Grims Ditch and Cobblers Pits, Chilterns

A varied walk taking in lovely woods, a hillfort, beautiful views over Aylesbury Vale and the peaceful Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

Technical sheet
No. 28904661
A Wendover walk posted on 21/11/22 by Chiltern Society. Update : 21/11/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h10[?]
Distance Distance : 15.82km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 240m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 242m
Highest point Highest point : 273m
Lowest point Lowest point : 120m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Wendover
Starting point Starting point : N 51.762245° / W 0.743082°
Download : PDF / Print -

Description

Start: Wendover Library car park, High Street, Wendover (HP22 6DU). Grid ref: SP 868 077

(D/A) From the car park entrance, turn right down the High Street and right again along Heron Path, following the signs for the Ridgeway path.

Alternatively, if you park in the Tring Road deregulated area just north of the Clock Tower, walk back past the tower and turn left along Heron Path.

(1) Continue along Heron path (A), cross a lane and ignore paths to the left and right to reach St. Mary’s Church. Turn left along the lane (Church Lane) past the church.

Cross a minor road and go straight on, passing Wellhead Cottage on your right. Stay on this track for 1.2 km past Boswells Farm. On the way the lane changes from a surfaced road to a stony track.

(2) Turn left on the Ridgeway up through Barn Wood. Make sure you are on the Ridgeway - there are several other paths up the hill!

Shortly after the turn, the Ridgeway starts to climb. Continue climbing for 630m and, towards the top of the hill, look out for a footpath to the right.

(3) Turn right up the slope to leave the Ridgeway. Head up the path for 40m to join a wide crossing track and turn left. After 430m, ignore the path to the right, continue for a few more metres and take the path to the left into a wood.

Follow this path through the wood for 450m, past a path junction, old gate pillars and field boundary and through a strip of woodland. At the end of this strip, turn right along the field edge, and after a few metres go left back into the woods. The embankment on your left is Grim’s Ditch which is covered in bluebells in spring.

(4) At the end of Grim’s Ditch the path is joined by a larger open track from the right. Turn left, ignore the first path on the right, then bear diagonally right across a field to re-enter woodland through a gap in a brick wall.

Follow the path downhill, cross over the Ridgeway and go down an ancient hollow-way through woodland to a stile. Follow the path diagonally across a field and go through a gate to a lane. Turn left along it past The Hale to a left-hand bend.

(5) Ignore the first path on the right (signed Icknield Way), continue ahead for a few metres to the end of the houses and turn right up a path into a field. Turn left along the field edge as it runs parallel to the lane, through a gate and a wood to meet a wide track just after the houses. Turn right and continue for 70m to the barrier and entrance to Wendover Woods.

Do not go through, instead take the path to the left and keep to the woodland boundary, ignoring paths off to the right, for 850m up to a T-junction near the top. At times this informal woodland path can be overgrown. If it is, bear right to the track and follow it uphill to the junction.

Turn right and continue to climb up to the entrance to Boddington Hillfort (B). Enjoy fine views over Wendover and beyond.

(6) After exploring the fort, leave the information board behind and take the main track directly ahead (C). Stay on it for nearly 1Km to reach the Information point near the Cafe in the Woods, where refreshments and toilets are available.

(7) Turn left in front of the Information point/parking pay station towards the car park.

Here, you can take a detour to visit the highest point in the Chilterns, though it can be difficult to find. If you want to skip this detour, turn left and follow the instructions from Waypoint (8).

Otherwise, turn right before you reach the car park, walking to the right of the road to the exit road. Cross the road. To visit the high point, turn right along the road walking wood-side of the fence between woods and road. Ignore the first path on the left that leads to a picnic area. As the road turns right, bear left into the woods and follow the path to the stones marking Haddington Hill the highest point in the Chilterns (D). Return to the road and turn right.

(8) Continue past the entry barrier and along the tarmac entrance road for 500m. Where it dips down to the left, take a path leading off right past a wooden barrier into woodland and follow it for 200m to a crossing footpath. The path to the right is not well marked, so be alert.

(9) Take the right-hand path up to a gate and into a field. Cross the field to the left of a triangulation point (concrete pyramid) to another stile in the corner of the field. Cross a driveway to the road, turning left for 10m before taking the wide track off to the right.

Walk parallel with the car park and shortly past the end of the car park take footpath sharp left, initially between wooden barriers. Descend the hill for 500m to a fork. Bear left towards the golf course clubhouse. Cross the course following the white post markers and a square white sign. Go through a gap in the hedge and follow the path directly ahead between hedgerow and field down to a gate and the B4009 Upper Icknield Way.

