PUBLISHED: 09:47 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:04 12 April 2013
Steve Davison leads the way on a 5 mile walk through the peaceful Buckinghamshire countryside around Cholesbury and Hawridge
Start/finish: car park at Cholesbury cricket ground, 3½ miles north of Chesham – village signposted from A416; grid ref SP931071
Map: OS Explorer 181
Distance: 5 miles (8km) or 4 miles (6.4km)
Terrain: stiles and gates, some easy climbs, paths, tracks and sections of road
Time: 2½ or 2 hours
Cholesbury – The Full Moon (01494 758959); Hawridge – The Rose and Crown (01494 758944) – short detour
The walk sets out beside Cholesbury Common which, along with Hawridge Common, was historically owned by the lord of the manor; the stone on the left, opposite the road junction, marks the boundary between Cholesbury and Hawridge and was erected in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Next up is a view of Hawridge Windmill (now a private house). Built on the site of an earlier mill, the present building, which was built in 1883 and is said to be one of the last tower mills built in England, was converted into a house in 1913; for a time it was the home of the novelist and playwright Gilbert Cannan (1884-1955).
The walk then drops down to follow a dry valley for 1½ miles before climbing back up to the ridge to pass Hawridge Court. The present timber-framed house stands partially on the remains of a fortified site that was probably built after the Norman Conquest; the first written evidence dates from the 13th century. The adjacent St Mary’s Church was extensively rebuilt in the 19th century.
The return leg heads back across the commons – on the way a short detour leads to the pub at Hawridge – to reach the impressive, tree-covered earthworks of Cholesbury Camp. Excavations at the oval shaped fort in the 1930s uncovered fragments of handmade pottery dating from the Iron Age. Located within the earthworks is St Lawrence’s Church which was extensively restored in the 1870s. The final section heads through the village, passing the Village Hall built in 1895, to arrive back at the start.
1 (SP931071) – With the cricket ground behind you turn left alongside the road soon passing the road to Braziers End (right) and boundary stone (left). Immediately after passing the Full Moon pub turn right alongside the hedge to a stile. Turn left following the hedge to the corner and go right between the fence and hedge. Cross the stile and turn left – to the right is the windmill – following the left-hand field boundary to the corner, stay in the field and turn right downhill following the hedge on the left to the lower left corner. Keep ahead for a few paces and turn left; the walk now follows the path along the valley for a while. Keep ahead at marker post and then through a kissing gate to follow the fence and trees on the right, continue straight on, later crossing a stile and still following the field edge on the right.
2 (SP944059) – Go straight over the track, cross the stile and keep ahead through the field. Go into the next field following the fence and long thin wood on right and pass through a kissing gate.
Shortcut: turn left uphill and keep ahead through two kissing gates heading towards the trees and turn left, rejoining the main walk at Point 3.
Main walk: keep ahead alongside the trees on the right, cross a stile and continue to the end of the next field. Stay in this field and turn left uphill, pass through the hedge and trees and continue along the field edge on the right to a junction. Turn left along the broad ridge, go through a kissing gate and keep ahead through another; the shortcut joins from the left.
3 (SP949057) – Follow the trees on the right and just before the buildings turn right over a stile following the building on the left to join a drive at Hawridge Court. Turn left along the drive past St Mary’s Church and soon head down to a T-junction. Cross the road and head diagonally left down through the trees before bearing left along the lane, keep left at the junction and just after the houses on the left, where the lane starts to rise, fork right along a track, signposted ‘Hawridge Vale’.
Pub visit: keep to the lane for 10m and go left at the marker post heading up through the trees, go up the steps to the pub garden and bear right through the car park – retrace route.
Main Walk: continue along track and where this turns right go straight on through the trees for 450m, keeping close to the lower edge of Hawridge Common, to join a road.
4 (SP943069) – Go left for 10m and fork right along a bridleway through trees, soon staying close to the edge of the common for ¾ mile, ignoring paths to left and right – this is the county boundary with Hertfordshire. Cross straight over the road and follow the drive opposite for a few metres with houses to the right, dogleg left into the trees at the marker post and keep ahead to a road. Go left for 25m and then right through the trees, soon following a fence on the left with houses beyond and shortly bear right along the top of the earthworks of Cholesbury Camp. Follow the earthworks anti-clockwise to a kissing gate; to the left is St Lawrence’s Church. Turn right to the lane, then left and left again following the road (verge) for 250m back to the start.
To find out more about Steve, including walking guides, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk