what I’m guessing are local teenagers (we didn’t get that close) from going in and riding motorbikes and hanging around by the lake.

Although that’s nice for them, it’s a shame really as the place is absolutely filled with litter, which looks awful and can’t be a good thing for the wildlife.

We headed back uphill, and this time took the Ridgeway path along the top with the sun on our backs, watching the buzzards wheeling overhead.

Not far from here is an area called Aldbury Nowers. Intrigued by the named I had Googled it prior to our walk and discovered it was the scene of a grisly double murder in 1881, when two gamekeepers were killed by poachers.

It’s now a nature reserve, where in summer you can spot butterflies including marbled whites, green hairstreak, brown argus, and the scarce grizzled and dingy skippers.

Walk complete, we decided to head to Aldbury for a drink, and chose the Valiant Trooper, having had it recommended recently.

We weren’t planning to eat, but were snared by the selection of home-made cakes that greet you as you walk in. We went for the cherry and almond tart, which was absolutely delicious.