- Start: Turville (SU767910); limited parking
- End: Turville (SU767910); limited parking
- Country: England
- County: Berkshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Chequers Inn in Fingest (01491 638335), The Frog in Skirmett (01491 638996; www.thefrogatskirmett.co.uk) and The Bull & Butcher in Turville (01491 638283; www.thebullandbutcher.com).
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 171
- Difficulty: Medium
In the first of our news series, writer and walker Steve Davison leads the way on a circular walk from Turville, taking in splendid views, a little history and some great pubs!
This five mile circular walk (with shorter option), to the north of Henley-on-Thames, takes you through a classic Chiltern landscape of rounded chalk hills, beech woods and picture postcard villages. Steve Davison
Start/finish: Turville (SU767910); limited parking
Map: OS Explorer 171
Distance: 5 miles (8.1km) or 3.3 miles (5.4km)
Terrain: stiles, several climbs, field/woodland paths and quiet country lanes
Time: 3 hours
Fingest Chequers Inn (01491 638335)
Skirmett The Frog (01491 638996; www.thefrogatskirmett.co.uk)
Turville The Bull & Butcher (01491 638283; www.thebullandbutcher.com)
Before starting the walk have a look round the picture-postcard village of Turville. Many will recognise it as the setting for the BBCs series The Vicar of Dibley and several of ITVs Midsomer Murders. The village has a fine collection of 16th to 18th century cottages, as well as the picturesque timber- framed Bull and Butcher pub, a great place to relax after completing the walk. The 12th-century flint church of St Mary the Virgin boasts a few Norman features, though most of what you see is around 700 years old. A more recent addition is the beautiful vivid stained-glass window by John Piper.
Start at the village green in Turville, looking towards the church and turn left up the lane past the school. Keep ahead along the waymarked bridleway passing a gate and then follow the hedge on your right side for 300m. Turn diagonally left down across the field to reach a stile in the hedge. Cross the lane and follow the track up through the trees, keeping ahead to cross the field. Shortly after entering Poynatts Wood turn left following the path through the trees. Descend the enclosed path to reach Skirmett.
Turn right and shortly before The Frog (winner of the Good Pub Guide Dining Pub of the Year 2010) turn left along a track and through a small gate. Here you have a choice: long or short route.
Short route: Follow the field edge on your left side later passing a gate and then a stile. Turn left up the track and straight on up through Adams Wood (cared for by the Woodland Trust great place to see bluebells), at the top turn left along the track (now following main route mid Point 3).
Long route: Follow the field boundary on you right side, go through a gate and then left up the lane, at the corner keep ahead up the waymarked bridleway. At Hatchet Wood bear left onto a path, following the fence on your left before leaving the trees and continuing across the field to a stile. Cross the lane and follow the enclosed path past Whitefield Cottage, later turn right through a gate and continue between the houses to reach a lane in Little Frieth.
Turn left and keep straight on at the corner following the track for 400m. At Moussells Wood follow the track left to reach a gate at the far side of the trees (short route rejoins here). Keep ahead across the field and down through Fingest Wood. Cross Fieldfare Stile (great viewpoint with seat) and follow the path down towards Fingest, crossing two stiles on the way. Turn left along the lane to reach the Chequers Inn.
Fieldfare Stile was erected in memory of Henry Bridges Fearon (1907-1995), who, as Filedfare, brought the love of the English countryside to a multitude of happy pilgrims.
Fingest, once home to Sir William Connor (190967), who wrote for the Daily Mirror under the name of Cassandra, has an interesting collection of picturesque cottages, church and the Chequers Inn. St Bartholomews Church (named after one of the 12 apostles) has a very unusual twin-gabled square Norman tower (there may only be one other example in the country), and a painted plaster exterior (most local churches have bare flint). The village enjoys an old wedding custom: to ensure good luck in marriage the bridegroom lifts his bride over the church gate after the ceremony.
Here you have a choice:
Short (level) route: continue along road for 100m and after the seat, turn right through a gate following an enclosed path. Cross the lane and keep ahead later passing a stile before going diagonally left across the field. Turn left through the gates back to Turville; on the hill to the right is Cobstone Mill.
Long (hilly) route: head north along Chequers Lane for 0.5 mile, passing the church and turn left onto a track at the right-hand bend. Keep ahead and cross a stile next to the gate, follow the path up across the field and continue up through the wood. Turn right along the lane for a few metres, passing Cobstone Mill and then left through a kissing gate. Follow the path steeply down towards Turville (great views), passing through two gates on the way.
Cobstone Mill (private) is great example of an 18th-century smock mill the top section revolved to allow the sails to be brought in line with the wind. The windmill played a starring role in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming) as the home of the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts.
To learn more about Steve visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk
For more challenging walks in the Thames Valley see Walking in the Thames Valley by Steve Davison (Cicerone 12).