The Land

All the way to London

Welsh Lane  Bucks  a drover's road

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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Where Did the River Go?

Ducks feeding at Willen lake Feeding the water birds at South Willen lake is very popular, and the birds know this. They are always on the lookout for likely bird feeders and will come quite close. If you want come to the lake to feed them, access is off the V10 Brickhill Street.

 

Willen lake in Milton Keynes is a popular spot to visit, but  before they built it, Milton Keynes Development Corporation had to move a river.

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High Voltage Rain

Pylon and cows in rain

The Monday Photo

It was a grey wet day, and as I took this picture, I could hear the high voltage power lines crackling above me. It’s an electrical effect known as a Corona Discharge.

What I could hear was the sound of the air breaking down electrically, and moisture in the air helps to speed the effect. Sometimes you can hear this crackling it’s snowing, or when there’s a heavy fog.

If you are very lucky when you hear it, you can see the blue luminous “crown” of tiny sparks that gives this breakdown its name; “corona” is Latin for crown.

But when I took this photo, the heavy rain stopped me from seeing anything very clearly; it could have been happening right above me and I’d never have known.

The higher the voltage in the wire the more likely is the discharge to occur, and this pylon near Winslow carries 400,000 volts, nearly 1,700 times the mains voltage in your home.

This huge voltage doesn’t seem to bother the cows, grazing under the lines at the far side of the field. They are just getting on with it.

There’s been research on whether cattle, and also some deer, behave differently under these lines. There’s supposed to be a magnetic effect. But the four articles I read, all about the same piece of research, contradicted each other.

I couldn’t make any sense out of it, but what do you think?

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Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Road closed due to floodingEasy to change-over warning signs on the road to Oxlane bridge.

You might have noticed that it’s been raining a bit. While we don’t seem to have it as bad as some areas, the ground has been saturated and Padbury Brook has burst its banks.

At the Medieval bridge at Thornborough, the water on Monday had risen four feet above the level I’d seen in December.

Flooding at Thornborough bridgeThornborough bridge on Monday.

Six arches of Thornborough BridgeThornborough bridge at the beginning of December last year.

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Bench Marks for North Bucks

Granborough Brook bridgeGranborough bridge. But what's that, bottom left?

What’s this strange metal object built into the bridge? It’s an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark, and it was put there for map making. The number 1967 isn’t the year it was installed; it was built into the bridge in about 1914.

Bench mark 1967The OSBM.

There are thousands of these bench marks in the UK, numbered in sequence on long surveying lines across the country.

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Ancient Hollington Wood

(This is the second post about bluebell woods in the North Bucks Wanderer’s stomping ground. The first post is here.)

It was Saint George’s Day. I had already visited two woods that day, this was the third and last.

Hollington Wood is privately owned, and although there are no footpaths through the wood, there are two permissive paths that are nearly always open. The wood is a couple of miles South of Olney, not far from the A509. It has a very nice display of bluebells this year, including at least one albino example.

I drove up the back road to Olney, then came out South from the town and back towards Milton Keynes. I turned left on to the Newport Road, about 250 yards past the Newton Blossomville turn. The Newport Road was the old main road, now bypassed.

Bluebell in Hollington WoodBy the permissive path.

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