Here are some ideas for where to head in Bucks for an invigorating walk and, hopefully, a hit of vitamin D.
There are lots of bridges to trip-trap over on Stowe’s short 1.2m Lakeside Walk. The first is the elegant arc of the white wooden bridge which was installed in 2011. The next is the Palladian bridge – one of only three in the country and the only one with no steps so that carriages can cross it. Not a regular occurrence these days, but you never know! You’ll head on past the Temple of Friendship where buddies can renew their bond, then on to the Pebble Alcove where children love to run their fingers over the mosaic pattern. There's a Winter wildlife trail too. Match tails to their owners, spot giant bird sculptures, find clues, solve puzzles and look out for the elusive fox tail! And if you have a dog, meet the pack leader at the entrance to the gardens (Bell Gate) at 10:30am on the third Wednesday of each month for a group dog walk.
Image credit: Rupert Truman
Although the lovely gardens surrounding the manor are a bit dormant at this time of year, you can just enjoy a walk around the woodlands and fields below the manor where you can let your dog off the lead once away from the car park.
At Hughenden, the Woodcock Wood walk is a short 1.2m stroll through woodland perfect for den building. There’s lots of holly and yew, so there’s colour in winter. As you pass through the gate into the sloping fields, you’ll see far-reaching views across the valley. You might see red kites or kestrels soaring in the sky above. And as you pass into the farmer’s field you might see wrens, finches or yellow hammers darting in and out of the hedgerow on your right. The way back to the car park is along the Coffin Path – an ancient road used for transporting the parishioners of Naphill on their final journey to the church at Hughenden.
Follow in the footsteps of dukes, earls and royalty as you explore a series of gardens, each with their own special charm. From the formality of the Parterre to the quirky statuary and topiary in the Long Garden, the gardens will delight you whatever the weather. For younger visitors, the Storybook Play Den encourages imaginations to run wild as you play amongst wooden carvings of favourite storybook characters whilst the 500 metres of winding paths in the Cliveden Maze make it a challenge for all ages to find the centre. The formal gardens give way to miles of woodland walks down to the River Thames.
This 2 mile walk is easily followed as it’s waymarked by red arrows. You can ask at visitor reception where to start. You’ll walk through woodland with bronze beech leaves still clinging on to branches, ancient gnarled oaks and cherry trees. Look out for veteran trees with broken branches and holes where birds, squirrels and dormice might be nesting. Children enjoy running up and down the steep sides of the lumps and bumps of saw pits or chalk extraction, and balance-walking on fallen logs. You’ll amble through rolling Chiltern hills with restful views and farmland with grazing animals, so please keep dogs on leads. Then head back for a hot chocolate or lunch in the Cow Shed tea room.