Walk Distance: 3.9km
Walk Duration: 1hr 45 at relaxed preschooler speed, not including a stop at the excellent Chequers Inn
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 171 Chiltern Hills West; OS Landranger 175 Reading & Windsor
Suitable for: Good little walkers, babies in carriers (but if you have weak knees be aware there are a couple of short but fairly steep sections), older kids.
Walk Features: Several familiar locations from TV & film along the walk, including Vicar of Dibley & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, wonderful views, windmill, choice of good pubs, woodland wandering, bluebells in late spring, no public loos – ‘wild wees’ only or use this as a good excuse to stop for snacks at one of the pubs in Fingest or Turville.
The Turville to Fingest As Seen on Screen Round Walk is a lovely walk in its own right. The villages of the Hambleden Valley are charmingly English and the Chiltern Hills which roll and tumble around you are glorious. Up on the hillside beneath lovely Hanger Wood we found a makeshift swing, put up by someone to make the very most of the the beautiful views. There, surrounded by at least 6 Red Kites, we took turns to fly out into the air with them, feeling every bit as though we should be in a Jane Austen film adaptation.
Talking of films though brings me to the other thing that makes this walk a fun one for less keen walkers. The windmill above Turville was that used in kids’ movie classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the beautiful church of St. Mary the Virgin in Turville, along with many of the houses around it, will all be familiar to fans of TV favourite The Vicar of Dibley. Turville has also made other TV appearances – Goodnight Mr Tom & Midsomer Murders amongst others.
This is walk has a couple of steep short uphill stretches so not suitable for tiny toddlers but our 3 1/2 year old made it round without help. I had 1yo Beth in the Ergo sling . She felt very heavy at times but nothing that couldn’t be restored by a stop at The Chequers in Fingest – they do traditional pizzas out in their lovely garden during summer weekends. Well worth a stop!
The Turville-Fingest ASOS round walk starts from the centre of the tiny village of Turville in the Hambleden Valley. The village itself is very pretty and worth a wander. It has been used many times on screen, including perhaps most famously in hit BBC series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’. Pretty much all the exterior village shots from the programme used buildings here with the pretty Church of St.Mary the Virgin (dating back to the 12th Century) the most recognisable feature.
With your back to the church and Turville’ s central green, you will see a footpath sign leading between two houses on the other side of the road. This is the start of the walk. Keep straight as the path takes you through a gate and onto a wide grassy avenue. A little further and you join meadows and the start of the short hill climb up towards Turville ‘s iconic windmill on the brow of the hill. As you climb, the views open out into the beautiful Hambleden Valley and Turville beneath you. In summer the meadows you walk through here are really pretty and worthy of picnic or at least a brief pause to admire the views. If you want a good view of the windmill then your best chance is actually here or from Turville itself – the windmill, once used famously for the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is now a private house whose owners obviously feel strongly about the constant stream of walkers from Turville peering in at them and have grown some very effective screening round the garden perimeters.
The last stretch of the hill is very steep and on a badly eroded path, so do take care with young children or if you are carrying a baby. Don’t be tempted to forge through the small trail leading straight into the undergrowth at the top – it is far too overgrown. Instead, follow the well-walked track round to the left before bending back again to continue up the hill, passing the windmill (sails just visible) to your right.
Walk through the gate that leads onto the lane beyond. Turn right and after a few meters you will come to another footpath sign on the opposite side of the lane. Take the path here into the woods. The path begins to descend here through the woodland on a track. It’s strange to suddenly be enclosed again after enjoying such wonderful views over Turville a few minutes ago but that is fairly typical of the walking in this area.
Keep left on the track as it heads downhill. You will emerge into a small field. Walk to the opposite corner on the path and over the stile onto the track that leads to the road beyond.
Turn right on the lane before crossing over and taking the footpath on the opposite side a short distance on that leads onto the grassy hillside. Here the walk continues up another hill following the fence-line, once more opening out with beautiful views over a near deserted landscape. When we walked here we were surrounded by a family of red kites numbering at least six as well as a buzzard. They obviously enjoy the view too.
At the top of the hill, just as it ducks through into the woods, we found a makeshift swing. Definitely a good place for a picnic or well-deserved rest after your uphill efforts.
The walk continues into Hanger Woods. These lovely, well-managed woods are host to bluebells in late spring. Their open nature makes them a magical place to walk, with dappled sunshine dancing through the canopy on sunny days. Continue on the main track straight through the woods until you reach a t-junction in the path as it joins a wider track. Turn right onto this. You’ll find a directions board here as well as an interesting log of all the main events in Hanger Wood’s history dating back to 1942.As you continue the walk through the woods you may post some of the trees have been labelled to help identification. It’s a great idea and what a lovely way to gently educate people about the landscape they are enjoying passing through.
The path narrows and begins to descend as it leaves Hanger Wood once more. There’s a great bench perfectly placed just as the views reappear. Leaving the woods behind continue down the narrow path towards Fingest below.
At the bottom, climb over the stile and out onto the lane. The path takes you down into the centre of Fingest and past St. Bartholomew’s Church here with its unusual 12th century twin-gabled Norman tower. If you are continuing on through Fingest to Turville without a break at The Chequers pub opposite then you can walk through the churchyard for a closer look. The path brings you out onto the road at the opposite side of the churchyard. From here turn right on the road before rejoining the path a few meters on as it heads off from a grassy verge onto a small track past some houses and a woody area.
At the road, cross over and continue the walk on the small shady path directly opposite towards Turville. As you skirt along the hill here you will get the occasional snatch of views through the trees onto the fields and road that lead into Turville. Eventually the path bends to the left and opens out into field once more. Look right back up the hill and you will see the windmill once more above you.
Continue down to the gate and back to the centre of Turville to finish your walk. The Bull & Butcher pub is located down to the left should you be in need of refreshment.
Map of Route:
The Turville – Fingest ASOS Walk starts from central Turville in the Hambleden Valley. Turville is most easily reached by car or bicycle. There is a train station in nearby Henley-on-Thames which offers some direct services from London Paddington for onward connections.
If driving to Turville, there is a small free car parking area in the very centre of the village.
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