“ Upper Icknield Way / Aston Clinton / Aylesbury HP22 5NF / England „
Have children and not a big enough garden on a summer day?
Want to go somewhere either with children or without but don't have a lot of money?
Want a BBQ but don't own one?
Like the countryside?
Fancy a walk...?
Wendover Woods is only about half an hour from me so I have often spent a day wiling away the hours there as it is perfect for adults and children on a lovely (though maybe rare!) summers day.
Wendover woods is situated in the Chiltern area of Buckinghamshire looking out across such areas as Aylesbury. It is in the small town of its namesake of Wendover.
It hosts one of the highest places in the Chilterns and is over 800 acres of countryside.
To get there by car there are many ways depending on where you are coming from, though if you do not know the area it is probably easier to go down the B4009 between Wendover and Tring, taking a right hand turn about 1 mile north of RAF Halton. From here you pick up signposts to Wendover Woods. Buses and Trains travel into Wendover and Hilton though you will find a short walk is needed from these stops.
OS Grid Reference: SP887105
******IF YOU GO INTO THE WOODS TODAY******
Wendover woods are open from dawn to dusk by car and is open 24 hours a day if you go by foot.
As mentioned above, the woods are very large (so large that the last time we went we got lost!), and on top of the woods, there are huge amounts of picnic areas where you can bring your own lunch, use the barbecue stands provided for your very own BBQ, or alternatively visit the café in the woods which sells a small variety of food and drink at average prices. Although there are loads of BBQ stands, on hot days it is difficult to get one unless you go early as they are on a first come first served basis. The other thing to remember is that some people are too selfish to clean up after themselves (to put it bluntly) and so the BBQ stands could be messy and unclean. Throw-away BBQ's are not allowed.
The picnic areas are generally well kept and are dotted all around the main top part of the woods, some places with benches others with just grassy areas.
There is also a play area for young children with other facilities including toilets near the café (even though last time we went they were shut and we had to use the 'lovely' porta loos - and no alternative was given for baby changing!) They are hoping to extend the toilet block so no more changing babies in the boot of a car I hope!
******A WALK IN THE WOODS******
Unlike many woods, Wendover woods has many trails to follow either on foot, bike or on horseback.
The paths and trails on the whole do not seem to be suitable for those people in a wheelchair, though the top half of the woods does accommodate wheelchair users to a degree, though obviously the woods have been mainly left natural. I took my baby girl in her pushchair around a long trail (longer as we got lost) and it was difficult to push her for the most part. One trail, the all ability trail, is hard and mainly smooth so possibly the best one to go on if you are a wheelchair user. The top part of the woods near the main picnic areas are loose stones and very bumpy.
Some of the trails at Wendover Woods are;
Firecrest trail : This trail goes along the woods nearing the natural habitat of the firecrest (Europes smallest bird). You can find bird watching facilities on this trail. Can be very steap at times (part of this trail we got lost on last time!)
Fitness Trail : This is possibly my favorite trail. For those who love walking but need something extra this is the best one. It is probably the shortest trail with a few obstacles along the way such as balance beams and log lifting. Great for group activities.
Most of the trails will get the heart pumping greatly, and if you are like me - someone who doesn't walk overly much - then take a map! (Orienteering maps can be purchased from the office during the week, or from the tourist information centre in Wendover.)
All-Ability Trail : This trail is perhaps the best for wheelchair users though you do get some very steep parts as you make your way to the highest point in the Chilterns which is marked by a large stone plaque. If you do this trail, although you will be tired by the end of the climb, the views are worth it.
There are also many other trails which cater for walkers, cycling and horse riders. These three are the most popular.
Along most of the trails you get to see fantastic views of the Aylesbury Vale and other Chilterns areas.
The trails are well maintained and are marked with clear signs with either a footprint, a bike or a horseshoe - there's only one problem with this - all trails (such as all foot trails) are marked with the same sign and as many overlap you could find yourself slipping from one trail to another without knowing and setting yourself another six miles (which is what we did last time and then luckily asked a couple of walkers the way back to the picnic area otherwise we would have gone for another four miles!).
Recently, Wendover Woods has had a new feature put in place. Some of you may have heard of 'Go Ape' as there are sites all around the country, and now little old Wendover Woods has their very own.
Go Ape features high nets, zip lines, Tarzan swings and many 'ape like' features to enhance your views over the Chilterns at the same time as having an adventure. I haven't personally been on the Go Ape activity for a couple of reasons, though it does look a lot of fun. It stretches out around the top half of the woods, zigzagging to other parts via zip slides
One of the main things which stopped me going on this activity is the price. Although looks fantastic, it does not look as though it is worth the money (see Prices subcategory below). The other thing is that a friend who went on there said that you are given only 5 minutes training on how to clip yourself and your children onto all the high things which actually could be dangerous if not done properly.
You do not have to go on Go Ape when you go to the woods - it is classed as completely separate and therefore you pay only when you decide if you want to go on it.
It is open from 14th March - 31st October inclusive with additional evening slots available May-August (Dates as are in 2008). It is closed on term time Mondays and open weekends during November. It is open between 9am until 5pm though this is subject to change depending upon daylight hours.
Go Ape is open for all those aged 10 and above though those under 17 should be accompanied by an adult.
Entrance to Wendover Woods is FREE if you enter on foot. If you take your car in, it only costs £2.00 for a full days parking.
If you are a regular visitor to the woods you could opt for a seasonal parking membership which is a fee of £30.00 valid for one year from the day you purchase it.
GO APE prices :
* Gorillas (18yrs+) £25.00
* Baboons (10-17yrs) £20.00
Please note that prices shown here are correct for the time of writing this review and could be subject to change.
Would I recommend Wendover Woods? Most definitely.
Whether rain or shine, these trails are beautiful although some are quite long. The car parking fee is next to nothing for the whole day and you are free to explore at your leisure. Not many things are this cheap these days!
The Go Ape activity does look really fun if you don't mind paying the money, as it does seem a little expensive to me.
There is always a pleasant atmosphere around the woods and picnic areas and a perfect place for children to let off some steam.
1: Take a map so you don't get lost!
2: Some trails could be unsuitable for wheelchair users
3: Relax and have a great day!
South East England Forest District,
Upper Icknield Way,
Aylesbury HP22 5NF.
Tel: 01296 625825.
Fax: 01296 696662.
Come and explore the 325 hectares of mixed coniferous and broadleaved woodland.