The Monument was a hotbed of activity -- ramblers with maps, grey-haired ladies in cagoules, with dogs, children in pushchairs. There's a tea room there now. And they serve lunch.
I'd like to say we rambled not walked but I was warned by my brother-in-law that
"We don't like ramblers."
"Don't say that to her" hissed my sister across the table with a half-smile in my direction.
"No, no" I say, "do tell."
"Well" Andrew starts, "they're very Left Wing..."
"Oh goody, I'm Left Wing," I said, "We should get on terribly well."
"And" his friend, the farmer, continues, "they walk through everyone's land assuming it's their God-given right."
"And" says Andrew, "they wear ordnance survey maps around their necks coated in plastic."
"And carry thermoses of sweet tea" said someone else.
I suppose it's my fault for asking the difference between walkers and ramblers. ( The underlying inference is, one supposes, that walkers are country and ramblers are not. But I don't really think this is true. The deeper inference being I am rambler ergo I am hunt-saboteur. Either way, my right wing brother-in-law -- who is fond of President Obama but perhaps less fond of the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee -- and I saw eye to eye most admirably over a lovely piece of roast pork. )
As a child, it seemed to take hours to ride to the Beacon from home, but walking fast (3-4 mph) it only took me an hour and a half, through glorious oak and beech woods, still green and not a bit like I expected October to be.
The view from the Ridgeway
I don't know if these cheerful little clouds exist anywhere else in the world, but don't they suit so well the chalky downland?
Quintessential English view, across the Vale of Aylesbury
Apart from the barbed-wire, this is my favorite view, framed by oak tree.
And we land on top of the beacon, surrounded by dogs, and small-plane enthusiasts, and ramblers with thermoses. All on a Monday morning. "It must be the nice weather," said my mother, sensibly.
Lovely wooden signs mark the way. As I mentioned in yesterday's post I can't believe how Ashridge has transformed -- it's literally awash in signage.
You miss this stuff when you're away. Only a week ago I was writing about Ivinghoe Beacon from memory. Today I'm here. Rather wished I'd brought my thermos of sweet tea. Or "a piece" as the Scots say for the sandwich they put in their pocket for later on.