hills in South East England

The Chiltern Hills span the area between Wessex in the South West and Hitchin in Hertfordshire - across much of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. These rolling hills feature swathes of habitat-rich grassland, broken up by ancient beech, ash and box woodland.

Chiltern Hills near Nettlebed

Just a short hop from London by train or in the car, this landscape is popular with ramblers and cyclists, while foodies can discover historic market towns.

Understand edit

History edit

According to the British Geological Survey, the Chilterns are part of a large geological formation which spans the area between the English Channel and Norfolk. They started forming around 145 million years ago.

Humans started living in the hills between 11,700 to 4,000 BC (Mesolithic), the hills' authority has said, when nomadic hunter-gatherers started to catch and eat red deer and fish. There is also evidence of Neolithic (4,000-2,000 BC) life in the Chilterns. with a barrow or burial mound at Whiteleaf Hill. Paths like the Icknield Way were trodden as early as 650 BC, during the iron age.

Over more recent centuries, patchwork fields, woodland and farmland developed, which became an important source of food under the Tudors (1485-1603 AD).

When the industrial revolution rolled around, the Grand Union Canal cut through the Bulbourne Valley in the late-1700s - between London and Birmingham. There are canal-side stops in and around the Chilterns, at Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring, Aylesbury and Cheddington.

Railways arrived in the mid-1800s, bringing towns like Reading and Amersham well into London's sphere of influence.

In 1965, the Chilterns became an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to formally recognise its unique landscape and wildlife. The Chilterns Conservation Board is responsible for conservation and improvements in the AONB with the National Trust responsible for looking after some of the estates and parkland.

Landscape edit

Towns and villages lie low, at the bottom of gentle hills and escarpments - with ridgeway walks.

Flora and fauna edit

There are large beechwoods with mature trees, some more than 40m tall. Wild box and juniper also grow in the hills.

Look out for otter, water voles, brown trout and the Adonis blue butterfly which are native to the Chilterns.

Get in edit

The Chilterns lie north-west of London.

By car edit

It depends where you want to go in the Chilterns, but the AONB is well connected, on the UK motorway network. Major routes into the AONB and its surrounding towns includeː

By train edit

Into Pangbourne, Goring and Streatley and Cholsey, use Great Western Railway   services direct from London Paddington, Reading, Didcot Parkway and Oxford.

Into Bourne End and Marlow use Elizabeth Line  ELI  or Great Western Railway   from East and Central London, London Paddington, Reading and Oxford, and change at Maidenhead.

Into Lower Shiplake and Henley-on-Thames use Elizabeth Line  ELI  or Great Western Railway   from East and Central London, London Paddington, Reading and Oxford, and change at Twyford.

Into Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough and Little Kimble use Chiltern Railways   from London Marylebone, Wembley Stadium, Bicester North, Banbury, Warwick Parkway and Birmingham Moor Street.

Into Chorleywood, Chalfont and Latimer, Amersham and Chesham use Metropolitan Line  MET  or Chiltern Railways   from the City of London, King's Cross St Pancras, London Marylebone, Rickmansworth and Aylesbury. Chesham is  MET  only.

Into Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring use London Northwestern Railway   from London Euston, Watford Junction, Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Into Luton and Harlington use Thameslink   from Brighton, London Gatwick Airport, Central London, St Albans and Bedford.

Into Hitchin use Thameslink or Great Northern   from Brighton, London Gatwick Airport, Central London, Stevenage, Cambridge, Royston and Peterborough.

By plane edit

London Heathrow Airport and Luton Luton Airport are close to the Chiltern Hills with good road connections to Chiltern towns and villages. There are direct rail connections from London Gatwick Airport to destinations in the AONB.

Fees and permits edit

Most land is privately owned. You cannot camp on common land or other land without the owner's permission.

Some car parks may charge.

Get around edit

A network of small routes pass along the length of the Chiltern Hills. The roads are suitable for all cars and motorbikes, but some larger vans and HGVs may struggle on more rural roads.

It is not easy to travel across the Chilterns by train or bus, and some public transport journeys may require a change in Central London.

See edit

The Ridgeway edit

The Ridgeway runs from Ivinghoe Beacon in the north east to Overton Hill in the South west.

Do edit

Buy edit

Eat edit

Drink edit

Sleep edit

Lodging edit

Camping edit

Backcountry edit

Stay safe edit

Go next edit

This park travel guide to Chiltern Hills is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!