For anyone visiting High Wycombe from far away, it’s actually close enough to act as a base for day trips into London. But doing that would mean you might miss out on some of the unique attractions the town and the surrounding area have to offer. There are historic buildings and fascinating museums to visit, all of them within easy reach of our High Wycombe hotels, not to mention the unique attractions of the famous Hell-Fire Caves and Castle and Bekonskot Model Village. Check out our handy guide to what to see and do when you’re in High Wycombe.
Activities in High Wycombe
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
With all due respect to the Dashwood family, the most famous person to have lived in the High Wycombe area is Roald Dahl. The ever-popular children’s author made his home in the nearby village of Great Missenden for the last 36 years of his life and it was here that the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre was first opened in 2005 - 15 years after his death. It’s an absolute must for all book-lovers, young and old, but it’s especially a treat for fans of Augustus Gloop, Agatha Trunchbull, Aunt Sponge or any of the other memorable characters that have made him so popular for so many generations of readers. In fact, it’s “swizzfigglingly flushbunkingly gloriumptious” as it says on the front of the museum, which is only 15 minutes’ drive from our High Wycombe central hotel.
Dahl himself was a fascinating character, so as well as giving visitors a chance to enjoy his books, you can find out more about his exploits as a fighter pilot, intelligence officer and medical pioneer.
Come on, everyone loves a cave! What’s not to like (unless you’re a bit claustrophobic or scared of the dark)?
Sir Francis Dashwood, the 2nd Baronet, certainly wasn't worried about that sort of thing - it was he who first set about developing an existing quarry in the mid 1700s to provide material for a new main road from West Wycombe and High Wycombe, leading to the creation of what we now know as the Hell-Fire Caves.
No one quite knows why he also had his men dig a winding tunnel a quarter of a mile into the hillside, complete with all kinds of chambers and passageways. It's thought he had a sense of mischief and was also inspired by his own visits to the caverns and tunnels of ancient Greece. Today, visitors can take a tour of the Caves along passages which extend over a quarter of a mile underground below the distinctive Golden Ball on top of St Lawrence's Church.
West Wycombe Park
If a visit to the Hell-Fire Caves has whetted your appetite to find out more about the remarkable exploits of Sir Francis Dashwood, then a visit to nearby West Wycombe Park is a must.
This spectacular mansion is one of the most lavish in England and has been used as the backdrop for many films and TV series including Little Dorrit. It’s the perfect chance to step into the shoes of an 18th-century aristocrat and imagine what family life must have been like. As well as the house itself, which has guided tours, the gardens are a wonderful experience, featuring a magnificent lake and a host of temples and follies created by Sir Francis.
Much of the Chilterns area is steeped in history - and a favourite place to visit is Hughenden Manor, a splendid stately home. The building dates back to the 18th-century, but much of its interest comes from the political dramas which unfolded there. Not only was it the home of Benjamin Disraeli, who was Prime Minister during Queen Victoria’s reign, but in the Second World War it was also used as a secret intelligence base where much of the planning for the famous "Dambusters" raids took place.
And as with many properties which are owned by the National Trust, there are some fantastic outdoor spaces to enjoy as well. The Italianate style formal gardens feature terraces, lawns, a walled garden, pleasure grounds and picnic spots – perfect on a summer’s day.
Bekonskot Model Village
There’s only so much history you can absorb in one go, particularly if you’ve got young family with you. So why not relax and enjoy the diminutive charms of Bekonskot Model Village? It might feel like a guilty pleasure after soaking up all that culture and history, but who wouldn’t be excited by the idea of pretending to stomp around like a giant among tiny buildings?
The world’s oldest original model village, it was opened in 1929 and is only three miles from our High Wycombe/Beaconsfield hotel. The six model towns feature an extensive model railway network as well as remote-controlled boats and miniature castles, lakes and pretty much everything else you can think of!