June Walks Giveaway: Cholesbury, the Chilterns
This walk is reproduced from our popular walking book 'Pub Walks in the Chilterns'.
📥 To download this walk and take it with you, click here!
CHOLESBURY, THE CHILTERNS
Distance: 3.5 miles
An easy walk that encompasses the lovely semi-wooded expanse of Hawridge and Cholesbury commons and one of the most beautiful valleys in the Chilterns. Cholesbury is especially interesting – for its houses, its windmill and its cricket!
The Full Moon is a beautiful pub overlooking the Commons, a popular area of grassland, trees and scrub criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways. It's family- and dog-friendly, so an ideal venue at which to conclude your walk if you are making it a family occasion.
HOW TO GET THERE & PARKING
The pub is four miles north of Chesham on a comparatively quiet road. Approaching from Chesham via the A416 Berkhamsted road, follow road signs to Hawridge and Cholesbury when the A416 turns sharp right to go uphill.
Parking: In the pub’s car park (if you're intending to visit the pub) or alongside the common nearby.
Map: OS Map Landranger series 165 Aylesbury & Leighton Buzzard.
Chiltern Society Footpath Map No.8. GR: 937069
1. Turning left out of the Full Moon pub you will find the Bellingdon road, Rays Hill, and after you have walked along this a short distance you will have an excellent view of Cholesbury windmill. This was built in 1884 (replacing an earlier mill) and ended its working life in 1915. It is now a private residence – and its sails are dummies! At the bottom of the hill just before the road turns left you should yourself turn left onto a tarmac drive labelled as a footpath.
2. Pass to the right of a cottage and go forward into a field. Ignore a branch on the right quite soon – leading into a wood – and go straight on, with the wood now close on your right. You will be led forward into a lovely wild area of trees and scrub, with inconspicuous power lines to guide you through. A beechwood area is next, in the valley floor and exceptionally beautiful in bluebell time.
3. Beyond a strip of younger woodland, a succession of gates separates sloping fields and leads you straight on along the valley bottom to a hedge-lined bridleway crossing, which should not be confused with an earlier footpath crossing.
4. Go over the bridleway to a kissing-gate and straight on across a meadow, soon following the left edge of a beechwood. Now taking great care not to become distracted, you should only proceed along this beechwood for about 250 yards, until you meet a kissing-gate at the next field boundary. When through that gate turn left immediately and go uphill towards a break in the trees at the top. A hedge on the left will guide you up, and there’s a cattle trough en route to confirm your direction as you proceed.
5. Go through a kissing-gate in the hedge at the top of the field, and straight on up, with a hedge and trees on the right. This will take you through another gate and forward into a field corner, from where you should turn left (not through a gate in the corner). With one eye on a ditch under trees on the right, follow this round to a stile – just before the converted barns of Hawridge Court. A narrow path will soon place you in front of the Court, with the church close by. Passing the church
on your right, follow the tarmac drive to a T-junction and cross over
to a footpath.
6. This will lead you downhill under trees to an attractive settlement of converted farm buildings, Vale Farm, at a road junction. Keep left here – in the Cholesbury road – and, passing a converted barn on the right, soon join a level track ahead. Going forward you will notice Willow Tree Cottage on the right after a few hundred yards.
7. We're heading along this level route in the valley bottom all the way to Cholesbury Common because it is easy to define. Since horses also come this way you may find this agreeable bridleway less agreeable after wet weather, in which case you would do well to divert uphill on the left at the earliest opportunity. Any clear path through the bracken will do, but you must keep the valley bottom in range if not in sight if you are to avoid the road at the top.
8. When you meet a quiet lane (at a bend) about ¼ mile beyond Willow Tree Cottage, you should go left for 15 yards or so (right if you have been following a higher route) then continue forward in the valley bottom. There is soon another opportunity to follow a higher route – where the views are better, incidentally.
When the bottom bridleway eventually starts to curve left (and uphill, soon after a field-path leaves from the right) you should say goodbye to it and take the half-left grassy path uphill (280°) and cross Cholesbury Common to the Full Moon. If there’s cricket on the green at Cholesbury, the sound of it will guide you up, but if you miss the path and find yourself on the Wigginton road you will need to double back sharply left across the common.
- Alex Batho