Headline walks in Bucks & Oxon
Looking for an autumn walk worthy of front page news? Check out these eight headline-grabbing walks from the highest points and best views to autumn colour and the coolest local landmarks
THE VINEYARD TOUR: Henley-on-Thames circular. Moderate: 11km
There’s something about the Chiltern hills soil (and the local clientele) that makes the Henley area perfect for wine making. You could be in the Dordogne as you saunter along a section of the Oxfordshire Way on the return leg of this lengthy but unchallenging walk out of Henley. You’ll also pass the gorgeous Bix Manor, the famous Water Tank at Bix (just you wait!) and the Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, founded 200 years ago. Route here.
THE WILDLIFE WONDER: Cothill Fen. Easy, 5.3km (can extend by 3.2km)
This walk starts in Wootton and takes in three BBOWT (Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust) nature reserves: Dry Sandford Pit, Parsonage Moor and Lashford Lane. The alkaline fen is designated a Special Area of Conservation because it has over 100 rare or notable species including the southern damselfly, great crested newt, various orchids and other special fen plants. Route here.
THE COOLEST LANDMARK: White Horse Hill. Challenging, 6.5km
This circular ramble within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty crosses The Ridgeway (the views here are stunning) and the iconic Bronze-Age Uffington White Horse leaping across the hills. The route is pretty steep, so don’t forget your walking boots and be prepared to work those glutes. Route here.
THE PRETTIEST CITY: Oxford. Easy, 9.5km
Ever noticed how stunning central Oxford is? There couldn’t be a better time to make like a tourist, with no heavy shopping bags to lug around or heaving crowds. This circular route covers all the best bits – from the colleges to the Oxford Castle and Radcliffe Camera. Take a detour up to South Park for a panoramic view of the spires from above. Route here.
OXON’S HIGHEST POINT: Cowleaze Wood to Vicar’s Farm. Moderate, 4.5km
It’s hard to choose what’s more impressive about this walk – the wildlife or the views. The circular route starts at the highest point in Oxfordshire, Cowleaze Wood, and travels through Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve (look out for rare butterflies and tawny owls). There are plenty of options to extend the walk if you fancy. Route here.
STONEHENGE BUT CLOSER: Chipping Norton to the Rollright Stones. Moderate, 10km
Kicking off from the pretty market town of Chipping Norton, this route is catnip for history lovers (me, me!). The walk starts with a 12th century church, follows Shakespeare’s Way (a footpath from the Bard’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, to Shakespeare’s Globe in London) and passes the Rollright Stones, a family of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. It’s basically Stone Henge, just without the tourists. Route here.
MOST STATELY VIEWS: Windmill Hill, Waddesdon. Moderate, 3.5km
The Windmill Hill walk is the longest of the Waddesdon Manor self-guided walks, and while it’s not long, it is steep in places. It’s worth it though, for stonking views of the manor as well as a peek at the award-winning Flint House and the statue, Perceval, by Sarah Lucas. The final part of the walk goes through Waddesdon’s main grounds, so is only accessible Weds-Sun. Route here.
FOR PREHISTORY BUFFS: Ivinghoe Beacon. Challenging, 16km
This hike offers fab Oxon/Bucks views a dip into a National Trust estate (Ashridge) and a smattering of ancient history. The walk starts in Aldbury near Tring (worth noting it has two pubs and the very decent Musette cafe) and follows the Ridgeway National Trail across Pitstone Hill up to Ivinghoe Beacon, the site of a hillfort thought to date to the Iron Age. It’s a good old schlep but most of it is on decent, well-marked footpaths, bridleways and lanes. Route here.
THE BEST VIEWS: Coombe Hill to Chequers. Challenging, 8km
Beautiful woodland, pretty villages and the PM’s country retreat – this circular walk in the Chiltern Hills has panoramic views across the Aylesbury Vale. It’s a challenge, with a hilly terrain, so best for families with older kids or a long walk and natter with your bestie or dog. Keep your eyes peeled for the giant NHS sign that’s recently been mowed into the side of the hill! Route here.
THE MOST PICTURESQUE VILLAGES: Skirmett, Turville, Fingest. Easy, 6.5km
For a route that looks like its come straight from a film set, this circular should do the trick, passing through the Hambleden Valley and three of the Chiltern’s prettiest villages. Prime photo opportunities are the windmill in Turville (filmed in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Fingest’s Norman church, Adams Wood and stunning pastoral scenery. Route here.
BUCKS’ HIGHEST HILLTOP: Haddington Hill. Moderate, 4.5km
Want to feel like you’re on top of the world? We can’t quite manage that but we can lead you to the loftiest point in Bucks, with this walk through Wendover Woods. It climbs to the highest point in the county and has views for miles across the Chilterns. Look out for the rock marking the highest altitude at the summit. Route here.
THE PRETTIEST FLOWERS: Langley Country Park. Moderate, 4.5km
This under-the-radar south Bucks park is the perfect spot for autumn colour thanks to the ancient trees and arboretum. Floral fiend? Head to Langley Park in late spring/summer to check out the nationally recognised Rhododendron collection, in its prime from April to June. This stroll through the park passes the pretty Temple Gardens (10 points if you can spot Windsor Castle in the distance) as well as ancient woodland, the lake and Arboretum. Route here.
For more lovely local walks in Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire click here.
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