For Tilly’s 2nd birthday I set out a list of experiences for her to do and see over the coming year. One of these is to share one of my favourite pastimes of taking in a panorama atop a hill. As we live in the Chiltern hills, this is happily an easily achievable task and one that would allow me to take Tilly to what I rate as one of the finest viewpoints in the area. All that was needed was the right day and weather.
Cue a sunny if chilly Saturday with a morning that needed filling and we headed off for Coombe Hill near Wendover. Unlike its companion Wendover Woods across the valley, Coombe Hill is a more basic experience in nature with no facilities other than a car park and some well maintained footpaths. This can make logistics trickier but on the plus side it’s flat going from the car to the edge of the hill. Many other favourite viewpoints such as Ivinghoe Beacon in the Ashridge Estate are a good climb from the car park and beyond the ability of Tilly for the time being.
The signpost marks the monument as a ten minute walk from the start of the footpath. It’s fair to say this takes us rather longer than this. For one, Tilly opts for the rougher and slightly less direct footpath (I like to let her make some decisions, although the result doesn’t make for an easy time for me) while she was constantly distracted by other walkers, their dogs and the gliders from nearby RAF Halton flying overhead.
One thing about Coombe Hill is that the people are almost universally friendly, passing the time of the day with you and often more besides. A highlight of the walk to the monument was an elderly couple returning to the car park with the gentleman likening Tilly’s wobbles to his own difficulties. Tilly was entertained by the range of dogs although less keen when one tried to eat her biscuit, which she’d brought along from the car.
The path was muddy in places by the trees but eventually opened up to the open grassland that leads all the way to the monument and with it the unfolding view. Upon reaching the monument, the wind is pretty severe with no comparable hill blocking the wind for many miles in most directions. Tilly’s insulated onesie worked well although a separate woolly hat would have worked better as her hood was forever being blown down.
As hoped, the view was pretty clear with Aylesbury and Waddesdon Manor beyond easily visible. The steam rising from Didcot power station was until recently a recognisable mark on the landscape but no more as it was shut down and largely demolished last year.
Tilly had achieved an impressive feat by reaching the monument, as it’s much further than she’d previous managed. As was the case with the Gruffalo trail, when there’s a target in sight, she’ll keep focused on that task and push further. (When she hasn’t we barely get beyond the corner shop near home!) Although a little young to comprehend what she was seeing, I hope the experience – getting into nature, the walk, people, view and incredible wind – all made for a memorable morning out.
Once we’d taken in the view and daddy was beginning to feel a little numb around the extremities, it was time for Tilly to ride back in the buggy, although inspired by the experience she was keen to hop out again and we tried out the nature trail and picnic area before returning to the car, by which point she was exhausted. Job done!