Buckland Common, Cholesbury and Chartridge

Today I continued my tour of Iron-age hill forts … well, that’s what it seems like! Having recently seen various Iron-age forts in different states of preservation at Ivinghoe Beacon, Pulpit Hill and Boddington Hill, today I chose to do a walk that would enable me to revisit Cholesbury Camp. I went there on my Chiltern Heritage Trail walk, and it is the most impressive fort I know in this area.

I started the walk at Buckland Common, where I started my penultimate walk on the Chiltern Way this spring. In fact, for the early part of the walk I followed the Chiltern Way northwards, soon passing an Alpaca farm (fewer Alpacas than usual, and no sign of the two pigs I met on the path when I was last here). I passed through Drayton Wood, crossed Shire Lane and soon reached the ancient earthwork of Grim’s Ditch, which I’d followed for about four miles on my last walk.  This time I just followed it a few hundred yards northwest, before heading southeast on a broad track between hedges (it’s not named on the map, but the Chiltern Way guide says the track is called Brown Lane).

The track soon entered High Scrubs Wood. It was very pleasant walking through the trees, with the bright sunlight filtering through the leaves. After about half a mile I turned left and followed a hedgerow across a grass field with showjumping fences. I crossed a road and took a path on the other side, then turned left crossing a couple of paddocks and passing through a small wood to arrive at Cholesbury Camp.

I followed the path that goes all round the oval-shaped prehistoric enclosure. The southwest part of the oval has been encroached upon by the village, and the path passed through the churchyard of St Laurence’s church (13-14th century, but largely restored in the 1870’s). Here I got talking to the church warden, who kindly showed me the grave of a sailor who’d fought at Trafalgar. He lived to the age of 99, but was in great poverty towards the end of his life until the vicar appoached the Admiralty on his behalf and he was awarded a pension. There was a lot of poverty here in the 1800’s, and Cholesbury became the first parish in the country to go bankrupt, because it could not afford to support the poor of the parish.

I continued south from Cholesbury, then went southeast, now following the route of the Chiltern Heritage Trail which I walked a year ago. I walked along the valley of White Hawridge Bottom for about two miles – I had to change my route slightly, because the track past the Ostrich pens was impassably muddy (Alpacas and Ostriches on the same walk – I really must set up a Chiltern Safari company!). I went west through Ramscott wood on a good bridleway, then south on a path between paddocks on my left and garden fences on my right.

Across a road and down a farm drive, I crossed a grass field and passed through another wood. There was then a nice view north along a steep-sided valley. I followed  a hedgerow down and up the other side of this valley, heading west. After walking right a couple of hundred yards on a road, I turned left and repeated the process, descending another steep-sided and attractive valley and rising up the other side to reach the village of Chartidge.

I followed the road to the right for about half a mile, then turned left. I had my lunch on a seat by a playing field, then continued west on a bridleway. There was soon another good view of a green and attractive valley – I think this is one of the most scenic parts of the Chilterns that I have come across. I then had a nice lengthy stretch of woodland walking, before crossing a couple of empty pastures to a road. I followed it to the right for quarter of a mile to a T-junction, where I carried on northwards on a footpath – here I saw my first Red Kite of the day! The path went down into a small valley, and rose up the other side with a wood on my left. Again the scenery here was very charming, with rolling hills and valleys and lots of woods, part green and part gold in their early autumn foliage.

I crossed Arrewig Lane (it’s name goes back to the Saxons, if I remember the Chiltern Way guide book correctly) and continued northwards on pleasant field paths, to reach a road leading me back to my car in Buckland Common. The walk had taken about 4.5 hours plus stops (lunch and talking to the very helpful and informative church warden at Cholesbury). It had remained a gloriously sunny day throughout, and it had been a real pleasure to walk through this charming countryside.

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