Buckinghamshire walk around Swanbourne and Mursley

PUBLISHED: 09:01 07 September 2017

The picturesque fishing lake on the way to Mursley

The picturesque fishing lake on the way to Mursley


Follow Steve Davison as he heads towards Winslow for a North Buckinghamshire walk through the neighbouring villages of Swanbourne and Mursley

Written history about Swanbourne can be traced back to 792 when it was mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter of King Offa; at this time it was known as ‘Suanaburna’ which probably means ‘peasant’s brook’. More recent is the village church, St Swithun’s, which dates from the early part of the 13th century, although it probably stands on the site of an earlier church. Inside there are a number of memorials to the Freemantle family, including Admiral Thomas Freemantle.

Thomas Freemantle and his wife, Elizabeth, bought the neighbouring Swanbourne House in 1798; the Freemantle family still own the building although it now houses a school. The village pub, the Betsey Wynne, is named after Elizabeth Freemantle (nee Wynne), who was known as Betsey. The daughter of John Tapling Freemantle, 5th Baron Cottesloe, Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Freemantle, married the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith in 1982.

After leaving the village, the walk meanders its way through fields, passing a picturesque fishing lake, to arrive at the neighbouring village of Mursley.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Mursley has an interesting church – St Mary the Virgin – which is well worth a visit. Inside there is the colourful Millennium Window which gives an insight into the history of the village. Highlights to look for in the window include the date 1242, this was when Henry III granted a charter for a local market; Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), founder and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who lived in the village; the water tower a local landmark; and Sir John and Lady Fortescue who owned the manor at nearby Salden; Sir John, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1589 till 1603.

After passing the Green Man pub, church and War Memorial the walk head south through open fields before following part of the 24-mile long Cross Bucks Way back to the start.


• Start/finish: roadside parking along Mursley Road (B4032) in Swanbourne (SP802272); 2.5 miles east of Winslow

• Map: OS Explorer 192

• Distance: 4.75 miles (7.6km)

• Terrain: gentle ups and downs, tracks and paths, gates and stiles, sections of road

• Time: 2.5 hours without stops

• Refreshments: The Green Man at Mursley (01296 720389); The Betsey Wynne (01296 720825) and village shop at Swanbourne

The walk

1 (SP802272) – Head west along Mursley Road (B4032) to the T-junction beside St Swithun’s Church on the right and War Memorial on the left. Turn right and at the next junction, just after the primary school, fork right down Station Road (signposted for Little Norwood) for 50m. Turn right up the steps and follow the path alongside the fence. Go through a small gate and keep ahead through three fields separated by small gates. Continue through a fourth field and go through a kissing gate in the far right corner. Ignore a crossing permissive path and go through another kissing gate. Continue across the field towards the trees. Go through a kissing gate, cross the footbridge and continue through the wood to the far side.

2 (SU805275) – Keep ahead through the field to a hedge and go through into the next field, crossing a footbridge. Continue alongside the left side of the field. Go through a kissing gate and keep ahead along the left-hand margin with the fishing lake over to right. Go through a kissing gate and keep ahead across the field, soon following a fence on the left to a gate at the corner. Cross over the track and through kissing gate opposite. Head diagonally right across the field and leave through a gate near far right corner. Continue in the same general direction through the large field, crossing a tarred drive on the way. Leave through a kissing gate on the far side and continue between houses to a road in Mursley.

3 (SU816288) – Turn right and follow the main street for 500m, passing the Green Man pub, then the Church of St Mary the Virgin and War Memorial and ignoring a lane to the right and left. Just after the entrance to the cemetery, turn right over a stile and head southwards (diagonally left) through the fields to a stile. Cross Swanbourne Road and go through a gate opposite. Cross a footbridge over a ditch and continue through the field. Go through two small gates a few metres apart and continue down through field. Ignore a crossing path and keep ahead over a footbridge. Follow the right-hand field edge, go through a gate and keep ahead, before crossing a stile on the right and then continuing in the same direction, but now following the field edge on the left. Keep ahead through some trees.

4 (SU821271) – Cross a footbridge at the corner, go through a small gate and immediately turn right over a stile, then go left following the field edge on the left to a path junction. Keep ahead over the stile and continue through the large field. Cross the stile beside the large gate and turn right along the wide enclosed bridleway – Cross Bucks Way – for a mile, ignoring a crossing bridle route; later head up between hedges to Nearton End Farm. Turn left along the lane and keep ahead at the junction. Shortly after passing the Methodist Chapel (right), turn right along an enclosed path and then cross over Mursley Road (B4032) and turn left back towards the church passing the village shop; 150m to the right is The Betsey Wynne pub. 

More Information: To find out more about Steve, including his books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk

Latest from the Berkshire Life