This story begins in the small peaceful town of Wendover which sits in the shade of the Chiltern Hills. Walk the Wendover loop trail and enjoy two to three hours in the English countryside. The 7.5 mile (12 km) will take you along the disused arm of the Grand Union Canal now a home for a whole variety of ducks and bird life.
Visit the site an iron age fort in the ancient Wendover Woods and breathe in the air as you admire the panoramic views of the Buckinghamshire countryside.
Start in Wendover
There is a car park just behind the library in the centre of Wendover. Park for free on Sundays and bank holidays. On other days parking is charged at 70 p for up to 3 hours and you should be able to complete the loop within that time frame.
The meaning of Wendover derived from the Anglo Saxon words for white-water. The chalk hills of the Chilterns bring the deposits down and colour the local stream that wanders through the town. Two pubs in the town, the George and Dragon and the Red Liontrace their origins back to the 16th and 17th centuries. It might be worth popping in to taste their offerings.
The leaky canal
Follow the map to find the beginning of the the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. This disused canal follows the edge of the Chiltern Hills out of Wendover. In total the canal stretches for over 6 miles. Our tour only takes in a fraction of this distance.
Construction of the canal began in 1793 for the purpose of supplying water to the Grand Union Canal However, by the 19th century engineers found that more water was leaking from the Wendover Arm than was being supplied to the Grand Union.
Nowadays bird watchers and ramblers walk the banks of this pretty and quiet backwater.
Birth in Springtime
Our tour reminded me that nature carries on despite any pandemic. The first chicks of the years have arrived and the begin their life’s. Their mother is around to protect them.
Others wait for their young to arrive as they incubate the eggs.
Halton and Wendover Arm part 2
The canal passes by the pretty village of Halton. The Halton Estate owned by a branch of the Rothschild Family from 1850 to 1919 was sold to the MOD.
Cross the road and continue along the canal, which retains its charm until you arrive at the Cobblers Pits sign.
Cobblers Pits received its name from the chalk that was mined here. When the mining stopped nature reclaimed the land and there is a mixture of Yew and broadleaf trees. The contrast between light and shade provide by these different trees gives Cobblers Pits its unique character.
Climb the hill and you’ll see a magnificent view of the Buckinghamshire countryside.
Cross the road when you leave Cobblers Pits and continue to the road opposite. After 75 m take the path to the right and enter Wendover Woods. At this point the path follows the contour of the hill and after a short distance we found a bench where we stopped for a picnic. You are half-way round the Wendover loop trail.
In both world wars the woods supplied beech to help the war effort as imported supplies became scarce. After WWII the MOD passed on ownership of the area to the Forestry Commission who still manage it today.
There are many paths that criss cross the woods. Follow the map to keep to the trail.
The Forestry Commission have attracted a great number of visitors to the summit of the woods by creating a Go Ape tree top adventure area with cafe and a large car park.
Fortunately it doesn’t take long before the number of visitors to the adventure area thins out to a trickle. You can then continue the walk in peace.
Iron Age Fort
The trail takes you to the north eastern edge of Boddington Hill Fort. The iron age starts around 700 BC and continues until the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. Boddington was just one a number of forts on the northern edge of the Chilterns, including Ivinghoe Beacon, Cheddington and Pulpit Hill.
When Boddington was occupied the area of the fort and the surrounding area were clear of trees. Local volunteers have been clearing the younger vegetation from the area to prevent further damage from tree growth.
From the above sign turn left and find the track that curves around the contours of the hill.
The descent back to Wendover
This track slowly winds round the hill and offers excellent views across the valley.
Descend along the track and at the junction veer to the right and keep the hillside on your right.
As you walk along you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see Wendover down below and despite the descent you’ve already made there is still further to go.
Follow the path around the side of the hill until you see a path that turns sharply left. Take this route and descend towards the town.
The Wendover Loop Trail is nearly over as you pass between houses and a large field and leading into a 1950/60s housing estate.
With the field behind you continue straight ahead until your nearly at the end of the road and find the footpath that turns right and returns you to the old town.
Back at the town centre I was intrigued by how the council had adapted the old red telephone box.
If you enjoyed the Wendover loop trail you can find many more great walks at Find a walk Britain.
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