Best Walks in Chiltern Hills

Region in England, United Kingdom

The rolling green Chilterns Hills are a quintessential part of the English landscape, dotted with ancient woodland, picture-perfect villages, and emerald valleys. This beautiful region is just a stone’s throw from London, but it feels worlds away from the bustling urban metropolis. This is a place where you can revel in the glory of nature, watch the birds and butterflies flit about in the sunshine, and breathe a little fresh air. Walking in the Chiltern Hills is a pure delight, and the perfect way to escape the noise and clamor of the city.

The Chilterns Hills form an ancient landscape, populated by humans since the Neolithic period. Most walks in the Chilterns will take you past at least one Bronze Age site, including looming hill forts and eerie barrows. One of the main walking routes, known as the Ridgeway, is often described as England’s oldest road – a walking trip here will allow you to step back in time thousands of years and follow in the footsteps of some of our most distant ancestors.

Walking in the Chiltern Hills is a delightful opportunity to discover England’s wildlife, from the red kites soaring high above the hills to the herds of skittish deer that roam the lower valleys. The ancient woodlands (some of which include trees over 800 years old) are home to countless species of small birds, butterflies, badgers, and deer. Try to visit in May when the woods are covered in a carpet of beautiful bluebells.

If you want to experience the quaint English countryside at its best, it’s time to start planning a trip to the Chilterns! We’ve put together a list of all our favorite walks, together with some top tips on how to enjoy your trip. Happy rambling!

The 10 Chilterns Walks To Add to Your Bucket List

The Chilterns is a fantastic place for a family walking holiday, with a huge variety of short, easy trails in beautiful countryside. Kids will love discovering this ancient landscape, and there are plenty of sites of interest that will keep them distracted on longer walks. Head to the canals and rivers and watch as the colorful boats navigate the complicated lock systems, go wildlife watching and bird spotting in one of many nature reserves, and stop off for a coffee or a pint at a local pub or café.

On the other hand, there are also many longer, more challenging routes in the Chilterns that will keep more advanced hikers happy. The hills here are relatively small (the highest is only 257m) but the undulating landscape creates some steep climbs and it’s possible to travel a long distance in a day hike or backpacking trip. For a challenge, follow the Ridgeway for 87 miles on a multi-day backpacking trip, or spend the day on the Ashridge Boundary Trail, admiring the stunning scenery along the way.

