Ivinghoe Beacon & Ashridge, Chilterns

This walk follows the ancient Ridgeway with stunning views from the tops of both Pitstone Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon, before returning through the beautiful woodland of the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate.

Technical sheet No. 29283453

A Aldbury walk posted on 12/12/22 by Chiltern Society. Last update : 13/12/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h45[?]
Distance Distance : 14.02 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 258 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 258 m
Highest point Highest point : 253 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 127 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Aldbury
Starting point Starting point : N 51.801144° / W 0.622545°
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Start: Tring Railway Station (A), Station Road, Tring HP23 5QR. Grid ref: SP 950 122

(D/A) This route follows The Ridgeway path (B) to Ivinghoe Beacon. Leave the station, cross the road and turn right along the pavement. Cross over Northfield Road and stay in the same direction along the road edge for 100m to the entrance to Westland Farm.

Turn left through the gate, walk up beside the concrete driveway and stay in this direction for 130m to a major path junction.

(1) Turn left along the wide track for 550m.

(2) Bear right uphill past the entrance to Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve (C). Ignore the first path on the left, walk a few metres and climb the steps to the left. Follow the path through the woods for almost 1km before passing through a gate on to the grassy hillside of Pitstone Hill (D).

(3) Keep straight ahead, climbing round the side of the hill to the top and along the ridge before descending to the car park below. Cross the road and go through the gate opposite. Continue straight ahead, keeping to the left of the fence for 550m to a path junction.

(4) Proceed in the same direction and climb the hill to the right of the dry valley (Incombe Hole). Ignore the gate on the right and continue on the stony track. Where that peters out stay straight ahead towards and through a small wood. Follow the path round the hillside, go through a gate and drop down to a road.

(5) Cross over the road and take the main path to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon (E).

(6) After enjoying the view, turn right near the Trig Point. Continue along the ridge, going through the first gate. Just before the second gate, turn right downhill. Go through the next gate near the bottom and continue ahead for 100m.

(7) Turn right on a wide track across the middle of the field. Pass through a gate, follow the path round to the left and go through the next gate into a wood (The Combe). You walk through deciduous trees at first and then wind through a closely planted conifer plantation.

Initially you are on a broad path between the lines of trees, but midway through the plantation take the fork a quarter-left through the conifers, emerging alongside an open field. Continue in the same direction and climb steps up the steep sided ridge. At the top go through two gates into a farmyard.

(8) Turn right, follow the waymarked route through the farm and leave on the concrete driveway. At the road, cross straight over, take a few paces into the wood and turn right. After 80m fork left and follow the path down to a major track (Duncombe Terrace).

(9) Turn left along the track (Duncombe Terrace) (F) and stay on it for approximately 1.5 km to arrive at a tall tower, the Bridgewater Monument (G), and the visitor centre.

(10) Continue past the Bridgewater Monument and the visitor centre and take the wide path downhill. After about 200m fork right to continue to drop down to a road (Toms Hill Road) into Aldbury (H).

(11) Turn right and go over the road junction into Station Road. Walk past the pond, Post Office and village hall.

(12) Just after the church turn right on a path signposted to Pitstone Hill. Go through two gates and left through a third just before a large barn.  Follow the path through two more gates to reach a T-junction.

(13) Turn left and stay on this path to reach a road. Bear right on the road to return to the station and finish the walk. (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. 127 m - Tring Railway Station - The Ridgeway National Trail
1 : km 0.44 - alt. 149 m - Path junction
2 : km 0.98 - alt. 163 m - Aldbury Nowers - Albury Nowers Nature Reserve
3 : km 2.14 - alt. 197 m - Pitstone Hill
4 : km 3.97 - alt. 188 m - Path Junction
5 : km 5.08 - alt. 209 m - Road - Ivinghoe, Chilterns
6 : km 5.65 - alt. 221 m - Ivinghoe Beacon
7 : km 6.66 - alt. 166 m - Wide Track
8 : km 8.6 - alt. 234 m - Ward's Hurst Farm
9 : km 9.36 - alt. 244 m - Duncombe Terrace - Ashridge Estate
10 : km 11.17 - alt. 231 m - Bridgewater Monument
11 : km 12.28 - alt. 141 m - Toms Hill Road
12 : km 12.55 - alt. 142 m - To Pitstone Hill
13 : km 13.13 - alt. 163 m - Left Turn
D/A : km 14.02 - alt. 127 m - Tring Railway Station

