10 of the best autumn walks in Buckinghamshire with pubs along the way
PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 23 February 2018
The wildlife, the autumn colours appearing, fresh days better than that ‘summer’ we had, not forgetting the pubs… Sandra Smith reveals her favourite walks
This ancient woodland is home to a diversity of species from owls to fungi, and with a range of butterflies such as purple hairstreak and dingy skippers between them favouring the high canopy, young trees or watering holes once used by commoners’ livestock. The terrain of 436 acres, mainly flat with gentle slopes, is accessible via a number of gates. A half mile linear path runs across the land and there is also a circular Easy Access Trail through a myriad of more natural paths enabling walkers to explore the heart of the Woodland Trust managed Penn Wood.
The pick here is a five-mile route forming part of the Outer Aylesbury Ring Start at Church Lane, traversing the Black Boy pub car park, picking up Matthews Way footpath before taking a right hand fork to Marston Hill Road. From North Marston the road continues to Schorne Lane and the village church. Turn left down School Hill and continue to the Pilgrim pub then head for Hogshaw and Quainton passing Brook Farm before reaching Hogshaw Hill Farm from where Quainton Hill will be visible. A right hand footpath rejoins Matthews Way. Passing the church and alms houses leads to Quainton windmill for welcome refreshments in The George and Dragon pub.
Footpaths encompassing fields, hills, a footbridge and stiles meander between this small village and Longwick, three miles away, from which point the walk can be extended less than two miles to Princes Risborough. Just walk through Longwick village, fork left opposite the Red Lion and follow the road across a roundabout. The next footpath on the right goes over several fields. Turn left beside the railway then right to cross it. A footpath skirts a playing field before leading to St Mary’s Parish Church and the Manor House at the edge of this charming village.
A circular walk from Waddesdon Estate takes in the nearby village of Westcott, best known for its former wartime RAF aerodrome. Continuing from Lower Green and crossing Ashendon Road on a south west route through fields and woods for under two miles culminates in arrival at Ashendon where The Hundred of Ashendon offers warm hospitality and an inviting menu. Returning cross country to the Rothschild manor, bypassing Watbridge Farm and Windmill Hill Farm, provides an opportunity to explore more of the county’s open scenery before rejoining the Waddesdon Estate to complete this eight-mile trek.
Wing’s historical influences include a Saxon Queen, the Tudors and Stuarts, a celebrated Speaker of the House of Commons and the Rothschilds. So a circular walk may be modest in length but it nevertheless showcases some of the town’s fascinating connections. This miler starts at the Saxon Church, crosses a stream that once powered a water mill then heads north to Burcott. The Long Spinney of meadow and woodland is open to the public and from there the walk continues north to the old waterworks site then cuts down past Waterloo Farm onto the site of a mediaeval House, gardens and nearby pond.
Wychert is a traditional style of mud and straw wall building that is common in villages west of Aylesbury. A 12 mile circular path, The Wychert Way is marked with green arrows and connects the villages of Chearsley, Cuddington, Gibralter, Dinton, Ford, Kingsey and Haddenham, all of which provide a myriad of starting points. With numerous kissing gates having replaced traditional stiles, this walk is highly accessible and takes in some of our lovely rolling countryside. The villages along the way not only provide places to park but public houses and village shops, too.
There’s a choice of walks from this delightful corner of Buckinghamshire. A three-mile flat Water Walk follows the River Thames past the marina, Upper Thames Sailing Club and Spade Oak Wharf where the flooded gravel pits are a haven for wildlife. More adventurous is a Woods and Water Walk spread over six miles rising up to 300’ on unsurfaced tracks. This option also borders Spade Oak before heading north to Bloom Wood, a mixed deciduous woodland of beech, ash, oak and cherry, and returning via Emmetts Farmshop, a perfect destination to stock up on fresh produce before your journey home.
West Wycombe to Bradenham is just 4 miles but starts with a steep climb up to the Hell Fire Caves and mausoleum where enviable views make the effort worthwhile. The route then travels through woodland to Nobles Farm and Slough Bottom Farm before reaching the Clare Foundation at Saunderton. This next section has narrow gates and gentle slopes and finishes at the Grade 1 Listed Bradenham Church. Walkers here have the choice of returning to West Wycombe, turning right to Saunderton or extending their venture to Naphill, Hughenden Manor or Downley.
The Ridgeway National Trail passes through mature beech woods and chalk grasslands of the Chiltern Hills in this hamlet near Princes Risborough. After parking in Whiteleaf car park this six-mile walk crosses Grim’s Ditch, a Saxon term for linear earthworks and an Iron Age tribal boundary stretching from Dunstable Downs to the River Thames at Wallingford. As the trail passes Hillock Wood look out for woodpeckers, goldcrests and chiffchaffs as well as red kites which regularly fly overhead. This elevated area, where a Neolithic burial mound is situated next to the chalk scar that is Whiteleaf Cross, offers spectacular views.
A track opposite Ellesborough Church is the starting point for a 2.7 mile walk to Wendover which includes a steep climb up to Coombe Hill, dominated by the Boer War Memorial. Picking up The Ridgeway, head right on a gently sloping path and eventually left onto the road which crosses a railway and becomes Wendover High Street where there is a tempting array of pubs, cafés and restaurants. To return to your starting point, head up the High Street until a footpath bears right to Wellwick Farm and on through Butlers Cross, finishing at the foot of the church.
• Winter walks in Berkshire - When the weather gets colder, there’s not much more refreshing than a brisk walk across the countryside. Here are a few of those to enjoy in Berkshire