Reservoir nature reserves & Wendover Woods
|Length||21km (13 miles), 6 hours 30 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains and meals, allow 9 hours 15 minutes.|
|Toughness||6 out of 10.|
|OS Maps||Explorer 181 or Landranger 165. Tring, map reference SP 952 122, is in Hertfordshire, 13km east of Aylesbury. Wendover is in Buckinghamshire.|
|Features||This walk has plenty of variety - completely flat the first half of the day, starting along the quiet tree-lined banks of the Grand Union Canal, then past 'twitchers with bins' (aka birdwatchers with binoculars) beside nature reserves-cum-reservoirs. In the afternoon the public footpath passes alongside RAF gliders being whipped into the air by a whirling wheel on a stationary lorry. For the last 3km the land changes completely, as you make your way up into a popular part of Wendover Woods (complete with exercise bars and gargantuan signposts) nearly to the highest point in the Chilterns, and then descend steeply into Wendover.|
|Walk Options||You could get a bus from Aston Clinton after lunch to the centre of Tring (from where you can walk just under two miles or take a bus or taxi to the station). Or, later in the day, to avoid hills at the end of the day, turn left at the Wendover Arm Canal (see the double asterisk [**] in the walk directions) and follow it all the way into Wendover.|
The water from the Tring Reservoirs (opened between 1793 and 1805) keeps the Grand Union Canal navigable. The first UK nesting of black-necked grebes was noted here in 1918.
The Church of All Saints, Buckland, was built in 1273. At the time, the Lord of the Manor was Hugh le Despenser who, with his son, was executed by his erstwhile friend, Edward II, in 1326. A later Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Warwick ('Warwick the Kingmaker'), was killed by his one-time friend, Edward IV at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.
After lunch the route goes through the grounds of the Halton House estate, once owned by the Rothschild family - teams of zebras used to take them to their favourite picnic spot - and now given over extensively to the RAF.
Construction of the Wendover Arm Canal started in 1793 to supply water to feed the Grand Union Canal at Tring. It became known as the leaky canal - despite partial relinings in 1803 and 1856, it had to be closed in 1904.
Boddington Bank is an Iron Age hill fort overlooking your final destination of Wendover.
Take the train nearest to 9.20am from Euston Station to Tring. Trains back from Wendover are half-hourly, and return to Marylebone. Journey time about 40 minutes on the way out, 55 minutes for the return.
As the two stations are on different lines you cannot get a return ticket for the full walk. Instead, buy an All-Zones Travelcard plus a single from the Zone 6 Boundary to Tring. On the return journey you will also need to buy a single from Wendover to the Zone 6 Boundary.
Or to avoid getting two singles you could get a return to Aylesbury, go there by train and then take a bus from the bus station to Tring High Street from where you would walk a little under two miles to Tring station to start the walk (or take a bus or taxi); you can return from Wendover on the Aylesbury ticket.
This walk is not recommended for car drivers unless you are prepared to take a taxi back to your car, as there is no convenient public transport link (train or bus) from Wendover back to Tring.
|Lunch||The Oak pub (tel 01296 630 466) in Aston Clinton is 12km from the start, so allow enough time. Excellent and reasonably priced home-cooked food – with some dishes taking 45 minutes to prepare – is served from midday to 2.00 pm on weekdays, midday to 3.00 pm winter weekends, midday to 9.00 pm or 10.00 pm summer weekends. Groups of more than ten are asked to book in advance.|
|Tea||The suggested tea place is Le Petit Café (tel 01296 624 601), five minutes from Wendover station, which is open until 4.30pm on weekdays, 5.30pm on weekends and bank holidays. Cocoa aficionados may instead succumb to nearby Rumsey’s Chocolaterie (tel 01296 625 060), which also serves tea and coffee and is open until 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and 6.00pm on Sunday. Also worth considering are the bar of the 17th century Red Lion Hotel (tel 01296 622 266) and the Shoulder of Mutton pub (tel 01296 623 223), which is close to the train station.|
[Pre 2010 editions] Detours to avoid a new motorway and muddy fields. Use the website version. [details]
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
The out and back routes are with different train companies - check the ticket advice.
