Pete's Walks - The Chiltern Chain Walk, Walk 18

ROUTE DESCRIPTION - Walk 18, Stoke Row and Nuffield

OS Explorer Maps required: 171

Approximate distance: 12.9 miles

Start in Stoke Row near the Post Office (SU 682840).


Walk east along the main road through Stoke Row and turn left down Newlands Lane. The lane twists right then left. When it turns left again, leave it and follow the bridleway straight ahead that descends through a wood. At a fork, keep right and follow the bridleway to a lane. Cross this, and after another 100 yards or so you come to a second lane. Take the path/bridleway opposite that runs along a surfaced drive, to reach Nott Wood after about half a mile. Continue through the wood. On the far side, turn right on another hard-surfaced track along the edge of the wood. After a while this turns right and goes uphill, still alongside the wood. It then turns left alongside a right-hand hedge. Follow this north for about half a mile to reach a farmyard, where the path continues between a wall and the churchyard to reach the A4130 main road on the edge of Nettlebed (SU 697867).

Take the path almost opposite, which runs beside a field and then passes through allotments to reach another road. DO NOT cross or follow the road, but turn sharply left to take a bridleway (Bushes Lane) leaving the road at the same point. After over half a mile this passes through a farm to reach Huntercombe End lane. Turn right, and carefully follow the lane until it turns sharply right, when you go left on a track (Digberry Lane). Keep right where the path forks in the trees. When this path comes to a path junction, turn left and follow the path (part of the Chiltern Way) through the trees. Again keep right where the path forks. Follow the path through the trees for about a mile. Turn left at a path junction (onto the Ridgeway, which will be followed for the next few miles). The path crosses a field, then bears half-left uphill through a wood. Carefully re-cross the A4130, and take the path opposite which passes just in front of a cottage then goes left to a golf course. Follow the path across the golf course, indicated by white-topped wooden marker posts. Beyond the club house you go through a kissing gate in a fence and across a grass field (the golf driving range) to reach a lane in Nuffield (SU 667874).

Turn right, passing the ancient church on your left (there is a drinking tap kindly provided here).  A few yards further on, take the field edge path on the left and continue on this path through a belt of trees. When the path comes to a junction, turn right. Now follow the path along the ancient earthwork of Grim’s Ditch for about two miles, gradually descending, until you reach a lane (on the line of the ancient Icknield Way). Turn left, leaving the Ridgeway but joining part of the southern extension of the Chiltern Way (not shown on the OS map). After a few hundred yards, turn left on a bridleway along the drive to Woodhouse Farm. Turn right in the farmyard, and follow the path through Wicks Wood. After crossing a field the path joins a track which runs past Poors Farm and goes on to reach a lane in the hamlet of Hailey (SU 641858).

Turn left along the lane, passing the King William pub on the left. The Chiltern Way soon goes right, but continue ahead, the lane now replaced by a track. Follow the track for over a mile (keeping left at an apparent fork) until it becomes a lane again near Homer End and continue on it to reach a road. Cross over and follow the bridleway ahead (initially past numerous skips). Continue on this bridleway for about a mile, to the start of Cox’s Lane which leads you back into Stoke Row.


In Saxon times, Stoke Row was called Stoches Ruh (loosely translated as ‘enclosure in rough outlying place’). It later became Stoke Rewe, from the Norman French ‘Rue’ meaning street. It was only a small hamlet, part of the parish of Ipsden until becoming a separate parish in 1952. Its most noticeable feature is the Maharajah’s Well. This was dug in 1864 as a result of the friendship between the Maharajah of Benares and Mr Edward Anderdon Reade of Ipsden, sometime Governor of the Northwest Provinces. The well is 364 feet deep, and was dug by just two men in a year. The Maharajah also paid for a cottage for the wellkeeper, and a small cherry orchard to provide for the upkeep of the well. The Maharajah had been touched by his friend’s story of a child being beaten for drinking the last water in the house during the time of a drought. Once it had its own water supply, Stoke Row started to grow from a small collection of hovels to a reasonable size village. The well is still functional, but the cherry orchard is now an ornamental garden. As in other parts of the Chilterns, cherry orchards, brick making and chair making (from local beech) all played roles in the village economy. During World War II, about 3 million tent pegs were made here.

Archaeological finds have shown that the area around Nettlebedhas been settled since Palaeolithic times. It has long been frequently travelled through, as it lies on the main route between Oxford and Henley. There is a tradition of pottery making here that is first recorded in the 9th century, with several clay pits in the vicinity, and brick making was recorded here as early as the 14th century. The last pottery closed in 1930, though there is one pottery kiln still standing in the village. The sand used for the first Flint Glass, a high-quality optical glass, was taken from Nettlebed in 1674 by George Ravencroft.

At 700 feet above sea level, Nuffield sits at the highest point in the southern Chilterns. It was the home from 1933 to 1963 of William Morris, 1st Lord Nuffield, founder of the Morris Motor Company and the philanthropist behind the Nuffield Foundation (which promotes education and social welfare). He also founded Nuffield College, Oxford. His home at Nuffield Place is open to the public. He was buried in the village church, parts of which are thought to date back as far as 640AD (though most of it is a mere 900 years old!). It has a simple stone font, which may possibly be Saxon.

There are several ancient earthworks called Grim’s Ditch (alternatively Grim’s Dyke or Grimsdyke) in the chalk hills of southern England, and also in Yorkshire. Their exact age and purpose are unknown, though they are thought to be too small to have been military defences and so were most probably some type of boundary.  They are thought to pre-date the Saxons, who supposed these extensive earthworks were the work of their god of the underground, hence the name. The earthwork here extends for about five miles from Mongewell on the Thames to near Nettlebed, and is believed to date from the late Iron Age/early Roman period.