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Hooray! The rain’s stopped here in the Chilterns. Instead (according to the forecast) we’re in for a day full of dull cloud and no sunshine. Looking out of the skylight in my room in the pub we stayed in last night that certainly seems to be the case. Even so, there’s plenty of HS2 sites to see in the area and as we travel Northwards so I’ll post a few pictures through the day as we visit places. But first, it’s time for breakfast then to find somewhere to charge up Penny’s electric car. Charging EVs is a logistical exercise in itself and adds a whole new dimension to travel planning.

As well as HS2 construction sites one thing we’ll be looking at is the ecological work and mitigation planting. If you believed the scaremongering nonsense the opponents of HS2 put out tree planting either doesn’t happen or the ones planted are all dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a (large) site on the South edge of the West Hyde construction site that we visited yesterday. Do these look imaginary or dead to you?

I’ve many more close-up shots of the impressive growth of this recently planted (2017) wood that I’ll add to my Zenfolio gallery on HS2 construction.


Well, we’re not doing much exploring righ now but I am learning a lot about the pros and cons of electric cars! We’re currently in the car park at Morrisons in Aylesbury, waiting for the car to charge. There was no charging point at the pub, so we couldn’t charge the car overnight so we only had 30 miles left on the battery. Not enough to get anywhere. The nearest chargers were in Aylesbury. Then it’s a question of finding a fast (50kw) charger and pray no-one else is using it. So, you spend a lot of time faffing around because the last thing you want to do is run out of juice in the middle of nowhere. You can’t exactly walk with a Jerry can to the nearest garage for a bucket of electricity! Penny’s car is currently charging at 1 mile oer minute. There’s another complication. This charger has 3 charger cables. Only two are compatible with the car and one of them (the fastest) is knackered. It’s a common problem apparently. So, if you don’t want to suffer ‘power anxiety’ – buy a hybrid. This car (a Renault Zoe) has a real maximum range of +/- 200 miles so 100 miles range out and back before you need to think about finding a charging station. Oh, and that’s without driving too fast or using stuff like heaters etc..

Time to sit and compose a few emails and blog whilst watching the miles build up.


Another day that didn’t quite go to plan but was still an excellent one anyway. Well, until I ended up on a train full of pissed-up Stoke City fans on their way back from Coventry (but more of that later).

Having charged up the car enough to do what we wanted to do (with a margin of error) we headed back to the infamous Jones’ Hill wood, scene of some of the most dishonest anti HS2 protests. I’ve blogged before about the lie that the wood had anything to do with Roald Dahl. This area (between Wendover and Great Missenden) is ‘nimby central’, not that any of their scaremongering achieved anything but it’s very interesting to compare the reality with the hype.

Whilst a Western edge of Jones’ Hill woods has been sliced off to make way for HS2 there’s a huge amount of new tree planting to the East which is doing really well. This will link the isolated Jones’ Hill with nearby woods to create a much larger wildlife habitat.

One of two ponds on the new mitigation planting site at Jones’ Hill woods with the wood in the background and new planting in the foreground. Behind me is another wood which the planting will link to Jones’ Hill. The HS2 trace is below Jones’ hill to the left .
The Southern edge of Jones’ hill wood. Part of the wood had to be taken to build HS2. This picture was taken from the middle of the haul road. A footpath crosses the road and security staff let you across when it’s safe to do so.
Looking North from Bowood Lane along the route of HS2 towards Wendover. So much for the ‘outstanding natural beauty’ of the Chilterns! To the left is the noisy A413 whilst the row of ugly pylons stretches the length of the valley. In contrast, when HS2’s completed most of it will be hidden from view.

Ironically, the ‘eco-warriors’ who were supposedly ‘protecting’ Jones’ hill woods have left their abandoned camp cluttering the woods.

