The Other Way Around to Aston Rowant Nature Reserve

It is another very hot day.  After my walk to Aston Rowant Nature Reserve a couple of days ago I am keen to pay another visit, this time walking down the chalk escarpment to fully appreciate the views.

We leave Cholsey Grange by walking up the farm drive and crossing the road before going over the cricket field and then carrying on diagonally across Ibstone Common to join a footpath that quickly meets the Chiltern Way.  At this junction of paths we turn left and walk downhill on the ChilternWay.


The path soon forks with the Chiltern Way heading off to the left but we take the right fork that continues through Commonhill Wood, then into the open with woods to our right.


We soon join a track that takes us past the entrance to Wormsley Cricket Ground.


We ignore a sign to Upper and Lower Vicars and soon after take the next footpath on the left.  This route steadily climbs up to Langleygreen Plantation and Hailey Wood.  I say steadily climb, that’s my description, but Lynnie suggests that I need to slow down.  It is far too hot for her to go up at a pace.  I deduce that watching the Olympics over recent days and nights has resulted in her becoming out of condition.  On balance I decide it is probably wise not to voice this view, but instead offer words of encouragement and a sip of drink.

After going through Hailey Wood the path soon climbs to emerge by the side of a road we turn left to walk away from Stokenchurch.  This can be a busy road but the verges are wide and vision good so it is easy to avoid the traffic.

As we walk we once again discuss the mentality of individuals who feel it acceptable to throw drinks cans and takeaway containers out of car windows.  It has been a constant gripe of our walks and one day I will come up with a suitable punishment.  If in the unlikely event that I am in a position of power it would be a policy priority for me, I am torn between recommending that offenders should be made to collect their own body weight in litter everyday for a month or alternatively the reintroduction of public stocks.  Either way I am not sure it is a vote winner with the majority of the electorate.

A suitable antidote to this angst is arrived at about half a mile along the road, here there is a turn on the right (the second footpath sign, they are close together) which leads to a picnic area above Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, there are panoramic views from here.


Aston Rowant Nature Reserve is a special place, even with the M40 dissecting the nature reserve.  We join the path to head down hill through this section of the reserve.  It is still very warm and we make a welcome stop on a bench to have our lunch whilst admiring the view.

As we carry on Lynnie become preoccupied with the abundance of wild flowers.

p1020310Whilst I observe the sheep seeking shade under a solitary tree on the edge of their field.  It is very warm this afternoon!


After passing through a couple of gates we pick up a tarmac lane that heads down to the Icknield Way / Swans Way / Ridgeway Path (this route is known by all of those names), here we turn right and head under the tunnel with the traffic on the busy M40 whizzing by above us.  In times past that would have been me dashing to a meeting or returning home, I much prefer our current lifestyle!

We carry on along the wide path and just before we reach the A40 there is a hut on the left with a water tap.  I have stopped here once before to give the boys a drink, then I had to cup my hands for them to drink, now I am far better organised and carry a collapsible water bowl (actually a mixing bowl that Lynnie purchased for caravanning and I purloined for the rucksack).  We also use this stop for a drink and refreshed we continue.

My intention was to walk a good stretch of this path before taking one of the many paths that lead off to the right.  However, Lynnie is flagging and enquires how far we are walking (I have custody of the map).  We consult the map and concur that a right turn towards Aston Wood is in order.  This starts as a steady incline, and then gets steep.  Steep enough to make us both blow a bit on this hot day.

This is one of the factors I really enjoy about walking in this area; every now and again you encounter a short, but steep, incline.  It is not like walking up Pen-y-Ghent, where you know you have an hour of steep uphill, in the Chilterns the climbs usually only last ten minutes, but enough to make the calves and lungs ache a bit.


After walking through this lovely woodland we reach the A40 and follow the pavement back to Stokenchurch.  This is not the most enjoyable section of our walk, but it serves a purpose and gets us back into Stokenchurch after just over a mile.  In the village we walk across the green passing the Fleur de Lis pub and then walk into houses before picking up the Chiltern Way path under the M40.  After the underpass the Chiltern Way soon turns to the right but we go over a stile by a locked gate and follow the track downhill towards Penley Wood.

Walking through Penley Woods in the late afternoon sunshine is wonderful.


We ignore the first footpath on our right, but at the second turn onto the path that leads back to Cholsey Grange.  This has been a cracking walk covering just over nine miles, which on a hot (extremely hot) afternoon is plenty for all of us, especially Lynnie and Dexter. I have a feeling I will be doing a couple of shorter walks tomorrow.


23rd August 2016

[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 171 – Chiltern Hills West]

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)



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