On the last bank holiday in May, we eschewed the traditional lie in and headed out into the sunshine in search of wild orchids, gorgeous views and adventure. We were heading further afield to the BBOWT Dancersend reserve. Not only that, but we were planning on a circular walk that would incorporate part of the Ridgeway and Tring park, both of which were incredibly beautiful places worth a visit in their own right. We parked at the BBOWT car park next to the water works and headed up through the wood to the Ridgeway. We used this invaluable map on the BBOWT website for the 6.5 mile circular walk. A short walk through the village of Hastoe and we came to Tring Park, which was a really amazing space that I’d like to visit again.
Tring Park is managed by the Woodland Trust and it has an amazing history – it basically used to be someones garden! There are loads of things to see while you’re there, not only are there the amazing carvings like the one above, but insects, plants, spectacular views and cows and sheep. (The cows are in the field you walk through so please make sure they, you and your dog stay safe by keeping your dog on the lead.) When we got to the Natural History Museum, we didn’t head to the train station, but carried on heading to Dancersend. The map gets a bit tricky at this point (plus we got impatient and wanted to be the reserve!) but trust the map and you’ll get to the reserve.
We were there quite early on orchid season and since then, the orchids have really bloomed. We spent quite a while looking for these little fellows and thanks to other people who had shared their Dancersend orchid findings on Twitter and Google images, we were able to spot and identify the orchids. The main reason we were there was the amazing fly orchid. I’ve never seen anything like it before! It was amazing and it’s made me a lot more interested in finding and identifying wildflowers. By this time, we were hot, exhausted and hungry. So after a few more hills and stiles, we made it back to the car park. A quick change of shoes and we were back in the car, heading for Hemel Hempstead. Phil had found a veggie cafe that looked perfect for a late lunch.
After finding a parking spot (which are recommended on the cafe website) we arrived at Woody’s cafe. We sat outside with Poppy and enjoyed the comings and goings of life on the canal. We both ordered the roast veg crepe, not quite sure what to expect and we were blown away! It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had and my mouth waters now when I think about it. It was the perfect lunch after our six mile walk. Not only that, but they do amazing cakes which you can take away – make sure you do as they are amazing!
The Walk: I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. It’s quite hilly (compared to what we’re used to) and despite proper walking boots and insoles, I managed to injure my knee. It was well worth it though, and despite my injury, I’m keen to keep extending our walks. Cost: Free Car Park: The BBOWT car park at the Water Works is quite small, but we got there early and had no trouble parking. There are others too, it just depends on where you want to start your walk. If you’re just visiting Dancersend reserve, then the Water Works car park is the one you want. Refreshments: No. We didn’t go into Tring itself, but there are a few cafes in the town. We packed refreshments and there are plenty of spots to stop for a brew from your Thermos. Definitely head to Woody’s if you can. Toilets: There are some in the Water Works car park, and while they’re perfectly fine, they are a little scary! There are no mod cons but they are useable.
It’s the end of the month which means one thing – pay day! It’s been a long, hot month so I’m going to be treating myself with a bit of clothes shopping. I’m currently wearing the same four outfits on rotation at the moment. Having lost a bit of weight (yay!) my summer wardrobe is lacking a bit so I need a few things to see me through. The good news is that lots of places are having sales at the moment, including one of my all time favorite clothes shops, People Tree. They are having an awesome sale, with great discounts on fair-trade fashion. I’ve got my eye on this little chappie, along with a few more stripey tops!
With all the bird watching I do now, I thought that this would be very appropriate! There are so many lovely things on sale at People Tree that I’m going to have to get my credit card out! Want to get an extra 10% off? Use the following discount code until the 15th August on any sale item – CHSALE10. Let me know what you get!
Confession time folks: I have never been camping. With my huge dislike of spiders and body temperature always verging on the side of frostbite, sleeping outside has never taken my fancy. So when Phil got me a glamping holiday for my birthday a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a lovely little cabin/hut on the edge of the New Forest, which had a toilet and a shower. (Phil earned major plus points for that!) It was gorgeous and in the most breathtaking locations.
The Beech Hut was the perfect little hideaway. We were there for three nights and spent the days walking and exploring the local area. As we were only there to sleep, it didn’t matter too much that there wasn’t much room. Water was limited so showers were quick, but after a day spent walking, all we wanted was to sleep when we got home so that wasn’t an issue. The hut was in woodland on a farm. In the middle of the woodland was a gorgeous lake, which was a great location for an evening dog walk.
We walked all the miles during our glamping holiday. Check out my FitBit stats below:
Pretty impressive huh?! Though, somewhere during that week, I managed to shave off some cartilage in my knee, so there are no massive walks in my future. It was worth it though. I would definitely go glamping again and would love to go back to Beech Hut, as it’s a great place to explore the surrounding area.
It all started with a plan to try and find some early orchids. While Phil’s main focus is the birds, mine is flowers when we’re out and about. He had seen online about some early orchids at BBOWT’s Warburg Nature Reserve so a few weekends back, we headed there to see what we could see. Just outside Henley-on-Thames, Warburg is a lovely nature reserve, with a few different walks to do, depending on what you’ve got time for, two bird hides and plenty of plants and wildlife to practice your photography on.
We managed to spot an early purple orchid, thanks to the map at the visitor centre and some help via Google images. I was pretty pleased with our little find. I always imagine wild orchids to be as big as the ones we have at home, but the ones out during early spring are small so you really have to keep your eyes peeled. It’s well worth it because when you see one for yourself, it’s amazing!
We did the main circular walk, which takes less than an hour. There are open areas as well as woodland walks, which Poppy enjoyed. Then we spent quite a bit of time in the two bird hides, waiting patiently. We saw a bullfinch, a chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and many more. Between Phil and I, we managed to work out what the birds were using apps, binoculars and cameras. Thank goodness for technology, or we’d have no idea what we’d seen. It’s so hard to take pictures of birds with my camera, as they move quicker than I do.
We’ll definitely go back to Warburg Nature Reserve, though I’d like to walk there from Henley. Getting to the reserve isn’t easy, as it’s at the end of road in need of repair. The car park is also quite small so if you can walk there, it’s best to do so.
The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do around the reserve, depending on what you want to do. I would recommend making time for at least one of the bird hides, if you can. Cost: Free Car Park: The car park is small and free, though donations are welcome. Refreshments: No. Toilets: There are some in the visitor centre.