The Chilterns: wooded forests (very muddy in winter), Hughenden Manor (NT), West Wycombe Caves (of Hellfire club fame), finishing with a short ridge walk
Hughenden Manor & West Wycombe Caves
Standard walk: 16km (9.9miles), 5 hours. For the whole outing including trains, sights and meals allow 9 hours
Short walk: 9.6km (6 miles), 3 hours.
OS LandRanger Map No. 165. OS Explorer Map No. 172. Chiltern Society Map Nos. 7 and 12. Saunderton, map reference SU813982 is in Buckinghamshire, 16km south of Aylesbury.
4 out of 10
This walk combines a fairly easy stroll in the Chilterns through a mixture of woodland and sloping meadows, with an optional visit to Hughenden Manor and West Wycombe Caves. The route heads south east over the Chiltern Hills to Bradenham, and continues through Naphill Common, and Flagmore Wood to Hughenden Manor. The route from Hughenden heads west across Downley Common to West Wycombe Caves for the recommended tea stop. After a brisk climb from the Caves up to Dashwood Mausoleum, it is then an easy level stroll back into Saunderton. If wishing to visit Hughenden Manor or West Wycombe Caves, please note the seasonal opening times below.
You may reduce the length of the standard walk by over 6km to 9.6km (6 miles) by following the standard walk directions as given until . Then follow the Shortened route directions and then pick up the standard walk directions at [7A].
Varying the walk You may combine the Saunderton South short walk with the Saunderton North short walk for a 18.6km (11.6 miles) walk. This walk takes the form of a figure of 8. With plenty of refreshment stops along the way, you may choose to start with the Saunderton South or the Saunderton North walk.
Lengthening the walk You may increase the length of this walk by 9km to 25km (15.5 miles) by combining it with the Saunderton North short walk. For the more ambitious, the walk may be lengthened by over 17km to 33.3km (20.7 miles) by combining it with the Saunderton South standard walk. Both of these longer walks take the form of a figure of 8. With plenty of refreshment stops along the way, you may choose to start with the Saunderton South or the Saunderton North walk.
Via Wheeler End:16.3km (10.1 miles). (Wheelers End Option download above.)
These directions provide a circular walk from Saunderton via Wheeler End, when used in conjunction with the standard walk directions.
Hughendon Manor (01494 755573) was a mediaeval manor, later bought by Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1847. He used it as a private retreat until his death in 1881. The house contains most of his furniture, books and pictures and the garden has been recreated according to the design of his wife Mary Anne. The house and gardens are open from 1pm - 5pm Wednesday to Sunday from April until October. 1pm - 5pm at weekends in March.
West Wycombe Caves (01494 533739) were built by Sir Francis Dashwood, who built the house at West Wycombe Park in 1750-2 with local labour. The individual cells of the caves are called the Recess, Whitehead's Chamber, XXII, the Labyrinth, Children in the Caves, the Great Hall, the Minders' Cave, the River Styx, the Cursing Well and the Inner Temple. A visit to West Wycombe Park (NT) would be a short detour from the main walk. The house is very theatrical with façades formed as classical temples and it has a fine landscape garden. The caves are open from 11am - 5.30pm, daily from March until October. 11am - 5.30pm (or dusk), Saturdays and Sundays from November to February.
West Wycombe village has fine examples of houses from the 16th to 18th centuries and West Wycombe Hill has fine views and has an Iron Age hill fort, part of the original landscape design of West Wycombe Park. Now it is the site of St Lawrence Church and the Dashwood Mausoleum.
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Take the train nearest to 9.45am (before or after) from Marylebone station to Saunderton. Journey time is about 45 minutes. Trains back from Saunderton run once an hour. (For the short walk, the train nearest to 10.15am.)
There is a car park (currently free) at Saunderton Station.
Standard walk The suggested lunchtime stop is the tea room at Hughenden Manor (tel 01494 755576) 7.5km from the start of the walk, which serves lunch from 12 - 2pm (snacks until 5pm) Wednesday to Sunday from April to October, and lunch from 12 - 2pm (snacks until 4pm) on Saturday and Sundays from November to mid December. Otherwise outside these dates or if wishing a pub lunch, then the recommended pub lunchtime stop is Le De Spencer's Arms (tel 01494 535317), Downley Common 9km from the start of the walk, which serves food from 12 to 2pm daily. However you are strongly advised to phone through beforehand, on occasions they stop serving lunch much earlier. Short walk (5.3km from the start of the walk) / Standard walk late alternate (4.25 km from the end of the walk) The George and Dragon Hotel (tel 01494 464414), West Wycombe which serves food from 12 to 2pm daily.
Picnic Virtually anywhere along the route would be a good picnic spot.
Standard walk The suggested tea stop is at West Wycombe Caves (tel 01494 533739) Short walk / Standard walk late alternate tea stop is at the Golden Cross pub, (tel 01494 565974) Saunderton, which serves tea and coffee.
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk