The Info List - Chiltern Hills

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The Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
form a chalk escarpment[1] in South East England. They are known locally as "the Chilterns".[1] A large portion of the hills was designated officially as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1965.


1 Location 2 Geology 3 Physical characteristics

3.1 Topography 3.2 Landscape and land use 3.3 Rivers 3.4 Transport routes

4 History 5 Settlement

5.1 List of towns and villages in the Chiltern hills area 5.2 Strip parishes associated with the Chilterns

6 Economic use 7 Protection

7.1 Chilterns Conservation Board 7.2 High Speed Rail 2

8 Chiltern Hundreds 9 See also 10 References 11 External links

Location[edit] The Chilterns cover an area of 833 km2 (322 sq mi). They are 18 km (11 mi) wide at their widest, and stretch 74 km (46 mi) in a south west to north east diagonal from Goring-on-Thames
in Oxfordshire, through Buckinghamshire, via Dunstable Downs
Dunstable Downs
and Deacon Hill in Bedfordshire,[1] to near Hitchin
in Hertfordshire.[2] The boundary of the hills is clearly defined on the north west side by the scarp slope. The dip slope is by definition more gradual, and merges with the landscape to the south east.[3] The Thames
is a clear end point to the south west, whereas north east of Luton
the hills decline slowly in prominence.[4] Geology[edit]

soil at the foot of the escarpment of the Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
near Shirburn

The chalk escarpment of the Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
overlooks the Vale of Aylesbury, and roughly coincides with the southernmost extent of the ice sheet during the Anglian glacial maximum.[citation needed] The Chilterns are part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England, formed between 65 and 95 million years ago,[2] comprising rocks of the Chalk
Group; this also includes Salisbury Plain, Cranborne Chase, the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
and the South Downs
South Downs
in the south. In the north, the chalk formations continue northeastwards across north Hertfordshire, Norfolk
and the Lincolnshire Wolds, finally ending as the Yorkshire Wolds
Yorkshire Wolds
in a prominent escarpment, south of the Vale of Pickering. The beds of the Chalk
Group were deposited over the buried northwestern margin of the Anglo-Brabant Massif during the Upper Cretaceous.[5] During this time, sources for siliciclastic sediment had been eliminated due to the exceptionally high sea level.[6] The formation is thinner through the Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
than the chalk strata to the north and south and deposition was tectonically controlled, with the Lilley Bottom structure playing a significant role at times.[5] The Chalk
Group, like the underlying Gault Clay
Gault Clay
and Upper Greensand, is diachronous.[6] During the late stages of the Alpine Orogeny, as the African Plate collided with Eurasian Plate, Mesozoic
extensional structures, such as the Weald Basin
Weald Basin
of southern England, underwent structural inversion.[5] This phase of deformation tilted the chalk strata to the southeast in the area of the Chiltern Hills. The gently dipping beds of rock were eroded, forming an escarpment. The chalk strata are frequently interspersed with layers of flint nodules which apparently replaced chalk and infilled pore spaces early in the diagenetic history. Flint
has been mined for millennia from the Chiltern Hills[citation needed]. They were first extracted for fabrication into flint axes in the Neolithic
period, then for knapping into flintlocks. Nodules are to be seen everywhere in the older houses as a construction material for walls. Physical characteristics[edit] Topography[edit]

Ivinghoe Beacon
Ivinghoe Beacon
(the eastern trailhead) seen looking north from The Ridgeway

The highest point is at 267 m (876 ft) above sea level at Haddington Hill
Haddington Hill
near Wendover
in Buckinghamshire; a stone monument marks the summit. The nearby Ivinghoe Beacon
Ivinghoe Beacon
is a more prominent hill, although its altitude is only 249 m (817 ft).[7] It is the starting point of the Icknield Way Path
Icknield Way Path
and the Ridgeway long distance path, which follows the line of the Chilterns for many miles to the west, where they merge with the Wiltshire
downs and southern Cotswolds. To the east of Ivinghoe Beacon
Ivinghoe Beacon
is Dunstable
Downs, a steep section of the Chiltern scarp. Near Wendover
is Coombe Hill, 260 m (853 ft) above sea level. The more gently sloping country – the dip slope – to the southeast of the Chiltern scarp is also generally referred to as part of the Chilterns; it contains much beech woodland[1] and many villages. Landscape and land use[edit] Enclosed fields account for almost 66% of the "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (AONB) area. The next most important, and archetypal, landscape form is woodland, covering 21% of the Chilterns, which is thus one of the most heavily wooded areas in England. Built-up areas (settlements and industry) make up over 5% of the land area; parks and gardens nearly 4%, open land (commons, heaths and downland) is 2%, and the remaining 2% includes a variety of uses, including communications, military, open land, recreation, utilities and water.[2] Rivers[edit] The Chilterns are almost entirely located within the Thames
drainage basin, and also drain towards several major Thames
tributaries, most notably the Lea, which rises in the eastern Chilterns, the Colne to the south, and the Thame
to the north and west. Other rivers arising near the Chilterns include the Mimram, the Ver, the Gade, the Bulbourne, the Chess, the Misbourne and the Wye. These are classified as chalk streams, although the Lea is degraded by water from road drains and sewage treatment works.[8] The River Thames
flows through a gap between the Berkshire Downs
Berkshire Downs
and the Chilterns. Portions of the northern and north-eastern Chilterns around Leighton Buzzard
Leighton Buzzard
and Hitchin
are drained by the Ouzel, the Flit and the Hiz, all of which ultimately flow into the River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse
(the last two via the Ivel). Transport routes[edit] A number of transport routes pass through the Chilterns in natural or man-made corridors. There are also over 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of public footpaths in the Chilterns, including long-distance trackways such as the Icknield Way
Icknield Way
and The Ridgeway.[9] The M40 motorway passes through the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire
and Oxfordshire
sections, with a deep cutting through the Stokenchurch Gap. The M1 motorway
M1 motorway
crosses the Bedfordshire
section near Luton. Other major roads include the A413, the A41 and the A5. Railways include the Chiltern Main Line via High Wycombe
High Wycombe
and Princes Risborough, and the London to Aylesbury Line
London to Aylesbury Line
via Amersham. Nearby the West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
runs through Berkhamsted
and the Midland Main Line with Thameslink
calls at Luton. The Great Western Main Line
Great Western Main Line
and its branches such as the Henley and Marlow branch lines link the southern side of the Chilterns with London Paddington. The Chinnor
and Princes Risborough
Princes Risborough
Railway is a preserved line. In 2012 the UK Government announced that the proposed High Speed 2
High Speed 2
rail route would pass through the Chilterns near Amersham, partly through tunnels and partly at surface level.[10] Air corridors from Luton
Airport pass over the Chilterns to the east and west of the airport. There are no navigable rivers (apart from the River Thames), though the Grand Union Canal
Grand Union Canal
passes through the Chilterns between Berkhamsted and Marsworth
following the course of the Colne, Gade, Bulbourne and (after crossing a watershed) the Ouzel. This canal has branches to Wendover
and Aylesbury. History[edit] In pre-Roman times, the Chiltern ridge provided a relatively safe and easily navigable route across southern Iron Age England, thus the Icknield Way
Icknield Way
(one of England's ancient prehistoric trackways) follows the line of the hills. The name "Chiltern" comes from[citation needed] the Cilternsæte, a tribe that occupied the area in the early Anglo-Saxon period. One of the principal Roman settlements in the Roman province
Roman province
of Britannia Superior was sited at Verulamium
(now St Albans) and there are significant Roman and Romano-British
remains in the area. The Tudors had a hunting lodge in the Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead
area. Settlement[edit] Prior to the 18th century the population was dispersed across the predominantly rural landscape of the Chilterns, in remote villages, hamlets and farmsteads and small market towns along the main long-distance turnpike routes which funnelled through convenient valleys. The coming of canals in the 18th century and railways in the 19th century encouraged settlement and growth of many towns, e.g. High Wycombe, Tring
and Luton. There was significant housing and industrial development in the first half of the 20th century and continued throughout the 20th century, e.g. in Amersham, Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Hitchin
and Chesham. The growth in motor car use and improved rail transport to and from London has latterly put a premium on the availability and price of commuter housing.[3] In 2002 there were 100,000 people living within the AoNB area of the Chilterns.[9] List of towns and villages in the Chiltern hills area[edit]

