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Red Kites and Ridgeway

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Red Kites and Ridgeway
Author: NickC, Published: 06 Apr 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guidestar1 Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guidestar1 Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guidestar1 Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guidestar0 Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guide
Buckinghamshire, High Wycombe
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Red Kites and Ridgeway
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guide boot Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guide boot Red Kites and Ridgeway Walking Guide
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This varied stroll through archetypal Chilterns countryside provides a number of opportunities to spot red kites, reintroduced into the area in 1989, with the first successful breeding taking place three years later. They are now commonplace in this area and you are virtually guaranteed to see them on this walk - don't forget your camera and binoculars. Look out for the wide (four foot) wingspan and forked tail, with chestnut red and white markings. A stretch of the Ridgeway National Trail is also included, as well as some excellent views over the Vale of Aylesbury.

This is a fairly strenuous walk largely due to two steep hills, although both are scaled reasonably quickly and the views make the effort worthwhile. The walk is circular and should take around two hours to complete. There's a shop in Bledlow Ridge and a pub, although the latter is not open on Mondays. The track is mainly footpath, although there are some roads and pavements scattered around.

The walk starts and ends in Bledlow Ridge. From High Wycombe or Oxford, take the A40 to West Wycombe. Follow signs for the garden centre and head up Chorley Road, which brings you to the village. Follow signs for the school (Church Lane, just after the shop on your right) and park in the car park opposite (nearest postcode HP14 4AZ), although be sensitive to parking here either end of the school day. If the car park is full, try the village hall on the main road.

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Walk Sections

Start to Lodge Hill Farm
Start to Lodge Hill Farm

Start point: 51.6725 lat, -0.8478 long
End point: 51.6834 lat, -0.8508 long

Looking at the school entrance, head right down Church Lane and then right again on meeting the main road through the village. Follow the pavement, past the village hall and the community owned pub, The Boot. The pavement runs out after the pub but continue in the same direction, past the speed restriction signs, for about five minutes. Aim for the bus stops in either side of the road, where you take the first right down a no through road called Chapel Lane.

Pass through the metal kissing gate at the end of the road where you come out onto grazing for sheep. Head straight ahead and then down, heading for the right hand side of some buildings slightly to your left at the foot of the hill. Here there is another metal kissing gate. Pass through this and follow the left hand edge of a field until you meet a further metal kissing gate. Pass through this to the gates of Lodge Hill Farm (where there are often vociferous dogs!)

Lodge Hill Farm to Ridgeway Junction
Lodge Hill Farm to Ridgeway Junction

Start point: 51.6834 lat, -0.8508 long
End point: 51.6974 lat, -0.8629 long

You are now on a made up road. Turn right, following the sign, down to a junction by some rusting farm machinery. Head left here and where the road runs out, by The Granary Barn, head slightly right to join the edge of a field. Pass a stile on your left and continue along the field, also ignoring the footpath striking out across the large field to your right. Stick with the hedge to the corner of the field, where there is another footpath to the left. Ignore this one also, but do take the next path on the left, a further thirty yards on. This heads down an alleyway through trees and for most of the year is identifiable by a puddle at its entrance!

Follow this path, bordered both sides by hedges. Pass through a gate, and then, about two hundred yards further on, another gate. After this, you emerge onto a field. Take the path ever so slightly to the right, not the one at ninety degrees to the left. This takes you along another field, with a rather ragged hedge along the first fifty yards or so on your left. You then emerge onto open fields, but still on a well-defined track. This brings you to a junction of paths, including one from the right. This is the Ridgeway National Trail, which continues to your left.

Ridgeway Junction to Bridleway
Ridgeway Junction to Bridleway

Start point: 51.6974 lat, -0.8629 long
End point: 51.6939 lat, -0.8496 long

Take the path to the right, following the acorn signs for the Ridgeway. This brings you to another metal kissing gate. Until now, the going hasn't been too bad, but all that is about to change! But before that, look to your right to see if you can make out the hard to spot tumuli in the field below, marked on a map by the gate. Head right, with a barbed wire fence on your left. Continue with the path as it heads into the wood ahead, ignoring the path to your left, staying with the acorn signs.

