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Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area

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Oving - Quainton - Granborough 3.5 to 10 miles (5.5 to 16 km)

Quainton Hill offers the most spectacular hill walking in north-west Buckinghamshire - choose a clear day for the fine views. The walk is almost entirely on pasture, and though there is one arable field to cross near the end and some gateways can get muddy in wet weather, the conditions under foot are generally excellent. If you have binoculars you might like to have them with you for this walk.

Checked September 2011


 

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Distances

Oving to Quainton 3.7 miles (6 km)
Quainton to Granborough 3.7 miles (6 km)
Total 7.5 miles (12 km)
(plus Granborough to Oving 2.5 miles (4 km) for a circular walk)
Climbs of about 80 metres (240 feet) and 45 metres (135 feet)

Travel

The 60 bus route links Aylesbury, Oving, Granborough and Buckingham, about hourly (on Sundays there are only three buses in each direction throughout the day). There are occasional buses between Quainton and Aylesbury.
Detailed travel information for the whole of this area is available from the Traveline South East website www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk or telephone 0871 200 22 33. 

While our walks are intended to be linear routes using public transport, we recognise that public transport to this part of Buckinghamshire is limited, so we give the option of making this a car-based circular walk by returning to Oving at the end, either on foot or by bus. There are no recognised public car parks on the route, so please be sure to park considerately. There is no general right to park on road verges, and it can cause offence near houses.

Ordnance Survey Map

This walk is all on the Ordnance Survey Explorer map 192, Buckingham & Milton Keynes.

Refreshments

The Black Boy at Oving (closed all day Monday, except bank holidays, and Sunday evening).
The Pilgrim at North Marston (formerly The Bell).
The George and Dragon (closed Monday lunchtime) at Quainton (where there is also a village shop, and the butcher's sells ices, fruit, etc.).
The Crown at Granborough.
Please always be considerate about muddy boots in pubs etc; either take them off, or cover them up.
Never eat or drink your own provisions on pub premises (including the garden, if there is one). 

Route

Get off the bus in Oving at the Church Lane stop. Coming from Aylesbury, this is the first stop in the village; if coming from Buckingham, the second.

(This is the most attractive start, but two gateways can get very muddy in quite moderate conditions, so an alternative, slightly shorter route is given at the end of this route description.)

Go down Church Lane towards (but not as far as) the church, and just before the red brick wall of Church Farm Barns on your right take the track to the right, to enter a field.
Bear slightly right across the field to gates on the other side.
Go through the kissing gate on the left, to continue with a hedge on your right, to a road.
Cross the road with care (blind corner) and go through the kissing gate opposite, and turn left, aiming a little to the right of North Marston church, and go downhill to a kissing gate.
Go on towards the church, to another kissing gate (at an often muddy gateway).
Go along the right-hand side of the field to a gate (at another often muddy gateway) at the far end of the field.
Continue ahead slightly uphill to a gate in the far corner of the field.
Go along the track ahead to the Holy or Schorne Well.

A panel gives details of the restoration of the well, in rhyming verse.
John Schorne was reputed to have imprisoned the devil in a boot. His shrine, which attracted thousands of pilgrims in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, was transferred to Windsor in 1478 to divert the pilgrims and thereby attract funds for the completion of St George’s Chapel.

Continue ahead, then bear right, to a small village green.

North Marston church, a short way off your route to the right, was restored at the expense of Queen Victoria, in gratitude for a bequest to her by a local landowner, J. C. Nield, which she used to buy the Balmoral estate.

Turn left, then follow the footway to the right of a pond.
Continue ahead along a narrow road past the Pilgrim pub to a road junction (Quainton Road and Granborough Road).
Go down Quainton Road a few yards and turn left down the drive past Wheatsheaf Farm.
Go through two gates, then uphill with a hedge on your left, then ahead to a hedge gap.
Bear half left downhill to a kissing gate.
Go across the corner of a field to a footbridge.
Go uphill parallel with the right-hand hedge, towards a big tree.
Go through the new gate on the left, and go diagonally across the field to a plank bridge with stiles near another big tree to the left of barns.
Continue to a gate to the left of the right-hand corner of the field, cross a track and a double stile, then left across the corner of a field to another stile.
Go in the same direction to a gate to the right of a pond, then to another gate with a bridge.
Cross the corner of the field to a stile (joining Matthew’s Way).

Matthew’s Way is a circular walk set up in 1997 in memory of a young boy who died unexpectedly after surgery. A leaflet is available at Winslow public library.

Continue to gates to the left of a large shed, to a road.

This was the course of a Roman road. It was a local road, linking the religious site at Thornborough with the settlement at Fleet Marston, and is thus not quite as straight as military roads usually are. Until the mid-eighteenth century, this was also the course of the main London – Aylesbury – Buckingham – Birmingham road, before its route was moved to the present A 413 on higher ground to the east.

Cross the road and the stile opposite, and head uphill, just to the right of what looks like a summit ahead (but is in fact a fairly flat spur).
Continue down to a large tree with a stile in a fence 30 yards beyond.
Continue in the same direction diagonally over the next ridge to a stile by a gate, where the straggly hedge ends.

The Quainton windmill becomes visible ahead (and a wind turbine at the farm to your right). 
Just to the right of the mill is Dorton Hill (7 miles, 11 km). Brill (7.5 miles, 12 km) is on the next hill to the right, though few houses are visible from this direction, then the most prominent hill in the middle distance is Muswell Hill, with a clump of trees towards the right-hand side (7.5 miles, 12.5 km).
Much further away, and a little to the right of that, is the wooded Wytham hill, just beyond Oxford.
On the hill to the left of the mill is Ashendon (5 miles, 8 km) (place names ending in ‘ don’ generally indicate hilltop villages, of which there are many in this area, where limestone emerges from the clay of the plain). 
To the left of that, Waddesdon Manor is on the most conspicuous wooded hilltop (3 miles, 5 km). 
On the horizon to the left of Waddesdon Manor, is the communications tower at Stokenchurch (12 miles 19.5 km). 
Further to the left is Beacon Hill near Chequers (10.5 miles, 17 km), recognisable by its small clump of trees, and in good vivibility you may possibly be able to see the monument on Coombe Hill (10.5 miles, 17 km).

Continue downhill to join a tarmac drive, which you follow into the next field.

The moated house one field away to your left, with an unusual gatehouse, is Denham Lodge.

Where the Denham Lodge drive joins from the left, if you do not want to go into Quainton you can short cut by turning sharp right and heading up the hill to the mast on the top, rejoining our route just beyond it.

To go into Quainton, continue ahead to a road bend.
Go ahead a few yards and then go through the churchyard to the right.

Inside the church are an unusual number of fine monuments, several of them to members of the Dorney family.

Continue ahead into Quainton, passing some almshouses on your left, to the Green (with the George and Dragon pub and butcher’s shop a short distance to the left.).

The windmill, the tallest in Buckinghamshire (75ft 8in, 23.06 metres) was built in 1832 and appears to have fallen into disuse at the end of the 19th century. Restoration of the mill started in the 1970s, and work is still continuing, usually taking place while the mill is open on Sundays, 10.00 am till 12.45 pm. There is no public access to the area when the mill is closed.

Continue ahead across the top of the Green.

There is an information panel by the wall on your right. Note the remains of the old market cross at the top of the green, the 1723 Dormer family coat of arms on Cross Farmhouse on your right and the plaque on the front of the house on your left at the corner of the green (also some dated bricks on the side wall).

Continue ahead round a slight left bend, then opposite the playground gate go up the signed drive on the right, just after The Vine, which leads to a footpath on to the open hillside.

From here over Quainton Hill you follow the North Bucks Way. This was one of the first promoted routes in Buckinghamshire, set up by the Ramblers’ Association in the 1970s, and runs from Chequers Knap on the Ridgeway to Wolverton on the outskirts of Milton Keynes.

Go uphill parallel with the hedge on your right, with a summit on your left, ignoring a path that forks into the field on your right, to a stile by a gate, into the next field (in this second field, what looks like a summit on your left is in fact a fairly flat spur.) 
At the top of the field skirt left of a minor summit, to another stile. 
Continue ahead, with steep slopes down on your left.

The humps and depressions that look like ancient earthworks are the remains of old quarries, from which stone was taken for the church.

After passing the communications mast one field away on your right, go down briefly to a stile and fence gap on your right.
Go through, and uphill with the hedge/fence on your right, to cross another stile.
Go up to the ridge ahead and follow it to the left through a gate.
Here you reach a summit at 184 metres (600 ft). The true summit with the tower behind you is three metres (10 ft) higher, but you should get more of an all-round view from here, especially ahead.

(The view is described in detail, though not everyone will want to linger, especially if the weather is cold or visibility poor.) 
The row of trees ahead points at Botolph Claydon, 2 miles (3 km) away, approximately north west, merging with East Claydon). Stowe (8.5 miles, 13.5 km) is beyond. The Corinthian Arch is conspicuous if the sun is shining on it.
A little to the right is Buckingham (7.5 miles, 12 km), then Addington (4.5 miles, 7km).
The electricity grid substation is 2.5 miles (4 km) away; to the right of that is Winslow (4 miles, 6 km), then Granborough (2.3 miles, 3.6 km).
On the distant skyline (12 miles, 20 km) is the Xscape Leisure Centre at Milton Keynes with its ski slope (dome-shaped from this direction, but in fact cylindrical), then the water tower at Mursley (6 miles, 10 km), and the hills of the greensand ridge rising quite sharply above Woburn Sands.
Below you, closer, is North Marston (1.7 miles, 2.7 km) then Oving (2 miles, 3 km) tucked into the hillside.
Further to the right are the Dunstable Downs, with the White Lion (15 miles, 25 km) just below the skyline at Whipsnade.
The Buckinghamshire County Council office tower at Aylesbury (7 miles, 11 km) is normally conspicuous. Wendover is in front of the gap in the Chiltern Hills beyond it. From there, the Chilterns then stretch away to the right, behind the near summit ahead of you and further off to the south west.