Start: HP23 5QR at 4pm
Finish: HP22 6BN at 10am
It is not easy to return to the start of the walk by car, as the 2 stations are on different railway lines.
|Help||Start walking • Printing (large print) • Train Times • Bus Times • BBC Weather • Tide Times • GPS data|
Introduction: Mar-12. Directions: Mar-12. This walk was fully revised in Nov-10. It is available in the current 2011 edition of the book, and below. The map is only in the book.
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-  Bear slightly right through Tring Station forecourt and turn left onto the main road, going past the Royal Hotel Posting House. In 250 meters there is a bridge where the road crosses the Grand Union Canal. Do not cross the bridge. Instead, turn right off the road at the start of the bridge, and take the steps going down on to the towpath. You will walk along the towpath for the next 4km, your direction 290° initially.
- In more detail: in 1.2km you come to a stone bridge across the canal. Follow the path up on to the bridge, across to the other side and down on to the left-hand side of the canal. 900 metres further on there is a second stone bridge (No.133) carrying a road over the canal, with the Grand Junction Arms public house next to the bridge. Continue along the path under the bridge, with a home and garden gallery formed from former workshops on your right-hand side.
- 500 metres further on, a footpath crosses the junction with the Wendover Arm, going off to the left. Go over the footbridge and continue straight along the main canal, sign-posted ‘Braunston, 55 miles’. You are now at Lock 45 (Marsworth Top Lock). Counting this as the first set, continue to the sixth set (Lock 40).
-  Here leave the towpath and go up to continue on a higher parallel path on Marsworth Reservoir bank. In 90 metres bear left and after a further 15 metres, by a Tring Reservoirs information board on your left, fork right along the right-hand side of the second (Startops End) reservoir, still parallel with the canal.
- Ignore a downwards right fork in 30 metres and continue on a grassy path to the reservoir corner. Facing the Anglers Retreat pub ahead (which is across a road), turn left to follow the reservoir bank, parallel with the road. After 200 metres, at the next reservoir corner turn left along its third side for 300 metres, then carry on over a wooden bridge.
- Go left with the path, past a ‘Tring Reservoirs Walks’ guidepost. After a few twists this leads in 20 metres to wooden steps up to a road. With great care, cross directly to the other side, where a new path takes you right along another reservoir (Tringford), your direction 260° initially.
- In 50 metres you come to a sign on your left giving information about the area. A further 50 metres on, cross a wooden bridge. In another 60 metres, the path reaches the end of the reservoir and continues in the same direction through some trees, down some steps and curves sharply around to the left. 40 metres further on, turn right up a path towards a kissing gate, your direction 250°. Past the gate, walk straight across the small field in the same direction.
- In 40 metres go through a wooden kissing gate and turn left along the road. In 25 metres you pass Tringford Farm on your left and 100 metres further on come to a T-junction. Turn right here, and follow this road for 500 metres. Just before a T-junction, you pass Wilstone cemetery on your right.
-  Turn left down the car-wide track next to the T-junction, passing a metal barrier. In 300 metres you come to a clump of trees, with a sign a few yards ahead for Wilstone Reservoir Nature Reserve. Turn right, your direction 340° initially. 70 metres further on, you come to a reservoir .
- Walk along the reservoir bank, continuing in the same direction as before. Follow the first corner around to the left and walk all the way along the second side, which initially parallels a road on your right. 100 metres from the end of the second side the path crosses over a concrete bridge. In a further 100 metres cross another concrete bridge and then veer left through trees, initially along the third side of the reservoir, with a wire fence on your left hand side. 200 metres further on, at a junction in the path, there is a sign with information about Wilstone Reservoir.
- At this junction, take the path to the right, your direction 180°. In 8 metres ignore a stile going off to the right and, 10 metres further on, pass through the open stile ahead of you, then take the fork going to the right of the tree dead ahead. In 15 metres, branch off right across the field , your direction 195° initially, towards the far corner of the field.
