Skip to content
Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire
Discover Watlington Hill | © Hugh Mothersole
Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Berkshire

Watlington Hill and the Wormsley Estate walk

This is a long and fairly challenging walk taking you around Watlington Hill, Pyrton Hill, Cowleaze Wood and the Wormsley Estate, with opportunities to see rare and endangered chalk grassland and woodland habitats, fine views and the grounds of the former home of the philanthropist Sir Paul Getty. The walk offers spectacular views over Watlington and the Vale of Oxford, as well as the Chiltern Escarpment.

Total steps: 12

Total steps: 12

Start point

National Trust car park at Watlington Hill, grid ref: SU709935

Step 1

Leave the car park on the path to the left of the large signboard and parking meter into an area of woodland. After about 150m, cross a track to a private property on the left, marked by some wooden and metal bollards, and continue on the path through scrubland to a gate. Go through the gate to an area of open grassland. Continue on the grassy path ahead of you. You will soon see fine views on your right towards Pyrton Hill and Shirburn Hill. Continue straight ahead along the ridge of Watlington Hill. After 430 yards (390 metres) the path heads more steeply downhill and slightly to the right. Keeping to the right, head downhill towards the White Mark (not visible from above until just before you reach it, near a wooden bench).

Step 2

Go through the gate to an area of open grassland. Continue on the grassy path ahead of you. You will soon see fine views on your right towards Pyrton Hill and Shirburn Hill. Continue straight ahead along the ridge of Watlington Hill. After 430 yards the path heads more steeply downhill and slightly to the right. Keeping to the right, head downhill towards the White Mark.

Large white chalk mark on hill overlooking green valley with settlement in the distance
The White Mark, Watlington Hill, Oxfordshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Step 3

From the White Mark, continue down a steep slope heading for a gate in the lower right-hand corner of the Watlington Hill site. From the gate, head down a short track to meet a road. Ignore the footpath opposite to Watlington Chalk Pits. Instead, follow the roadside path for about 33 yards (30 metres) and then cross the road. Turn right onto a track signposted as the Ridgeway long distance footpath, which at this point follows the route of the ancient Icknield Way.

Step 4

Continue along the Ridgeway between a set of concrete blocks, following the wide track for just over 820 yards (750 metres) until you reach another two sets of concrete blocks either side of a crossing lane. Here, turn right onto the lane (Station Road), which is part of the Oxfordshire Way. After 380 yards (350 metres), you pass through some white wooden fencing. After a further 110 yards (100 metres) look out for a concealed path on your left, marked PY16.

Step 5

Follow this clearly marked path along the edge of Pyrton Wood and Shirburn Wood, through woodland and grassland. At a fork, keep left on path SH3 with open fields on your left and woodland on your right. After almost a mile (1500 metres), you will reach a gate at the bottom of an area of open access land at Shirburn Hill.

Step 6

Follow the obvious footpath uphill across the chalk grassland at Shirburn Hill. On reaching the top, go through a gate and continue uphill to reach a stile. Cross the stile and continue diagonally across a field towards a second stile in the opposite corner of the field, just left of a house. Cross the stile to reach Christmas Common Road. Cross with care and turn left on the road in front of a large water tower in a fenced off enclosure. At the end of the fenced enclosure, join a footpath on your right which leads into Cowleaze Wood and runs parallel with the road. Follow this for about 220 yards (200 metres) until you reach the car park. Walk through the car park until you are opposite the road entrance. Here turn right into the woodland, away from the road.

Step 7

Take the waymarked footpath that heads between wooden bollards away from the road, past a noticeboard about the 51 Squadron Memorial, and follow signs towards the memorial. Head across a wide avenue to a waymarked footpath (positioned slightly to the left) and follow a white arrow painted on a tree. The path soon curves to the left and heads gently downhill through an area of woodland. On reaching a gate you enter the Wormsley Estate. Continue straight ahead and downhill across a field to a second gate. Continue straight downhill towards a gate in a small gap in a hedge. Go through the gate to reach a lane.

Step 8

Turn left, following the lane for 65 yards (60 metres) towards Vicar's Farm, looking out for a tall wooden gate on your right with a painted white maker to path L23; it is easy to walk past it. Turn right through the gate and follow the path that skirts around the grounds of Vicar's Farm to another gate. Go through the gate and head half left uphill across a small field to a stile and a path that leads into woodland. Cross the stile and continue in more or less the same direction uphill through the woodland. The path eventually curves right to meet a crossing track. Turn right onto path L19. (Look out for the painted marker on a tree.) Follow this clear, wide path gently downhill until you reach a road at Wellground Farm. Ignore the footpath opposite and turn right onto the road, which takes you through the Wormsley Estate. Soon, through the trees on your right, you catch glimpses of Wormsley Park House, then the Opera Pavilion and then the cricket ground. Where the road turns sharp right, towards Wormsley Park House, bear slightly left ahead on a track.

