Beech woods and bluebells; heady chalk ridges of short, springy rabbit-cropped grasses; blazing autumn colour – these are the classic images of the Chiltern Hills. Bodgers and charcoal burners once lived and worked in the woods here, fashioning legs and spindles for High Wycombe’s chair industry. Now the secluded woodlands and open slopes are the preserves of deer, badgers, red kites, foxes and other wildlife which reward the sharp-eyed visitor.
You can begin in the unhurried, unspoilt market town of Princes Risborough, then steeply up Brush hill to Whiteleaf Hill, a pleasant place to take a breather and see the ancient carving of a chalk cross with views back over Risborough towards the NorthWessex Downs. Along to Cadsden and on to Pulpit Hill, a nature reserve below an Iron Age Fort.The Ridgeway leads on to 19th-century Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country home, entering the grounds by the same gate used by many visiting heads of state. A steepish climb will bring you to Coombe Hill, served by a National Trust car park on the Butler’s Cross/Dunsmore Road. The hilltop monument to the Boer War marks the highest point of The Ridgeway in the Chilterns, a favourite spot for picnicking, flying kites or simply gazing over the patchwork farmlands of the broad Vale of Aylesbury to the Berkshire Downs and the Cotswolds beyond. It’s all down-hill from here as the Trail drops down into the attractive little town of Wendover, passing the station and following the High Street, just in time for tea.
Princes Risborough to Wendover
Distance: 6½ miles/2¾ hours