Burnham Beeches, Chilterns

A walk suitable for families round the scenic Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve, which is particularly colourful in spring and autumn, but well worth a visit at any time of year.

Technical sheet No. 29660805

A Burnham walk posted on 03/01/23 by Chiltern Society. Last update : 03/01/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 1h40[?]
Distance Distance : 5.59 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 26 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 21 m
Highest point Highest point : 92 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 65 m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Burnham
Starting point Starting point : N 51.556152° / W 0.624073°
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Start: Burnham Beeches car park (A). Nearest postcode (SL2 3LB). Grid ref: SU 955 851

(D/A) Starting from the car park, turn left and walk past the café, toilets and information point. Continue for a further 75m, ignoring the driveway forking right, to meet a crossroads and information board. Turn left (South-West) down Sir Henry Peek’s Drive for 140m to a cattle grid. Turn left (East) just before it onto a wide path. Continue along this path for 180m, keeping a fence on the right.

(1) On reaching a junction of paths, turn right (South) through the gate and onto a wooden boardwalk through a wetland area. Continue straight ahead on the main boardwalk until it ends at a crossing path. Cross it to reach a T-junction.

Turn right (South-West) for 80m to meet a tarmac drive. Cross the drive and continue along a wide grassy area and then a gravel path for 350m, ignoring all other paths to right and left. At a large oak tree and seat, go over a crossing path and head slightly downhill to another boardwalk. Pass a very old tree trunk on the left. The path slopes downhill through a sharp right-hand bend to reach Middle Pond. At Middle Pond, bear left to reach a crossing path.

(2) Bear right (North-North-East) around the edge of the pond and past a seat on the left. Follow the gravel path for 275m to Upper Pond. Turn left past the information board and seat and, at a junction of paths, bear left to join a well-defined track. Continue up a slope, go over a crossing path and after 45m head straight over a tarmac drive. After a few metres go over a crossing path and round to the right between two old trees. Pass through a gate in a fence and continue to a path junction.

(3) Turn sharp left (South-West) at this junction along a wide track. Ignore paths coming in from left and right and go straight over a crossing path. Continue along the track for 300m to meet a fence on the left. Follow the path alongside the fence for a further 200m until it bends sharply (90º) to the left.  Bear right and follow a broad stony path downhill to meet a wide crossing path in the valley, Victoria Drive. Cross it and head uphill for 55m.

(4) Turn right over a ditch along a path which, at first, can be very indistinct. Follow the path for 750m. It soon meanders uphill to reach level ground. Ignore other paths to left and right and follow this main path as it passes through extensive holly groves and gradually curves round to the left to reach an old gatepost on the right.

The path bears right and after 30m passes a green sign for Dimsdale Drive. Stay on it to the next tarmac drive, Morton Drive. Turn right and, after 90m, pass metal bollards and a sign for Morton Drive to meet up with a junction of drives.

(5) Here turn left down McAuliffe Drive. Immediately on the left is Hartley Court Moat and its information board (B), which is worth a visit. Continue down the tarmac drive for 750m to meet another tarmac drive, Dukes Drive. Go straight ahead and follow a wide downhill path. Pass a seat on the right and cross a small stream. After a further 90m meet a junction of five paths.

(6) Take the leftmost path, angling back sharply, then follow it uphill to reach a log seat on the left, where the ground levels out. Bear slightly right to stay on the main track for 450m, ignoring all paths left and right, to a crossing path within 90m of a green barrier and public road. Turn right downhill, over a bridge and stream, then head uphill to return to the car park and start point.(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. 80 m - Burnham Beeches car park
1 : km 0.48 - alt. 77 m - Path Junction
2 : km 1.37 - alt. 73 m - Middle Pond
3 : km 1.94 - alt. 77 m - Path Junction
4 : km 2.62 - alt. 67 m - Right turn
5 : km 3.65 - alt. 88 m - McAuliffe Drive
6 : km 4.64 - alt. 72 m - Five path junction
D/A : km 5.59 - alt. 80 m - Burnham Beeches car park

Useful Information

Terrain: Generally fairly dry paths, tracks and drives. A few moderate hills but no stiles. Total ascent 65m

Start & finish: Burnham Beeches car park. Nearest postcode SL2 3LB. Grid ref: SU 955 851

Food & drink: The Beeches Café, information point and public toilets are open all year between 10am and 5pm subject to seasonal variations

Parking: Burnham Beeches car park, Lord Mayors Drive, Farnham Common

Local transport: Buses 74, X74 and 583 to Farnham Common. Alight near Kingsway opposite a car showroom. From here, walk North past the shops and turn left into Beeches Road. Cross over the road into Lord Mayors Drive 

Note : There is little waymarking on the route, so if you are not confident using Visorando to navigate, it is worth picking up a detailed map from the Information Point at Burnham Beeches. Alternatively you can download the walk as a printable pdf from the Chiltern Society: Burnham_Beeches_Walk.pdf

This walk was devised with help from Burnham Beeches Information Centre and 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) Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve and site of special scientific Interest is one of a number of open spaces, parks and gardens in and around London owned and managed by the City of London. It covers 540 acres. Originally for sale as ‘land suitable for the erection of superior residences’, the Beeches was bought by the City of London Corporation in 1880 to protect it as a public open space and wildlife reserve. There has probably been woodland on the site since the retreat of the last Ice Age, but today’s landscape was created by people and the area has been inhabited since as early as the Iron Age.

Wood Banks and associated ditches can be seen on the walk. These were constructed in medieval times to separate woodland areas under different ownership, and helped prevent animals from straying from the pastures into the woods.

(B) Hartley Court Moat is a Scheduled Ancient Monument dating from sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries. A farmstead would have been built inside it. The outer ditch and bank round the moat might have been topped by a wooden fence. The people living in the farm would have cultivated the land between the moat and the outer ditch and bank.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.