: Countryside Walks

What’s happening to our country pubs?

What’s happening to our country pubs?

Pubs are disappearing at a fast rate in cities and in the countryside, where they have always been at the centre of the community alongside the church hall and village shop. Changing habits – like drinking in to take advantage of lower supermarket prices – the growing popularity of bar chains and property speculation are taking their toll on public houses across Britain. According to CAMRA, a British non-profit organisation campaigning for real ale and community pubs, 29 pubs are closing each week. CAMRA has been lobbying the Government to close planning loopholes in order to save pubs. Tim Page, CAMRA’s chief executive, explains: “In England, it’s currently possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for pubs valued by the community to be lost without local people having a say. Given the huge contribution that pubs make to community life in Britain, we believe this cannot be right.” Research by CAMRA discovered that pubs support over 1m jobs nationally and contribute around £80,000 to a local economy each year. Although 75% of adults believe that pubs make a valid contribution to community life, two pubs are converted to supermarkets every week. Many politicians have joined the fight to save British pubs, so do speak to your local MP if you have any concerns. In praise of country pub food British cuisine had been suffering bad press for years until a new breed of chefs injected fresh enthusiasm into traditional dishes, making the best of local ingredients and suppliers. However, the pub...
How to take interesting outdoor photographs

How to take interesting outdoor photographs

Whether you’re taking in the sights of London’s most renowned historic buildings or enjoying the serene landscapes of Britain’s countryside, taking some excellent outdoor photographs is a great way to remember your adventure and inform your friends about your explorations on social media. While you don’t have to be a professional photographer wielding a £2000+ camera to take a great photograph, there are some important rules to abide by if you want your photographs to be just as vivid and beautiful as the memories you have. The golden hours There are two specific time periods during the day which are ideal for taking outdoor photographs: the hour after the sun comes up and the hour before it goes down. There’s something incredibly enchanting about photographs which are taken during the golden hours, arguably because the gentle lighting creates a soft touch which is not replicable at other times of the day. The shadows casted by buildings, trees and vegetation during the golden hours also help to create a magical ambience. While it’s not always convenient to go exploring during these hours, you should still take the time of day into account. For instance, photographs taken in the midday sun tend to have a harshness about them which is not particularly pleasant, so try aim for the morning or late afternoon/evening. Rule of thirds Creating balance in your photographs is important, and this can be achieved by implementing the tried and tested ‘rule of thirds’. The rule advocates dividing the image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, using imaginary lines to balance the picture. It is suggested that for landscape...
Navigating British farmland

Navigating British farmland

The British countryside is neither daunting nor dangerous, and little is required by way of equipment in order to enjoy it! You’ll be pleased to hear that the preparation you actually need to put into venturing out into the countryside is quite minimal. In terms of vital items, if you have a decent pair of walking shoes, a waterproof of some description and a water bottle, you are more or less set. Technology can even take the pain out of navigating, particularly if you’re on one of our tours where you can let your smartphone or tablet take the strain (in which case you may want to invest in a battery life solution, as discussed in a previous blog post). It’s therefore easier than ever to physically and materially prepare for your walk through the countryside. However, the British countryside is as diverse as it is scenic. Chances are, you will be passing through villages, woodland, and privately-owned farmland on any walk through the countryside. There are some general rules that are worth familiarising yourself with to ensure your own enjoyment and safety, as well as the happiness of any local landowners, habitats, or animals. The countryside is for everyone to enjoy, which means we all need to play our part in preserving it. The Countryside Code The Countryside Code was established in 2004 to replace the older Country Code. It focuses on three key mantras: ‘Respect. Protect. Enjoy.’ It’s rather self-explanatory, involving ways of respecting other people who live and travel in the countryside, the ways you can protect environments in which you are a visitor, and ways...
Hambleden Village Tour – Coming Soon

Hambleden Village Tour – Coming Soon

Distance 5.50 miles (8.8km)         Duration 2 hrs   Calories 700 (est.) While the term “chocolate box village” is a bit cliché the brick and flint cottages and the 14th century St Mary’s church set the stage for this picturesque little village, with its Anglo Saxon derived name, which means by the way ‘crooked or irregularly-shaped hill’ very well indeed.  Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 the village can in fact trace its history back to 1015 when it was known as Hamelan dene. Village amenities include a public car park, situated conveniently next to the popular Stag and Huntsmen pub, there is also a little tea room.  As you’d expect the village is a popular film location; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Witches, Band of Brothers, Sleepy Hollow, Nanny McPhee Returns to name all had scenes filmed here. The walk takes in the woodlands, fields and hills so predominate in the area offering excellent views however with the exception of a climb or two is largely flat.  The combination of beautiful village and inspiring landscape make for an enchanting...