- In 30 metres, you pass under electricity lines and, in a further 170 metres, cross the public footpath signed stile. Cross the field diagonally to the left, aiming for a point to the left of the row of houses opposite, your direction 200°. Pass through the metal kissing gate 50 metres to the left of the end house and walk across the next field half left. You come to a stile in 60 metres, which brings you onto a road.
- Turn left on to the road and in 40 metres turn right through a rusty kissing gate, following the public footpath sign. Cross the field half-left, your direction 170°.
- After 180 metres go through a wooden kissing gate onto a drive. Turn right and after 20 metres take the left fork (ignoring the concrete road to the right). In another 30 metres ignore a wooden kissing gate off to the right and continue through a metal kissing gate to the right of a five-bar metal gate along the lane to the church of St Mary the Virgin, Drayton Beauchamp (generally kept locked) .
- Enter the churchyard through a metal kissing gate. Turn right just before the church to walk towards a rusty kissing gate and footpath sign 20 metres away. Pass through the gate and cross the field, your direction 260°, to go past a wooden kissing gate in its far left-hand corner .
- Beyond the gate, follow the path, which twists and turns through a wooded area to another kissing gate and after another 40 metres to steps descending to a canal path. Turn right, passing under a bridge (marked with a black plaque stating that the burial site of a Saxon princess was found nearby) and the A41. On the far side of the bridge, turn right to take steps up the river bank. At the top of the steps, go straight on and follow the turns of an enclosed path. In 60 metres pass through a kissing gate into an open field.
- Follow the footpath sign and keep to the right-hand side of the field beside a fence, then in 80 metres, by 2 footpath signs, you have a choice - walk for 1 km directly across the potentially muddy fields, or walk around their perimeter.
- If you do not want to cross the potentially muddy fields, or you are unsure about the direction to take, then you can continue along the field edge for a further 80 metres until you reach the field boundary. Here turn left and follow the field boundary ignoring all ways off to your right and heading towards houses in front of you. After 600 metres you will reach a road and here turn right and in 700 metres resume the directions at [*] below.
- To follow the main route across the fields in more detail: At two footpath signs attached to the fence bear left across the field keeping 15 metres to the right of a telegraph pole, your direction 300°. In 100 metres you reach a footpath sign and field boundary. Cross through a broken hedge into the next field on a car-wide section over a ditch. Cross the next field heading for a 20 metre gap between a telegraph pole and a hedge, your direction 290°. There is a footpath sign on a post to your right. Then keep straight on across another very large field for 700 metres, heading for a house with a white wall, which is by the corner of a field leading to a road.
- [*] Turn right along the road and, in 25 metres, you come to a crossroads, with an old pub sign (the ‘Rothschild Arms’) in the garden to your right-hand side . You go straight across the B489 to follow the sign that says ‘Buckland village only’.
- In 125 metres you pass Nields farm on your left and, in another 50 metres, you pass Manor Farm on your right. In a further 50 metres, turn right into Peggs Lane and, in 10 metres, go left through the lychgate of All Saints Church, Buckland.
- Turn right and then left around the church (or after visiting the church turn left and left again, your direction 330°) through the churchyard. Exit the churchyard through a tall wooden gate with a footpath sign into the field beyond, to go straight on, your direction now 340°.
- In 25 metres you pass a timber-framed house, 40 metres away on your left-hand side. In a further 35 metres go over a stile and turn left in the field, your direction 315°. In 20 metres take the left fork, ignoring a path to the right leading to a locked metal gate and continue with the field fence to your left to the corner, your direction 230°.
- In 80 metres go over a stile onto a tarmac road and turn right, your direction 350°. After 150 metres [!] turn left down a signposted path that is hidden by a hedge as you approach it, which goes along the side of Juniper Cottage (to the right of the tall hedge which separates it from Moat Farm), your direction 300°.
- In 30 metres, go over a stile, then half left, your direction 270°, keeping on towards the left-hand corner of the field. At this corner, carry straight on, coming to the hedge ahead. Here you bear left, with the hedge now on your right-hand side, your direction 240°.
