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24 April 2021: Wendover Woods and Canal, Chilterns AONB

Event led by Khris
Attendance: 8 men including 2 new members and a dog
Distance: 8.58 miles (13.8 km)
Time: start 11:03, end 15:35, lunch 36 minutes
Terrain: woodland, bridleways, farm tracks, canal tow path pavement.
Elevation: start 125m, high 264m, low 116m
Weather: sunny, 14-17°C, cool breeze
Number of sewage work: 0
Number of churches: 2
Number of golf courses: 0

This was a circular walk of 8.58 miles (13.8 km) from Wendover Community Library to Wendover Woods (highest point in Buckinghamshire) to Halton Village via Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

The first half of the walk was a slow steady ascent to Wendover Woods following the Ridgeway out of Wendover passing the historical church with a slight detour via quaint woodland which the bluebells were beginning to blossom. Upon reaching the plateau of Cock’s Hill and crossing over the ancient Grims Ditch. We met the residents of the lone property who explained the quirky ‘porcelain‘ garden and the various plants along the footpath for all passing walkers to enjoy. We descended briefly before ascending to our lunch stop at Wendover Woods. Wendover Woods is an area of woodland on the north edge of the Chiltern Hills in England. Named after the nearby town of Wendover, the woods are part of the Public Forest Estate and are managed by the Forestry Commission.

We had a pleasurable lunch seated at wooden benches with a good conversation in the sunshine with a light cooling breeze.

The second half we slowly descended from the woodlands passing Halton Camp (the main residency of the RAF) before getting a glimpse of Halton House.

Halton House is a country house in the village of Halton. It was built for Alfred de Rothschild between 1880 and 1883. Alfred was primarily homosexual, and it is possible that Alfred encouraged an illusion of paternity as a way of deflecting attention from his sexuality. The house was used for grand parties and gambling. Alfred had no legitimate children, so the house was bequeathed to his nephew Lionel de Rothschild. He detested the place and sold the contents at auction in 1918. The house and by now diminished estate were purchased for the Royal Air Force by the Ministry of Defence. It is currently used as the main officer’s mess for RAF Halton. The rest of the land belongs to the Ministry of Defence, largest RAF training station with a grass airfield used for glider training in England.

Halton House is also used frequently as a film set and is often seen in cinemas and on televisions around the world. It has been featured in Evita (1996); An Ideal Husband (1999) by Oscar Wilde; The Queen (2006); The King's Speech (2010); Downton Abbey (2011); The Crown (2016) and recently Bridgerton (2020).

We continued through the woodland skirting the Ministry of Defence land to pick up the Outer Aylesbury Ring on Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. This was built between 1793 and 1797 and served local industries whilst also providing a water supply for the parent canal. The canal is tranquil with plenty of wildlife with moorhens, coots, mallards, mandarin ducks, black headed gulls, egret and the resident swans. Several were noted making nests including the swans who have re-located to another location. The canal meanders through Halton village on returning to Wendover.

Upon completion of the walk. Opportunity to have a refreshing beverage outside. We visited the Pound Deli with its impeccable customer service and a stupendous selection of wine and cheeses and had a thirst quencher.

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