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My Britain: Chiltern Hills

BY Anna Walker

22nd Dec 2022 My Britain

My Britain: Chiltern Hills

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Chiltern Hills stretch across North London and are home to a diverse range of residents

Stretching for 45 miles across North London, from Goring-on-Thames to Hitchin, taking in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, the Chiltern Hills are home to a vast diversity of residents, countryside and businesses.

In 1965, almost half of the area was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty—not surprising when you consider the stunning stretches of the Thames, the rolling hills and boundless greenery that make up its landscape.

We spoke to two local businessmen about their lives and livelihoods in the Chiltern Hills, to get a sense for what makes this corner of Britain so special.

David Holliday

David Holliday, 41, is the chef and co-owner at The Bottle & Glass Inn (bottleandglassinn.com) in Binfield Heath and The Hart Street Tavern (hartstreettavern.com) in Henley-on-Thames

David Holliday

I have lived in the Chiltern Hills for 12 years. After a stint in London running the Harwood Arms with Bret Graham and Mike Robinson, we always knew we wanted to come back to the area that my wife grew up in.

"I fell in love with the natural beauty of the area"

During my time working at the Pot Kiln, we would host cooking demos at the Henley Food Festival, and I fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. It brought me back to my childhood spent living on a farm

I love the community around me here in the Chiltern Hills. We’ve made great relationships, particularly through hosting events in the village of Binfield Heath, where the Bottle & Glass Inn is located, and also within my daughter's school. Just last week I cooked pizza at the local nursery. 

Bottle and Glass Inn

I love that there are producers, farmers and artisans here, but it’s still close to metropolitan bustling towns. Henley is my favourite town and I always wanted to open a restaurant in the centre of it. The Hart Street Tavern does fresh food daily and has been a great achievement of ours. I think my favourite spot here is Christmas Common. A picturesque hamlet, it’s my favourite spot for a brisk winter walk taking in views of the Chilterns.

The Bottle & Glass Inn (pictured above) is the most beautiful pub with its thatched roof, modern dining room, and amazing country walks on the doorstep in just the perfect village. I love the fire, the beams and the warm welcome. We always wanted to create a venue that the community would love and feel a part of. It's grown so much since we opened in 2017 and the team are such a huge part of the growth, we couldn’t do it without them.

Jacob Wilson

Jacob Wilson, 28, is the owner and master distiller at the Henley Distillery (thehenleydistillery.co.uk)

Jacob Wilson

I was born and raised in Henley-on-Thames, and though I left the area for a while to pursue my career, I always knew I wanted to come back to my home town to set up my own distillery

Growing up, I was a keen rower, so my favourite place in the Chiltern Hills is probably the riverside in Henley…or even better, the river in Henley. That will always be a special place for me. 

The Henley Distillery

I love the diversity here, not only of the countryside but also of local producers. Since we opened The Henley Distillery, the local support has been fantastic. We have found that people are really eager to get behind local producers and the uptake has been amazing.

"Since we opened The Henley Distillery, the local support has been fantastic"

At The Henley Distillery, we are truly hand-crafted and independent. Quality comes before all else, which is why we shout about being one of the only distilleries in the whole UK to not only be run by but also owned by a Master Distiller. What that means is that there is nobody above me to make decisions that may adversely affect the quality of our spirits

Our team is small, passionate and we love what we do. The Henley Distillery is a really fun place to be. 

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