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Turville Heath in the Chilterns
Farm track near Turville Heath | © David Ellis
Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Berkshire

Chiltern escarpment and woodland walk

This challenging circular trail explores the chalk escarpment of the Chiltern Hills and features sweeping views across the surrounding valleys. It starts at Watlington Hill, where you'll find red kites in the sky and the White Mark carved into the hill side. From here you'll head up and down the valleys navigating the local woodland and farmland, as well as small picturesque villages and hamlets .Warning: footpath closure between points 11 and 12. Alternative route described at Step 11 in walk instructions.

Shorter route available

A shorter route, which is 6.3 miles (10km) and approximately 3 hours long, is available in the Look Out For section in Step 7.

Total steps: 14

Total steps: 14

Start point

Watlington Hill car park, Watlington, OX49 5HS. Grid ref: SU709935

Step 1

From the car park, take the path between the signboards. Cross a track then go through a gate into open grassland. Continue on, keeping the ridge crest on your left and views across the Oxford Vale on your right. After Watlington town comes into view, the route continues steeply downhill and bears to the right. You'll reach a solid wooden bench on your right with the top of the White Mark just below.

Step 2

Take a sharp left to head diagonally back up hill and through a gap in a line of thorn trees. Bear right onto a more established path and follow this on the level around the hillside, then down the slope and then into the woodland onto a partially revetted path (Take care as the revetting was broken in places when the route was last checked). At a crossing path, go through a wooden gate on your right and follow the path, marked by white arrows, downhill between hedges and through two gates. After passing a red brick house you'll reach a track.

Step 3

Turn left to follow the track away from the main road. When the track swings right, continue straight ahead, heading steeply uphill and through a metal gate to emerge into a field called One Tree Hill. Continue in the same direction, past a small isolated yew tree on your right, (the successor to the original 'One Tree'), and towards a break in the trees on the skyline. A bench at the top of the field offers fine views over the Oxford plain.

Step 4

Go through a wooden gate and take a sharp left to enter Lower Deans Wood. From here, follow the white arrows and, after leaving the wood, turn left along a tarmacked drive to reach the road at Christmas Common.

Step 5

Turn left onto the road and, after passing The Old Church on your right, turn right onto the signposted Oxfordshire Way footpath. Follow the path marked by white arrows through a woodland and then turn left on a drive to meet a tarmacked crossing track, Hollandridge Lane.

Step 6

Turn right along here between hedges until you enter more woodland. On entering the woodland, turn left on the Oxfordshire Way /W38. Follow the path downhill then at a junction (near the corner of a field) take the right hand fork (Oxfordshire Way /W38). You're now in the Forestry Commission's Fire Wood. After about 1 mile (1.6km) you'll meet a crossing of paths where the Oxfordshire Way (path PS4) turns right up the slope.

Step 7

Continue straight ahead through the woodland (path PS24). The path eventually emerges into a field, bends to the right and then passes Turville Park Farm with its large cattle barns. Continue straight along the valley bottom with open fields to both sides until you reach a crossing of paths near a large Dutch barn

Step 8

Turn left to head uphill across open fields, leaving the valley floor behind. At the top of the hill there is a bench with a view over the Stonor valley. Where the path bends sharply right and heads downhill, instead go straight ahead through a metal kissing gate and continue along the edge of fields. Keep going through the fields until the path enters the grounds of St. Saviours, a converted Victorian church, and you eventually reach a road at Turville Heath.

Step 9

Turn right following signs to Turville and Fingest, and at the next junction turn left onto a road heading towards Turville Grange. Turn left in front of the Grange and continue, passing The Barn Cafe (pre-booked customers only) on your right. Follow a track to the right, as it descends steeply into beech woods between incised banks. After heading along the track to Spinney Farm, you'll reach Holloway Lane.

Step 10

Turn left to follow the footpath on the right-hand side of Holloway Lane, as it heads uphill all the way to Northend. (As you walk up the path you'll see that Holloway Lane is cut deeply below the land on either side, meaning you're forced to walk on the road itself at the top.) Just after passing houses on your left, you'll reach a road junction.

Step 11

Bucks County Council have temporarily closed the footpath down to Step 12. To avoid this continue ahead on the road through Northend Village then turn right on the footpath at the end of the village to Point 13 on the map (joining shorter alternative route described under Step 7).

Step 12

Turn left to cross an open field. Follow the Chiltern Way over an estate road and across another field, before heading through a gate to join a road. Turn right onto the road then almost immediately turn left onto a path through coppiced hazel. Where another path forks left uphill, keep ahead on path SH4, passing a concrete urn on a plinth. After climbing through the woods for ⅔ mile (1km), you'll see path SH6 coming down the bank from the left.

Step 13

.Ignore this left-hand path and continue uphill through the woodland (path SH4/SH6). Turn right at the top where another path (SH5) joins from the left. Bear right and 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 and follow the white tree markers to reach a track. Turn right here and go past the Ministry of Defence communications tower to reach the road.

Step 14

Turn left onto the road heading into Christmas Common. When you reach a road junction, turn right to follow the signpost to Watlington. Head along this road until you reach the car park and the end of the trail on your left.

End point

Watlington Hill car park, Watlington, OX49 5HS. Grid ref: SU709935

Trail map

Chiltern escarpment and woodland walk map
Chiltern escarpment and woodland walk map | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Cotswold Outdoor

We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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