Grass path leading through field carpeted in white daisies towards wooden gate in hedgerow
Ox-eye daisies on the Wormsley Estate, Oxfordshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Step 9

Continue along the track ahead, which follows the bottom of the valley. Where the path splits, keep right, following the narrow path along the valley bottom. Pass through a narrow area of woodland and then continue on the path, with a fence on your left and a hedge on your right, until you reach a crossing path, which is part of the Chiltern Way.

Step 10

Turn right, through a wooden gate next to a metal field gate, onto the Chiltern Way. Follow the path across a field to another gate that leads to a lane. Cross the lane to a further gate and then continue half left across another field towards a gate in the corner. Go through the gate onto another lane. Turn right onto the lane then, after about 33 yards (30 metres), turn left onto footpath SH4, which is also the Chiltern Way. (There is a waymarker and a painted arrow on a telegraph pole on your left as you enter the footpath.) Follow this footpath, with a flint and brick wall on your right. After 220 yards (200 metres), bear right at a Y-junction, leaving the Chiltern Way and following path SH4 across a rough lawn and past an ornamental urn on a plinth. Continue on this path gently uphill, ignoring crossing paths for a mile through the mature beech woodland of Shotridge Wood, until the gradient flattens out at a crossing track.

Step 11

Here, turn right on path SH4, and then, after 85 yards, left onto path PY3. The pockmarked ground to your left is the remains of old chalk pits. You emerge onto a wider track. Turn left towards a house and pass it to the right of a wattle (hurdle) fence. Follow the path round to the right to join a path from the left, putting you between a fence on your left and a hedge on your right. At the next junction, turn left and follow the path between some paddocks to reach a road by a junction.

Step 12

Turn right, following Christmas Common Road for 120m and then turn left into a lane signposted to Watlington. Follow Hill Lane for 460 yards (420 metres), ignoring the first footpath sign on your left, until you reach a second footpath sign. Turn left and then immediately right to return to the National Trust car park at Watlington Hill where you started the walk.

End point

National Trust car park at Watlington Hill, grid ref: SU709935

Trail map

Map of Watlington Hill and Wormsley Estate walk, Buckinghamshire
Watlington Hill and Wormsley Estate walk, Buckinghamshire | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

You made it

Share your experience

More near here

The Boer War memorial on Coombe Hill in the summer with purple flowers in the grass

Coombe Hill and Chequers trail 

Enjoy a moderately energetic circular walk from Coombe Hill, taking in views across the Aylesbury Vale. You'll wander through woodlands, past rare chalk grassland and the pretty village of Ellesborough.

DistanceMiles: 5 (km: 8) to miles: 7 (km: 11.2)
Hambleden Mill on the River Thames in Buckinghamshire

Hambleden Mill to Henley-on-Thames circular river walk 

This circular Thames walk takes in a historic watermill, the Henley Regatta course, views across the Thames Valley and quiet stretches of river with the chance to spot wildlife.

DistanceMiles: 6.1 (km: 9.76)
Path leading uphill towards monument in the distance with figures of people at its base

Coombe Hill Woodland Walk 

Follow this gentle circular trail in the Chilterns through beech woodland to the top of Coombe Hill, with far-reaching views from its summit.

DistanceMiles: 3.5 (km: 5.6)
View of Hambleden Village

Hambleden and Pheasant’s Hill trail 

Visit rural hamlets, stroll through beech woods and enjoy views across the Hambleden Valley on the Hambleden and Pheasant’s Hill trail.

DistanceMiles: 5 (km: 8)

Get in touch

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

Our partners

Cotswold Outdoor

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

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

A group of hikers exploring a hilly landscape on a sunny winters day.


This National Walking Month, explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

Birch tree with a bench during wintertime on Watlington Hill

Visiting Watlington Hill in the Chilterns Countryside 

The wonderful views, rich chalk grassland and downland of Watlington Hill make it a perfect place for walks and wildlife spotting.

View to the north from Coombe Hill, showing fields and trees stretching to the horizon

Things to see and do in the Chilterns Countryside 

Discover the countryside sites of the Chilterns. Find the best viewpoints, walk through ancient woodland or pick a quiet spot to watch for wildlife.

Bench overlooking the cricket pitch and village green at Bradenham in the Chilterns Countryside, on a sunny morning in July.

Walking in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire 

From gentle strolls for little legs to longer hikes through the rolling Chiltern hills, these are some of the best walks in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

An aerial view of an adult and baby walking a dog along a path at Baggy Point, Devon

Staying safe at National Trust places 

The special places in National Trust care sometimes come with a few risks for visitors, be it coastline or countryside. Find out how to keep safe throughout your visits.

A visitor carrying a backpack and walking along a footpath at Divis and the Black Mountain with stone walls either side, the countryside visible in the background.

Follow the Countryside Code 

Help to look after National Trust places by observing a few simple guidelines during your visit and following the Countryside Code.

A group of people in a hiking group are being guided on a hike by rangers at Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

Cotswold Outdoor: our exclusive walking partner 

Find out more about the National Trust’s ongoing partnership with Cotswold Outdoor as our exclusive walking partner.