- Carry on to the far corner (ignoring the pair of disused stiles on your right) and go over a stile and under mini-pylons. The field hedge is now to your left-hand side, your direction 235°. In 130 metres, ignore a one-plank footbridge with a metal railing and turn sharp right, your direction 335°, walking along the second side of the field.
- In 200 metres you cross a two-plank footbridge and stile directly in front of you into a large open meadow with the village of Aston Clinton on the far side.
- Go forward and slightly left to another stile in the hedge ahead. After 120 metres cross a further stile and go diagonally towards the far left-hand corner of the field to reach a wooden signpost pointing in many directions.  Take the enclosed path left, your direction 255°, signed to Green End Street and the Oak Inn. Walk down this path with a hedge on the right and a wooden slatted fence on the left. 100 metres down the path, you come out next to Sunny Brook Close, where you turn left for 15 metres to reach the road. Across on the other side to your left is the Oak pub , the suggested lunchtime stop.
- After lunch, walk through the pub car park to the road and turn left. Follow this road for 500 metres, ignoring College Road off to the right. When you get to the T-junction at the A41 you will see the village memorial straight ahead of you on the other side of the road, with a bungalow behind it. There is a pedestrian crossing 20 metres to your left which you should use to cross the road. Head back a few metres and walk down a marked public footpath that goes down the left-hand side of the bungalow.
- In 80 metres the path curves around to the left, your direction 170° initially, and 70 metres further on you come out into an open space and continue with new buildings on your right. After a further 100 metres, you come to a house with a wooden fieldgate (saying ‘Rookery Farmhouse’).
-  Turn right just before the gate, following a footpath sign , into an enclosed path, your direction 250° initially. In 50 metres you enter a field. Carry on in the same direction as before for a further 150 metres until you reach the edge of a large airfield. Walk out into the open. You will see a sign saying ‘Caution. Ministry of Defence airfield.’ Turn left to follow the public footpath, your direction 170° initially.
- Continue with a small brook on the left-hand side of the path. Ignore a small bridge with a footpath sign to your left. At the corner of the airfield after 750 metres, ignore a small bridge (made of wood and metal) crossing the brook to the left. Instead, you follow the narrow path that continues along the right-hand side of the brook, your direction 120°.
- Carry on for 450 metres passing first trees and a sewage works on your right, then a patch of trees to your left, before meeting trees on both sides. Pass between two large wooden posts, bear right and in 70 metres cross over a brick bridge (Harelane Bridge), which spans the Wendover Arm Canal.
- On the far side of the bridge, descend to the left down steps to the towpath.
- [**] At the bottom of these steps, turn left at this point if you want to take a short cut along the canal into Wendover.
- The main route is to turn right along the towpath and walk along with the waterway on your left-hand side. In 750 metres the waterway narrows markedly and, 100 metres further on, you come to a wooden post with ‘Green Park’ written on it and a sign entitled ‘The Wendover Arm’ giving information about Cobblers Pits and the woodland which you are about to enter.
- Turn right off the towpath, through a galvanised-iron kissing gate leading you into the wood (due south initially).
- Keep straight on, ignoring ways off. After 200 metres you reach a fork. Take the left path and continue on up the hill. In another 300 metres you go through a disused gate gap at the top of the path, and come out on to the A4011.
-  Directly opposite, a road leads straight ahead up a hill, with a green Forestry Commission sign next to it saying ‘Chiltern Forest Wendover Woods’. Cross the A4011 and walk straight up the road ahead. In 25 metres turn right off the road through a gap in the metal fence on to a path leading into the forest (due south initially).
- In 250 metres, fork left uphill, following a horseshoe on a post. In 250 metres, cross a gravel track, and keep on, again following a horseshoe on a post, your direction 200° initially. In 100 metres, a faint footpath crosses your path going straight up and down the hill. Ignore this and continue straight on. 40 metres further on, you pass on your right a children’s pond dipping area bordered by a wooden fence.
- Continue and, 400 metres further on, you come to a crossing with a wider path marked by a horseshoe sign. Cross straight over, continuing down for a further 40 metres until you come to a car-wide track.
