Coombe Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon

20. 5. 2023

Peter Schrammel


sunny, some clouds


***: Very long route over the eastern hills of the Chilterns


Oxford, 60m - Thame, 74m - Princes Risborough, 113m - Brush Hill, 254m - Coombe Hill, 257m - Wendover, 148m - St Leonards, 224m - Aldbury, 137m - Steps Hill, 250m - Ivinghoe Beacon, 233m - Marsworth, 117m - Aylesbury, 80m - Haddenham, 79m - Thame, 74m - Wheatley, 80m - Shotover Hill, 172m - Oxford

Elevation gain





8 3/4h (1 1/4 + 3/4 + 1/4 + 3/4 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 2/3 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/2 + 3/4 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 2/3 + 1/2 + 1/4)


H: The hilly sections are tough, the flat sections tiring.


++: Untarmacked railway track from Thame to Princes Risborough 0; flat path to Coombe Hill (push the bicycle); more demanding path over Step Hill ++; Ivinghoe Beacon ++ (quite steep, requires mountainbike to ride fully); tow path along Grand Union Canal several stairs, path in bad condition + to ++; Shotover Hill road +


2: a lot of traffic everywhere; tow path along Grand Union Canal narrow and often in bad condition: don't go swimming or fall into deep lock chambers!

Visitor frequency 

d: lots of cars, cyclists and dogwalkers everywhere


Originally, I wanted to take the train to Princes Risborough and ride a circuit across the Chiltern hills from there. However, the trains did not run this Sunday. So, I decided to do the whole route from Oxford. At 7am I left towards Headington and following the cyclepath along the A40 to Horton. I thought I would be able to pass through the Park School grounds, but the gate was closed. So, I had to around through Horton village. Suddenly there was movement next to me and I saw a roe buck on the narrow strip of grass between the road and a fence. He was apparently stressed because he couldn‘t escape as I approached. But before he couldn‘t even do something I had already passed. I continued towards Worminghall. I had already cycled this route before, but still made the mistake to ride straight into Waterperry. When I noticed that this wasn‘t quite right I turned around. After 80 minutes I reached Thame from where I took the old Thame valley railway track to Princes Risborough. Although most of it was untarmacked I made good progress and arrived in Princes Risborough at 9.15am. I only stopped to take a sip and followed the cyclepath 57. First I had a steep 100m climb up Brush hill. Hordes of cyclist enjoyed the fast downhill. Small ups and downs through woodland led me via Great Hampden into a valley leading northwards. Passing by the Chequers manor I turned right up climbing up the steep hill to the Low Scrubs parking of Coombe Hill. I then walked to the view point decorated by a war monument. It was 10.30am and I was already quite hungry. Hence, I ate my lunch and enjoyed the sun for half an hour while dozens of dog walkers swirled around the monument. The ride continued towards the south with an unexpected short, but very steep climb up to Dunsmore. The lower part of the road to Wendover was closed due to HS2 construction work. Thus, I had to ride on the extremely busy A413 until I could turn right into Hale Lane. Also this road becomes really steep for 60m before reaching St Leonards. I made fast progress via Wigginton and across the Grand Union Canal to Aldbury. There were lots of cyclists on this section because it was part of the Hillbuster cycling challenge. From the village pond in Aldbury the steep road leads 80m up to the plateau of Ashridge Estate. The car parks around the estate were very busy and there were lots of hikers on the paths to Step Hill. I rode down the path, crossed the road and climbed up to Ivinghoe Beacon as much as I could with my slick tyres. The steepest sections I had to push the bike. At 1.15pm I sat in the grass and ate some biscuits, admiring the view from the Whipsnade chalk lion via Mentmore Towers, Aylesbury to the northern Chiltern hillslopes. It was now clear that my plan to return to Oxford at 4pm was unachievable - anyways, it didn‘t matter. It was a quick ride down via Ivinghoe to Marsworth from where I follwed the tow path of the Grand Union Canal to Aylesbury. The canal is a gigantic staircase of locks in this section. The tow path was in a bad shape in many places. Fortunately, it was completely dry. Towards 3pm I was riding up High Street to St Mary‘s church to get to the cycle path that runs along the A418 road to Hartwell. I thought that Ford Road to Haddenham would be quieter, but the traffic there was quite dangerous. I made fast progress, but my energy reserves were declining. It would be great now to have some icecream, but I had forgotten my wallet at home. The village shop in Haddenham was open. So, I tried to activate the payment system on my phone and succeeded to buy icecream that way. After having enjoyed the sun on the little village green, I continued to Thame towards 4pm. From there the fastest way is to continue on the A418, which has good tarmac and wide lanes. I had taken this route before. The biggest challenge was to pass through the huge roundabouts at the M40 intersection into Wheatley. Now only Shotover Hill stood between me and Oxford. Having cycled over that hill a hundred times, I knew how to allocate my remaining energy resources. At 5.45pm I arrived at home.

Legal Notices