We continued along prominent ridges that boasted distant vistas and descended again into crop-rich fields lining valley floors. The up and down nature of the terrain reflected the feelings expressed here: the more I ramble, the more my mind tries to understand and accept the paths that our lives lead us on, the thoughts they inspire and the people they touch.
It’s been ten months since I last set foot on The Chiltern Way – not so much A Constant Ramble, more of a stilted one – but a lot has happened in the intervening time. I contracted Covid-19, tore the meniscus in my left knee, which required surgery, launched a start-up experiential photography walks business ‘Capture the Chiltern Hills’ and experienced the appointment of yet another UK Prime Minister and the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
A monsoon-like rainstorm hammers down on the canopy of trees while I sit, under the protection of a tarpaulin, transfixed by the dancing flames gently licking the kettle preparing my morning coffee. It’s 7am and before I set foot on my next ramble along the Chiltern Way, I am the guest of Bushcraft expert David Willis.
At times of exceptional storm conditions, the Works can discharge untreated sewage into the river – this is known as a Combined Sewage Overflow and is a legally permitted activity. However, it is an ongoing concern, affecting the health of the river, the people who use it and the wildlife that depend on it as it flows downstream. And none more so than watercress farmer Jon Tyler.