- Our noble steed -
Friday 13th April 2018 and hopefully our luck will be in as we make tracks for Bucks. Nick Turpin has foregone his usual stagecoach in favour of a Chiltern carriage today, hence the 9:55 departure from Birmingham Moor Street delivers us to High Wycombe just on ten past eleven. Served by the Chiltern Main Line, the station is quite a spread-out affair comprising two through platforms and a bay (the latter is utilised by local stopper trains to London Marylebone).
- The Brunel Railway Shed -
Upon alighting we can immediately savour some railway heritage with a vintage running board recalling a lost line to Marlow and Maidenhead. Just across the forecourt from the current facility is High Wycombe's original station building, dating from 1854 and now known as the Brunel Railway Shed complete with appropriate mural depicting the age of steam. We start to get some town centre bearings by spotting the Bootlegger pub for later and then strolling along Castle Street towards a prominent church.
- High Wycombe High Street -
All Saints is certainly a handsome landmark accompanied by the town's war memorial as next we weave through Church Square for a look at the High Street. A few market stalls add a liveliness to proceedings while we admire the 18th century Guildhall (Grade I listed) and the adjacent Little Market House, known affectionately as the Pepper Pot with inscriptions detailing distances to London and Oxford. If this is the historic heart of High Wycombe, modern malls are represented by the Eden Shopping Centre as we briefly locate the library and bus station - the main operators here are Arriva and Carousel.
- 'Mad McTurpin' meets Mad Squirrel -
McTurpin is now ready for a drink or two so our first watering hole is the Mad Squirrel Tap and Bottle Shop on Church Street. Eager to get to grips with some 'unhinged' beers we partake of the Mister Squirrel Premium Bitter (nice notes of toffee) and London Porter - an upstairs pizza kitchen perch provides grand views of the parish church. Nick must also have learned some Scottish thriftiness on his recent holiday as our second stop is the Antelope for £2-a-pint Rebellion IPA, a decent brew at discount prices!
- The Dyke -
Sustenance for our afternoon endeavours comes care of the Falcon Wetherspoons (Bingham's Brickworks Bitter is duly imbibed) before the Three Tuns allows for Aintree racing action over some Shepherd Neame Early Bird. We follow this with a scenic roam through the parklands of The Rye where The Dyke is a stretch of open water culminating in a little waterfall and stream. High Wycombe bowling and cricket clubs are also in the vicinity while the River Wye meanders its way towards Wycombe Marsh and Loudwater.
- Bouncy beer in the Bootlegger? -
Our final two pubs are both within close proximity of the railway station hence Gordon Road leads us to the Belle Vue (passing vintage Courage/Greene King signs at the Pheasant and the Gordon Arms along the way). The 'BV' is a curious place with a swallows-themed art gallery in the snug; for once Nick Turpin is the victim of highway robbery when the Theakston's Olde Peculier costs £4.80 for two halves - ouch! Thankfully there isn't similar fiscal pain in the Bootlegger where the Rebellion Zebedee has a certain zingy bounce to it - the bar here includes several craft keg lines, international bottled ales and some games consoles.
- Haddenham & Thame Parkway -
With that our Wycombe wanderings are complete and it's just a case of getting ourselves back to the Midlands - easier said than done given the gaping hole in Chiltern's early evening timetable where direct services from High Wycombe to Brum are concerned. We end up having to change at Haddenham & Thame Parkway, one of those stultifying stations where the large car park is about the only note of interest apart from the modern booking hall. Saying that, it somehow seems appropriate to land here on Friday 13th of all days and the twelve minutes we are here waiting for our connection is plenty long enough. Happily our Snow Hill service arrives pretty much on schedule and the highwayman can head home - cheers!