London Walks - 7
Woodland Walk, near Coleshill, Buckinghamshire
This is a fine walk a through deciduous woodland along level paths and tracks, with a few fields to cross. It is generally well waymarked or arrowed. Though close to Beaconsfield, the noise and bustle of the town does not impinge on the walk. For most of the time you could be in remote Scotland or Wales.
1 Leave the layby parking area by the narrow lane that climbs gently away, at a right angle, from the busy A355. A short way along and just before the end of the woodland, turn right into the trees along a waymarked bridleway. At a T-junction of paths, turn left following the blue marker, and then wind slightly right to walk through the middle of more glorious woodland. There are many small paths going off, but keep to the main, widest track or path. Eventually, wind a few steps left to come to a bend in a narrow lane.
2 Walk right and carry on down the lane until you can take a waymarked bridleway on your right. This is a delightful narrow hedged path where, you may meet horse riders. Then the way becomes wider and sunken and passes into woodland before continuing along a hedge-lined way, with woodland to the right and pastures to the left, to come to the A-road.
3 Cross, with care, and walk ahead, ignoring the footpath off to the right. Follow the traffic-free lane, with woodland to the right. Then continue through fields on either side. At a four-armed signpost, on your right and under trees, take the public footpath continuing ahead into woodland. At a Y-junction take the left branch and walk on. Go ahead when you see a rather ‘odd’ arrow directing you forward. Pass through a fence, with a dilapidated stile. Walk on to the next waymark and continue to a many arrowed waymarker post. Stroll on ahead here along a path through more woodland.
4 Watch out for the arrow on the tree, directing you forward and slightly left. As soon as you can spot the houses of Knotty Green, through the trees on your left, follow the big white arrow on a tree to continue along the backs of the houses.
5 Just before a stiled gate to a road, turn right as directed by the three-armed signpost and walk ahead. Follow the path as it bears half right and continues over a field to the corner of a belt of trees. Once at the corner, look for the easy-to-miss gap into the trees, with a white waymark on a scots pine. Follow the distinct path in, and then out, of the trees to continue through a pasture Go on to the corner of Sandels Wood but do not enter. Head on along the clear track to Seagraves’s farm, where you turn left to walk the farm’s access track.
6 Just before you reach the road, you arrive at a three-armed signpost. Here take the public bridleway, right, through a belt of trees and on along the wide path into Great Beard’s Wood, where you are asked to keep dogs under close control. After nearly half a mile, you arrive at a cross of tracks. Turn left to walk another bridleway. Climb a small hill through woodland and then on between hedgerows. Pass under the overhead power lines and at the corner of the hedge on your left, take a path through grass, on your right, to a gate, in front of a charming dwelling. Go through another gate to join a lane and then walk right along the shady way to join a B-road. Turn right to reach the A -road at the Two Magpies inn. Cross the A-road with care and walk left to the parking area in the layby.
As you enjoy this mainly woodland walk look out, in summer, for foxgloves. These lovely flowers are very common especially on acid soils, particularly those found in oakwoods, rocky sides of streams, roadsides and the sides of railways. Foxgloves spring up in myriads after clear-felling of woodland. A major factor in the success of the flower is its unpalatability to grazing animals. Many of the trees in the woodlands you pass through are oak. Oak is a great survivor. It is resistant to city smoke, salt winds, intense winter cold, floods, storms, and poor soil. But it will only thrive and produce good timber on the best well-drained loams - agricultural soils. It can be coppiced and it was once valued for firewood and for charcoal production. Look for signs of earlier coppicing as you walk the paths through the woods.
Start/Finish Park in a layby on the east side of the A355, grid ref 957943, and marked with a ‘P’ on the OS map. To reach this leave the M40 at junction 2, heading north. Turn left at the next roundabout and then right at the next smaller roundabout and continue for 2.5 miles.
Distance 5.5 miles / 9km
Time 3 hours
Height gained A fairly level walk
Terrain Good paths and tracks, some of which could be muddy after rain
Refreshments The Magpies Inn, Magpie Lane, Coleshill and in Beaconsfield
Toilets None on route. At the inn if you take some refreshment
Map OS Explorer 172
Public transport The Chiltern Line train from London’s Marylebone to Beaconsfield’s station. Join the walk at Point 5 – see OS map.