Buckinghamshire walk around Penn
PUBLISHED: 12:03 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 15 August 2017
Follow Steve Davison as he takes a walk through woods and fields around Penn, just to the east of High Wycombe
For our walk this month we head to the Buckinghamshire village of Penn with its attractive village pond – Widmer Pond – shared with neighbouring Tylers Green, just to the east of High Wycombe.
The village has a history stretching back over a thousand years or more. By the 12th century the manor was held by the de la Penne family who continued to hold the manor until the death of Roger Penn, the last male heir, in 1731. The manor then passed by marriage to the Curzon family, they in turn took the title of Earl Howe and the estate is now held by the 7th Earl Howe.
Underlying the surrounding fields are deposits of clay and the village became noted for producing both floor and roof tiles; the first written evidence of tile making in the area was in the early 13th century. Penn Tiles have been used in a number of important buildings including Westminster Palace, the Tower of London, and especially in Windsor Castle, where a complete floor in the Aerary (or Treasury) still survives.
From Penn the walk heads east through a lovely mix of fields and woods passing close to Penn House, home to Earl Howe, before heading back through Penn Bottom to arrive at 12th-century Holy Trinity Church. Call in to see the rare 15th-century painting of the Last Judgement (or ‘Doom’) on wooden panels hanging above the chancel arch. In the family vault lie the remains of six grandchildren of William Penn, the Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania in America. The churchyard is the final resting place of the British diplomat, Donald Maclean, who, along with Guy Burgess, Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt, was a member of the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring that betrayed Britain’s military secrets to the Soviet Union during and shortly after the Second World War. Maclean defected in 1951, however, following his death in 1983, his ashes were returned to Penn and scattered near his parent’s grave.
The final leg of the walk takes a meandering route through the village to arrive back at the pond; a shorter walk of 2.5 miles is also described.
• Start/finish: Widmer Pond beside the B474 at Penn and Tylers Green (SU907937); limited roadside parking
• Map: OS Explorer 172
• Distance: 4.25 miles (6.8km) or 2.5 miles (3.9km)
• Terrain: gates and stiles, fairly level, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2 hours or 1 hour (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: The Red Lion (01494 813107) and The Crown (01494 812640), both at Penn
1 (SU907936) – From Widmer Pond cross the B474 and follow the track just left of The Red Lion pub for 400m towards Puttenham Place Farm. Keep to the track, staying right of the buildings, to enter a field and turn left alongside the hedge to a path junction. Stay in the same field and turn right, following the left-hand hedge into the next field. At a path junction, some 75m after the start of Brook Wood on the left, go left into the trees (for the shorter walk turn right down to a four-way junction and keep ahead; continue from mid Point 3). Keep ahead at the junction and head down through Brook Wood. Continue across the field and up some steps. Turn right down the road to a T-junction.
2. (S920946) – Cross over and follow the fence up to a track, turn left for 10m and then right (marker post) up through the trees of Pennhouse Grove. Keep ahead across the field, through a hedge-gap and cross the tree-lined drive that leads to Penn House (private). Go through the kissing gate opposite and head half-right across the large field to leave through another gate. At the path junction in the trees turn sharp right to follow the Chiltern Way for 400m through the trees, ignoring a path on the left. Bear left (almost straight on) along the surfaced drive for 220m and where the drive starts turning left and descending, fork right at the marker post heading through the trees of Branches Wood.
3. (SU925941) – Enter the left-hand field and follow the right-hand boundary gently downhill. Pass a large gate, cross the road and through a kissing gate before turning right, following the permissive path alongside the hedge on the right and soon turn right through another gate. Cross the minor road and take the track opposite passing a small parking area at Penn Bottom. Keep left (straight on) following the track along the valley for 300m to reach a crossing path (the shorter walk rejoins here). Turn left up the grassy strip, heading south across the field. Keep ahead through the trees and follow the path as it bears left then right past The Crown pub car park.
4. (SU917933) – Turn right along the road (B474) through Penn for 400m; over to the left is the village War Memorial and the Holy Trinity Church. At Wellbank (house on the left) turn left across the road and follow the Chiltern Way between the houses to a T-junction in the trees. Turn right along the bridleway for 100m, then left along the drive to a lane at Beacon Hill. Turn right along the lane for 300m, cross the road (B474) and turn left. Once level with the entrance to Penn School (left), fork right along Elm Road to the Red Lion pub and turn left to arrive back at the pond.
To find out more about Steve, including information on his walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk