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Harefield Gazette - - DAY'S OUT -

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

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