Turville and Fingest

NEAREST LOCATION

Turville

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

3 miles (4.8kms)

ASCENT
150ft (46m)
TIME
1hr 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Easy
STARTING POINT
SU767911

About the walk

A visit to the delightful Chiltern village of Turville leaves you with the impression that you may have been here before – not in reality perhaps, but in the private world of fantasy and imagination. It's more than likely you have been to Turville without ever leaving your armchair, for Turville is one of Britain's most frequently used film and television locations. Its picturesque cottages and secluded setting at the bottom of a remote valley make it an obvious choice for movie makers and production companies.

Over the years the village has featured regularly both on the large and small screen. Two notable productions brought Turville to the attention of television audiences in the 1990s. The BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley, starring Dawn French in the title role, was partly filmed in the village, and the tiny cottage by the entrance to the church doubled as the vicar's home. In 1998, the village was extensively used in the award-winning ITV drama Goodnight Mister Tom, with the late John Thaw. This delightful wartime story was an immediate hit and Turville's classic village 'Englishness' was the programme's cornerstone.

Goodnight Mister Tom may have been set during World War II, but one of Britain's most famous propaganda movies was actually shot here during wartime. Went the Day Well?, based on a short story by Grahame Greene, dates back to 1942, and tells how a small English village responded to capture by German fifth columnists. Several locals and ex-residents of Turville recall how they moved props on a handcart and pushed rolls of barbed wire on cartwheels, which were used in the film as blockades. The Old School House, by the green, was the local police station in the story.

Overlooking the village is Cobstone Mill, an 18th-century smock mill, which has also played a key part in various productions. The windmill was used in a 1976 episode of The New Avengers television series in which Purdey and Gambit, played by Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt, drove through the village in a yellow MGB, chasing a helicopter that landed by the windmill. Cobstone Mill was also used in the children's film classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), starring Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, who transforms an old racing car into a wondrous flying toy. In the movie, the family lived in the windmill.

And so it continues - in spring 2013 George Clooney and Matt Damon were in nearby Fingest working on a new film, The Monuments Men, a World War II drama released in 2014.

Walk directions

Take the lane to the left of the church entrance by the old School (children playing) sign, with Sleepy Cottage on the corner. Pass Square Close Cottages and the village school before continuing on the Chiltern Way through a tunnel of trees. Climb gently to a gate and keep ahead along the field edge to a waymarker in the boundary. Branch left at this point through a path bisecting the field and head diagonally down the field to a gate.

Cross the road to another gate and follow the track through the trees, passing a gas installation on the right. After a few yards you will break cover from the trees. Ignore the broad grassy path branching off to the right and continue up the field slope to the next belt of trees. Turville and the windmill are clearly seen over to the left. Enter the woodland and keep left at the junction. Follow the clear, wide path as it contours round the slopes, dotted with beech trees to the left. Descend the hillside, keeping to the woodland edge. Follow the fence around to the right. As you descend, Skirmett comes into view down below to your left. Bear left at the next corner, heading to a gate by Poynatts Farm.

Walk along the drive to the road, bear right and enter Skirmett. Directly opposite you is a row of picture-postcard cottages including Cobs Cottage and Ramblers. Go left out of the village, passing All Saints, Skirmett Gospel Mission Hall and The Chapel House, all now private houses.

Just past the junction with flooded Watery Lane, go through the gate immediately to the right of this lane cum-stream. Go through two fields, each of which are gated, and exit at a third gate. Turn right into Fingest village. Bear left at the main road by Fingest House, and follow its flint wall round to the left to find the waymarked Chiltern Way footpath leading back to Turville. Before leaving the village, visit the early Norman church of St Bartholomew's. It has an unusual tower, with a double vaulted roof.

The flint wall of Fingest House gives way to a hedge, then field. At the waymarked junction at the corner of the field turn left, go through a gate and follow the path between trees, offering a teasing glimpse of the Chiltern Hills. Go through a kissing gate and head diagonally down the field, enjoying the rooftop views of Turville. Look above you to the right to see the famous windmill. Folow the track back to the village green.

Additional information

Field and woodland paths, some road walking

Rolling Chiltern countryside, farmland and woodland

Lead required in villages and across farmland

AA Walker's Map 24 The Chilterns

Small parking area in centre of Turville

None on route

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WALKING IN SAFETY

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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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.

 

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