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The Royal Oak, Marlow Common and Homefield Wood

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The Royal Oak, Marlow Common and Homefield Wood
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 10 Apr 2015 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 UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Buckinghamshire, Chilterns
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
The Royal Oak, Marlow Common and Homefield Wood
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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A 4 mile fairly strenuous circular pub walk from The Royal Oak in Bovingdon Green near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. The Royal Oak is an award-winning dining pub with an organic interior that oozes bonhomie, it feels like someone’s home and it might as well be yours for the time you’re there. With red kites soaring overhead, glass in hand and a menu to savour it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of Marlow's riverside. The walking route explores the surrounding Chiltern landscape taking in peaceful sections of woodland, farmland and a long stretch of the Chiltern Way with plenty of wildlife and historical interest along the way.

The route includes several climbs and descents throughout. The paths are unmade and cross farmland and woodland and so can get very muddy after rain and in the winter months. You will need to negotiate some kissing gates, V-shaped squeeze gaps and 5 stiles (all of which have gaps in the fence surrounds that should be suitable for medium-large dogs to hop through). You will be sharing a few of the fields with horses and one of the fields may be holding cattle so take care with dogs. Some of the paths are quite narrow and can get overgrown in the summer months so shorts are not recommended (unless you’re immune to nettles and brambles!). Allow 2 hours.

The Royal Oak is in Bovingdon Green, a small hamlet located just to the west of Marlow in Buckinghamshire. From Marlow town centre, take the A4155 towards Henley. After 300 yards take the right-hand turn (Oxford Road) signposted to Bovingdon Green, next to the garage. Go three quarters of a mile and you will find The Royal Oak on the left-hand side as you come out of the woods. The car park fills up quickly at peak times. To make life easier for the pub, please try to arrive in the morning to complete the walk while the pub is closed, finishing just in time for a well-earned lunch as the pub opens. Approximate post code SL7 2JF.

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Walk Sections

Start to Marlow Common
Start to Marlow Common

Start point: 51.5758 lat, -0.7958 long
End point: 51.5755 lat, -0.8109 long

Leave the pub car park via the vehicle entrance and turn left along the front of the pub. As you reach the duck pond ahead, cross over the road with care to join the narrow path running along the road’s right-hand grass verge. You are now following part of the Chiltern Way long distance path, but more about that later...

Follow the road as it swings right and then turn left into the side road signed to Bovingdon Green. Follow this narrow lane lined with wooden posts which leads you through the heart of the village. At the T-junction with houses ahead, turn right and follow this lane which swings left to become a stone track passing Cherry Tree Barn on the right. The path passes Cherry Tree Farm, swings right and then narrows to become a fenced path with horse paddocks each side.

Just a little way along, look for a metal kissing gate on the right, marking a junction of paths. Fork right through the kissing gate into the horse paddock and cross the corner of the field to reach another metal kissing gate. Go through this and cross the second horse paddock in the same direction to reach the far right-hand corner. Pass through the v-shaped squeeze gap and keep ahead on the path through the belt of woodland (which is awash with bluebells in the spring).

As you emerge from the trees, simply keep ahead along the narrow fenced footpath and this will lead you to a stone vehicle track. Keep ahead along this and you will come to a junction with the road, with the wooden kissing gate at the edge of Marlow Common directly opposite.

Marlow Common to Lord's Wood Stile
Marlow Common to Lord's Wood Stile

Start point: 51.5755 lat, -0.8109 long
End point: 51.5769 lat, -0.8138 long

Cross the road and go through the gate to enter the common. You will see an information board on the left giving you more details about the site. Marlow Common is one of the many ancient commons in the Chilterns and, as recently as the 1800s, was grazing land. At that time it would have been an open area of grass, heather and scattered shrub with only a few trees. Since grazing ceased the woodland has developed.

Keep straight ahead on the path leading into the woodland and at the first crossroads turn right. The path leads you past a small glade and bench on the left and just a few yards later you will come to an information board on the right. This sits directly in front of some of the old clay pits that operated on the common in the 1820s. The pits and kilns were used to produce bricks, tiles and quality terracotta ware.

Simply keep ahead on the main path which swings left to reach a crossroads. Keep ahead and then keep ahead again at the next junction. The path crosses a small glade with a house visible to the left and, a few paces later, you will reach a fork. Take the left-hand branch, heading towards an old lamppost and white gate.

Turn left immediately before the gate to join the tarmac track with houses on the right, which soon becomes a stone track through the woodland edge. Continue just until you reach a tall fingerpost and information board on the left. Turn right here to leave the common through a wooden gate, signed as a public footpath. The path leads you downhill between fences, through the narrow belt of Lord’s Wood, to reach a stile.

Lord's Wood Stile to Arbon
Lord's Wood Stile to Arbon

Start point: 51.5769 lat, -0.8138 long
End point: 51.5807 lat, -0.8232 long

Cross the stile to enter the hillside horse paddock. Walk diagonally right, heading for the barns visible in the valley bottom. You will find a stile in the bottom boundary, just to the left of the barns. Cross this stile and the next one directly ahead to enter a hillside pasture (which may be holding cattle). Walk directly ahead, heading uphill along the right-hand boundary of this large hillside field.

A stile at the top of the field leads you onto a path enclosed between garden fences, which in turn leads you out to a T-junction with a quiet lane in Lower Woodend. Turn right along the road taking care of any occasional traffic. When you come to a small stone lay-by on the left, turn left through the gap in the hedge (signed as a public footpath) to enter a large crop field, with a pond on your right.

