I am thankful for many things, but one thing I gain immeasurable satisfaction from is the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. By forming the green belt, it helped contain London and the cities of the UK into manageable shapes so we didn’t end up with endless urban sprawl. And so upon finding myself in Wendover, less than 40 miles from the centre of London, one of the first things I saw was a thatched cottage in a row of houses so picturesque I was expecting the cast of Morse, Midsomer Murders and Downton on tour to make an appearance. The Chilterns, where Wendover is nestled, is well known for its beauty and is home to many varied landscapes from chalk streams to beech woods and chocolate box villages.
But the real draw for me in these parts is Wendover Woods, over 800 acres of deeply wooded landscape and many well-signposted walks all designed to shake off the stresses of the city. Living in the woods is the Firecrest, Britain’s smallest bird. You’ll find it much easier looking out for the Red Kite which has become a familiar site in the Chilterns since the re-introduction of them started in the late 1980s. From the station, we walked down Hale Lane and within minutes the village falls away to be replaced by open fields and parcels of woods. The path follows a gentle incline and soon enough the views behind you take on a grander form as more and more gently rolling countryside becomes visible.
After ten minutes walking down Hale Lane you will find a left turn into Wendover Woods itself, giving you an option to take on one of the circular walks within the woods. Head north and you’ll find yourself at the Cafe in the Woods, or just wander about. Either way you won’t be disappointed. If you’re a sporty kind, then you’ll find the woods to your taste with its fitness assault course scattered throughout.
When our walk led us back to the centre of Wendover we ate at the Shoulder of Mutton which is reliable, affordable and has an enormous garden. You can’t go wrong with a day trip to the Chilterns and Wendover is so easy to access, it is just crying out to be explored.