I arrived at Stokenchurch around 3pm. Sunset was about 9pm. So, dear reader, you might be wondering why I didn't decide to push on a bit further. Well, partly because I've not yet developed the skill or confidence to find potential wild camping sites without access to OS maps, which show access land. But, also, because I had an assignation. I planned to drop in on my sister Ruth, the following morning, near High Wycombe.
Stokenchurch is quite a small place. It has a few pubs, a few shops, and a big transmission tower which you can see from the M40. I whiled away several hours doing not much, and was very pleased to see Ruth for a meal at one of said pubs, which was very enjoyable. Then it was nearly sunset and I had to rush off back to my campsite in a nearby wooded nature reserve. Lovely spot. My main concern was the holly leaves on the ground, which stuck through the bivi bag, and risked puncturing the airbed, but in fact there was no problem and I slept extremely well, mostly without the sleeping bag as it was so warm. But there's always a couple of hours before dawn when it seems to get colder, so I did get to use it. 50% chance of rain overnight 10x more than last night, so I put the tarp up, but in the event there was not a drop of rain! Very windy in the trees above, but at ground level I seemed to be very well sheltered.
I almost never see any wildlife while wild camping (if you don't count ants, midges or tiny beetles), but on Saturday night I did see a bat or two flitting around above my head. And on yesterday's ride, I saw a mother and baby muntjack deer by the roadside, as well as a hare and several rabbits. And many red kites of course.
Had a lie-in today, until 5.30am, but I was on the road by 6 and, after a few more hills, at Ruth's before 7.30 for a bit more chat and a lovely breakfast. Thanks Ruth! I was originally heading back to Amersham to get the train back, but decided to change my plans and ride back home via High Wycombe and Maidenhead - back to familiar territory. It got very hot on the way home, so I was pleased to arrive home by 1pm.
A successful trip, I think. So what have I learned? Well, with only one pannier, even biggish hills are not too much trouble. It seems that alternative wild camping sites are not too difficult to find, at least in some places. I need to do this more often to get confident at it. And that summer camping really can be a lot more lightweight than winter camping, when you need to take so much to stay warm overnight. Also, camping means early starts, so you can easily do long distances if your legs will allow you. Yesterday, I did 80+ miles and a fair bit of ascent before 3pm, and that was after deliberately wasting time in Wallingford. I could easily have done 100 miles with another decent tea stop.
Sorry, no photos today. But here's a map showing the planned route (I cut south from around High Wycombe to ride home instead of returning to Amersham)
Day 1: home-Northwick Park & Amersham to Newbottle: 70.5 miles 905m ascent
Day 2: Newbottle-Stokenchurch: 82.3 miles 1010m ascent
Day 3: Stokenchurch-home: 48.3 miles 416m ascent