Leaving the Wormsley Estate we link up with the road from Marlow, which takes us to the village of Stokenchurch.

The history of the village is built largely on its location on the main London to Oxford road at the summit of the steep hill from Aston Rowant to the top of the Chiltern Hills.

The original road is now a bridleway, the current road having been constructed in 1824 by the charity of Lord Dashwood, over whose land much of the road passes.

The hill then became known locally as Dashwood Hill and has a degree of notoriety for its steepness. In the days of horse transport additional horses were required to ascend the hill if the load was heavy, see inset. Indeed it was as a centre for changing horses for this climb that many of the pubs and inns along the route were established.

When cars came along the road needed considerable improvement, as in winter many commercial motor vehicles failed to climb the hill, and thus caused traffic obstruction.

In 1924 the Ministry of Transport embarked on a trunk road programme for improving the lines of communication throughout the country. One such road was the London to Fishguard route, which was designated the A40 in the Ministry’s classification scheme. Part of this improvement was at Dashwood Hill, which cost ‘£48,000 for foundation work and £10,000 for surfacing’ to realign the route via a diversion from the old road. A series of photos of the building of the new road at Dashwood Hill on the SWOP website provide an interesting insight into the techniques used in road construction in the 1920s. Although a mechanical excavator was used to dig-out the cutting required, rail transport was used to remove the spoil from the site. This therefore required a special railway track to be laid.

The SWOP website can be found at www.buckscc.gov.uk/swop