Dame Cheryl Gillan, the MP for Chesham and Amersham has called for The Chilterns presently designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to be given full National Park status. If successful it would be the nearest National Park to London and follows to uprating of the comparable South Downs in 2009.
About The Chilterns
The Chilterns covers about 320 square miles stretching from Goring-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire to near Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The chalk escarpment forms an arc roughly 30 miles outside north-west London. The highest point at 876 feet is Haddington Hill near Wendover in Buckinghamshire. Today, about 66% is farmland and 20% wooded, double the average in England.
Chalk streams such as the Chess and Misbourne are rare outside the area, they are fed from chalk aquifers underground, the water bubbles up through the chalk to feed streams, the flow being variable on rainfall, often drying up in Summer. The valleys, much broader than their rivers, are where many of the towns and transport routes are found.
Its best described as a rolling landscape with intermixed hills and woodlands peppered with with attractive villages and towns. Traditional buildings made use of the local flint, timber and clay, used for bricks and tiles. Although many towns have expanded significantly, many old building survive, Amersham “old Town” being an excellent example.
Although home to popular (and expensive) commuter hotspots, the Chilterns has a lot on offer for the day or weekend visitor.
Things to Do
The Chilterns and the surrounding areas is home to many fine parks and historic houses. Waddesdon, just north of Aylesbury built in the style of a French Chateau was built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, nearby Ascott House belonged to another member of the Rothschild family. Cliveden, overlooking the Thames has spectacular National Trust managed grounds whilst the house in now an exclusive hotel, being where Meghan Markle stayed the night before her wedding.
Whipsnade Zoo can be found near Dunstable. Ashridge between Berkhamsted and Dunstable is a large area of ancient woodland.
The Ridgeway, one of England’s oldest routes skirts the northern edge of the Chilterns, today, it many more paths and byways are popular with walkers and cyclists. Maps to suit all levels of fitness can be downloaded.
Museums covering local history and former industries can be found in many of the towns. High Wycombe has a Chair Museum celebrating its history as the centre for chair making thanks to the local beechwoods. Amersham museum covers its early history and growth of the modern commuter town.
Beaconsfield is home to Bekonscot, the world’s oldest and arguably best, model village. Delightful for children and adults.
Eating and Sleeping
As well as modern chain hotels in the larger towns, characterful former coaching inns can be found. Probably the most recognisable is The Kings Arms in Amersham, dating from the 1400’s and a star of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Amersham also has a wide choice of restaurants to suit all pockets. Henley on Thames and Marlow, also on the river, are attractive towns to visit, and to eat and sleep at. Marlow is where celebrity chef Tom Kerridge has restaurants and bars.
The Chilterns is well served by road, the M40 and A41 trunk routes pass through. All the major towns have rail stations. Berkhamsted on the main line out of London Euston. High Wycombe and Beaconsfield on the Chiltern Mainline and Amersham on both the Metropolitan and Chiltern Lines. Wendover on the Chiltern Line to Aylesbury and Chesham also on the Metropolitan.