The Ridgeway, lovely views and the Chilterns.
||16.9 km (10.5 miles), 4 hours 30 minutes if detouring to the Swan pub in Smokey Row. If you by-pass Great Kimble, the walk length is 14.1 km (8.8 miles). You can reduce the walk length by a further 1 mile by taking the Ridgeway footpath route direct to Coombe Hill. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow 8 hours.
||6 out of 10.
||Explorer 181 or Landranger 165. Princes Risborough, map reference SP 799 027, is in Buckinghamshire, 11km south of Aylesbury.
||This walk is easy to follow, being mainly along the Ridgeway and is very much uphill and downhill, but not strenuously so. The way is predominantly through high beech woods and chalk downlands, including the Grangelands Nature Reserve and has views out from Coombe Hill over the Vale of Aylesbury and surrounding counties. The walk ends by descending into the pleasant old town of Wendover.
||There are buses back to Princes Risborough from near the lunch pub in Great Kimble. You could also shorten the walk by 1 mile by staying on the Ridgeway and not detouring via Dunsmore.
The town of Princes Risborough derives its name from the Black Prince who in 1343 was lord of the manor.
This area was first settled by farmers in neolithic times, around 4,000BC, and was defended by a line of hilltop forts linked by the broad Icknield Way which can be traced from Dorset to Norfolk and on this walk survives as the narrow Ridgeway. Remains of such forts can be found on Pulpit Hill and Coombe Hill.
Whiteleaf Cross, carved into a hillside, is thought to commemorate a victory over the Danes.
Chequers, the prime minister's country retreat, was given for this purpose to the nation by Lord and Lady Lee of Fareham in 1921. Lady Mary Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, was imprisoned in Chequers in 1566 and the house was later owned by a grandson of Oliver Cromwell.
Wendover's name comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'wand' (winding) 'ofer' (bank). In 1600, the town had one pub for every 50 inhabitants. Wendover became the property of the crown and was given by Henry VIII to his wife Catherine of Aragon. It had John Hampden as its MP during the five parliaments leading up to the Civil War. He was one of the MPs whose attempted seizure by Charles I led to the Civil War.
||If planning to take lunch at the Swan, Smokey Row, take the train nearest to 10.00am from Marylebone Station to Princes Risborough. If luncheoning earlier at the Plough, Lower Cadsden, take a train around 10.45am. Journey time 40-45 minutes. Trains back from Wendover run twice an hour. Journey time 50 minutes. As your journeys are on different branches of the Chiltern Railways network you will need to buy a return ticket to Aylesbury, where the two branch lines converge. Make sure your ticket is valid on both branches by purchasing a Day Return Any Route Permitted . At weekends (as of 2020) your best bet may be a Super Off-Peak Day return to Aylesbury from Marylebone.
The original lunch pub on this walk, the Bernard Arms, closed eight years ago and has now been demolished, with its site boarded up and waiting redevelopment. The suggested lunch stop now is The Swan (tel 01844 275288) in Smokey Row (Great Kimble), a family owned Free House. Post Covid lockdown, summer 2020: the pub is open Thursday to Sunday, serving cask beers and with a good lunch menu - with food midday to 2.30 pm weekdays, to 3 pm on Sunday. On Saturdays lunch is a barbecue with pizzas; on Sundays, classic roasts are served. Best to book ahead or 'phone from Princes Risborough to reserve a table. This pub is off the TO Book's original route. Directions to and from the pub are at the end of the main walk directions.
For those starting later or not wishing to detour to the Swan can take an early lunch (a little over one hour into the walk) at the Plough (tel 01844 343 302) in Lower Cadsden. It serves food midday to 2pm daily.
The suggested tea place for chocaholics is Rumsey's Chocolaterie (tel 01296 625 060), five minutes from Wendover Station, which is open until 6.00pm (closes earlier in winter).
Also worth considering is the bar of the 17th century Red Lion Hotel (tel 01296 622 266)
For pure convenience, SWC walkers usually end up at the Shoulder of Mutton pub (tel 01296 623 223, Chef and Brewer), right by the station.
This updated edition September 2020. Alternative - less muddy - route through the woods before the Boer War Monument now included. Travel, and Lunch pub details, updated September 2020.