Bradenham Bolt Running Trail
This is 10k trail run with hills, thrills and obstacles in the beautiful Chilterns countryside near Bradenham and West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The route takes you through ancient beech woodland and chalk flower meadows on the Bradenham Estate. Bring your dog along (on a Canicross harness for running).
Start at the wooden gate at SU826977
From the gate, head along the broad track towards the higher ground. The track curves to the left.
After 250 metres go through a gate then turn right off the main track, heading up a slope on a sunken track. The track curves to the right. At the top of the steep rise, take the right fork. The path continues to rise gently and then levels out. After around 300 metres you will meet a crossing track at a T-junction.
At the T-junction, turn sharp left following a clearly defined track, with the boundary fence to RAF High Wycombe on your right. After the 1km marker post, you will soon meet the first of two log-jumps. After a further 100 metres, you will encounter a crossing path near the corner of the RAF base, which is on your right. Head straight across on a clear level track through the woodland. After another 250 metres, turn left on the wider track, which soon starts to head downhill into a small valley.
From mid-April to mid-May, the section of Park Wood adjacent to RAF High Wycombe is rich with bluebells. Bluebells, which are inedible members of the asparagus family of plants, are perennial bulbous herbs with flowering stems to about 50 cm tall. They spend most of the year as bulbs underground and emerge to flower from mid-April onwards, although they are usually at their peak in the first two weeks of May, depending on the spring weather.
At the bottom of the valley, you will meet a crossing track. Turn left, heading downhill. After around 230 metres at a T-junction, turn sharp right onto a wide track, which curves to the left as it heads uphill. Here you will pass the 2km marker post.
Continue up the main track with another section of the boundary fence to another part of RAF High Wycombe on your right. The wide track eventually levels out and wends its way through the woodland. Shortly after the 3km marker post you will see a gate ahead of you.
Just before you reach the gate, turn left down a track to a T-junction. In a few metres, turn left again following a clear level track which soon becomes a holloway as it heads downhill. After 450 metres you will meet a T-junction near a wooden gate on your right (which leads into the nature reserve at Small Dean Bank). At this T-junction turn sharp left. In a further 75 metres take the left fork heading uphill. Ignore a path joining from the right.
Small Dean Bank
This is an area of permanent grassland rich in flora and fauna, which is now in the care of the National Trust. The Trust successfully re-introduced the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly here in 2011 (full name: His Grace the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly, Hamearis lucina). Considerable work has been done to ensure the habitat at these sites is suitable for the butterfly's lifecycle. This is a great local conservation success story for a species which on a national scale is one of the most rapidly-declining butterflies in the UK.
Shortly after the 4km marker post, turn right on a track that initially heads quite steeply downhill, but which levels out as it turns right and merges with another path. You are now back in in Park Wood.
Archaeological Surveys undertaken in Park Wood have revealed a fascinating past for this quiet area of deciduous woodland. Lynchets and banks within the woods give evidence of ancient field systems which may date back to the late Iron Age/early Roman period (or they may be medieval). In the beech woodland opposite the pond is evidence of a late thirteenth/early fourteenth homestead in the woodlands and in Tudor times (1485 – 1603) the woodland was a deer park. Much of Park Wood was converted to beech woodland from the late 18th until the early 20th century to cater for the High Wycombe furniture industry. Associated features include sawpits, tracks and charcoal burning platforms.
Continue on this roughly level track until you reach the second log-jump. Shortly after this, take the left fork. At the next junction, take the right fork, which takes you downhill until it leaves Park Wood where you will meet a crossing path. Turn right, through a gate heading uphill with the Park Wood on your right. Towards the top on the incline you will reach the 5km marker post. Continue around the field boundary with woodland on your right. Eventually the path heads steeply downhill to a gate. Go through the gate and continue downslope for another 40 metres until you reach a gap in the hedge on your right.
At the gap, turn right, keeping the woodland on your right and after another 60 metres turn right again. Follow the broad track that runs along the field boundary, still with woodland on your right. Continue to circumnavigate the large field in an anticlockwise direction. Just before you pass Small Dean Farm on your right, you will pass the 6km marker post.
National Trust Farmland
There are 450 acres of farmland at Bradenham, which is managed by the National Trust’s tenant farmer. It is mainly arable with good quality hedgerows with broad wild flower margins, where you can often see hares and hear Skylarks singing high above you. Nearer to Bradenham, the arable land gives way to grazing land where the tenant farmer rears polo ponies.
After following three sides of the field, turn right to follow the wide track between the fields, pass the 7km marker post (sometimes removed to assist farming), and head back to the gap in the hedge at Point 9. Continue on the grassy track, just to the left of straight ahead, to merge with a track that follows the field boundary with a hedge on your left. Follow this until you meet a crossing hedge.
At the hedge, turn left uphill for a short distance to the point at which you left Park Wood earlier. Here turn right, following a wide track downhill with a line of small trees and fence on your left.
On reaching the bottom of the hill, pass the 8km marker post and turn sharp left through a gate and then follow the same field boundary back uphill, with the line of small trees and the fence still on your left.
Completely circumnavigate this field in a clockwise direction. You will pass the 9km marker post, and eventually you will return to point 12. Go back through the gate and turn left, once more following the boundary of a field.
There are some pockets of good quality chalk grassland along the south-facing valley slope below the woodland edge. Chalk grassland is a nationally threatened habitat, and having it here allows some scarce plants to grow, including juniper and fragrant, bee and fly orchids. There is also a rich butterfly fauna Characteristic butterflies (depending on the season) include small skipper, Lulworth skipper, dingy skipper, green hairstreak, brown argus, common blue, chalkhill blue, Duke of Burgundy, marbled white, meadow brown and small heath.
On reaching a wide gap in the hedge turn left, keeping the hedge on your right. Continue to circumnavigate this final field in an anticlockwise direction until you reach the finishing post marked by a number of logs, close to where you started the run.
Finish at the logs in the fields at SU827977
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