You now begin a steady uphill climb, which can get a bit slippery when wet, so take care. This is Lodge Hill, seen earlier on the walk just after the first waypoint. The climb is steep, but not long and is worth it as it comes out onto magnificent views across the Vale of Aylesbury to your left. Keep to the well worn path and through a wooden kissing gate in a small copse, maintaining your direction. There are more views here, to either side, and a possibly welcome by now, bench, where you can take a rest after the hill.

After emerging from some scrub, the path heads downhill, bearing to the left. Half way down the hill you will get to a wooden kissing gate and a junction with a bridleway to the right. Continue down the hill.

Bridleway to Manor Farm Cottage
Bridleway to Manor Farm Cottage

Start point: 51.6939 lat, -0.8496 long
End point: 51.6888 lat, -0.8401 long

After a further thirty yards pass through a wooden gate and continue following the acorn signs. Again, this stretch can get a bit muddy at certain times of the year. Follow the right hand edge of the field in front of you until you reach a junction of the Ridgeway with a footpath on the right. Take the footpath, leaving the National Trail at this point.

This takes you down a narrow path sandwiched between a hedge and a high wire fence, with a pylon in the field to your left. They can be easy to miss, but take a good look in the field as the farmer here raises deer for venison, and sometimes there are fawns in here too. Continue down the path until it reaches the farmhouse and then a road. Incidentally, the farm has a shop a little way down to the left, but the route heads right here.

Stay with the road, past Leafield House, and where the road bends to the left pick up the public footpath sign on your right, which takes you over a stile and along the edge of a garden to your right. Stay with the left hand side of a field as the path turns to the left heading for a white house. On reaching some barns you are at Manor Farm Cottage.

Manor Farm Cottage to Business Park
Manor Farm Cottage to Business Park

Start point: 51.6888 lat, -0.8401 long
End point: 51.6807 lat, -0.8346 long

Pick up the marker opposite the track, sending you along the left hand edge of a field. This can be a particularly good place to spot red kites, but don't forget to look up! Lodge Hill, which you climbed earlier, is now to your right at about two o'clock. Pass through the gap in the hedge and the path then crosses an open field along a well defined track that the farmer doesn't plough, with the railway line away to your left.

The green topped building to your half right has seen various uses over the years. At one point it staged amateur boxing matches and most recently was the headquarters of a company that made machines that made cigarettes. More recently, it was going to become a cloud computing centre, but the economic crash put paid to this and the site is now sadly empty.

On reaching the road, cross over and pick up the pavement. Follow this to the right uphill up a lane, which can be busy so take care. Head up the hill, which is in fact a loosener for more a more dramatic climb later. The pavement ends at the entrance to the defunct business centre.

Business Park to End
Business Park to End

Start point: 51.6807 lat, -0.8346 long
End point: 51.6726 lat, -0.8477 long

Continue to the crest of the hill and, taking care once more, cross the road and pick up the footpath, heading immediately left, downhill, keeping the road to the other side of the hedge. Follow the path down to just before the corner of the field, where there is a gap through the hedge which brings you back onto the road. Again, there's a short stretch of no pavement here, but just walk along the grass verge to where the road bends left, just by the speed restriction sign and near some houses where the owners all seem to have a penchant for solar power. You are now re-entering Bledlow Ridge

Pick up the pavement on the left, crossing the road again, and head uphill. The road soon begins to pull uphill in earnest. Pass through this residential area to number 54, where you again cross the road to pick up the pavement. If you have been unlucky enough to not spot any red kites so far, you are practically guaranteed them here or along the ridge along the top of the village. Keep going until the road flattens out a little and you reach Virginia Gardens. Head right up here, up one last steep pull uphill, to reach an alleyway in the apex of the hammerhead. Go up here, turning left and then right, past the playing fields of the primary school, until you reach a road. Turn left here and you will soon rejoin your starting point

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author NickC and may not be reproduced without permission.


2 responses to "Red Kites and Ridgeway"

We loved the views. A fine way to spend an afternoon.

By seedybee68 on 2015-07-15 07:11:30

This is a lovely part of the world but the walk has too much road (maybe 30%) part of which has no verge and is quite dangerous.

By Incawalnut on 2016-10-09 18:05:30

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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