Guiding services

On the South Downs (photo courtesy Ernst Schwintzer)

The United Kingdom is blessed with an amazingly dense network of public paths which meander enchantingly through woodland and meadow and over moor and mountain. There are 140,000 miles of paths in England and Wales which is more than the total length of roads (excluding residential streets). Walking is mankind’s natural speed and is the best way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and vernacular architecture of Britain. As W. H. Davies once asked


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

My guiding services are available to everyone but I specialize in leading Americans and Canadians (individuals, families and groups) on both day walks from London and longer trips to almost anywhere. I have walked the length and breadth of England including every step of the way from Land’s End to the Scottish border, and from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Tell me the area you want to explore and I will help you plan your trip, obtain train tickets, reserve accommodation and then lead you expertly and knowledgeably. Alternatively, if you want to go it alone I can offer advice and information.

I have led walks for the St Johns Wood Women’s Club and the Canadian Women’s Club. I have set up a number of British hiking itineraries for Wilderness Travel, one of America’s most prestigious adventure travel companies, and have led many of their trips.

I can devise walks based on particular themes or special interests such as Roman Britain, prehistoric sites, castles, battlefields, American connections, and literary walks in the steps of authors such as the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.

For further information, please e-mail me at
hughwestacott@gmail.com or telephone 01297 552426

England, which is approximately the size of New York State, is blessed with a remarkably dense network of 120,000 miles of public paths that everyone is entitled to walk whenever they wish without any formality; the visitor really is spoilt for choice! London, to the casual observer, may seem to stretch forever but, in fact, it is easy to escape from its tentacles by using the extensive rail network. Within a little more than an hour’s train journey from one of the London’s many termini there is an area of 5,000 square miles of countryside that contains two national parks and no fewer than eight officially-designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). You can soon be walking over rolling hills and through green meadows and woodland and you can have lunch in a quaint old pub in a charming village full of thatched cottages.

London is neatly divided by the river Thames that flows through southern England from west to east. Within a forty-mile radius of the city there are three significant ranges of chalk hills that that are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and rise, in places, to almost a thousand feet. On the southern side of the Thames, the North Downs run from west to east from Basingstoke to Dover and at their closest are only fifteen miles from the centre of London. The South Downs run parallel to the coast, generally between five and ten miles from the sea, from just north of Portsmouth to Eastbourne. Between the North and South Downs lies the Weald, another AONB, which is a relatively flat but attractive area of fields and woods containing charming small towns and villages. To the northwest of London, the Chiltern Hills stretch from Goring-on-Thames to Dunstable. Londoners have so much from which to choose! Here are some examples:

 WALKS IN GREATER LONDON

 Putney Bridge to Norbiton

This is an astonishingly rural route through south London. We start by following the river Thames and enjoy lovely vistas to the far bank. At Barnes Bridge we leave the river and enter Richmond Park with its herd of red deer and then we make our way to the station.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at a pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 161.

Walk 69

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF BERKSHIRE

 Streatley via Aldworth

The route from the station crosses the river Thames and then climbs steeply before descending across a golf course to the Ridgeway Path, a national trail and prehistoric trading route, that climbs gently to a summit on the Berkshire Downs. Another ancient trackway leads into the the lovely village of Aldworth which has an interesting church containing some fine stone effigies known as the ‘sleeping giants’. From here the route is level until it descends towards the river Thames giving extensive views over the surrounding countryside.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 800 feet. there is one steep hill at the start of the walk.

Lunch: After 5.5 miles at a traditional village pub that has been in the same family for 200 years.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 170 & 158.

Walk 5

MORTIMER STATION TO BRAMLEY STATION VIA THE ROMAN TOWN OF CALLEVER ATREBATVM

This is an easy walk that takes us on attractive field paths to Calleva Atrebatvm which is one of the few Roman towns that were neither colonized by the invading Saxons nor occupied in later ages. Pompeii it is not, but it is, nevertheless, very interesting. Excavations over many years have revealed the outlines of some of the major buildings and we shall visit the amphitheatre and walk around the  walls. We shall continue for another mile to have lunch in Silchester. We then walk though the attractive Pamber Forest to the village of Latchmere Green, and then across fields to Bramley Station.

Distance: 9 miles

Cumulative height gain: 340 feet

Lunch: at a pleasant pub in Silchester after 4.5 miles

Walk 78

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF HAMPSHIRE

Ashurst via Lyndhurst in the New Forest National Park

The New Forest dates back a thousand years to the early middle ages when it was a royal hunting forest. It is not a dense mass of trees but rather a mixture of woodland, open glades and heathland. This is a typical New Forest walk which contains no significant hills. In Lyndhurst churchyard there is an opportunity to visit the grave of Alice Hargreaves better known as Alice Liddell who was the little girl featured in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: Negligible.

Lunch: at an attractive pub after 3.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL 22.

Walk 15

 

 Alton via Chawton

This is an easy walk with just one significant hill which has to be climbed at the beginning and end of the walk. Apart from this, the walk is relatively level passing through fields and along an abandoned railway line. Chawton is a delightful village where Jane Austen spent the last years of her life with her sister Cassandra in a charming late-seventeenth century house in which she wrote the final versions of all six of her major novels. The house is now a museum which contains many mementoes of the Austen family. We then walk the final three miles across fields into Alton.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 370 feet.

Lunch: at an attractive pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 133.

