Be prepared for a challenge
This is a long walk which may take up to eight hours to complete. It is suitable for fit and experienced walkers. It is strongly recommended to use the local 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey map in addition to these instructions.
Total steps: 13
Total steps: 13
National Trust car park at Watlington Hill, grid ref: SU709935
Leave the car park on the path between the large signboards. Walk through woodland, across a track, then go though a gate into grassland. (For this first section, follow the orange National Trust waymarkers as far as the White Mark.) Bear left, going gently uphill on the grassy path ahead. 440 yards beyond the gate, the path bears slightly right and heads downhill in the direction of Watlington village below. Pass the White Mark on your left then continue downhill, through a gate and down a track to meet a road.
Go along the roadside path for 22 yards then turn left onto the Ridgeway track. Walk along the Ridgeway for 930 yards until it meets the B480 road. Cross the road then immediately turn left into a field, then right to follow the permissive path with a hedge on your right. At the end of the hedge, just past a bench, turn right through a gate to a crossing of tracks.
Turn left along a surfaced lane, heading at roughly 90 degrees to the previous path. You pass Dame Alice Farm, then keep in the same direction until you start following a footpath heading more steeply uphill and marked with white arrows (path W22). This path in places follows or runs alongside a sunken holloway. Eventually you emerge onto a surfaced track with the entrance to Woods Farm on your right.
Turn left along the track. After 165 yards, cross a road and bear right along a track signposted to Coates Farm. Bear left just after passing Coates Farm, then continue until you enter Cookley Green. When the track meets a road on a sharp bend, turn left along a Scots pine-lined gravel drive (posted as Private Road) with the green on your right. The track becomes a footpath then meets the B481 road.
Cross the road and turn left, then turn right after 35 yards down a track following the Chiltern Way signpost. This track becomes a footpath winding down through woodland until, half a mile beyond the road, you come to a T-junction of paths. Turn left uphill until the path meets a road in Russell's Water. Turn left along this for about 110 yards then turn right along a track that bends around the pond, passing a bench. Continue ahead through a gate with a No Parking sign on the right. The track leaves woodland, crosses part of Russell's Water Common then comes to a farm. Just before a metal gate turn left on to footpath PS23 into woodlands that contain wonderful bluebells in late spring. 440 yards beyond the metal gate take a sharp right onto path PS20 that soon heads gently uphill. You come to a crossing of paths.
Continue on PS20 over the crossing path to enter a field with a hedge on your right. The path crosses the field and then enters a wood. It goes down and up a dip, then crosses another field and passes between the buildings of Maidensgrove Farm. Continue next to the gravelled driveway leading from the farm then cross a road to join a track with the houses of Maidensgrove on your left. Continue along the track, keeping in roughly the same direction and ignoring joining tracks until, 670 yards after the road crossing, the track ends at the entrance to Lodge Farm with a Private sign. From here you can enjoy far-reaching views across the Chilterns towards Henley-on-Thames.
Turn left following the Oxfordshire Way sign then after 60m bear diagonally right across the field following the Chiltern Way sign. The path enters woodland then heads downhill across a field to meet the B480 road in Stonor village. Turn left along the road for 330 yards then, just after the last of the village houses on your right, turn right into Stonor Park through a tall metal gate with a 'Private - Deer Park' sign and signposted as path PS10 and Chiltern Way.
Follow the path uphill, passing Stonor House (and the signposted Pitstop Café) on your left. This is approximately the halfway point of the walk. You pass through another tall metal gate and enter woodland with lots of rhododendrons, so will be especially colourful in May or early June. Continue uphill until you eventually come to the road in Southend. Cross the road to join a gravel track which bends right. At the end of the track, cross a stile into a field and follow the path ahead with a hedge on your right. (The signed public footpath takes a right/left dogleg around a clump of trees on the hedge line but many ignore this and go straight ahead). In the corner of the field go over another stile then down through woodland to a crossing track.
Turn left down the track, which winds through mixed woodland. When the track emerges from the woodland, turn right along a road. After about 165 yards you come to a layby on the right with a field gate. When opposite this, turn left through a hedge opening, then bear diagonally right uphill across a field. Bear right when you meet a path running next to a hedge. Continue ahead through a gate and join a small lane as you enter Turville village. The road brings you to the village centre with St Mary Church immediately on your left.
Turn left along the road for 130 yards, passing the church on your left, then turn right opposite the Old Vicarage onto a footpath between houses. The path enters a field then heads diagonally left uphill into woodland. Keep going uphill and through three gates until the path levels out and turns left to follow a woodland edge. Follow the edge, ignoring another path forking right into the wood, until the path bends right into woodland. Just 22 yards after the bend turn left at a T-junction of paths. After another 165 yards, keep ahead and gently downhill at a branching of paths. When the path meets a road, turn right up a steep hill, then left down a track signed 'Private No Through Road – Church and Manor Farm only'. After 65 yards turn right into the churchyard of St Nicolas, Ibstone.
Go through the churchyard at roughly 90 degrees to the track, passing the church on your right to enter woodland, then immediately turn right along a gently uphill path. Keep straight ahead when two paths join from the right. Half a mile beyond the church you go down into a dip and the path swings to the right. Turn left up a steep hill. At the top turn left along a road then, after 33 yards, turn right on the drive to Gatehill. Bear left along a narrow path between tall hedges. The path emerges into a field. Continue straight ahead across the field, then enter woodland and head steeply downhill into the Wormsley Valley, bearing left then right, then left again. The path crosses a field then re-enters woodland opposite (follow the white arrows). When the track swings to the left, bear right along another footpath. At certain times of the year, the path across a field when you leave this wood can be indistinct – head about 15 degrees to the left of a radio mast on the horizon. You go through a gate with a surfaced track on the other side.
Turn sharp right along a slightly downhill unmade track towards the Stokenchurch radio mast in the distance. After 440 yards you come to two metal field gates on either side of the track. Turn left though a kissing gate into a field. Cross the field, then an estate track, then another field and go through a gate to join another track. Bear right then, after 45 yards, turn left onto path SH4 through coppiced hazel. Where another path forks left uphill, keep straight ahead on path SH4 and go past a concrete urn on a plinth. Continue uphill for about a mile until you meet another path (SH5) at the top, joining from the left.
Turn right, then bear right past an area of disturbed ground on your left. At the end of this, turn left on path PY3 then follow the white tree markers to reach a track. Turn right along here to reach the road. Turn left along the roadside onto 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.
National Trust car park at Watlington Hill, grid ref: SU709935
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