The short Wind in the Willows walk
Enjoy this shorter 3 mile walk through the attractive, un-spoilt village of Cookham Dean before passing the boyhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of 'The Wind in the Willows'. The walk then continues through Quarry and Fultness Woods, which were the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame's 'Wild Wood'.
Please keep dogs on a short lead or under close control around livestock.
Cookham Dean Common car park
From the National Trust car park head out across Cookham Dean Common, following the path that skirts around the left hand edge of the common. Continue following the path to the left of the large house and grounds at the northern edge of Cookham Dean Common, turning left by a yellow grit salt bunker. Take the lane to the right after passing the finger post to Combe End that points back from the direction you just came.
Cookham Dean's Commons
Cookham Dean Common, the Cricket Common, Bigfrith, Hardings Green and Tugwood Common all go to make up the commons of Cookham Dean. They are mostly small in size but collectively they do much to maintain the open aspect of the community. The commons were originally part of the Royal Manor of Cookham, but these were sold off by the Crown in 1818 and passed into private ownership. In the 1920s, for fear that the common land would be enclosed, the Maidenhead and Cookham Commons Conservation Committee was establish, which raised £2800 to buy the land, which was donated to the National Trust in 1934. In the summer months, community events are often held on the Cricket Common. During the Second World War, areas of the commons were dug over and planted with various food crops as part of the nation’s ‘dug for victory’ campaign.
After 2 minutes (120 meters) cross over the triangle of grass and lone silver birch tree and briefly continue along the Chiltern Way Berkshire Loop, turning right before the kissing gate. Follow the woodland path up a gentle hill for 8 minutes until you reach Bigfrith Common meadow and the red telephone box on the corner.
Cookham Dean's telephone box library
A redundant red telephone box on the corner of Bigfrith Common has been reconditioned and transformed by the parish council into one of the world’s smallest libraries. The library stocks with more than 150 books for any member of the community to borrow. The books, which have been donated by the village primary school and local people, can be borrowed or swapped.
Continue past the restored red telephone box on the corner of Bigfrith Common taking the next right before taking the sharp left turn onto Church Road.
Continue along Church Road for 3 minutes (150 meters) past the blue plaque commemorating Sir Henry Walford Davies on your right, until you reach the Jolly Farmer free house on your left, then St John the Baptist Church on your right. From here continue ahead along Church Road until you reach the Cookham Dean Village war memorial.
Cookham Dean church
The parish of St John the Baptist was formed in 1846. The church consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle with an organ chamber at the east end, south aisle with a porch, and a west bell gable in which there is single bell. The church was erected in 1845 and is designed in the style of the early 14th century; the walls are faced externally with flint with stone dressings.
From here take a left at the village war memorial, skirting around Cookham Dean Cricket Common past the sign for Sanctum on the Green restaurant and bar. Re-join the Chiltern Way Berkshire Loop, taking a left at the No Vehicles sign and continue down the hill past Cookham Dean Quarry on your left. At the bottom of the hill take a right at the Old Stables following the Cookham Bridleway Circuit. After 50 meters, take the footpath on your left.
Cookham Dean Quarry
The chalk pit of Cookham Dean Quarry is classified as Seaford Nodular Chalk, or Upper Chalk, with the lower section of exposed white chalk containing many fossilised prehistoric organisms. It is quite likely that chalk quarried here was used when building The Church of the Holy Trinity at Cookham.
Continue uphill until you reach Dean Lane. Take a left and continue up Dean Lane. After 40 meters you will see Herries Preparatory School on the right.
The Mount (now Herries Preparatory School) was the childhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of the classic children’s tale ‘The Wind in the Willows’. Grahame’s many jaunts in surrounding fields and woods, as well as boating trips on the nearby River Thames inspired many of the adventures of Ratty, Mole and Toad, which Grahame would later commit to the page when he returned to the village as an adult to write the book.
Keep following Dean Lane and skirting along the edge of Tugwood Common, crossing at the junction between Dean Lane, Quarry Wood Road, and Grubwood Lane, and entering Bisham Woods at the Woodland Trust car park.
Quarry Woods, Kenneth Grahame's 'Wild Wood'
Quarry Wood and Fultness Wood are part of the Woodland Trust’s ancient Bisham Woods; it’s a broadleaf and conifer mix, rich in bluebells and orchids in the springtime. Quarry Wood is the site of Bisham Quarry, an important medieval source of stone, much of which was used to build Windsor Castle. Quarry Wood is likely to be the inspiration of the ‘Wild Wood’ in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘Wind in the Willows’ published in 1908.
Take the footpath straight ahead from the Woodland Trust car park following the blue topped posts, make sure to avoid following the track on your left by the bench after 5 minutes (250 meters) and continue to follow the track and the blue topped posts for a further 7 minutes (360 meters). Here you will find another bench, opposite from which is a fine view of the Thames Valley towards Marlow.
The Winter Hill terrace and the Thames Valley
Looking towards Marlow from Quarry Wood, the River Thames can be seen far below. You are standing on the Winter Hill Terrace, which around 450,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch, was an ancient flood plain, deposited by the River Thames during the Anglian stage: the coldest and most extreme part of the Ice Age. The river’s deposits consist of coarsely rounded gravels, which can be found on the plateau at the top of Winter Hill. Subsequent down cutting by the River Thames, and uplift of the land, has left these deposits as remnant terraces at elevated positions along the sides of the Thames Valley.
From the seat and view point continue along the path, keeping the steep slope on your right. After 4 minutes (280 meters) take the right fork past another blue topped post downhill for a further 3 minutes (180 meters) where you join up with a bridleway. Following the way marker for the bridleway downhill for a further 2 minutes (170 meters) will lead you to a five-way crossroad.
At the five-way crossroad take the track to the left by the way marker post. You are now leaving Quarry Wood and entering Fultness Wood. After 4 minutes (200 meters) leave the bridle way, climbing the earthen bank to follow the footpath way marker attached to a tree on the right. Continue up the steep slope until it levels out, before crossing another footpath and passing through the kissing gate. Follow the hedge line on your left, making sure to then cross over into the arable field on the left. With hedge line now on your right, continue for 7 minutes (360 meters) before taking the stile and small ramp through the trees on the left. Straight ahead at the end of the trees is Winter Hill Road, and beyond the National Trust car park at Cookham Dean Common where you started.
Cookham Dean Common car park
You made it
Following this trail on mobile or tablet? Share your experience.