Welcome to the Naturally Outstanding Chilterns

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is everything you would like it to be.

Choose the Chilterns for activity and exploration, peace and quiet, entertainment or indulgence: this lovely countryside on London’s doorstep has all you need for a really memorable break.

In 324 square miles of superb scenery, intriguing attractions, tucked-away villages and market towns, there’s always something more to be discovered.

Winter is the perfect time to see the rolling Chilterns’ fields glisten with crunchy frost and mist drifting through the trees in Ashridge Forest, or rising on the River Thames at Marlow. 

This website is not a confusing listing of places to go and things to see. Despite knowing the area really well, we spend time exploring and walking familiar routes, looking for the unexpected that will delight our friends and visitors. We want to share our favourites with you as we know what makes the Chilterns so special. That includes the odd ghost story or three! 

Among the places the locals love the most are Wendover Woods, Coombe Hill, Ivinghoe Beacon and West Wycombe, which we agree offer far-reaching views, walking trails, cycling, historic attractions and plenty of things to do for locals and visitors alike.

Enjoy your stay and please share your experiences with us @VisitChilterns on Twitter and #TheChilterns on Instagram.

@visitChilterns on Twitter

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Getting here

From central London train to Chilterns trail in just 40 minutes and 30 minutes from Oxford, the Naturally Outstanding Chilterns is one of the most accessible areas of countryside in the UK. The area has excellent rail and bus links, it is served by four main rail lines, the River Thames and the London Underground Metropolitan line, with frequent trains and a journey time of less than an hour from London.

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Places to Visit

Explore Berkhamsted this January!
Explore Berkhamsted this January!

Busy restaurants, the 1930s art-deco Rex Cinema and an engrossing mix of familiar and independent shops combine to give Berkhamsted's broad high street an uplifting buzz. The historic framework includes imposing remains of the Norman motte and bailey castle and the collegiate buildings of Berkhamsted School, whose Graham Greene festival honours its most famous pupil. The superb countryside of the National Trust's Ashridge Estate and exhilarating Ivinghoe Beacon are close by with links to the Grand Union Canal and Chilterns Cycleway. Click here for more.

Berkhamsted Castle
Berkhamsted Castle

Berkhamsted castle has a towering motte and some of the bailey walls are impressive reminders of this once-mighty Norman castle. The town has a special place in our history: following the Saxon defeat at the Battle of Hastings, it was at Berkhamsted that the bishops and noblemen formally offered William the Conqueror the crown. The castle website will guide you round the historic highlights of the site.

The Rex Cinema
The Rex Cinema

The Rex must be of Britain's most beautiful cinema’s, with one huge screen set in a glorious 1938 art-deco proscenium arch. The whole experience is delightfully civilized: sink into large, comfortable seats then sit back with cheese and wine to enjoy the film.

Explore the northern Chilterns villages by bike
Explore the northern Chilterns villages by bike

Starting in Berkhamsted and travelling north this itinerary passes through Berkhamsted Common, the Ashridge Estate and the stunning views from the top of the Chilterns escarpment at Whipsnade. Returning south the route takes you through the quintessential English village of Aldbury with its duck pond and ancient stocks, eventually passing over the Grand Union Canal back into Berkhamsted. Electric bikes can be hired, click here.

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

Local food and drink is not something Berkhamsted is short of! There are plenty of excellent local restaurants and pubs along the Grand Union canal. Saturday shoppers find an added attraction in the quality high street market and the 50-stall Artisans, Arts and Crafts Market held in the handsome Town Hall and the Farmers' Market, with such tempting items as winter warmer honeys, lobster or local Frithsden wines.

Where to Stay - the Kings Arms Hotel
Where to Stay - the Kings Arms Hotel
The Kings Arms Hotel is a former 18th-century coaching house right in the centre of Berkhamsted.

Events

Sunday 1st February
Baking Mash Up at the Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden

To close our year-long celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, come for A whipple-scrumptious session with our Food Writer in Residence, Victoria Glass, creator of sneezecake, chownies and freckles cakes. For 5+ years, click here for details.

Saturday 7th February 12.30 and 2.30pm
Reptile Roadshow at the Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden

For 6+: join our friends from the Reptile Roadshow and get in touch with your inner naturalist. Meet a real life Esio Trot and come face to face with swiggles of other cold-blooded creatures and minibeasts. You’ll get the chance to hold a chinchilla, a snake, a lizard and even some buckswashling bugs – if you dare! £4 per participant plus Museum entry, pre-booking required, tel 01494 892192.

Friday 20th February, 10.30am to 4.00pm
Fables and Fairytales at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley

Enter a magical world of colour, excitement and adventure with enchanting tales and craft. Free with Admission. Click here for other events and craftshops at the museum.

January and February 2015
New Year activities at the Ashridge Estate, near Tring

The Ashridge Estate offers winter walks until 28th February 10am to 3pm. Learn more about how the wildlife at Ashridge spends their Winter months and look for life amongst the leaves. There are also half-term lantern-making workshops on 5 dates between 16th - 20th February 2015.

Friday 20th February, 17:30 to 20:30
Candelit Walk at the Ashridge Estate, near Tring
A candlelit walk in the woodland at night for all the family. At points along the trail there will be featured lighting effects such as floodlit trees and swedish candles. Suitable for all the family. The walk follows our accessable mobility vehicle trail and is suitable for pushchairs. It may be slightly muddy in places. £1 per head.
4th and 20th of February

Young theatre enthusiasts are in for a treat with the Waterside’s new programme of family friendly shows in the Second Space. Curious presented by Half Moon Theatre on Wednesday February 4th offers toddlers aged 0 -3 the chance to journey into an imaginative world where kitchen meets garden and where messiness conjures the perfect birthday surprise. Traditional theatre seating is swapped for comfy cushions and after the performance there’s free interactive play. For youngsters aged 6+ The Fantastical Story Factory on Friday 20th February 20th is a must-see. The young audience members become part of the adventure and create the story in this award-winning new family show. They are encouraged to share ideas creating magical kingdoms, wonderful characters and deciding where the story is set, and what happens.

Saturday 21 February, 11am – 4pm
Bucks at War WW1 Event, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury

Meet WW1 Recruitment Officers and sign up to serve in the King’s army, play games from the era, listen to live music and poetry, try trench food, see WW1 artefacts and talk to experts and members of the Western Front Association. Free event for all ages. For further details click here or call 01296 331441.There is also an exhibition Duty and Service – Bucks Lives in the Great War until 14 March. Discover the personal stories of Bucks men and women and the part they played in World war One in this special commemorative exhibition.

Sunday 15th March 2 to 4pm
Hands-on Science at the Wycombe Museum

A lively afternoon of scientific fun and activities for the curious and inquisitive, what ever your age! Free, drop-in session, tel 01494 421895.

  • Join Dr. C to discover the science of fairies and elves.

  • Make fairy dust, investigate bubbles, glowing potions and flying objects! (You could even come dressed as a fairy or elf)

  • Meet the experts, from astronomers to nature enthusiasts

  • Free tea and cake for mums to celebrate Mothers' day!

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