Our historic market towns and villages are an excellent place to start your exploration of the Chilterns.
Each market town has a distinct character, especailly those alongside the River Thames as they offer on-water sightseeing or alongside walking if you prefer. Many have excellent local museums and self-guided trails to help you get the best of your visit. Shops on our high streets are almost all independently owned and run, so worth supporting if you are hungry or looking for gifts and treats.
Each of our market towns listed below links to a dedicated page where you can find transport links, accommodation, country walks, food and events.
Its broad High Street with half-timbered houses, cottages and the handsome Market House makes Old Amersham one of the most-photographed of Chiltern valley towns. The choice of restaurants and pubs is excellent and there's a very tempting cluster of elegant shops selling antiques, jewellery and food. The Amersham museum offers excellent guided tours. Accommodation includes the 16th century King's Arms and the Crown Hotel, used as a location for Four Weddings and a Funeral. There's more browsing nearby, close to the Tube station at Amersham-on-the-Hill.
Beaconsfield is a town of two halves; there is historic Old Beaconsfield with its elegant wide streets lined with coaching inns and grand houses, offering a tempting array of shops and eateries. And New Beaconsfield, which grew up around the railway station, a stone’s throw from Bekonscot model village, the first model village in the world and now a popular visitor attraction. There are pubs and walks galore in the beechwoods surrounding the town.
A Walkers Welcome town on its own branch of the Metropolitan Line, Chesham decants its visitors straight from train to trail. Walks lead directly out into the pretty Chess Valley, and from old-world Church Street up the grassy slopes of Lowndes Park into the fields and lanes of restful Pednor vale. The Museum in the Market Place traces the story of this quirky town of beer, boots and brushes. The pedestrianised High Street provides an excellent market, cafés and coffee stops galore.
Roald Dahl lived and worked in this attractive village and is buried beside its 14th century church. The narrow main street, with its half timbered and Georgian houses, shops and pubs, inspired many easily recognized features of Dahl's books. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre now enjoys pride of place and offers Stroll and Scoff trails through the village and surrounding countryside.
The beautiful Hambleden Valley is 3 miles from the market towns of Henley and Marlow, yet feels a million miles from anywhere. Easily walkable from Henley along a stretch of the Thames Path, along the way you can watch red kites soaring overhead. Once in the valley, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d visited some of the picturesque villages before, as many have featured in TV and movie favourites.
Another very pleasing country town, with a prosperous little high street and traditional market house. An annual walking festival makes the most of Risborough's lovely setting, where the Ridgeway National Trail crosses a gap in the Chilterns on the route to Chequers. Vintage viewpoints include the Chinnor & Princes Risborough heritage railway and the slopes above the town which host the recently-revived historic Kop Hill Climb.
The super-wealthy Rothschild family chose Tring Park as the first of their many Chiltern homes. They left a legacy of distinctive buildings amongst the shops and cafés in the high street, alleys and lanes of this intimate town centre. Chief amongst them is the splendid Victorian edifice which houses Lionel Walter Rothschild's collection of rare and unusual animals, now part of the Natural History Museum. The grounds of Tring Park provide fine walks, including a stretch of the Ridgeway National Trail, and the Grand Union Canal and flagship nature reserves are close by on the edge of the town.
Train really does meet Chilterns trails in Wendover, with surrounding hills and rich woodlands the peaceful backdrop to this relaxed and unspoilt Chiltern town. The route of the Ridgeway actually follows the high street here, passing the door of the 16th century Red Lion hotel and shops selling antiques, clothes, gifts and chocolate. The plateau of Coombe Hill can be reached on foot, rewarding the climb with panoramic views over Chequers and the Vale of Aylesbury. There's plenty more activity, adventure and simple escapism in the 800 acres of nearby Wendover Woods.