Pete's Walks - Pitstone Hill and Wigginton (part 1)

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

I did this 11.6 mile circular walk on 29th June, 2009. It was a repeat of Walk 4 of my Chiltern Chain Walk.  If you are interested in walking this route yourself, click here to see the route description (but only if you have already read my disclaimer and notes regarding route descriptions).

I chose to do this walk today because it was going to be a very hot day, and so I only wanted to walk for about four hours. I don't handle the heat well - I have to be careful on a hot day like this that I don't get a mild migraine.

I parked at the car park near Pitstone Hill. I saw a Ringlet butterfly even before I put my walking boots on, a token of how good a day for seeing butterflies it was going to be. I started walking about 9.25am, and saw the first of the numerous Marbled Whites I'd see today before I reached the top of the little hillock next to the car park. As I neared the top of Pitstone Hill, I spotted an orange butterfly which I immediately realised was something different - I managed to get  a couple of photographs and later identified it as a Dark Green Fritillary.

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Pitstone Hill, from the unnamed hillock by the car park

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Grim's Ditch on Pitstone Hill, approaching Aldbury Nowers

From Pitstone Hill, the path continued through the woods of Aldbury Nowers and then past the nature reserve there (a picture on an information board there helped me identify the Dark Green Fritillary).

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Aldbury Nowers

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View from the Aldbury Nowers nature reserve across the Tring Gap towards Wigginton

Beyond the nature reserve, the Ridgeway Path (which I'd follow as far as Wigginton) continued along a green lane between hedgerows, then turned right to pass through Tring Station. It then picked up a path between fences, running through the parkland of a large house and crossing an artificially-surfaced horse gallop in a couple of places. I've only recently realised that the large house I could glimpse to my right was Pendley Manor - I once saw Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream performed in an outdoor theatre here.

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The Ridgeway Path beyond the nature reserve

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The Grand Union Canal at Tring Station

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The path near Pendley Manor

I crossed the former A41, and then went over the impressive footbridge over the new dual-carriageway.  There used to be a short section of about 30 yards through a section of a pasture, but now there were fences and gates either side, protecting the cattle from the walkers or vice versa. Some pleasant footpaths led on to Wigginton, with some good views of the Vale of Aylesbury to my right.

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The A41 from the Ridgeway Path footbridge

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Tring and the Vale of Aylesbury from the path to Wigginton

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Pitstone Hill (with Ivinghoe Beacon beyond) from the edge of Wigginton

I walked through Wigginton and then took one of my favourite footpaths, which runs gently downhill through a series of delightful hay meadows. They were alive with butterflies, especially Ringlets, with a few more Marbled Whites and one or two Small Tortoiseshells. I also came across a crowd of Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths on some thistles.

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Start of the path through the meadows at Wigginton

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Path through the meadows at Wigginton

The path continued through a wood and then a large paddock - here, as elsewhere, the horses where staying sensibly in the shade of the trees, as it was already very hot. I soon picked up a track leading to Cow Roast - once again, I saw a dog obedience class in progress on the sports fields to my right. As I passed through Cow Roast and progressed on past Norcott Court Farm, I saw four or five Red Kites (a good number for this part of the Chilterns) one of which was a youngster as it lacked the distinctive forked tail

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The track to Cow Roast

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Grand Union Canal at Cow Roast

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Looking back to the footbridge over the A41, from near Norcott Court Farm