Heather met Richard from Carrier Bags the previous day who had offered to lift any injured parties on the following leg, so Tim availed himself of the service while Heather decided the blister was sufficiently ok to walk the 7 miles or so to the Pendley Manor Hotel which was almost on the route.
So five of us set off down the path which started at the end of the Red Lion car park and again it was sad to see Tim so disconsolately incapacitated.
The last leg and another glorious day weather wise – amazingly warm for the time of year and our seventh day in a row of good weather. How lucky had we been?
Studying through the outskirts of Wendover we made good time and it was almost as if the group were keen to “get this thing done”.
The first stretch was heavily wooded and the Suunto Ambit watch was struggling to get a GPS fix and it was almost an hour before it latched on successfully to a signal. I was increasing convinced that it was over reading the mileage and tested that against an application running a GPS based trail recorder on the iPhone. There was a fairly significant difference but it could be based on a poor signal area. I will have to test the watch against a fixed length known distance in clear sky conditions.
The beech hangers were wonderful and Natalie had told us about the hollows where the local furniture makers used to rest the beech trunks over the edges of what looked like a small bomb crater so that they were able to use their two man saws effectively and craft the handmade furniture in situ.
We were on the look out for the Gli Gli, a small edible (apparently a Roman delicacy) dormouse which looked a bit like a squirrel. There were estimated to be between 10 and 50 thousand of these cute looking but destructive rodents within twenty five miles of Tring (and nowhere else in the country) a few of which had escaped from the Rothchilds private animal collection some years ago and now established themselves in the Chilterns, chewing through cables and making a pest of themselves ever since. We didn’t see one.
We went through the very picturesque Tring Country Patk, with views of the old mansion down below and eventually dropped down to cross the A41 and say temporary goodbye to Heather who took a diagonal short cut (although had to climb a fence) to join Tim at the Pendley Manor Hotel.
The remaining four crossed the Grand Union Canal, went past Tring station and had a short dangerous section on a busy road without a pavement before turning off with relief and making our way steadily uphill.
Carey went into super climb mode at this point, disappearing ahead at great speed and keeping Julia with him but trailing slightly at the sudden change of pace.
Natalie and I were happy to prop up the rear of the pack as the path increasingly steepened through sheep strewn chalk grassland.
We spotted two ravens, two crows and a red kite all circling above the gully to our left overlooking the turquoise water filled chalk pits,
We stopped for lunch and admired the view back from whence we had come. Although slightly hazy we could see across the line of hills that we had walked over the last week and had a sense of the distance we had travelled.
Crossing the road the end was suddenly in sight and I phoned the taxi firm to rearrange the pick up from 3.30 to 2pm. That’s how fast we had been and we hadn’t stopped for lunch for very long.
Drivers were in short supply due to a Muslim holiday and yet were we offered an earlier pick up by a new driver (it was her second day). She would be with us in twenty-five minutes.
So we rushed up to the beacon as we still had to get over to the car park which we though might take us 15 minutes.
We had arrived! After a brief stop to have our photo taken by the admiring couple of ladies who were out walking their labradors, we rushed over the car park where we had to wait almost twenty minutes for the driver to arrive after a call or two to the cab firm to check we were standing in the right place. We used the time to have a very welcome ice lolly.
A celebratory evening at the Pendley Manor followed with pink champagne and cigars all round. The blister of the week competition was declared a draw although Carey tried to get a late win by slipping his foot very painfully under one of the other guest’s heavy and clumsy tread.
Now where next? Did someone mention Ireland?