Scenic ramble through quiet villages in the Thame Valley on the Oxon/Bucks border, north of the Chilterns.
21.0 km (13.0 mi), of which 4.9 km (3.0 mi) on roads or pavements . Cumulative ascent/descent: 97 m each. For a shorter or a longer walk, see below Walk Options.
Time: 4 hours 20 minutes walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7 hours and 30 minutes.
OS Landranger Map: 165 (Aylesbury & Leighton Buzzard) OS Explorer Map: 180 (Oxford) Thame High Street , map reference SP 705 059, is 14 km south west of Aylesbury, 20 km east of Oxford, in the county of Oxfordshire, and 71m above sea level.
3 out of 10
A scenic and easy ramble north of The Chilterns through the Thame valley on the Oxon/Bucks border that involves a short bus ride (on a frequent service) at the start and the finish of the walk. Set off in a westerly direction from the charming market town of Thame through a nature reserve and soon pass through a beautifully laid out golf course to join the Oxfordshire Way through the ancient Rycote Estate. Head north through a few quiet villages to lunch in Worminghall or Ickford. After lunch continue easterly, largely following the waymarked Thame Valley Walk, to the numerous tea options in Thame and then the return bus journey to Haddenham & Thame Parkway station.
Shortcuts: It is possible to shorten the walk in the morning by cutting out the recommended lunch time destinations, leading to lunch in Shabbington instead. This cuts out 5.7 km and is rated 1/10.
There is also an infrequent bus service (covering all three possible lunch stops) from Worminghall via Ickford and Shabbington to Thame, which currently runs once around lunch time and then again once late afternoon (Mon-Fri), just mid-afternoon on Sat and not at all on Sun.
Extension: It is possible to extend the walk in the morning by adding a diversion through Tiddington and Waterstock (adds 3.6 km, rated 4/10). This is only recommended if carrying your own lunch or if an early starter and/or a fast walker, as both recommended pubs have short food service hours.
Thame High Street is a 9 minute bus ride away from Haddenham & Thame Parkway station, on bus line 280 (Aylesbury to Oxford), with a bus running every 20 minutes (2016 return fare: £4.00). Haddenham & Thame Parkway station is on the London Marylebone to Bicester main line. Journey times are from 34 minutes, with two trains per hour.
Saturday Walkers’ Club: Take the train closest to 9.00 hours (later for the short walk).
The Clifden Arms 75 Clifden Road, Worminghall Buckinghamshire, HP18 9JR (01844 338 429, http://www.theclifdenarms.co.uk ). Open Tue-Thu 11.00-15.00 and 17.00-24.00, Fri-Sun 11.00-24.00. Food served Tue-Sat 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-22.00 and Sun 12.00-15.00.
The Clifden Arms is located 11.9 km (7.4 mi) into the full walk. It is a thatched 16th century, Grade II-listed, building with a medieval range and a 17th century cross wing. Its name derives from the 2nd Viscount Clifden, an Irish politician, who had purchased the manor of Worminghall in 1827. It stayed in family hands until 1911.
In a quiet location at the end of a cul-de-sac, it offers inspired, but affordable menus, based on pub classics. Seating is available in either the bar, a larger restaurant part, or in the extensive garden.
The Rising Sun 36 Worminghall Road, Ickford Buckinghamshire, HP18 9JD (01844 339 238 ), http://www.therisingsunickford.com). Open Mon-Fri 12.00-14.30 and 16.00-23.00, Sat-Sun 12.00-23.00. Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-14.00 and Wed-Sat 18.30-21.00, Sun 12.00-15.00.
The Rising Sun is located 13.3 km (8.3 mi) into the full walk.
The Old Fisherman Mill Road, Shabbington, Buckinghamshire, HP18 9HJ (01844 201 247, https://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/our-locations/the-old-fisherman ). Open 12.00-late. Food serving times may vary during the seasons, but typically might be: 12.00-14.15 Mon-Fri and 18.00-21.00 Wed-Fri, 12.00-15.00 and 17.30-21.00 Sat, 12.00-20.00 Sun .
The Old Fisherman is located 9.5 km (5.9 mi) into the walk if taking the Shortcut.
The Six Bells 44 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2AD (01844 212 088, http://sixbellsthame.co.uk/ ). Open Mon 12.00-22.30, Tue-Thu 12.00-23.00, Fri-Sat 12.00-23.30, Sun 12.00-23.00. Food served Mon-Fri 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.00, Sat 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-21.30, Sun 12.00-18.00.
The Thatch 29 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2AA (01844 213 340, http://www.thethatchthame.co.uk/ ).
(Pad Thai at) The Rising Sun High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BZ (01844 214 206, http://www.padthai-cuisine.co.uk/thame.html ). Open Mon-Thu 12.00-15.00 and 17.00-24.00, Fri-Sat 12.00-24.00, Sun 12.00-23.30. (Thai) Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-22.30, Sun 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-22.00.
Treacles Tea Rooms 12 High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BZ (01844 260 840).
