Bradenham Beech Woods, Bunkers and Ballrooms

Walking trail

This is a 4.4 miles (7.0 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 and ballrooms.


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. 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.

Woodland path at Bradenham


Continue along the path and where the path splits take the left hand fork and continue 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.

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Puddingstone in woodland near Bradenham


Cross the road with care, and then continue along a bridleway. 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. Ignore any downhill paths on the left. After the path bends to the right, you come to a fork in the path with a marker post in the centre. Take the right fork, initially keeping parallel to the chain link fence on your right. After passing a log jump for the Bradenham Bolt run on your right you come to a junction of three paths. Take the middle path, straight ahead and just to the left of a small marker post. Follow this path round to the right. About 100m after passing a white footpath marker on a post you reach a fork. Continue slightly right ahead towards a second marker post. Just past this post you cross a causeway over Grim’s Ditch.

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Bluebells at Bradenham Beeches


Continue in the same direction for about 150 metres to reach a T-junction with a wooden fence ahead.

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Grim's Ditch at Bradenham


Turn left at the T-junction. The cleared area you pass for the next 80 metres on your left is the site of a cluster of buildings built and used by the RAF during the Second World War. Explore this area while taking care on the uneven surfaces before continuing along the path. (Note - this area can become quite overgrown in the summer months and the foundations of the buildings may not be easily visible from the footpath.) About 150 metres beyond the RAF site turn left on to a downhill track away from the boundary fence. After about 200 metres turn right uphill on to a crossing path next to a footpath marker. Then, after another 50 metres, turn left at a T-junction. Follow this path around to the right and downhill until you join a wide track coming uphill from your left. Just 15 metres after joining this track, another path forks left away from the track. Almost opposite on the right is a cylindrical green pillbox dating from the Cold War.

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Remains of Second World War RAF Mess Hall


Take the left fork, following a path uphill. This soon levels out, becoming a track that meanders through Park Wood. Pass a footpath sign on a post and, after 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 just next to a small depression on the right, and marked by a white marker ahead of you on a post set back from the right fork.

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Second World War pill box at Bardenham


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). Pass to the right of the marker post then continue for 30 metres to another white marker post. Here, turn right onto a much narrower footpath, which wanders through trees eventually turning left over a small fallen tree and gently downhill. As it curves right again, you will cross a deep ditch. Soon after the ditch you reach a T-junction.

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Dew Pond in Park Wood at Bradenham


At the T-junction, turn left following the path downhill for 11 minutes (550 metres). On reaching a junction in front of 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 pause to admire the far reaching views across the Saunderton Valley towards Bledlow Ridge and Lodge Hill. Cross Small Dean Bank on a steep downhill path that leads through a gate to the small National Trust car park.

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Small Dean Bank


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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Conservation strips at Small Dean, Bradenham


As you reach the end of the woodland on your left, you will see the Art Deco buildings of The Residence ahead of you, although this may be obscured by trees in summer. Here turn left, once more following the left field boundary. Pass through a gap in the trees, turn left uphill then immediately right and continue following the left field boundary for another 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.

Farmland in the Bradenham Valley


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.

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Access track at Bradenham


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


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

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Bradenham Beech Woods, Bunkers and Ballrooms


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.

Please note that recent forestry clearances and replanting operations have disturbed some section of this walk. This may lead to some paths becoming churned-up and muddy in wet conditions, particularly during the winter months. This should be only a temporary issue.

Bradenham Beech Woods, Bunkers and Ballrooms

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, Bunkers and Ballrooms

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.
  • Benches and other places to picnic can be found on the village green and along the route.
  • Please take your litter home with you.
  • The Red Lion Tea House serves breakfast, light lunches and afternoon tea. It also has a small licensed bar. Opening Times: Mon closed, Tues to Sat 09:00 – 16:00, Sun 10:00 – 15:00. Tel +44 1494 565554.