Walk 25

 

WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF KENT

 Otford to Eynsford following the Darent Valley

This is an easy walk following the river Darent. From the station, the route passes through the pleasant village of Otford giving a glimpse of the ruins of the 16th century manor house once owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury. The path runs through fields to the delightful village of Shoreham where we have lunch. The Darent Valley Path then runs through more fields and along the shores of the ornamental lake of Lullingstone Castle. The house dates from Tudor times although the facade was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century. Beyond the castle lie the remains of Lullingstone Roman Villa which contains the earliest known place of Christian worship in England dating from the third century.

Distance: 7 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at attractive pub in the picturesque village of Shoreham after 3.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 147.

Walk 2

 

Sevenoaks via Ide Hill

This walk explores a very rural area of Kent and passes through a pattern of small woods and fields to reach Ide Hill, the only village on the route. Ide Hill is charming as well as being, at 800 feet, the highest village in the county. Henry VIII used to go hunting hereabouts when he was courting Anne Boleyn.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 700 feet.

Lunch: at a pleasant pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer #147.

Walk 21

 

Sevenoaks via Knole

This is a particularly interesting and attractive walk. After walking through Sevenoaks we enter the extensive deer park of Knole which is one of the grandest of Elizabethan mansions and the home of the Sackvilles for several centuries. We then climb onto the North Downs and follow a ridge that gives extensive views over the Weald of Kent to the South Downs. Our route then descends to Ightham (pronounced Itam) Mote which is a wonderfully preserved moated manor house dating from 1340. After lunch we pass through orchards and hop fields to cross Knole Park again and return to the station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 700 feet in a series of short undulations.

Lunch: at a pub after 6 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 147.

Walk 36

 

Maidstone to Hollingbourne

From the centre of Maidstone we follow the Centenary Walk through the village of Boxley and then climb steeply onto the Downs to join the North Downs Way National Trail. The route undulates a bit but it is mostly fairly level until we descend to Detling. There is a short climb to the top of the Downs followed by easy walking through belts of narrow woodland interspersed with stretches of open downland which give extensive views. We pass the remains of Thurnham Castle and then have a couple of short, steep ascents before descending through the attractive village of Hollingbourne to the station.

Distance: 11 miles

Total height gain: 800 feet

Lunch: at a pub after 4.5 miles

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 148.

Walk 49

 

Dunton Green to Borough Green

The North Downs Way National Trail is joined shortly after leaving the station and runs through the attractive village of Otford. The Way then climbs steeply to the top of the Downs and stays at the summit of a long ridge from where there are extensive views. After several miles the Way descends through the attractive village of Wrotham to the station at Borough Green.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 550 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 4.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 147.

Walk 60

 

Borough Green to Sole Street

From the station, the path climbs steadily towards the Downs and when it joins the North Downs Way National Trail the slope becomes much steeper. It levels out as it runs through Trosley Country Park and then is descends to follow the base of the Downs. The path climbs steeply again to reach the top of the Downs and follow a high-level track through woods. Near Great Buckland our route parts company with the North Downs Way to reach Sole Street station.

Distance: 10.5 miles.

Total height gain: 730 feet.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 148

Walk 61

 

Hollingbourne to Charing

An easy section of the North Downs Way National Trail that follows a contour route along the Downs before descending to the station in the charming village of Charing.

Distance: 11 miles.

Total height gain: 330 feet

Lunch: picnic. (Alternatively, a diversion can be made to a pub in Lenham which will add a mile to the total distance.)

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 148, 137.

Walk 51

 

Charing to Wye

From the station we walk through the attractive village of Charing to join the North Downs Way national Trail. We then walk through woods to the hamlet of Dunn Street and on to a romantic, ruined church by a lake in Eastwell Park. At Boughton Lees, the North Downs Way divides and we follow the branch that takes us to the station at Wye.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 300 feet.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 148..

Walk 52

 

Wye to Chartham

From the station we walk through the charming village of Wye and cross the river Great Stour to gain the North Downs Way. The path runs through woodland giving views over Godmersham Park, where Jane Austen frequently visited her brother, to Chilham which is one of the most beautiful villages in Kent. The scenery now changes and the chalk downs give way to a patchwork of orchards and fields before descending to the station at Chartham.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 650 feet. The is one steep hill and a series of minor undulations

Lunch: picnic

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 137, 150.

Walk 53

 

Chartham to Bekesbourne

From the station, we climb to the top of the Downs to join the North downs Way National Trail and then walk through orchards to Harbledown Down from where we should get a distant prospect of Canterbury. We walk through the city and then pass through more orchards to the charming village of Patrixbourne and so to the station at Bekesbourne.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 270 feet.

Lunch: at a pub in Canterbury.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 150.

Walk 54

 

Bekesbourne to Shepherdswell

This is probably the easiest section of the North Downs Way National Trail. The path runs through orchard and fields that take us to the hamlet of Womenswold and on to the station at Shepherdswell (also known as Sibertswold).

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 280 feet.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 150, 138.

Walk 56

 

Shepherdswell to Dover

This is the final section of the North Downs Way National Trail. We walk through a patchwork of fields and woods to cross Waldeshare Park. At the hamlet of Ashley, the path suddenly turns due south and heads as straight as an arrow to follow a Roman road to Dover. From the heights above the town we may, if the weather is clear, see France, 23 miles away across the English Channel.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 165 feet.

Lunch: picnic

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 138.

Walk 57

 

Chiddingstone Causeway, Chiddingstone and Penshurst

This is an easy walk that follows a gently undulating route through woods and fields to the delightful village of Chiddingstone, which has a castle and is full of half-timbered houses. The path crosses the park at Penshurst and we catch a glimpse of the magnificent Tudor palace of Penshurst Place before returning to the station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: Negligible.

Lunch: at a lovely old pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 147.

Walk 33

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF SURREY

 Norbiton to Ashtead

We start by walking through the outskirts of Kingston-upon-Thames, where several Saxon kings were crowned, and then follow the Hogsmill River. At Chessington we cross Horton Country Park to reach the delightful Epsom and Ashtead commons.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 161, 146.

Walk 67

 

Ashtead to Dorking

From the outskirts of Ashtead we walk through woods to the attractive village of Headley. We then cross Headley Heath and make a short, steep climb before descending to join the North Downs Way National Trail for a short distance. We then descend to the foot of the Downs to reach the river Mole where we turn off to Dorking Station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 600 feet. There is one short, steep hill.

Lunch: at pub after 4 miles.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146, 161.

Walk 62

 

Dorking to Ockley

An easy walk on good paths through the attractive fields and woods of the Weald of Surrey.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: negligible except for one short, steep hill.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 64

 

Ockley to Warnham

An easy walk through fields and woods. We cross the tiny North River which marks the boundary between the counties of Surrey and West Sussex.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: picnic.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146 & 134.

Walk 63

 

Haslemere, Hindhead and the Devil’s Punch Bowl

From Haslemere our walk will make a long climb to the summit of the Devil’s Punchbowl, a large amphitheatre of dry sandy heath and the 894-feet high Gibbet Hill, the second highest hill in Surrey. This hill got its name after three men were hanged there in 1786 for murdering a sailor. After lunch we descend into the Punch Bowl and then climb up to Gibbet Hill before returning to Haslemere by another route. The Devil’s Punch Bowl is a good location for autumn colours.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 950 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 7 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 133.

Walk 7

 

Holmwood via Leith Hill and Friday Street

An opportunity to make a long climb to the summit of Leith Hill which, at 965 feet, is the highest point in south-east England. Note that it is a gentle ascent for three miles with just one short, steep ascent near the top. The views are splendid and on a clear day it is possible to glimpse the sea through a gap in the South Downs. Friday Street is a tiny, remarkably remote hamlet with a large pond on which, from the eleventh century onwards, were successively located mills for grinding corn and the manufacture of iron and gunpowder. We return to Holmwood Station via Coldharbour where we shall be able to see the huge earth ramparts of the prehistoric iron-age hill fort.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 860 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles (closed on Mondays; see alternative walk 12A below).

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 12

 

Holmwood via Leith Hill, Coldharbour and Betchets Green

An opportunity to make a long climb to the summit of Leith Hill which, at 965 feet, is the highest point in south-east England. Note that it is a gentle ascent for three miles with just one short, steep ascent near the top. The views are splendid and on a clear day it is possible to glimpse the sea through a gap in the South Downs. We return to Holmwood Station via Coldharbour where we shall be able to see the huge earth ramparts of the prehistoric iron-age hill fort.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 1600 feet.

Lunch: at pub in Coldharbour after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 12A

 

Box Hill via Headley

A short distance from the station, this walk passes the Burford Bridge Hotel where Lord Nelson bade farewell to Lady Hamilton for the last time and where, a few years later, the poet John Keats stayed. The path then climbs steeply through woods before levelling out on the approach to the village of Headley. Then there is a gradual descent which gets much steeper on the outskirts of the charming village of Mickleham after which the path follows the river Mole back to the station.

Distance: 8.26 miles.

Total height gain: 807 feet.

Lunch: at pub in Headley after 4.26 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 17

 

Box Hill via Polesden Lacey

This itinerary passes over some of the lovely Surrey commons and ends with a striking view over the Mole Valley. We start by walking through the charming village of Mickleham to visit Polesden Lacey where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth spent part of their honeymoon. There is an entrance fee to visit the beautiful gardens in which the delightful tea rooms are situated. After lunch we walk over Ranmoor Common and see one of the most extensive vineyards in England.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 500 feet .

Lunch: in the tea room of Polesden Lacey after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 24

 

South Godstone via Tandridge

This is a pleasant, easy walk with no steep hills. We walk across fields to the hamlet of Tandridge and then pass a series of hammer ponds which once provided the power to drive the mills that ground both flour and gunpowder. At Godstone church we shall seethe grave of Walker Miles, the pseudonym of Edward Seyfang Taylor, who wrote and published a series of meticulously accurate footpath guides to south east England during the Edwardian period. After lunch we cross Garston Park and Tilburstow Hill to return to the station.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 330 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 26

 

Runnymede & Windsor Great Park

An easy walk that starts with a visit to Runnymede where the Magna Carta was signed by a reluctant King John in 1215 and which is claimed to be the foundation of Anglo-American liberties. You are actually on American soil here because three acres were given to the United States as the British tribute to President Kennedy. Nearby, is the imposing monument to those 20,455 airmen of the British Empire who gave their lives in the Second World War and have no known grave. We then explore the woods and lakes of Windsor Park and see several monuments including a colossal statue of George III which, when it rains, makes him appear to be weeping for his lost colonies!

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 370 feet. There is one short, steep hill.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 160.

Walk 28

 

Witley via Chiddingfold

This is a delightful walk through the woods and fields of west Surrey which was once a centre of iron-making. Few traces now remain except for some some place names such as Minepit Copse and Kiln Wood together with the ponds formed by streams that were dammed to provide power to drive the trip hammers and pump the furnace bellows.

Distance: 8.5 miles

Total height gain: 650 feet in a series of minor undulations.

Lunch: After 5 miles at an attractive old pub.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 133.

Walk 31

 

Epsom Downs via Headley

This walk starts at the top of Epsom Downs by the world-famous racecourse where the Derby is run so it is quite usual to see racehorses being exercised. The route undulates significantly but not steeply until reaching the attractive village of Headley. The return journey is less hilly and ends up at the racecourse again.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 600 feet.

Lunch: at pub in Headley.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 32

 

Farnham to Guildford

This is an easy first stage along a section of the North Downs Way , a national trail, that begins by following the river Wey for a mile or so and then takes a meandering route along tracks and paths through fields and woods to Puttenham. We then cross a sandy heath, pass under the A3 and enter more open country to reach the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel and the river Wey Navigation which we follow into the centre of Guildford.

Distance: 10.5 miles

Total height gain: 470 feet in a series of gentle undulations.

Lunch: at pub after 7 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 145.

Walk 40

 

Guildford to Westhumble

This longer than usual walk is part of the North Downs Way National Trail and is a real leg-stretcher! The terrain is hilly and includes much woodland. We start by walking along the Wey Navigation out of Guildford and then climb up to St Martha’s Hill crowned with a tiny church. We then cross Albury Downs, which have lovely views, and reach Newlands Corner where refreshments are usually available in the car park kiosk. In the late afternoon we pass the church of St Barnabas on Ranmoor Common and then walk through Denbies, which is the largest vineyard in England and has a surprising view, before descending into the Mole Valley and the railway station.

Distance: 13.5 miles.

Total height gain: 600 feet with two significant hills.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 145.

Walk 41

 

Westhumble to Merstham

This is another the North Downs Way National Trail. We start by seeing the inn where Horatio Nelson bade farewell to Emma, Lady Hamilton before embarking at Portsmouth to take command of the Channel fleet and die at his great victory at Trafalgar. Then we make a steep climb to the summit Box Hill which has literary associations with Jane Austen and George Meredith. For the next couple of miles we walk along the top of the Downs and have extensive views over the Weald before descending near Betchworth. For the next few miles we meander near the base of the Downs before making the steep ascent of Colley Hill and walk through Gatton Park to Merstham Station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 700 feet with two significant hills.

Lunch: picnic.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 145 & 146.

Walk 42

 

Merstham to Oxted

This is the section of the North Downs Way national Trail that is closest to central London. We start by making a short, steep climb through fields to the top of the Downs and then follow a reasonably level prehistoric trackway which, in places, is a metalled lane. After crossing a footbridge over the busy A22, the track runs through woods until it emerges onto bare downland and descends steeply by means of steps to Oxted.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 600 feet; there are three short, steep hills.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 146.

Walk 44

 

Oxted to Dunton Green

This is a strenuous section of the North Downs Way National Trail. From the station there is a long climb o the summit of Botley Hill and from here we follow a route mostly through woods close to the summit of the Downs giving extensive views.

Distance: 12 miles.

Total height gain: 1320 feet.

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 147.

Walk 45

 

Haslemere to Witley

This is an easy walk through the fields and woods of the lovely unspoilt countryside of this part of Surrey which has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From Roman times this was a centre of small-scale iron-working and we shall see some of the lakes that were formed by damming streams to provide power to operate the bellows of the furnaces and the trip hammers that forged the iron.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at delightful old pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 133.

Walk 55

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX

Hassocks to Plumpton

This is a grand walk over the South Downs that gives an extensive prospect over the Weald of Sussex to the north, and with distant views of the sea to the south. We start by walking through woods and fields and then climb steeply onto the Downs passing the twin windmills known as Jack and Jill. We then follow the top of the Downs for nearly four miles before descending to Plumpton for lunch. After lunch the route is mostly across level fields and small woods through the charming hamlet of Streat.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 740 feet with just one steep hill.

Lunch: at attractive pub after 6.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 122.

Walk 1

 

East Grinstead via Brambletye

East Grinstead’s, High Street still retains many attractive half-timbered houses as well as Sackville College a collection of almshouses founded in 1609. We follow a disused railway track and then turn off to make our way through an intricate pattern of fields and small woods. After lunch at a pub in Ashurst Wood, we pass the striking ruins of Brambletye House, built in 1631 but abandoned fifty years later, whose mysterious history was the subject of some nineteenth- century novels. We make our way to Weir Wood Reservoir where we can straddle the Prime Meridian. We then turn north and shortly return to East Grinstead Station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 400 feet. There are no significant hills.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 135.

Walk 18

 

Pulborough via Coldwaltham

This is an opportunity to explore the countryside and some of the charming villages around the valleys formed by the rivers Arun and Rother. Once we leave Pulborough, we climb a small hill topped by an ancient motte and bailey castle hidden in the woods before descending to a fine mediaeval bridge over the river Arun. We then walk through the delightful hamlet of Stopham and then climb a wooded hill into the beautiful village of Fittleworth. Our route now follows the banks of the river Rother and then crosses fields over a dismantled railway and the line of Stane Street, the Roman road that ran from London to Chichester, to reach the village of Coldwaltham. We now cross the valley of the river Arun and for the last mile retrace our steps at the start of the walk.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: 480 feet .

