HomeProjects > Chalk, Cherries & Chairs > Routes to the Past

Routes to the Past

Connecting the Historic Routeways of the Chilterns

About the project

The Chiltern Hills are criss-crossed by a network of winding, narrow, steep-sided lanes hemmed in by ancient hedgerows and trees. These local routes joined up communities and linked them with their commons, their fields, and their woods. Despite their fundamental nature, these routeways have often been overlooked and neglected, resulting in their under appreciation, loss and erosion. This project aims to record the stories of the historic routeways of the Chilterns, helping to save them for future generations.


A sunken lane in Ninn Wood, Pitstone Hill; an earlier course of the Cadsdean Road

How can you get involved?

Whether you’re interested in walking the routes, researching their history or gathering local stories and anecdotes, there are many opportunities to get involved. There is a wealth of information out there, some of it collected in archives, but much of it has never been collected. Almost all the routeways of the Chilterns have never been surveyed from an archaeological and conservational angle, and many of the stories associated with them exist only in people’s memory. By becoming a research volunteer, you can help collect these stories, and bring them all into one place. In year 2 of the project, alongside continuing research, we will start building an interactive online map to present this new historical record so that everyone can access it and learn more about the area.

Alongside research into their history and formation, we will also be looking at the various threats facing historic routeways, such as erosion, development and environmental change. This will be added to the local Historic Environment Record to help manage these important heritage assets for years to come.

We will be running monthly events for our Routes to the Past Volunteers, such as guest speakers, meetings to chat about our findings or visits to interesting routeways.


Sign Up To Our Mailing List



Historic and modern routeways both cutting the chalk at Aston Rowant

Help research the history of movement in the Chilterns, by gaining training and practical experience in:

  • Surveying of routeways
  • Interpreting LiDAR and historical maps
  • Archival research
  • Collection of oral histories
  • Fieldwork
  • Guided walks
  • Mapping routes and walks
  • Monthly meetings, walks and guest speaker events


Useful Resources For Your Research



A fantastic example of well managed historic hedges at Smalldean Lane




Upcoming Events

Guided Walks:

More will be publicised once conditions permit

Talks & Workshops: 

More will be publicised once conditions permit






map icon

Chilterns Map

Find walks, cycle routes, rides, places to visit
Search the map

Stay in Touch

Sign up for our email newsletter to ensure you never miss out on news about the Chilterns, just enter your email address below.

See our Privacy Policy

Don’t forget, you can always follow us on our social media channels

Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr RSS

Bookmark and Share