The Buckinghamshire Way

The Buckinghamshire Way is a walk which celebrates Buckinghamshire, running the whole length of the county from by its southernmost point to its northernmost, and experiencing on the way a variety of the landscape of that charming county.

Buckinghamshire is a top leisure-walking county, and criss-crossed by country footpaths, by day-walks and by long-distance trails, but until the creation of the Buckinghamshire Way, it has no single long-distance trail named for it and exploring the whole county.

The Buckinghamshire Way then runs through the core of what makes Buckinghamshire, from south to north from tip to tip (or as close as is practical).  Its southernmost point is on the Thames at Hythe End (west of Staines), and the route starts at the closest accessible point, before reaching the Thames bank and following the river upstream towards Taplow.  Then it heads north through the heart of the Chilterns.  The Chiltern countryside is a famous glory of the county, but there is far more to be found, as the walker will discover.

Emerging at the scarp slope of the Chilterns, the Way descends suddenly into the Vale of Aylesbury, where it follows a more low-lying path northward, through green farmland, to pretty villages and close by some of the great houses of Buckinghamshire.

After skirting by and briefly through Milton Keynes, the Buckinghamshire Way meets the lands around the Great Ouse in the exquisite northernmost parts of the county, finishing at its northernmost point by Northey Farm, north of Lavenden.

I will be replotting part of Day 1, the bit around Taplow. Depending on the exact final route for that section, the whole walk is about 90 miles, almost entirely on footpaths.  A route map appears on at the foot of this page.

Developing a route

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 Hertfordshire 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?

The North Bucks Way near Eythorpe Park

It is certainly a possibility.  On the other hand, perhaps the shape of the county suggested a path along its length:  a “Buckinghamshire Way”,

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 is 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.

The first walk

I completed the first walk over a course of four (discontinuous) days.  I began the on Saturday 15 July 2019, walking from Hythe End to Forth Green, north of Beaconsfield (which was too far for such a hot day, and with those boots).  Day 2 was from Forty Green, over the Chilterns and to Waddesden.  After some long interruptions for other expeditions, and work, I completed the second half over the weekend of 31 August / 1 September 2019.

The whole route was a good walking route, easy to follow for the most part, though requiring a good way with a compass on occasion.  I was able to follow it as planned except around Taplow and an ambiguous section on the Chiltern Scarp.  I will be replotting the section around Taplow shortly. Depending on the exact final route for that section, the whole Buckinghamshire Way comes to about 90 miles, and is almost entirely on footpaths.  The route (subject to future alterations at Taplow and Checkers) appears on the map below.  I have also provided links for the maps required for the route.  I was very glad of the better scale of the Explorer maps in sections.

I will also include lists of books about walks and places by the route, and in due course this article will be updated with a better commentary and description.  In the maeantime, do go out there and explore the Buckinghamshire Way for yourself.

Route map

(Existing North, South and Cross Bucks Ways shown dashed.)

Maps

Blog roll of the first walk: