From Chalfont St Giles to Jordans

NEAREST LOCATION

Chalfont St Giles

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

6.75 miles (10.9kms)

ASCENT
98ft (30m)
TIME
2hrs 45min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Hard
STARTING POINT
SU991937

About the walk

A simple stone in a quiet burial ground in the Chilterns marks the grave of outspoken Quaker William Penn (1644–1718). There is nothing here that indicates what this man achieved in his lifetime – notably the founding of Pennsylvania in 1682 – for he died in poverty and abject circumstances. Penn had a difficult life. Imprisoned several times for speaking out against religious principles, he always remained loyal to his beliefs, but struggled with business details. It was Penn who secured the release, in 1686, of almost 2,000 people imprisoned on religious grounds. William and his wives, Gulielma and Hannah, together with 10 of their 16 children, are interred in the burial ground beside the historic Meeting House. This had been built by Quakers in 1688 as soon as the Declaration of Indulgence, issued by James II, ended the persecution of Nonconformists. Step inside – looking at the plain wooden benches and the walls decorated with portraits, it is as if time has stood still.

Jordans Farm

During the 17th century Old Jordans Farm, next door to the Meeting House, was a meeting place of the early pioneering Quakers, as well as the scene of religious persecution. The farm, of which the history can be traced back to 1618, was inherited by William Russell, son of Thomas Russell, the sitting tenant. He eventually bought the freehold – the deed, complete with the thumb-prints of the principals and witnesses, used to hang at Old Jordans. Over 300 years ago William Penn worshipped here with fellow Quakers, but meetings were frequently broken up by order of the local court. Undeterred, these people continued to spread their message, often travelling to the far-flung corners of the country.

Old Jordans remained in Quaker hands until the early years of the 18th century. In 1910 the Society of Friends discovered that the farm, now virtually derelict, was up for sale. They acquired it the following year, with members carrying out extensive improvements and adding a wing in 1920. Old Jordans served for many years as a Quaker guest house and conference centre, but is now closed. It used to attract visitors from all over the world, and was described as a 'well where men come to draw waters of peace'.

Mayflower timbers

On the south side of the garden lies the Mayflower Barn, originally the main barn of Old Jordans farm and named after the vessel which carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620. The barn, built in the same year that the Mayflower was broken up, is said to contain timber from the ship. The dining room door of the farmhouse is also believed to come from the ship.

Walk directions

Turn right out of the car park and walk through the village, passing Milton’s Cottage. At the White Hart turn right into Back Lane, swinging left after 55yds (50m) onto a footpath at a sharp bend. Follow the path around the field and through a kissing gate. Take the left fork, continue past a kissing gate and a stile to a staggered wooden fence straight ahead. Shortly after, where the footpath and bridleway meet, bear left then immediately right, to continue straight on the other side of the hedge. Ignore the large gate; instead, pass an old stile and, keeping close to the hedge, walk straight ahead to another disused stile. Carry on past a campsite to the corner of the field. Instead of going left past the campsite, go straight through another gap in the hedge. Cut diagonally across the corner of this next field, over a grassy track, to an overgrown and indistinct gap in the hedge ahead. Through the gap, take the waymarked path half right across a paddock, through three gates, to a disused stile in the line of trees.

Turn left and follow a woodland trail for some 325yds (297m) to New Barn Farm, crossing a stile about halfway along. At the road turn left, and go left again at the junction. Just beyond a left bend, turn right along the poorly waymarked drive to Willow Court Stables. Go through a kissing gate and follow the fenced path beside paddocks.

On reaching a crossroads, turn right through a kissing gate and walk under power lines. At the metal gate skirt round the edge of the recreation ground to the red dog-waste bin. Follow the waymarked path around the field and on to a junction at Manor Farm. Cross the drive onto the wide, tree-lined path opposite. At the bottom of the hill go straight across the junction and up between houses. Cross Copse Lane and continue past Jordans recreation ground to a T-junction. Turn right on the road towards Seer Green, past the Mayflower Barn. Just before a 40mph sign, bear left through a kissing gate and take the path down to the graveyard and Meeting House. A gate in the far right-hand corner of the graveyard brings you back to the road.

Turn left almost immediately into Welders Lane, initially walking uphill past the entrance to Jordans Youth Hostel. After 0.5 miles (800m) turn left onto a track signposted ‘Lazdon Farm’ and 'Grove Farm'; follow this to the second kissing gate on the left. Head diagonally across a paddock, passing beneath power lines, with stables right. Walk parallel to the power lines and go through four kissing gates to a stile. Turn right and follow the fenced path to a kissing gate. Keep straight along the path, past a public footpath to the right, as far as a T-junction of paths.

Swing right, pass through the trees and bear left at another junction to a kissing gate by the road. Cross over and follow an enclosed path. Eventually you'll come to a track between two houses. Cross over, go through a gate, and – keeping to the hedge – continue straight down the field and then up, past a bowling green, playing fields and a recreation ground. In the far right-hand corner of the last field turn right. Follow the path as it skirts round a playground and down to the road at the Milton’s Head. Turn right and retrace your steps to the car park.

Additional information

Paths across farmland and some road walking; 2 stiles

Undulating farmland and woodland on edge of the Chilterns

On lead where signs request it and at Jordans

AA Leisure Map 17 The Chilterns

Car park off main street, almost opposite church

In main street, near Milton's Cottage

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About the area

Discover Buckinghamshire

Buckinghamshire is a land of glorious beech trees, wide views and imposing country houses. Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli savoured the peace and tranquillity of Hughenden Manor, while generations of statesmen have entertained world leaders at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s rural retreat. Stowe and Waddesdon Manor are fine examples of even grander houses, set amid sumptuous gardens and dignified parkland.

The Vale of Aylesbury is a vast playground for leisure seekers with around 1,000 miles (1,609km) of paths and tracks to explore. Rising above it are the Chiltern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covering 308sq miles (798sq km). They are best appreciated in autumn, when the leaves turn from dark green to deep brown. In the southeast corner of the Chilterns lie the woodland rides of Burnham Beeches, another haven for ramblers and wildlife lovers. Although the county’s history is long and eventful, it’s also associated with events within living memory. At Bletchley Park, more than 10,000 people worked in complete secrecy to try and bring a swift conclusion to World War II. Further south, an otherwise unremarkable stretch of railway line was made infamous by the Great Train Robbery in the summer of 1963.