From Chilterns Escarpment to Remote Interior

Walking trail

This is a moderately long walk that begins at Watlington Hill with far-reaching views of the Chilterns escarpment and the Oxford Vale. It then leads into possibly the most remote, tranquil and unspoilt area of the Chilterns, with secluded valleys and isolated hamlets. Here you will find it hard to believe you are in southeast England and just a few miles from the M40.

We strongly recommend using the local 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey map in addition to these instructions.

A shorter route can be taken on this walk which brings the distance down to 6.3 miles (10.2km) and the estimated time down to 3 hours.

Turville Heath in the Chilterns

Map

Chiltern escarpment to remote interior map

Start:

Start at the National Trust car park at Watlington Hill (Grid Ref SU709935)

1

From the National Trust car park take the path between the signboards. For the first part of the walk, look out for and follow the orange way-marker arrows of the Watlington Hill short walk. Cross a track then go through a gate into an area of open grassland. Continue ahead keeping the ridge crest on your left with views across the Oxford Vale and along the Chiltern escarpment on your right. After Watlington town comes into view the route goes more steeply downhill and bears right. You reach a solid wooden bench on your right, with the top of the White Mark just below.

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Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire

2

Turn left and head diagonally uphill (at about 45 degrees to the path you came down) towards a gap in a small line of thorn trees. Go through the gap, watching out for a rabbit burrow, then bear right onto a more distinctive path. This path heads across and down the slope, then continues just below an area of dense, dark green yew woodland. After going through woodland on a partially revetted path, you reach a crossing path with a wooden gate on your right. Go through this gate, leaving Watlington Hill and the orange markers, and follow the path, marked by white arrows, gently downhill between hedges, with fields on either side, and pass through two gates. Just after passing a red brick house on your left you reach a track.

3

Turn sharp left up the track. After crossing another track, the one you have come on turns right. Instead keep steeply ahead and through a metal field gate to emerge into a grass field, named One Tree Hill. Continue straight uphill, heading towards a break in the trees on the skyline and passing a small, isolated yew tree on your right (the recently planted successor to the original One Tree). At the top of the hill look behind to see magnificent views, with Watlington Hill to the right and the Wittenham Clumps near Didcot Power Station to your left.

4

Turn sharp left just after going through a wooden gate. Soon you can see the upper stories of Watlington Park house on your right. The path now enters Lower Deans Wood, another National Trust property. Again, following the white arrows, and after leaving the wood, turn left along a tarmacked drive to meet the road at Christmas Common.

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Lower Deans Wood in Oxfordshire

5

Turn left along the road then, just after passing The Old Church on your right, turn sharp right onto the Oxfordshire Way footpath. Follow the path marked by white arrows through a woodland, then turn left on a drive to meet a crossing track, Hollandridge Lane. Turn right along here between hedges until you enter woodland.

6

Just as the lane enters the woodland turn left along the Oxfordshire Way taking the left hand fork along the PS3 path. (As an alternative you could continue down Hollandridge Lane, with fine views to either side, then turn left to re-join our path at Points 7 or 8.) Follow the path down the slope and then bear right to keep along the valley bottom, ignoring any crossing or joining paths. You are now in the Forestry Commission’s Fire Wood. After about 1.5 km you come to a crossing of paths where the Oxfordshire Way (path PS4) turns right up the slope.

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7

Continue straight ahead on path PS24. Eventually the path emerges from woodland and, after it bends right, you pass Turville Park Farm with its large cattle barns. Continue along the valley bottom with open fields to both sides until you reach a crossing of paths near a large Dutch barn.

8

Turn left uphill, across open fields, finally leaving the valley floor. At the top there is a bench where you can enjoy views of Stonor Valley. The path now follows a farm track. Where this path bends sharply right and heads downhill, go straight ahead through a metal kissing gate to the left of the track. Continue through fields until the path enters the grounds of Saviours, a converted late Victorian church. (Other than Turville Park Farm, this is the first house you have passed since leaving Christmas Common some 3 miles back.) You reach the road at Turville Heath.

