It takes a visitor to show the locals where to go!
On a windy spring morning, I joined friends and colleagues on a walk from Hughenden Manor, near High Wycombe in the Chilterns. Our walk leader Delphine, was to show us the Visorando app in action.
The Right Ingredients
This is a walk peppered with fabulous sightseeing opportunities: a Chilterns Manor House, bluebells in beech woodlands, a medieval village, a coffee shop, a pub (naturally), secluded valleys where the kites shoot the breeze and skylarks sing.
We came across this beautiful view unexpectedly, making me stop as we emerged from the woodland behind Hughenden Manor. A total surprise!
Three miles west of High Wycombe, tucked away in the Wye valley, is a unique 18th century Italian-inspired Chilterns landscape, built to impress and entertain. Across the valley, St Lawrence and the Dashwood mausoleum straddle the hilltop, still dominating the landscape after 250 years. Based on the design of the Constantine Arch in Rome, this unroofed structure is unlike anything else in the country. Built using excavated flints from deep inside the hill, still in the Dashwood family ownership, this show-off memorial to Sir Francis and his friends is in remarkable condition. Beside which is clustered a tiny village of the most lovely cottages creeping up the hill.
Coffee was calling so we heading into my favourite Chilterns village, West Wycombe. This tiny village, that hugs the hillside looks just like a film set; steep lanes, wobbly windows festooned with impressive cobwebs, doorways for tiny residents and unexpected passageways. All authentic, medieval properties, re-purposed for 21st century life.
When your walking companions have such a wealth of local knowledge, they add layers of richness to the journey: identifying plants and animals, film locations and stories of those who have passed this way before. All of the above best discussed over coffee and cake, before we headed back up the valley.
Uphill all the way
On the return leg, we spotted a few early bluebells, poking out above the new growth, two red kites shooting the breeze, oblivious to our chatter as we walked uphill back to Hughenden. Working in tourism, I know it is usually visitors who discover the local gems because they look harder, trying to find the essence of a place. And in this, Delphine succeeded. She had captured the beauty of the undulating, rolling Chilterns landscape, historic streetscapes, wildlife, local food and drink and stories, all woven together in what makes the Chilterns so special. So yes, it often does take a visitor to guide the locals through their own landscape stories. Thank you!
This is not a blow-by-blow account of how to navigate your way. Go exploring yourself and walk this lovely, but hilly six mile route on Visorando, that also includes; Sunday strolls to strenuous hikes, long-distance trails and urban walks.
Did you know that West Wycombe was saved by the Wall Street crash of 1929?
The fire was from a portable BBQ, discarded with accompanying beer bottles under a tree just behind the mausoleum. I am sure Sir Francis Dashwood would have approved of the party, but not the litter. Read Hellfire on a Hill
National Trust Hughenden Manor was once the home of Victorian statesman Benjamin Disraeli. An understated place, and worth a visit.
Take your Chilterns memories home with a mug, picture or tea-towel from our Chilterns Gifts range. Available online to UK mainland only.