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer sheet 121.

Walk 19

 

Amberley via North Stoke

We start by following the banks of the river Arun and then cut across fields to the delightful village of Amberley which has a castle and numerous thatched cottages making it one of the showplaces of Sussex. After lunch we climb onto the South Downs where we shall pass prehistoric tumuli and enjoy wonderfully extensive views over the Weald. The path then descends to the remote village of North Stoke and rejoins the banks of the river Arun which returns us to Amberley Station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 500 feet in one steep climb of three-quarters of a mile.

Lunch: At a lovely country pub after 3 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 121.

Walk 20

 

Arundel via Burpham

This is a delightful walk that is full of contrasts. We start by following the banks of the river Arun from where we get stunning views of the magnificent Arundel Castle, home of the Duke of Norfolk, the hereditary Earl Marshal of England. We then reach the lovely old village of Burpham where we have lunch. and then continue along the river bank to the village of South Stoke. From here we climb through woods to reach Arundel Park and then descend into the lovely old town of Arundel.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 560 feet.

Lunch: After 3.5 miles in a delightful pub in the picturesque village of Burpham.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 121.

Walk 30

 

Warnham to Billingshurst

An easy walk with little noticeable variation in height. After walking through the village of Warnham we pass Warnham Manor, an attractive Georgian country house converted into apartments, and then walk through fields and woods and pass a number of ornamental lakes. There are no villages but a handful of hamlets and farmhouses so, except for the start and end of the walk, the route is very rural.

Distance: 11 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 134.

Walk 65

 

Christ’s Hospital to Billingshurst

This is a pleasant, easy walk through the fields and woods of the county of Sussex. We start from Christ’s Hospital station which was built to serve the eponymous school founded in the city of London in 1553 by King Edward VI. In the nineteenth century it removed to its present location and is now co-educational.  The boys still wear the traditional, ancient blue and yellow uniform (which has been adapted for the girls) and which has given the school it’s popular name of the Bluecoat School. We have lunch in the charming village of Slinfold and from then on the route is almost entirely on paths all the way to Billingshurst Station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Cumulative height gain: 300 feet. 

Lunch: at a delightful old pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 134.

Walk 76.

 

Billingshurst to Pulborough

An easy walk across the Weald of Sussex following the Arun Valley. The route goes through a fascinating pattern of fields and small woods hat is so typical of the countryside that lies between the North and South Downs.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 300 feet.

Lunch: picnic.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 134,124.

Walk 39

 

Pulborough to Arundel

This walk is full of contrasts and has much to capture our interest. Shortly after leaving Pulborough, we pass an ancient motte and bailey Norman castle half-hidden in woodland. We then reach an ancient mediaeval bridge and cross, in quick succession, the rivers Rother and Arun and enter Amberley Wildbrooks National Nature Reserve. Amberley is a picture- postcard village full of thatched cottages. The river Arun gives us an easy passage through the great rolling chalk hills of the South Downs but we then have to climb steeply into Arundel Park and pass the magnificent castle which is the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, Hereditary Earl Marshal of England.

Distance: 10.5 miles.

Total height gain: 530 feet. There is one long,steep hill.

Lunch: at a lovely old pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 121.

Walk 66

 

Arundel to Littlehampton and the sea

From the station we shall make a short diversion to enjoy a stunning view of Arundel Castle before walking though the town to follow the banks of the river Arun to the sea.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: none, it’s downhill all the way to the sea!

Lunch: picnic.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 121.

Walk 68

 

Ockley to Christ’s Hospital

An easy walk through fields and woods and along country lanes. We cross the tiny North River which marks a significant stage in our long march because it not only marks the boundary between the counties of Surrey and West Sussex but is also the halfway point to the sea. The final stretch is along a disused railway line that takes us into Christ’s Hospital Station which was built to serve the famous eponymous public school..

Distance: 11 miles

Cumulative height gain: 435 feet

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorers 146 & 134

Walk 81

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF WILTSHIRE

Barbury Castle to Avebury

From Swindon station we take a short minibus journey to Barbury Castle which is an Iron Age hillfort dating from about 500 BC. We then follow the Ridgeway Path, a prehistoric trackway that gives extensive views over the Vale of the White Horse, to Avebury, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we have lunch. After lunch, we shall wander among the huge standing stones of this gigantic stone circle and then continue our walk to pass Silbury Hill. At 126 feet high, this is the largest prehistoric mound in Western Europe but nobody knows why it was constructed or what purpose it served. Half a mile further on is the West Kennet Long Barrow which is a huge chambered tomb 330 feet long, 82 feet wide and 19 feet high, dating from 3500 BC. It is usually possible to enter the tomb in which fifty persons were buried. We then walk back to Avebury where our minibus will be waiting to return us to Swindon station.

Distance: 10 miles

Lunch: at a pub in Avebury after 7 miles

Walk 75

 

WALKS NORTH OF THE RIVER THAMES

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF BEDFORDSHIRE

Leighton Buzzard via Stoke Hammond

A very easy walk that circles a section of the Ouzel Valley. The route leaves Leighton Buzzard by following the towpath of the Grand Union Canal and then turns off to climb a range of low, wooded hills. The path descends through an intricate pattern of small fields to reach the canal. The final section of the walk follows the towpath to return to the station.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: 170 feet.

Lunch: Canalside pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 192.

Walk 43

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

Princes Risborough via Little Hampden

A beautiful walk through the Chiltern Hills which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From the station the route follows the Ridgeway Path, a national trail and prehistoric trackway, for a short distance and then climbs steeply through woods before descending to the road near Dirtywood Farm. Then follows another steep climb to the isolated hamlet of Little Hampden before the path descends to a road and then climbs again to Hampden House, once the home of John Hampden, a Parliamentarian and champion of liberty who was killed in the Civil War. The route is now relatively level and runs through woods before descending steeply to the station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 975 feet.

Lunch: at a pub, after 5 miles, that serves excellent food.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 50

 

Saunderton via West Wycombe

A lovely walk through the beech woods of the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Shortly after leaving Saunderton station we climb through woods and then descend to the tiny village of Bradenham whose manor house once belonged to Isaac Disraeli who was the father of Benjamin the great Victorian prime minister. We climb up through woods from where we get a distant prospect of the golden dome of West Wycombe House which was built by Sir Francis Dashwood the notorious eighteenth century rake who founded the Dilettanti Society and the Hellfire Club and then descend to the charming old village of West Wycombe, now owned by the National Trust. In the afternoon we make one last climb and then follow a level ridge to return to the station.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 825 feet in a series of six short, steep hills.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

Walk 46

 

Great Missenden and Wendover

We start by walking through the lovely village of Great Missenden to the churchyard, where the famous children’s author Roald Dahl is buried, and from where we can catch a glimpse of the gothic mansion of Missenden Abbey. Then follows a short climb through fields after which the path levels out and we walk through the hamlets of Hyde End, South Heath and Ballinger Common to The Lee. After lunch we descend through woods to the charming old town of Wendover.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 330 feet.

Lunch: at attractive pub, that serves excellent food, after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 122.

Walk 11

 

Chesham via Chartridge

An opportunity to explore another part of the lovely Chiltern Hills. We start by walking through the picturesque town of Chesham and then cross Lowndes Park and at first climb gently and then, after a descent, steeply into open country. At the top of the hill the path levels out for a mile or so as it runs through woods and fields. It then descends through Widmore Wood to Asheridge where we shall have lunch. We then descend to Chartridge and drop down to Pednor Bottom only to climb up the other side. There is one final steep descent into Herbert’s Hole, a long valley that descends gradually for a couple of miles into Chesham.

Distance: 8.02 miles.

Total height gain: 778 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 4.58 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 16

 

Marlow via Medmenham

This is an easy walk that gives extensive views of the Thames Valley. It is a pleasant stroll through the attractive old town of Marlow to the banks of the river Thames which is followed until lunchtime. There is then a climb and the rest of the walk is through woodland until the path descends to Marlow.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 320 feet. There are two short, steep hills.

Lunch: at pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

NB On Sundays Marlow has a poor train service involving two changes.

Walk 22

 

Amersham to Jordans; an American pilgrimage

This is an American pilgrimage designed to show some of England’s links with the United States. Shortly after leaving the station we shall see Bury Farm which was the home of Gulielma Springett who became the first wife of William Penn. We then walk through fields and woods to Coleshill. After lunch, we then continue to Jordans where we shall see the farm where William Penn and fellow members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) met and are now buried. The nearby Mayflower Barn reputed to have been built from the timbers of the ship that took the Colonists to Massachusetts.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: 480 feet.

Lunch: at attractive pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

Walk 27

 

Cowleaze Wood near Stokenchurch

This walk is set in surprisingly remote countryside yet is just off the junction 5 of the M 40. It starts from the picnic area in Cowleaze Wood and then descends to the Ridgeway Path National Trail. This prehistoric trackway is followed for nearly three miles before we turn off and climb up to Christmas Common. Then follows a gentle descent before climbing up to Langley Green Plantation and then descending steeply, The final climb goes through a sculpture park which brings us back to Cowleaze Wood. A large colony of red kites breed in the area and there is a good chance that we shall see these magnificent birds of prey circling in the sky above us.

Distance: 10.5 miles (can be shortened to 9 miles).

Total height gain: 750 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 5.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 171.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE START OF THIS WALK IS ONLY ACCESSIBLE BY CAR.

Walk 34

 

Amersham via Mop End and Little Missenden

The walk starts by descending through Parsonage Woods to the Martyrs’ Memorial which records the execution by burning of several Protestants in the early sixteenth century. Old Amersham is a lovely town which still has the the building that housed Dr Challoner’s School in 1624, the town lock-up and pump and ancient almshouses. The route now climbs to Mop End before descending to the charming little village of Little Missenden and following the river Misbourne past the Georgian facade of Shardeloes and returning to the station.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: 400 feet.

Lunch: at attractive pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

Walk 38

 

Princes Risborough via Great Hampden

A beautiful walk through the Chiltern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From the station the route follows the Ridgeway Path, a national trail and prehistoric trackway, for a short distance and then climbs steeply through woods to follow Grim’s Ditch, an Iron-Age boundary, to Hampden House, once the home of John Hampden, a Parliamentarian and champion of liberty who was killed in the Civil War. The route is now relatively level and runs through woods before descending steeply to the station.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: 630 feet.