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Stonor Valley in the Chilterns

9

Follow the road to the right signposted to Turville and Fingest, just past the bus shelter. While here, notice the elegant avenue of lime trees bordering the road to your left. At the next junction turn left on an unnamed road and head towards Turville Grange in the distance. Turn left again directly in front of the Grange. Soon you reach The Barn café on the right (open 10am - 4pm at weekends). This could be a good place for a rest and refreshments, since you are now about half way. Continue past The Barn then follow the track to the right, marked by blue arrows. It descends steeply into beechwoods between incised banks. Notice the large chalk pit on the left. After joining the track to Spinney Farm, you reach Holloway Lane.

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Turville Heath in the Chilterns

10

Turn left to follow the footpath uphill parallel to Holloway Lane. The OS map shows that the footpath runs to the left of the lane but I prefer crossing the road and taking the path to the right as this is a better path and gives you good views into the Wormsley Valley. As you walk up the path you see that the Holloway Lane is incised very deeply below the land on either side, up to 3–4m in places. At the top you are forced to continue walking on the road itself. Just after reaching houses on the left, you reach a road junction.

11

Turn right here on a track signposted to Northend Farm. Pass through a gate to enter the Wormsley Estate. As you follow the track downhill you eventually begin to see the Cricket Ground in the valley ahead. When the track turns left, instead fork right following the footpath marker on a tree. On reaching the valley floor you meet an estate road. Take a left then right dogleg to join a farm track, keeping the BT Tower at Stokenchurch on the skyline ahead. After about 400m, you reach a crossing path with metal gates to left and right.

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Wormsley Cricket Ground

12

Turn left into an open field. Follow the Chiltern Way path to cross an estate road then cross another field and go through further gate to join another road. Bear right along the road then almost immediately turn left onto a path through coppiced hazel. Where another path forks left uphill, keep ahead on path SH4 and go past a concrete urn on a plinth. After climbing through the woods for a while, you are joined by path SH6 coming down the bank from the left.

13

Continue uphill then turn right at the top when another path (SH5) joins from the left. Bear right then pass an area of disturbed ground, probably old chalk pits, on your left. At the end of the pits, turn left on path PY3 then follow the white tree markers to reach a track. Turn right here then go past the Ministry of Defence communications tower to reach the road.

14

Turn left along the roadside into Christmas Common then turn right at a road junction signposted to Watlington. Follow this road until you reach the car park on your left where you started the walk.

End:

Finish at the National Trust car park at Watlington Hill (Grid Ref SU709935)

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From Chilterns Escarpment to Remote Interior

Terrain

Nearly all the walk is on soft footpaths and tracks. There are two short country road sections and a few road crossings. Some sections can be muddy and/or slippery in wet conditions. Dogs are welcome but should be kept under close control. They must be on a lead at all times on paths crossing the Wormsley Estate.

From Chilterns Escarpment to Remote Interior

How to get here

Address
Start at the National Trust car park at Watlington Hill (Grid Ref SU709935)
By road

Leave the M40 at junction 6 and take the B4009 south-west into Watlington. Take the first turning left uphill towards Christmas Common. The National Trust car park on Watlington Hill is on the right

By foot

Watlington Hill is a short walk from Watlington town centre. Please see OS map 171.

By bus

There are local bus services to Watlington from Thame, Reading, Oxford, Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford. Please contact local bus companies for details

By bicycle

Please see OS map 171. The path is just off the Chilterns Cycleway, very close to Christmas Common. From Christmas Common, turn down Hill Road (sign-posted to Watlington). The National Trust car park is 470 metres on the left.

From Chilterns Escarpment to Remote Interior

Facilities and access

  • Free parking at Watlington Hill
  • Refreshments: The Fox and Hounds in Christmas Common
  • Refreshments: The Barn Café in Turville Heath (open 10.00 am to 4.00 pm on weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays)