Naphill Route, Chilterns

A scenic walk around Naphill. Full of interest: there is a fascinating history of WWII codebreaking and a visit to the home of a famous artist.

Technical sheet
No. 28952400
A Hughenden walk posted on 24/11/22 by Chiltern Society. Update : 24/11/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h55[?]
Distance Distance : 11.49km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 232m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 234m
Highest point Highest point : 199m
Lowest point Lowest point : 97m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Hughenden
Starting point Starting point : N 51.664978° / W 0.776295°
Download : -


Start: Naphill (A) Recreation Ground (HP14 4SX). Grid ref: SU 847 969

(D/A) With your back to Main Road, walk across grass to far right corner and turn right along footpath to join Downley Road.

(1) Turn left along it, passing the gate to the pond on left. Bear left along the track past houses on the left and bear right onto the path at end of the houses. Follow the line of overhead wires to reach the track. Turn right along it and almost immediately left onto the bridleway, walking underneath overhead wires. Continue along the bridleway until reaching a gap in the hedge on the right.

(2) Turn right onto the footpath, to pass through a kissing gate and across the field towards trees. Cross the track and go through another kissing gate into the wood. Follow the path down through Lees Wood, ignoring crossing path, to arrive at Cookshall Lane. Turn left and follow it up slope until it bends left.

(3) Here take the footpath to the right, cross the parking area, pass the barn on the right and go into the field with a view. Continue down across it towards trees, through the hedge and across a track at the bottom, then up through copse, bearing right.

Keep the hedge on the right until a gap reveals views of St Lawrence Church and Dashwood Mausoleum. Continue down towards the railway line. Go through the metal gate or over the stile and immediately turn right before the bridge along the new footpath between wire fences, which isn’t yet shown on many maps. After a while reach a seat on the right, opposite a viewing area.

(4) Turn right through the metal gate into Great Cookshall Wood. Follow the path uphill and after it levels out continue ahead to meet a track at a waymark post. Turn left into Kits Wood to some large stones at the track junction. Fork right onto the track and immediately right onto the footpath where bluebells can be seen in spring.

Follow the path past the plantation on the right and continue straight on across the track, passing fields and Bradenham Hill Farm buildings on the left. Ignore the path on the right, continue through the wood and across a bridleway to reach a telegraph pole. Follow the path round to right, away from overhead wires, to a small pond on right.

(5) Here fork left onto the bridleway, marked ‘BW’ on the tree. Keep straight on, bear slightly right across Naphill Common (B), (often boggy in places) and continue ahead at cross paths with a white arrow on the tree, passing a house on the right. As the track bends right, take the signposted bridleway to the left (white arrow on the tree). Continue straight on, passing the bridleway on right, until you come to some cottages.

(6) Turn left in front of a large oak tree by Naphill Common information board, fork right by side of cottages and continue through the gate and allotments to join the Main Road. Cross over and walk down Clappins Lane opposite.

(7) After the pumping station take the footpath on the left, over a stile and diagonally up across the field into the wood. Follow the path between fences, with the tall chimneys of Cournswood House visible through trees to your right, then ascend to a crossing path.

Turn right and immediately fork left. Follow the path down through Courns Wood. At a fork keep right following yellow arrows and at the bottom go over the stile into a field. Keeping the hedge on the left, walk down towards trees then bear left and ascend to a crossing path.

(8) Before the trees, turn right then walk along with trees on the left towards a gate with a stile next to it, then over another field towards some farm buildings. Cross a stile and a track, turn right between hedges and cross the stile to the road. Turn left along Speen Road, passing North Dean Village Hall on left.

(9) Take the footpath on the right before the bend, go through the gate and uphill through another gate. Through trees on the left is Old House Farm where Beechdean ice cream is made. Cross a stile into the wood, following the path uphill bearing left at the marker post.

Just before the top bear right, turning left at the top. Keep right at the path fork, pass the path on the left and immediately turn right over a stile into the field. Follow the path across the field, through a kissing gate in the hedge. Continue across another field and over a stile to Piggott’s Hill.

(10) Cross the road into Piggott’s Wood. Take the middle path and after 50m turn right into a small clearing. Straight ahead is a large beech tree and behind that is an uprooted stump. From the stump look up to see an oak replica of Eric Gill’s Crucifix sculpture (C). Return to the path and continue down through the wood to meet a crossing path. Turn right and ascend to Piggott’s Hill.

