The Ridgeway National Trail stretches for 85 miles between Wiltshire and Buckinghamshire. Believed to be England’s oldest track, dating back several thousand years, it has borne the footprints of Iron Age man, medieval traders and Roman soldiers, not to mention a modern army of walkers. After sampling an attractive stretch of the trail, this route leads you through magnificent beech woodland, which, in spring, is carpeted with bluebells.
As you explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, look out for spectacular red kites overhead – and learn about the remarkable conservation journey these magnificent raptors have made.
At Chinnor, head southwest along the Ridgeway. Cross a road after 75m and continue on the other side, following the Ridgeway sign. Keep going along the wide track, soon passing chalk pits on either side. Ahead, on the left, is Oakley Hill Nature Reserve. Owned by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, the reserve is known for its rare flowers and butterflies.
Pass the reserve and, at a marked junction of paths, continue along the Ridgeway. As you go on, swathes of beech woodland dominate the chalky slopes to the left. Remnants of Roman pottery have been found in this region. Cross the road and pick up the Ridgeway again on the opposite side, where the track can be very muddy. Walk on to a junction of signed paths.
Turn left along a bridleway, leaving the Ridgeway behind. There are good views as you walk towards Aston Wood. Begin an increasingly steep climb through the wood and, after a particularly steep section, bear left along an unmarked path, which brings you to the A40.
Bear left along the roadside. After 300m turn left along a lane and, where this bends left, continue ahead on a signed bridleway. Keep the edge of a wood to your left and later, bear right to follow a blue arrow on a tree. Head downhill to a junction of three paths.
Turn sharp left, almost double backing on your tracks. Follow the path as it curves right, taking you uphill. You may see fallow or muntjac deer in the woodland, as well as a variety of birds. At the top of the hill walk ahead, to follow an arrow on a tree marked CR8. Keep to the main path, along the edge of Crowellhill Wood. In spring, this is a great place for bluebells.
At the far edge of the wood, turn left along a lane. After 25m, turn left again along a signed byway. Follow this to the junction of paths encountered earlier.
Turn right and walk along the Ridgeway once more, again passing the nature reserve and the chalk pits. Cross the road and return to the start.
Well-marked paths over undulating ground;
muddy in places.
how to get there
by car: Park beside the Ridgeway, off Hill Road, Chinnor, which is located
3 miles northeast of J6 of the M40.
By public transport:
The nearest train station is at Princes Risborough. There is a limited bus service to Chinnor, running between Thame and High Wycombe.
The King’s Head
61 Station Road, Chinnor, Oxfordshire OX39 4EX
% 01844 351530
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 171.
Grid ref: SP 761 003
Princes Risborough Tourist Information Tower Court, Horns Lane, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire HP27 0AJ % 01844 274795
Ridgeway National Trail
Red kites and the Chilterns