Thursday, 20 March 2014

83-86 - The Chiltern's - 12th March 2014

Foggy Morning
It was day two of my camping trip to the Chiltern hills and I woke up in my tent bright and early, the weather forecast was due to be bright sunshine but when I unzipped my door and peered out the amazing view had disappeared into the thick fog. It was a very eerie as I couldn't really see too much, just the thick fog.

I cooked some eggy bread for breakfast and had some tea and then headed off to the first location, it was only a 20 min drive past the town of Tring, when I arrived it was still very thick fog. The high point I was planning to visit was meant to be the best of the four I was going to see today and I really couldn't see anything so I decided to change my plan and come back to this one later in the day when the fog had cleared.

Whitehill, Luton
Driving east from the Tring area I headed along a few large roads for about 20 mins and then through the town of Hemel Hempstead, It was here I realised I had been here before, many years ago I worked in the area and I remembered a crazy roundabout system they had. Past Hemel Hempstead I joined the M1 for a few miles and eventually turned off and made my way through the town of Luton, past the airport and along a few roads ending up at the highest point in Luton. This hill is called Whitehill and is 178 mts above sealevel, there was an interesting white house with a turret but there was nothing too special with this high point and it was still a little bit foggy but I could see it was starting to clear now.

Bow Brickhill, Milton Keynes
Next I drove west across the M1 and through Dunstable where I turned right onto the famous Watling street, This street was an ancient Pre Roman road which started in Canterbury and headed off for 277 miles across ancient Britain. I followed Watling street for about 6 or 7 miles turning off near the village of Little Brickhill just south of Milton Keynes. After a little difficulty finding my way (due to some road closures) I managed to park and walk up to the top of Bow Brickhill, the highest point of Milton Keynes, this hill is 171 meters above sea level, not as high as Luton but a little better looking, it was mainly tree covered and quite peaceful except for the roadworks going on in the distance.

Haddington Hill
I didn't stay on this hill for too long, I was soon off to my next location (after a short stop at the camping shop for some more gas). The next 2 high points were both very close to each other so I headed back south past Leighton Buzzard and then to my next hill. Wendover forest is run by the forestry commission and is home to a hill with 2 claims to fame, after parking not too far from the summit I walked the short distance to a small monument marking the top of Haddington Hill, the highest point of the Chiltern hills and the highest point of Buckinghamshire. Haddington hill sits at 267 mtrs above sea level, the highest point of the day. This was a really beautiful location, I went for a walk and ended up sitting in the sun for some time, the fog had cleared and it was now quite warm. I stayed here for a couple of hours and took plenty of photos, it was such a beautiful place and so peaceful.

Wendover Forest
My last high point for the day was about a 15 min drive away to the east, I had to drive along a few small bendy roads but was soon at Pavis Wood, the highest point in Hertfordshire. This high point was not to obvious as it was all pretty flat but thanks to my maps I found the exact location and took some photos, this location is 244 mtrs above sea level. It was now time to head back to the campsite for the evening and that was just a short 10 minute drive away. I finished the day off watching the sunset while cooking my dinner over an open fire.

Pavis Wood
The next morning I packed up my tent and headed off home after a really nice few days away, it was my first camping trip of the year and it was well worth it. The campsite was amazing, the hills were not too bad and the views of the Chiltern's were wonderful. Thanks to Town farm campsite for letting me camp, I really recommend them if your wanting somewhere to pitch your tent.

These 4 hills now bring my total up to 85 out of 236, that is nearly 37% complete.

Wendover Forest

Highest point of the Chiltern hills and Buckinghamshire

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

82 - Bald Hill - Old Oxfordshire - 11th March 2014

The view from Bald Hill car park
It was early March and it had been one of the wettest winters in a long time, things were looking wet almost everywhere and I was wondering if I was ever going to get out to visit some new high points this year. I don't actually mind getting a bit wet but to go camping when its torrential rain and wind is NOT a good idea. I was suddenly excited to see a possible high pressure heading our way and started to look into a camping trip. I picked several locations and started the search for campsites and eventually decided to head to an area about 2 hours north of Portsmouth. I initially wanted to climb 4 high points in the area but after studying the maps for a while I noticed there was a high point that I could visit on the way to the campsite, so here is my trip to Bald Hill (and another bonus high point).

