Walks With a Wheelchair

Living Magazines Katy Etherington Duncombe Terrace Accessible Walk

This issue our walk is at Ashridge and it’s our first fully accessible walk. Our thanks to Katy Etherington for her write up.

Duncombe Terrace is situated within the National Trust Estate of Ashridge. It offers a wheelchair, scooter and bike-friendly trail through an ancient wildlife-rich woodland, alongside open common with fabulous views across chalk downland. The trail covers a distance of two miles one way, or a four-mile return trip.

You can download the National Trust’s full description and annotated map of the walk here.

Living Magazines Duncombe Terrace mobility trail startPark in the free disabled car park by the visitor centre. Start at the visitor centre (1), near the Bridgewater Monument, cross the Green taking the path leading off the main track to the right – it has studposts at the entrance.

The Bridgewater Monument, which is built on the Chilterns plateau, towers over the surrounding countryside giving amazing views of the estate. It was built in 1832 to commemorate the third Duke of Bridgewater, a pioneer of 19th-century canal-building.

As you enter this woodland (2) with its ancient trees, note that lots of the sycamores along the path have tar spot fungus (black marks) in late summer. This is a good indicator of unpolluted air. Also look for butterflies in sunny openings and, later in the year, fungi on tree boles. Look out for signs of badgers; their tracks can be seen in many places including holes in the ground called dung-pits or badger latrines. They are very clean creatures.

Living Magazines Duncombe_Terrace-Wooden BridgeAs you cross the wooden bridge (3) glance down to see the ancient Drovers path, which was worn into a ditch by villagers taking their animals to graze on Pitstone Common. Continue to Moneybury Hill, so-called because of buried coins found here (it’s prohibited to use metal detectors on National Trust land). Note that there is a slight lip onto and off the bridge.

A wide variety of different species can be found on the Ashridge Estate, including the ‘edible dormouse’ (or Glis glis). It is a shy nocturnal animal so difficult to see. It is found almost exclusively in the Chilterns; they inhabit deciduous woodland on the estate. Ashridge is also a great place for invertebrates such as beetles and butterflies, but the most commonly seen wildlife are the fallow and muntjac deer.

Living Magazines Duncombe Terrace burial moundPass the mound on the left-hand side (4), which is called Bell Barrow (due to its shape). It’s thought to be a Bronze Age burial mound. The wooden lodge further on, on the left is a copy of a Victorian shooting lodge that burned down in 1989.

Living Magazines Pitstone Hill and Aldbury NowersOn the right you will see a large log bench (5) for those who wish to pause for breath with lovely views of Pitstone Hill and Aldbury Nowers. Continuing along, note the hazel trees that have been coppiced (cut to ground level, then left to regrow) to provide a wildlife habitat. The fallen cedar seen here is still alive and growing. As you go through the pine woodland between here and point 6, enjoy the smell of the conifers.

Emerge from the pine trees onto Clipper Down (6), marking the end of the mobility trail.

The path continues beyond the marked mobility point (7) for another mile to Ivinghoe Beacon. We ventured a short distance before battery levels started to get alarmingly low! The path is more uneven and steep in places, but if you’re up for a bit of off roading, the first 100m or so is doable.

We returned to the Brownlow Cafe next to the visitor centre for tea and cake – a highly recommended pit stop!

You can download the National Trust’s full description and annotated map of the walk here.

Living Magazines Duncombe Terrace Accessible walk map

An accomplished designer, Katy is also the founder of PA Pool which was launched in June 2007. www.papool.co.uk is the only website of its kind and is for disabled people looking to employ a PA (carer) and PAs (carers) looking for work. PA Pool is a market leader in its field, offering members the facility to interactively manage their own recruitment or employment.