Buckinghamshire walk around the Vale of Aylesbury
PUBLISHED: 09:58 09 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:58 09 November 2015
Steve Davison heads to the Vale of Aylesbury for a walk beside a former canal, visiting Halton and Weston Turville
• Start/finish: Clock Tower, Wendover (grid ref SP869078); on street parking in Tring Road also trains to Wendover
• Map: OS Explorer 181
• Distance: 5.5 miles (8.8km)
• Terrain: some gates and stiles, fairly level, paths that can be muddy, lanes and roads with pavements
• Time: 2.5 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Weston Turville – The Chequers Inn (01296 613298); Wendover – several choices
Our walk this month starts from Wendover’s 19th-century Clock Tower at the foot of the High Street, which was originally built as a market hall and lock-up – the Clock Tower extension was added later. However, before setting out take a quick look along Tring Road to see a pretty row of thatched cottages, known as Anne Boleyn’s Cottages, whilst up along the High Street there is a weekly Thursday market.
We soon join the disused Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal which opened in 1796 and ran for 7 miles from Wendover to join the main canal at Bulbourne. Although the canal closed in 1904, all is not lost, as volunteers from the Wendover Arm Trust are slowly bringing boating life back to the canal having already restored a section near Bulbourne; visit www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk for more information.
After following the canal for one and three quarter miles we arrive at the picturesque village of Halton. A number of the houses in the village were built by the Rothschild family – Alfred de Rothschild built the nearby Halton House in 1884 (now the Officers’ Mess for RAF Halton) – and some of them display the family crest and pictures depicting country scenes. The Church of St Michael and All Angels, just a short way off the walk, dates from the early 19th century.
A quick meander through fields brings us to Weston Turville, with its collection of thatched cottages. Originally recorded as Westone in the Domesday Book, the ‘Turville’ suffix was added later, in recognition of the lords of the manor during the 13th century. After passing The Chequers Inn (The Five Bells and The Chandos Arms are off route along the main road) the route starts heading back to pass the village church – St Mary the Virgin – which dates back to the 13th century.
After a quick stretch through fields, the walk rejoins the towpath which is followed back to Wendover, passing close to BBOWT’s Weston Turville Reservoir nature reserve on the way. The reservoir, which can easily be reached by a short detour at Point 4, is a good place to see winter wildfowl including teal, shoveler and tufted duck.
1 (SP869078) – From the roundabout beside the Clock Tower head north along Aylesbury Road (B4009) for 250m to a mini-roundabout. Turn right along Wharf Road for 200m and at the trees, turn left along the narrow path between the house (left) and the metal fence. The walk now follows the former canal towpath for 1.75 miles, passing a footbridge (11) with crossing path – the former branch line from Wendover to Halton Camp used to cross the canal here – then go under a road bridge (10) and finally reach another road bridge (9) at Halton.
2 (SP873101) – Leave the canal here, cross the road and turn left along the pavement for 350m (just to the right is the church). Just after the entrance to the airfield on the right, turn left across the road to the track and driveway. Turn right over a stile into the field and follow the right-hand hedge, keeping parallel with the road. Cross a stile and footbridge and continue through the next field. Go through small gates either side of a footbridge and head diagonally left (west) across the field aiming for the oak tree on the far side. Cross the stile and continue in the same direction through the next field, passing just left of a belt of trees. Cross a stile and keep ahead to the far-left field corner where two paths join.
3 (SP860106) – Go through the kissing gate, cross a footbridge and continue between fences to Church Lane in Weston Turville. Turn left along the lane passing The Chequers Inn and turn left along Church Walk. At the bend in the lane, with the Church of St Mary the Virgin ahead, turn right onto the entrance drive for Church Farm and immediately go through a kissing gate on the right to enter a field. Follow the waymarked path alongside the left-hand fence. Keep beside the fence as it curves left and leave the field over a stile beside a large gate, with farm buildings over to the left. Continue south-eastwards between the two long fields and enter the wood.
4 (SP864096) – The main walk goes straight on to a kissing gate on the far side of the wood, however, it’s worth taking a short detour to visit BBOWT’s Weston Turville Reservoir nature reserve (turn right and soon fork left along the fenced path to reach the bird hide). Turn left alongside Halton Lane for a few metres and dogleg left back into the wood to follow a permissive path, parallel with the road, back to the canal. Turn right under the bridge (10) passed earlier in the walk and follow the towpath for 1 mile. Turn right along Wharf Road and then left along Alyesbury Road back to the Clock Tower in Wendover.
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