Bradenham beech woods and bunkers trail

Walking trail

This is a 4.4 miles (7.1 kilometres) walk taking you from the pretty Chiltern village of Bradenham into the Bradenham Estate, which consists of woodland and farmland. The landscape is a classical Chiltern blend of hills topped with beech woodlands, and gently rolling valleys with a mixture of grazed and ploughed fields divided by hedgerows. The walk offers a verity of glimpses into the deep and varied history of this part of the Chilterns, ranging from ancient earthworks to war-time bunkers.

Bradenham bluebells


Bradenham medium walk map


Start at the National Trust car park in Bradenham village near the cricket pavilion, Grid. Ref. SU827969


From the car park, head away from the village green, following the track that runs alongside the wall to Bradenham Manor’s garden. The track turns left at the corner of the wall by a National Trust ‘No Unauthorised Vehicles’ sign. Follow the track uphill. After it bends sharply to the left again, the track forks. Take the left fork, parallel to the Manor House garden wall. Where the track curves right, go straight ahead on a footpath, ignoring any joining paths. The path soon starts to climb, and eventually it levels out. After 8 minutes (400 metres), you will come across some large pieces of rock that resemble pieces of weathered concrete; these are puddingstones and they are entirely natural.

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Puddingstones Bradenham woods


Continue along the path until you reach a distinct crossing path. Here, turn left then immediately take the left fork towards a footpath sign by a road. The road possibly follows the line of The Queen’s Gap or Ride cut through the woods here for the visit of Queen Elizabeth 1 to Bradenham Manor in 1566.


Cross the road with care, and then continue along a bridleway past a National Trust notice on a post for horse riders. The path takes you in a more-or-less straight line through beech woods and across the head of a small valley that dips to your left. In the late spring, this area is carpeted with bluebells. On reaching a junction (close to where a chain link fence on your right turns sharply right), take the left path downhill. As you approach a gate to a field on your left, turn right and head steeply downhill to a second pair of gates with a clear view across the Bradenham Valley.

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Bradenham Valley


Go through the right-hand gate into a meadow, and then bear right to follow the obvious path downhill that runs diagonally (half right) across the meadow. Continue along this path until you reach an obvious track that runs along the bottom of the valley. Turn right on this track, through a double gate and then follow it gently uphill through woodland. As the track curves left, ignore a path to you right and another on your left and continue uphill to a fork in the track just past a footpath sign on the left. Almost opposite on the right is a cylindrical green pillbox dating from the Cold War.

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Pill Box  Bradenham Woods


Take the left fork, following a path uphill. This soon levels out, becoming a track that meanders through Park Wood. After 8 minutes (400 metres), look out for a shallow circular depression in the ground, just over a metre deep, immediately to the right of the track. This is the remains of one of the many sawpits, associated with ‘bodgers’ and the High Wycombe Chair industry. These were a common sight in the 19th century. After the sawpit, continue to a fork in the track, marked by a signpost which is set back from the main path.

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Bradenham woodland pond


At the fork in the track, turn right past a more open area on the right containing a pond (This may be concealed by vegetation the summer months). Follow the right bridleway for a few metres to a signpost pointing straight ahead. Here, turn right onto a much narrower footpath. The footpath wanders through the trees, eventually turning left and gently downhill. As it curves right again, you will cross a deep ditch. Soon after the ditch you reach a T-junction.


At the T-junction, turn left following the path downhill for 11 minutes (550 metres). On reaching a junction by a wooden kissing gate that leads into the conservation area at Small Dean Bank, turn right, following a sunken path uphill. The path curves to your left and follows the inside the edge of the woodland, with Small Dean Bank on your left. After 3-4 minutes (180 metres) you will meet a crossing path leading to a gate on your left. Go through the gate and cross Small Dean Bank on a steep downhill path that leads through a gate to the small National Trust carpark.

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Bradenham Small Dean Bank Chalk Grassland


From the car park, turn left, following the narrow lane downhill. This is usually a very quiet lane, but please keep a look out for traffic. After 5 minutes (250 metres), you will reach the buildings of Small Dean Farm. Here turn left following a footpath sign. Follow a track past some farm sheds on your right until you reach a field. Here turn left and follow the path along the left field boundary for 14 minutes (700 metres).

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Experimental fenced-off plots


As you reach the end of the woodland on your left, you will see the Art Deco buildings of the Clare Centre at Saunderton ahead of you. Here turn left, once more following the left field boundary. Pass through a gap in the trees, and continue following the left field boundary for another 8 minutes (400 metres).

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Bradenham farmland


As you approach the corner of the field, turn left uphill along a short, wide avenue towards an area of tall, mature woodland (part of Park Wood). As you approach the woodland turn right and continue downhill along a clear path, following the left field boundary. After 8 minutes (400 metres) you will meet a crossing track.

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Bradenham view from access track


Cross the track, and now with a fence on your right, continue along the field’s edge towards Bradenham. After another 8 minutes (400 metres), pass through two gates to a track which emerges into Bradenham Village by the former youth hostel’s car park by the village pond.


From the carpark, cross the road. Here you will see further examples of sarsens and puddingstones along the edge of the village green. Keeping the churchyard wall on your left, head along the edge of the village green past the Parish Church of St. Botolph.

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St. Botolph's Church Bradenham village


Continue past the gate to Bradenham Manor House. After a few more metres, you will arrive back at the carpark where you began your walk.

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Bradenham Manor Bradenham Estate


National Trust car park in Bradenham village near the cricket pavilion, Grid. Ref. SU827969

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Bradenham beech woods and bunkers trail


Most of the walk is on soft footpaths, although you will need to cross a road twice, and there is a short stretch on a quiet but narrow country lane. There are no stiles but a number of gates. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept under strict control as livestock is grazed on several parts of the route. There are several short, steep climbs. Some paths can be muddy and slippery after prolonged or heavy rain. Stout walking shoes or walking boots are recommended in wet conditions or after heavy rain.

Bradenham beech woods and bunkers trail

How to get here

Start at the National Trust car park in Bradenham village near the cricket pavilion, Grid. Ref. SU827969
By train

The nearest station is a mile (1.5 km) away at Saunderton on the Chiltern Railways line. From the station, head southeast toward Slough Lane, then turn left onto Slough Lane. Turn right onto Wycombe Rd/A4010 and after just under a mile (1.3 km) turn left at the Red Lion pub into Bradenham Wood Lane to join the route at point 2

By road

From the A4010, High Wycombe to Princes Risborough road, take Bradenham Wood Lane. Take the first right along the edge of the village green, then next left along on a track on the southern edge of the village green for about 180 metres. The designated car park is just after the cricket pavilion.

By foot

Please see OS map 172

By bus

The main bus route through Bradenham is route 321 between High Wycombe and Aylesbury. The bus stop is near the Red Lion pub in Bradenham Road (the A4010).

By bicycle

Bradenham is accessible by bicycle from High Wycombe or Princes Risborough. The Chiltern Cycleway passes Saunderton Station (see access by train above). Please note that no cycling is allowed on much of the trail.  Please see OS map 172.

Bradenham beech woods and bunkers trail

Facilities and access

  • Free parking is available in Bradenham village, near the cricket pavilion at Grid. Ref. SU827969
  • There are no public toilets on site. The nearest public toilets are in West Wycombe village.
  • Public houses: The Red Lion in Bradenham – phone ahead to check opening times on +441494 562 212
  • Benches and other places to picnic can be found on the village green and along the route.
  • Please take your litter home with you.