Nine Hundred Years of Baptism
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Lost Footpaths of Milton Keynes

Canal bridge 89  Milton Keynes(16) The canal bridge. This is the view just before you cross into Woughton on the Green; if you’ve come along either footpath you’d be nearly at your destination.
The bridge isn't on this post's map, but is on the map in part 2.

The Half Lost Footpaths
Part 1

(Edited, with photo numbers added to text and drainage ditches etc added to map)
This is an accommodation bridge, built so that fields and minor routes were not cut off by the canal. When built it was at the edge of a village, but now it’s in the middle of Milton Keynes.

This is bridge 89 over the Grand Union canal, and it’s near the pair of roundabouts where Marlborough Street (V8) and Standing Way (H8) meet.

Now it just provides access between the Peartree Bridge and Woughton on the Green housing estates, but before Milton Keynes there were two trackways or paths that met at the bridge.

These routes, marked as footpaths on 1950s maps, were both lost with the building of the new town. But parts still exist and can be found today.

Mostly these footpaths followed field boundaries, so it’s likely they date from just after the enclosure act was signed for Woughton on the Green in 1768. Hedges still in existence make them a little easier to follow today.

Lost footpath map  BletchleyThe route in about 1900, but showing the photo locations and some modern roads. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered about a strange feature of your local area, or just wondered what was there before all the houses were built, the National Library of Scotland’s online maps like this one may well be able to tell you.
Drainage ditches, ponds, and wells have now been added to this map; I now understand there's a relationship between the routes of footpaths and the routes of drainage ditches, see part 2.

That’s where the map here, published in about 1900, came from. Of course I’ve modified it. Numbers in the text refer to the photos.

We shall look at one of these footpaths today. It came from St Mary’s church in Bletchley, next to Bletchley Park. From the main churchyard entrance (1) it still goes diagonally across the churchyard, to the left (West) of the church.

St Mary's church  Bletchley(1) The route starts here, heading directly away from the camera and past the church.

Not far past the church the path leaves the old churchyard and the parish of Bletchley, (we are now in Fenny Stratford parish) and crossed a small field that’s now part of an extended graveyard. The path went through the hedge (I expect there was a gate); much of the hedge is still there. (2)

Churchyard and hedge  Bletchley(2) Centre is the hedge at the far side of the small field beyond the churchyard. It’s seen end-on. From here the footpath headed pretty much towards the tree that’s on the far right of the horizon. From there the path angled right (North) around the corner of the electric light works.

Around 1900 maps show an electric light works which the footpath angles around to the left, then right, and heads North. This part of the route is all under houses now, but part of it went through the grounds of Bletchley Park, leaving the grounds between a pair of copses. One copse (3) is still there, in the corner of a recreation ground behind Colussus Way.

Copse  part of the Bletchley Park estate(3) The footpath passed between this copse and another (now gone) behind it. The route here is now under houses and gardens. I took this photo from what was once the grounds of Bletchley Park.

I suppose that the footpath was diverted around Bletchley Park during WW2, but until the early 1950s there was an RAF camp across the route too, so perhaps this footpath was just stopped up for a few years. If you can tell me, please comment below.

The path then entered the corner of a field, running past a stand of trees (4) that isn’t on the maps around 1900 but is there today in the Leys Recreation Ground, which takes up a bit over half that field.

Leys Recreation Ground  Bletchley(4) The path went by on the far side of this stand of trees, leaving the field in the same place as there’s still an entrance today; this is the Leys Recreation Ground. You can just see the entrance, to the right of the furthest left tree in the stand; there’s a blue-green sign that’s just visible.

Stand of trees on old footpath route(5) Looking back at the stand of trees from where the path left this field. The path passed to the left of those trees.

The footpath left the field in the opposite corner, just where the entrance to the Rec. from Westminster Drive is today. (5)

From there the route is lost under houses, but the footbridge over the railway is still there, (6) now crossing from Spenlows Road into the Denbigh West industrial estate. In around 1900 it’s shown as crossing from one field into a much smaller, triangular one, lopped off from the previous one by the railway.

From there Watling Street is just a hundred yards away, and the Denbigh railway bridge over Watling Street a couple of hundred yards to the North West.

That’s all for this post as the next point I could find is on the other post's map, but in Part 2 we shall take a look at the rest of this route, and the other footpath that met it at canal bridge 89.

Accomodation footbridge  Bletchley(6) This bridge, now with houses all around on this side and industrial units on the other, was once in fields.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please


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I didn’t know one path led back from the bridge to Bletchley. Your map doesn’t bring out the canal very clearly – this bridge is the one after Pear Tree bridge (in the direction of Simpson), and we crossed it many a time in the summer, bringing tea (after school) to our Pa, in the haymaking team (in Clarkson’s fields abutting the canal). My most vivid memory of that bridge was in a bitterly cold winter (I think it was 1947) – as the deeply frozen canal gradually thawed, one cow got caught out walking on the ice, and fell through – there was a flurry of activity as ropes were lassoed over the cow’s head, and it was dragged and pushed closer to the bank and freedom.

(Sorry for the delay in answering)


thanks for your tales of boyhood. Did the canal cut through the middle of Clarkson's fields?

The map key was done for both posts and in this first instalment the canal isn't shown on the map, so the canal should not be on the key.

It's a mistake, which I will correct. the canal will be shown on the second map, later this week


Hi Roger,
Clarkson’s fields in that area were on the canal side facing away from Woughton – but they had fields all over the place, being the largest scale farmers in the district, with acreage around Woolstone, Coffee Hall, Pineham, between Bury Lane and the school on that side (down to the river), etc. Old man Clarkson lived in a house in the field opposite the village hall.

Okay, thanks, John.

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