Buckinghamshire walk through the Chilterns at Ellesborough
PUBLISHED: 15:46 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:51 16 June 2017
Follow Steve Davison to Ellesborough for a wander through the Chilterns, skirting Chequers and visiting lofty Coombe Hill: a great walk for a four-legged friend
From Ellesborough the walk heads up Beacon Hill with the earthworks of a former motte and bailey castle – known as Cymbeline’s Castle – down to the right; take a rest on the way and enjoy the views. We then head through Ellesborough Warren, home to one of the largest native box woodlands in the country dating back over 300 years.
Soon we join the Ridgeway for a while as its skirts around Chequers. The imposing mansion was restored and enlarged in the 16th century by Sir William Hawtrey, who guarded a royal prisoner – Lady Jane Grey – at the house for two years. Jump forward to the 19th century and the house was remodelled in a Gothic Revival style (or Victorian Gothic) for the Russell family. It was later bought by Lord Lee of Fareham and his wife Ruth, who immediately set about removing the earlier changes to give the house its present appearance. Lord Lee later gave the house to the nation for use as the official country residence of the Prime Minister.
After a bit of a climb we arrive at the summit of Coombe Hill. At 260m (852ft) this is almost the highest point in the Chilterns and affords a fantastic view out over the Vale of Aylesbury. The monument is a memorial to the Buckinghamshire soldiers who died during the South African Boer War (1899 to1902). Take a look at the adjacent toposcope viewpoint indicator to help identify some of the sights.
From this lofty lookout we head steeply down to Butlers Cross where a short detour leads to the Russell Arms. From here it’s an easy walk back towards Ellesborough, home to the attractive 15th century Church of St Peter and St Paul; during the summer, cream teas are available here on Sunday afternoons.
• Start/finish: Ellesborough (SP836066) between Wendover and Great Kimble; limited parking on the track opposite the church
• Map: OS Explorer 181
• Distance: 5 miles (7.9km)
• Terrain: some steep ups and downs, tracks and paths, few stiles and gates, some road crossings
• Time: 2.5 hour without stops
• Refreshments: Butlers Cross – Russell Arms (01296 624411)
1 (SP836066) – Walk to the road, turn left along the raised path for 25m and turn left through a gate. Head south-south-west up across the field, through a gate and continue, skirting up the right-hand slope of Beacon Hill to reach a gate. Follow the path and steps through wooded Ellesborough Warren. Continue across the field to a gate and keep ahead through the trees, ignoring a crossing track. Go through a gate to enter the field and follow the left-hand fence with Whorley Wood on the left to the field corner and go through a gate (the walk now follows the Ridgeway for slightly over 2 miles). Continue alongside Maple Wood (right) for 500m with open fields and a view of Chequers to the left with the monument on Coombe Hill beyond.
2 (SP839050) – At the corner of the wood turn left through a gate, following the posts downhill, and go through gates either side of the tree-lined driveway that leads to Chequers. Keep ahead, passing a stand of trees to reach a gate and road. Cross over and take the track opposite, staying left of the houses (to the right along the surfaced track is Buckmoorend Farm Shop). Continue through the trees, keeping straight on at the crossing bridleway, following the Ridgeway up through Goodmerhill Wood. Once the path has levelled out, go left at the signpost and head in a northerly direction, passing three waymarked junctions. When a field becomes visible to the right, dogleg right through a fence-gap and continue northwards, close to the edge of the wood on the right. Turn left down the concrete track.
3 (SP848058) – Turn right up the road for 125m and go left through the trees to a gate and National Trust sign. Turn down to the left for a few metres and once past the trees turn right, keeping the slope down to your left and the trees and scrub to your right, to reach the monument on Coombe Hill. Turn right (east-north-east) along a broad grassy path between two lines of scrub (not the gravel path). Go through a gate, turn left down the sunken bridleway and keep ahead to the road.
4 (SP847071) – Cross straight over and follow the signed path northwards across the golf course. Cross the stile, follow the fence on the left to a path junction and turn left over a stile following the Aylesbury Ring Path alongside the fence on the left. Continue straight along the track, go through a gate and then through the field to another gate. Cross over the road at Butlers Cross and turn left along the pavement for 50m before turning right through a small gate; some 250m further along the road is the Russell Arms pub. Follow the narrow path towards Springs Farm and then keep straight on along the lane to reach a thatched cottage at the end of the lane. Go through the gate, continue alongside the fence (left) for 40m and turn left up through the field towards the church. Go up through the churchyard, past the church, and leave via the gate before crossing the road back to the start.
To find out more about Steve, including walking guides, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk