Buckinghamshire is a top leisure-walking county, and criss-crossed by country footpaths, by day-walks and by long-distance trails, but it has as yet no single long-distance trail named for it and exploring the whole county.
County boundary walks are something we are helping to develop on this site, and there are pages on WildþingUK describing a number of established boundary walks and others proposed or in development. While looking at a Border Walks for Hertfordshire and Middlesex, I looked to the county lying next to both of them, to Buckinghamshire. It is a long county, longer than Herts and Middlesex stacked on top of each other, from the south, from the Thames to the heart of the Midlands, and is a favourite county amongst publishers of walking books, so could it be the next to have a border path?
It is certainly a possibility. On the other hand, perhaps the shape of the county suggests a path along its length: a “Buckinghamshire Way”, through the core of what makes Buckinghamshire., south to north from tip to tip (or as close as is practical).
The Buckinghamshire Way I propose would run the whole length of the county from its southernmost point on the Thames to its northernmost point at Northey Farm, north of Lavenden. Depending on the exact route, this would be about 90 miles, almost entirely on footpaths. A proposed route appears on the map at the foot of this page.
There are in fact three established routes: a “South Bucks Way”, a “North Bucks Way” and a “Cross Bucks Way” laid down and defined by bureaucracy and now marked on Ordnance Survey maps. The North and South ways do not quite meet in the middle. I have mapped the routes and put them on the map below, with a dashed line, adding a linking section between the end of the South way and the beginning of the North. My proposed ‘Buckinghamshire Way’ follows almost the whole of the North Bucks Way, and the last sections of the South way. Though these two routes and the Cross Bucks Way are established and no doubt fine walking, it is clear from the map that while the combined routes span much of the county, they do not reach its whole length; far from it. The South Bucks Way starts at Denham, about ten miles north of Buckinghamshire’s southern tip, and follows a less exciting route from there to the Chiltern escarpment. The North Bucks Way winds amongst the villages and hamlets of the Vale of Aylesbury to the edge of Milton Keynes, but unaccountably it stops there, possibly because the jurisdiction of the council which sponsors the route stops there too, but Buckinghamshire does not. (The full mapped route even seems to veer off into Northamptonshire.)
It seems to me that we could do better. It is just a question finding the best and pleasantest of routes. That’s not to say that a border walk is out of the question, though it is a tricky border in places, but a full Buckinghamshire Way, that would be an achievement for the walking books’ favourite county.
Draft route map
(Existing North, South and Cross Bucks Ways shown dashed.)