Before we dive into this post, I’d like to say that the Ashridge to Ivinghoe Beacon circular route is not one I created. The original was posted on the Chilterns AONB site and is 5 mile walk along some pretty substantial trails and tracks. At 8 miles, the route you’re about to follow is a little longer thanks to my ‘navigation enhancements’. By that I mean map reading errors (something that’s hard to admit considering I consider myself to be a very good navigator).
Okay, let’s crack on…
Start Point: Ashridge Monument
Sited on the Ashridge estate, the monument looks out over the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The sights are truly stunning. For a better view of the surrounding area, I recommend you take the time to go up inside the monument. It’s free, although opening times are applicable.
With the entrance front of you, walk ahead keeping the tower on your immediate left. It can get a little confusing here. If you turn right at the tower, you’ll find yourself on the broad, easy route to Ivinghoe Beacon.
Stage Two: Hangman’s Stile
Follow the footpath downhill until you reach a prominent junction (marked on the map at the end of this post). To your left you’ll see a stile which you need to walk towards. After a short distance you’ll step into a farm field. Once you come alongside the stile, look right. You’ll see a faint trace of a footpath that disappears through a hedge and heads towards Duncombe farm. Follow this path across the field and over the road.
At this point, I’d like to add that it’s not really called ‘Hangman’s Stile’. I was trying to add some atmosphere.
Stage Three: Murky Woods
AKA, the route to Ashridge Common. Again, we’re a little off the beaten path, which I assume is where you want to be. After you cross the road, hop over the stile and climb the hill. Follow the wood line round to the left and you’ll see another stile which you need to cross.
Once in the woods, take the left-hand trail and stay on high ground. Don’t dip down into the basin. Head along the trail until it meets the wide track leading to Ivinghoe Common.
Stage Four: Ivinghoe Common
Most of the year round this track is pretty busy. But please do take your time to stop and breathe in the atmosphere and admire the views. Keep an eye out for local wildlife. Sightings of deer are not uncommon. Birds of prey are abundant yet scare easily.
Image: deer getting ready for a bit of rutting on the Ashridge estate. Not easy to see.
Follow the track until you reach the gate that marks the boundary of the Ivinghoe common. Navigate the stile to the right of the gate.
Stage Five: Indirect Route to Ivinghoe Beacon
You didn’t really think you’d be going direct, did you? I’ve added in a cheeky little dogleg that will get your heart and lungs fired up. After crossing the stile look across the road and you’ll see a wide track. Walk down this track, moving downhill until you come to Ward’s Hurst farm.
As you pass the farm, turn left on the footpath and keep walking for about 1km. At this point you’ll come to a junction in the track. Turn right. Now the trail will take you up the hill. This section is pretty hard work so don’t be afraid to pause for a rest. The route to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon is easy to see and follow.
Stage Six: Have A Rest on Ivinghoe Beacon
Pause for a while and take in the sights. From the top of the Beacon you can look out over Hertfordshire and into Bucks. The hill is favourite destination for kite fliers and remote-control aircraft enthusiasts. And there’s plenty of wildlife to spot.
I recommend you take a warm jacket on your hike. Shocks of cold wind whip over the Beacon and it’s easy to feel the chill, even on a relatively warm day. There are some sheltered spots, you’ll need to come off the hilltop to get to them.
Stage Seven: Heading Back to Ashridge
If you follow this route to the letter, you’ll find that there are quite a few hills. For some, the climbs can be quite tiring. For that reason, the journey back to Ashridge is more sedate and pretty much flat.
Stand at the trig point on top of Ivinghoe Beacon and turn to the South East. You’ll see some well-trodden tracks leading down the hill. Follow the leftmost track until you come to a fence – keep this on your left. After about 1.5km you’ll arrive back at the gate on Ivinghoe Common.
Use the stile to re-join the wide track. Instead of heading into the woods, follow the trail all the way back to the monument at Ashridge. This stage of the journey will take about 40 minutes.
And you’re done! Grab yourself a hot drink from the café, have a cake and relax.
Points of Interest
- This part of the Chiltern’s AONB is famous for the annual rut. Every year, around October, male fallow deer gather in large numbers to do what male deer do when love is in the air.
- You’ll see an abundance of red kites all year round. Over the past decade, Bucks and the surrounding counties have seen a resurgence in kite numbers.
- Open all year round, the Bridgewater Monument (aka the Ashridge Monument) is open every weekend between April and October. The tower is 33m high and climbs through 172 steps.
- There’s a café on the Ashridge estate, at the top of the car park, which serves light snacks and hot drinks.
Making the Ashridge to Ivinghoe Beacon Circular Walk Longer
Want to extend the overall distance of the Ashridge to Ivinghoe Beacon walk? Then take a look at this route: … Starting at Aldbury, the walk takes in the same stunning scenery and covers a distance of 10 miles. If you’re interested in seeking out even more hiking and waking destinations around the UK, the head over to my list of the best long distance walks in the UK