A Penn Circuit, Chilterns

An undulating walk through woodland and arable farmland, via Penn House Estate, Common Wood and Penn Wood.

Technical sheet
No. 28553808
A Penn walk posted on 08/11/22 by Chiltern Society. Update : 09/11/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h50[?]
Distance Distance : 9.25km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 71m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 71m
Highest point Highest point : 174m
Lowest point Lowest point : 115m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Penn
Starting point Starting point : N 51.654343° / W 0.667078°
Download : PDF / Print -


Start: The War Memorial on Penn Street Common near Amersham (HP7 OPX). Grid ref: SU 923 960

(D/A) From the War Memorial walk the short distance by the side of the road to Penn Street pond (surrounded by a clump of trees) and a visitor information board (A).

(1) Cross the road and walk down a wide gravel drive to reach a footpath through a short stretch of woodland to a field. Take the clearly marked path bearing right across the field to the edge of the woodland. Go through the kissing gate straight ahead and enter the wood.

At the end of the wood, go through a kissing gate to reach a field. Continue across the field to another kissing gate and a footpath between high hedges to meet Whielden Lane (B). Cross it and fork right uphill over a road to a footpath on the right just after a children's play area.

(2) Take the path on the right (West), go through a kissing gate and stay straight ahead. You are now on the Chiltern Way and will follow it until Waypoint (9). Cross the field and pass through another kissing gate to reach Horsemoor Lane. To the right is a very old pond called Gawde Water (Guardswater), and a visitor information board.

Cross the road, pass through a kissing gate and fork left onto a path, ignoring the kissing gate and path branch ahead. Continue along this path in a strip of woodland, ignoring a branching path to the left, to reach the tarmac drive to Penn House. Turn left and follow the drive for 250m to the bend then bear right onto a path along the edge of Branches Wood.

(3) Shortly, on leaving the wood, bear left and follow a grassy path downhill with a hedge on the right. On passing Round Wood bear right to reach a road (Penn Bottom).

(4) Cross the road and go through a kissing gate in the hedge opposite. Immediately turn right and follow the permissive path alongside the hedge on your right-hand side to reach a kissing gate and Noaks Lane, formerly Crown Lane. Cross the road to reach a small car park and sarsen stones on the right, with 'Church Knowl' (C) on the mound, hidden in woodland. After the Knowl, take the path straight ahead for 250m to a crossing path.

(5) Turn right onto the crossing path, leaving the Chiltern Way, and walk uphill to meet a crossing path at the field boundary. Turn left onto the path and continue straight ahead to a path junction just before Puttenham Place (hidden behind a screen of trees).

(6) At the path junction turn right onto a path that goes straight across a field towards Pugh's Wood. Enter the wood and descend to Common Wood Road. Take care on this downhill section when wet.

Cross the road and pass through a small car park to enter Common Wood (D). There is a visitor information board here. Take the path on the right through woodland for 700m to meet a wide, gravelled path, with a commemorative bench and carved sign at the junction.

(7) Turn left and follow this path for 1.25Km to a major crossing path.

(8) Turn right onto this path as it drops steeply into the valley with a fence on the left, ignoring paths off to the right. Continue beside Hazlemere Golf Club to reach a road (Gravelly Way). Cross the road and pass through a kissing gate directly ahead. This is the Justice Gate entrance to Penn Wood (E). Walk through woodland for 30m to a gate. There is a visitor information board to the right. Go through the gate onto a wide track and continue for uphill for 200m.

(9) Bear right for 700m. Walk along an open avenue between mature conifers, birch, areas of cleared dead wood and rhododendron to reach a clearing and crossing path.

This open area is The Penna (F). The remains of an old fountain is in the undergrowth on the right of the path a few metres ahead. After the Penna, continue in the same direction for 400m to the end of the avenue and reach a crossing path.

(10) Keep left onto this footpath through woodland for 150m to meet a wide drive. Turn right onto it and continue for 100m to a gate and leave the woodland at Goose Pond Gate to meet New Road. Turn left to reach Penn Street cricket ground and The Squirrel public house. Walk back along Penn Street Common to reach the War Memorial. (D/A)

"We hope you have enjoyed your walk. Please remember to rate the walk and add comments. We are interested in how we could improve the instructions or the route and would like to hear about any issues with paths on the walk."

