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Chalk and water

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

A journey of discovery up and down the Chiltern Hills

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This walk explores two adjacent but very different environments: the dry chalk escarpment of the Chiltern Hills and the rich clay Vale of Oxfordshire.

Find out how chalk and water have had a major influence on this landscape in terms of the flora and fauna, as well as human settlements and the use of land. 

Discover a natural world of beech woods and juniper scrub, dry valleys and freshwater springs, wildflowers and butterflies, yellow ants and red kites.

Learn more about human activities in the area including a pre-historic settlement and a medieval castle, lords of the manor and peasant villagers, making a living from fields and woods, an ancient pathway and a modern motorway.

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Be prepared for beautiful sights, spectacular views and some surprising stories.

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Walk Info

Distance:

4 ½ miles

Level:
A steep descent and ascent

tooltipA steep descent and ascent

Suitable for:
Wildflowers, butterflies, birds and anthills to interest children

tooltipWildflowers, butterflies, birds and anthills to interest children

Keep dogs on a lead on roads and grazing land

tooltipKeep dogs on a lead on roads and grazing land

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Region:
South East England
Setting:
Countryside
Landscape:
Shaping the landscape Preserving the landscape Working landscapes
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Start:
Cowleaze Wood car park
Finish:
Cowleaze Wood car park
Getting there:

tooltip3 miles from Junction 5 on M40

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Chilterns

Bluebells in Cowleaze Wood
Mike Jackson © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain

Chilterns

Enjoy views over the Vale of Oxfordshire
Mike Jackson © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!

Downloads

Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Extras
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Comments

Find out what other people said about this walk

Chalk and Water is a great walk for families. There is plenty to interest children, from the contrasting chalk and flinty terrain with its many wild flowers to the animal life whose evidence can be traced along the route.

Joanna Wells, London

Excellent! Your "Chalk and Water" guided walk made what would in any case have been a beautiful walk, really interesting. Added to that, the wild flowers were lovely (bluebells, cowslips, wild orchids, etc.) and we saw a badger close up, hare, deer, skylarks, yellow-hammer, as well as the usual red kites, etc. A truly lovely experience. Many thanks.

Dick Wyatt, Penn, Buckinghamshire

Send your review

Links

Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window


British Listed Buildings

Model Farm, Covered Yards and Flanking Buildings, Shirburn, Oxfordshire

http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-248989-model-farm-covered-yards-and-flanking-bu

Cambridge University Library

Exhibition: “Footprints of the Lion: Isaac Newton at work”

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Footprints_of_the_Lion/index.html

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Cowleaze Wood

http://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/423/137/cowleaze-wood.html

Ewelme Watercress Beds and Local Nature Reserve

http://www.ewelmewatercressbeds.org

The Fitzwilliam Museum

The Macclesfield Psalter

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/macclesfield/

Google videos

Aerial video of Shirburn Castle with moat

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4528628028936102185

The Leathern Bottle, Lewknor

http://www.theleathernbottle.co.uk/

London Evening Standard

"Who's laughing now?" Article about the Earl of Macclesfield (18 Aug 2004)

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-12638602-whos-laughing-now.do

The Royal Society notes and records

The scientific library of the earls of Macclesfield

http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/60/1/5.full

RSPB

Birds of prey: which birds are threatened? Red kits – a glorious success

http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/birdsofprey/threatened.aspx

The Telegraph

“Feud forces sale of 'intellectual time capsule'” Article about the Earl of Macclesfield (20 Feb 2004)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1454857/Feud-forces-sale-of-intellectual-time-capsule.html

British History Online

Parish of Lewknor

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63819

British Listed Buildings

Model Farm, Engine House and Attached Buildings, Shirburn, Oxfordshire

http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-248990-model-farm-engine-house-and-attached-bui

The Chiltern Society Photogroup

Last Chiltern Chair Bodger

http://www.chilternphoto.org.uk/Special-Collections/Chair-Bodger

Discovering Fossils

Flint formation, uses and fossils

http://www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/flint_formation_fossils.htm

Field Farm, Lewknor

http://www.fieldfarm.co.uk/

Gatehouse (online gazetteer and bibliography of medieval castles, fortifications and palaces)

Shirburn Castle

http://homepage.mac.com/philipdavis/English%20sites/2967.html

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands

http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/protectedsites/sacselection/habitat.asp?FeatureIntCode=H5130

National Trails

The Ridgeway National Trail

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway/

Natural History Museum

Exploring British wildlife: bluebells

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/british-natural-history/survey-bluebells/index.html

Recommended place to stay - YHA

Streatley

http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/streatley

Credits

The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk

 

Gary Gray and Mike Jackson for creating the walk and providing photographs

 

Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials

 

Caroline Millar for editing the audio commentary

 

Damien Dyer of Air Frame Photography (www.airframephotography.com) for kind permission to use his aerial image of Shirburn Castle

 

Victoria County History (www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk) for kind permission to reproduce the map of the Lewknor Hundred

 

The Chiltern Society PhotoGroup (www.chilternphoto.org.uk) for kind permission to use their images of the last Chiltern bodger

 

Joanna Wells and her family for testing the walk on a very wet bank holiday

thank you
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