Travel | Secret Wycombe: 5 Places You Need To See In 2016
It’s pretty safe to say that High Wycombe has suffered since the recession hit, with most of the major national chains moving into a massive shopping centre redevelopment on the northwest of the Town Center when it opened back in 2008, leaving massive gaps in the High Street that sadly weren’t filled with independent retailers as hoped, but much like the economy, Wycombe has started to bounce back and this market town in the middle of the Chiltern Hills is well worth a visit, with the following 5 locations in and around the town, a perfect place to start.
High Wycombe High Street & Eden
The Guildhall by Nil L
It’s not hard to see if a town is doing well or not, just go to the High Street and see how many empty shops you can see, sadly in the time I was at university in Wycombe, there was a definite draw towards the new shopping centre and away from the town, with major brands such as Topman, Next, M&S and Burton, all leaving their previous locations to converge in the Eden Shopping Centre, along with new to the town brands like HMV, House of Frasier and Starbucks, providing the town with a wonderful mecca for all shoppers, with the hope that the empty shops will be filled with new brands and independent retailers, something that sadly never materialized while I lived there, but since then I have started to see the seeds of recovery in and around the town, with brands such as Matalan and Primark coming to the town in recent years, along with multiple independent shops and restaurants, providing a variety that any town up and down the country would be proud of, including independent noodle shop Noodle Nation, exotic meet specialists The Sausage Tree and dessert parlour Treatz, along with much more.
The Hellfire Caves & West Wycombe
West Wycombe by Mdiepraam
Heading northwest out of the town, down the West Wycombe Road, you fell almost as though you have gone back in time as you arrive in the small village of West Wycombe, made up mostly by National Trust properties and dominated by 18th Century West Wycombe Park on one side and St Lawrence’s Church & Mausoleum on the other, both of which are open to the public and well worth exploring, though both are somewhat overshadowed by a destination that is somewhat of a surprise given its surroundings.
High up above the village, underneath the imposing St Lawence’s church, you’ll find a set of man-made tunnels that delve up to 500 meters into the Chiltern Hills, which go by the name of The Hellfire Caves, giving you some idea of the events that went on deep underground, with Francis Dashwood turning the unused former chalk mine into a collection of chambers that took inspiration from his trips around Italy, Greece and Turkey, providing the Baron with the perfect location for his Hellfire Club to meet and dabble in unacceptable and possibly satanic acts with the great and good of the 18th century, including future US president Benjamin Franklin and famous painter William Hogarth. The caves are well worth walking around, especially around Halloween, when you may catch a glimpse of one of the suspected ghosts which reside here.
The Rye by Heather Stanley
Situated near to the centre of town, The Rye is a large park covering over 53 acres, nestled on the banks of the River Wye, featuring a multitude of different activities that can keep you entertained in the good weather, be it boating on the Dyke, playing tennis, cricket or football on one of the designated areas, enjoying one of the two children’s play areas or swimming in the Wycombe Lido, which after a £1.8m redevelopment, now contains a gym, bistro as well as the original 33 yard outdoor pool, though unlike when it first opened in 1957, is now heated to make your swim even more comfortable and the perfect place to relax in the sun or burn off a few calories.
The Wycombe Museum
Wycombe Museum by Tara GHB
Every town is famous for something and Wycombe is no different, with the town becoming the centre of the chair-making industry and furniture in general, with multiple factories springing up between the 17th and 19th century to provide the growing empire with somewhere to sit, with a lot of the different designs on display at Wycombe Museum, all of which is housed in the beautiful 18th-century Castle Hill House & Gardens, which also houses collections from the Wycombe and wider Buckinghamshire area, Wycombe Wanderers FC, historical paintings & photographs as well as local wildlife.
Fingest & Turville
Fingest by Andy Hough
Six miles South-West of High Wycombe, nestled within the rolling Chiltern Hills lie the bordering picturesque villages of Fingest and Turvile, both of which boast a pub, a church and plenty of picture-box houses, the 11 minute walk between the two becoming a whats what of films & TV, with both villages appearing on-screen multiple times, including Midsomer Murders, The Vicar of Dibley, Goodnight Mr Tom, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Monuments Men and many more, both are a delight to explore, with the wider countryside also worth wandering around.
Turville by Roy McGrail