It’s the start of the year, which means lots of health and fitness resolutions. And what better way to dust off the Christmas cobwebs than by getting outside and going for a stroll in the beautiful Chilterns countryside?
A recent study by the University of Exeter showed that reconnecting people with nature could even improve environmental habits and increase sustainability, which is good for all of us, so it’s time to dust off the walking boots or wellies and get outside.
We’re extremely lucky in the Chilterns to have some stunning scenery and a huge variety of flora and fauna for you to explore, and we all know there’s nothing better than a bracing winter walk followed by a roaring open fire and refreshments in a conveniently situated pub.
With such a wealth of options, the difficult part will be knowing which one to choose, so we’ve rounded up some of the best in the central Chilterns to get you started.
Iron Age Fort at Cholesbury
Cholesbury is an ancient hilltop village in the middle of the Chilterns, with characterful cottages and a large common. This walk starts in the village from the Full Moon pub (which offers a roaring fire and hearty welcome on your return) and follows rights of way across the open common into beech woodland. The common is one of 200 in the Chilterns which all contain centuries of local history within them. The route passes Cholesbury Camp, an Iron Age hillfort and one of the most impressive prehistoric settlements in the area. You can see the ditch and the ramparts now covered in beech trees. Both the longer circular route option (5 miles) and the shorter one (2.5 miles) go past the fort.
Around Chesham Vale
The Black Horse is an old coaching inn which was first licensed in the 17th century. The current building dates from the 18th century and the pub has recently been voted the Best Pub in Chesham for the 4th consecutive year. There are several lovely walks around the area, including the Chesham Outer Ring (7.5 miles). Ashley Green: Farms, Forts and Fighters (8.5 miles) and Captain’s Wood (5.7 miles).
Pulpit Hill and Box trees
Discover twisting old box trees in the largest native box woodland in the country and enjoy far-reaching, attractive views of the Chiltern Hills and adjacent vales on this 6-mile circular walk from Pulpit Hill near Monks Risborough. This walk can also be split into 2 separate smaller loops: a 3.5-mile northern circular route which starts at Great Kimble or a 3-mile southern circular route starting from Pulpit Hill. Then treat yourself to some refreshments at the nearby Plough pub at Cadsden, a favourite of Prime Ministers staying at nearby Chequers.
Coombe Hill and Wendover
These two walks start from the centre of Wendover and take you to the top of the Chiltern Hills, through ancient beech woods, carpets of bluebells and wild flowers. The 3.5-mile circular Coombe Hill Walk involves a long steady climb up to the top of Coombe Hill with its monument to the men of Buckinghamshire who fell in the Boer War. From here there are fantastic views out across the Vale of Aylesbury and also down across Chequers – the weekend retreat for the Prime Minister.
The 7-mile circular Walk to Wendover Woods and back follows part of The Ridgeway National Trail. The Woods have wonderful displays of bluebells in late April and early May. There is also a cafe at the main car park, a children’s play trail and an ancient hillfort, now rather overgrown.
The centre of Wendover is full of charming shops and eateries (for example the Red Lion or No. 2 Pound Street) and also has a railway station for easy access from London, plus parking.
The Lee and Lee Common stile-free walk
The Lee is a quintessential English village with its church, pub, manor house, and brick and flint cottages grouped around a village green. This short and gentle circular walk takes you along quiet lanes, bridleways, and across a large Common with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Refreshments are available at The Cock and Rabbit pub – where you may park, with the landlord’s permission.
So there you have it – there’s no excuse for staying inside now!
Please do check pub opening hours and food serving times before travelling – there’s nothing worse than finding out once your feet are wet and cold that the cosy pub you’re headed towards is actually closed on the day you happen to be there.
If map reading isn’t your thing then why not take advantage of the guided and group walks available in the area – provided by organisations such as the Chiltern Society and Chiltern Young Walkers (20-30s, every weekend). All the details can be found on the organisations’ websites via the links above.
Above all enjoy your time in the beautiful Chilterns!
New for 2020
If you live in and around the Chilterns, or you’re thinking of visiting in 2020, our new Chilterns Pass will save you money – helping you to enjoy more days out and support local businesses.
The Pass is valid for a year for just £9.99. It gives you access to special offers in cafes, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, museums, exhibitions and other attractions.
You can use the Pass as an app for Android or iPhone, or as a card. The choice is yours.
The Chilterns Pass will launch in early 2020. Keep up with the latest news via this website, Twitter or Facebook.