Lunch: at pub after 4.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 58

 

Chesham to Chorleywood

A delightful walk, full of interest, through the Chess Valley in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We commence  by climbing steeply out of Chesham on paths that give lovely views over the river Chess to reach the delightful village of Latimer. Here we shall see the grave of a French general’s horse and a mansion in which high-ranking German officers were interrogated during WW2. We then follow the river and climb up to the lovely village of Chenies once owned by the Dukes of Bedford. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were entertained in the Manor House. After lunch we descend to the river which we follow until reaching the last climb up to Chorleywood Common and the station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Cumulative height gain: 670 feet in a series of short ascents.

Lunch: at a pleasant pub in Chenies after 5 miles.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorers 172 & 181.

Walk 80

 

Amersham circular via Little Missenden, and Amersham circular via Rogers Wood

Two attractive short hikes through the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that can be combined to make a longer hike.

Short Hike

A circular hike from Amersham via Little Missenden. 5.94 miles with 427 feet of ascent.

We leave Amersham Station and shortly cross Hervines Park to enter secluded woodland and then descend to the delightful village of Little Missenden along a little-used lane that gives striking views over the Misbourne Valley. We then follow an attractive path that passes below the splendid facade of Shardeloes House to enter the long High Street of picturesque Old Amersham. After lunch we hike through woods to Amersham Station, where the short hike ends.

Long hike

A circular hike from Amersham via Little Missenden as above and then continue for another 2.8 miles with 440 feet of ascent making a total of 8.74 miles with 867 feet of ascent.

From the station we hike through Parsonage Woods and fields to see a monument erected to commemorate the grisly fate of several protestants who were burnt at the stake in the sixteenth century. We cross the river Misbourne and then take a track that climbs up to Rogers Wood from where there are fine views in both directions along the Misbourne Valley. We then descend to Old Amersham and return to the station.

Lunch: after 5.1 miles in a charming pub in Old Amersham.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

Walk 82

 

 

WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF ESSEX 

Great Bardfield via Finchingfield

A beautiful,easy walk through unspoilt countryside visiting two picture-postcard villages that lie 13 miles northeast of junction 8 of the M 11.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at attractive old pub after 4 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 195.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WALK IS NOT ACCESSIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT.

Walk 37

 

Manningtree, Dedham Vale and the John Constable country

This easy walk through a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will appeal particularly to admirers of John Constable (1776-1837) the landscape painter who was born in East Bergholt and set many of his scenes in Dedham Vale. From the station a path leads to the banks of the river Stour where we can see Willy Lott’s House and Flatford Mill which were among Constable’s favourite subjects. In the village of East Bergholt there is a remarkable church with its bells housed at ground level in a wooden cage. The path crosses fields to Dedham,another delightful village with a splendid church much painted by Constable, and on to the station.

Distance: 8 miles.

Total height gain: Negligible.

Lunch: at pleasant pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 196.

Walk 48

 

Stansted Mountfitchet to Newport

This is an easy walk that passes through fields and small patches of woodland mostly using tracks with a reasonably firm surface. There are no hills of any consequence but sometimes a short rise will give some surprisingly extensive views. The lack of hills makes the walker aware of the extensive skyscapes and cloud effects.

Distance: 8.5 miles

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: After 5.5 miles in Rickling at a pleasant pub overlooking the village green.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 195.

Walk 6

 

 

WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF HERTFORDSHIRE

 Chorleywood via Chenies

From Chorleywood Station we cross Chorleywood Common and then descend to the river Chess. We then make a short, steep climb to Sarratt Church before dropping down to the river again and then climb to the enchanting village of Chenies where we shall catch a glimpse of Chenies Manor, once the home of the Dukes of Bedford which was visited by Henry Vlll and Elisabeth I. From here we walk to the quaint old village of Latimer where we shall see the mansion where high-ranking German officers were interrogated during the Second World War. We then walk though woods to the outskirts of Chenies and descend to Chorleywood Station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 500 feet in a series of short, steep hills.

Lunch: After 5 miles at the Bedford Arms, Chenies.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172.

Walk 9

 

Tring via Wigginton

We start by walking along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal and then branch off to climb the only significant hill on the route. We descend to Wigginton Bottom and then walk through fields and woods to the delightful village of Cholesbury which is built around a large common. After lunch we shall look at the windmill and then walk through a prehistoric fort that dates from the Iron Age and is so large that the parish church lies within its ramparts. We then walk through woods and cross the clearly visible Grim’s Ditch which is believed to be an Iron Age territorial boundary. We then pick up a section of the Ridgeway Path, a national trail, that will take us through the outskirts of Wigginton and then descends to Tring Station.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 530 feet with only one significant hill.

Lunch: at pub after 4.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 14

 

Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City

From Knebworth Station we walk though fields and then descend to the village of Codicote from where we climb steeply to Ayot St Lawrence. The village has two churches one of which is now a ruin because it was dismantled by an eccentric squire who claimed that it spoilt the view from his new house. He built another church in a different location in which he is buried. George Bernard Shaw, the playwright, lived for forty-five years in an undistinguished Edwardian villa in Ayot St Lawrence. After lunch we walk though woods before joining a disused railway track that will take us into the centre of Welwyn Garden city from where we take the train to London.

Distance: 9 miles.

Total height gain: 300 feet. there is one steep hill.

Lunch: at a charming old pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 182.

Walk 47

 

Tring via Aldbury

This is an attractive walk in the Chiltern Hills which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The path climbs steeply through woods to Aldbury Nowers and the summit of Pitstone Hill from where there are extensive views. Then there is a descent to the picturesque village of Aldbury which has a pond as well as stocks in which miscreants were punished. Another steep climb takes us to the top of of Norcott Hill from where there is a descent to the valley bottom and the rest of the route is level.

