Poplar to Brentford



A 33km [21m] walk in a north westerly direction with few recognisable waypoints. Moving across open countryside roughly parallel to the M40 but 5km south of it, reducing to nothing just after Junction 4 heading north.

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Across the Burnham Beeches nature reserve

which was well named, beeches thriving in the chalky soil.

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Made good time to Wooburn where I expected to find a friendly village shop where I would be able to indulge my fancy for a large fruit pie. For all I know, such things are available there but no shop was obvious and a big deviation from my route was not an option.

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Made the 4 miles from the Green Man in 1hr 35 minutes, a speed of 2.5mph.

Next came the first pull up of the journey with a rise of 60 metres which had me a bit out of breath. Over the top I stopped for a chat with three lots of local dog walkers. I noticed that they had come up from the other side though, a rise of only 20 metres!

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The way now became more wooded with no way of seeing where I was going so trusting to the compass but looking out for the railway marked on the map. Becoming increasingly aware that I was approaching a very busy road and not a railway line as expected. Of course, when I got out my reading glasses, it became very clear that what I had taken to be a railway embankment was in fact a road embankment on the A404.

Was very glad to put the noisy and smelly road behind me once I could find a way across it.

Optimistic that what I read as a beer glass symbol on the map would in fact turn out to be a pub once I got to Burroughs Grove. And indeed it did! Arrived at

The three horseshoes.

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Rebellion brewery. CAMRA article about The three horseshoes .

After a good lunch of haddock and chips and a pint was on the way again.

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Pleasant walking across open countryside after lunch, but increasingly aware of the M40, finally diving under it by the High Wycombe Asda. This crossing marks the half way point for to-day's walk.

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Used the cash machine at Asda and would have bought chocolate but that they only sold cigarettes at the cigarette counter.

Wayfinding difficult here with the John Lewis store and carpark hiding the meandering path. Soon left this retail heaven behind and back into wooded hillside and a feeling that I was miles from anywhere.

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On emerging from the woods was somewhat taken aback to see Wycombe Wanderers football stadium.

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Cheered that according to the map, I would be soon encountering the 'Druid's' hut which seemed appropriate having slept with the Green Man's hairy arm the previous night.

I was somewhat underwhelmed by the Druid's hut as it appeared to have been terminally gentrified so no photograph.

I'm not quite sure when I decided that I would walk home,I suppose it came about as people were asking me what I was going to DO when I retired. Long distance walking was always a part of the response.

I hadn't given much thought to the route though a quick survey of the map had suggested a few places that I knew or had associations for me.

This was especially so of what was to be the next stage of the journey.

Most mondays for the previous two years I had caught the 0723 London train from Haddenham and Thame Parkway and habitually sat on the starboard side southbound.[The view is better, I sit on the port side going north for the same reason. Trust me to be the opposite of POSH, Posh of course stands for Port Out, Starboard Home, cabins in cruise ships with this orientation costing more than those on the other side as the view is better!]

There is a stretch on the journey between Princess Risborough and High Wycombe where road and rail run together and it used to give me some pleasure to flash by the motorists queuing to get into Wycombe on the A4010.

The place I particularly liked was where a long footpath cuts across the hillside from just below the mausoleum on West Wycombe hill.

I always look out for that footpath and have never seen anyone actually walking on it though it looks well trod.

Next on the train is what I now know to be West Wycombe house which of course always raises my socialist bile.

West Wycombe house from the other side

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In short, I decided that this stretch should form part of my route home.

I had phoned Terry with much glee from the Brewery Tap on day one as he and I had spent several unexpected days there the previous summer when Cribbit was laid up with a faulty diesel injector pump caused by the infamous diesel bug.

He then related to me a tale of hitch-hiking from Oxford to London when he was a student and being picked up by a be-whiskered ancient who advised him as they went through West Wycombe on the A40, to 'watch out here lad because strange things happen, they have orrgies with womin'

Yet another reason to attract me to the area.

Anyway, I have photographs of three trains taken from that path and I hope the passengers were suitably impressed to see the be-whiskered gent waving at them.

The path...and trains

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My plan had been to cross the railway and then progress along the ridge to Saunderton but time was pressing on and the hills were looking higher than I recalled so I decided to clog it along the A4010.

Clogging along the A4010

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This was a mixed blessing as although it was quicker it was horribly smelly and hard on my feet.

At least it got me to the end of OS Explorer map 172 a bit quicker.

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The next stage brought me up onto the ridge again and the open aspect and springy turf were very welcome.

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Then dropping down through primrose infested woods I made my one navigational error of the day.

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I came to a complicated junction of the Chiltern Way, Icknield Way, Midshires Way and Swan's Way, unfortunately, 'none of these' was not an option as all I really wanted was a humble little footpath.

To further confuse, Swan's Way and Midshire's Way were both signposted in the same direction even though they go in opposite directions.

I selected the Swan's Way which seemed to be OK on the map but it soon turned out that I was heading down the Midshire's Way.

A bit of off-piste navigation, including a trog along the Icknield Railway line which I pressume is not used much and then I was back on track and soon to arrive in Henton for my last night.

Manor Cottage Farm, Henton

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Manor Cottage Farm turned out to be superb and really home from home in that it was a half timbered dwelling very similar in some respects to Catslide though rather,after, than 'in the middle of' as we were then.

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The inglenook had the same bread oven door as ours and I was not surprised to see that it opened into the inglenook.

The bricked up space is also evident in ours. This put me in a bit of a quandary about where to re-instate ours but decided that as there is already a hole in the side , the door can go there.

This cottage had also been two rooms knocked into one just like ours but it had been done without a central support beam. [A 'feature'I have always disliked in ours]

Of course I had a good chat about this and feel more confident about removing ours as result.

I had a most enjoyable stay here and grubby me was made most welcome.

I'm now trying to find an excuse for staying there again. They did say that once they had had a 'well behaved' dog staying there. This could be an option for a round trip with Rosemary though I suspect she may make me carry the dog cage on my back as well.

Breakfast was the most civilised of the journey though I realise this hardly does it justice but it was excellent by any standard even if not quite up to the American, one with its coddled eggs, home made cranberry muffins with fresh cranberries picked by virgins in the dewy dawn.

In any event, I didn't have time for a 2 hour breakfast.

What I did have was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice. Only Rosemary would have missed the gin.

Off a bit later than planned but had a leisured breakfast and more chat before leaving for day four.

Continue to Day 4