West Wycombe and Hughenden Manor

Today I did a circular walk starting from West Wycombe (which is just west of High Wycombe, curiously enough!) and passing through the grounds of Hughenden Manor, once the home of Benjamin Disraeli and now run by the National Trust.

I started about 10am at the car park in West Wycombe, and took the permissive path climbing West Wycombe Hill to the Mausoleum. This was created for the Dashwood family in 1764-5 and is still used by them today. Behind the Mausoleum, I passed St Lawrence’s church, which stands within the boundaries of an iron-age hillfort.

I then followed a nice clear path heading north, generally through woodland, following the top of a long hill with valleys either side. At Nobles Farm the path joined the tarmac farm drive and continued northwards. There were two or three Red Kites around a pasture on the left (I’d seen my first Kite of the day at the car park!). The drive eventually descended to a lane, where I continued on a path on the other side which rose steadily to the top of Slough Hill.

Here I turned sharply right, crossing a field of stubble on a path where I saw some lovely Common Toadflax. I soon reached the lane I’d just crossed, and followed it into the village of Saunderton, passing the station on my left. I crossed a main road and continued eastwards along a narrow lane. I turned right at a farm, and now headed south, walking beside the edge of Park Wood – I was now on the far side of the valley that had been on my right earlier.

When the wood eventually turned left, I continued ahead along a hedgerow across two fields, then crossed a narrow empty pasture to reach Bradenham. This is a very attractive village, dating back to the Domesday Book. Around the large almost triangular village green was a church, the manor house (owned by the National Trust but rented out), another large house called the White House and several othe attractive cottages and houses.

From Bradenham, I took a bridleway back up the hillside into the woodlands of Naphill Common. This was a pleasant part of the walk, but there were so many paths and bridleways, which didn’t always seem to correspond with those shown on the map, that it was rather confusing and for sometime I wasn’t sure exactly where I was. I was never really lost, and knew generally which direction to go when I came to  a path juncton, but I couldn’t really pinpoint where I was on the map.

Finally I crossed a drive, which showed me exactly where I was, and I then easily navigated myself through the trees to the end of the lane. A short distance down the lane, I re-entered the trees on my right, then went left at a path junction. This path took me to Flagmore Wood, where I turned right on a good track. I stopped here to have lunch. Just before reaching the end of the wood, I turned left and then right. I was now on a nice contouring path that soon left the wood and then curved round to the left, with the wood on my left and fields and pastures on my right.

This path led me into the grounds of Hughenden Manor. I took a quick photo of the house (I had a look round it with my parents and my niece Emily earlier this year), then took a nice bridleway that went between fields to another wood, and on to the village of Downley. From here I took a series of paths and a farm drive that took me back to the very attractive village of West Wycombe, with its old houses and coaching inns.

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