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11 January 2014: Breachwood Green

Event route planned and designed by Peter O in 2012.

Weather: excellent.  Clear sky, clear visibility, cold north-westerly breeze ~10mph, 7°C.

Attendance: 24 attendees, of whom 1 new member of GOC and 1 prospective member of GOC.

Time: start 1110, end 1500, lunch 30 minutes.  Walking average speed 2.3mph.

Terrain: mainly fields, which had been waterlogged for most of the preceding week, resulting in a slippery mud throughout most of the walk.  Some roads.  Ground wet, with extensive puddles in places.  No flooding on the day.

This walk was a circular route of 8 miles from Breachwood Green, NW to Tea Green, Cockernhoe, S to Wandon End, alongside Luton Airport, then NE to return to the start point.

The route sits wholly within the southern side of the Chiltern range of hills, on the Chiltern Dipslope.  It offered superb views of the Mimram Valley.  Up to mid-point of the route, the route peered NE onto the other side of the valley towards Kings Walden.  On the northern edge of the route, the views N peered over Lilley Bottom towards Gt Offley and Lilley.  The evenly green fields glistened sensuously in the bright January sunlight, offering the eye plenty to look at.

At Cockernhoe, the group successfully squeezed 23 members into a bus shelter.

After Cockernhoe, the route became progressively more urban, taking us to the edge of Luton town, looking onto the Wigmore Estate.  Current plans are to extend the estate westbound, effectively absorbing Cockernhoe into Luton.  After passing a sign "Herfordshire" peppered with bulletholes, the route continued onto the edges of Wigmore Park and then onto the edge of Luton Airport.  Views E of the Mimram Valley were particularly impressive here, with a noticeable valley drawing the eye easily into the distance.

Luton Airport offered sights you wouldn't see every day, including fire training installations, aviation ground-lights and landing aircraft.  Today, the airport used its normal landing pattern, which is to accept incoming aircraft from the east heading westbound to land.  Aircraft sound is loudest behind the jet engines.  Aircraft sound was loud throughout the second half of the walk, particularly the aircraft taking-off.  Part of the route is in the area proposed to be the extension to Luton Airport's runway, meaning that Luton Airport invades Hertfordshire.

A brief distance of field walking, followed by road, took us back to the starting point.

The pub was the Red Lion, Breachwood Green, a warm country pub run by Greene King with modern pub grub (e.g. apple & parsnip soup, £4.50) served at typical meal-times.

In an informal survey, members said that they would be happy to repeat the route, slightly extended, during the summer.

Pictures by Peter O'Connor & Martin Thornhill.

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