Pete's Walks - The South Bucks Way

About the South Bucks Way

The South Bucks Way is one of a number of long-distance paths that link the better known National Trails. In this case, the South Bucks Way links the Ridgeway at Coombe Hill (near Wendover in Bucks, and close to the Prime Minister’s week-end retreat at Chequers) to the Grand Union Canal trail at Denham. For most of its 23-mile course, the South Bucks Way follows the valley of the river Misbourne, one of only four rivers in the Chiltern Hills.

 Buckinghamshire County Council publish a leaflet about the South Bucks Way. An order form for this (and leaflets about numerous other walks in Buckinghamshire) can be found on their website - see my links page. Most of the historical or other factual data that I quote in my journal is taken from this source. The route is also shown on the OS Explorer 172 map (but be warned, the route on the ground does not always agree entirely with the map!).

Click here to see a very rough map of the South Bucks Way  (but only if you have already read my disclaimer and notes regarding maps).

About my walk

I walked the South Bucks Way in August 2005, the week after I had completed my Chiltern Way walk. I wanted to do a walk that I could complete in three consecutive days, walking about 15 miles a day. By doing the South Bucks Way in both directions, the distance of 46 miles was ideal for my purposes. Each of the three days I walked, I drove to the starting point, walked so many miles along the South Bucks Way and then turned round and walked back, the same methodology I’d used on the Chiltern Way.

The only guide I had for the walk was the leaflet from Buckinghamshire County Council. I didn’t refer to this very often when walking though, as I used the OS Explorer 172 map to guide me. Most of the way was fairly well waymarked, the most obvious exception being in Chalfont St Peter, although the map and the path on the ground did not always match up.

A note about the photographs: I didn't have a camera with me on this walk, as I didn't decide to create a web site until much later. So I drove round several months afterwards to take some photo's to add to the journal on the site. As in all such cases where the photo's were taken at a later date I have added the date to the captions below the photographs.

Picture omitted Day 1 15/08/05

Coombe Hill to Little Missenden
Picture omitted Day 2 16/08/05

Little Missenden to Chalfont St Peter
Picture omitted Day 3 17/08/05

Chalfont St Peter to Denham

Post-walk comments 

I did this walk mainly because I wanted the fairly easy challenge of a walk that I could complete in three consecutive days. I had come across the South Bucks Way near Chalfont St Giles while I was walking the Chiltern Way, so I had seen on the map that a large section of it was a very flat walk along the Misbourne valley. Consequently, my expectations for it weren’t too high, it obviously wouldn’t be as interesting or as varied as the Chiltern Way. So I did the South Bucks Way more concerned with the physical challenge than with the quality of the scenery I would pass.

The walk lived up to my, admittedly limited, expectations. The first day was very good indeed, if it had been on the Chiltern Way it would have been in the top 5 or 6 walks on that route – that view from near Little Missenden was outstanding. The second day was pleasant enough, but rather monotonous, being dead flat and almost entirely in grassy fields along the valley of the Misbourne – the sections through Old Amersham and the Chalfonts came as a pleasant relief. The shorter third day was not too bad, but apart from the section around Shire Lane it was predominantly through built-up areas.

I chose to walk the South Bucks Way from North West to South East, simply because this meant I had shorter distances to drive to the start of each days walk. If anyone else is thinking of doing the walk, I would strongly recommend doing it in the opposite direction. The scenery and the path get more interesting that way, and Coombe Hill is a far more spectacular place to finish a walk than the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.