This is a lovely, short walk in the Chilterns, which we took to walk the Christmas excess off. It starts at a tiny village in the heart of Buckinghamshire’s walking country and circles round the Chequers Estate. It also takes in much of the Resignation Way which I planned out in the summer. Ellesborough is a village I have often passed though; it is a tiny place which is mostly hidden behind trees but beside two gorgeous thatched cottages stands the parish church, a soaring edifice for such a little place, and worth a visit itself. Several footpaths start here or pass by – when I eventually walk the Buckinghamshire Way, it will have to come through here.
The route starts opposite the church, heading south along a short lane before cutting across a field south-east, with Coombe Hill looming ahead. Here there is a clear view of the Monument; a war memorial for the Boer War at the summit of the hill at 852 feet. The path emerges at a minor road; turn right down it for a hundred yards or so then a path leads east between houses and at once disappears into a wood.
The route then climbs straight up the slope of Coombe Hill to the summit ridge, although there is an easier short-cut turning right, southwards along the lower slope of the hill. From the summit you can wander north to have a look at the monument and the splendid view all around from that vantage, but today’s route turns south through along the wooded hill (and from here you are following the Resignation Way, but do not expect it to be waymarked! It is also the Ridgeway Path, which is a major, waymarked route. Cross the lane to Dunsmore, a slight dogleg westwards by a hundred yards or so, then continue south at the edge of and then into the woods, where the path will lead to round to face west, meeting the shortcut route at a four-way signpost and carrying on down to the road. Cross the road as it turns a corner, and you will be staring into security cameras and signs warning you not to trespass – this is the Chequers Estate, which is the Prime Minister’s official country residence. Chequers House will become visible later.
The path crosses an open field to the Chequers main drive (the house is not visible from the drive at this point, but you are just inside the security gate – the signs will remind you not to stray, and if they do not explicitly say that trespassers will be shot, they imply it). Across the drive then and up the slope of the next field to the wood – on this section the house reveals itself. Through the gate to the wood, Maple Wood, and the path runs along the edge of the wood with fine views of the house. It is a popular walk – many a walking group, several with dogs, passed us here. It is still the Ridgeway path here, and the Resignation Way.
After Maple Wood comes Whorley Wood; follow the edge of the wood, outside the fence, leading you on the right turn to head north (most walkers, on the Ridgeway, head off westwards at this point). The path then enters the wood (Little Kimble Warren) and soon descends on steps, to the head of a lovely hidden valley with a view out to the church at Great Kimble. Soon the landscape changes dramatically, to open chalk down over the flank of a pleasingly shaped, rounded hill, and then the church at Ellesboroughm standing high on its hillock, comes magnificently into view, the path emerging opposite the church again.