(10) Taking great care, cross the road to the pavement on the other side and walk uphill to the road to Wendover Woods. (An option in June is to visit the Aston Clinton Ragpits (E) to see the orchids.) Turn right through a kissing gate and follow the path as it winds downhill through woodland and Cobblers’ Pits (F) to the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

(11) Go through a gate, turn left and follow the canal towpath (G) for 1.6 km to Halton village (H). Cross the road and take the towpath on the opposite bank. Continue along the canal for 2.5km to the canal head.

(12) Take the slope up to the road (Wharf Road). Turn left to return to cars parked in Tring Road or, to return to the library, turn right and walk along the pavement to a T-junction at the Aylesbury Road. Turn left to the Clock Tower roundabout and turn right up the High Street to return to the car park. (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. 130m - Wendover Library car park
1 : km 0.55 - alt. 131m - Heron path - Rope Meadow and Hampden conservation Area
2 : km 2.21 - alt. 177m - Ridgeway
3 : km 2.85 - alt. 231m - Right up slope
4 : km 3.95 - alt. 242m - End Grim’s Ditch
5 : km 4.87 - alt. 175m - The Hale - Boddinggton Hillfort
6 : km 6.25 - alt. 249m - Boddington Fort - Wendover Woods
7 : km 7.15 - alt. 271m - Cafe in the Woods - Haddington Hill
8 : km 7.64 - alt. 272m - Entry Barrier
9 : km 8.41 - alt. 262m - Crossing footpath
10 : km 10.14 - alt. 161m - B4009 Road
11 : km 10.86 - alt. 128m - Canal
12 : km 15.19 - alt. 123m - Slope
D/A : km 15.82 - alt. 128m - Wendover Library car park

Useful Information

Start: Wendover Library car park, High Street, Wendover (HP22 6DU). Grid ref: SP 868 077

Parking: Wendover Library car park or free roadside parking in the Tring Road area

Terrain: A somewhat challenging walk on good paths with two climbs. Care needed when descending on wet chalk and slippery tree roots.

Food & drink: The Café in the Woods in Wendover Woods. There are plenty of cafés and pubs in Wendover 

Local transport: Bus 50 runs between Aylesbury and Halton all week. Bus 55 runs between Aylesbury and Chesham on Mondays to Fridays. Wendover is also served by main line trains to Marylebone and Aylesbury.

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) Rope Meadow and Hampden conservation Area: The wildflower meadow was once the site of Albert Payne’s rope and sack business. During the summer it is rich in wild flowers and grasses. The conservation area used to be farming land and was given to the town in 1936.

(B) Boddington Hillfort: The walk passes through Wendover Woods, where a Chiltern Society conservation volunteer group has worked with the Forestry Commission for over five years to help manage the woods for recreation, preserve ancient monuments and encourage biodiversity. At the top of the climb out of Wendover is the ancient Boddington Iron Age hillfort, which volunteers have rescued from being at 'high risk' to ‘low risk and stable’ by clearing undergrowth and small trees to create an open woodland area.

(C) Wendover Woods cover 325 hectares and are a mixture of coniferous and broadleaved trees. Owned by the Forestry Commission, the site is very popular for many outdoor activities. It belonged to Alfred de Rothschild and was heavily felled during WWI to support the war effort. In 1919 it was sold to the Air Ministry who replanted it with conifers. It was then passed to the Forestry Commission who planted beech, spruce, larch and pine.

(D) Haddington Hill is the highest point in the Chilterns at 267m. It’s marked by a set of stones and a plaque. The summit is hard to find as the surrounding area is nearly flat. To add to the confusion, a few miles away, another Haddington Hill is the highest point in Hertfordshire!

(E) Aston Clinton Ragpits is an old chalk pit managed by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. This hidden reserve boasts 10 species of orchid and over 25 different types of butterfly.

(F) Cobbler's Pits is a small mixed wood of yew and box. The Chiltern Society recently took over the management of this disused quarry from Bucks County Council.

(G) The Wendover Arm: the 6.7 mile long Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal was constructed in 1799 to carry water from the springs and streams in the Wendover area to feed the Tring summit locks. It had problems from the start with leakage. The middle section became dry so the water was piped. The Arm is currently being restored by the Wendover Arm Trust.

(H) RAF Halton & The Rothschilds: the walk along the canal passes RAF Halton. The Halton Estate was owned by the Rothschild family and at the outbreak of WWI they offered land to Lord Kitchener for military training. After Alfred de Rothschild’s death in 1918 the estate was purchased by the War Office for £112,000. It’s now the RAF's centre for recruit and airman training.

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