Princes Risborough to Chinnor by train and return by foot
11 August 2022. This outing, combining a short ride on a steam hauled heritage train operated by the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (CPRR) with a gentle walk back to Princes Risborough, was originally offered as a pop-up day out for members of the Morley College Rambling Club and the North London Holiday Fellowship group.
Ten people had expressed interest. It was forecast to be a very hot day and when the railway company announced in advance that, because of the high risk of a spark setting fire to the parched vegetation, diesel units would replace the steam tank engine on all services, I feared that most people would drop out. So I was pleased when six other walkers joined me on the CPRR’s dedicated platform at Princes Risborough station. All were members of Morley College ramblers and four of us belonged also to the NLHF group.
We were charged £1 more for our single journey than I had been when I had done a recce in July. But it turned out that I had been given a local resident’s concessionary fare. We did not argue when we learnt that the man selling the tickets was Chairman of the railway company.
We watched our train come in. Its 1960s coaches were full of young families, most of whom disembarked to watch the former British Rail Clayton diesel unit (“the only one in the world”) being uncoupled, run up a side line and re-coupled at the other end, ready for its return to Chinnor.
On our 20-minute journey we could see how easily a spark could have set fire to the stubble or other dry vegetation each side of the line. Elderly gentlemen, described by Howard as railway-uniformed surrogate grandfathers, came through the train to count heads, check our BR-style tickets or sell us snacks from a trolley.
On arrival at Chinnor we spent fifteen minutes looking round the station, with its small shop and second-hand book store in the Booking Office and model railways in a large marquee, before setting out on our walk back to Princes Risborough.
This was fairly level. The Ridgeway provided more shade than I had feared, but the latter half of the walk was exposed to the hot sun. We were glad to reach The Lions of Bledlow in an hour and to sit under shady trees waiting another hour for two baguettes and a ploughman’s lunch to be served.
The final leg, of 50 minutes, to Princes Risborough station was very exposed. There was a pair of red kites circling above the station building. Someone suggested that the vultures were gathering. But we were not dead yet and, although glad to reach the shade of the station, I think we had all enjoyed the day. I am grateful to Daphne and Howard for the photographs. Barbara.