There are some important things to take when you’re walking – like a map of the area and good directions. We had a copy of The Icknield Way Path book which describes the route from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath and we had OS maps. However, the logistics of car parking and getting home in the rush hour meant that we decided to walk our second day of the Icknield Way in reverse. That is, to walk from Streatley back to Whipsnade. Not only is it difficult to follow directions in a book going backwards, but Streatley was on the edge of my map. In fact, the start, was completely off the map, which was not clever. Also, the map seems to show multiple Icknield Way paths that at times merge with the Chiltern Way and in places it disappears from the map and signposts altogether.
So we parked, made sure we had car keys in our pocket for the car at the other end of the walk and strode out of the village confidently following the signs. We were heading west, the sun was shining and all was good with the world. After half an hour we checked the map and realised we were completely off course as we’d followed the wrong signs. No matter, we worked out how to rejoin the path and off we went. But, after a phone call from home, our minds were elsewhere and we missed a footpath and ended up so far from the Icknield Way that we had to devise a completely different route. It turned out to be a good walk along grassy tracks and we finally joined the Icknield Way at Chalk Hill following it along the Dunstable Downs and back to Whipsnade.
But next time we will follow the directions in the book. And we’ll have a map of the whole walk.