Chiltern Way 4: Skirmett to Russell’s Water (circular)
Last Sunday, it was Leg 4 of the Chiltern Way, and I am worried that the day may be a tough one to match, let alone surpass! The scenery is probably the best you'll see in the Chilterns, in one single day. l loved it!
The weather was great; It was sunny and warm… so warm I could have done with that gentle breeze from Hushabye Mountain!
Out of the village, you are soon skirting Turville Hill, with that familiar windmill perched on its peak. This is also a popular spot for Red Kites to ride the thermals, and they were out in abundance today!
When you walk into the village of Turville, you should recognise it. You may know it as Dibley and pop into the church to see if Geraldine is still the vicar; you may look up at the windmill and scan the skies for Baron Bomburst’s zeppelin; you may even seek refuge in the Bull and Butcher pub to escape the triffids (good enough excuse for a pint, I say!).
A short distance on the road through Stonor, then off west through Park Wood to Lodge Farm, a place I recognised from many walks along the Oxfordshire Way, where both the trails intersect. Passing Maidensgrove, the trail barely touches its boundary, you walk out into a large expanse known as Russell’s Water Common. Nearly at the turning point, and lunch,I thought, but no, the way soon veers left, and descends steeply to a confusing junction of five rights of way.
I ignored the signs showing the Chiltern Way going off in a south-westerly, it didn’t match the map. I assumed that there may have been a reroute of the trail since the map was printed. I would need to investigate this conundrum when I was home, though, because right now, I knew I wanted to take the north bridleway towards Russell’s Water, as my time on the way was finished for the day.
So why is this duck pond famous? A long time ago, this idyllic little piece of England earned a reputation as a bit of a black spot. I know of at least three occasions when a local beauty, Miss Scrumptious, narrowly avoided serious injury and put her car in the village pond. It’s a changed scene since the film was made, trees and bushes have grown, but you still get a rough idea of where she went in.
Out of the hamlet, the route then took me through open field. Had I walked across here a few weeks ago I would have been labouring in a quagmire, but not today, the ground was dry, and it was pretty easy going for a ploughed field.
Over Hollandridge Lane, another familiar right of way, to me, that takes you to Christmas Common, I was fast realising that this route was probably one of the best you could do in the Chilterns. Up and down rolling fields, the ascent was adding up.
I eventually reached Turville Heath, and a short stretch of road walking, but still pleasant for its lack of vehicles. At Turville Court, the road ends and gives way to field once more, and first signs that the end is near when the windmill appears again. I stopped at a bench to finish my coffee and take in the views of this perfect piece of rural England.
I could have wandered into Turville for a visit to the Bull and Butcher, but no doubt the freakish weather would have attracted the punters, and it would be heaving. Instead, I crossed the Chiltern Way and descended to the road at the foot of Poynatt’s Wood. One more hill, and on the other side, lay Skirmett.