Coombe Hill

This afternoon I did a 7 mile circular walk from Coombe Hill, passing through the small and isolated villages of Little Hampden and Dunsmore. It was the most enjoyable walk I’ve had for some time, following some good bridleways through Chiltern beech woods and finishing with a long steady climb to the top of Coombe Hill with its magnificent views over the Vale of Aylesbury.

I parked in the car park for Coombe Hill. I didn’t take the 1/2 mile path to the monument as I’d be coming back that way, instead I followed a path parallel to the road to the car park until it met the route of the Ridgeway. Here I turned left and followed the long-distance path through the beech trees to the road. I went a short distance down the road, then the Ridgeway continued on the other side, contouring round the hillside through a longer section of mainly beech trees.

At a junction, the Ridgeway went right, quite steeply downhill. It was heading towards the Prime Minister’s country retreat of Chequers, but I soon turned left, now on the route of the South Bucks Way. Still in the woods, I followed another pleasant bridleway gradually climbing back uphill, then took a path forking left which took me to Little Hampden.

Here I turned very sharply left, and followed another good bridleway through the beech woods, gradually descending. At a path crossroads in a valley bottom, I continued ahead, the bridleway soon turning right as it started to ascend the steep opposite side of the valley. There was a nice view out from the trees over some fields as I neared the top of the slope, and then I almost doubled back on myself as I took another very sharp left turn onto another bridleway.

This eventually left the trees and became a tarmac lane as it entered the remote and attractive village of Dunsmore. I crossed over a lane here and continued in the same direction on another lane that became a bridleway as it left the village. I kept left at a fork, and then the bridleway followed a fence for a mile or more through yet another charming beech wood. The bridleway eventually reached a junction where it went half-right, and then took a very long and leisurely descent over Bacombe Hill, still in the trees, to almost reach the edge of Wendover. 

Just before reaching a road, I again turned very sharply left and almost doubled back on myself. I now followed the Ridgeway again, as it steadily rose over Bacombe Hill. I was almost parallel to the path I’d just come down, but whereas that was in the trees, here I was on grassy scrubland with views to my left over the Vale of Aylesbury. There were still a lot of wildflowers here, including Harebell, Carline Thistle, Common Knapweed and even Clustered Bellflower.

The long but fairly gentle ascent eventually brought me to the monument on top of Coombe Hill. It was rather grey and hazy so the views were nowhere near as extensive as they can be, but three hot-air balloons added some interest to the panorama. There were a lot of people here – the car park had been very busy and I’d come across a lot of other people at the start of the walk.

I now just had to follow the broad and level path  back about 1/2 a mile to the car park, and so completed a thoroughly enjoyable walk. It was so good, I’m sure I’ll do it again sometime.

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