- Turn left on to the car-wide track, your direction 120° initially. In 200 metres the path bends round to the right and starts to go uphill. You are now ascending the eastern flank of Aston Hill. After 400 metres of walking uphill, you come to a wooden post indicating footpaths going off to the left, right and straight ahead. Ignore this post and continue walking straight up the hill.
- 100 metres further on, you come to a fork with a wooden post indicating a footpath to the left. Take the left-hand fork. 300 metres further on, the path curves round to the left at the top of the climb and, 60 metres further on, you come to a wooden swing barrier leading out on to a tarmac track.
-  Turn right and walk along the tarmac track . In 60 metres, you come to a large two-armed wooden sign pointing left to the Chiltern Hills’ highest point and straight ahead for information and parking. Go left onto the gravel pathway running parallel to the tarmac.
- In 80 metres you pass just to the left of the Café in the Wood and a further 30 metres on, you meet a tarmac road. Cross the road and take the right of two paths ahead, Follow it round to the right, passing a scenic viewing spot after 30 metres. When you reach a junction with a tarmac road, [!] turn left onto a track, your direction 230°, passing a ‘Go Ape’ hut immediately on the left.
- Carry on this track, past various tree ladders on your right-hand side until after 200 metres you reach a sharp right bend. 20 metres before a wooden post marked ‘Caution: cables overhead’ a footprint sign on a post marks a small path off to the left. [!] Take this footpath (the Firecrest trail), your direction 200°.
- After 250 metres this becomes parallel to a broader track ten metres to the right. Cross over to this track, your direction 220° initially.
- In 250 metres, you come to a small grass roundabout and a wooden barrier, dead ahead, with a marker saying ‘Boddington Hill ¾ mile’ .
- Go straight on past this barrier. 10 metres beyond it, ignore a fork to the left. In 70 metres [!] by a footpath marker, there is a path going off to the right diagonally down the hill. Take this path, your direction 280° initially.
- If time permits, you can continue along the main track to explore the remains of the fort and in 150 metres enjoy the views from the hilltop over the Vale of Aylesbury but you will need to retrace your steps to this point.
- 10 metres on, you reach a fork. Take the right hand option and, after a steep descent of about 300 metres on a potentially very slippery path, you come to a crossing with a bridleway. Continue straight across down the hill, your direction 305° initially. In 30 metres you come to a tarmac lane with the entrance to a house on your right.
- Turn left on to the car-wide track, your direction 270° initially, with a fine view of Coombe Hill and its monument ahead to your left. In 300 metres the track comes out into a residential estate , and you continue straight on in the same direction along Barlow Road.
- In 40 metres you cross over Wolverton Crescent to your left and continue straight on. In 100 metres you come to a crossroads, again with Wolverton Crescent to your left (and with Hampden Road going straight on) and you turn right, down Colet Road. In 100 metres, this takes you down to a service road running parallel to the A4011.
- Cross the service road and cross over the main road (the A4011). Turn left on the A4011, your direction 225°, and in 15 metres turn right on Manor Road, your direction 310°. Follow this road, ignoring all ways off. In 250 metres cross the bridge over the southern end of the Wendover Arm Canal. In a further 160 metres, at the A413 junction, turn left, your direction 150°.
- In 200 metres you pass the George Inn on your left-hand side (which serves tea) and, in a further 10 metres, by the clock tower, follow the A413 right, your direction 230°. This is Wendover High Street. In 70 metres you pass the Red Lion Hotel on your left-hand side (which also serves tea).
- Continue up the hill, ignoring a road to the left in 50 metres (signposted ‘library’). 50 metres beyond this, Rumsey’s Chocolaterie, one of the suggested tea places, is on the right-hand side (located in an old brick building that used to house a bank).
- 80 metres on, you reach a road to the left signposted ‘A413, London and Amersham’. On the corner is Wendover Book Shop and on the other side is Le Petit Café, the other suggested place for tea. To get to the station, continue on up the High Street, and in 70 metres you pass the Shoulder of Mutton pub on your right. Immediately after that, Station Approach leads down to Wendover Station . The platform nearest to you is the one for London.