I’ve held off doing a review of Coombe Hill near Wendover, Bucks because I have mixed feeling about it. Although I’ve visited lots of times it has some significant issues – mainly poop (dog and cow!). BUT a friend of mine showed me a couple of alternative routes where there’s pretty much no-one else in sight. Right now, that feels like a very good thing! The other good thing about Coombe Hill is, in the autumn, the woodland is seriously spooky! It’s also a mud paradise.
The woodland walk
Now, if you’re reading a review of Coombe Hill you’re probably expecting me to start with a review of the Coombe Hill. Actually, my favourite part of Coombe Hill is actually the woodland walk. It’s much quieter, although it’s not really pushchair friendly. There isn’t an accessible path like you’ll find at Ashridge. In fact, there isn’t really a path from the car park to the public path at the back of the woods. It’s also worth noting that the woodland area gets VERY muddy. You know, the squelchy suck your wellies off kind of much that kids love. On our last visit to Coombe Hill both of the kids we were with lost a welly (well two in one case) when it got stuck in the mud. We then had to go and rescue it.
The route that we take is kind of just wandering around as it’s quite an open woodland. We start at the car park – you want the side that’s just open woodland rather than walking towards the monument and fenced off areas. This area is known a Low Scrubs. The ground around the trees is really clear, there’s no brambles or ferns to tackle, so you can happily wander around. At the back of the woodland you come to more distinct path near a fence. Turn left and follow the path. Eventually this will turn left again and bring you to a gate. The gate leads into a clearing and eventually onto the monument. You can have a look at the various paths by clicking here.
Generally it’s just a great woodland to stomp around in and explore. It’s not that big so you couldn’t really get lost! There’s a couple of fallen trees to clamber on, some great dens and some mega bogs to squelch in whenever it’s wet.
The main Coombe Hill walk
Most people who visit Coombe Hill tend to walk straight from the car park to the monument. This is also a much more accessible route than going through the wood. There are two routes you can take. Near the entrance to the car park there’s a large gate. Go through this. If you continue to walk forwards you’ll take the off-path route up to the moment. It’s mostly open, but there can be a muddy bit near the trees.
If you turn right at the gate and walk parallel to the fence there’s a proper path that goes round to the monument. Given that they both go to the same place you can obviously do this as a circular walk as well! If you’re looking for the play trail this is the route you want to take.
Near the moment there’s a couple of good climbing trees for the kids to explore. There’s also the Coombe Hill monument itself, which can be seen from across the Aylesbury Vale. There are some incredible views from up here. You can see right across parts of Bucks, Beds, Herts & Oxon! It’s pretty much right next door to Chequers as well, which can be seen from near the monument.
Couple of little notes of caution though. Coombe Hill is a VERY steep hill with some sudden drop offs, particularly near the monument itself. Please make sure you keep an eye on kids around here otherwise it will be quite a quick trip back to the bottom for them!!!! Also the National Trust quite often graze cattle at Coombe Hill so you’ll need to keep an eye out for poop.
And talking of poop…
Poo, or more specifically dog poo, is one of the main reasons why I delayed doing this review of Coombe Hill. The main walks around Coombe Hill are very popular with dog walkers, but too many of them aren’t cleaning up after their dogs. There are poop bins around (near the entrance) but every single time I’ve visited here I’ve found a lot of dog poo all over the place which is gross. It’s worse slightly off the main paths so keep an eye on the kids if they’re stepping away from the path.
The play trail
There’s a small natural play trail at Coombe Hill, just behind the car park. If you walk to the end of the car park there’s a gate on your left (which isn’t actually attached to a fence!!!). This leads to the play trail. You can also access it from the accessible path towards the monument (it is signposted).
There’s not really much to the play trail. There’s some balance beams, a little see saw and this.
It’s a lovely idea but it does need a bit of work tbh. Some of the posts are quite badly rotted down. If you’ve got little ones doing the spiral staircase then make sure you stay with them as one of the higher posts is very dodgy. I imagine in the near future this play trail will be replaced or closed.
Our Coombe Hill review
As I mentioned my least favourite part of walking at Coombe Hill is actually around the monument paths, but that’s purely because of the poop situation. The views from up here are just unbelievable though. The woodlands is lovely, and it’s quiet.
Parking / How to get there
Address – Lodge Hill, Aylesbury HP17 0UR
Parking – Free. The car park is very small and it can fill up very quickly. There is no-where nearby to (legally) park so if the car park is full then please come back another day. Some people park at the side of the Ellesborough Road and walk up through Bacombe Hill. The council have recently repainted the yellow lines here and you will get a ticket.
There’s sometimes an ice cream van near the main gate. There’s also a picnic area near the car park.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook