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Chequers Knap on the Chequers Estate
The View from Chequers Knap | © Hugh Mothersole
Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Berkshire

Exploring the Chiltern Escarpment

This 10-mile (16km) walk takes in panoramic views across the Chiltern Escarpment and the Aylesbury Vale. It passes through historical and archaeological sites, as well as the pretty 'chocolate box' village of Ellesborough, and with views of the Prime Minister's country retreat at Chequers. The walk includes important ecological habitats, ranging from rare chalk grassland to archetypal Chiltern beech woodlands, and the largest remaining area of natural box woodland in Britain.

Maps

We strongly recommend using the local 1:25000 Ordnance Survey map (Explorer 181) in addition to these instructions.

Total steps: 14

Total steps: 14

Start point

Coombe Hill car park, grid ref: SP 851062

Step 1

Enter the property through the gate by the car park entrance. Take the left of the three distinct footpaths, running roughly parallel with the property boundary fence. Stay left and pass between two cattle troughs. The path soon passes through an area of scrub woodland. After 200m, turn left through a metal gate and join the Ridgeway path. Follow this waymarked path for another 200m through the woodland to a road. Turn right, following the road downhill for 100m. Immediately after a fenced driveway (Lodge Hill Game Farm), turn left at the Ridgeway signpost. Follow the Ridgeway signposts and waymarks south through the woodland for 600m, ignoring several crossing paths. The Ridgeway then turns right, heading downhill for a further 500m until you reach a road.

Step 2

Staying on the same side of the road, cross the lane that leads to Buckmoorend Farm and pick up a signposted bridleway, the Icknield way, that starts just to the left of the hedgerow in front of you. Follow this path, which runs along the edge of a field, with the hedgerow and the road on your right. After 250m, the path curves to the left then enters a narrow belt of woodland and follows it between a field on your left and the road on your right, eventually emerging on the road opposite a track. Cross the road with care and follow the track uphill, passing to the right of a metal gate. Continue uphill into Pond Wood, with views of Chequers on your right. You reach two closely spaced footpath markers. Cross the track just past these and take a small path, roughly keeping in the direction of the two markers then continue downhill to meet a track next to a metal gate.

A 16th-century mansion, Chequers is used as a country retreat by the Prime Minister
A 16th-century mansion, Chequers is used as a country retreat by the Prime Minister | © National Trust / Hugh Mothersole

Step 3

Turn right uphill along the track for 35m then turn left on a signed footpath. Follow this path parallel to the road for 400m until you reach some steps. Descend the steps and turn immediately left to meet a road. Cross the road and follow the bridleway opposite, marked as the Icknield Way. Follow the bridleway through the woodland, with fields to your left for 800m. Ignore any crossing paths. At a T-junction, take the bridleway to the right then almost immediately swing to the left to join an uphill track. After about 30m uphill, at a path crossing, turn right then join the path to the left of a metal field gate. This takes you up to join a path close to the top of the woods.

Step 4

Bear right along the joining path. This meanders through the woodland, with a field to your left and a steep wooded downhill slope on your right. You will eventually meet the Ridgeway once more at a T-junction. Turn right onto this broad path. After 200m you will meet a gate and enter an open area at the top of Whiteleaf Hill, overlooking Princes Risborough. This is a nice spot for a picnic, with expansive views south along the Chiltern Escarpment and west across the Oxford Plain.

Step 5

When you're ready to leave Whiteleaf Hill turn right, through a gate to continue following the Ridgeway path. This descends quite steeply through Giles Wood, eventually emerging at a gate by The Plough pub. Turn left in front of The Plough, and then join Cadsden Road. When the narrow, roadside path ends, cross the road following the footpath sign. The path passes through woodland before reaching a gate into the Grangelands and Rifle Range Nature Reserve.

Step 6

Bear left to follow the Ridgeway path along the north-west edge of the nature reserve. Please keep to the footpaths to minimise damaging this rare chalk grassland habitat. Go through two gates and continue to follow the Ridgeway, past the Rifle Range on your right, and up a short slope to reach another gate.

Grangelands Nature Reserve, Buckinghamshire
Grangelands is a great place to discover chalk grassland species | © National Trust / Hugh Mothersole

Step 7

Go through the gate and up some steps to meet a sunken track. Turn right, then after 30m, left up some more steps to another gate. Go through the gate, but instead of following the Ridgeway path, bear left for a few metres, up the small grassy hill in front of you. From Chequers Knap, turn back to meet the Ridgeway again, following it to your left across an area of open woodland and grassland.

Step 8

Just after passing a fenced, steep wooded slope on your left, go through a wooden gate on your left. The path is signposted as part of the Outer Aylesbury Ring. Follow the path along the top of a slope, with fine views of the Aylesbury Vale, Great Kimble Warren and Happy Valley on your left. After 200m, reach a small summit then turn right, heading downhill to meet a wooden gate in the corner of a field. Go through the gate, heading along the edge of the field and beneath trees to another wooden gate. Continue through the gate and cross a concrete track, then follow a wide woodland track to a gate. Go through the gate and follow the path across a field, with Beacon Hill ahead of you, until you reach another gate that enters an area of low box woodland.

Step 9

Go through the gate and down a series of steps. At a further gate, you will emerge into an area of access land that surrounds Beacon Hill. The footpath skirts around Beacon Hill, eventually reaching another gate. (If you would like a challenge, and some fine views, you can make a short detour to the top of Beacon Hill using one of the several steep, informal paths.) Go through the gate following the path towards Ellesborough, which you will see ahead of you.

Beacon Hill in Buckinghamshire
A steep but rewarding climb awaits you at Beacon Hill | © National Trust / Hugh Mothersole

Step 10

Go through the gate to reach a road, turn right along the footpath then cross the road to the church. Take great care crossing this road, as there is a blind hill to your right. Go through the church gate and follow a footpath to the left of the church. The path descends steps to the left of the graveyard. There is a bench just to the left of this path with a view towards the Aylesbury Vale. Follow this path to a gate, which enters a field. The path continues straight ahead down the slope of the field to a metal gate and stile. Turn immediately right after these then go through a kissing gate to reach a narrow lane (Springs Lane) by a thatched cottage. Follow the lane (part of The Aylesbury Ring path) until it turns sharply right. Here, follow the footpath straight ahead between a house on the right and a field on the left. Continue on this path until you reach a road.

Step 11

At the road turn left for 60m and then cross it, and go through a metal gate onto a footpath (part of the Aylesbury Ring Path). At a gate, the path continues in the same direction along the edges of three fields to a stile. Cross the stile and turn immediately right. You will soon reach another stile, which takes you into the grounds of Ellesborough Golf Club. The path continues fairly straight in the same southerly direction, waymarked by the golf club (keep to the right of the clubhouse). Just after the clubhouse, cross the road and take the left of the two paths ahead of you. This path, which soon becomes sunken, heads gently uphill. After 200m, look out for some rough steps at a crossing path. (Shorter route: continue up the sunken path. At the top of the hill, turn right through a metal gate and head for the Boer War Memorial ahead of you. You can then re-join the route at point 14.)

Step 12

At the crossing path, turn left up the steps. Do not turn right uphill, but cross some tree roots to a path, which soon becomes more obvious. Go downhill to join an access road. 20m further downhill, turn right onto a path by a black lamppost. The path passes between private gardens, horse stables and crosses driveways. Please follow the yellow waymarkers. After 200m, continue on a fairly level course with a steep wooded slope on your right and a mixture of private gardens, woodland and small fields on your left. After a further 800m, you reach a gate into Bacombe Hill Nature Reserve (not signposted). Go straight ahead, through the gate, and follow an obvious path until you meet a T-junction with the Ridgeway path.

Step 13

Turn right, following the Ridgeway path uphill. Ascend some wooden steps, and continue uphill. To your right, you will soon be able to overlook some of the landscape changes brought about by the HS2 railway construction. You will eventually meet a metal gate, leading to a sunken track. Continue across the sunken path and through a second metal gate. This will take you back onto the land in our care Coombe Hill. After the second gate, bear right and head for the Boer War Monument, which you will see ahead of you.

Step 14

On reaching the Boer War Monument, turn left across a wide grassy plateau, which offers excellent views back to Beacon Hill and Ellesborough, where you were earlier. After 350m the grassy path narrows and heads through a gap in the trees. This will lead you back to the entrance gate by the car park, where you started the walk.

End point

Coombe Hill car park, grid ref: SP 851062

Trail map

Map of route to walk in the Chilterns
Map of the route to walk for the Chiltern Escarpment | © Hugh Mothersole

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Chilterns Countryside, c/o Hughenden estate, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4LA

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