Open Mon-Fri 8.30-17.30 and Sat 9.00-17.30.
Café Bobo 6 Greyhound Walk, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3DY (01844 217 185).
Open Mon-Sat 9.30-16.00.
The James Figg 21 Cornmarket, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BL (01844 260 166, http://thejamesfiggthame.co.uk/ ). Open Mon-Thu 11.00-23.00, Fri-Sat 11.00-24.00, Sun 12.00-22.30.
The Black Horse Hotel 11 Cornmarket, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BL (01844 212 886, http://www.theblackhorsethame.com/ ). Open Mon-Thu 11.00-23.30, Fri-Sat 11.00-2.00, Sun 12.00-22.30.
The Spread Eagle Hotel Cornmarket, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BW (01844 213 661, http://www.spreadeaglethame.co.uk/ ).
The Old Nags Head 43 Upper High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2DW (01844 261 450).
The Swan Hotel 9 Upper High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3ER (01844 260 399).
Rumsey’s Chocolaterie 8 Upper High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3ER (01844 260 303, http://www.rumseys.co.uk/our-shops/thame ). Open Mon-Sat 9.00-18.00, Sun 10.00-17.30.
Smarts Fish & Chip Shop 41 Upper High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2DW (01844 260 216).
Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve
Thame's award-winning nature reserve is a unique piece of 'semi-wild' countryside. Meandering through the reserve is a tributary of the River Thame called the Cuttle Brook, which springs to life in the Chilterns.
A 108 km (67 mi) waymarked linear Long Distance path linking the Heart of England Way at Bourton-on-the-Water with the Thames Path at Henley-on-Thames across the rolling limestone countryside of the Cotswold Hills.
Rycote is Anglo Saxon and indicates a small group of dwellings amongst fields of rye. Rycote House was a great Tudor country house built on the site of an earlier mansion early in the 16th century, probably for Sir John Heron, Treasurer of the Chamber to first Henry VII and then Henry VIII. Henry VIII and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, honeymooned here in 1540. It was long believed that Rycote House burned down in 1745 and that its remains were demolished in 1800, apart from one corner turret and some outbuildings. However, in 2001 Channel 4's Time Team investigated Rycote Park and established that Rycote had been rebuilt after the fire. Ca. 1920 the stables were converted into the present House.
Saint Michael’s Chapel
A Perpendicular Gothic building with a chancel, nave and west tower, founded as a chantry in 1449 by the Lord and Lady of the manor. It retains 15C wooden fittings incl. pews, stalls and a screen. Now owned by English Heritage.
Thame Valley Walk
A 24 km (15 mi) waymarked linear path along the Thame Valley from Aylesbury to Albury, linking the North Bucks Way with the Oxfordshire Way.
Nowadays seen as a 65 km (40 mi) long tributary of the longer Thames, there is a school of thought saying that the Thames upstream of Dorchester, where the Thame joins it, is called Isis, and that the Thames is only the confluence of Isis and Thame. What seems certain is that all three names go back to the Celtic “Tamesas/Tamesis” (probably meaning “dark”). The Thame's source is several small streams in the Vale of Aylesbury on the north side of the Chiltern Hills. These streams converge north-east of Aylesbury.
Waterstock House (Horse) Training Centre
A well-known training centre for horses and riders alike and a venue for local and national equestrian training events and clinics, it was once owned by Lars Sederholm, former Consultant Head of Training for the British Showjumping Association, who has been one of the leading trainers and mentors in the equestrian world for the last forty years. Many of the royal family have ridden at WHTC and competitions are regularly held there.
Bernwood Jubilee Way
A 98 km (61 mi) waymarked circular Long Distance trail from Brill, Bucks, developed by the Bernwood Ancient Hunting Forest Project within the ancient Forest boundary. Brill’s close association with Bernwood, as its administration centre, gave it an importance throughout the history of the royal forest and thus makes it an ideal starting/finishing point. The most northerly points of the route are near Oxford and Buckingham, the most southerlys just north of Thame.
Opened in 2002, Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee Year.
One of several forests of the ancient Kingdom of England and a Royal hunting forest. It is thought to have been set aside as Royal hunting land when the Anglo-Saxon kings had a palace at Brill and church in Oakley, in the 10th century and was a particularly favoured place of Edward the Confessor, who was born in nearby Islip.
From about 1217 through to the 17th century the forest went through a gradual period of deforestation.
The site of the Prebendal House is very close to the heart of the Anglo Saxon settlement: the area known as Priestend where the road to Crendon crossed the river Thame and the Aylesbury to Oxford road used to pass between the Church and Vicarage , and it was surrounded on three sides by a man-made moat, and on the fourth side by the river. The moat could well have been a part of the original Anglo Saxon defences or an enclosure boundary. The current building was originally the residence of the Bishop of Lincoln's prebendary (a type of canon involved in the cathedral administration). It is now a private residence, and its most famous recent resident has been Robin Gibb, the ex-Bee Gees singer.
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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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