(11) Turn left along a lane, passing Piggott’s music camp on the left. Fork right onto a broad footpath and pass a building on the left. Continue down through the wood, over a stile on the left into a field with a view. Descend, keeping the hedge to your right, with Home Farm visible on the left. Cross another stile into an enclosed path to Speen Road. Turn left and cross the road before turning right (signposted Naphill and Walters Ash).

(12) Walk up Clappins Lane and after 25m take the footpath through the gate in the hedge on the left. Continue diagonally up across the field. Cross a stile into the wood, following the path with white arrows uphill. Go straight on past the gate on the right and over a stile into a field.

Walk diagonally across the field through a gap in the hedge. Continue straight ahead, keeping hedge on right, through kissing gate on right, along enclosed path to Stocking Lane. Turn right up the lane and cross Main Road to Recreation Ground. See plaque by large Cedar tree commemorating Dilly Knox (D). (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. 184m - Naphill Recreation Ground
1 : km 0.21 - alt. 182m - Downley Road
2 : km 0.77 - alt. 183m - Footpath
3 : km 1.73 - alt. 140m - Footpath - Parking area
4 : km 3.17 - alt. 108m - Metal gate - Great Cookshall Wood
5 : km 4.93 - alt. 194m - Small pond - Bridleway - Naphill common
6 : km 5.34 - alt. 199m - Cottages - Large oak tree
7 : km 6.13 - alt. 175m - Pumping station
8 : km 7.22 - alt. 137m - Crossing path - Trees
9 : km 7.89 - alt. 129m - North Dean Village Hall - Footpath
10 : km 8.6 - alt. 190m - Road - Piggott’s Wood
11 : km 8.96 - alt. 189m - Lane - Piggott’s music camp
12 : km 9.85 - alt. 125m - Clappins Lane
D/A : km 11.49 - alt. 184m - Naphill Recreation Ground

Useful Information

Start & finish: Naphill Recreation Ground (HP14 4SX). Grid ref: SU 847 969

Parking: The car park at Naphill and Walters Ash Village Hall, Main Road, Naphill HP14 4SX

Local transport: Bus 300 runs between High Wycombe and Aylesbury all week. At Upper North Dean, Bus 333/334 from High Wycombe runs on Tuesdays and Fridays

Terrain: A moderate walk with plenty of variety, in rolling countryside.

Shorter routes: The walk can be split into 2 shorter routes using the footpath along the edge of Naphill common from near Waypoint (6) back to the start.

Food & drink: Bon Ami Coffee Shop adjoining Naphill Village Hall; The Wheel and The Black Lion pubs in Naphill

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. Fax 01494 793745.

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) Naphill and Walters Ash Both villages, along with six others, make up Hughenden Parish Council. One of the first references to ‘Knaphill’ was in 1599. The name comes from the Old English ‘cnæpp’ meaning a round-topped hill. Part of the walk is along Stockings Lane which is derived from ‘stoccen’ meaning tree stumps. There is archaeological evidence of a medieval homestead at Walters Ash, probably dating from 1200-1400AD. Nearby is Grim's Ditch which is part of a series of linear earthworks that run from Bradenham to Ivinghoe, probably dating from the early to mid-Iron Age c700BC. Over the centuries, most local people worked the land, but some were involved in brick making, lace making and later the production of furniture. Walters Ash is home to the headquarters of RAF Air Command (formerly Strike Command).

(B) Naphill common is a designated Grade I Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It was designated SSSI status because it’s a self-generated woodland that has never been planted or felled. It began as ‘wood pasture’, ie. grassland dotted with pollard trees. It’s one of the biggest commons in the Chilterns, with an area of approximately 176 acres. There is  evidence of a Romano-British farmstead. In the 18th and 19th centuries the common was used for pasture by Welsh drovers taking their cattle to market in London. In 2008 the Friends of Naphill Common were formed to help conserve this beautiful area.

(C) Piggott’s House and Eric GillPiggott’s House is Grade II listed and was once owned by Eric Gill, the sculptor and stonecutter associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. It was here that he worked on his carvings for Prospero and Ariel for Broadcasting House, the East Wind sculpture at St. James' Park Underground Station and the altar of the English Martyrs at Westminster Cathedral. Later, Bernard Wheeler Robinson and his family moved here and he established his world renowned Music Camp movement for amateur musicians. The camp continues under the direction of Nicholas Wheeler Robinson.

(D) Dilly Knox : The plaque honours Bletchley Park code breaker Dilly Knox, who lived nearby at Cournswood House, where he was visited by Agatha Christie. It was here that Knox completed his first research into the German Enigma encoding machine.

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