Distance: 8.5 miles

Total height gain: 600 feet.

Lunch: at a pub after 4.5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 59

 

Berkhamsted via Aldbury

The first couple of miles or so follow the towpath of the Grand Union Canal which has some interesting locks. We then make our way across fields to the delightful village of Aldbury which has a village pond, green and mediaeval stocks and where we have lunch. The rest of the walk is through the woods of the Ashridge Estate, once owned by the Dukes of Bridgewater, until we descend through fields to pass the splendid ruins of Berkhamsted Castle that was once owned by the Black Prince.

Distance: 8.2 miles

Total height gain: 436 feet.

Lunch: at a charming pub that serves excellent food.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 181.

Walk 3

 

Rickmansworth to Little Chalfont on the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders

An easy linear walk through the Chess Valley. From Rickmansworth Station we follow the river Chess to the delightful village of Chenies where we have lunch. We then descend steeply to the river Chess and walk to the quaint old village of Latimer. We pass the imposing facade of Latimer House and then climb through woods to Chalfont & Latimer station.

Distance: 9 miles.

Cumulative ascent: 270 feet.

Lunch: after 5.5 miles at an attractive pub in Chenies that serves excellent food.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 172

Walk 74

 

 

WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF OXFORDSHIRE

 Goring via Whitchurch-on-Thames

The route from the station goes through Goring and then follows the banks of the river Thames for nearly three miles before climbing through woods to reach Whitchurch. After lunch there is a steady climb through woods and fields giving fine views over the Thames Valley before dropping down to the station.

Distance: 10 miles (can be shortened to 9 miles).

Total height gain: 660 feet.

Lunch: after 4.5 miles at a pleasant pub.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 171.

Walk 4

 

Henley-on-Thames via Hambledon

We cross the river Thames on an elegant eighteenth-century bridge and then follow a riverside path to a weir at Hambledon Mill. We then walk through fields to the charming village of Hambledon where we have lunch. Then follows a short, steep climb through woods to the village of Fawley. From here is is gentle descent to Henley giving lovely views over the Thames Valley.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: 580 feet.

Lunch: at a a delightful traditional pub.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 171.

Walk 10

 

Didcot via Dorchester-on-Thames and Appleford

This is a horseshoe-shaped route in the Thames Valley. From Didcot Station there is a long gentle climb followed by a steep 70-foot ascent to the summit of Wittenham Clumps which are vulgarly known as ‘the Berkshire Bubs’ or ‘Mother Dunch’s Buttocks’ and are surmounted by the striking ramparts of an iron-age hill fort. There is a steep descent to cross the river Thames to the quaint old village of Dorchester which has a magnificent abbey church. After lunch the path crosses fields to Long Wittenham and then follows the river Thames to Appleford Station.

Distance: 9.5 miles.

Total height gain: 235 feet. The route is mostly level except for one short, steep hill.

Lunch: at a delightful old coaching inn after 5.5 mile

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 170.

NB This walk can start at Dorchester if the party travels to the start by car.

Walk 23

 

 WALKS IN THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK

 Sudbury via Long Melford

An easy walk along the Stour Valley to Long Melford which boasts one of the most magnificent parish churches in England.

Distance: 10 miles.

Total height gain: negligible.

Lunch: at attractive pub after 5 miles.

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 196.

Walk 35

 

 

LONGER WALKING TRIPS

 If you would like to explore further afield I have a number of itineraries which can be tailored to suit particular requirements. For example, if you want to explore the wonderful scenery of the Lake District I can guide you on high-level, strenuous walks or easy, valley walks. You also have a choice between centre-based trips where we stay at one location and go walking every day and return to the same accommodation every night or a trip along a section of a long distance path where we stay at a different location every night. In the latter case your luggage will be transported for you between locations so that you only have to carry a day pack. Here are some suggestions:

The Cornish Coast Path

The Cornish coast is renowned for its wonderful seascapes, granite cliffs and delightful fishing villages.

 The Lake District

Most British walkers would vote the Lake District as the most beautiful mountainous area in England. This trip can either be centre-based or we can walk across this national park in about five days.

 The Cotswolds

This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is every American’s dream of what the English countryside should look like. It is a landscape of rolling hills and exquisite villages built of honey-coloured stone and with cottage gardens that are a riot of colour in the spring and summer.

 The Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is anther beautiful are of England. It is not quite so mountainous as the Lake District and also offers a choice between strenuous and easy walks. Two of the most fascinating features are the intricate pattern of stone walls and beautiful old barns. There is a choice between centre-based locations and a linear walk through Swaledale with your luggage transported between accommodations.

 The Isle of Wight

This island, a 30-minute ferry ride, off the south coast of England, has a dense network of public paths that allow us to explore both the beautiful coastline as well as the miniature landscape of the hinterland.

 Snowdonia National Park, Wales

This Welsh National Park has some wonderful walking. Snowdon itself, Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, is the highest British mountain south of the Scottish border but there are also numerous easy walks that enable the visitor to enjoy the wonderful mountain landscapes.

 The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales

St David’s, the smallest cathedral city in Britain – it’s not much bigger than a large village – makes an ideal centre for some easy walking along this part of the glorious Welsh coastline.

 

 

An easy walk thrugh the kent/Surrey borders