Walk 1392 - printer friendly version
Chesham circular via Cholesbury Walk
Author - Peter Smyly
Length - 16.0 miles / 26 km
Ascent - 850 feet / 258 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference SP960015
Lat 51.704039 + Long -0.6121653
Postcode HP5 1ED (approx. location only)
This Buckinghamshire walk follows the perimeter of Chesham in an anti-clockwise direction before visiting Cholesbury via the shallow valley of White Hawridge Bottom. Then it returns to Chesham by following sections of the Chiltern Way and Chiltern Link route. The walk passes an oval-shaped iron-age hill fort at Cholesbury. In April 2014, the heavy rains and floods of a couple of months or so earlier seemed like a faded memory when the ground on this walk was mostly dry with mud on paths hard and cracked in places. Even some patches of bluebells looked withered and dry for want of water.
The area covered by the walk has many public footpaths and bridleways which are not always signposted or immediately obvious and, unless you live locally and know your way around, there is a chance of missing a turning and then needing to adjust the route to get back on course.
Start from Chesham tube station. Follow the road outside the station called "The Backs" as far as the T junction at White Hill Road. Just before the junction turn sharp right to follow a tarmac public footpath uphill between White Hill Road and the car park for Waitrose. The path emerges opposite White Hill Close on the left. Turn right here on an unsurfaced round which bends round to the left and then to the right. When a kissing gate appears on the right, turn left and follow the field edge. Continue to contour round the left-hand edge of the next field as well. As you follow the second field round to the right, a gap appears in the hedge on the left and this is the way to go next as a fine rural view opens out. The path leads down to a crossroads of paths at the foot of the hill with signposts for the Chiltern Heritage Trail. Go ahead here uphill and the path levels out to turn left before a hedgerow. Take a moment to savour the view looking back as this is one of the better views on this walk. Walk in parallel to a hedge on your right and go through a gate to cross another field at the end of which is a narrow country lane, Tylers Hill Road.
The route between here and White Hawridge Bottom involves a series of paths between road crossings with slight adjustments, left or right, to continue. Turn left down Tylers Hill Road taking care with occasional oncoming traffic to reach a T junction at Botley Road with the Hen and Chickens pub opposite. Turn right along the pavement, passing a bus stop. Cross the road where a sign for Kimblewick Feeds appears on the opposite side and there is also a public footpath sign. Initially the route follows an unsurfaced road, then passes along a narrow tree-lined path before crossing an open field. A similar pattern follows in crossing Lye Green Road. Go left and follow the next path to the right across a field before veering to the right. The path divides at a field corner here. Ignore the path to the left which follows the field edge but go right along a narrow path with houses and back gardens on the left to reach Lycrome Road. This time walk along the road to the right, passing a sign for Lye Green and take the next signed public footpath on the left which says Public footpath Pressmore. Initially this bit of the route does not look very welcoming, an unsurfaced road with signs warning that CCTV is in operation and that the electricity power station is strictly out of bounds. However, the public footpath sign is reassurance that this is a public right of way. On approaching the power station, the track appears briefly to have come to an end, however, it continues round to the left along a narrow woodland stretch that bypasses the power station where tree branches overhead connect to form a canopy. One more field crossing on emerging from this stretch of woodland and you are at the next road crossing.
After crossing Ashley Road, the busiest road crossing so far, another few minutes' walk past Pressmore Farm along a tarmac road leads to a real change in the scenery. After crossing a wooden stile, you reach a narrow downhill path where in summer, vegetation is liable to encroach from the left while there is a fence on the right. Although there is still one more minor road to cross, the finest view of the walk so far appears ahead. The valley of White Hawridge Bottom is seen ahead in the distance and grazing horses may also be seen. In the Chilterns, the word "Bottom" indicates a valley. Once the route crosses Vale Road at the foot of the hill, Ramscote Lane is followed.
A signed pubic footpath leads away to the left up through woodland before switching to the right with a view also to the right over the shallow valley. Following the path ahead, look out for when it follows a curve to the left. At this juncture, leave the main path when another minor track to the right appears and which provides stile access over a barbed wire fence next to a field and thus provides access to the path which follows the lowest point of the valley. The route leads on to Cholesbury, a village with a pub (the Full Moon), a windmill and a common. The path reaches a road at a T junction. Follow the road uphill to the right to reach the village. To locate the fort, turn left and walk alongside Cholesbury Lane which goes across the common then take a lane just past the village hall. There is a pond, the Holy Pond, a field and an old church, St Lawrence Church. The fort has the appearance of a path along a ridge through sparse woodland with beech trees with a leafy hollow either side of the ridge.
There are different possible ways of reaching the Chiltern Link route from Cholesbury. For this route, follow Cholesbury Lane due west and take the first signed public footpath on the right across a field to cross Parrott's Lane. The most direct way to reach the Chiltern Way from this point is to follow Parrott's Lane to the left after the first field crossing. A slightly longer option that avoids a bit of road walking is to continue along the next path to link up with the Chiltern Way, then turn left along it. The next few miles to the point where you connect with the Chiltern Link route features a mixture of fields and woodland. Landmarks passed include the village of Buckland Common, the listed building of Dundridge Manor, woodland at Lady Grove and a tree-surrounded pond in a field between the grove and Arrewig Lane.
At Lee Gate, cross Chesham Lane to locate a signed public footpath that passes a building on the right that looks like it may have been a pub at one time. Branch off this path before the former pub along a path to the left to reach a T junction of paths. Kingsgate Farm is shown on the map. Turn right here across a field and, at the next hedgerow, although it is not obvious, this is now part of the Chiltern Link route that connects Wendover with Chesham in an 8 mile stretch. If this turning is missed, walk along the next road, King's Lane, due south/south-east and take the next public footpath on the left to rejoin the Chiltern Link route.
The return route requires careful attention to detail again as there are various paths and some minor roads and, if you do go slightly off course, there are ways of varying the route to get back on course. As the Chiltern Link route approaches The Lee, houses are seen ahead and follow a path across a grassy field leading towards them. The route passes a house on the left before crossing a small field and reaching a road. Turn right along this road with a church and graveyard on your right and the grassy village common then comes into view ahead. At the other side of the common, with the village pub on your right, follow the next road on the left. After a few hundred yards, a sign appears for the Chiltern Link route on the left indicting a path through woodland. The Chiltern Link route crosses a road at Ballinger Bottom and "dog legs" due south/south east at a T junction of paths to reach Ballinger Road. A short walk to the left brings you to the unusually-named Herbert's Hole which is another shallow valley, along which runs a bridleway leading to Drydell Lane.
The point where the route reaches Herbert's Hole is about two miles from Chesham. The valley is a colourful place in summer with red and yellow flowers but in April it seemed much more plain and ordinary with only a slight hint of yellow flowers. Chesham is reached by following Drydell Lane and the continuation of the Chiltern Link route across another field, across Pednor Road and back through Lowndes Park.