Pete's Walks - Hambleden and Ibstone (page 1 of 4)

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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

I did this roughly 12.9 mile circular walk on Saturday, 10th November 2012. It was Walk 15 of my Chiltern Chain Walk, but done in the opposite direction (clockwise).

As I drove to Hambleden, I was surprised how many puddles there were on the road, and how big they were - in a couple of places they almost stretched from one side of the road to the other. I knew it had rained the night before (in fact it rained lightly on and off during the hour or so I was driving) but I hadn't expected the roads to be so wet. It didn't augur well for the walk, the paths were obviously going to be very muddy indeed.

Hambleden, set in its valley rimmed by woods, has remained an unspoilt village due to the benevolence of the Hambleden estate that owns much of it, and the National Trust to which most of it is covenanted. It has therefore avoided the ravages of modern development. Its characteristic Chiltern brick-and-flint houses have made it an ideal setting for films and TV. There is an old pump by a tree in the village square, and several old-fashioned shops. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it is recorded that the manor of Hambleden was given to Queen Matilda. A mill at Mill End a mile south of the village then paid an annual rent of 1, and there is still a mill on that site today (the weir is said to have been built in the reign of Henry V, 1413-1422). In 1215 the manor was held by King John, through his subsidiary title as Earl of Gloucester. It then passed to Richard de Clare and then his son Gilbert de Clare these two were the next two signatories of the Magna Carta after King John himself. 1215 is also the first year that mention is made of a Rector of Hambleden, Ralph Neville. He was a prominent statesman, holding five other livings and holding the very important role of Chancellor of England. He became Bishop of Chichester in 1224 and seven years later was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury however the Pope refused to ratify this latter appointment. St Thomas de Cantilupe, the last pre-Reformation English saint, was born in Hambleden. He too was a Chancellor of England (1265) and became Bishop of Hereford in 1275. He died in 1282, being canonised in 1320.

I started walking about 10:20am (the car park was full, so I'd parked on the road east of the church). I took the path from the far end of the car park that went left across part of a sports ground or playing area, to reach a track where I turned right. As I'd feared, this was muddy straightaway and I knew from experience it would get worse later on. At times I almost had to cling to the fences either side to enable me to pass the worst of the mud and large puddles, but I managed somehow and followed the track as it turned right and came to a road just south of Hambleden. I went a few yards right, then took the bridleway opposite. This ran through the southern edge of Ridge Wood, then ran between hedges until it reached a track by some cottages.

The sports field at Hambleden

 

The very muddy track

 

The very muddy track

 

The bridleway along the southern edge of Ridge Wood

 

The bridleway along the southern edge of Ridge Wood

 

I turned right and followed a  bridleway along  track along a valley bottom, heading slightly west of north with woods on top of the slopes either side. I spotted three Fallow Deer ahead of me - they came down the slope on the left and crossed the track, then started running towards me, before turning right and re-crossing the track (where there fences either side) and heading back the way they'd came. Further on I had to keep stepping off the track as I was passed by about 15 four-wheel drive vehicles, obviously a shooting party. I saw them pull up to the right of the track, shortly before it reached Great Wood. I continued along the track into the wood, where initially there were several conifers. I soon spotted a Muntjac deer, which allowed me to get surprisingly close before it ran off. Further on, there were more deciduous trees, especially beeches, and I admired the vibrant autumn foliage.

 

The bridleway going north to Great Wood

 

The bridleway through Great Wood

 

The bridleway through Great Wood

 

The bridleway through Great Wood, approaching the path junction where it goes half-left

 

At a junction where a footpath went right, the bridleway left the track and went half-left, gradually climbing uphill through the trees. On leaving Great Wood, it ran between hedges and fences for a while, before joining a surfaced track that led to Upper Woodend Farm and a lane. I turned right, and followed the lane for a third of a mile to a T-junction.

 

The bridleway through Great Wood

 

The bridleway through Great Wood

 

The bridleway continuing from Great Wood to Upper Woodend Farm

 

The lane going north from Upper Woodend Farm

 

Across the junction, a footpath led across an empty pasture to reach Gussetts Wood. The path continued through the wood, soon dropping downhill to a valley bottom. Here I turned right onto a bridleway along a track through the trees, following the narrow valley bottom.

 

Crossing the meadow between the lane junction and Gussetts Wood

 

The  footpath through Gussetts Wood

 

Near the start of the bridleway in Gussetts Wood

Part 2 of this walk

Chiltern Chain Walk (2) main page

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