  • Firecrest Loop – Wendover Walk: The Chiltern Hills are home to some wonderful woodland areas, populated by many beautiful species of birds. This family-friendly loop through Wendover Woods is one of our favorite easy walks in the Chilterns, following an easy, well-maintained path through a beautiful wooded area. Keep your eyes out for the darting Firecrest, the UK’s smallest bird!
  • Hambledon Lock Walk: Looking for an easy, family-friendly walk in the Chiltern Hills? This paved route alongside Hambledon Lock is ideal for all the family, even small children, who will enjoy watching the boats navigate the series of locks along the River Thames. Don’t miss the Flower Pot Pub, where you can stop for a drink and a rest if needed.
  • Wendover Loop Walk: The Ridgeway is an ancient Bronze Age highway and today forms the site of some of the best day walks in the Chiltern Hills. This route follows the Ridgeway into lush, ancient woodland before finishing with an easy stroll alongside the peaceful canal. There’s no better way to enjoy the beauty of the English countryside!
  • Ashridge Boundary Trail Walk: This beautiful route along the Ashridge Boundary Trail is one of our favorite challenging walks in the Chilterns. The trail is long but undulating, meaning that you’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath and admire the stunning scenery of the Chilterns. Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the way, including the famous red kites of the region, countless deer, and many species of birds and butterflies.
  • Burnham Beeches Loop Trail Walk: This lovely, short walk offers all the advantages of walking in the Chilterns, passing by ancient woodlands, prehistoric settlements, and the green rolling hills that are so characteristic of the English countryside. As the name suggests, you’ll also enjoy the sight of countless beech trees, which form an important habitat for local wildlife. Harry Potter fans may recognize parts of the trails from the movies, which were filmed on location in this area!
  • Brush Hill and White Leaf Nature Reserve Walk: This stunning route is one of the best walks in the Chilterns, passing through dense woodland and green, open hills with gorgeous views. Like many walks in the Chilterns, the trail is steeped in history as well as beautiful nature, from Bronze Age barrows to a 16th century estate that is now the residence of the British Prime Minister! This lovely route offers a fantastic afternoon out in some of England’s loveliest countryside.
  • Grand Union Canal – Tring To Berkhamsted Walk: This picturesque walk passes along the Grand Union Canal, once an important water highway connecting Birmingham to London. Today the waterways are much quieter, although it’s lots of fun to see the colorful canal boats pass by and navigate the locks at different stages of the journey. This walk will take you directly from Tring train station to Berkhamsted train station, making it an excellent option for a car-free day out in the Chilterns.
  • Aston Rowant Walk: The Chiltern Hills may not be towering mountains, but they still offer fabulous views. This lovely walk takes you into the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, where you’ll enjoy a fantastic view over the hills and valleys, and have plenty of opportunities to spot red kites and wild deer. Bring a picnic, sit back, and enjoy the scenery!
  • Hurley Loop Walk: This relatively short walk offers tremendous variety, packing in some classic Chilterns scenery in less than 10km. You’ll begin on the banks of the River Thames, before ascending through dense, atmospheric woodland and sweeping, open fields. The views are lovely, and you can enjoy a refreshing snack or a pint in the historic village of Hurley as a reward for your efforts!
  • Pegsdon and Deacon Hill Walk: This lovely walk passes through undulating terrain with some truly spectacular views over the Chiltern Hills. You’ll skirt the boundary of the Knocking Hoe Nature Reserve, traverse woodlands filled with bluebells in springtime, and enjoy the bucolic English countryside. Without doubt, this is one of the best walks in the Chiltern Hills.

When Is The Best Time To Go Walking In The Chiltern Hills?

England is a year-round walking destination, and routes in the Chilterns are accessible whenever you choose to visit. That said, the UK is known for its wet and unpredictable weather, so even if you visit in the height of summer, be prepared for boggy ground and the chance of rain. You’ll need sturdy, waterproof footwear, and lightweight, waterproof clothing, especially in winter.

The best time to go walking in the Chilterns is springtime, especially in May when the woodlands are covered in a carpet of bluebells, and baby lambs frolic in the fields. You’ll have a better chance of good weather in the summer, although some trails can become crowded, especially during school holidays. Autumn brings other advantages, including wonderful colors as the trees turn from green to red, yellow and gold. If you’re planning to visit in winter, the Chilterns is the place for some gorgeous, picturesque walks in frosty landscapes – don’t forget to bring your camera!

Other Outdoor Activities In The Chiltern Hills

A popular destination for nature lovers, there are plenty of exciting outdoor activities on offer in the Chiltern Hills! In addition to walking and camping, this is a great place to come for road biking and mountain biking, with lots of paved and accessible trails suitable for cyclists of all ages. Don’t miss the 183-mile Chilterns Cycleway, which starts and ends in the beautiful market town of Henley-on-Thames. The Chilterns is also a popular place for horseback riding and rock climbing, and the River Thames is the perfect spot for canoeing, rowing, and boating.

How To Plan A Trip To The Chiltern Hills

Located just outside London, the Chiltern Hills are incredibly easy to access, either in your own car or via public transport. To help you plan your trip down to the last detail, we’ve put together a list of all the information you’ll need in our guide to planning a trip to the Chilterns. You’ll find advice on when to visit, how to get there and travel around the region, and where to stay, in addition, of course, to our recommendations for the top 10 walks in the Chilterns. This beautiful corner of England is just waiting to be discovered, so get out there and hit the trail!

Frequently-Asked-Questions About The Chiltern Hills

What is the highest point in the Chilterns?
Haddington Hill (also known as Wendover Hill) is the highest point in the Chilterns, standing at an elevation of 267m. It is surrounded by the beautiful Wendover Woods, the ideal place for a family walk on a sunny spring day!

