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|The Phoenix Trail, Henton and Bledlow|
|Author: NickC, Published: 18 Jun 2014||Walk rating : Rating:|
|This circular walk includes two old railway lines, starting along one that has been converted into a leisure and sculpture trail, and crossing another that is still very much alive to the sound of steam trains on special days, thanks to the efforts of a restoration society. The first of these is the Phoenix Trail, which opened in 2002 and runs for five miles between Princes Risborough and Thame, with 30 artworks along the route, some of which are seen on this walk. The second is the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, which runs most Sundays, some Saturdays and Bank Holidays. |
The walk also skirts the edge of the Chiltern Hills and passes through a couple of pretty Chiltern villages straddling the Bucks/Oxon border in Henton and Bledlow – each of which has a pub. The terrain is relatively flat and easy, with metalled or solid track for over half the route, with some stiles and kissing gates in the latter stages. It is relatively long however. Allow 3 hours.
The best approach is from Princes Risborough. Go to the end of Summerleys Road (which goes past the top of the station) and turn left. After around a hundred yards there’s a metal railway bridge and you need to take the turn onto the track immediately after this, where there is ample parking for the Phoenix Trail (postcode HP27 9). For the more energetic/carless, it's a short walk to and from Princes Risborough Station.
|Start to Hinton Cottage|
Start point: 51.726 lat, -0.8633 long
Pick up the Phoenix Trail and head left, although there is an information board you may wish to look at just to the right. Given its antecedents, it should come as no surprise that this part of the walk is flat and straight, but this does not mean it’s without interest. A number of sculptures dot the route and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of, or hear, a steam train from the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, of which more later. Watch out for cyclists and horse riders as you make your way along.
|Hinton Cottage to Penn Farm|
Start point: 51.7314 lat, -0.9004 long
The path doglegs again, this time to the left, and the trail soon picks up its straight trajectory. A trio of sculptures by Lucy Casson of unusual hybrid creatures sitting on top of old telegraph poles follows soon after. After this a farm begins to come into view on the left and this leads to a crossroads with a fairly well made up metalled farm track, clearly marked as a footpath, where you head left, leaving the Phoenix Trail and all its idiosyncrasies behind – at least for now.
|Penn Farm to Henton|
Start point: 51.7334 lat, -0.9173 long
The path heads up a very slight incline, with the Chiltern Hills again coming into view on the left across open fields. Pass some derelict farm buildings on the left and an equally unloved red brick house on the right. By way of contrast, look out for the rather magnificent new mansion with multiple chimneys, in a dip on the left. The track does an elongated dog leg to the right and soon joins up with the drive to the new house, where the path becomes a firmer track.
|Henton to Bledlow Cricket Ground|
Start point: 51.7191 lat, -0.899 long
The route heads right here, but if you are so inclined, Henton’s fine pub, the Peacock, is available for sustenance if you head left, although it is more of a hotel than a pub. Stay with the road, heading slightly uphill, passing through the pretty (Oxfordshire) village of Henton, with its many fine buildings.
|Bledlow Cricket Ground to End|
Start point: 51.713 lat, -0.881 long
Head right, past the pavilion, and head up the road. After about thirty yards, pass through a pair of metal kissing gates, over the Chinnor and Princes Risborough line – do so with care, as this is still operated by enthusiasts. Pick up the path on the other side, crossing a corner of a field. At the end of the field, go down some steps onto a road, where you turn right.
Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author NickC and may not be reproduced without permission.
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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