A circular walk from Ivinghoe

Description: A varied walk with some steep climbing near the beginning. It goes along part of an important national trail, then follows an important canal to come back to the start!

OS Ref: SP945164
Length: 10   Miles approx.
Approximate time: 4 - 4 hours.
Parking: Ladysmith Road, Ivinghoe.
Refreshments: Refreshments: Rose and Crown, Ivinghoe (near start of walk). Several pubs along the Grand Union Canal.

The walk

Start by taking a lane that leads off Ladysmith Road, signposted to a golf course. It has the Rose and Crown on its corner as a landmark. Go past the entrance to the golf course and carry on along a bridleway at the end of the lane. Carry on along the bridleway which eventually comes to a lane. Keep on along this lane until you arrive at a road. Turn right, then look out for a public footpath sign on your right. Go through a kissing gate. The footpath runs parallel to the road for a while, but goes right at a kissing gate. Follow the right edge of the field you are now in going gently uphill. Turn left at its corner, still heading uphill. Go through a gate and continue to a road.

Turn right at the road, then shortly afterwards left. Follow the road for a short distance to a signpost. Take the left path here, to head steeply uphill to the top of Beacon Hill. There are some steps cut into the ground further up to aid progress.

After enjoying the views from this magnificent vantage point, it's time to walk along part of the Ridgeway Path. The Ridgeway is an 85 mile long path from the North Wessex Downs to the Chiltern Hills. It's sometimes known as "Britain's oldest road", which has existed for thousands of years, following the footsteps of prehistoric man, medieval farmers and 17th century drovers!

Head due south, ignoring a path leading to the left, to come to a road. Cross the road and continue along the Ridgeway Path, climbing initially. After a while, the path levels out. Continue in a southerly direction, soon to enjoy the impressive view over Incombe Hole to the right.

Walk around Incombe Hole to be on a south-westerly direction. Follow the path to another road. Turn left to walk about 100 metres along the road, then turn right at a signpost to continue along the Ridgeway Path. The path goes along the left edge of two meadows at first, then into the open.

Keep on the path, now with a chalk pit and reservoir to the right. At the end of the meadow, there is a wooded area. Take the path going right thus leaving the Ridgeway Path at this point (WNW) eventually into an enclosed section. The path soon turns to follow a WSW direction. Keep along it in this direction - a new metal barrier tells you that there is a road ahead. I guess these are to stop motor-cyclists from using the path!

On arriving at the road, turn left to follow it for about 200 metres. Turn right at a bridleway towards Honeysuckle Farm (shown on my OS map as Park Hill Farm!) Go through the farmyard, cross a railway and continue to a canal. This is part of the Grand Union Canal, and is the route we'll mainly be using from now on.

Before the days of 40 ton juggernaut road haulage, the Grand Union Canal was the main route for trade between London and Birmingham. In total, the canal is 137 miles long, and possesses 166 locks! It seems to have several branches along our journey here, so it's fairly important to make sure we're going to follow the correct bits. I made a mistake first time I tried this walk, and added some unnecessary mileage to it!

After crossing the canal, turn right to follow its tow path. Follow the canal to Bulbourne. Just after Bulbourne you have to make sure you cross the Wendover arm of the canal by means of a bridge. After this you should be in a westerly direction.

Keep along the tow path which has a few twists and turns in it for a while, also a gradual flight of several locks, to come to a bridge at Startop's End. After the road bridge at Startop's End, there is a foot bridge. When you arrive at the White Lion pub, you know you're there. Turn right to cross this foot bridge, and follow the opposite side of the canal for a short distance, thereby avoiding being unwittingly diverted  down the Aylesbury arm of the canal! Continue on this side for a short while before crossing another bridge to be back on the west side of the canal once again.

Continue your journey past Marsworth, which can look picturesque from the canal, with its church readily visible. Soon, you'll be able to see Beacon Hill, which we climbed earlier. This signifies that we are approaching the start of our excursion.

Keep along the tow path for another mile or so, before the canal swings left to be parallel to the railway for a short while. Go under a road bridge, then the rail bridge, coming to a swinging pedestrian bridge. Use this to cross the canal, then leave it for our final stretch of the walk.

Take a path going right, and follow it to a road. Turn left onto the road, then after a short distance, turn left into Chequers Lane. Carry on to the end of the lane, and cross a stile to the left of Orchard House. After 50 metres or so, cross another stile to walk on the right edge of a field. Cross another stile by a private sign, to go right after a while. Walk through a meadow, then cross another stile. Walk to the left of some houses, on a tarmacked  part of the path.

At a road, turn left. Walk through Ivinghoe, eventually passing the Church to the right. Take the next road on the left (Vicarage Lane,) turning into Ladysmith Road at the end, and back to the start of your walk.

Click here to get an OS map with the route highlighted
Click here for some photos taken along the route