Watlington Town Hall from the south

Aldbury, Amersham, Apsley, Ashridge, Aylesbury Barton-le-Clay, Bellingdon, Berkhamsted, Bledlow
Ridge, Bovingdon, Bradenham, Breachwood Green, Buckland Common Caddington, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont St Peter, Chartridge, Checkendon, Chesham, Chiltern Green, Chinnor, Cholesbury, Christmas Common, Coleshill Dagnall, Dunsmore, Dunstable Edlesborough, Ellesborough Fawley, Fingest, Flackwell Heath, Frieth Gerrards Cross, Goring-On-Thames, Great Hampden, Great Kingshill, Great Missenden, Great Offley Halton, Hambleden, Harlington, Hawridge, Hazlemere, Hemel Hempstead, Henley-on-Thames, Hexton, High Wycombe, Hitchin, Holmer Green, Hughenden Ibstone, Jordans, Kensworth Lacey Green, Lane End, Latimer Ley Hill, Lilley, Little Chalfont, Little Gaddesden, Little Kingshill, Little Missenden, Luton Markyate, Marlow, Marlow Bottom, Medmenham Naphill, Nettlebed, Nuffield, Oxfordshire Penn, Pishill, Prestwood, Princes Risborough, Radnage, Redbourn Seer Green, Sharpenhoe, Shiplake, Skirmett, Southend, Speen, St Leonards, Stokenchurch, Stonor, Streatley (Beds), Studham Thame, The Lee, Tring, Turville, Tylers Green Walter's Ash, Watlington, Wendover, West Wycombe, Whipsnade, Whitwell, Wigginton, Woodcote

Strip parishes associated with the Chilterns[edit] The western edge of the Chilterns is notable for its ancient strip parishes, elongated parishes with villages in the flatter land below the escarpment and woodland and summer pastures in the higher land.[3]

Bedfordshire: Eaton Bray, Toddington, Totternhoe Buckinghamshire: Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, Bledlow, Buckland, Drayton Beauchamp, Great Kimble, Horsenden, The Lee, Marsworth, Monks Risborough, Pitstone, Princes Risborough, Saunderton, Stoke Mandeville, Weston Turville Hertfordshire: Tring, Wigginton Oxfordshire: Aston Rowant, Checkendon, Chinnor, Ipsden, Lewknor, Mongewell, Newnham Murren, Nuffield, Pyrton, Shirburn, South Stoke, Watlington

Economic use[edit] The hills have been exploited for their natural resources for millennia. The chalk has been quarried for the manufacture of cement, and flint for local building material. Beechwoods supplied furniture makers with quality hardwood.[1] The area was once (and still is to a lesser degree) renowned for its chair-making industry,[1] centred on the towns of Chesham
and High Wycombe
High Wycombe
(the nickname of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club is the Chairboys). Water
was and remains a scarce resource in the Chilterns. Historically it was drawn from the aquifer via ponds, deep wells, occasional springs or bournes and chalk streams and rivers. Today the chalk aquifer is exploited via a network of pumping stations to provide a public supply for domestic consumption, agriculture and business uses, both within and well-beyond the Chilterns area. Rivers such as the River Chess directly supply watercress beds. Over-exploitation
has possibly led to the disappearance of some streams over at least long periods.[11]