Local nature reserve
Bald hill is not one of the current high points, back in 1974 the counties of the UK were all reshuffled, some counties disappeared and others were created, what this means is that some of the high points were no longer the highest point. when I started this challenge I had to decide whether to climb the original (historic) counties (86 I think) OR the new modern counties (which including a lot of extra unitary authorities comes to around 225ish), so in the end I decided to do all of them and Bald Hill is the historic high point of Oxfordshire.

The top of Bald hill
I left home at 10:30am and headed north up the A3(m) past Petersfield, Guildford and onto the clockwise M25, then up past Heathrow and onto the M40, a short distance after High Wycombe I left the motorway and drove past the village of Stokenchurch (there was a huge concrete pillar/antenna thing here which was quite attractive . . . . not). Eventually I made another turn and arrived at my destination car park near Bald Hill. It was a very handy car park, free and just 500ft from my destination. I walked along a path and found that the hill was far from being bald as it was covered in a woodland, I was soon at the summit of the hill, the actual highest point was hard to find as the whole area was pretty flat.

Town Farm campsite
After a photograph I headed off back to the car park and crossed the road to take a quick look at the views. It was actually a little murky so I could not see too far. It was then time to head off to my campsite which was situated around 45 mins drive away. I headed through lots of little villages eventually coming to the town of Tring and finally to the village of Ivinghoe which is where my campsite was situated.

The Chiltern's

Ivinghoe Beacon
Town farm campsite is a wonderful place, I was met by Tom who showed me to one of the camping fields which I had to myself. The views were stunning, to the north I had miles of view to look at, to the south were the rolling Chiltern hills, then to the east was Ivinghoe Beacon. I pitched up my tent and made a cup of tea, then I decided to head out for a walk before I started my dinner. I walked back through the farm and then up across the road towards the hills. The walk took me through a few fields and then over a style and gradually up the hills eventually coming to the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon.

Ivinghoe Beacon is not on my list of high points which is a shame is its a beautiful location and much nicer than some of the ones I have done recently, I did however decide to give it honorary high point status. I sat on top of the beacon for some time and watched the sun setting, the clouds had cleared by now and the views were stunning. I eventually made my way back down the beacon and back to the campsite where I lit the campfire and made my dinner of beef stew and potato cakes with pancakes for dessert, all made on the open fire. Then it was off to sleep ready for me to visit 4 more high points the next day.

To be continued . . . . . . . .

Friday, 14 March 2014

81 - Blackpool - 24th Feb 2014

Every year in late February I get the chance to visit Blackpool as it is the home to the worlds largest magic convention, I love Blackpool, yes you heard me correctly, I LOVE Blackpool for 4 reasons (here is where I upset the population of Blackpool), the main reason why I love it is that it makes me realise how really good it is in my home town of Portsmouth, Blackpool really makes me see what a good city I live in, I mean its really good here, Blackpool is like a polished turd, in recent years they have spent millions on the Blackpool regeneration, a whole new seafront, new shopping centres and loads more of amazing things, but no matter how much they try to make it look good, no matter how hard they polish it, it's still a turd. The second reason I like Blackpool are the fact it is home to the worlds largest magic convention, Thirdly it is home to some pretty nifty roller coasters and finally( and in this blog most importantly) it has a high point.

Now before we go any further, no, the Tower is NOT the highest natural point in Blackpool, and no, nor is the 'Big One' rollercoaster in the Pleasure beach. The highest point is in fact next to the Warbreck Reservoir about 1.5 miles to the north of the tower. So it was on my way home from the Blackpool Magic Convention I asked my friend Scott (who was driving that weekend) if he would mind me stopping off on the way home at the reservoir for me to take a quick photo.

And to keep you all happy, here I am standing at the giddy height of 34 meters above sea level.