THERE’S good news for walkers worried about bumping into crowds of other people who had exactly the same idea about trying to get away from it all.
The Chilterns Conservation Board and Chiltern Society have developed a series of 23 walks across the Chilterns which are social-distance friendly, avoiding crowded ‘honey-pot’ locations and narrow paths where possible.
Between two and six miles long, the walks start in market towns or villages with good public transport links or parking facilities and are being launched to coincide with the re-opening of many pubs and cafes.
The Chilterns has some outstanding food and drink producers and these walks highlight the many farm shops nearby that are open for business and selling Chilterns local specialities to enjoy on a picnic, or to take home – everything from local honey and beer to cheeses, charcuterie and grass-fed lamb.
The walks were developed by 18 volunteers, all experienced walk leaders who are passionate about the Chilterns and keen to share some of their favourite walks away from the crowds.
All the routes take in the beautiful rolling landscapes of the Chilterns, picturesque villages and plenty of historic interest too, from old drovers’ routes to iron age hillforts.
Discover places with wonderful names like Nanfan Wood, Lilley Hoe and Cobblershill. And some walks start on commons or at recreation grounds with lots of open space, making them ideal for families or friends to combine with a picnic and for kids to run around safely.
Annette Venters of the Chilterns Conservation Board said: “During Lockdown the Chilterns countryside has been used and enjoyed as never before, bringing comfort and joy to many. The well-used honey-pot sites can get very crowded, making social distancing difficult and putting pressure on the landscape. Luckily, the Chilterns has over 2,000km of footpaths, so there are plenty of quiet places to enjoy. We hope these walks will encourage people to explore the Chilterns and discover new places.”
Many of the walks are stile-free and most are under four miles long, making them accessible to many. But walkers are warned to take their litter home and avoid lighting fires and barbecues.
Highlights include pub walks from Great Offley and Pegsdon in the northern Chilterns. The Pegdson walk passes through Knocking Hoe and Hoo Bit nature reserves with outstanding views and witchcraft-sounding plant names like fleawort, eyebright and harebells.
Many of the walks take in famous TV and film locations. The Hound of the Baskervilles walk from Binfield Heath takes in the historic Crowsley Park.
Le De Spencer Arms on Downley Common, the Red Lion on Peppard Common and the Cock and Rabbit on Lee Common are just some of the wonderful country pubs along our routes.
The walks can be downloaded free of charge.
The Chiltern Society was established over 50 years ago and is supported by 7,000 members. It manages 12 conservation sites and has 500 volunteers who work to maintain and improve the Chilterns for the benefit of both residents and visitors alike.