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Wandering West Wycombe's Woods

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Wandering West Wycombe's Woods
Author: NickC, Published: 09 Apr 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Buckinghamshire, West Wycombe
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Wandering West Wycombe's Woods
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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West Wycombe hangs onto the edge of Buckinghamshire, and there's a moment early on in this walk when you may feel like you're hanging onto the edge of a precipice yourself. That moment happens just after you've climbed the steep hill up to the Dashwood Mausoleum that overlooks the village and the surrounding area. This curious hexagonal flint construct would be unusual on its own, but next to it stands the almost equally eccentric tower of St. Lawrence's Church, topped with a golden ball, which is open for those who want to climb it every Sunday in Summer. From the top of the hill, you can also look down on the garden centre that claims to be the home to the oldest walled kitchen garden in the country, as well as the yellow facade of West Wycombe House.

There's no shortage of curiosities on this walk then, but perhaps the real stars are the woods, made up of mature beech and yew and maintained by the National Trust. Watch out for bird and animal life, or just enjoy the serenity, on this circular, nearly four mile walk, for which you should allow around an hour and a half.

West Wycombe sits on the A40 Oxford road, just four miles west from High Wycombe. If coming from High Wycombe, pass through the village and take the first right (Chorley Road) and park in the garden centre car park on your left. You will see the Mausoleum above you on the right. The garden centre is also a good place to stop for 'comfort breaks' and excellent coffee and cake, as well as local food (HP13 3AT).

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Walk Sections

Start to Saunderton Fingerpost
Start to Saunderton Fingerpost

Start point: 51.6455 lat, -0.8071 long
End point: 51.6491 lat, -0.8056 long

Leave the car park and cross over the road, taking one of the well worn paths up the side of the steep hill in front of you. Although there is a more direct option for the more brave/foolhardly straight ahead, take the path aiming to the right of the mausoleum, which ends in a series of steps. At the top of the steps, continue uphill on the grassy bank towards the mausoleum, but pause first to look behind you to take in the yellow Palladian facade of West Wycombe House, home of the Dashwood family for over three centuries. If it looks familiar, it could be that you've seen the house star on the screen in Cranford, Little Dorrit or Downton Abbey.

Pass around the left hand side of the mausoleum, still taking in the views around you. The A40 stretches below you into High Wycombe and the materials to build this road were excavated from the hiil below you, leaving a labyrinth of caves that can be visited after the walk. The tower and golden ball of St. Lawrence's church is now visible and both are worth a visit if open. Continue with the path to a gate in the top of the churchyard, emerging onto a car park. Head for the far right hand corner of this car park until you reach a fingerpost pointing left to Saunderton.

Saunderton Fingerpost to Sentry Trees
Saunderton Fingerpost to Sentry Trees

Start point: 51.6491 lat, -0.8056 long
End point: 51.6582 lat, -0.816 long

From the fingerpost, pass through the metal gate and follow the well-defined track. After the exertion of the hill, this makes for easy, level walking, soon passing through beech woods characteristic of this area. After a while the woods on your right clear briefly and the paths bends slightly to the left and then right again. Stick with it as it plunges back into woodland after a clearing on the left. Be sure to follow the white painted arrows on the trees.

On reaching a crossroads of paths take the left hand option, passing a small pond on your right, and stay with it as it begins to meander downhill between trees. Cross over a track and in front of you are two particularly straight beech trees standing as sentry guards to the path on the over side. Pass through these and continue downhill.

Sentry Trees to Hill Summit
Sentry Trees to Hill Summit

Start point: 51.6582 lat, -0.816 long
End point: 51.6485 lat, -0.8265 long

As the descent steepens, you will pass a number of pits, once used to harvest the flint used in building around these parts. At a corner of the woods, take the series of steps to your left which lead you down to a gate. Go through this (there's a seat to the right where you can pause to admire the view), and into Butler's Hanging Nature Reserve, an area known for its variety of butterflies and wildflowers, especially cowslips.

Bear left here, with the path obvious in front of you as it descends rapidly downhill. The path begins to level as you pass through a wooden gate and through a path enclosed by hedges. On reaching the road at the bottom, cross over the stiles on either side and cross over a field. Repeat this process at the next road and cross another field, heading towards Chorley Farm, bearing right over a stream towards a stile in the bottom right hand corner of a pasture.

Bear to the left of the pretty yellow half-timbered Chorley Farm House, and follow the established path to the left hand side of the house. This begins with a gentle ascent, but gets steeper and steeper, keeping to the right at an apparent junction. If you thought your hill climbing days were behind you on this walk, you were sadly wrong! Continue until you reach the top of the hill.

Hill Summit to Great Cockshoots Wood Edge
Hill Summit to Great Cockshoots Wood Edge

Start point: 51.6485 lat, -0.8265 long
End point: 51.6446 lat, -0.8204 long

At the summit of the hill take the option immediately on your left, a bridleway, indicated with a blue arrow. This is now the end of your hill climbing days! Of course, you've still got to get down, so follow the left hand edge of a field in the corner of which you bear left, beginning the promised descent. Ignore the footpath to your right, instead going down another enclosed path.

After around fifty metres you come to another junction of paths and you need to take the left hand option. This takes you round the left hand edge of another field and into woodland known by the wonderful name of Great Cockshoots Wood. The white arrows once again guide you through the woods, until you reach a stile at the edge.

Great Cockshoots Wood Edge to End
Great Cockshoots Wood Edge to End

Start point: 51.6446 lat, -0.8204 long
End point: 51.6456 lat, -0.8073 long

After the stile, follow the path the the right and you will soon reach a junction of paths where you need to head left. Look up to eleven o'clock and you will get a good view of the golden ball passed earlier on the walk, and a good appreciation of the path you have followed. Your route back to the garden centre and the starting point is now clearly laid out before you as a straight path cutting across the corners of a pair of fields, heading in a south westerly direction.

On reaching the corner of the field cut diagonally across another and on reaching the corner of the second field bear left onto the path adjacent to the busy A40 and follow this back towards West Wycombe. On reaching the grass island after the speed restriction sign bear left, past the sign indicating 'The Pound', where stray livestock would once be kept overnight so their owners could reclaim them. Follow the flint wall round to the left and back to the car park.

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


1 responses to "Wandering West Wycombe's Woods"

There are some steep inclines on this walk, but the resulting views are well worth it. Good mix of woodland, wildflower fields and farm fields. Lovely landscape!

By karenbrum on 2016-08-15 11:11:31

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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2000_0hunterarcher1477238797-1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: hunterarcher
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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2000_0hunterarcher1477238821 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: hunterarcher
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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