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Hike some of the prettiest scenery in England — Chiltern Way

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Hike some of the prettiest scenery in England — Chiltern Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

11

Tours

63:16 h

145 mi

10,475 ft

The Chiltern Way explores some of the prettiest scenery in England on a spellbinding long-distance loop of the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Starting and finishing in Hemel Hempstead, the trail takes you through the most beautiful parts of this picturesque AONB, including Bovingdon Plateau, Chess Valley, Misbourne Valley, Hambleden Valley, Stonor Park, Swyncombe Down, Bledlow Ridge, Bulbourne Valley, and Dunstable Downs.

The official route is 134 miles (216 km) long. However, since the walk was unveiled in 2000, three extensions have been added, increasing the overall hike by 90 miles (145 km). In this Collection, I opt for the original route, plus a few brief detours to worthy sites and accommodation, bringing the total to 145 miles (233 km).

You can expect delightful patchwork countryside, wildflower grasslands, serene woodlands, chocolate box villages, welcoming inns, abundant nature, captivating history, a sense of tranquility, and a slice of rural idyll on this hike.

Highlights along the way include: Marlow, a vibrant Georgian market town; Pullingshill Wood, a picturesque beech woodland with rare orchids and WWI training trenches; Stonor Park, a stunning 13th-century country estate; Warburg Nature Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary high in the Chilterns; Yoesden Nature Reserve, a stunning-swathe of chalk grassland; Lacey Green Windmill, the oldest smock windmill in the country; Cholesbury Camp, a once-mighty Iron Age fort; Dunstable Downs, which boasts breathtaking views; Medieval rabbit warrens; prehistoric burial sites; and countless Grade I-listed churches.

Following well-maintained and waymarked paths through gentle countryside, and never straying too far from civilisation, the Chiltern Way is suitable for walkers of all abilities. Whether you are a seasoned long-distance hiker or just finding your feet, there is something for you to enjoy.

In this Collection, I break the route into 11 stages, each averaging 13 miles (21 km). On Stage 2, which is 16 miles (26 km), there is a suggestion on how you can split it. Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage.

You are relatively well-served by accommodation along the route. However, places to stay are limited at times so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling your rest days accordingly. Due to the proximity to London and other major towns such as Luton, public transport links are fairly good along the way.

The route conveniently starts and finishes outside Hemel Hempstead railway station (and as it’s a loop you can start anywhere you like, of course), making access to the route super easy.

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Chiltern Way

135 mi

9,850 ft

9,875 ft

Last updated: November 12, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:39
    13.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    600 ft
    750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage takes you over the county border from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire via pretty countryside dotted with quaint villages.

    

    With 13.3 miles (21.4 km) of distance, 600 feet (183 m) of uphill and 750 feet (229 m) of downhill, this is a moderately-challenging hike which eases you into the

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    07:09
    16.3 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This hike takes you through undulating Buckinghamshire countryside to the historic market town of Marlow.

    

    The toughest stage in the Collection, Stage 2 is 16.3 miles (26.2 km) long with 1,175 feet (358 m) of uphill and 1,325 feet (404 m) of downhill. (For a suggestion on how to split the hike, see below

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Intermediate
    04:23
    9.98 mi
    2.3 mph
    875 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This easygoing hike explores a WWI training woodland and visits pretty villages nestled in glorious countryside.

    

    Short-and-sweet after a challenging previous stage, this hike is 10 miles (16.1 km) long with 875 feet (267 m) of uphill and 675 feet (206 m) of downhill

    

    You leave Marlow to the east and ascend

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:55
    13.2 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,275 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Expect orchid-rich grasslands, serene woodlands, and historic country houses on this hike, which takes you from Buckinghamshire to Oxfordshire.

    

    One of the more challenging stages in the itinerary, this hike is 13.2 miles (21.2 km) long with 1,275 feet (389 m) of uphill and 1,250 feet (381 m) of downhill

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:19
    11.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Way begins its return journey on this stage, which rises and falls through a picturesque patchwork of countryside.

    

    With 11.7 miles (18.8 km) of distance, 1,500 feet (457 m) of uphill and 1,075 feet (328 m) of downhill, this is a fairly challenging hike.

    

    From Ewelme, you head east and join the Ridgeway

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    06:36
    14.8 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,325 ft
    1,550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage takes you to the oldest smock windmill in the country, visits two unique Grade I-listed churches, and explores more stunning Chilterns’ scenery.

    

    One of the most challenging hikes in the Collection, Stage 6 is 14.8 miles (23.8 km) long with 1,325 feet (404 m) of uphill and 1,550 feet (472 m

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Intermediate
    05:00
    11.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    725 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Pretty villages, pleasant countryside, plentiful pub stops, and the opportunity to explore an Iron Age fort combine on this stage.

    

    Crossing the county border from Buckinghamshire to Hertfordshire, this 11.6-mile (18.7-km) hike has 725 feet (221 m) of uphill and 750 feet (229 m) of downhill.

    

    The stage

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:45
    13.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    850 ft
    925 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Expect breathtaking views, scheduled monuments, and several Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on this stunning stage.

    

    With 13.2 miles (21.2 km) of distance, 850 feet (259 m) of uphill and 925 feet (282 m) of downhill this hike rewards richly for moderate effort.

    

    You begin with a sharp climb

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    06:13
    14.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    825 ft
    775 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Great views, traditional villages, and wildlife spotting opportunities await on this hike, which takes you from Bedfordshire to Hertfordshire.

    

    Whilst the 14.5-mile (23.3 -km) distance is fairly challenging, the gently undulating 825 feet (251 m) of uphill and 775 feet (236 m) make this a steady stage

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:15
    12.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    550 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The penultimate stage takes you through an expansive arable landscape to the bustling town of Harpenden.

    

    With an easygoing downhill trajectory, this stage is 12.4 miles (20 km) long with 550 feet (168 m) of uphill and 625 feet (191 m) of downhill.

    

    To begin, you head northeast, cross under the A505, and

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    06:02
    14.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    850 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage takes you back to where it all began via pretty countryside and historic villages with welcoming inns.

    

    A fairly challenging way to end the Collection, this hike is 14 miles (22.5 km) long with an equal 850 feet (259 m) of uphill and downhill.

    

    You leave Harpenden to the west, cross Redbourn

    by Dan Hobson

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    145 mi
  • Duration
    63:16 h
  • Elevation
    10,475 ft

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Hike some of the prettiest scenery in England — Chiltern Way

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