Pete's Walks - Coombe Hill and Great Missenden (page 2 of 3)

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I ignored several path going off either side, and just kept straight on. Eventually, the path goes slightly left across a pasture on the edge of The Lee, then over two stiles either side of a parking area for some houses. In the next field, I took a slight detour from the route of the Chiltern Link, going over a stile on the right to enter the village churchyard. The reason I'd been prompted to do this walk was that when I checked my friend Tim Bertuchi's web site  recently, I saw that he'd just walked the Chiltern Link and he mentioned the old church here, hidden behind its Victorian replacement. I'd often walked along the road past the new church, without realising there was an old church hidden behind it. The Old Church, which dates from around 1220, has been preserved by The Lee Old Church Trust and the Grade 1 listed building is still in use today. The adjacent new church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, was completed in 1869 and was built  when the Old Church became too small for the increasing population (info nicked unashamedly from Tim's web site!). Behind the Old Church were three unusual wooden grave markers dating from the 1840s, known as 'Hertfordshire Bedsteads' though The Lee (and all of this walk) is in Buckinghamshire.

The Lee Old Church


Wooden 'Hertfordshire Bedstead' grave markers at The Lee Old Church, dating from the 1840's


Church of St John the Baptist, The Lee


Beyond the churchyard I turned right to enter The Lee, passing it's large green (on my left)  and the Cock and Rabbit pub (on my right). The village is very attractive and has been used as a setting in several episodes of the popular Midsomer Murders detective series. By the pub I crossed a road and took a rather muddy track leading southeast out of the village, soon passing through a wood where the Chiltern Link forked left but I continued ahead, now on the route of the Chiltern Heritage Trail. I passed a few cottages at Field End, then continued on a good path between hedges and fences to reach the village of Ballinger Common, with its tiny church that appears to be in someone's garden.


The Lee


The start of the track from The Lee towards Ballinger Common


Looking back along the track as it passes Field End


Looking back towards Field End from the path to Ballinger Common


Approaching Ballinger Common


The tiny church at Ballinger Common


Just past the church (on my left) I deviated slightly from the Chiltern Heritage Trail by taking a footpath on the right and going round the other two sides of a sports field (the Chiltern Heritage Trail presumably followed the roads round the sports field in order to pass a pub, I remember when I walked that route it seemed to be designed to pass as many pubs as possible!). Having reached the far corner of the sports-field I took a path going right which followed hedges or fences on my left. When I reached a stile in the hedge, I crossed it and turned right on another path. After a hundred yards or so I took another path, on my right, which followed a left-hand hedgerow. A few memories came back from when I walked the Chiltern Heritage Trail, such as one of my earliest sightings of the lovely Field Pansy. A solitary Red Kite flew low overhead at one point - it appeared from behind me, obviously aware of me but not bothered by my presence. When the hedge turned right for a few yards, I went through a gap in it and continued across a meadow to a gate. I crossed a minor road, continued through a small field or paddock, and went through a small wood. Beyond the wood, the path turned right alongside a fence on my left. The next section was very pleasant as the path descended down into the Misbourne Valley at Great Missenden. The village is situated roughly where the valley of Hampden Bottom meets the Misbourne Valley, and I could see Hampden Bottom stretching away in front of me. I could also see the grassy 'ride' leading to Hampden House, which I've passed on several of my walks.


Path between Ballinger Common and Great Missenden


Path between Ballinger Common and Great Missenden


Path descending into the Misbourne valley


Looking over Great Missenden towards Hampden House and the valley of Hampden Bottom


At the bottom of the valley I carefully crossed the A413 by a roundabout. I went straight on towards Great Missenden, but soon turned right onto a footpath, now joining the route of the South Bucks Way. This lead through a rather muddy paddock with three horses, then a small enclosure, and then through a huge empty pasture as I made my way towards Mobwell. I could see the course of the infant river Misbourne (on my left) meandering through the pasture, but apart from one large puddle it was completely dry. I then reached a small field beside the Black Horse pub in Mobwell, where hot-air balloon flights take off during the summer months. Across the road from the pub I passed a small depression, the source of the Misbourne (though now totally dry). I passed under the railway line, then turned half-right (the right-most of three paths here) across another large empty pasture, heading for the hillside at the bottom of the 'V' formed by Hampden Bottom (to my left) and the Misbourne Valley. I was suddenly startled out of a daydream as one of two dogs belonging to a jogger suddenly dashed past me here.


The path through a large pasture between Great Missenden and Mobwell


Approaching Mobwell


This 'pond' is the source of the river Misbourne


Near the start of the path from Mobwell to Cobblershill


Near the start of the path from Mobwell to Cobblershill, approaching Coneybank Wood

Part 3 of this walk

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