Going anti clockwise from Botolph Claydon:
The steeple of Steeple Claydon church (4.5 miles, 7 km). Claydon House is just a little to the right of it, in the trees a mile (1.6 km) closer, but difficult to see in most circumstances.
To the left (14 miles, 23 km away) are two brownish spherical structures, at the airfield at Croughton.
You may be able to see part of Grebe Lake at Charndon (a flooded former brick pit), behind the near low wooded summit.
The most conspicuous buildings to the left of that are on the Bicester commercial and industrial estate (9.5 miles, 15 km). In line with them, and at half the distance, are the Grendon and Springhill prisons at Edgcott (note the glass house).
To the left of that are military supply buildings at Arncott (9 miles, 14 km), in front of a low wooded hill.

Go downhill, half right from the row of trees, to the right of conspicuous barns a mile (1.7 km) away. When converted farm buildings with a pond come into sight at the bottom of the hill, head for gates 100 yards to the right of them.
Go through one of the gates. In the next hedge line ahead are three electricity poles. Head for a stile beyond the middle one, on to a road.
Cross the road and a stile and turn right (leaving the North Bucks Way), to a stile by a pond.
Continue in the same direction, heading between the two most conspicuous pylons, to cross a footbridge, then up the next field to the stile opposite, on to a track.

Here you rejoin the course of the Roman and former main road (previously mentioned). In half a mile (0.8km) the route bends round a pond; it is tempting to wonder whether the pond has been there ever since Roman times. The line of the old road is also followed by the parish boundary between Quainton and Hogshaw to the west and Oving, North Marston and Granborough to the east.

Turn left along the track, then continue along a field edge, then again along a track, to a road.

This is known as Deadman’s Corner (presumably the site of a gibbet).

Go through the kissing gate ahead and continue with the hedge on your left for two fields.
At the far end of the second field turn right.

Where you turned right, the route of the Roman road is marked by the hedge for two more fields ahead, after which it cannot easily be identified.

Having turned right, at the next field corner go through the kissing gate and continue in the same direction with the hedge on your right to the end of the field, then turn left and almost immediately right over footbridges into and out of a small wood. 
Go diagonally left up the next (arable) field (the route should be clearly marked; go round the field edge only of the correct line is not possible).
Go along the left-hand side of the next field; do not go through the kissing gate ahead, but turn right along the edge of this field and the next one, to a road (with Granborough visible on the hill ahead).
Go a few yards left along the road, take the kissing gate on the right and go diagonally up the field to a road.
Turn left along the road to the crossroads, with Granborough church opposite.

At Granborough church there is a replica of a chrismatory (vessel for sacred oil). The original is in Oxford for safe keeping. The only other example is said to be in St Martin’s Canterbury

Buses for Buckingham go from the shelter to your left; those for Oving and Aylesbury from the stop on the other side of the road.


From here you can return to Oving via North Marston on foot, though there are a number of places in the first half mile (0.8 km) across the fields that can get very muddy in wet conditions, so you may wish to consider using the road as far as North Marston (1.5 miles, (2 .5 km)). Traffic is fast, but the road is straight with good visibility and there is a generous verge much of the way, and then a footway.
On arriving at Granborough, turn right, with the church on your left, and go down the road 400 yards to a stile on the left.
Go ahead to a (possibly muddy) gateway to the left of a house. (In the past, this has often been the muddiest place on the route; if you find it passable, the rest of the route probably will be too.)
Continue across the next field to pedestrian gates with plank bridges, a short distance to the left of farm buildings. 
Cross the next field (may be muddy) to a broken stile and kissing gate.
Cross the corner of the field to the left, to go through a (possibly muddy) kissing gate.
Turn right along the field edge, go through a kissing gate and bear slightly left to another kissing gateat the bottom of the slope ahead.
Go up the next field to a stile with a plank bridge.
Go along the left-hand edge of the next field, ignoring a gate to the left, to a stile, plank bridge and kissing gate into the field ahead.
Continue ahead through another kissing gate and over the hill to a plank bridge and kissing gate a little to the left of the far corner of the field.
Continue ahead over a stile, through a kissing gate, along an enclosed path, through another kissing gate and over another stile.
Go slightly right to go through pedestrian gates and along another enclosed path to a road.
Turn right down the road, then left, passing the pond, to follow in reverse the route you took from Oving to North Marston – up to the village green, then right – left at the Schorne Well – pedestrian gate into field
Then either 
(Main route) same direction across field to gate – left-hand edge of field – uphill across three fields to cross road – along top of two fields – slightly right to Church Lane . or
(Alternative route) two kissing gates to cross road – along field edge to gate and across stream – diagonally to footbridge with stiles – uphill to pub car park.


Alternative start avoiding muddy gateways

Alternative start avoiding muddy gateways Go down Church Lane past the church and continue ahead through the pub car park. 
Go over the stile ahead and follow the path down to a footbridge with stiles.
Cross the corner of the field, first slightly uphill then down, to a gate and a way across the stream.
Cross, and turn right, along the field edge to a road.
Cross the road and go through the kissing gate opposite and head a little to the left of North Marston church.
Go through another kissing gate, then continue slightly uphill to a pedestrian gate in the far corner of the field.
Go along the track ahead to the Holy or Schorne Well.

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