Princes Risborough lies in a broad gap on the western slopes of the Chiltern Hills to which, in all probability, it owes its existence. This provided travellers with a link between the River Thames and the Icknield Way, both of which were routes of prime importance from earliest times. Added to this, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which we protect today for our leisure would have had much greater practical significance for those travellers. The chalk downland of Saunderton Lee and clear springs, such as Pyrtle Spring, are cited by J.F. Head as making the area particularly favourable to early settlement, when much of the region was either wooded or marshy. Local names such as Slough and Ilimire (llmer) and even Summerleys (the summer fields) point to a generally higher water table than that of today.