The Chilterns

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 A classic Chilterns scene of rapeseed fields in the spring  (Stephen Tucker/Shutterstock)

A classic Chilterns scene of rapeseed fields in the spring (Stephen Tucker/Shutterstock)

Looking for some Great British adventure inspiration? You're in the right place. Here you'll get an independent, ad-free lowdown on Britain's top 50 adventure locations - the online yin to the paper yang of our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map.

Why Go To The Chilterns?

The Chilterns, a rather lovely hill range and AONB, are about as close to London as you could get, lying just to the north-west of the capital. Just some of the things you can do in the Chilterns that you can't do anywhere else...  

  • Get your fresh air and greenery fix in London's closest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 
  • Take on the Ridgeway, an ancient walking route that shows off all the Chilterns' best bits
  • Enjoy views of four counties (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) from the likes of Ivinghoe Beacon, Turville Hill, Coombe Hill and Dunstable Downs
  • See the Hellfire Caves, excavated in the 1700s for the debauched antics of a secret society of wealthy pagans

Want to find out more? Read on for great photos, articles, videos, top tips and other content to fire up your adventure appetite. Got a question? Ask away.


Tell Me More

322 square miles of lovely chalk downland only a chaffinch's guff from London, the Chilterns span bits of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Which is tough to say even without a mouthful of crackers. Highest point: Haddington Hill (267m). Also home to Ivinghoe Beacon (249m), Hearnton Wood and Buttlers Hanging, fine views from Coombe Hill and Turville Hill, bits of the ancient Ridgeway and Thames Path national trails, the prime minister's weekend pile and the Vicar of Dibley.

 Whipsnade white lion  (David Hughes/Shutterstock)

Whipsnade white lion (David Hughes/Shutterstock)

The essential journey in the Chilterns is the Ridgeway. One of Britain's oldest routes, and part of a longer ancient route connecting Dorset with the North Norfolk coast, it's a national trail and a classic British journey. 

 
 

Getting To The Chilterns, Maps & Guides

Getting there: Pretty simple if you're already in the south-east (from London you can be there in around an hour).

Travel times from where you are: See the Chilterns on Google Maps.

Maps: Find the right Ordnance Survey maps and / or get a month's free subscription to their excellent OS Maps app.

Guidebooks: There's no dedicated guidebook to the Chilterns, but the Wild Guide to the South East is a good'un and also covers, well, the rest of the South East.

Walking route guidance: the Ridgeway national trail.

Tourist board: the Chilterns AONB or the Visit Chilterns site (but watch out for sentences like: "Why should you visit the quintessential, uncrowded, rolling green English countryside of the Chilterns, with its impressive selection of pubs and restaurants? That question may well have all the answers you need.")


Even More Chilterns Adventure Inspiration

 Fact: it is impossible to write captions for pictures like this without using the word 'quintessential'  (chrisatpps/Shutterstock)

Fact: it is impossible to write captions for pictures like this without using the word 'quintessential' (chrisatpps/Shutterstock)

Sometimes the official tourist boards and similar sites come up trumps, and the Chilterns AONB's interactive map is a great example. The National Trust's best Chilterns country walks is a useful planning companion, as is the Telegraph's 10 best pub walks in the Chilterns.

Cycling UK do a pretty decent guide to cycling in the Chilterns.

This is an enjoyable US article about Bill Bryson and the Ridgeway, and there's an even more enjoyable feature from Countryfile involving the very British Bill Bailey.

The Chilterns have also featured a few times on the BBC's Ramblings podcast:

Find out more about the Hellfire Caves, the meeting place for a secret society of apparently wealthy and debauched pagans.

 We're not 100% positive but we believe this could be an autumn scene. It's definitely in the Chiltern Hills, England  (Christopher Hotton/Shutterstock)

We're not 100% positive but we believe this could be an autumn scene. It's definitely in the Chiltern Hills, England (Christopher Hotton/Shutterstock)


What Next?

Click here to see 49 other Great British adventure locations and tell us about your adventures, plans and suggestions for these pages.


Britain's Best Outdoorsy Bits... Mapped!

Liking what you see, but fancy keeping it old school with an actual paper map? Our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map features all of Britain's best outdoorsy bits (including the Top 50), plus some enjoyably random and vaguely useful stuff too. Available either as a 2-sided fold-out map or a framed wall map (office furniture and fake plants not included).