Hills and woodlands are the peaceful backdrop to unspoilt Wendover town, where walking trails meet upmarket antique and chocolate shops.
What to see
Wendover is a sophisticated and unspoilt market town, offering a gateway to the Chilterns countryside as the Ridgeway National Trail passes through it.
Before you head out, though, there’s plenty to fill some gentle mooching time, from antiques and chocolates, to the leading aviation art gallery, Aces High. There’s heaps of history to discover as well. At the crossroads in the town centre, stands the distinctive red-brick, spired Clock Tower, which started life as a small market hall in 1842. For refreshment, enjoy a stop at the 17th-century Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion hotel and pub.
Since 1464, Wendover has had a Royal Charter enabling it to hold a weekly market. Held every Thursday, there are a wide variety of stalls to suit everyone’s needs, such as savoury and sweet bakes, fruit and veg, cheese, seafood, pet supplies, plants and fashion. An excellent local produce market also appears on the High Street on the third Saturday of every month.
Wendover’s choice of refreshments is fabulous – shop for coffee, wine or a deli platter at No 2 Pound Street, or enjoy a hot chocolate while shopping for gifts at Rumsey’s Chocolaterie. Afternoon tea at Lady Grey is just the thing after a brisk winter walk.
The wealthy Rothschilds family, with their eye for the very best, chose the village of Halton, an area just outside Wendover, for Halton House, their weekend retreat. Now the Officers’ Mess for RAF Halton, the house is no less impressive than when it was completed in the 1880s and welcomes visitors every year for Heritage Open Days.
A historic walk
Use this leaflet to guide you round Wendover’s many historic buildings, such as the 13th-century church and 17th-century thatched cottages reputedly given to Anne Boleyn as a wedding present from Henry VIII.
Town and countryside merge in Wendover; the picturesque cottages on the High Street are just a stone’s throw from woodlands and panoramic views. In fact, the Chiltern Hills reach their highest point (267 metres) just outside town at Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods.
Managed by Forestry England, Wendover Woods is the perfect playground for adventure and activity. Perched on the edge of the Chilterns escarpment, this huge site provides year-round interest with rich and varied habitats. Enjoy its numerous trails for walking and cycling, the fitness trail, adventure playground, orienteering, the café, picnics and barbeques, plus seasonal highlights of bluebells and autumn colour. Trails include: a 2.8-mile Firecrest Trail that takes you through the habitat of the firecrest, Europe’s smallest bird; a Family Cycle Trail that is well surfaced; and an Easy Access Trail.
Firecrest by Bob Brewer (Unsplash)
Still in Wendover Woods, Aston Hill Bike Park is one of the South East’s premier mountain biking areas. Its 4-mile XC loop, 5 downhill trails and 4X track offer something to challenge all ages and abilities. You can also take courses here to get you up to speed!
If you’re looking for something different, there’s also a Go Ape! at Wendover Woods. This fantastic Treetop Challenge allows you to swing through the trees like Tarzan! Enjoy spectacular views of the Chilterns from high up in the trees. With a smattering of high wires, crossings and wind-in-your-face zip wires, this is an adventure you’ll want to repeat again and again!
Go Ape at Wendover Woods
Coombe Hill and Low Scrubs walk can be reached on foot from Wendover centre, rewarding the climber with panoramic views over the Vale of Aylesbury. When you reach the top, look out for the Prime Ministerial country retreat at Chequers. The house was gifted to the nation just after the First World War to enable Prime Ministers to entertain dignitaries.
Our Views of the Vale Walks take in both Coombe Hill and Wendover Woods. Starting from the town centre, they travel through ancient beech woods and carpets of wildflowers. The 3½-mile circular Coombe Hill Walk involves a long, steady climb up to the monument at the top, which remembers the Buckinghamshire men who fell in the Boer War. The 7-mile circular Walk to Wendover Woods follows part of the Ridgeway National Trail.
Walkers at Wendover Woods
For something a little more sedate, try a stroll along the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, which runs through the town. Opened in 1799, the canal originally linked the Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne, Hertfordshire, to the town of Wendover in Buckinghamshire. Yet, it has been unnavigable since 1897 and is currently being restored.
For cyclists, Wendover Cycle Loop is a 14-mile circular ride, starting and finishing in Wendover. The route goes through rolling, wooded countryside, passing several traditional pubs along the way.
Film and TV locations
Part of The King’s Speech (2010) was filmed in nearby Halton. When King George VI (played by Colin Firth) is rehearsing a broadcast to the nation, he is not, in fact, in Buckingham Palace, but in The Gold Room at Halton House, now the Officers’ Mess at RAF Halton. Halton House has also appeared in many other movies, including The World Is Not Enough, The Queen, Evita and An Ideal Husband, and numerous TV series, including Bridgerton, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Judge John Deed.
Chiltern Brewery is the oldest independent brewery in the Chilterns. Award-winning labels include John Hampden’s Ale, brewed in memory of ‘The Patriot’ of the Civil War who lived nearby, and Bodgers Barley Wine, a tribute to the craftsmen who worked in the beech woods of Buckinghamshire making furniture. Buy online, visit the Brewery Shop or enjoy the Brewery’s drinks at the award-winning pub: The King’s Head in Aylesbury.
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – 5 miles away
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Established in Roald Dahl’s home village of Great Missenden, the Centre inspires young visitors with hands-on story-telling activities, fun-packed galleries, and a chance to visit Roald Dahl’s original Writing Hut, where all the magic happened!
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - 5 miles away
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. The Waterside’s live performances of electrifying West End productions, unparalleled comedy, stunning dance and top-class children’s shows are staged in a landmark building of architectural interest and acclaim, inspired by the materials and landscapes of the Chiltern Hills.
Waddesdon Manor – 12 miles away
Waddesdon Manor. The Rothschilds were some of the greatest collectors of the 19th century. The houses that they built, the interiors they created, and the magnificent collections within them became known internationally as the ‘goût Rothschild’ (Rothschild taste). Waddesdon is one of the rare survivors of that splendour. Enjoy Victorian landscaped gardens, a chateau-style house, refreshments, and a woodland playground for children.
Getting here by train
Chiltern Railways runs services from London Marylebone to Aylesbury via Wendover. The fastest journey time is 48 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!
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