Walk Distance: 2.2 km
Walk Duration: 1 hr (at toddler pace & with time for taking lots of pictures of the bluebells)
OS Map: OS Explorer 171, Chiltern Hills West; OS Landranger 165 Aylesbury & Leighton Buzzard
Suitable for: All-terrain pushchairs, babies in carriers, little legs, all the family.
Walk features: Woodland walking, beautiful bluebells in April/May, some lovely views, possibility to see Red Kites, ice-cream van often in car-park during warm weekends.
Located just off the M40, Cowleaze Woods is easily accessible by road and makes a good picnic stop-off for families on a road-trip. Cowleaze is small enough that you can wander for as long as you’ve got without worrying about getting too lost. Perched up on a hilltop you get a few great views thrown in as well as lovely bluebell displays in late spring. When we visited with Roo’s grandparents, we spent ages watching the red kites swooping over the farmland at the far end of the woods. A quick note for pushchair users – the tracks are fairly uneven and can be muddy so an all-terrain or rucksack/carrier for little ones is recommended. Also don’t follow the footpath sign at the far right hand end of the car-park – it only leads back to the main drag but via a bog or two!
The Cowleaze Woods Bluebell Walk starts from the main path, found opposite the entrance to the car park at Cowleaze Woods. Head past the vehicle barriers and down the wide avenue.
The path opens out at a clearing – a wide avenue of grass that intersects the woodland trail. Cross over here and follow the path into the woods again beyond.
Continue on the woodland track ignoring trails leaving the path. Eventually it will take you slightly downhill to a gate from where there are some fantastic views across the surrounding countryside and the Wormsley Estate. We saw red kites here, swooping and soaring in a mesmerising blur of aerial ballet. The path continues downhill and looks inviting but unless you have time and energy for the return climb then instead turn back the way you came.
A short stretch back up the path you came on there is a fork to the right . Take this path and follow the boundary of Cowleaze Woods back up on a quieter trail towards the car-park. Watch and listen carefully here and you’ll see or at least hear all sorts of wildlife. We spotted a little vole scrabbling through the undergrowth and the bird song seems to be amplified by the canopy of leaves.
The path intersects again with the avenue of grassy clearing. This time, turn left and walk along the grassy avenue. This is a lovely spot for enjoying the spring bluebell displays which disappear off in sheets of blue to either side of the clearing. Unfortunately when we visited, forest management activity had left a lot of cuttings and dead-wood on the forest floor which spoiled a little the sheer scale of the bluebells but it was still pretty impressive.
Continue walking past the next intersection and keep going until you get to the same clearing that you crossed at the start of the walk. Here you turn right and head down the main path back to the main car-park. If you’re lucky (and it’s a hot day) the ice-cream van might be waiting for you to reward your walk with a refreshment and a view across the hills opposite Cowleaze Woods’ entrance.
Map of Route:
Cowleaze Woods are easily accessible by road. 4 minutes from M40 junction 5 and 5 minutes from M40 junction 6, it makes a good road stop off. Parking is free in the large car-park near Stokenchurch and located off the road between Christmas Common and the A40.
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