Moving on from Jones’ Hill we headed back to Wendover to look at HS2 construction work nearby. Quite how HS2 was meant to cause so much disturbance to the village when it’ll pass in a green tunnel with the incredibly noisy A413 and Chiltern railway in-between has always been one of life’s mysteries. At the moment work isn’t as advanced as on other parts of the route so it’s hard to make out the trace of HS2, although this will change over the course of 2023. Funny, the local Nimbys have never complained about the unsightly line of high-voltage pylons that parallel the HS2 route in these parts!

Odd how those who tell us the Chilterns AONB is pristine and stunning fail to mention this row of plyons that dominate the valley between Gt Missenden and Wendover – or mention the persistent traffic noise from the A413! Here’s the view from above Wendover (off to the left) looking South towards Great Missenden. The trace of HS2 is starting to take shape. It will pass between the two nearest pylons, having crossed over the A413 and Chiltern railway at the bottom of the valley here.

Another place we visited was the small Wendover memorial wood for people who passed away at a local hospice. You may remember HS2 antis and media opportunists exploited this place in a disgraceful attempt to smear HS2 for desecrating a “childrens memorial” when it was nothing of the sort.

To be honest, it’s a sad, neglected place that looks pretty much abandoned. The memorial trees are too densely planted and look awful as no-one ever looked after them once they were planted, which is why many have their protective sheath still wrapped around them long after they matured. The place is unkempt, overgrown and covered with litter and other detritus. There’s little sign of the work HS2 carried out there, other than what likes a narrow path through some of the trees. The place doesn’t look like many people visit.

Moving on we bypassed Aylesbury and headed towards Quainton, stopping en-route to admire another mitigation site where (on first glance) tree- planting appeared to be less successful than other sites. On closer examination this proved to be untrue as many trees had been replanted, they simply hadn’t stuck their heads above their protective tubes yet! The trace of HS2 was very evident at this point.

North of Quainton we crossed the former route of the Great Central railway which (until recently) carried waste trains and HS2 construction trains as far as Calvert. Now the sites been transformed into a construction site as the old road bridge is being replaced and the road diverted (pics later).

The view from Whitehills bridge looking towards Quainton. The Calvert binliners and HS2 materials trains used this part of the old Great Central until recently. In the foreground excavations have begun for the piles for the replacement for the bridge I’m standing on.
Whitehills bridge looking North towards Calvert.

Our final visit was to Calvert itself. The place has changed a lot since my last visit with the E-W rail line embankments taking shape either side of the HS2 overbridge. Several other E-W bridges are being replaced as part of the same contract whilst roads are being diverted and the site of the HS2 Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD) is being laid out. Whilst we were here we were blessed with some lovely low sunlight whic made a real change from the dull day we’d had up to that point.

The site of the old Calvert station looking South. HS2 tracks will occupy this site in a few years time.
Looking North from the same bridge. This site was a major railhead for bringing HS2 construction material in by rail.
The new E-W rail overbridge at Calvert under very moody skies.
The site of the Calvert HS2 Infrastructure Maintenance depot is beginning to be laid out. To the right is the route of E-W rail whilst the new bridge in the background is the remodelled Addison Rd.

Both of us would’ve loved to have lingered longer but when I checked train times back home we realised we’d need to make a dash for Banbury in time for me to make a sensible connection. This got a bit fraught when we got into Banbury as their was traffic chaos because the police had the main road towards the station blocked off. Instead Penny drove back to Leamington where I made my train by the skin of my teeth – but only because it was running five minutes late.

I was breathing a sigh of relief and considering staying on this Cross-County service all the way to Manchester until we pulled into Coventry where my coach was invaded by Stoke City fans. Their behaviour was appalling. They kept up a stream of foul-mouthed, misogynistic and borderline racist chants all the way to New St, at which point I’d had enough of too much testosterone and too few brain cells (as had many others in the coach). I baled and caught my original connection, the 19:03 Cross-Country service direct to Leeds. This is much quieter and far more pleasant – and neither sight nor sound of a football bore.

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