Bluebell Woods Walk in The Chilterns - around Cowleaze Woods.
Walking in Cowleaze Woods in England enjoying The Bluebells.
Once Spring arrives in The Chilterns in England then out come the Bluebells and an excellent place to see them is at Cowleaze Woods and also by walking around Aston Rowant Nature Reserve.
The bluebells usually appear in the South Midlands in England around the end of April and into the first few weeks of May - this does of course depend on the weather - if it's a really cold April their appearance will be delayed.
The bluebell display at Cowleaze Woods is really amazing - over the years we have seen them take hold and gradually spread with the result that now there really are millions of them - and particularly after a rain shower their scent is very noticeable too.
Apart from the bluebells the woods and surrounding area have marvellous trees, and once out into the open grassy areas you can find great displays of other wildflowers - especially carpets of cowslips and at the right time of year there are orchids on the grassy slopes. The wildlife is also excellent - this area of the Chilterns is now renowned for the huge number of red kites showing off their flying skills. There are also buzzards, woodpeckers, thrushes,
finches, hawks and many other types of English birds to be seen. It's worth saying that although this is described as a "Bluebell Walk" the area is excellent for walkers at any time of the year.
This 8km walk (map used Ordnance Survey Explorer 171) described below starts off from the quite large car-park at
Cowleaze Woods (SU 725956) - this is quite an unusual car-park because as of writing (May 2015) it is still free to park. On a nice sunny Sunday afternoon the parking can be a little difficult as many people turn up to enjoy the area - any other time there
is normally plenty of room though. Cowleaze Woods can be reached by taking the A40 which is right next to the M40's Junction 5 -- the A40 is signed "To Chinnor and Thame"
- then about 3/4s of a mile along the A40 take the left hand turn marked to Watlington and Christmas Common - follow this road as it goes over the M40 and then just a little further along turn left into Cowleaze Woods car-park.
About this Bluebell Walk.
There are lots of paths within Cowleaze Woods and no actual map available showing many of them since people have over time arrived at the woods and just made
up mini-circuits and thus created small paths. Our walk assumes you have turned into the car park and then turned left and parked around 200 yards along. From here a path heads straight off into the woods - follow this generally keeping straight ahead - cross over a wide often muddy grassy track
and continue ahead. Eventually you will arrive at a field edge and a very broad path and if the bluebells are out would have by then passed about 20 trillion of them. Turn right and follow this wide path with fields on the left until it reaches a stile and gate.
There are now two options: if the weather is really cold/wet/windy then the first option gives a lot more shelter
1. a little way along the lane as it bends a wide path leaves on the right which goes into beautiful woods (Little London Woods) - alway keep
to the left hand path and after a slight climb come out onto Beacon Hill. Carry on ahead then you can bear right to get a fantastic view of the countryside below - there is also a bench seat just here. From the bench seat go left down hill on the grassy path which winds round to a gate. Go through the gate and turn right down a really steep path (be very carefull if the surface is wet - it is very slippery in places) - this reaches another gate after which bear left then more gates lead to The Ridgeway Path
2. go on up the lane a bit further to reach the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve car park which is
on the right. Walk through the car park and then leave it by a path which goes off from the left hand corner. The motorway is now very close to you on the left
although you cannot see it unless you climb a few yards up a bank. Ignore any side paths coming in from the right - just follow the path as it heads down - with steep chalk grassy areas on the right - to finally reach The Ridgeway National Trail. Note this can be really cold to walk in the Winter since it is very exposed on the hillside.Turn left onto The Ridgeway
- soon going under the M40 via an extremely ugly concrete mess of a bridge - to then arrive at a small tarmac lane - The Ridgeway Path
itself continues straight ahead. However turn left along this lane to where the surfaced area ends a little way along. Here you have two choices for the return to Cowleaze Woods. If you take the stile on the left you can walk back mostly by climbing up and across grassy slopes but always staying in the same basic
direction to eventually reach a wide track - turn right and follow this back to Cowleaze Woods.
Alternatively if you fancy a walk up a nice steep rough track then keep ahead and stay on this track to reach Cowleaze Woods that way. If you use rough track then another alternative is that just as the trees start there is a path on the right - you can follow this and then take a very narrow path on the left. This steep path leads up to an open area (where there are often orchids) - the path swings round to the left and then
heads uphill and once at the top continues along to a gate. Go through the gate, turn left and continue to climb to a field go through a gate on the left and then follow the field edge round to reach the road with the car park opposite.
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