2 Christmas walks - Wendover and the Thames at Hurley
PUBLISHED: 16:08 18 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:08 18 December 2014
Steve Davison suggests two walks to get you out in the fresh air: in Buckinghamshire at Wendover, with a great view, and in Berkshire along the Thames at Hurley
Information - Wendover
• Population: 7,400
• OS Grid reference: SP864085
• Most famous for: Parts of town were owned by Anne Boleyn
• Landmarks: Coombe Hill, Wendover Clock Tower
• Start/finish: the Clock Tower in Wendover at the junction of High Street and B4009 (Aylesbury Road – Tring Road); grid ref SP869078 (pay and display parking off the High Street)
• Map: OS Explorer 181
• Distance: 3.25 miles (5.3km)
• Terrain: stiff climb up Coombe Hill, tracks and paths which can be muddy, some stiles and gates, and sections of road
• Time: 1.5 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Wendover has pubs, cafés and shops
We start our walk from the 19th-century Clock Tower at the foot of the High Street; this was originally built as a market hall and lock-up with the Clock Tower extension added later. After a short section along the Ridgeway the route follows quiet lanes and then a bridleway up through woods to reach the summit of Coombe Hill – quite literally the high point of the walk. At 260m this is almost the highest point in the Chilterns and affords a fantastic view out over the Vale of Aylesbury. The monument is a memorial to the Buckinghamshire soldiers who died during the South African Boer War (1899-1902). Take a look at the adjacent toposcope viewpoint indicator to help identify some of the sights before heading down Bacombe Hill with views of Wendover and beyond. The final part of the walk follows the High Street – home to a bustling Thursday market – passing the 17th-century Red Lion Hotel from where stagecoaches used to make a five hour journey to London – to arrive back at the Clock Tower.
1 (SP869078) – From the Clock Tower head south-west along the High Street for a few metres and turn left along the Heron Path (Ridgeway). After 400m, turn right up Chapel Lane to a T-junction with the A413. Go right for 50m and then left across the road and follow Bacombe Lane uphill for 600m, soon with houses on the left, to reach a footpath sign on the right. Turn right over the stile beside the gate and head diagonally up across the field to a stile in the top left corner. Bear left up along the bridleway, later keep ahead to join a gravel path leading to the monument on Coombe Hill.
2 (SP848067) – From the monument turn right (east) and follow the Ridgeway – this is the grassy strip to the left of the gravel path. Go through small gates either side of a sunken way and head along the ridge of Bacombe Hill passing through a kissing gate. Fork left at the marker post heading down beside a large ditch to eventually reach a road. Cross over and turn right down towards Wendover. Continue down the High Street passing some thatched cottages to arrive back at the Clock Tower.
Information - Hurley
• Population: 2,000
• OS Grid reference: SU826834
• Most famous for: The Olde Bell, possibly Britain’s oldest working pub
• Landmarks: St Mary the Virgin Church
• Start/finish: car park in Hurley off A4130; grid ref SU825840
• Map: OS Explorer 172
• Distance: 3 miles (4.8km)
• Terrain: fairly level, tracks and paths which can be muddy, riverside paths, some stiles and gates, and sections of quiet road
• Time: 1.25 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: The Olde Bell (01628 825881) and Rising Sun (01628 824274) at Hurley
Before starting the walk have a look round the Norman Church of St Mary the Virgin, which was once part of a Benedictine abbey. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land passed to the Lovelace family, who built a Tudor manor house called Ladye Place; though the present building was only built around 100 years ago. It was at Ladye Place that the Lovelace family, along with other nobles, plotted to overthrow the Catholic King James II in 1688. Inside the church there are several monuments to the Lovelace family, including one with the effigies of Richard Lovelace (1542-1601) on the right and his son Sir Richard Lovelace (1564-1634), First Lord Lovelace of Hurley, on the left.
The first part of the walk passes the Riverside Park to reach the River Thames and then follows a peaceful section of the Thames Path downstream passing Hurley Lock. Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat passed through here on their journey along the Thames and he wrote:
“...I have often thought that I could stay a month without having sufficient time to drink in all the beauty of the scene. The village of Hurley, five minutes’ walk from the lock, is as old a little spot as there is on the river...”
The final section heads back to the car park passing the Olde Bell, claimed to be one of the oldest pubs in the country, dating back to 1135; it was originally a hostelry for the Benedictine abbey.
1 (SU825840) – From the back of the car park follow the enclosed, signposted path. Continue straight on along the surfaced track past Hurley Riverside Park for slightly under three quarters of a mile to reach the River Thames. Turn right and follow the riverside path (Thames Path); ahead, high up on the opposite bank, is Danesfield Hotel. Later go through a kissing gate and keep ahead close to the river to reach a path junction with a footbridge on the left (right leads past Ladye Place back to the car park).
2 (SU825841) – Turn left to cross over the river via the footbridge and follow the Thames Path past Hurley Lock to the end of the island. Turn right over another footbridge and bear left along the Thames Path, following the south side of the river downstream for 450m to a signed path junction. Turn right along the enclosed path heading away from the river. Go through a kissing gate and turn right along the track. Later keep ahead at a crossing track and then follow the enclosed path to the main street in Hurley opposite Shepherd’s Lane; just to the left is the Olde Bell, with The Rising Sun a further 100m along the road. Turn right along the main street back to the car park on the left.