The day started for a group of London group members with a train ride from Euston to Tring station. There we met members of the neighbouring Hertfordshire group. After introductions and a quick briefing, 16 of us set off for Ivinghoe Beacon, which at 233m is one of the highest points in south east England.
Gradually ascending Pitstone Hill, the views over Aylesbury Vale became more impressive. The wind also became stronger, but sunny intervals showed off the countryside to its best. We could see clearly the distinctive colours of several red kites, a bird of prey successfully re-introduced to the Chilterns only 30 years ago, and a flock of redwing, a type of thrush which is a common winter visitor to Britain.
After a short stop for a snack and hot drinks in a rare sheltered spot, we pushed on to the summit of the Beacon, from where there were excellent near-360 degree views. However, it was very windy up there and we didn't linger!
We had lunch sitting on logs in the shelter of The Combe wood. Having been walking mainly on open hillside, the last section of our walk saw us enter the extensive Ashridge Woods, where we had to pick our way around some very muddy sections. We came across an impressive fallen tree, which the National Trust enjoined us not to vandalise - it would gradually be left to decay and rot as a home for fungi and beetles.
Finally we descended into the pretty village of Aldbury, only a mile from our start point, where 14 of us stopped at the amazingly rustic Valiant Trooper pub for well-earned pints.
I would like to thank everyone for their company and helping to make it such a great day.