I felt confident enough about my back to attempt a 12 mile walk, after a couple of weekends ramping up the mileage. I considered the next stretch of the Ridgeway but decided a local walk would allow for an easy rescue if I needed it. I arranged a very much appreciated lift to Wing with Helen’s dad. He dropped me off at 10:00 at the edge of Wing where I picked up the OAR path, heading towards Mentmore.
It was easy going to start with the path going slightly down hill, a short up action dumped me out on the last hundred yards of the road to Mentmore, where I stopped for a rest on a bench, and consumed my Snickers for the day. The path is well sign posted with the OAR logo however it is small and nearly always stuck or nailed to another sign so you have to look carefully.
From Mentmore it was again down hill to the railway, which is great train robbery country, however the path does not pass the famous bridge which is a Mike down the track from where the path crosses. Soon after the railway the path hits the Grand Union and stays on it for the rest of the days section, which ends up in Aston Clinton on the disused Wendover arm. I would finish the section at Stablebridge.
I passed a few sights of a note a lady duck a and some Ducklings who were surprisingly trusting, and some barnacle geese which were too. There were some signs about dredging along the way and a I noticed some bits of metal at the side of a the towpath on occasions, most of it of little interest, however I did come a cross a cigarette machine near a bridge, which was open. It was full of mussel shells presumably emptied by birds.
At about mile 6 I found a bench at a lock keepers cottage to rest and eat my sandwiches, Red Leicester in wholemeal Babs left over from our veggie burgers the night before. At Marsworth the path leaves the canal to take a detour though the village, only to join it again at the reservoirs. I stopped for coffee and cake at the Bluebell tearooms where the queue of two took some time while a spotty teenager was trained on the till. I sat outside and ate my chocolate cake which had spent to long on the cooler, the sparrows were not so bothered and wolfed down the crumbs I offered. I tried to get them to eat out of my hand but they would only get with 12 inches.
Between Startops and Wilstone reservoirs there were quite a few groups of Duke of Edinburgh kids with large packs. The renovation of the Wendover arm was a bit further forward than the last time I was around. It is taking quite a while I suspect that without more funding it will be quite a few decades before it is finished. I rested for 10 minutes on a convenient bench at the point where the renovation stopped then finished off the section.