Chiltern Ramble Itinerary
Deep Woods and Rolling Hills
Duration – 3 walking days/4 nights
Walking Grade – Moderate
Walking Distance – 30 miles
Note that our season runs from April to October.
Day 0 Arrive at Marlow
Arrive at your leisure at The Chequers. This boutique hotel has a renowned pub and restaurant and is centrally located on the high street in this attractive and fashionable town . Marlow is one of the loveliest locations on the River Thames; the vibrant Georgian market town is made up of historic streets, an abundance of vintage and modern boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bistros and pubs.
The Chequers offers The Great British Menu in its restaurant boasting “The Butchers Block “ for avid steak lovers, or settle for the modest rustic country bar area to fill up on the chef’s gourmet grub.
Alternatively and if you have the budget try a supper at Sindhu by Atul Kochhar at Macdonald Compleat Angler or Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers, the first gastropub to hold two Michelin stars.
Marlow is easily accessible by train. The “Marlow Donkey” leaves Maidenhead every hour, taking just 20 minutes. Maidenhead lies on the Great Western Railway between Slough and Reading, easily accessible from London.
Day 1 Marlow to Skirmett 10.4 miles
You will set off through the elegant Higginson Park from where you join the Thames Path, following the towpath past the lock to Temple Footbridge. Along the way you will see Bisham Abbey, given to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII as part of their divorce settlement, and its wonderfully positioned parish church. You cross the bridge and continue to Hurley where there there are the ruins of a Benedictine Priory, a church and two pubs.
Beyond Hurley you soon arrive at the imposing Culham Court, dating from 1771 where you can admire the white deer. Here the Thames Path climbs away from the edge of the river giving lovely views of the Thames and the hills beyond, which is where you will soon be walking.
Past the small hamlet of Aston, with its hotel and pub, you come to Hambleden Lock which is where you will leave the river by crossing a series of bridges above the weir. You are now entering the picturesque Hambleden Valley, much used in film and television.
It’s a short walk of less than a mile to Hambleden, a pretty village of brick and flint cottages. St Mary’s church dates from the 14th century. Hambleden was the home of William Henry Smith, founder (in 1821) of a famous chain of bookshops; and Lord Cardigan, famous for his role in leading the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade. A short walk along Hamble Brook in the valley bottom, past Pheasants Hill, takes you to the tiny hamlet of Skirmett.
About The Frog at Skirmett
The Frog is an 18th Century coaching Inn rated as a 3 star hotel. It’s a charming pub and restaurant with just 3 bedrooms. Nestling within this beautiful valley the garden boasts views on all sides in this quiet and peaceful location. This is an independently run pub that has been run by the same couple since 1995 so personal service is guaranteed.
Day 2 Skirmett to Nettlebed 9.8 miles
This is an “easy” walk with some “moderate” climbs – much of the walk following The Chiltern Way. As a rough guide at a gentle walking pace you should reach your destination in 5 hours. There should therefore be time, if you wish, to divert to some of the attractions mentioned below.
The route out of Skirmett follows the road and then path the ancient village of Fingest with its Norman church and tower. Another path leads to Turville which should be familiar for its starring role in the Vicar of Dibley. Whilst the windmill, on the hill top overlooking the village, was used in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Onward then up a climb to Stonor Deer Park passing the impressive Jacobean mansion House, open in the season with separate visits to the house and gardens. The house has been in the same family for over 850 years. The Chapel, which can be visited, and House are closely associated with Saint Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest, who hid here during the reformation. There is a very pleasant Café at the house which makes an ideal stopping place mid walk.
Following another gentle climb you enter the Warburg Nature Reserve a protected Chiltern woodland. Within the reserve are a visitors’ centre, bird hides and dedicated wildlife walks. From April to August, the reserve is rich in orchids; and in spring, the woodland is ablaze with bluebells and wood anemones.
There is a recommended option at the end of the path to take a detour to the charming country Inn – The Five Horses Pub at Maidensgrove. This is on top of a very steep hill but well worth the visit for a pleasant lunch stop. Otherwise rejoin The Chiltern Way to reach your destination at the White Hart in Nettlebed.
About The White Hart Hotel in Nettlebed
The White Hart is a four star hotel: a traditional 14th Century coaching house with a blend of modernity in the style of a boutique hotel with a warm and cosy atmosphere. The menu is described as British with an emphasis on quality of the ingredients. Each bedroom has been stylishly modernised and individually designed with no two rooms the same.
Day 3 Nettlebed to Goring 11.2 miles
As with Day 2 this is an “easy” walk with some “moderate” climbs – some map reading required and attention to signposts. As a rough guide at a gentle walking pace you might reach your destination in 4 to 5 hours which should include a lunch stop as there are a few options en-route.
Leaving the White Hart you take a path at the end of the village beyond the church. Past the Cheese Shed Café takes you to downhill to Stoke Row. A quiet road leads through this village with another possible café stop at the Stoke Row Store, popular with cyclists. Another curiosity is the Maharaja’s Well, funded by an Indian nobleman in 1863 as a gesture of friendship to a local man Edward Reade, who built a well in Benares, India when he worked for the East India Company.
You will pass the very rustic Black Horse pub hidden in the woods or take a lunch break at “Appalachian” style Blue Tin Smokehouse with its outside café and farm shop- an ideal place to stop for lunch .
The next section takes you downhill over open chalk grasslands and wide open fields to the village of South Stoke, a lovely place with the Perch and Pike pub at its centre.
You are now on The Ridgeway National Trail heading for Goring on Thames and Streatley, a pair of attractive villages either side of the river which breaks through what would have been a continuous high ground of the Downs and the Chilterns to make the “Goring Gap”.
About The Swan at Streatley
On a wide stretch of the River Thames across the bridge from Goring, The Swan at Streatley is a converted 17th century inn with a terrace right at the water’s edge. Stay in rooms overlooking the gardens and water meadows, enjoy outdoor yoga, work out at the fully equipped Gym , go paddleboarding, head off with a picnic, or just watch the river go by. A four star hotel incorporating the “Coppa Club” mediterranean-style restaurant and bar . This will be your most luxurious stay befitting the end of your Chiltern Ramble.
Goring’s most famous resident was George Michael who lived and died at Mill Cottage. If you cross the bridge into Goring you can see his house on the right hand side.
Goring station is well connected to the Great Western Railway with regular services to London, Didcot and Oxford.
Prices inclusive of bed and breakfast plus baggage transfer between hotels. A map and guide book is also included. You will have unlimited access to our local team in the event of difficulties.
Price per person assuming shared occupancy: £550
Price per person assuming single occupancy: £850