The Ridgeway, July 17 Day 5, 16 miles
Last days on a path tend to be less about accomplishment and more about just getting there. This one was no exception. Apart the last couple of miles, it was just like the day before, a beautiful wander through a shady forest with occasional field crossings. The experience was marred by a mountain bike event— 100 mile ride being undertaken by hundreds of riders. Often the path is narrow which requires I step off when they approach, which after a while becomes tedious. Still everyone was happy and courteous, always saying cheers or some other greeting.
The final approach to Ivinghoe Beacon is across open ground and was very hot. I ran out of water with about a mile to go and was spitting dust in the top. Still not sure what Ivinghoe Beacon is a beacon to, as the commemorative plaque next to the trig point was blank. Still, a satisfying end to an excellent walk.
The buses in the local village don’t run on sundays, so I made my way off the beacon and trekked the mile into Ivinghoe where I had a pint of Ridgeway Ale at the Rose and Crown. A man in the crowd at the bar (it was a busy Sunday afternoon) asked if I had just finished— I’m guessing I had that bedraggled hiker-trash look on. No bus, so I got a cab to the Tring train station where, instead of heading toward Oxford (which is not all that far away), I had to go into London Euston, tube to Paddington and train back out to Oxford. So I exchanged England’s oldest path for a fast Great Western Rail line— seemed somehow fitting.
T. Hugh Crawford