Great walks just around the corner

    10 February 2020
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    There's so many great walks just around the corner from Shillingridge, this is a walk from Turville reviewed by Hugh Thomson that's only a few minutes drive away.


    Start/finish Stonor
    Distance/time 5 miles/2 hours
    Refuel Bull and Butcher, Turville
    Poet and novelist Edward Thomas had a lovely phrase for the Chilterns: “wooded on their crests and in the hollows, not very high, but shapely”. A more mundane response might be that these finest of all beech woods are less than an hour’s drive up the M40 from London, so easy to get to from the capital – although it’s even better if, like me, you happen to live in the middle of them.


    One of my favourite local walks begins at Stonor. Taking the Chiltern Way, you climb rapidly above the deer park, probably with a few red kites circling overhead in case you don’t make it to the pub. It was close by, on the Getty estate in 1989, that the species was reintroduced to England after their extinction.


    From up here you not only have a fine view of Stonor House – well preserved since the Reformation because the Catholic family that has always owned it were marginalised and therefore unable to rebuild or improve – but also of the prehistoric stone circle that gives the house its name.


    A brisk tramp brings you out at the picturesque village of Turville, familiar to viewers of The Vicar of Dibley and home to the quite excellent Bull And Butcher pub.


    In my book The Green Road into the Trees, I travelled across England in search of, among other things, the perfect pie. But on the evidence of the pies here, I needn’t have bothered leaving home. They are all homemade and include that rare thing, a suet-based steak and kidney pudding. Heaven. And if you have any energy left after that, you can always run up the hill to the windmill where they filmed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


    Hugh Thomson, author of The Green Road into the Trees: a Walk through England