Great Missenden Sucks

Sixteen months of not being able to get to the Basque Country means I'm stuck with doing stuff in England. In the past, while here, going off hiking trails has relieved the boredom, kept me somewhat in shape and I've discovered a few things. On my main blog I say that if somewhere is no good I'll trash it, the same applies here. The county of Buckinghamshire takes a while to reach but has some good routes and for the most part they are okay, except for one town.

Five years ago I decided to walk a portion of a trail named the South Bucks Way. Signage was a bit sparse, but it was a pleasant trek until Great Missenden—there it all fell apart. I reached a point where there were three different directions and no signs. Stopping for a few moments, I noticed off to the right a sign was seen, uprooted and thrown amoungst a patch of stinging nettles. It bore the South Downs Way sign. No evidence of a hole from where it had been torn from the ground existed, nor any idea of which way to proceed. From then on, every time I have gone through this place it has been nothing but misery.

Normally I'm on the road in Europe anywhere from March through September, so English hikes are in late fall and winter. One coldish February I discovered a beautiful little valley, way off any main trail and on the way back ended up adding over 6 miles to the journey because near Great Missenden all the signage had been turned to different directions or ripped up.

On the post about refinding the valley, the stupid little town gave me grief twice. First, I began to head down a main trail but it had been cut off by a new set of housing. There were two men at the entrance to area and I asked why. One of them said I had to go buy an Ordnance Survey Map (130 years out of date), he said that five times. I was actually holding a print out of the map in my hand. He had never seen one in his pathetic little life, he had no idea what he was talking about. Later, after finding and leaving the valley, I again had trouble. Signage was: painted over, ripped up, turned around and I finally climbed over a fence then just continued doing that via several fields. Using my compass I eventually ended up in the town again to catch a train back.
This is all wrong.

The final straw

It is now in the last few days of August 2021 and I again wanted to do a walk from Great Missenden to Amersham (it's only about 10 miles). A few people were helpful, which I find common in Buckinghamshire anyways (opposite of Kent, Surrey and Hampshire). This time there were some new signs—ah finally, I thought. The second set proved different. One direction was okay, the other was almost hidden, but next to it a set of steps.
You can see, almost totally hidden, the sign on the middle left.

Walking down the steps felt a bit odd, but I continued anyway. I had forgotten to bring my compass and the sky was very cloudy, otherwise it would have been okay. It wasn't long before I was on a dirt trail, but it turned to grass with hardly any usage. Seeing that every other trek around here had never produced the South Bucks Way, I did not know what it would look like.
The lake behind is a bit grim.

Stopping for a bite to eat from the lunch I was carrying, the footfalls continued. No one was about, which was nice, though because the huge grassy area was rarely walked, it was slow going. I did notice that quite a few trees had wooden barriers around and thought that a bit strange.
This is where it all ended.

I could not cross the stream and had to retrace my steps. I reckon I did about 6 miles total, so much for breaking the 10 mile barrier which I wanted to do. Near where I had eaten lunch was a gate into the area, so I headed for it. A girl with a toy poodle was there and we had a pleasant short chat, she's an interior designer. I went through the gate, turned right as she directed and went back to the rail station to return home.

Though there are some nice folk there, Great Missenden sucks otherwise. So if you are out hiking the South Bucks Way: be careful, be aware or just avoid the place altogether.
Aug 29, 2021

About Footfalls

When I'm not on the road, I reside in London. I normally get out and often hike unusual or obscure routes, sometimes going off trail.
Occasionally places I write up will not be identified. That way some idiot walking clubs and the stupid Ramblers Association won't mess it all up.

"I don't know, I don't care, and it doesn't make any difference."
- Jack Kerouac



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