The Chilterns reach their highest point (267 metres) at Wendover Woods and Coombe Hill, offering enticing country views from Wendover's High Street. The Rothschilds, with their eye for the very best, chose this woodland setting for Halton House, their weekend retreat. Now the Officers' Mess for RAF Halton, the house welcomes visitors every year for Heritage Open Days. Our Prime Ministers have their country retreat at Chequers, seen from the summit of Coombe Hill. The house was gifted to the nation just after the First World War to enable the "new breed" of Prime Ministers to entertain dignitaries in the old style.
What to see in Wendover
Town and countryside merge in Wendover, where most walks begin right at the station, just a stone's throw from picturesque cottages in the High Street. There's plenty here to fill some gentle mooching time, from antiques to the leading aviation art gallery, Aces High. An excellent local produce market appears on the third Saturday of every month. Don't leave town without sampling Wendover's choice of refreshments – perhaps enjoying coffee, wine or a deli platter while shopping at No 2 Pound Street, a hot chocolate at Rumsey's Chocolaterie or afternoon tea at Lady Grey (20 varieties from around the world!). Just the thing after a brisk winter walk.
In the countryside
Views of the Vale Walks – These two walks start from the centre of Wendover and take you to the top of the Chiltern Hills, through ancient beech woods, carpets of bluebells and wild flowers. The 3½-mile circular Coombe Hill Walk involves a long steady climb up to the top of Coombe Hill with its monument to the men of Buckinghamshire who fell in the Boer War. From here there are fantastic views out across the Vale of Aylesbury and also down across Chequers. The 7-mile circular Walk to Wendover Woods and back follows part of The Ridgeway National Trail, which passes right along Wendover High Street.
For wheelchair users and pushchairs – walks based on the disused Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal are ideal.
Wendover Woods are a perfect playground for all sorts of adventure and activity. Here on the edge of the Chilterns escarpment, their 800 acres provide year-round interest in a rich and varied habit for both wildlife and people. Enjoy its numerous trails for walking and cycling, the fitness trail, adventure playground, orienteering, the café, picnics and barbeques, plus seasonal highlights of bluebells and autumn colour.
This link will lead you to details of the following walks: the Firecrest Trail - a 2.8 mile signposted trail through the habitat of the firecrest, Europe's smallest bird; the Family Cycle Trail - a well surfaced trail with climbs and descents; the Easy Access Trail.
Still in Wendover Woods: Aston Hill Bike Park is one of the South East's premier mountain biking areas. Its 4-mile XC loop, 5 downhill trails and 4X track offer something to challenge all ages and abilities. You can also take a course here, to get you up to speed.
Also in Wendover Woods: Go Ape! Enjoy the spectacular views of the Chilterns and Aylesbury Vale from high up in the trees. With a smattering of tree-top high wires, crossings and wind-in-your-face zip wires, this is an adventure you'll want to swing by.
Wendover Cycle Loop is a 14-mile circular ride, starting and finishing in Wendover. The route goes through wooded rolling countryside with some stunning views, passing several traditional pubs along the way.
What to head for further afield
Waddesdon Manor – 10½ miles from Wendover. As a family, the Rothschilds were the greatest collectors of the 19th century, seeking the highest quality of workmanship and with a keen sense of historical importance. The houses that they built, the interiors they created and the magnificent collections within them became known internationally as the 'goût Rothschild'. Waddesdon is one of the rare survivors of that splendour. Victorian landscaped gardens, a fitting setting for the chateau-style house, also include a woodland playground and adventure trail for children. The Events Calendar presents a wide choice of quality activities and events for both adults and children. You'll find fine wine and food here too, in a choice of restaurants and shops.
Chiltern Brewery – 2½ miles from Wendover. This is the oldest independent brewery in the Chilterns. Award-winning labels include John Hampden's Ale, brewed in memory of 'The Patriot' of the Civil War who lived nearby at Great Hampden and Bodgers Barley Wine, a tribute to the craftsmen who lived and worked in the beechwoods of Bucks making chair legs and spindles for High Wycombe's furniture trade. The brewery shop sells all the labels, together with a range of local foods made with the beers, or to complements their flavours. Brewery tours can be booked in advance. The historic Farmers' Bar in Aylesbury is the place to taste all the brews.
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – 5 miles from Wendover. Established in Roald Dahl's home village of Great Missenden, the centre inspires young visitors (aged 6-12) with hands-on story-telling activities and the story of Dahl's own life and work. As well as the interactive Story Centre, there are two fun-filled, fact-packed galleries, plus a new gallery which includes Roald Dahl's original Writing Hut. There are more rooms for craft activities and story telling sessions – and Café Twit.
The Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - 5 miles from Wendover. A dynamic and relatively recent addition to the entertaining, cultural scene. Its live performances of electrifying West End productions, unparalleled comedy, stunning dance and top-class children's shows are staged in a landmark building of architectural interest and acclaim, inspired by the materials and landscapes of the Chiltern Hills.
Roald Dahl Children's Gallery in Aylesbury – 5½ miles from Wendover. Young children explore the worlds of Dahl's mind-boggling characters inside a Giant Peach, down Fantastic Mr Fox's tunnel, in Matilda's library and other fantabulous settings in the Discovery and Imagination Galleries, linked by the Great Glass Elevator.
Obsidian Art – 3 miles from Wendover. The gallery runs an exciting programme of exhibitions, exhibiting a broad range of selected paintings, printmaking, sculpture, glass, ceramics, jewellery, photography and craft by some of the best British artists and makers. It shares its site at Stoke Mandeville with The Bucks Goat Centre and Animal Farm – a great favourite with young children.