The Monday Photo
If this cyclist turning right near Stowe School could follow the route he’s just turned on to all the way to the end, he would be at Bangor in Wales.
As the sign says, this is Welsh Lane and it’s a drove road, once used to take livestock from the far North West of Wales all the way to London.
This drove road comes into Bucks just to the West of Biddlesden. From this crossroads it heads onto the A422 and into Buckingham, heading for the capital.
If you look down Welsh Lane you can see that the hedges are far apart, this was ideal for drovers as it provided plenty of grass for their animals as they travelled. So important were the drove roads that enclosure acts stipulated a minimum distance between hedges on these routes.
The last known long distance drove was in 1900, taking Welsh sheep over 200 miles from Tregaron in central Wales to Harrow in London. It probably didn’t come this way, being more likely to go through Oxford and the South of Bucks.
The Other Way
The other road at this crossroads is Stowe House’s Oxford Avenue, and its trees were originally planted in the 1790s. This avenue is well over a mile and a half long. It leads from a stone gatehouse with entrance pillars on the Buckingham to Brackley road right up to the North side of Stowe School.
At the gatehouse end there’s a turn opposite to Water Stratford, where I found the tiny Norman church of St Giles for last week’s Monday photo.
I didn’t know at the time but the Boycott Farm Shop (see the sign in the photo) does very good sausage rolls, and it seems from their website that they sell pork pies too. I do like a nice pork pie, so I’ll be going back that way soon.
If you want to know more about the drove roads in mainland Britain, the Local Drove Roads website is the place to visit. I’ve spent already some time on it and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
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