Views of the highest order on offer right across Buckinghamshire
PUBLISHED: 12:10 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:10 25 July 2014
It’s possible to still enjoy the magnificent landscapes of our county with feet firmly planted on the ground. Sandra Smith picks some of her favourites
Once Prime Minister Disraeli’s hillside hideaway, this handsome property is approached by way of a long drive that leads from Hughenden Valley over a stream and past the 12th century St Michael and All Angels church before continuing through woodland. Commanding scenes over the valley and surrounding countryside await at the Manor where the Stableyard café tempts with a delicious array of locally sourced meals and snacks. The National Trust property is hosting a number of activities this month including: Countryside Workout 19 July; Victorian Weekend 12-13 July; and Meet the Beekeepers 26 July.
Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe HP14 4LA, tel: 01494 755565, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hughenden.
There are few more recognisable landmarks in Buckinghamshire than Whiteleaf Cross. The chalk cutting, a familiar sight for many miles, lies halfway up the northern scarp of The Chilterns and is a haven for walkers and those wishing to take in views over the county. From a free car park there are many routes of different lengths to try but whichever you opt for, reward yourself afterwards by heading down Peters Lane and turning right into the hamlet where you will find the welcoming 17th century inn, The Red Lion.
Whiteleaf, Princes Risborough HP27.
The Red Lion, Whiteleaf HP27 0LL, tel: 01844 344476, www.theredlionwhiteleaf.co.uk.
The appeal of Coombe Hill is the expanse of landscape it presents. Walkers may take the long incline from Wendover or, for those wishing to test their stamina, a much steeper route which can be picked up further along Ellesborough Road. There’s even limited parking for the less energetic who prefer to drive. No matter your transport choice, however, at Coombe Hill Monument you will be rewarded with a panorama that includes neighbouring counties, a former Rothschild mansion and Chequers. A metal plaque lists many more features and look out, too, for red kites and firecrests hovering overhead.
Coombe Hill, Butlers Cross HP17 0UR
An ancient track covering 87 miles, The Ridgeway is Britain’s oldest road. Part of this heritage lies within Buckinghamshire where loftier sections of the county, from the Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe, attract walkers of varying degrees of determination, depending upon how much of this UK National Trail they wish to conquer. While journeying along the chalk paths, take time to stop at some of Buckinghamshire’s tranquil villages including Wendover, Princes Risborough and Cadsden, the latter home to The Plough Inn, one of the finest pub restaurants around.
Wendover Woods embraces not only 800 acres of woodland, bridleways and picnic areas, but also the peak of Buckinghamshire. At 267m Haddington Hill is identifiable by the Chiltern Summit Cairn and just a short walk from numerous pathways, hides for watching wildlife and a fitness trail. And once you’ve had your fill of breathtaking views and stimulating fresh air, head for The Café in the Woods. This family friendly, rustic venue caters for all tastes and appetites offering an array of choices from hearty breakfasts to award winning soups.
The Café in the Woods, Wendover Woods HP22 5NF, tel: 01296 620294, www.cafeinthewoods.co.uk.
Between Amersham and Beaconsfield nestles one of Buckinghamshire’s highest villages. And it is one well worth a visit. Coleshill is a delightful mix of flint cottages, sprawling timbered properties and Regency style houses. In keeping with expectations, it also boasts a duck pond, a common, numerous public footpaths for those keen on walking and, just opposite the Early English style All Saints’ Church, The Red Lion Freehouse. Head for the village on 12 July if you want to enjoy the Coleshill Festival, a lively afternoon and evening of entertainment for all ages.
The Red Lion, Village Road, Coleshill HP7 0LH, tel: 01494 727020.
Chiltern Forest Golf Club
The elevated setting of Chiltern Forest Golf Club on the northern edge of the Chiltern Hills must surely rival that of any sporting venue in this country. And, while guest golfers are as welcome as members, you don’t need to play in order to appreciate the vista. Visitors may lunch in the inviting lounge or take advantage of summer sunshine by sitting on the outdoor terrace for morning coffee and a glimpse of wildlife. Either way, this is one of the most picturesque high spots in Buckinghamshire.
Forest Hill Golf Club, Aston Hill, Halton HP22 5NQ, tel: 01296 631267, www.chilternforest.co.uk.
Wendover’s box trees
There was a little bit of ‘TV fame’ for Wendover Woods last month when BBC1’s Countryfile identified them as one of the largest areas of box trees in the country. A walk through the woods will reveal box trees of all shapes, sizes and ages. Box wood has a rich cultural heritage, having been used to make woodwind instruments, been used in printing, and of course topiary, with many fine houses having examples.
The aim now is to ensure that Wendover continues to supply sustainable box woods the Forestry Commission and volunteers are busy trialling management there to improve understanding about how best to conserve box trees.
The best way to find out more is to join a guided walk through the woods and you can do that on Saturday, 5 July. It leaves promptly at 10.30am from the café in Wendover Woods and will last about two hours. There are no stiles but some slopes along the way. Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome.
This is a free event organised by Chilterns Box Woodland Project. Tel 01844 355500, email email@example.com for more details.
Wildlife train rides
One of the best ways to travel along the foot of the Chiltern Hills is by train and on Saturday, 26 July you can join Chilterns Conservation Board volunteers on a seven miles round trip. The aim is to
observe and identify wildlife between Chinnor and Thame junction (near Princes Risborough).
Trains depart from Chinnor station at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3pm.
Well behaved dogs are welcome and travel free, adults pay £11, senior citizens £10, children £6, with family tickets available.
A new vision for the Chilterns
How can we make sure that our green and beautiful countryside is not spoilt by development? How do we help the woodlands cope with the diseases and pests threatening them? These are just two of the many issues that are tackled by a new plan published on how the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) should be looked after over the next five years.
The plan has been published by the Chilterns Conservation Board, which has responsibility for protecting and promoting the Chilterns. It was put together with the help of local organisations and communities, including parish councils, wildlife trusts, the National Trust and the Chiltern Society.
“The Plan is a collective expression of the interests and wishes of many individuals and organisations that care about the Chilterns and as such it is truly a plan for the whole AONB,” said Ian Reay, Chairman of the Conservation Board.
The Chilterns AONB is a nationally-protected landscape, designated as one of the country’s finest areas of countryside along with 45 other AONBs and 15 National Parks. Despite this national recognition it faces many pressures, especially from the plans for the High Speed 2 rail line which will slice through the middle of the AONB if it goes ahead.
Plans for many new houses in towns around the edge of the Chilterns, the loss of traditional rural skills and the impacts of climate change are other examples of pressures the area faces.
Copies of the new Plan are available to read in local libraries and it can also be downloaded from www.chilternsaonb.org/management-plan
Glow worms shine
It’s a great time to see glow worms – nature’s own fairy lights – and there are two opportunities for ‘night owls’ in July.
Renowned expert John Tyler will be leading the way for The Chiltern Society at Brush Hill from 9.45pm to 11pm on 12 July. To witness this magical display you need to book, tel 01494 771250, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, see www.chilternsociety.org.uk.
On Saturday, 5 July from 9.45pm to 11.30pm go glow worm spotting in the Aston Rowant National at an event organised by the Chilterns Conservation Board and Natural England. Price £3 adults, £2 children (not suitable for the very young because of the time), book on 01844 355 506, email email@example.com.