Total steps: 6
Total steps: 6
Entrance to Coombe Hill car park, grid ref: SP851062
Enter the Low Scrubs woodland on the signed path at the right-hand side of the car park entrance. Continue ahead on the winding path, following the orange marker signs. About 150m from the car park turn right along a crossing sunken path, now leaving the orange marker signs. Continue gently downhill for another 300m, passing an open bracken area on your right. Turn next left and walk uphill on footpath past a wooden marker post; there are occasional yellow arrow markers on some trees. You will come to a wooden fence ahead.
This ancient and mysterious area was common land for many centuries, where local villagers managed the beech trees to extracted wood for fuel. In spring, much of the ground beneath the trees is carpeted in bluebells.
Turn right on the path with the fence to your left. After 150m continue ahead when a track joins from your right. You now leave Low Scrubs and enter High Scrubs. Continue in the same direction until you reach the village of Dunsmore. You will come to a road crossing with the Church of the Resurrection diagonally left ahead.
The path running between Low Scrubs and Dunsmore is known as Birdcage Walk. It was used by the villagers of Dunsmore to collect wood fuel from Low Scrubs. The cast-iron deer fence that runs parallel to much of the Walk was constructed in Wendover in 1902.
Turn right on the road in the direction signed to Kimble and Princes Risborough, passing the pond on your left. Follow the lane downhill to a junction with a no-through road on your left that leads to Dunsmore Old Farm. Cross the road here and join a footpath by a sign that heads diagonally left uphill through Fugsdon Wood. Follow occasional yellow markers on trees. The path levels out and bends right. Now continue in broadly the same direction on the flat, ignoring any crossing paths. The woodland you first pass through is mostly mixed, dense and young but eventually you enter an area with the towering beech trees at Linton’s Wood. You next come to a T-junction of paths.
The isolated village of Dunsmore is thought to have originated as a stopping point on a medieval packhorse route. One reason for stopping here would have been the dew ponds that could be dug into the layer of clay-with-flints that caps the chalk, thereby providing a year-round source of water.
Turn right along the Ridgeway. After about 400m bend left next to a concrete drive (Lodge Hill Game Farm) to meet a road. Cross the road and head back into woodland on an unmarked footpath only about 10m uphill from the drive. The path takes you into Lodge Hill, passing some coppiced beech trees, then bends right uphill. Towards the top and the edge of the woodland bear left to re-join the Ridgeway. Go through a metal kissing gate to enter Coombe Hill.
The term ‘ridgeway’ is thought to have originated in Anglo-Saxon times. It refers to ancient tracks that run along the high ridges of hills such as the Chilterns. Parts of the Ridgeway may have been used for up to 5,000 years by many different groups of people. During Saxon and Viking times, the Ridgeway was used to move soldiers to and from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. In the medieval period, the route would have been used by drovers moving animals to market. The Ridgeway became a National Trail in 1973. It extends for 85 miles (137km) from Overton Hill near Avebury, Wiltshire, to Ivinghoe Beacon near Tring in Buckinghamshire.
Turn left downhill on the Ridgeway, which soon bends right and starts heading gently uphill, with woodland to your right and the open, steep slopes of Coombe Hill to your left. Back and to your left you will soon be able to see Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat. There are several benches along this section from which you can enjoy wide views of the Oxford Plain and the Chiltern Escarpment. Eventually you come to the Boer War Memorial at the top of Coombe Hill.
Coombe Hill in the late 1940s was almost all open grassland with scattered juniper bushes and just a few trees because, as the area had been intensively grazed by sheep for several centuries. The end of grazing allowed the encroachment of scrub and later trees, particularly on the plateau top. Much of the work done now by the National Trust on the hill is targeted at retaining and expanding the chalk grassland to encourage the rich diversity of flowers and insects that flourish in this habitat.
From the memorial, turn right along the distinctive gravel track, with excellent views to the left over Aylesbury Vale and Wendover. Head for 250m beyond the memorial until the track turns sharply right. Follow this path, keeping the fence to your left. At the end of the path, go through a gate leading onto a lane. Turn left to return to the car park where you started.
Entrance to Coombe Hill car park, grid ref: SP851062
The walk is nearly all along footpaths, with one short section on a quiet road. In winter and wet weather some paths can be muddy and slippery. There are no stiles and just a few gentle uphill sections.
Coombe Hill car park, Lodge Hill, Aylesbury, HP17 0UR
The nearest railway station is a 1.5-mile walk away at Wendover on the Chiltern Railways Line. From here, follow signs for the Ridgeway. Walk over Bacombe Hill to get to Coombe Hill. You will come out at the monument, halfway round the trail.
Coombe Hill is on the Ridgeway long distance footpath. Please see OS map 181 for the appropriate section.
Nearest bust stop is opposite the Russell Arms Pub at Butlers cross, redline route 321. From here, cross onto Missenden road and walk 0.6 miles along the pavement, past the guide centre until you reach a bridleway sign on your left. Follow this onto Coombe Hill and either take the steep path in front of you to the top or turn left and zigzag up the side slope. Please note these routes are very steep and uneven.
Coombe Hill is on the 170-mile circular Chilterns Cycleway. Please note that no cycling is allowed on the trail but bikes can be pushed
Coombe Hill is in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, 3 miles drive west of Wendover and 5 miles drive east of Princes Risborough.
From Wendover head west towards Butlers Cross and turn left onto the Missenden Road. Drive for 2 miles up the hill until you reach the peak where you need to turn left up Lodge Hill. Drive for 1 mile up Lodge Hill until you reach the car park in front of you on a tight right hand bend.
From Princes Risborough head east towards Ellesborough. Carry on to Butlers Cross then turn right onto the Missenden Road.
Dogs are welcome but they must be kept under strict control at all times. Please note that livestock (usually cattle) are often grazed on Coombe Hill.
Several benches in the picnic area, on Coombe Hill and beside Dunsmore pond.
Difficult terrain for those with limited mobility
Uneven dirt footpaths; can be slippery in wet weather
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