We were very fortunate to have glorious weather for our final day. It started off cool, but leaving the B & B, I immediately shed my jackets. It was a short walk past the Tring Station to the trail head. Since we thought we were only walking 5.5 miles, we carried our packs. As we entered the beech forest, and started to ascend to the ridge, Dennis asked if we should hide our packs and walk unencumbered. Not wanting to limit our options once we got to Ivinghoe Beacon, I declined the offer.
We saw squirrels, rabbits, and red kites in the beech and chestnut forests. Atop the ridge, we could see a cloud’s shadow on a red poppy field below. (photo left) All day long, fair-weather clouds drifted over us, but it was warm enough not to have to keep putting on and taking off a jacket. Even so, I kept rolling my sleeves up and down and putting my hood on and off, especially in the open windy areas.
After yesterday’s steep ascents, today’s walk was easy, with only one moderately steep climb. There were a few other walkers who started at the car park 0.3 miles (500 m) from Ivinghoe Beacon. As we approached the gate leading to the last portion of the walk, there were three classes on a school outing sitting on the path and eating lunch. The teachers had to tell the kids to move out of our way, but most of them were polite and greeted us with a “Hi, ya.”
From the top, we could see the Whipsnade White Lion. Built in 1933 to indicate the position of the Whipsnade Wildlife Park, the chalk lion measures 483 ft (147 m). For the 50th birthday, it was illuminated. That must have been interesting to see at night.
After taking photos, we sat below a tuft of grass, and ate cookies we had reserved for this day. Hidden from the wind and stretched out on our sleeping mats, we soaked in the warm sunshine and joy of completing our trek.
From the top there are many paths, but few were going to places convenient for those without a car. Most of the small villages did not have train access and we could not be certain to have bus service. So, we decided to return to the Tring Station, which provided us with more options.
Our descent was relatively easy (see left). At the Tring Station, we decide to take a local bus to Tring and find lodging there. There wasn’t any. The B&Bs listed in the book were no longer open, and the hotels were full. We went to the library to research local inns. All that we called were full. Since it was getting late in the day, we decided to take the Tring train to London and find a place to stay there.
London had no room–nor did towns 40 miles away. After hours of searching, we found a single room, up four flights, without air-conditioning, but with en suite. This was not the Ritz, but it was the Carlton. For $255.20 (150 £) we were safe, dry, and cuddly in a twin bed. After a couple of hours, Dennis spread the sleeping mat on the floor and stayed there until morning.
No one was able to explain the overcrowding. Perhaps there are too many baby-boomers retiring and traveling. For whatever reason, I will make reservations next time I come to London, or carry a tent.