One early spring day Hoover and I decided to follow The Gruffalo Trail in Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire. I love walking deep in ‘proper’ woods with Hooves because every now and then you realise you can’t hear a single car (not so easy in the Home Counties) and you can almost kid yourself that you are the only beings for miles around. Wendover Woods are just that: ‘proper’ woods. They are located on the north edge of the Chiltern Hills, in Buckinghamshire. Named after the nearby town of Wendover, the woods are owned by the Forestry Commission.
Because the woods are sitting on the Chilterns they undulate up and down in every direction making for an interesting walk. The trees are the sort that you remember from childhood … you know, the really tall ones with lush, green leaves that seem to turn translucent with just a mere hint of sunlight. They tower over you almost everywhere you look, blocking out the sky, and replacing it with a luminous ceiling of what looks like green stained glass. The day we visited was pretty murky yet under the canopy the world felt bright and fresh. As you walk along the soft dirt tracks the land rises and falls each side of you, so that on one side you might be walking with the roots of these giants that stretch up towards the sky next to you, and on the other side the trees fall away below you and you feel as though you could almost reach out and touch their canopies. It’s just lovely. If you love walking your pooch in the woods then Wendover Woods should suit you just fine.
The turning for the woods is clearly sign-posted off of the B4009 Upper Icknield Way. Once you’ve turned off into Forest Drive you follow the one-way road up, into the woods for a mile or two. There are a few small places to park on the way up but if you keep going to the top you’ll come to the main car park, along with the cafe, loos and a children’s play area (the play area is a dog-free zone). There are a range of different trails that you can follow, which are shown on information boards, under which leaflets can be found so you can plan to take a shorter walk, or a longer walk, depending upon how you feel and how long your furry friend’s legs are. (walking trails) We take the longer paths so I can wear ‘Lanky-Legs’ out and have some peace in the car on the drive home!
The woods are a great place for families too…it’s not just a place for the lone dog walker (you know the type: head bowed against the wind and rain, lead clipped around the torso to help hold the jacket on in the gales, full poo bag swinging jauntily from the left hand…no? That’s just me then…). Go Ape are on site, and in addition to this the childrens’ play area is in among the trees with challenges for kids of most ages and abilities. When we visited in Spring 2016 children could follow The Stick Man Trail, or go on a Gruffalo Hunt. (Guess who found the Gruffalo!) Fifteen forests have got a giant wooden Gruffalo. Each Gruffalo has been carved in a different position – the one at Wyre Forest in Shropshire is fast asleep.
There is a parking charge per car, ranging from £1.70 for 2 hours, up to £6.10 for an all day stay and the pay & display machines are hard to miss in the car park.
If you fancy a trip to Wendover Woods the Forestry Commission have loads more info with regards to closing times etc. on their website. It looks to be updated regularly.