Buckinghamshire Walk – May 2017

Head to Ellesborough for a wander through the Chilterns, skirting around Chequers – the Prime Minister’s country residence – and visiting lofty heights of Coombe Hill for a great view.

Take a rest on the way up Beacon Hill and enjoy the views to the north including the church at Ellesborough
Take a rest on the way up Beacon Hill and enjoy the views to the north including the church at Ellesborough

From Ellesborough the walk heads up Beacon Hill with the earthworks of a former motte and bailey castle – known as Cymbeline’s Castle – down to the right; take a rest on the way and enjoy the views. We then head through Ellesborough Warren home to the one of the largest native box woodlands in the country dating back over 300 years.

View of Beacon Hill from Ellesborough – the first part of the walk skirts up round the hill
View of Beacon Hill from Ellesborough – the first part of the walk skirts up round the hill

Soon we join the Ridgeway for a while as its skirts around Chequers. The imposing mansion was restored and enlarged in the 16th century by Sir William Hawtrey, who guarded a royal prisoner – Lady Jane Grey – at the house for two years. Jump forward to the 19th century and the house was remodelled in a Gothic Revival style (or Victorian Gothic) for the Russell family. It was later bought by Lord Lee of Fareham and his wife Ruth, who immediately set about removing the earlier changes to give the house its present appearance. Lord Lee later gave the house to the nation for use as the official country residence of the Prime Minister.

Chequers – the Prime Minister’s country residence – tucked below Coombe Hill
Chequers – the Prime Minister’s country residence – tucked below Coombe Hill

After a bit of a climb we arrive at the summit of Coombe Hill. At 260m (852ft) this is almost the highest point in the Chilterns and affords a fantastic view out over the Vale of Aylesbury. The monument is a memorial to the Buckinghamshire soldiers who died during the South African Boer War (1899 to1902). Take a look at the adjacent toposcope viewpoint indicator to help identify some of the sights.

The memorial on Coombe Hill to the Buckinghamshire soldiers who died during the Boer War offers a great view over the Vale of Aylesbury
The memorial on Coombe Hill to the Buckinghamshire soldiers who died during the Boer War offers a great view over the Vale of Aylesbury

From this lofty lookout we head steeply down to Butlers Cross where a short detour leads to the Russell Arms. From here it’s an easy walk back towards Ellesborough, home to the attractive 15th century Church of St Peter and St Paul; during the summer, cream teas are available here on Sunday afternoons; published in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, May 2017.

The Church of St Peter and St Paul at Ellesborough – offers cream teas on Sunday afternoons throughout summer
The Church of St Peter and St Paul at Ellesborough – offers cream teas on Sunday afternoons throughout summer