Chilterns: Wendover Woods

7.5 miles (12 kilometres) Winter, cold and sunny. Solo with Mr. Dog. This walk is also recommended for June as it has spectacular displays of orchids.

Who knew Wendover was so nice? Not me, that’s certain. Turns out it’s a lovely spot. Turns out it also has an Iron Age hill fort, cobblers’ pits and the most tranquil stretch of the Grand Union canal you’re ever going to find. It also has a plethora of pubs, a picnic spot with a place to barbecue and a small but highly functioning market selling mince pies, at least it does on a Thursday. I don’t know what else you’d be looking for on a walk, but maybe it has that as well.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my thermos. It was going to be zero degrees out in the Chilterns so I cracked out the flask. This thing apparently uses witchcraft and has only been around for about 120 years. I consider getting some picnic from the market but exercise some self control and leave it for the end, besides we all make much better food decisions when we’re really hungry, amirite?

The ground is covered in frost and the sky is milky mid blue. It was only a few days ago I was walking on brown mulchy rotting leaves but now they are white and crispy. It is freezing, perfect December walking weather. There’s weather from the arctic passing through.

I climb slowly up Boddington Hill to the hill fort, now a managed area in Wendover Woods. There’s not much to see as the trees and scrub have taken back over. However the low sun is throwing shafts of light onto the woodland floor making mystical scenery. I’m waiting for elves to show up (which Shovell would presumably try to eat).

The woods are extremely ‘managed’, whether that is a good or bad thing is debatable. There is room in the world for both I guess, these woods have plenty of kids’ trails, themed walks and even, as I discover further along, A Go Ape woodland activity centre. I imagine Wendover Woods is deafening on a summer Saturday. I wish we had had Go Ape when I was a kid, I used to love climbing and would climb any rope, tree or drainpipe. My favourite escape was shinning up the drainpipe and sitting on the verandah where people wouldn’t find me, and seldom came looking. In bad weather I would hide for hours behind the hat stand. I’ve been avoiding people for a long time. I suspect Go Ape is probably behind me now though.

This is probably more my style now. There’s a constant sound of gunfire accompanying me on this walk, either there’s a firing range nearby or there’s some kind of carnage going on in Wendover.

At Aston Hill I leave the woods and find an unexpected trig point. It doesn’t seem to be on peak bagger. I’ve just had a look for it today and I suspect my phone was on airplane mode on the hill, which is usual for me to save battery with the added bonus that it renders my phone useless for anyone trying to contact me.

I exchange brief pleasantries with another walker coming the other way. Wendover people are friendly, I can’t say that about all of the Chilterns. He looks as surprised as I am by the trig point.

As I top the hill and re enter the trees I have another chat with a man about the Forestry Commission, they’re doing a lot of work up here. At the golf course the green is completely white. This amuses me hugely. The golf course is a right of way, they have acknowledged the common people by providing the meagrest of snickets by the 11th hole. Don’t walk too slowly here when the sap is rising or you’ll become part of the hedge.

When I descend down Cobbler’s Pits reserve I notice there are yews lining the way and I wonder if it is an old droving route down into the valley. At the bottom the path meets the Wendover arm of the Grand Union canal, but it’s the Grand Union like I’ve never seen it before. It’s almost entirely silted up, about a ruler deep and covered in golden yellow leaves. Even at this time of year the wildlife seems abundant, who can blame them, I’d live here if I was wild. Sadly one of its residents is lying dead on the towpath, a beautiful tawny owl.

Although the path begins quietly, closer to town it gets quite busy as everyone wants a piece of the tranquility. There’s a raft of brightly coloured mandarin ducks, and moorhens fighting like rowdy teddy boys. All over the ground are yellow sycamore leaves like spotted dominos. As each domino leaf falls into the water it makes a round table challenging me to a game.

As much as I’d like to linger and become at one with the ducks, there’s a market waiting for me ahead and I happen to know it has some very festive food on it, and a stall with some edible Christmas presents on it. Shop locally, especially at Christmas. Support makers, particularly makers of fine mince pies.

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Walk info

I followed this walk from the Chiltern Society who have also produced this printable leaflet if you would prefer to have a hard copy. I notice the walk mentions spectacular displays of orchids so it would be a fine June walk too.

3 responses to “Chilterns: Wendover Woods”

  1. Wendover is lovely and I love a good mince pie….or two

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This definitely caught my .and a great to hike around.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…either there’s a firing range nearby or there’s some kind of carnage going on in Wendover.” – Lol at this from a distance, but before I actually go shopping with the locals there I’ll need to get a much better idea of the whole carnage situation.😁

    Liked by 1 person

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