Buckinghamshire walk through Chalfont St Giles
PUBLISHED: 09:49 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:00 05 October 2017
Steve Davison takes a wander through Chalfont St Giles in the picturesque Misbourne valley and finds links with both a Great British poet and Dad’s Army
From Chalfont St Peter the walk heads through fields and alongside a golf course to reach the picturesque village of Chalfont St Giles, tucked on the edge of the Chilterns, to the south of Amersham.
On the Deansway we pass Milton’s Cottage, a lovely 16th-century brick and timber cottage that, for a few brief years, was home to the great poet, John Milton, who had fled London to escape the plague in 1665. It was while at the cottage – which is now a museum – that Milton completed his epic poem Paradise Lost and started to contemplate its sequel, Paradise Regained; the house is open four days a week from Easter till October (01494 872313).
Continue down the Deansway, passing Stonewells Farmhouse – said to date from the 15th – and then along the High Street to reach The Green and duck pond, watched-over by the village sign depicting St Giles and the unusually named pub, Merlin’s Cave; spot the wizard’s hat pub sign.
In the early 1970s, following the success of the classic BBC sitcom, Dad’s Army, it was decided to make a big screen spin-off and Chalfont St Giles doubled as Walmington-on-Sea. Along the High Street, the former Crown pub (now the Costa coffee shop) stood in as Captain Mainwaring’s bank, whilst Warner’s Butchers appeared as Corporal Jones’s butchers.
An archway off The Green leads past the double-gated lychgate to reach the 800 year old parish church which houses some interesting medieval wall paintings. Incidentally, in the churchyard lie the ashes of Bertram Mills, the circus owner.
The final leg of the walk heads along the valley, following the River Misbourne, a peaceful chalk stream that rises near Great Missenden and flows south to join the River Colne. On arriving back at the start, if there’s time, Chalfont St Peter is worth exploring.
• Start/finish: Chalfont St Peter Community Centre and Football Club car park (TQ000911), off the A413
• Map: OS Explorer 172
• Distance: 5.25 miles (8.4km)
• Terrain: some gates and stiles, some ups and downs, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2.5 hours
• Refreshments: choice of pubs and tea rooms in Chalfont St Giles
1 (TQ000911) – From the west (furthest from the entrance) edge of the car park, cross the footbridge and take the right-hand fork through the allotments to a cross-path. Turn right, keep ahead through the sports field and shortly before the pavilion, turn left up a fenced path to an estate road (junction of Field Way and Boundary Road). Turn right and follow the gravel track past the houses. Cross the grass gallop, go through a kissing gate and head diagonally left across the field to the far-left corner. Leave through a small gate, cross the grass gallop and then through a kissing gate. Continue diagonally through the field to the top-right corner. Cross two stiles, continue across the field, then through a kissing gate and follow the enclosed path to Bowstridge Lane.
2 (SU992918) – Turn left for 200m and shortly before the main road turn right through a small gate (footpath sign). Follow the enclosed path, at the main road turn right following another enclosed path to a T-junction, then turn left. With care, cross Narcot Road and go through the kissing gate. Keep ahead through the trees to a path junction. Turn right and follow the enclosed path for slightly under a mile, passing a golf course and ignoring crossing (private) tracks and paths. Cross the main road, go over the stile and fork right along the fenced path. Cross the stile, continue along the right-hand field edge and leave over a stile at the corner. Turn right for 125m, go through a kissing gate and follow the enclosed path as it swings left to Back Lane; a short way to the right is the White Hart pub.
3 (SU981932) – We turn left along Back Lane for quarter of a mile to a cross roads. Turn right along Bottrells Lane (pavement on left) for a quarter of a mile, then turn right along Albion Road (not Albion Crescent). At the end, turn left for 25m then right down to the Deansway, beside the Milton’s Head pub (right). Cross over and turn left, down past Milton’s Cottage and Stonewells Farmhouse. Cross Bowstridge Lane (right) and follow the High Street to The Green; from here there is access on the right to the parish church. Keep ahead past the village pond and just after the bridge, turn right through a small gate.
4 (SU991936) – Follow the gravel path (River Misbourne on right) to a path junction. Turn right over the footbridge and then turn left; the right-hand fork leads past the church back to the High Street. Follow the path with flats on the right to a path junction and turn left. Go through a gate and keep ahead through two fields, then through a long narrow field with horse gallops on the right. Continue through the next field, go through a gate and follow the fence on the right. Ignore a track to the right and go through a gate into the trees. Here, fork left, soon passing the tennis courts and follow the tarred track back to the car park.