The Ridgeway #3: Princes Risborough to Lewknor

Today I picked up where I had left off last week, at Princes Risborough. Much nicer weather today than it had been last weekend, although certainly less interesting terrain than the first stretch had been. Still, a pleasant enough walk , and I think by the end of today's walk I was about 25 miles along the 87 mile trail, and it felt good to be making progress,

On arrival at Princes Risborough I was pleased to find a shortcut south of the station allowing me to join the Ridgeway without having to go round the houses. The first section of the Ridgeway for today was along a road, Shootacre Lane, lined with houses on one side and open fields on the other.

After a while the Ridgeway leaves the road, and crosses over fields, then crosses two railway lines which as far as I can tell from looking at the map are just the north and south bound tracks of the same line going into Princes Risborough, but for some reason one track goes through a tunnel, whereas the other requires this slightly unnerving crossing. No barriers, no lights, just a stop / look / listen sign.

Beyond there the Ridgeway skirts around / passes through Princes Risborough Gold Course, and then heads up Lodge Hill. This seemed to be the only proper hill of today's walk, and consequently was the bit with some of the nicest views.

The wood atop Lodge Hill was quite atmospheric, with the winter sun and the wind whistling through the bare trees, rustling the carpet of leaves. I paused here for a little while to enjoy it.

Beyond Lodge Hill the Ridgeway remained on a ridge of sorts - doing what it's supposed to do, and the pleasant views of surrounding countryside continued.

Another wooded section as the trail turned a corner from its north westerly heading to a south westerly heading.

It remained on more or less that bearing for the remainder of today's walk, and there then followed a rather long, straight track.

This long straight section might have got a bit monotonous, but some overhead entertainment was provided by a couple of red kites.

I continued to plod along the long, straight track, which eventually followed a dismantled railway according to the map. I was occasionally slightly disappointed to see that a little to the south lay a line of hills - a ridge of sorts I suppose - and wondered why the Ridgeway wasn't doing as its name suggestions and following that?

Beacon Hill, in particular, just before the Ridgeway reached the M40 looked quite inviting. Perhaps I should have just taken a detour here rather than doggedly sticking to the trail, but as all too often seems to the be case time was pressing, and I felt compelled to get back to London to see the girls.

So, I followed the Ridgeway under the M40. These footpath tunnels under motorways always have a weird feeling to me, with the slow pace, relative quiet and solitary nature of the tunnel compared with the constant onslaught of traffic above.

Shortly after crossing under the M40, I parted ways with the Ridgeway, and followed a little country lane (again a contrast with the M40 just a short distance away) into Lewknor.

I had a quick lunch at Ye Olde Leathern Bottle in Lewknor, which was pleasant enough, but didn't feel extremely "ye olde" on the inside. Perhaps this was referring to the clientele rather than the pub itself - I was the only customer in there under 60.

After lunch I walked through Lewknor, back towards the M40, as I'd discovered (in the absence of any train stations nearby), the "Oxford Tube" coach service stops here at Junction 6. They seem to be extremely frequent - I thought I had just missed one coach as I got to the stop, but within a couple of minutes another arrived, and I thought I even saw another just behind that. Although it did take nearly an hour and a half to get to central London thanks to the traffic.

So perhaps not the most wildly exciting walk in itself today, and finishing at Junction 6 of the M40 certainly isn't the most thrilling denouement, but this has put me in good stead for the next section, when I should be able to make it to the river Thames at Wallingford, and then after that into familiar territory, onto the halfway point at Streatley.

Route: OS Maps
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 3 hours
Pub: Ye Olde Leathern Bottel, Lewknor