Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Discover the Chilterns with outdoor festival

Discover the Chilterns with outdoor festival

A NEW festival designed to encourage families, young people and adults to discover the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will take place next month.

The Chilterns Conservation Board has launched a “Season of Celebration” so people can reconnect with nature, improve their health and wellbeing and meet new people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Running throughout October, the festival is designed to bring communities together and explore the local landscape.

Naturalist and television presenter Chris Packham will speak at a Chilterns Champions online conference on October 24 about citizen science.

He will be joined by local and national experts to discuss citizen science in relation to heritage, water and wildlife. This runs from 9.30am to 4pm. Entry is free.

Other events include an Ocktoberfest in Wendover, with German food, beer and lager supplied by Chiltern providers, a guided walk of Amersham Old Town and hedgerow planting at Plomer Hill in High Wycombe.

There will also be nature trails, art workshops and a concert which will be live-streamed.

Meanwhile, a walking festival, which includes events in Henley and surrounding villages, will take place from October 17 to November 1.

Now in its seventh year, the festival programme includes more than 50 guided walks, events and activities with opportunities to try a wide variety of walks, from short gentle ambles to challenging hill climbs.

Walkers will be able to take in the Chilterns landscape with its mix of farmland, woodlands and views and some routes will centre around nature reserves, Iron Age hillforts, farms, churches and filming locations.

The routes are designed to appeal to different age groups, interests and levels of fitness and each walk is guided by an experienced walk leader who will bring their story to life.

The walks provide opportunities to meet countryside rangers, farmers, archaeologists, historians, food producers and storytellers of the Chilterns.

Walks in and around Henley are as follows:

October 17 — meet at Nettlebed green, the Old Kiln, at 10am. Five-mile walk followed by picnic on the green at 1pm. Followed by four-mile walk at 1.30pm. Capacity is 30 people. Free entry.

October 17 — meet at Watlington Pits nature reserve, off Hill Road, at 1.30pm. A 1.5-mile walk, learning more of the chalk pit and the Viking hoard discovered there. Capacity is 30 people. Free entry.

October 18 – meet at Peppard Common, opposite the Red Lion pub, at 10.30am. A 4.5-mile walk via Peppard Church, Crosslanes, Greys Green and Rotherfield Greys. Free entry.

October 19 — meet at the bandstand in Mill Meadows, Henley, at 10am. Five and a half-mile walk along the River Thames and up the Fair Mile to Lower Assendon. Tickets £8.

October 21 — meet at Hambleden village car park at 10am. Seven-mile walk exploring Hambleden Valley and surrounding hills. Ideal for Nordic walkers — no dogs allowed. Tickets £8.

October 22 — meet at Watlington recreation ground at 8am. Four-mile nature walk, taking in chalk downland, beech woodlands and ancient pathways. Capacity 12 people. Tickets £3.

October 23 — meet at car park opposite Peppard Stores, Stoke Row Road, Peppard at 10am. Twelve-mile circular walk, taking in villages and hamlets of Peppard, Gallowstree Common, Kidmore End, Highmoor Cross and Maharaja’s Well at Stoke Row. Capacity 10. Tickets £10 for adults and £8 for children.

October 25 — meet opposite Pierreponts Café, Goring, at 2pm. Two-mile wildlife walk, looking for birds, animals and insects. Capacity 10. Tickets £5 for adults and £3 for children.

October 25 — meet at Henley town hall at 10.30am. Six-mile walk to Greys Court via Happy Valley, returning through Lambridge Woods. Capacity 12. Free entry.

October 28 — meet at Watlington Hill car park at 10am. Just over five miles, known as the Christmas Common loop. Capacity eight people. Free entry.

October 30 — meet outside the Regal Picturehouse cinema at 9.45am. Six-mile walk along the Thames Path. Walk will be led by Richard Mayon-White, author of Exploring the Thames Wilderness. Capacity 12. Free entry.

November 1— meet at Henley town hall at 10am. Six-mile walk along Thames Path to Hambleden Mill, with ghost stories. Capacity 10. Entry donations welcome

November 1 — meet at car park in Mill Lane, Henley, at 10.30am. Six-mile walk to Hunts Farm then Mays Green, skirting Lower Shiplake and back. Capacity 12. Free entry.

Guided walks are exempt from the Government’s most recent ruling which limits social gatherings to six people, provided that necessary safety measures are put in place.

All walks have been risk assessed and covid-19 precautions adhered to, such as maintaining a 2m social distance and limiting numbers.

Booking is essential for all events and walkers will be asked to provide telephone and email details for purposes of contact tracing.

Annette Venters, the Chilterns Conservation Board’s people & society officer, who lives in Pyrton, said there was lots to look forward to.

She said: “In Henley we are incredibly lucky that you can go straight from the town centre and you are right on the river or straight into the hills in no time. We have an incredible landscape on the doorstep and a variety of scenery, whether its beech woods or the River Thames.

“There is a variety of beautiful routes but it is much more than just the landscape and that’s why we have guides to explain about the heritage or people who lived in the area.

“I think with the covid-19 lockdown we are getting a greater appreciation of our countryside and we have seen an increase in money donated in the car parks. They have gone up a huge amount in lockdown and these walks get to take it to a different level because there are layers of interest, whether it is the history or the wildlife and internationally protected plants.

“Sometimes people need a bit of a push to get out, especially in the winter months, and some people don’t like walking on their own because they may worry about getting lost. There are a variety of walks from half a mile to 10 miles so there is something for everybody to try.

“We are delighted to be offering walks that showcase the best of our stunning landscape. The walks will appeal to all ages and abilities. There are plenty of challenging hikes, but we’ve included shorter walks too, with the emphasis on learning and discovery, meeting the people and producers of the Chilterns and spending time in our inspirational landscape.”

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