Central Chilterns

As this blog expands, I thought it may help to group information by north, central and southern Chilterns.

The Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and western Hertfordshire Chilterns has a mixed landscape of extensive Ashridge woodland, Dunstable downs, a Norman castle, former quarries, market towns and the Grand Union Canal. A veritable feast.

Tring Park is a vast green space that merges comfortably with the market town of Tring. It also successfully merges the central and northern Chilterns.

Tring park in spring
Sunshine through the copper beeches.

A day to gladden the heart! Despite the continuing lockdown, Ashridge Forest offers plenty of space and the guaranteed distance now needed for enjoying the great outdoors.

Ashridge Forest Trails
The boundary trail Ashridge

The inland waterways are symbolic of the Chilterns; neither shouts about achievements; both are modest, quietly getting on with ensuring livelihoods can continue and now leisure is enjoyed. Both are treasured. The Grand Union Canal.

Grand Union Canal
Resting up at Cow Roast

A virtuous circle: life became rock that supported our lives, literally, and has once again become abundant life. Chilterns Chalk.

Late summer blooms
Late summer quarry blooms

Tucked away down a long corridor, up two spiral flights you will find the quiet lobby and entrance to the new Rothschild Treasury, Waddesdon Manor. A treasure trove in what was once described as a ‘maids bedroom’ no less.

Waddesdon Treasury

Just how did the Wall Street Crash of 1929 save a tiny Chilterns village?

West Wycombe
West Wycombe village saved by the crash.

When I started writing this blog, I was uncertain how I would maintain momentum, focused as I am, on one region. Would I struggle to find enough to write about, or would my inspiration dwindle? West Wycombe Park helped!

West Wycombe Park

All around are signs of past lives; graves in the shape of wool sacks, an 18th water pump, window openings at unhelpful heights and a red lion above a lintel where a pub used to be. A is for Amersham.

The Misbourne flows past the site of the former Weller Brewery

Seen mostly from commuter trains, I expect Berkhamsted castle is one of those landmarks that is no longer noticed. It has disappeared into the landscape. The castle that time forgot.

Berkhamsted Castle
The Norman castle at Berkhamsted

Just like an antique rug, with unravelled threads, blemishes, bald patches and stains, once you begin to look, you see these Ashridge threads in fact link across the Chilterns, even the nation, presenting a tantalising picture of this wonderful place and its story. Ashridge House and Gardens.

The gothic revival structure bares little resemblance to the medieval priory
Ashridge House

At first drive-through, this busy Buckinghamshire town is not a pretty sight. Aylesbury is a town that has kept its historic heart well and truly hidden, marooned on a little island cut off by busy roads full of traffic rushing through on their way elsewhere.

Aylesbury almshouses
Almshouses in Aylesbury

The 300-year old Lacey Green Windmill stands on the escarpment of the Chiltern Hills, near Princes Risborough, and is possibly the most famous for being England’s oldest smock mill.

Lacey Green Windmill
Lacey Green Windmill

How a wild boy without a birth name, who was found in a German forest, was adopted by an English king and came to live in the #Chilterns, is an astonishing story. Peter the Wild Boy.

Peter the Wild Boy
Peter had a collar made in case he got lost. Again.

In a sleepy Buckinghamshire village, you’ll discover the heady mix of local legend, the shadow of a ghost, a hermit and royal executioner. Dinton Hermit.

The Dinton Hermit
The stocks at Dinton

The co-owners of this remarkable building, have moved heaven and earth to ensure these treasures have not been lost to property developers or simply careless conservation. They are custodians of medieval history in the Chilterns and they do so without funding nor support. A cautionary tale.

A visit to Piccotts End
Tucked away pre-Reformation murals

A microcosm of a Chilterns village, Bledlow is a blip on the landscape, but very much shaped by it.

To a manor born
To the Manor Born