Cholesbury Camp, Chilterns

The highlight is a visit to Cholesbury Camp, a well-preserved Iron Age hillfort now managed by the Chiltern Society. You will also discover a fascinating history that includes historic buildings, a generous vicar and a local hero who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Technical sheet No. 27885624

A Cholesbury-cum-St. Leonards walk posted on 19/10/22 by Chiltern Society. Last update : 07/02/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 1h55[?]
Distance Distance : 6.22 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 63 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 55 m
Highest point Highest point : 198 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 148 m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
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 51.75375° / W 0.64625°
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Start & finish: The Full Moon pub, Cholesbury HP5 2UJ. Grid ref: SP 935 070

(D/A) From the pub entrance, cross directly over the road to the common. Take the footpath down to a wide bridleway at the bottom. Turn right along the often muddy bridleway for 800m to a lane.

(1) Turn left along it and, before the bend, take the first path on the right. Stay on it for about a kilometre (A) as it becomes a rough lane and carry on to reach a road junction by Vale Farm just after a track joins from the right. Take the right hand lane signposted towards Chesham.

After a few steps, take the path on the right. Climb up to a road. Cross it and walk along Church Lane and bear left to pass St Mary’s Church on the left. Take the narrow path on the right between Hawridge Court (B) and Church Barn. Go through a gate.

(2) Bear left round the corner and follow the hedgerow to a gate. Do not go through but turn right and follow the edge of the field to the next gate. Go through, stay in the same direction through a further gate, and then drop down the steep slope to a crossing path in the valley bottom.

(3) Turn right through a gate and follow the path for 430m to go through a gate at a rough lane (Hawridge Lane). Go straight over and stay in the same direction, ignoring all paths left and right, for 1.5km to reach a road. (En route you will go over two stiles, through one gate and generally follow the line of the overhead power cables).

(4) At the road, turn left, then immediately right. Ignore the path on the left and continue straight on via stiles/gates into a field. Walk straight on for 75m then take the kissing gate ahead left into the next field. Follow the fence on the right through another gate to reach a double gate by an electricity pole.

(5) Go through the gate and turn right to follow the path up the hill, through a gate at the top and between houses to Cholesbury Lane. Bear left over the lane into Parrotts Lane. Walk along it for 100m then turn right along the gravel track towards the church (C)

Go through the wooden gates and turn immediately left. Go up the slope ahead and walk along the top of the bank of Cholesbury Camp (C) to a crossing path. Turn right through the opposite bank to an information board and gate. Go through it into a field and straight across to Holy (Holly) Pond. (Turn right to visit the church). Go through a gate to the left of the pond and straight ahead through two gates to a road by the Village Hall.

(6) To return to the Full Moon, turn left onto the common (D) and follow one of the grassy tracks that run on either side of the road. (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. 181 m - The Full Moon pub
1 : km 0.85 - alt. 160 m - Lane
2 : km 2.29 - alt. 174 m - Hawridge Court
3 : km 2.59 - alt. 148 m - Valley bottom
4 : km 4.55 - alt. 173 m - Road
5 : km 4.9 - alt. 173 m - Double gate by an electricity pole
6 : km 5.75 - alt. 189 m - Cholesbury Village Hall - Cholesbury
D/A : km 6.22 - alt. 181 m - The Full Moon pub

Useful Information

Start & finish: The Full Moon pub, Cholesbury HP5 2UJ. Grid ref: SP 935 070

Terrain: An easy walk with two short climbs and one steep descent.

Parking: On the edge of the common, or in the car park near the cricket pavilion (unless a match is taking place)

Local transport: Buses 149 and 194 run between Chesham and Tring on Wednesdays and between Chesham and Cholesbury on Tuesdays and Thursdays.l

Food & drink: None on the walk but the landlord of the Full Moon would be delighted to serve you some refreshments

This walk was created for the book "50 Great Walks in the Chilterns" available from the Chiltern Society, White Hill Centre, White Hill, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 1AG Tel. 01494 771250 or from

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

The points of interest in this walk were compiled with the assistance of Chris Brown of Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards Local History Group. For further information go to

Cholesbury and Hawridge are two of four villages that make up the parish of Cholesbury-cum-St Leonard's. The villages were established through gradual separation from Drayton Beauchamp and Marsworth-cum-Hawridge. Cholesbury was associated with Drayton Beauchamp and Hawridge with Marsworth. For many centuries the local economy was based on agriculture, woodworking and, more recently, brick making.
In the 19th century women and children were employed in the straw-plaiting trade. A notable person in Cholesbury’s history was the Rev Henry Jeston. In the 19th century Cholesbury was suffering from the effects of the Poor Laws and became bankrupt. Rev Jeston not only lent money to the parish, but also provided evidence to Parliamentary Commissioners who proposed legislative reforms.

(A) Hawridge and Cholesbury commons: A 40 hectare area of deciduous woodland and grassland managed by The Hawridge and Cholesbury Commons Preservation Society. On the left, across the road from the Full Moon, are an obelisk and three pudding stones. The obelisk was erected in 1898 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and is placed on the boundary between the two parishes. The pudding stones were moved there in 2012, to the site of the beacon which was lit to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. Just after the start the route crosses Horseblock Lane. It’s been said that the name derives from an incident during the Civil War, when the Parliamentarians used the bodies of dead horses to form a barricade during a skirmish with Royalist forces. There is, however, no historical evidence to support this.

(B) Hawridge Court and St Mary’s church : Hawridge comes from the Anglo Saxon ‘Aucrug’ a ridge frequented by hawks. Hawridge Court was home to the Lords of Hawridge Manor. The current house was built in the 18th century, although there are older buildings on the site. The most notable feature is the ringwork, possibly dating from the Bronze Age. St Mary’s Church was first recorded in 1227, but fell into decay in the 17th century. In 1856 the church architect William White restored it using some of the original materials, in a style very unusual in churches, known as ‘polychromy’ – the use of many colours in decoration.

(C) Cholesbury Camp and the Church :

  • The Camp is believed to be some 2,500 years old. One of the most visually impressive prehistoric settlements of the Chilterns, it’s oval shaped with a high surrounding bank and ditches, and covers c10 acres. The first excavation in 1932 found evidence of a kiln and iron smelting. A geophysical survey in 2001 by Chess Valley Archaeological & Historical Society traced other possible smelting sites. There is also evidence of a small medieval settlement close to the church. Within the camp is Holy or Holly Pond, reputed to have supplied clean water even in severe droughts.
  • The church of St Laurence was built in the 12th century and has an 18th century bell turret and roof. In the graveyard is a stone commemorating David Newton, a marine who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. He died in 1878, having lived well into his 90s.

(D) Cholesbury has a number of interesting buildings. The Village Hall was built in 1895 by Frederick Butcher, a keen supporter of the Temperance movement. To the left of it is the 16th century, Grade II listed Cholesbury Manor House. The Bury used to be the Bricklayers Arms, one of eight local pubs that traded in the 1900s. The best-known building is the windmill. A smock mill was built in 1863, but was replaced by the current tower mill in 1883. It ceased trading in 1912 and was rented the following year by novelist and dramatist Gilbert Cannan and his wife Mary. She entertained many well-known creative people such as D H Lawrence, and Katherine Mansfield who lodged next door at The Gables.

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