Princes Risborough is a pleasing country town, with a prosperous high street, traditional Market House and a working heritage railway.
What to see
Princes Risborough is well-served with cafés, pubs and restaurants, and a nice mix of specialist craft shops. There is a street market on Thursdays, as well as regular farmers’ markets featuring cookery talks, takeaway food, activities and a great atmosphere!
When enjoying this mellow little town, spare a thought for Clyde ‘Sparky’ Cosper of the US Air Force, who died in 1943 as he steered his stricken bomber away from Princes Risborough to save the town. He is commemorated on a plaque outside the library.
Visit in September and enjoy the Kop Hill Climb Festival. It commemorates and preserves the heritage of the hill climb races held here in the early 1900s, when thousands flocked to see Malcolm Campbell, Raymond Mays, Henry Segrave and Archie Frazer-Nash in their cars, and Freddie Dixon on his Douglas motorcycle – the fastest man up the hill. The fixture now attracts over 400 historic vehicles running the hill with a further 200 on display, among the family friendly activities and festival atmosphere.
Part of the old Great Western line, the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway operates steam- and diesel-hauled services on a 7-mile round trip from Chinnor to Princes Risborough. Sit back and gaze at picturesque Chiltern views along this heritage trail, or stop off to enjoy these lovely market towns.
The KOP Hill Climb Festival
Local artist, Barbara Shaw, creates art relating to the Chilterns. She uses fabric and paint to construct collages like this one of Princes Risborough market square. Enjoy her work at an exhibition.
The Phoenix Trailis a 5-mile shared-use path for walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users and horse riders. The trail follows the line of a disused railway through the countryside between Princes Risborough and Thame, with artworks and lovely Chiltern views along the way. The Three Horseshoes at Towersey provides refreshment at the halfway point.
The Whiteleaf Cross - the chalk figure on the hill above Princes Risborough dating from at least 1742. Credit Gerry Whitllow
Princes Risborough is a gateway town to the 173-mile, circular Chilterns Cycleway, which takes in so many highlights of the Chilterns AONB. We’ve detailed 6 one-day, mainly off-road rides you can do from Princes Risborough, ranging from 10 to 13 miles long.
Less than half a mile from Princes Risborough station, you can pick up the Ridgeway National Trail. Heading south-west, Saunderton station is about 4 miles away and is on the same train line as Princes Risborough. The return journey by train takes 7 minutes. Heading north-east, Wendover is 6.5 miles away, with the route climbing up Coombe Hill where you can enjoy superb views over Chequers and the Vale of Aylesbury. There is no direct train service for the return leg, but the walk is well worth a taxi ride back.
Just a couple of miles up the hill from Princes Risborough, Whiteleaf Hill and Brush Hill nature reserves offer panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. The Ridgeway National Trail passes through Whiteleaf Hill, making it a great starting point for walks and rides.
Princes Risborough, viewed from Whiteleaf Hill (c) Mary Tebje
Lacey Green Windmill. The oldest smock windmill in the country was rescued and restored by volunteer members of The Chiltern Society. Today, you can see its distinctive wooden machinery (dating from around 1650) and climb inside it using steps and ladders to explore all four floors.
The Lyde Garden – 3 miles away
The Lyde Garden. This delightful secret garden is part of the Carrington Estate in Bledlow, owned by former Tory minister, Lord Carrington. Steep slopes cradle a pretty section of the River Lyde. Winding paths lead down the banks, now planted with primulas, astilbes, gunnera and hostas.
The Horse Trust – 4 miles away
The Horse Trust. This long-established charity provides an idyllic, rural home of rest for retired military, police and working horses, and a sanctuary for rescued horses, ponies and donkeys. See the residents, get refreshed in the tea-room, and find out more in the museum.
Wendover–6 miles away
Wendover. Hills and rich woodlands are the peaceful backdrop to this unspoilt town. The Ridgeway National Trail passes through the town, but stay for a while to enjoy the 17th-century Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion hotel and pub, and shops selling antiques, gifts and chocolate. There’s even more adventures to be had in the nearby Wendover Woods.
West Wycombe Park – 7 miles away
West Wycombe Park and House. Image: National Trust & Hugh Mothersole
West Wycombe Park is famed for its perfectly preserved Rococo gardens. Created in the mid-18th century by Sir Francis Dashwood, they surround his fine Palladian mansion, often described as the most Italianate house in England. The house is lavishly decorated, with painted ceilings by Borgnis and pictures, furniture and sculpture dating from Sir Francis’ time.
West Wycombe – 7 miles away
West Wycombe. The medieval village of West Wycombe is a tiny gem in the Chilterns AONB. One cobbled street boasts coaching inns and a few traditional shops. It has a fabulous setting, right next to West Wycombe Park with is neo-classical architecture and landscaped gardens.
The Hellfire Caves – 7 miles away
The Hellfire Caves. These caves on the West Wycombe Estate were dug out by farmhands in the 1750s. They became a meeting place for Sir Francis Dashwood’s Hell-Fire Club, which was legendary for its debauched and ritualistic antics. Said to be haunted, the chalk passages of the caves wind deep beneath the hillside to the former Banqueting Hall and Inner Temple.
Getting here by train
Chiltern Railways runs services from London Marylebone to Aylesbury or Banbury via Princes Risborough. The fastest journey time is about 32 minutes.
A selection of some of the best walks in the Chilterns, from short easy strolls to all day walks, and all through beautiful scenery. The best way to shake off the cobwebs, enjoy tranquil surroundings and burn a few calories!
Find out more about volunteering in the Chilterns - indoor, outdoor, practical or desk based there's something for everyone, whatever age or stage! Use our interactive volunteering hub to find the perfect opportunity for you.