Useful Information

Start & finish: Tring Railway Station, Station Road, Tring HP23 5QR. Grid ref: SP 950 122
An alternative start point is the National Trust (NT) Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre car park. Nearest postcode: HP4 1LT. Grid ref: SP 971 130

Parking: Tring Railway Station or Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre – see above

Local transport: Buses 387, 389 & 397 run between Tring and Tring Station Mondays to Saturdays. The station is served by services from London Euston. Full details can be found on www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk

Terrain: A moderate stile-free walk on good surfaces which can be slippery at times. There are a number of kissing gates.  The walk has one steady and two steeper climbs.

Food & drink : NT Café at the Ashridge Visitor Centre and the Musette Cafe, The Greyhound and The Valiant Trooper pubs in Aldbury

This walk was created for the book "More 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) Tring station was opened by the London and Birmingham Railway in 1837 and was constructed by the railway engineer Robert Stephenson.

(B) The Ridgeway National Trail starts in the World Heritage Site of Avebury and crosses the chalk ridges of the North Wessex Downs and Chilterns AONBs – a total of 87 miles. The Chilterns section travels through woodlands, nature reserves and quiet valleys, also passing several magnificent viewpoints along the Chilterns ridge.  It follows a route used for at least 5,000 years by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. Some people argue that it’s Britain’s oldest routeway, but this idea is generally out of favour today. For further information see www.nationaltrail.co.uk.

(C) Albury Nowers Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) managed by Herts and Middx Wildlife Trust. On the warm south-facing slopes there are many flower species typical of unimproved chalk grassland (milkwort, rock rose, clustered bellflower, lady's bedstraw) and possibly one of the rare butterfly species (Duke of Burgundy, green hairstreak, Essex, dingy and grizzled skippers).

(D) Pistone Hill is managed by the NT and is a nesting site for skylarks and meadow pipits. Directly below is one of the quarries of the former Pitstone Cement Works, which closed in the 1990s. This particular quarry is still producing chalk for agricultural use. The footpath runs alongside a section of Grim’s Ditch. Named after a Nordic god, it’s part of a series of linear earthworks that run from Bradenham to Ivinghoe, and remains one of the great mysteries of Buckinghamshire. Following investigations archaeologists now generally agree that the earthwork probably dates from the early to mid-Iron Age, c700 BC.

(E) Ivinghoe The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon for 'Ifa's hill-spur'. In the Domesday Book it was recorded as Evinghehou. Some have claimed that Sir Walter Scott took the title of his novel ‘Ivanhoe’ from the name of the village. The hills above the village are not only a SSSI but also an area rich in ancient earthworks. Ivinghoe Beacon is one of the highest points in the Chilterns and has wonderful views. This important chalk grassland is home to a wide variety of butterflies and wildflowers. Incombe Hole is a steep-sided dry valley formed by glacial action.

(F) Ashridge Estate dates back over 700 years to when a monastery was founded. It continued to flourish until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539. He bequeathed the Estate to the future Queen Elizabeth I, who lived there before being arrested by her half-sister Mary and taken to the Tower of London. Later, the Estate was bought by the Egerton family, one of whose descendants became the first Duke of Bridgewater. The most famous member of the family was the ‘Canal Duke’, who commissioned the building of the Bridgewater Canal. Opened in 1761, it’s regarded as the first true canal in Britain. In 1853 the Estate passed to Lord Brownlow, whose family held it until 1925 when it was split up, with much of the parkland and surrounding area passing to The NT. The parkland is a haven for wildlife and is famous for its herds of fallow deer.

(G) The Bridgewater Monument was erected in 1832 in memory of the Duke of Bridgewater. It’s 33m high with 170 steps to the top, and is open to the public.

(H) Aldbury was listed in the Domesday Book as Elderberie, meaning ‘old burh’, or old fortification. The village has been used on many occasions by film companies. Notable productions include Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, The Dirty Dozen and Bridget Jones.

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