Trust volunteer Chris Pick recently spent many hours auditing the Greensand Ridge Walk ahead of installation of Greensand Country signage to raise awareness of the Walk and its role in Greensand Country. Chris walked all 40+ miles, taking many photographs and grid references along the way – it took at least an hour to cover every mile! Many thanks to Chris for this invaluable support and to everyone who helped him along the way. 

The goal was to produce a report which reviews all the route way markers, to see what needed improving and bringing up to a new common standard incorporating the Greensand Country brand. This involved gathering about ten pieces of data for each location, and suggesting locations where a new sign would be useful.

Chris set off with an app on his iPhone, a clip board and a map for each section of the route. He started off doing one walk a week, fitting in with good weather and lifts to get him back to where he started. Once he got the hang of not getting lost (he found the signs are a bit poor in places!) he was able to enjoy the scenery and nature. A fox taking a rabbit home for breakfast, deer, rabbits, kites, buzzards, pheasants, partridges and his favourite, the skylark. Derelict country mansions and churches, stately homes, farms of all sorts and hills, woods, streams and open fields made the task all the more enjoyable. But it was still a long way before he would see the Sandy TV mast.

But there were problems

The first walk on home territory from Leighton Buzzard would be easy, so he set out without the map. Big mistake! There would be signs, wouldn’t there? He got lost as he hadn’t yet developed the knack of using Google maps in the middle of a field or wood and  rang for rescue from Lidlington.

In the corner of one very muddy field, he had a scary encounter with a lot of very big cows!

Could he get finished by Christmas? The days were getting colder and shorter so he needed to ‘Pick’ up the pace. Twice a week, and starting out early, with the frost still crunchy underfoot, with fingers too cold to use the equipment and getting home when it was dark. Dedication indeed - but also lovely autumn days. It felt good particularly when he finally spied The Sandy TV mast which meant the end was close by.

The big finish

Chris describes how he felt: I was looking forward now to the end. What surprise would be awaiting me?  Banners, bands, cheering crowds, cake and coffee? This would make it all worthwhile. I rounded the corner to the Eco Hub at Gamlingay. It was quiet. Maybe they were hiding rounding the corner? My heart was pounding with excitement,as Jon (Greensand Trust Director of Development) appeared in his car to pick me up. Wow!"

It wasn't over until the paperwork was completed: 10 trips, 346 locations, 133 page report, more than 3,000 pieces of data, 3 lost pens. 

Chris felt a real sense of achievement and looks forward to when all the signs are refurbished.