Cross this field at about 2 o’clock heading for the clump of trees which conceal a red brick house, visible just beyond the far hedge line. As you reach this hedge line, a stile leads you out to the tarmac access lane for the red brick property, Arbon, just to your right.

Arbon to Chiltern Way
Arbon to Chiltern Way

Start point: 51.5807 lat, -0.8232 long
End point: 51.5742 lat, -0.8318 long

Cross the road and walk straight ahead through the hedge gap to reach the corner of a crop field. Walk ahead, following the line of the hedge on the right. After just 50 yards, fork right onto the signed footpath which leads you between hedges and then continue ahead along the left-hand edge of this next crop field. Stay on the field edge path as it swings right and then left and leads you down to reach a corner of woodland. Fork left here to join the footpath into Homefield Wood.

Follow the signed public footpath which leads you first steeply downhill and then steeply back uphill. The path now levels off and leads you to a crossroads with a grass track. Go straight ahead, continuing on the narrow public footpath. Some distance further you will come to a crossroads with a second grass track, again keep straight ahead on the narrow winding footpath. The path leads you past a fenced section of woodland on the left, which is a nature reserve managed by Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.

Woodland and grassland have existed on this warm slope for at least 200 years, though forestry work has created many changes. Today Homefield Wood hosts a pine plantation as well as mixed broadleaf woodland including some older specimens of coppiced trees. The diversity of habitat supports a healthy wildlife population and as a result the area is often thronging with birdsong. The fenced reserve is made up of beech, ash, sycamore and whitebeam with glades and open grassland. Wild orchids flourish in both the woodland and the grassland and tawny owls can often by heard calling during the day. Fallow, muntjac and roe deer are also regular visitors to the reserve.

You will come to a T-junction with a stone track, bear left continuing downhill. At the bottom of the slope you will come to a T-junction with another stone vehicle track. Turn left along this and you are once again following the Chiltern Way long-distance path. In fact, this long distance path will be your route all the way back to The Royal Oak.

Chiltern Way to Pullingshill Wood
Chiltern Way to Pullingshill Wood

Start point: 51.5742 lat, -0.8318 long
End point: 51.5722 lat, -0.818 long

The stone track leads past a vehicle barrier and out to a T-junction with the road. Turn right along the road (taking care of traffic) and, where the road bends right, turn left to join the footpath (signed as the Chiltern Way).

The Chiltern Way is a 172 mile circular footpath which was created by the Chiltern Society as a millennium project. The meandering route takes in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and many of the local villages and towns.

Follow this pretty fenced path through the valley dip and then swinging right (past a disused stile) to become a long, straight, level path running with the valley bottom to the right. Eventually the path leads you through a gateway to enter Pullingshill Wood, a section of woodland managed by The Woodland Trust.

Pullingshill Wood has many claims to fame. It is renowned for the rare First World War practice trenches which were built by various regiments stationed nearby at Bovingdon Green during the early years of the war. More recently, it featured in the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians. Although the woods put in a sterling performance, the weather did not, and snow machines had to be brought in to give the wintry weather the script called for!

Pullingshill Wood to End
Pullingshill Wood to End

Start point: 51.5722 lat, -0.818 long
End point: 51.5759 lat, -0.7958 long

Walk directly ahead on the path which leads you fairly steeply uphill. Once over the brow of the hill, keep left at the fork and pass between laid tree trunks to reach a crossroads with a quiet tarmac lane. (NOTE: Just before this lane you will see a waymarker post. If you wish to visit the World War I trenches turn right along the path, with the road to the left, and you will come to the trenches on the right.)

Cross the road and go straight ahead into the next section of woodland, still following the Chiltern Way. Just a short distance into the woodland you will come to a waymarker post, turn RIGHT here. Follow the path winding along with a raised bank supporting a line of beech trees running on the left. You will emerge alongside a gap within this bank. Turn left through the gap and then keep ahead on the woodland path marked with white arrows on the tree trunks. Further along you will come to another waymarker post for the Chiltern Way, turn LEFT here and then at the next junction of paths keep straight ahead.

Further along the path continues with a fence on the left and then becomes a fenced path between horse paddocks. Continue ahead passing through one kissing gate and two squeeze gaps. You may now recognise this stretch of path from your outward leg. From this point you will be retracing your steps back to the pub.

To do this, keep ahead on the path which becomes a track and leads you back into the centre of Bovingdon Green. At the grass island, turn left along the lane through the centre of the green. As you approach the junction with the main road, pass to the right of the coronation bench, cross over the main road and turn right along the grass verge path. After just a short distance you will come to the Royal Oak on the right for some well earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "The Royal Oak, Marlow Common and Homefield Wood"

Did this one on 24th April 2015, great walk! One comment, the last bit of the Lord's Wood Stile to Arbon.....now the trees are in leaf, the red brick house is not visible, so just aim for the clump of trees!

By Fishingsmurf on 2015-04-25 07:55:15

Did this walk this morning (20th March 2016) with our three little girls and we all love it. Great day outdoor!

By mgastaut on 2016-03-20 19:50:02

Really lovely walk on a cold crisp sunny day. Some prickly brambles particularly on the narrow path through Homefield Wood.

By Alcazaba on 2016-11-29 20:03:57

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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2 images to "The Royal Oak, Marlow Common and Homefield Wood"

4311_0Richard1430039555 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
View of the WWI practice trenches
4311_1Richard1430039556 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

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