Compared to last month’s the mud we encountered is hardly worth mentioning, but a few deep patches caused concern to some and slowed the pace, as did the six stiles we later had to cross. This undulating and strenuous walk is a favourite at springtime and the bluebells, wood anemones, lesser celandines and other wildflowers did not disappoint.
Leaving the Cricketers Arms we climbed to Danbury Church, took footpaths that led to the A414, which we crossed, followed it a short way downhill and then descended to the fringes of Lingwood Common. On its outskirts we followed a delightful path that ran beside a stream and weaved its way west. Here we caught our first glimpses of bluebells growing amongst the trees. Although we had to walk along Riffhams Lane for 5-minutes it was no hardship as this too is attractive in the spring and the several dead, giant, gnarled oak trunks are worth seeing. The next footpath took us across parkland belonging to Riffhams, where sheep and lambs wandered and on the ridge beyond stands the house in its landscaped gardens; in the grounds two stunning trees with pink blossoms gave a burst of colour to the dominant greenery elsewhere.
A series of paths through woods, beside fields, and across a field of horses and foals led us to Belle Vue, a house which as its name suggests stands on a high point. From here we descended into Blakes Wood where the bluebells were stunning. Caught at the right moment, as we did, the bluebells here never fail to impress; neither words nor photographs can sufficiently portray the scene of swathes and swathes of them amongst the trees glowing in the speckled sunlight.
Tracks meander willy-nilly through this wood and I have to confess I did take one wrong turn and we had to backtrack a short way; unfortunately it was uphill and the only excuse I can think of is that the cheerful chatter of the group distracted me!! As you can imagine there were some disgruntled ‘comments’ from the group, However, it was only a slight blip and poor Tim having worked his way from the back of the group to the front found that when I turned around, he ended up at the back again.
The last bluebells of the day were in the gardens of the White House that we walked alongside for a short while. Then we entered Lingwood Common once more, but this time higher up where the path undulates before dipping down to a stream and the final long climb back to the church.
The final descent from the church back to the pub is always a relief. We were served our food quickly and silence fell as we tucked in but it very soon reverted to the usual noisy, bubbling chatter.