Two Walks for Christmas
PUBLISHED: 13:21 20 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:21 20 December 2013
Steve Davison leads the way on two short walks to get you out in the fresh air over the festive period: a visit to Windsor Great Park and a rural wander at Stokenchurch
Park Views (see gallery for map and images)
Start/finish: roadside parking along Bishopsgate Road off the A328; grid ref SU978722.
Map: OS Explorer 160.
Distance: 3 miles (4.7km).
Terrain: ups and downs, tracks and paths which can be muddy.
Refreshments: Englefield Green – The Fox and Hounds (01784 433098).
To the south of Windsor Castle is the large expanse of Windsor Great Park which once formed part of the royal hunting chase of Windsor Forest, though from the reign of Charles II the land became more formally managed. Today, although there are no rights-of-way through the park, the Crown Estates allow walkers to wander throughout all public parts of the park making it a great place for a walk.
The Long Walk, built in 1688 for Charles II, runs for 2½ miles in a straight line between Windsor Castle and the mighty equestrian statue of George III on Snow Hill, known as the Copper Horse. From the statue there are great views along the Long Walk back to Windsor and on a clear day you can several London landmarks including the Wembley Arch and the high office blocks of the City.
While out walking you might catch sight of the deer that roam the park and, if it’s getting near dusk, keep a lookout for the ghost of Herne the Hunter, a former huntsman who worked for Richard II; his ghost is said to ride through the park wearing stags antlers.
1 (SU978722) – Head west along Bishopsgate Road and pass through Bishop’s Gate to enter Windsor Great Park. Keep ahead for 40m and turn right along a track, soon bear right following the track down Cookes Hill for 1 mile, keeping straight on at a junction. At the next junction, with houses and Bear’s Rails Gate to the right (the gate is named after a moated medieval site that was once the Royal Manor of Wychemere), turn left following the hedge and continue past the trees to reach the surfaced Long Walk
2 (SU968736) – Turn left following the Long Walk up to a T-junction and continue up to the Copper Horse. After admiring the view go straight on for 100m and turn left along the gravel track (horse ride) in a south-east direction for ¾ miles, later cross over the surfaced road and continue through the trees before going through Bishop’s Gate back to the start.
Rural Wander (see gallery for map and images)
Start/finish: beside the King’s Hotel in Stokenchurch just east of the M40 junction 5; grid ref SU760961.
Map: OS Explorer 171.
Distance: 3 miles (5km).
Terrain: gentle ups and downs, track and paths which can be muddy, lanes, stiles and gates.
Time: 1½ hours without stops.
Refreshments: pubs and shop in Stokenchurch.
Stokenchurch has long had good transport links, the ancient tracks that form the Ridgeway pass just to the north-west, while Collier’s Lane – part of which is followed during the walk – was once the main droving route. The later stagecoach route – the forerunner of the A40 – passed through the village and several coaching inns were established to cater for travellers going between London and Oxford. One of these former inns is now the King’s Hotel, where King Charles II is reputed to have stayed. A much later addition came with the opening of the M40 that cuts through the Chilterns here.
Pop inside the Church of St Peter and St Paul, parts of which date from the 12th century, to see the stained glass including a vibrant modern window by David Wasley. On the chancel wall are two 15th century brasses depicting knights in armour in memory of the Morley brothers. To the north of the church stands Mallards Court, which was known as Morrel’s Court in the early 18th century and this is thought to be a corruption of Morley’s Court where the two knights once lived. The church is also the final resting place of Hannah Ball (1734-1792), founder of the first English Sunday School, in High Wycombe in 1769.
1 (SU760961) – Facing the King’s Hotel turn right for a short way then left across the grassy area before bearing left along Church Street. At the oval shaped green take the second on the right – Park Lane – beside The Royal Oak (01494 483437). However, before that keep ahead beside the green for about 25m and turn right along the narrow path between the houses to visit the Church of St Peter and St Paul; on leaving the church retrace steps and turn left along Park Lane. Follow the lane, ignoring a turning on the left and later a kissing gate on the right (return route) to pass Mallards Court.
2 (SU762976) – Keep straight at the junction following the drive downhill as it soon curves left and then right towards Hallbottom Farm. Just after the right-hand bend, go left over a stile and through two fields separated by a stile. Keep ahead through a third field following the hedge on your right, at the field corner go left for a few metres and then right into Lott Wood. Head downhill, keeping close to the edge of the wood, to a track junction in the valley. Turn right along the bridleway – Collier’s Lane – for 1 mile.
3 (SU774971) – At the signpost turn sharp right following the Chiltern Way up across the field towards the trees. Continue straight on along the track, later with a hedge on the right and open field to the left. At the house fork half-left across the field towards the trees. Continue up through the next field, turn left through a kissing gate and retrace the outward route back to the start.
To find out more about Steve, including his latest book about the North Wessex Downs, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk