Watlington Hill - Greenfields and Saxon Roads

Walking trail

This is a 7.0 miles (11.2 kilometres) walk taking you across the National Trust’s Watlington Hill site. It then drops down onto the Oxfordshire Plain where it follows the ancient Icknield Way (now part of the Ridgeway Path). The route then ascends the Chiltern escarpment through the National Trust woodland at Greenfield Copse, which has a spectacular display of bluebells from late April to mid-May. The route continues across several small valleys on the dip slope of the Chilterns from where you may see distant views towards the Thames Valley and beyond. The route returns to Christmas Common and to Watlington Hill via an ancient Saxon lane that was once the spinal route of a Chiltern strip parish.

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

Most colourful in the bluebell season

The bluebells are at their best from mid April until Mid May.


Watlington Hill Greenfields map


National Trust car park at Watlington Hill. Grid. Ref. SU709935


From the National Trust car park take the path between the large signboards in the car park into an area of woodland. Cross a track to a private property and then continue straight ahead on the wide path through scrubland to a gate.

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Watlington Hill


Go through the gate to an area of open, closely cropped grassland. Continue on the grassy path ahead of you. You will soon see views on your right towards Pyrton Hill and Shirburn Hill further to the northeast along the Chiltern Escarpment. Continue straight ahead along the ridge of Watlington Hill. After 400 metres the path heads more steeply downhill and slightly to the right. Keeping to the right, head downhill towards the small town of Watlington. About half way down you reach the Watlington White Mark on your left.

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The Watlington Hill White Mark


From the White Mark, continue steeply downslope heading for a gate in the lower right-hand corner of the National Trust’s Watlington Hill site. From the gate head down a short track to meet a road, then continue down the roadside path for a further 20 metres and then turn left onto the Ridgeway long distance footpath, which at this point follows the route of the ancient Icknield Way.

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The Icknield Way


After 30 metres at a fork bear right and continue on the Ridgeway for 850 metres until you reach the B480 road. Cross the road. Almost immediately on your left you will see a gap by a metal gate leading into a field. Here the landowners have established a permitted footbath and bridleway. Go through the gap and follow this path parallel to a hedge and lane. (The lane follows the route of the Ridgeway.) To your left are fine views back towards Watlington Hill and the Chiltern Escarpment. Just after a bench near the corner of the field, pass through a gap by a metal gate. Here turn immediately left onto a lane, ignoring the track that leads to a gate.


The lane takes you past Dame Alice Farm on your right and a barn and cottages on your left. Note the cottage on your left, which is built from chalk stone. This is exceptional as chalk, although it is widely available, is rarely strong enough to make a good building stone.


About 130 metres after the cottage turn left onto a footpath W11 running between a copse on the left and a hedge on the right. Follow this path for another 720 metres until you reach the B480 road. Taking great care, turn right along the road for 60 metres on the narrow grass verge until you reach the gateway to the house named ‘Dumble Dore’, which is on the opposite side of the road to a gate and a footpath sign that might be partly hidden by a hedge.


When it’s safe to do so, cross the road and then cross a stile, which is to the right of the gate. Painted on the stile is a white arrow indicating path W10. Follow this path in a straight line along the edge of a field with a hedge on your right. On reaching the corner of the field, pass through a gap to the left of a gate into a woodland area. The path now rises quite steeply and then descends again to reach two sets of gates at a junction of paths and tracks. Go straight ahead, following the arrow marked W9. As you start climbing and 60m past the second gate take the left fork, following path W15. You will pass a National Trust ‘No Riding’ sign. Continue uphill through Greenfield Copse. The path will eventually level out and lead you to a gate in a wall.

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Greenfield Copse


Take care as you go through the gate as it leads directly onto a road. Cross the road into the entrance to Greenfield Farm opposite. Follow the lane ahead of you that skirts to the left around large barn. You will soon pass some cottages and newly built houses on your left and you will see the side and back of Greenfield Farmhouse on your right. Continue down the lane, which eventually becomes a rough track. After you have passed a tall hedge on your right, on a clear day, you will see distant views towards the Thames Valley and beyond. The track continues between low hedges. When the main track bears right, continue straight ahead downhill towards an area of woodland. On entering the woodland continue straight ahead. This track then curves to the left and drops down to a valley bottom where there is a junction of tracks. Here turn left onto track W19. Continue until you meet another junction.


At the crossing of paths turn left. You will soon meet a second junction of paths but continue straight ahead and uphill following the blue Chiltern Way marker on a post. The path rises and falls through a variety of woodland landscapes until it drops down to yet another junction of paths and tracks in a small clearing.


Go across the clearing, bearing slightly left & follow path PS8 (also the Chiltern Way - CW), ignoring two sets of vehicle tracks to the left. This rises steeply on the right side of a small valley. At the top turn left to join path PS5 then at the edge of the woodland go through a gate into a field. The path heads slightly right uphill following the field edge on your right until you come to a gate at the top right corner of the field. 


Go through the gate and turn left into an unsurfaced lane. You are now on Hollandridge Lane. Follow the lane between fields and woodlands for just over 1.5 km, ignoring any side paths or tracks. When the lane becomes surfaced and leaves the woodland, look out for a signpost pointing left to the Oxfordshire Way Bridleway.

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Hollandridge Lane


Turn left onto the Oxfordshire Way Bridleway, then immediately right onto footpath PS1/OW, which heads diagonally across Queen Wood. Look out for white arrows on the trees to guide your way. On reaching a crossing path, keep straight ahead on path W33 passing the church yard on your left. You will soon emerge onto a road where you turn right.


If you wish to visit the Fox and Hounds public house, it is 100m on your left. To continue the walk, keep following Christmas Common Road for another 300m and then turn left into a lane signposted to Watlington. Follow Hill Lane for 420m, ignoring the first footpath sign on your left, until you reach a second footpath sign. Turn left and then immediately right to return to the National Trust carpark at Watlington Hill where you started the walk.


National Trust car park at Watlington Hill. Grid. Ref. SU709935

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Watlington Hill - Greenfields and Saxon Roads


The walk is mainly on soft footpaths. There are several short but steep descents and ascents. Some paths can be muddy and slippery after prolonged or heavy rain. There are a number of stiles and gates on the route and you will need to cross some country roads that can be busy at peak times. There is a short stretch on-road at Christmas Common. Stout walking shoes or walking boots are recommended in wet conditions or after heavy rain. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept under strict control to protect the wildlife and the livestock that may be encountered along the walk route. On some paths, the landowners require all dogs to be kept on a lead at all times.

Please note that parts of the route from point 4 onwards are not on National Trust land. As such, the National Trust does not check for hazards on these sections of the walk. Walkers therefore follow this route at their own risk.


Watlington Hill - Greenfields and Saxon Roads

Contact us

Watlington Hill - Greenfields and Saxon Roads

How to get here

Watlington Hill car park, Hill Rd, Watlington, Oxfordshire. OX49 5HS
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.

SATNAV: the nearest postcode is OX49 5HS. Latitude: 51.636390, Longitude: -0.975864

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.•    Free parking is available at Watlington Hill. Grid. Ref. SU709935 

Watlington Hill - Greenfields and Saxon Roads

Facilities and access

  • Parking is available at Watlington Hill. Grid. Ref. SU709935. Charges are £1 per hour or £3 all day, and free for National Trust members. Payment is via PayByPhone or cash.
  • Refreshments: The Fox and Hounds in Christmas Common. Alternative refreshments may be found in Watlington.
  • There are no public toilets on site. The nearest public toilets are in Watlington.
  • Benches and other places to picnic can be found on Watlington Hill. Please take your litter home with you.