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 162m - The War Memorial - Penn Street village
1 : km 0.09 - alt. 165m - Visitor Information Board
2 : km 1.47 - alt. 158m - Play Area
3 : km 2.52 - alt. 141m - Branches Wood
4 : km 3.07 - alt. 115m - Penn Bottom - Church Knowll
5 : km 3.51 - alt. 130m - Right turn
6 : km 4.37 - alt. 151m - Puttenham Place - Common Wood
7 : km 5.55 - alt. 159m - Carved Sign
8 : km 6.74 - alt. 171m - Crossing path - Penn Wood
9 : km 7.64 - alt. 164m - Bear right
10 : km 8.93 - alt. 168m - Bear left
D/A : km 9.25 - alt. 161m - The War Memorial

Useful Information

Start: The War Memorial on Penn Street Common near Amersham (HP7 OPX). Grid ref: SU 923 960

Parking: Park by the road opposite the Penn Street War Memorial. Take care not to obstruct the driveways to houses 

Local transport: Bus 73 runs between Penn Street and Whelpley Hill via Chesham on Mondays to Fridays. Bus 1 runs between High Wycombe and Chesham via Amersham all week and stops on the nearby A404 Amersham Road

Terrain: A few minor gradients with two short steep downhill sections. Paths can be muddy during wet weather and in winter. No stiles.

Food & Drink: Penn Street: The Squirrel and The Hit or Miss pubs. Winchmore Hill: The Plough and The Potters Arms. Tylers Green (500m from Puttenham Place): The Red Lion and JJ 's Delicatessen and Café.

This walk was created for the book "50 Great Walks in the Chilterns" available from the Chiltern Society or from Amazon.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

(A) Penn Street: gets its name from a combination of two old words. ‘Penn’ means an enclosure, although some books say it’s Celtic for hill. ‘Street’ derives from a Saxon word meaning a road used by the Romans. There was such a road running from a nearby villa to a main Roman road south of Beaconsfield.

The village and the surrounding area stand on part of the ancient Wycombe Heath, 4,000 acres of common land, comprising heathland and woods. Some of the houses that line the road date back to the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries. The local church, Holy Trinity, was built in 1849. In May 1913 the church organ was set alight by suffragettes.

(B) Winchmore Hill: The name possibly derives from the name of a local family and means 'Wine's moor'. The village is unusual in that it was once not only divided between three parishes of Amersham, Coleshill and Penn but was also in the counties of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. All three boundaries met at the crossroads by The Plough pub. At the turn of the 20th century most inhabitants were employed in farming, chair making and pottery.

(C) Church Knowll: It is thought that the knoll on which a house now stands was the site of an early Saxon church. Penn church moved to its present site at the end of the 12th Century, replacing the original wooden structure.

(D) Common Wood: Common Wood has an area of 248 acres and is owned by the Penn & Tylers Green Residents Society. It also was part of the common land of Wycombe Heath. It is classified as semi-natural Ancient Woodland, meaning it has been woodland for over 400 years but has been managed by man for most, if not all of that time.

(E) Penn Wood: The 436 acre Penn Wood is owned by the Woodland Trust and is one of the largest Ancient Woodlands in the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Like Common wood it is classified as semi-natural Ancient Woodland.

In the mid-19th century Penn Wood was enclosed, and grazing by the commoners stopped. It was at about this time that some of the ornamental avenues, lined with the conifers and rhododendron that we see today, were planted. It was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1951.

(F) The Penna was a deer enclosure on Wycombe Heath. The name derives from the Old English for an enclosure or pen. In Victorian times this central area was a bright and open clearing with ornamental trees and rhododendron which were in sharp contrast to the surrounding dense, high and gloomy woodland.  A purple leaf beech, a gift from the Prince of Wales, is planted in this area to celebrate the purchase of the wood by the Woodland Trust. Nearby are the remains of a fountain dedicated to Ernest Cook, who cared for the wood.

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