Chiltern Railway Walk

Length — 284km

Path leading to Ickenham Marsh at Ruislip Gardens Tube station

I recall seeing old railway posters from the late 1940s, advertising Ramblers’ Returns out of Glasgow. The formula was simple: add the day-return fares from your home station to each end of your walk, and divide by two. Nowadays, an Oystercard takes the place of that idea within London, but perhaps it is something for National Rail to resurrect elsewhere. The next logical (ahem!) train of thought was to walk from station to station on one line, and I chose the Chiltern line from Marylebone towards High Wycombe, Birmingham and Kidderminster.

The walk divides into five sections as below. The third section, between Princes Risborough and Leamington Spa, is significantly tougher than the rest, with longer distances and more hills. Indeed, the distances between stations at Haddenham and Bicester, and between Banbury and Leamington Spa, are so great that they have been split into two stages each, breaking the journey at the only practicable bus stop in each case. The section names are descriptive, and are not linked with political boundaries.

The total ascent is 3112m — that’s two ascents of Ben Nevis (Marylebone to Bicester North, and Bicester North to Rowley Regis) plus the Shard (Rowley Regis to Kidderminster). Note, though, that climbing the Shard may get you arrested!

  • London — Marylebone to Denham (38.99km; 341m ascent)
  • Chiltern Hills — Denham to Princes Risborough (43.23km; 670m ascent)
  • Greater Oxfordshire — Princes Risborough to Leamington Spa (112.17km; 1090m ascent)
  • East of Birmingham — Leamington Spa to Birmingham Snow Hill (42.42km; 462m ascent)
  • West of Birmingham — Birmingham Snow Hill to Kidderminster (42.43km; 549m ascent)

The route is gradually being re-walked, and up-to-date directions will be added as they are written.

The map links (like the directions, to be found on the sectional pages linked above) show the route plotted on a plain map: to see the maps plotted on Ordnance Survey 1:25000 maps, you will need to take out a subscription. This is an absolute no-brainer bargain for any walker.

Full train details are, of course, available from Chiltern Railways.

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