Pete's Walks - Cross Bucks Way

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

Day 2 10/02/06 Hillesden to Swanbourne (8 miles each way, approximately)

Parked in Hillesden.

I hadn’t realised quite how isolated Hillesden is, until I looked on my map to see how to drive there. It is a dead-end, with just one lane into the village from the north (another lane branches off to go to the church, which is where I parked) and no access at all from the south. Quite unusual for this part of England. This morning’s journey was much pleasanter than Wednesday’s, I didn’t get held up so much (though the journey home was worse, but then there’s always more traffic on a Friday afternoon as most people leave work early).

It was another nice day today, generally quite sunny although there were some large dark clouds in the afternoon which obscured the sun and made it rather gloomy. It was very sunny around lunchtime, and warm enough for me to take my coat off for an hour or so.

From the church at Hillesden, the Cross Bucks Way follows a long drive [1], presumably the drive to the long-demolished Hillesden House (there is a modern house of that name there now). This is a tarmac road until it passes a farm and then becomes a clear track, downhill at first then level, running on in a straight line almost due east for about a mile. There are wide green verges either side of the track, with the bordering hedges about 30 yards apart. I saw a buzzard as I walked along the track, and again when I came back in the afternoon. When the track eventually reached a gate, I followed a hedgerow a few yards to the left and then turned right on a well-used bridleway. This shortly crossed a footbridge that was named as King’s Bridge on the map, and became a lane when it reached a farm. Now heading south-east, I followed the lane for half a mile to a crossroads, then continued ahead on a minor road for another half mile. The map and the guide indicated that the path then went through a farmyard – in fact, there must have been a path diversion, because there was a Cross Bucks Way sign about a hundred yards past the farm. Here I had to walk through a field where Alpacas were grazing – I’d seen these relatives of Llamas before, but never actually been in a field with them. They looked at me curiously, but weren’t bothered by my presence.

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[1] The drive leading away from Hillesden

The next field contained sheep, and then I went through a couple of empty grass fields. I then reached a footbridge over a stream, where two men were dredging or clearing the stream and cutting back the vegetation, guided by another man who turned out to be the tenant farmer. He welcomed me, saying he was glad to see walkers, as nowadays farmers are paid to look after the countryside as well as produce food, so walkers and other country lovers were responsible for his subsidies! He was an interesting chap, who talked to me for about 10 minutes, telling me all about the history of the local farms and how the village, Addington, had been involved in the meat trade in various ways for centuries. The most interesting snippet that I remember was that there were a group of Czechs living in the village during the war – later it was discovered they’d been working at nearby Bletchley Park in the effort to break German codes. He told me I was welcome to take a short cut along his farm drive, but I explained that I had to follow the official path.

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[2] Addington church

It would certainly have been quicker to go along the farm drive, as the Cross Bucks Way takes a curious route hereabouts. I reached the farm by crossing a couple of large pastures. Having crossed the farm drive, the route then headed north across two more pastures, but when it reached the far side of the second one, it almost doubled back on itself, heading south east to emerge on a lane that was a continuation of the farm drive.

The lane led through the small and attractive village of Addington [2,3] – I had passed through here on the North Bucks Way, and indeed the two paths shared the same route for a few hundred yards along a lane through the village.

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[3] Addington

From Addington, the Cross Bucks Way crossed a large pasture and then followed a hedgerow in a very large field of rough grass, with just a handful of sheep in it. There then followed a succession of small empty pastures either side of the railway line I had already crossed twice on the previous walk, before a path along and between garden fences led to a road in Winslow [4,5]. This seemed to be a very pleasant small country town, with lots of old buildings of various styles and ages. Winslow Hall was a very impressive red-brick building, with some remarkably large chimneys.

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[4] Winslow

I followed a main road out of Winslow, turned left at a junction, and then took a footpath on the right. This was enclosed between hedges for a couple of hundred yards, before emerging on the edge of a large field planted with some cereal crop. The map showed the path passing across this and the next two fields, but here and in the next but one field it was obvious that people actually walked along the edge of the field. The Cross Bucks Way then followed the hedge of another cereal field, before crossing it to a footbridge. A couple of large empty pastures then led to a road, which took me into Swanbourne [6].

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[5] Winslow church

I stopped and ate my lunch on a bench opposite the church here, as there had been no other obvious places to sit down and it was now almost 1pm. It was very sunny now, but I put my coat back on before I sat down and kept it on after lunch. I enjoyed the walk back – it’s always easier when I don’t have to worry anymore about finding the way. It was a nice afternoon, although it did cloud over. I have been very lucky with the weather so far this winter, as it has been remarkably dry.  Towards the end of the walk, as I was going back along the road from the Alpacas’ field, I saw my first lambs of the year.

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[6] Swanbourne

This was another good walk, although again I was quite tired at the end of it. There were one or two places were the path had been planted over, but not so many as on the previous walk. Generally the way was well sign-posted. The countryside looked really nice with all the bare trees and recently trimmed hedges surrounding the green fields.  The places that I passed through were all interesting in one way or another, especially Winslow.

Total Distance: 16 miles each way