Buckinghamshire walk - Ivinghoe Beacon
PUBLISHED: 12:22 08 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:59 05 October 2017
© Steve Davison
Steve Davison invites us to flex our leg muscles on a fairly hilly walk up to the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon for a great view across Buckinghamshire
From the car park the walk follows the last, or first, part of the Ridgeway National Trail up past the deep hollow, or coombe, of Incombe Hole to reach the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon. The hill top, once crowned by an Iron Age hill fort of which little remains today, offers a fantastic view and is also a favoured location for model plane flyers. To the south-west views stretch along the Chiltern scarp, and further to the right are the Tring Reservoirs. Continue across the flat expanse of the Vale of Aylesbury and to the north is Leighton Buzzard, with Milton Keynes beyond. To the north-east is the nearby church at Edlesborough, while to the east are views along the broad ridge past Gallows Hill to the white chalk figure of the Whipsnade Lion, on the side of the Dunstable Downs, completed in 1933.
Having soaked up the view we retrace our steps for a while before heading down to the picturesque village of Ivinghoe. On the way passing the cruciform-shaped Church of St Mary the Virgin, which dates from the early 13th century. Step inside to see some interesting 15th-century bench ends (or poppy-heads), a Jacobean pulpit and large carved wooden angels in the roof. Outside on the churchyard wall is an old man trap and a long hooked pole that was used in days gone by to pull burning straw off thatched roofs. If you have the time, take a short detour to visit Ford End Watermill. The mill, which dates back to 1616 and is the only remaining working watermill in Buckinghamshire (01442 825421).
From Ivinghoe the walk passes Pitstone Windmill before rising gently back up to Pitstone Hill car park. The windmill dates from 1627 and is possibly the oldest post mill in England; a post mill is where the complete windmill rotates round on the post to align the sails to the wind (National Trust: 01442 851227).
• Start/finish: Pitstone Hill car park, follow the B488 south from Ivinghoe and take the minor road at the sharp right bend; grid ref SP954149
• Map: OS Explorer 181
• Distance: 5 miles (8.2km)
• Terrain: stiles and gates, steep ups and downs, paths, tracks and country lanes
• Time: 2¼ hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Ivinghoe – The Rose and Crown (01296 668472); nearby at Aston Ivinghoe – The Village Swan (01525 220544)
1 (SP954149) – From the car park cross over the minor road and go through the gate opposite. Follow the Ridgeway alongside the fence on the right to a four way junction and continue straight on up beside the deep hollow of Incombe Hole, still following the Ridgeway path; a sign mentions this area was once used for military training – so do not touch any unidentified objects. Near the top, don’t go through the gate but keep left of the fence and head over Steps Hill, looking out for the Ridgeway marker post. Follow the path through the bushes and then alongside the fence and through a gate. Continue along the path, soon dropping down to a minor road.
2 (SP960163) – Cross over and keep ahead following the Ridgeway (middle path) up the broad ridge to the trig point on Ivinghoe Beacon (Beacon Hill). After admiring the panoramic view, retrace your steps back down to the minor road. Turn right along the road for 40m and then fork left down the track. At the bottom go left over a stile and follow the fence on the right to another stile. Turn right and head north-west across the field soon following an old fence to join a road (B489) opposite the entrance to Town Farm. Cross over and turn left following the pavement down to a T-junction.
3 (SP947159) – Turn right and follow the road towards Ivinghoe; on the way a short detour along Vicarage Lane on the right leads to The Rose and Crown pub. Continue down past the church to a junction beside the village green; 600m to the right along Station Road is Ford End Watermill. Head south-westwards along the High Street (B489) and as the road bends right, passing Groomsby Drive, turn left along Green Lane, between houses. The track soon becomes a path passing Orchard House and then goes through a gate. Head across the field with the windmill to the left to a crossing track. Turn left and soon go left again to follow the grassy strip (permissive path) past the windmill. Go through a gate and with care cross over the road (B488). Turn left using the right-hand verge and immediately after the house turn right through the small gate.
4 (SP947158) – Follow the enclosed path, turn right through a gate and then left, following the hedge on the left. Where this goes left continue straight on across the field and bear slightly left after passing the end of a hedge. Go through the gate and continue straight on to a four-way path junction at a fence corner passed near the start of the walk. Turn right retracing your steps back to the car park.