Captains Wood Route, Chilterns

This wonderful, varied walk takes in ancient field patterns and hedges, old earthworks and the home of a famous author, as well as looking at the work carried out by Chiltern Society volunteers.

Technical sheet No. 28531959

A Cholesbury-cum-St. Leonards walk posted on 07/11/22 by Chiltern Society. Last update : 08/11/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h00[?]
Distance Distance : 9.32 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 109 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 104 m
Highest point Highest point : 180 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 118 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Cholesbury-cum-St. Leonards
Starting point Starting point : N 51.731514° / W 0.605936°
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Start: The Black Horse Inn, Chesham Vale, Bucks (HP5 3NS). Grid ref: SP 963 045

(D/A) Exit the pub car park (A) and turn right down the road (MC5) for 100m to take a footpath on the right.

(1) Enter the path through a gate, continue ahead through the next one and then follow the transmission cables up to the top of the hill. Go through the gate on the right into the next field. Turn right and continue uphill, keeping to the left of the hedge.

Follow the field round to a wide gap in the hedgerow at the top of the hill and turn right through it. Continue straight across the middle of two fields for a kilometer to a kissing gate. Go through it and the next one directly ahead(B).

(2) Turn left immediately after the gate and follow to the right of the hedgerow, passing through two further gates, all the way down to the bottom of the hill. Turn right, go through a gate and follow the valley floor for 400m through the next gate to a wide track, Hawridge Lane (C) .

(3) Turn left along the track as it climbs gently and continue past farm buildings (D) and houses to a tarmac road.

(4) Cross and turn left along the verge and then right into Two Gates Lane. After 100m bear left and follow the lane as it bends left and then right. Continue for 150m to a kissing gate on the left.

(5) Go through it and across the middle of the field to the next gate. On the other side, bear diagonally left to gates in the corner of the field. Go through the right-hand gate and stay in the same general direction through two more gates. Bear right through a third gate and continue forward through a fourth to meet a wide track. Turn right along the track and where it bends to the left, keep straight ahead through a gate. The path then emerges at the top of a field.

(6) Turn left and follow the hedgerow along the top of the hill for over 800m. Just before a hedgerow joins from the valley floor, bear left into Captain’s Wood (E). Stay on the wide track for another 800m, ignoring all paths left and right and always maintaining the same height.

(7) Where the main path sweeps to the right below a line of very overgrown garages on the brow of the hill, turn sharply left and go gently uphill to a playing field. Keep to the left of a playground and cross to the far right-hand corner of the field. Go through a gate to an access road. Turn left, go through the smaller gate and continue ahead.

Just before the path swings to the left, turn right through a large metal field gate. Go through the smaller gate directly opposite into a field. Bear left across the corner of the field and over a stile. Stay in the same direction, bear to the right of a paddock and go through a gate onto the drive to Mount Nugent Farm.

(8) Turn right down the drive to a road (Mount Nugent). Cross it, go through a kissing gate opposite and follow the wide track round to the left. After 200m, follow the track round to the right. Go past a field gate and stile, and continue to the entrance of a wood (F). Go through the kissing gate and then straight ahead for 170m.

(9) Follow the footpath sign keeping straight on to exit the wood at a field edge. Follow the fence down through a kissing gate and onwards to meet a byway track. Turn right to reach a busy, narrow road (MC5). Taking great care, turn left along it to return to the Black Horse.(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. 121 m - The Black Horse Inn
1 : km 0.15 - alt. 120 m - Footpath right
2 : km 2.28 - alt. 174 m - Hawridge Court
3 : km 2.97 - alt. 151 m - Hawridge Lane
4 : km 3.61 - alt. 180 m - Tarmac road - Bellingdon Farm
5 : km 4.11 - alt. 165 m - Kissing gate left
6 : km 4.98 - alt. 163 m - Left turn
7 : km 6.68 - alt. 161 m - Overgrown garages
8 : km 7.22 - alt. 168 m - Mount Nugent Farm
9 : km 8.06 - alt. 170 m - Ramscoat Wood
D/A : km 9.32 - alt. 121 m - The Black Horse Inn

Useful Information

Start & Finish The Black Horse Inn, Chesham Vale, Bucks (HP5 3NS). Grid ref: SP 963 045

Parking: The Black Horse Inn. The landlord has given permission to park at the far end of the car park and would be delighted to serve you some refreshments.

Local transport: Bus service 1/1A runs regularly every day from Chesham town centre to Hivings (Hope) Church close to waypoint 12.

Terrain: An easy walk, with two gentle climbs and one steep descent. A wonderfully varied walk taking in ancient field patterns and hedges, old earthworks and the home of a famous author.

Food & drink: The Black Horse Inn. None on the walk

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) The Black Horse and Chesham Vale: The pub is over 500 years old and reputed to be the oldest in the Chilterns. The current building dates from the 18th century. Mind your head on the low beams! In medieval times, most of the land in Chesham Vale was farmed using an open-field system, where there was a mixture of common fields and narrow strips. These strips, sometimes called lynchets, were usually cultivated by the tenants of the Lord of the Manor. This area is also known for its ancient hedgerows, some of which could be 1,000 years old. Recently they were the subject of a survey carried out by local people on behalf of the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Biodiversity Partnership.

(B) Hawridge: To the right are the grounds of Hawridge Court, a medieval manor house dating from the 13th century. It’s enclosed by an earlier ringwork, comprising a single rampart and ditch. If you look over the fence at the corner of the field, you will see the ancient ditch.
Hawridge gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon Aucrug which means ‘ridge frequented by hawks’.

(C) Hawridge Lane: On the left at the top of the hill is Animal Farm. This is a small farm producing a wide variety of free-range fresh and frozen meat. Further along on the left are Bellingdon Farm Cottages. They are Grade II listed and date from the 17th century. DH Lawrence rented one of them between August 1914 and January 1915, during which time he wrote The Rainbow.

(D) Bellingdon: The walk passes both Bellingdon Farm and Bloomfield Farm. Like many farmhouses in the area they were built during the 16th and 17th centuries and are both Grade II listed. Bellingdon is famous for its brickworks, the last of which, HG Matthews, is nearby.

(E) Captain's Wood: There is little evidence to show how the wood got its name; perhaps it came from a local landowner, Captain Spratly. The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea were named after him. Captain’s Wood is an ancient woodland and, since 1995, a designated nature reserve. Its lower bank is one of the most diverse hedgerows in the Chilterns and may date back to the 7th century. Much of the top edge is hornbeam, which was grown for firewood. Since spring 2013, the Chiltern Society has been organising regular conservation working parties to ensure the wood is kept open for all. In 2014 the Society took over the management of the wood from Buckinghamshire County Council.

(F) Ramscoat Wood: At the entrance to the wood were the Baker family brickworks, which, it is said, made the finest bricks in Chesham. They were used in the construction of Park Royal Underground Station in London.

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