A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
I look back on our progress on the route called A Chilterns Hundred with great fondness, but this nostalgia is also tinged with melancholy – since it will not be that easy for others to enjoy this same walk in the future! This route, like many others in the UK, was only a series of instructions – in this case a text describing how to use existing rights of way to complete a 100-mile circuit of the Chilterns, beginning and ending in Amersham. The walk was created by Jimmy Parsons and its intricate twists and turns were first described in a pamphlet issued by the Chiltern Society in 1988.
This unofficial route has not been lost to the encroachments of vegetation or civilization (for there was never anything resembling a continuous footpath anyway) but it has been superseded, at least in the view of the Chiltern Society, by a much grander and lengthier circuit of these hills (with several extensions) – The Chiltern Way. Parson’s guide is no longer listed among the Society’s publications and without it you would need to be a very talented map-reader to replicate the older route (the Ordnance Survey’s Explorer series numbers 172, 171 and 181 should do it). I hope someone tries – for the rights of way should still exist (or there would be useful and appropriate equivalents) and you would also have the clues provided in these accounts of our travels on A Chilterns Hundred between 1994 and 1997. If you succeed I would love to hear from you via my feedback page.
For fuller portraits of a number of my walking companions on this venture I can refer you to my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain – available from the publisher at authorhouse.com, or authorhouse.co.uk, from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk or for any of the other online booksellers. I should add that, though we did begin in Amersham, we did not do the ten stages needed to complete this route in sequence. The journal entry order that follows is a chronological one, but if you want to follow the route in its original order then read the entries as follows:
Day 1: Amersham to Seer Green – 12 miles
Day 2: Seer Green to Cookham Rise – 10.5 miles
Day 8: Marlow to Skirmett – 9 miles
Day 9: Skirmett to Nuffield – 11 miles
Day 10: Nuffield to Stokenchurch – 13 miles
Day 3: Princes Risborough to Wendover – 10.5 miles
Day 5: Wendover to Tring Station – 8.5 miles
Day 7: Wigginton to Great Missenden – 9.5 miles
Day 4: Great Missenden to Amersham – 7 miles
It will be noted that, even here, there is a missing section: Cookham to Marlow. We did not walk the Parsons route here since it replicated sections of both The London Countryway and the Thames Path between these two towns – and we had therefore already walked this section twice. An account of this portion of the route can be located however in sections devoted to The London Countryway and The Thames Path elsewhere on this website – see Day 5 in both instances.
In the case of the LCW see:
In the case of the Thames Path see:
Finally, I do want to dispute the notion that A Chilterns Hundred was later replaced or superseded by The Chiltern Way – or even that the latter was based on the former. When we began our walk on The Chiltern Way in 2005 I was able to note a number of spots touched by both routes but only one section, roughly from Hambledon to Maidensgrove, is truly coterminous. And so we return to my melancholy lament. A Chilterns Hundred took the walker over a wonderful countryside not replicated in the newer route at all – sad to think that no one is walking it now.