How do I get from London to the Chiltern Hills?
Many towns in the Chilterns can be accessed by train or bus from London. The region is served by four main rail lines and the Metropolitan Underground line (to the lovely town of Amersham), and you’ll find connections to towns such as Berkhamsted, Tring, Wendover, Princes Risbourgh, and Great Missenden in less than an hour from London.

How were the Chiltern Hills formed?
The Chiltern Hills were formed by an outcrop of chalk formed 145 million years ago, which were gradually compressed and shaped by the elements to form the characteristic rolling hills of the region. The flint produced by the chalk ridges was an important building material for the early human settlements in the Chilterns.

Or check out the article about the best walks in the UK.

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Best Hikes in Chiltern Hills

Open details for Pegsdon and Deacon Hill

Pegsdon and Deacon Hill

Easy
7.9 km
127 m
1.5-2.5h

This wonderful walk in the Chilterns follows an undulating path through rolling fields until you reach the stunning views at the peak at Deacon Hill.  Be sure to bring your camera!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.2
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Hurley Loop Walk

Hurley Loop Walk

Easy
9.0 km
127 m
2-2.5h

The Hurley Loop Walk is a wonderful trail that meanders along the Thames before heading uphill into dense woodland and open fields, returning through the quaint, historic village of Hurley.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Ashridge Boundary Trail

Ashridge Boundary Trail

Very Hard
28.3 km
342 m
6-8.5h

This walk gives walkers complete immersion in the Chiltern Hills. Expect to see dear, red kites, and other wildlife as well as stunning views from Ivinghoe Beacon, the highest point of the trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Wendover Loop

Wendover Loop

Moderate
16.6 km
224 m
3.5-5h

This interesting Chiltern walk enjoys ever changing scenery, from the initial ascent along the Ridgeway to ancient woodland, farmers’ fields and a 3.0 mi stretch along the lazy river like canal to finish.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Hambleden Lock Walk

Hambleden Lock Walk

Very Easy
4.0 km
13 m
0.5-1h

The short, mostly paved Hambleden Lock walk is a great trail that the whole family will be sure to enjoy! Take your time exploring this unique river crossing, and watch the boats as they pass you by while navigating the locks!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Aston Rowant Walk

Aston Rowant Walk

Easy
6.1 km
176 m
1.5-2h

The Aston Rowant walk boasts beautiful views high above the surrounding Chiltern countryside. This is a great place to bring the family for a pleasant afternoon walk or pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the views!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Grand Union Canal – Tring to Berkhamsted

Grand Union Canal – Tring to Berkhamsted

Easy
7.4 km
21 m
1.5-2h

Enjoy a picturesque walk alongside the historic Grand Union Canal, from the train station in Tring to the train station in Berkhamsted. Watch the ducks swim lazily past boats navigating the locks.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Brush Hill & White Leaf Nature Reserve

Brush Hill & White Leaf Nature Reserve

Moderate
10.8 km
201 m
2.5-3.5h

A perfect Chiltern walk, with stunning views, soaring birds, dense woodland, and a glimpse of the Prime Ministers Country retreat, this trail really does have something for everyone!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for The Firecrest Loop – Wendover

The Firecrest Loop – Wendover

Very Easy
4.5 km
79 m
1-1.5h

This well maintained woodland trail is a great family walk in the Chilterns! Look out for the white belly, golden ‘collar’, and quick movements of the Firecrest: at about the size of a 10p coin it is the UK’s smallest bird.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Burnham Beeches Walk

Burnham Beeches Walk

Very Easy
4.2 km
22 m
1h

The Burnham Beeches Walk is a short adventure that is great for families, as it features a couple of brief, steep climbs to challenge young explorers. Explore the primeval woodland at your own pace as you pass ponds, ancient settlements, meadows, marshlands, and thousands of beech trees.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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Open details for Planning Your Trip to The Chilterns

Planning Your Trip to The Chilterns

By Richard Campbell
October 22nd, 2017
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