Head into the west to explore some glorious countryside, just on London’s doorstep.
The Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) is an area of rolling hills, valleys and downland which covers the counties of Bucks, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
It is bursting with spectacular views, walking and cycling trails to follow, places to picnic, wildlife to spot and pretty villages and market towns to explore.
For full details and more ideas, including travel tips, visit www.chilternsaonb.org and also www.visitchilterns.co.uk
Here are some of the GetWestLondon team’s favourites:
At 852 feet or 260 metres above sea level, Coombe Hill near Princes Risborough is the highest viewpoint in the Chilterns. Owned by the National Trust, it gives views over Aylesbury Vale and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Cotswolds.
There is a monument dedicated to the men from Buckinghamshire who died in the Boer War.
Children can clamber on the natural play trail and there is a one-mile walk downloadable from the National Trust website which takes in its more interesting features. You can read more at www.nationaltrust. org.uk/chilterns-countryside/features/ coombe-hill
The 803 acres of woodland has trails, an adventure playground, a fitness trail, a café and even a Go Ape tree top adventure course. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the firecrest, which is Europe’s smallest bird – you could follow the 2.8mile trail through the habitat of the firecrest and try to spot it from the bird hide.
You might want to follow the surfaced family cycle route. It has the highest peak in the Chilterns, Haddington Hill, at 267 metres. Find out more at www.forestry.gov. uk/wendoverwoods
The Chess Valley follows the River Chess and there is a 10-mile walk from Rickmansworth to Chesham if you fancy it.
It will take you through beautiful villages near the sparkling waters of the chalk stream. Along the way is a Roman farmvilla at Latimer, the 13th century Chenies Manor and watercress beds.
You might spot kingfishers, water voles, brown trout, orchids and dragonflies. It is easily reached by trains to Rickmansworth or Chesham stations. You can read more about the walk at www.chilternsaonb.org/ ccbmaps/381/137/chess-valley-walk
Soak up the sunshine among the young birch and oak woodland.
Dotted around are pits, dating back to its brick and tile-making past and hollows, which are now home to unusual plants, mosses and fungi. During the First World War troops were trained how to dig and maintain trenches here and trees have since grown up around them.
The pretty riverside town of Marlow is a short walk away.
Marlow Common is a Chiltern Society site and you can read more about it at www. chilternsociety.org.uk/our-sites/marlowcommon
In July, people dress in their finery descend for the Henley Royal Regatta rowing event. But this is glorious spot at any time for a stroll along the Thames.
You might want to call into The River & Rowing Museum, which covers not only the history of rowing and the town’s Olympic
North of Henley is this private stately home with a history dating back to medieval times and a prehistoric stone circle in the grounds.
There are gardens and a deer park and a walled Italianate style garden gives lovely views. Find out more at www.stonor.com
The Chilterns are famous as the home of the red kite and this National Trust chalk downland site is a great place to spot the birds of prey soaring through the skies. It’s also a great spot for picnicking among butterflies – the silver-spotted skipper variety are here between June and September.
You could call in to the Fox & Hounds pub at Christmas Common and might like to see Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, another great place for red kite spotting. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chilternscountryside/features/watlington-hill
There are miles of paths and bridleways from which you can spot bluebells in spring, rare butterflies in summer and deer in autumn. You can pay a small charge to go into the Bridgewater Monument and climb the 172 spiral stairs to the top.
Ivinghoe Beacon is part of the estate. You can read more at www.nationaltrust.org. uk/ashridge-estate
Home to rare orchids and butterflies, the stunning landmark is at the end of the Ridgeway National Trail which starts in Wiltshire.
You can read more at www.nationaltrust. org.uk/ashridge-estate/features/ivinghoebeacon-at-ashridge-estate