Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shhh….we’re on Private Property

However, we’re in England and in lots of places in England that’s okay thanks to something wonderful known as the Public Footpath. Public Footpaths can be found throughout the whole of the country and basically allow public access across private lands. If a public footpath crosses your property you can expect to see ramblers (hikers) passing thru your garden from time to time. Even some of the grandest estates in England are affected and it makes for great walking here. There are over 140,000 miles of footpaths in England and Wales. The paths are well marked and to make life extra nice there are maps available for literally hundreds, if not thousands of walks all across Great Britain.

I belong to an American Women’s Club here which I’m sure I’ll post about sometime and one of the many monthly activities available thru the club is the hiking group. We meet two times a month, carpool to our destination (usually not more than a 15-20 minute drive) and then venture out as a group into the spectacular countryside known as The Chilterns. Due to the big snowfall we had on Monday and kids being out of school for two days we had a very small group today, just 4 ladies and 2 pups…dogs are most welcome on hikes (and pretty much everywhere else too!). We hiked around the village of Hambleden which is located between Henley and Marlow. Hambleden is a quintessential English village complete with stone cottages and a parish church and today’s bright, clear blue skies made for perfect walking weather.

The walk began with what is quite possibly the steepest hill I’ve ever had to climb but once we reached the top there were wonderful views all across the Hambleden Valley. We hiked thru woods and pastures, across farmland and back into the tiny village. There is nothing like a clear day in England-I don’t know if the sky truly is less hazy here or if it’s just that we rarely see a clear sky so fully appreciate it when we do. Anyway, we saw loads of red kites (a beautiful bird) soaring overhead and more than 50 pheasants. Thankfully I didn’t bring Dixie today. She is a bird dog and let’s just say that pheasants are not known for their ability to soar nor are they known for their intelligence and I think it’s safe to say that leaving Dixie at home enabled us to avoid a gruesome scene on the trail. I’m pretty sure it would have been all over for more than one of those beautiful birds. Today’s hike was 4 miles long and we did have a bit of ice in a few spots and the usual mud but today it was mixed with a little snow which made the woods so pretty.

Every little village here holds a special charm. Quite often on these hikes you stumble across some little piece of history too and today we rambled past the birthplace of Lord Cardigan who led The Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War (that didn't go so well for him by the way). Rambling across the English countryside has got to be one of my absolute favourite things about living here.

As I was walking today the words to one of my favourite old hymns kept popping into my head...

'This is My Father’s World, and to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s World, I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.'

I'm hugely lacking in the vocal talent department but I was singing on the inside.

Cheers, Joyce


  1. What a sweet post. I was going to ask if Dixie got to tag along, but it sure sounds best that she didn't! What a wonderful community you have there. It's so great that you are creating a scrapbook here. And, I really love seeing and hearing about your part of the world!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog today fellow expat. :-) We've only been here since May and will be for 2 to 3 years with my husband's job at Kelloggs.

    You mentioned repatriating. How are you feeling about that? Where are you from in the U.S.? We're from Michigan. We have 5 children and homeschool them. That was a big move here and find that virtually no one else home educates. I recently found a Christian homeschool group which is great.

    I hope to talk to you again.


  3. Public Footpaths. That's a great idea! There are about 22 miles of hiking trails in Texas. Seriously. The nearest one to my house is a half hour away in a national park., which makes me lucky to live so close to it. I think it's a quarter mile long. Okay, it's longer than that. 10 miles, is what I'm told.

    Beautiful photos!

    Thanks for stopping by She Lives!

  4. Hi Joyce,

    I'm fairly new to blogging myself. I started back in September and have posted over 70 times so far. I am really enjoying it. It has helped me in this transition actually. I like being able to be creative, too.

    I did not receive your reply yesterday. I'm technically impaired, too, so I ask questions of other bloggers to help learn new things.

    Have a great rest of the day!

  5. Loved this post...I also like hiking. Sounds like you had a nice "ramble" with the ladies! Thanks for the pictures...I am mostly English and would love to visit there! Saw your U in favorite!