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December 2019

The Rest of Christmas

Snowing  and treeIn the Ouzel Valley Park, Milton Keynes

The North Bucks Wanderer (that’s me, folks) will be taking some time off, so there will be no post next week. But I will back to regular posting on Wednesday 8th of January, two weeks from today. (I’m posting this on Christmas Eve)

I will be selecting some of my favourite photos for an end of year revue on that first post of the New Year. Many will be ones already published in this year’s posts.

But a few will be photos that couldn’t be used although I liked them, usually because the post was already too long. There might even be a few photos from my archives, just because I want to show you them,like the first three photos here.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the first two are of the same tree. These two and the next one were taken in the Ouzel Valley Park, in Milton Keynes. The last one was taken just last week, at the tiny village of Grove, right on the edge of the county. It’s the lock keeper’s cottage.

Happy Christmas and all that. There will be some of you out there who find this time of year to be rather a struggle. To you especially, my best wishes.

Tree  snowIt's that tree again.

Winter trees  Ouzel valleyThough this seems to be out in the country, these trees are also in the Ouzel Valley Park, in the middle of Milton Keynes.

Xmas tree  at Grove  in BucksThe lock keeper's cottage, Grove.


The Half Hidden Castle

Castlethorpe's castleTaken from the high bank of the outer bailey, you can see the inner bailey with its ditch.(1) Inside the bailey is the church, (4) and to the right of the church, the motte. (2)

Castlethorpe’s earthworks are well known, but it’s hard to work out the layout of the castle from the great ditches in the field behind the church.

The high mound of the motte where the keep once stood is obvious enough, but half the castle is hidden beneath the modern village, unless you know where to look and what to look for.

First, what are we looking for? Hanslope Castle, as it was once known, had a nearly circular inner bailey with the motte and the keep inside it. A much bigger outer bailey, nearly rectangular, surrounded it.

The castle covered nearly 20 acres.

It was a wooden castle. The baileys were each surrounded by a ditch, a wooden palisade, and a bank with a wall walk on top. There was a gatehouse in each one.

Castlethorpe CastleThe castle. Numbers in the photo captions refer to the numbers on this plan.

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Secrets of Haddenham

Dragon font  HaddenhamThe dragon font.

The village of Haddenham has over 120 listed buildings, and most of them are made of an unusual material; Witchert.

Witchert was cheap and available. It could be dug up out of the ground just where you wanted to build, so it was used for all sorts of buildings and walls up to about 1920. Here are some of them.

The shortest version of this walk is slightly over half a mile, or 900m; good if you are not too mobile. The longest version is a mile and a quarter, or 2.6 km.

To get there, take the A418 South West from Aylesbury, and when you get near to the village, a couple of miles off the main road, follow signs for Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital. Keep on past the entrance to Tiggywinkles and park next to the green; there’s a pond.

You might see some Aylesbury ducks at the pond; they used to be bred in the village. This breed is easy to recognise. The plumage is white, the bill is pink, and the legs and feet are orange. They are quite large, especially compared to the other ducks I saw on the pond. Ducks with an orange bill are not Aylesbury ducks.

Haddenham has often been a location for film and television. Eleven episodes of Midsomer Murders have been filmed here, and when Kermit, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo parachute into England in The Great Muppet Caper, it’s this pond they end up in.

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The Two thousand Year Old River Crossing

Side arch  Thornborough BridgeThe four side arches are fairly plain. The Roman ford lay beyond the bridge, on the North side.

Medieval Thornborough Bridge is the oldest bridge in the county, but this East to West river crossing is at least 1,200 years older; it dates back to Roman times.

Three Roman roads met and crossed each other here, and by the North side of this six arch medieval bridge over Padbury Brook was a Roman ford, made from limestone blocks held in place with wooden stakes. These were found during excavations in the 1970s.

Also found were three oak pilings on the East bank, and the ends of a road over thirty feet wide on both river banks.

Ribbed arch  Thornborough BridgeTwo of the arches are more ornate, with four chamfered ribs.

One of these roads came North from Akeman Street (the A41) at Fleet Marston near Aylesbury. Part of it is still used as a road, and it was once part of the old turnpike route to Buckingham. After the river crossing it went through modern Akeley and beyond.

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