Car-free adventures aroundAylesburyBuckinghamshire

Two people can visit Waddesdon Manor for the price of one when you arrive by train, where the opulent rooms and rolling gardens make a memorable day trip. Nearby Aylesbury is an interesting destination, with markets, museums and a monument to David Bowie. Frequent train services from London Marylebone through the Chilterns make this area perfect for a day out: an hour’s train ride from London and a half hour walk takes you high into the wooded hills. Here is a choice of car-free day trips in the area: the chateau-style manor house hung with 18th-century art, kids’ galleries celebrating Roald Dahl’s stories, simple strolls in the woods, hefty hikes along the Ridegway, or a pub crawl past the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

  1. 4. Stride along the Ridegway...

    The Chilterns is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, crossed by the ancient Ridgeway route and other long distance paths. This acorn-waymarked National Trail, an 85-mile walk from Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon, passes along Wendover’s main street, making this town near Aylesbury an excellent base for sampling the route.

    • Wendover to Princes Risborough is a hilly seven-mile walk past Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country house. If you buy a day return to Aylesbury, you can use both stations. On a clear day there are great views and in spring the mossy woods are carpeted with bluebells. The Plough Inn makes a good stopping point and even offers a Ridgeway Menu.
    • The seven-mile stretch of Ridgeway from Wendover to Tring also passes through bluebell woods with great views of the hills around.
    • You can even extend the walk all the way to Ivinghoe Beacon and come back to Tring station via the lovely pub at Aldbury, but this will make a stonking 14 miles or so. A leaflet, outlining shorter walks from Wendover, gives directions for exploring Coombe Hill and Wendover Woods.
  1. 5. ... or stroll through Wendover Woods

    Wendover Woods, containing a huge iron age hill fort and the highest point in the Chiltern hills, are managed by the Forestry Commission with a series of way-marked trails, activities and a cafe. The woods are home to the rare firecrest, a tiny brightly coloured bird, which nests in evergreens like Wendover’s Norway spruce trees. Look out, too, for red kites wheeling overhead and carpets of spring bluebells under the beech trees. This two-miles-each-way route leads you deep into the heart of Wendover Woods.

    • From Wendover Railway station, turn left past the Shoulder of Mutton pub, heading down Wendover’s picturesque High Street. Just before the clock tower at the bottom, turn right by the Number One gift shop and follow the Ridgeway signs towards St Mary’s church (go inside to see the scratches on the pillars made by Cromwell’s soldiers when they camped here).
    • Turn left past the church and a school, still following the Ridgeway acorns, but leave the Ridgeway at the junction, turning sharp left up the road and right onto a lane signed The Hale.
    • After 1/3 mile, turn left at a track with a green sign, into Wendover Woods. Follow the main track uphill (look back for views), past Boddington iron age hill fort, its overgrown banks topping a steep sided spur of chalk.
    • This map is handy as the trails wind through the woods and can be confusing. Eventually, the track will lead you to the visitors’ complex, with a Go Ape high ropes course, a carved Gruffalo, and a woodland cafe for a well-deserved break.
  1. 5. Pub crawl by bus from Wendover

    Wendover may not have as many pubs as it once did, but there are still some fine watering holes here. The 17th-century Red Lion was once a coaching inn on the road to London: famous guests have included Oliver Cromwell, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rupert Brook. Don’t miss the cosy King and Queen, tucked away on South Street. The Shoulder of Mutton is closest to the station if you decide to wait for a later train; it can serve up local ales and rich chocolate brownies – something for everyone.

    • Bus 50 between Wendover and Aylesbury leaves every half an hour from the Clock Tower (hourly on Saturday, less on Sunday) until early evening. It passes through the village of Weston Turville with several thatched cottages and some more great pubs.
    • The Five Bells offers comfort food of the steak-and-mushroom-pie variety, while the Chequers is all about fine dining, from the in-house oak-smoked haddock to the spiced “hand-dived” king scallops.
    • A mile away by bus or foot is Stoke Mandeville, birthplace of the Paralympic movement. Inspired by the 2012 games, Buckinghamshire Disability Service recently opened the Stoke Mandeville Way, a three-mile accessible route from Aylesbury Railway Station to Stoke Mandeville stadium and beyond.
    • On the way into Aylesbury, the bus passes the wisteria-covered Broad Leys pub and the oak-beamed Aristocrat.
    • The Kings Head pub in the centre of Aylesbury is so old it’s owned by the National Trust. It serves draught ales from the Chiltern Brewery near Wendover, ciders from Somerset, and guest beers from London, Oakham, and Derbyshire. Luckily, Aylesbury Railway station is less than 1/4 mile away.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!