Buckinghamshire walk through the Chilterns at Ibstone
PUBLISHED: 16:33 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:34 19 January 2017
Follow Steve Davison as he heads to Ibstone, to the west of High Wycombe on the border with Oxfordshire, for a walk through typical Chiltern scenery
Ibstone, a small dispersed village that stretches north-south along a fairly lofty ridge some six miles to the west of High Wycombe, has a history stretching back to Saxon times when it was known as ‘Hibestanes’, meaning ‘Hibba’s boundary stone’. A few centuries later, Henry III granted the manor to Walter Merton, Bishop of Rochester, for the endowment of Merton College Oxford.
From the village cricket ground, the walk sets out across the open common soon passing a large standing stone; although its looks ancient, the sarsen boulder was placed here to mark the Millennium. The walk then heads down the Chiltern Way, passing through part of the Wormsley Estate. Originally owned by the Scrope family since the late 16th century before passing through marriage to the Fane family, the estate was bought by the philanthropist, the late Sir Paul Getty, in 1986; in the early 1990’s he built a replica of the Oval Cricket Ground close to the mansion.
Next we’re off climbing quite steeply up towards Northend before heading down alongside an ancient sunken lane known as Holloway Lane. The rollercoaster walk continues as it once again climbs back up from the valley towards the lovely little Parish Church of St Nicholas. Standing away from the rest of the village, close to Manor Farm, the church dates from the 12th century, although there’s been a church here for over 1,000 years.
The final leg of the walk heads north through typical Chiltern woods towards Hell Corner Farm, once the home of the politician, Barbara Castle, before heading alongside Ibstone Common back to the start.
• Start/finish: junction of Ibstone Road and Gray’s Lane in Ibstone beside the common (SU753936); limited roadside parking
• Map: OS Explorer 171
• Distance: 4.75 miles (7.6km)
• Terrain: gates and stiles, some steep ups and downs, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of country road
• Time: 2.5 hours
• Refreshments: Ibstone – Fox Country Inn (01491 638814)
1 (SU753936) – From the junction of Ibstone Road and Gray’s Lane, beside Ibstone Common, follow Gray’s Lane for 30m and then fork right along the gravel track. After 150m turn right across the open common to reach a large standing stone. Bear slightly left (north-west) to reach the far left corner of the common beside the trees. Keep ahead into the trees to a crossing bridleway and turn left, following the Chiltern Way steeply down through the trees for 350m. Just before the bridle route starts to curve right, keep a lookout for white arrows on trees and turn left, to follow the Chiltern Way steeply down through the trees (passing a Wormsley Estate sign). Cross the stile to enter a field with views ahead and follow the fence line on the right down to the far right corner of the field. Go through a small gate and turn left along the hedge-lined bridleway (track) to a tarmac track.
2 (SU741932) – Turn left for a few metres and then right to follow a bridleway steeply uphill, after 300m keep ahead up the track. At the sharp right bend take a breather and admire the view across the valley to the left before continuing along the track. Go through the gate leaving the Wormsley Estate and continue to a road junction at Northend; just ahead on the right is a pond. We turn left along the lane – Holloway Lane – towards Turville for 600m and at the trees on the right, fork right to follow a path down through the trees, keeping parallel with the sunken lane on the left for half a mile. Cross a stile and keep ahead for a few metres to a track (which leads to Spinney Farm) and turn left.
3 (SU749918) – Cross over the lane and go up the bank for a few metres and then turn right to follow a bridleway down through the trees, keeping parallel to the lane again, although this time the lane is on the right. At the driveway (gate on the left) cross straight over and continue through the trees of Turville Wood. Bear right along the bridleway for a short way and at the split, take the left-hand fork (footpath; the bridleway takes the right-hand fork). Continue along the path through the trees, cross straight over the surfaced farm track (farm to the left) and keep ahead through the trees. Go through a kissing gate into a field. Follow the right-hand fence uphill, going through another kissing gate on the way and continue up alongside the fence on the right for 300m – admiring the views on the way. Turn right over a stile and head steeply up through the trees.
4 (SU755923) – Just before St Nicholas’ Church turn left on a level path. After 300m ignore a path off to the right and continue for a further 300m to a path junction. Bear left and start descending. At the fence corner turn left (look for the white arrow painted on the tree) and head steeply up through the trees to a lane (Gray’s Lane) opposite Hell Corner Cottage; a short way to the left along the lane is Hell Corner Farm. Turn right for 100m, passing Ibstone Cottage and then turn left up the track (bridleway). Follow the track as it swings right and passes a cottage, then keep straight on to reach a gravel track. Turn right with the open common on the left to arrive back at the start.
To find out more about Steve, including his walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk