Circular walk round the Saunderton valley

(This is an edited and expanded version of an entry in my WAB blog)

Muntjac Deer, near Bradenham, Bucks.

Today I did a 13-mile circular walk around the Saunderton Valley – this is a broad gap in the northern escarpment of the Chiltern Hills, immediately south of Princes Risborough. The beautiful warm sunny weather of the last few days has gone, and the day started cold (2-3C) and very grey. The sun started to break through the clouds about 1pm though, and I ended the walk under blue skies and hazy sunshine.

 I started at the village of Bledlow Ridge, on top of the hills west of the Saunderton valley, and followed a footpath that headed north, gradually descending into the valley. This was very familiar to me, as it’s part of the Chiltern Way. I then joined part of the Ridgeway national trail, and headed up and over Lodge Hill, before rejoining the Chiltern Way and crossing the broad Saunderton valley via a number of arable fields. I then climbed up the eastern side, passing through the adjoining villages of Loosley Row and Lacey Green. I headed eastwards into the hills for about a mile, before turning south on a path just inside the edge of a beech wood. I then headed back west, touching on Lacey Green again. I then turned south for a couple of miles to reach the attractive village of Bradenham, before recrossing the valley, following a path over Slough Hill  and heading back to Bledlow Ridge.

Red Kite, Bradenham, Bucks.

As usual, I saw several Red Kites in and around Bledlow Ridge, and saw at least one Buzzard too. I saw many more kites throughout the walk, and a couple more buzzards near the end. I saw a Jay and a Green Woodpecker too. I also came across a Muntjac deer as I walked towards Bradenham, and saw another one cross my path as I was heading back to Bledlow Ridge.

This was a very enjoyable walk – and not just because I had so many good sightings of Red Kites! It was actually quite up and down, and when the grey clouds had gone there were some nice views across and along the Saunderton valley. The first half of the walk was on familiar territory, almost all of it on the Chiltern Way or the Ridgeway, but the remainder I’d only walked once on a couple of my ‘exploratory’ walks and there was a short section beyond Bradenham that was new to me. I’m looking forward to doing the walk in the opposite (anti-clockwise) direction in a couple of months time when I walk my proposed Chiltern Chain Walk for real..

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