Saturday during our stay at Keeper's Cottage we woke up to beautiful weather - sunny, crisp and calm. We decided to head over to the small town of Ampthill for a circular walk called "Ampthill: A Pilgrim's Progress." We were in John Bunyan country for a 7 mile, three and a half hour walk that was rated level 2 (out of 3) with an ascent over 607 feet and crossing 12 stiles. Charles and I were up for it so we packed our lunch and off we went.
A highlight of the trip was a slight detour to Houghton House, reported to be "House Beautiful" from John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress." It is now a ruined Jacobean house. It was built in 1615 and is sited on the edge of a high ridge with a commanding view of the valley. We had a fun time exploring it and the weather was so fine we could see for upwards of 10 miles across the valley. We probably spent a little too much time here which we paid for at the end by racing to beat the dark.
The walk took us through farms (very muddy), skirted the edge of woods, and through a park beside a stream. Along the way we saw groves of trees filled with mistletoe, a fox stalking prey, lots of horses, sheep and cows, rabbits, and birds of all shapes and sizes. It was a pretty well-marked walk and we kept up a good pace. Nevertheless, it was long and the sun was going down pretty quickly being one of the shortest days of the year. Towards the end of the hike we were racing to get back to the car before it got too dark. We both enjoyed a long soak and curling up with some wine in front of the fire afterwards.
Photos below: Houghton House, mistletoe in the trees, muddy feet, wary sheep, friendly cows and a gravestone marker about which I wish I knew the backstory.