Mary Norris’ Walks

Aren’t we the fortunate ones to live in such a beautiful environment?

We moved to Kingwood over nine years ago, mostly for our energetic dog to have a garden to run around in. Because of the dog we started walking from our house in Stoke Row Road in any direction and discovered we could walk for up to two hours without having to venture on to any road.

We moved here in the middle of January in a snow storm but, even then, we could see the beauty in this area.

During the challenging times of the last year, I am sure we have all been out walking more than usual. For the first few years here, we hardly ever met anyone but other dog owners, then lockdown started and it was all change. Families with small children were on paths in the depth of the woods, often lost, I have to say.

Because of the frightening news in the media, people were very courteous and invariably stepped off the path so that we all felt safer. It all seemed very strange to start with but quickly became the norm.

The joy I feel out walking every day and watching the seasons change from day to day cannot be overstated. We have woods, commons, farms, and open countryside all on the doorstep.

We must have 20 different walks that we do on a regular basis, so no matter from whatever direction the wind and rain are blowing, we can find a route that is comfortable. Of course, the time between March and May are the most beautiful.

From the first primrose to pop its brave head out of the soil, you know spring has arrived. The blossom and the bluebells are really stunning this year and one of our favourite walks is down Colemore Lane past the Unicorn pub and keep going to the blue house, you can’t miss it!

Turn off the lane to the right and very quickly it goes down quite a steep hill, at the bottom you can look in any direction and there are bluebells, it is quite spectacular.

You are in a narrow valley and for over half a mile this colourful spectacle is on steep hills either side of you. If you turn right and keep walking through the woods you will meet the road, which is Colliers Lane; turn right and up a short, steep hill and you are back at the Unicorn and have earned a long cool drink.

The other walk we do a lot is out of our back gate and into Chiltern Wood. It used to be the grounds and orchards of Peppard Chest Hospital. There are still beautiful trees there, if rather wild now – cherry, plum and apple. All of which still fruit and are enjoyed by the locals.

We also all enjoy the black pig whose paddock borders the orchard. When we first arrived here there were several breading sows in there. The piglets often escaped into the orchard and were happily chased back to their pen. There is just one sow left, she has been on her own for several years now but she appears to be quite happy; she has been named Gwen, not sure by whom, but that is what everyone calls her.

I have never been past when there isn’t someone just leaving having left an assortment of nice vegetables for her. I think the prize for the most over-the-top contribution is asparagus. When I said ‘Asparagus for a pig?’ to the lady

leaving it, the reply was ‘well she is a Henley pig.’ She seems to love all the attention and is just as happy to have a nice scratch as to be fed.

I hope all the people who have enjoyed the locality in the last year, will continue to enjoy the countryside, wherever they go.

Mary Norris