Nettlebed's one remaining pottery kiln

In a region short of building stone, local clay deposits and timber provided the raw materials for brick manufacture. Where available, flint was also used for construction; it is still used in modern buildings, although restricted to decoration to give a vernacular appearance. Mediaeval
strip parishes reflected the diversity of land from clay farmland, through wooded slopes to downland. Their boundaries were often drawn to include a section of each type of land, resulting in an irregular county boundary between, say, Bedfordshire
and Hertfordshire. These have tended to be smoothed out by successive reorganisations. In modern times, as people have come to appreciate open country, the area has become a visitor destination and the National Trust has acquired land to preserve its character, for example at Ashridge, near Tring. In places, with the reduction of sheep grazing, action has been taken to maintain open downland by suppressing the natural growth of scrub and birch woodland. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Youth Hostels Association established several youth hostels for people visiting the hills. The hills have been used as a location for telecommunication relay stations such as Stokenchurch
BT Tower and that at Zouches Farm. Protection[edit] The Chilterns is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
(AONB) and so enjoys special protection from major developments, which should not take place in such areas except in exceptional circumstances. This protection applies to major development proposals that raise issues of national significance.[12] In 2000 the government confirmed that the landscape qualities of AONBs are equivalent to those of National Parks, and that the protection given to both types of area by the land use planning system should also be equivalent. Chilterns Conservation Board[edit] The Chilterns Conservation Board was established by Parliamentary Order in July 2004. It is an independent body comprising 27 members drawn from the relevant local authorities and from those living in local communities within the Chiltern AONB
area. The Board’s purposes are set out in Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000: In summary these are:- First, to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB, and increase the understanding and enjoyment by the public of the special qualities of the AONB. Second, while taking account of the first purpose, to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities within the AONB. Third, to publish and promote the implementation of a management plan for the AONB.[13] In contrast to National Parks, the Chilterns - as other AONBs - do not possess their own planning authority. The Board has an advisory role on planning and development matters and seeks to influence the actions of local government by commenting upon planning applications.[14] The local authorities (four County Councils, one Unitary Authority and ten District and Borough Councils) are expected to respect the area's status as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. High Speed Rail 2[edit] In October 2010 the government confirmed proposals for the High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham with a recommended route through the Chilterns AONB. The Conservation Board has made clear it is opposed to the routing of HS2 through the Chilterns AONB.[15] Chiltern Hundreds[edit] The Chilterns includes the Chiltern Hundreds. By established custom, Members of the British Parliament, who are prohibited from resigning their seats directly, may apply for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds as a device to enable their departure from the House (see Resignation from the House of Commons). See also[edit]

Zouches Farm


^ a b c d e f  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chiltern Hills". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 163.  ^ a b c The Changing Landscape of the Chilterns Chilterns AoNB, Accessed 19 February 2012 ^ a b c Hepple, Leslie; Doggett, Alison (1971). The Chilterns. England: Phillimore & Co Ltd. ISBN 0-85033-833-6.  ^ Chiltern Society, The Chilterns ^ a b c Rawson, P.F. 2006. Cretaceous: sea levels peak as the North Atlantic opens. In: P.J. Brenchley and P.F. Rawson (Eds) The Geology of England
and Wales, p.365-393. The Geological Society ISBN 978-1-86239-200-7 ^ a b Anderson, R., P.H. Bridges, M.R. Leeder and B.W. Sellwood (Eds) 1979. A Dynamic Stratigraphy of the British Isles: A Study in Crustal Evolution. p. 241. George Allen and Unwin, London. ISBN 0-412-44510-7 ^ Natural England ^ B.S. Nau, C. R. Boon, and J. P. Knowles, Bedfordshire
Wildlife, Castlemead, 1987, ISBN 0-948555-05-X, page 71. ^ a b DidYouKnow.pdf[permanent dead link] Chilterns AoNB, Accessed 19 February 2012 ^ Chilerns AoNB website - HS2, Accessed 20 February 2012 ^ Chess Valley Association, Accessed 4 September 2014 ^ Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas ^ Chiltern Conservation Board - Our Role, Accessed 10 December 2012 ^ Chilterns Conservation Board ^ Chilterns Conservation Board - statement objecting to HS2, Accessed 12 December 2012

External links[edit]

Chilterns Conservation Board Chilterns Tourism Network Chiltern Society

v t e

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England

East of England

Chilterns Dedham Vale Norfolk
Coast Suffolk Coast and Heaths

East Midlands

Lincolnshire Wolds

North East

Northumberland Coast North Pennines

North West

Arnside and Silverdale Forest of Bowland North Pennines Solway Coast

South East

Chichester Harbour Chilterns Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
and West Wiltshire
Downs High Weald Isle of Wight Kent Downs North Wessex Downs Surrey Hills

Former: East Hampshire1 South Hampshire Coast2 Sussex Downs1

South West

Blackdown Hills Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
and West Wiltshire
Downs Cornwall Cotswolds Dorset East Devon Isles of Scilly Mendip Hills North Devon Coast North Wessex Downs Quantock Hills South Devon Tamar Valley Wye Valley3

West Midlands

Cannock Chase Cotswolds Malvern Hills Shropshire Hills Wye Valley3

Yorkshire and Humber

Forest of Bowland Howardian Hills Nidderdale

1 Now part of South Downs
South Downs
National Park • 2 Now part of New Forest National Park •