Circular walk north from Bledlow Ridge

I didn’t have high hopes for this walk. I was basically trying out a diferent way to cross the Saunderton Valley, south east of Princes Risborough – a pleasant enough area but not the most interesting part of the Chilterns. It had been a bit of a pain planning the route, as the area is on the edge of three maps that overlap slightly. It was another grey and mirky November day too -‘dank’ is the appropriate word I think – but I had to walk today as the forecast is wet for the next few days. Anyway, in the end the walk was perfectly pleasant, and on a nicer day (when you could see the views!) some parts would have been pretty good.

I parked in Bledlow Ridge, in the same place I’d used when I walked through here on the Chiltern Way. A footpath north took me through a couple of sheep pastures, the second one steeply downhill, and then across a ploughed field on the southern edge of the Saunderton Valley – a Red Kite slowly flew past me here. I turned right along a bridleway on a farm drive to reach a lane (where I saw the Kite again). I went a short distannce left along the lane, then turned right and followed a hedgerow through two or three meadows, gradually ascending Slough Hill. At the top I went half left, downhill across another ploughed field (I was now on the route I used when I walked from West Wycombe the other week).

I followed a lane into Saunderton. passing the railway station, and crossed a main road. I continued along another lane for about half a mile, before taking a footpath on the right – this was again new territory for me. The path followed a hedgerow on my right, rising slightly at first alongside the ridge of hills north of the Saunderton Valley – if it hadn’t been so grey, there’d have been nice views across to Lodge Hill (which I’d reach later). After passing through two or three fields I went right, along the edge of a cattle pasture, then through a kissing gate to join a track between hedges running downhill into a small valley. At the bottom of the valley, I went right for a few yards along a farm drive, then took a clear path through a meadow, rising gently up the other side of the valley to reach some attractive old houses in Lacey Green.

I followed a lane north from Lacey Green which soon became a track, then picked up a very muddy bridleway for a short distance, before turning right on another bridleway that was a hard-surfaced track. I then turned left onto another bridleway, rising steadily uphill through a wood. It then continued between hedges or fences to a crossroads of tracks, where I went straight on (I’d walked this bit on my Little and Great Hampden walk recently).

I soon reached a wood, where I turned left on a path just inside the edge of the wood. This was the only lengthy bit of woodland walking today, and as always it was a pleasure walking through the beech trees with the fallen leaves rustling underfoot. After several hundred yards I reached a small cluster of buildings by Lily Bank farm and I turned left, onto the route of the Chiltern Way.

The first couple of hundred yards were along the line of Grim’s Ditch, an ancient earthwork believed to predate the Saxons, then I went half-right across a cabbage field, across a large meadow and then through a paddock. A couple of fields later I reached another part of Lacey Green, by the windmill, and followed the road a short distance to the adjoining village of Loosly Row. I followed a farm drive downhill, and then started to follow field paths back across the Saunderton Valley.

Having gone over a railway line, I left the route of the Chiltern Way, and started following the Ridgeway instead. This took me past part of a golf course to another farm and along its drive to a road. I then continued on a bridleway beside a large ploughed field, then climbed quite steeply up to the top of Lodge Hill, where I had my lunch on a convenient seat. Again, on a clear day there would have been some lovely views.

It was nice walking along the top of Lodge Hill, but not as nice as summer last year when there were masses of flowers here, and I could admire the views. Just after descending Lodge Hill, I followed a bridleway going right, briefly treading new ground again, but soon rejoining the Chiltern Way by Old Callow Down Farm. It was now a familiar walk, gradualling ascending the hillside to return to Bledlow Ridge via Routs Green – this final section being enlivened by two or three sightings of Red Kites.

The walk was probably about 12 miles long, as it took me 4 hours and I didn’t stop very often (I only took 1 photo all day). It was a walk I wanted to get out of the way, as it was awkward planning a route spread over the corners of three maps, but it turned out nicer than I’d expected. Rain is forecast for the next three days, so I’ll do some more planning for my personal long-distance route through the Chilterns, but I’m looking forward to walking again before too long.

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