Living in the Chilterns: a commuting guide to homes and schools in Turville, West Wycombe and Chesham

The Chiltern Hills are closer than the Cotswolds and a better investment long term - so why do Londoners leapfrog them in favour of their rural rival?
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The beautiful Chiltern Hills are home to picturesque villages, 324 square miles of open countryside, great commuter links, good schools — and they are closer to the capital than the Cotswolds. So why do so many Londoners leapfrog them in favour of their rural rival?

It’s a mystery to estate agent Lindsay Cuthill, who says he does not know why the Cotswolds have established themselves in the public mind as the most aspirational location.

“One is not more beautiful than the other — and the Chilterns are nearer to London,” he says. “I suppose that living in Buckinghamshire or Bedfordshire does not have the same glamour as Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but it is not a fair or accurate comparison.”

The Cotswolds, of course, have a roll call of famous residents — assuming you want to queue behind the likes of Samantha Cameron and Liz Hurley for a loaf of seven-seed sourdough at the fashionable Daylesford organic farm shop — but Cuthill sees many benefits in the Chilterns. 


House prices in the Chilterns are more expensive due to the location — averaging £533,876 compared with £365,596 in the Cotswolds, according to Savills — but property also appears to be a better investment, with prices up 9.9 in the past year, more than double the 4.7 per cent rise seen in the Cotswolds. Over the past five years, prices in the Chilterns have risen by almost 22 per cent, compared to just under 15 per cent in the Cotswolds.

The coming of Crossrail could improve the Chilterns’ performance still further, particularly in the towns and villages in the south of the region. Once trains are running from Maidenhead in 2019, commuters will be able to travel from the Hambleden Valley to the West End or City with ease. 
The Chiltern Hills are home to picturesque villages and 324 square miles of open countryside.

West Wycombe
While Crossrail will turn the spotlight on the Hambleden Valley, new rail links are less welcome news for the north of the Chilterns where, it is proposed, the High Speed 2 line will cut through open countryside from Amersham to Wendover. Happily, this should not have an impact on one of the true beauties of the Chilterns, West Wycombe. 

The village is largely owned by the National Trust, along with the Grade II-listed West Wycombe Park and its marvellous gardens dotted with follies and temples.

The A40 runs through the village, and it’s a walkers paradise, so weekends in summer can be busy, but the visitors have inspired a good range of pubs and restaurants. West Wycombe also has a school — West Wycombe Combined School — rated “good” by Ofsted, and for seniors, schools in High Wycombe are three miles away.

Trains from High Wycombe station take about half an hour to Marylebone, thanks to a recently upgraded line, and a season ticket costs £4,140. “West Wycombe is a beautiful village, very well preserved, and with a nice atmosphere,” says Robert Lomas, manager of Thompson Wilson estate agents. But property is not easy to find. 

Homes in the heart of the village are rented by the National Trust and those for sale are most likely to be on the outskirts. A village centre cottage would be about £300,000 to £350,000, while a detached family house on the outskirts with perhaps an acre or two would cost closer to £1 million.

A good-value choice for commuters is Chesham, which is on the Tube network, at the furthest reaches of the Metropolitan line.

Daniel Shurey, sales manager at Hadlands estate agents, says 60 per cent of his buyers move to Chesham from the London suburbs for more space and schools. In Chesham, you can buy a Victorian two-bedroom cottage for about £260,000 to £300,000, while a four-bedroom house costs about £500,000.

The town also has a lot to offer. It has traditional pubs — The Queen’s Head is a good bet — small cafés and an excellent monthly farmers’ market. An arts centre, The Elgiva, has a film club, café, children’s summer schools, comedy and theatre.

There are two swimming pools, Lowndes Park has regular events from summer proms to carnivals and pop-up restaurants, and there are many country walks nearby. Schools in the area are sought after, with Chesham Grammar School and Dr Challoner’s Grammar School both rated “outstanding”. 

Chesham is in London Underground’s Zone 9 — yes, you read that right — and journeys take well over an hour to central London, but many commuters travel one stop to Chalfont & Latimer for Chiltern Line trains into Marylebone that take 35 minutes. An annual season ticket from here costs £3,008. Shurey says: “It is a good place to relax. You are high up in the Chilterns, surrounded by the green belt, and away from the hustle and bustle.”

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