Chilterns by hannalindon



                                                                                                                 Left: The tranquil view
                                                                                                                 to Beacon HIll, a far cry
                                                                                                                     from Westminster.
                                                                                                                 Right: The PM's country
                                                                                                                   pad at Chequers with
                                                                                                                   the war memorial on
                                                                                                                    Coombe Hill behind.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photos: PC Jones/Alamy; Avico Ltd/Alamy

                                                                                                     OU WON’T FIND many public               the Prime Minister comes when he           For most of the walk, I’ve been haunted
                                                                                                     paths in Britain where an               wants to escape the political shark pool   by a ghostly symphony of shrieks and
                                                                                                     innocent stumble could land             of London - and what’s good enough for     whistles that seems to come from
                                                                                                     you in jail, but this idyllic           the PM is good enough for me.              everywhere all at once. At first I put it
                                                                                            section of the Chilterns Ridgeway isn’t             Unlike ‘Call Me Dave’, who travels      down to a shepherd training his dog,
                                                                                            your average country footpath. When I            between Downing Street and Chequers        but as the miles roll by and Princes
                                                                                            first emerge from the beech woods that            in a bullet proof Mercedes with a          Risborough pans into view that
                                                                                            swathe Coombe Hill, the view over                retinue of outriders, I’ve had to          explanation becomes increasingly
                                                                                            unfenced estate land seems like just             swallow my plebian pride and take the      unlikely. Then, as the path humps its
                                                                                            another scenic variation in the rolling          train to Wendover. This two-carriage       back for one last time before
                                                                                            ramble between Wendover and Princes              chug-a-long rolls into the heart of the    descending to the town, I look up. At
                                                                                            Risborough. True, the country pile in            Chilterns only 40 minutes after leaving    least fifteen red kites are wheeling in a
                                                                                            the distance is clearly something                Marylebone, and it soon becomes clear      tornado pattern over the hills, forked
                                                                                            pretty special; but its spiky brown              why Chequers has been credited with        tails fanning out in the
                                                                                            brick bulk is nothing to the aristocratic        keeping successive generations of          wind. Their mewling               MORE ESCAPES:
                                                                                            grandeur of Blenheim and Burghley.               prime ministers (moderately) sane.         follows me as I walk down         Turn over for
                                                                                               Then I spot a sign beside the path:              The view that peeps over the top of     to the station and get on the     walks close to four
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          more of Britain's
                                                                                            This is a protected site under Section           Coombe Hill half an hour into the walk     train for the return leg back     biggest cities...
                                                                                            128 of the Serious Organised Crime and           is pure Constable – all mist-wreathed      to Marylebone.
                                                                                            Police Act 2005. Trespass on this site is        escarpments and huge horizons. Beech
                                                                                            a criminal o ence. A CCTV camera                 woods cluster around the base of the
                                                                                            reinforces the message: take one step
                                                                                            o path, and you may as well teleport
                                                                                                                                             hills, showing o their ragged beauty in
                                                                                                                                             a last hurrah of red and gold. From
                                                                                                                                                                                          HERE’S THE PLAN

                       RETREAT TO THE
                                                                                            yourself straight into a prison cell.            here, the route winds through copses         uGet here: Wendover and Princes Risborough are
                                                                                               I’m not surprised that this place is          where the ground is ankle deep in            both served by trains from London Marylebone.
                                                                                            surrounded by a barrage of cameras               fallen leaves, skirts around Chequers        The two lines part outside London and then meet
                                                                                            and warning signs. The house to the              and see-saws up and down a fold in the       again at Aylesbury; it’s cheaper to buy an all-

                                                                                            north of the Ridgeway is Chequers, and           chalky landscape as it wheels round to       routes return to Aylesbury (£18.50) than two
                                                                                            it’s been the country retreat of Britain’s       the south. After four miles the only         separate tickets. See
                                                                                            prime ministers since 1917. Just a short         other people I’ve seen are two ramblers      uEat here: You’ll nd the Plough at Lower
                                                                                            walk from here is the Plough pub in              with their elderly retriever. To a           Cadsden ( just past halfway
                                                                                            Cadsden, which was the centre of a               Londoner coming straight from the            on your walk. It serves food all day at weekends
                                                                                            furore when David Cameron left his               Christmas-crazed streets of the
                          Follow in Prime Ministerial footsteps and revel in the            eight-year-old daughter there after              capital, it’s utter bliss.
                                                                                                                                                                                          – try dishes like shoulder of lamb with mint and
                                                                                                                                                                                          honey glaze (£15) or Bailey’s cheesecake (£6). You
                                 peace and quiet of the Buckinghamshire hills.              Sunday lunch last spring. This is where             Something’s puzzling me though.           can stay too, with double rooms from £90 /pn.
                                                                                                                                                                                          uNext steps: See or
                                                                      Words: Hanna Lindon

                                                                                            “This is where the Prime Minister comes when                                                  call Wendover info centre on 01296 696759.

                                                                                            he wants to escape London - and what’s good                                                   WALK Turn to walk 5 in this issue for your
                                                                                                                                                                                                  detailed route directions and map.
                                                                                            enough for the PM is good enough for me”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      JANUARY 2013 COUNTRY WALKING 35

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