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May 2018


Years ago I gave a talk at Bow Brickhill, east of Milton Keynes at SP 913346.  I was enchanted with the place, mostly because of its easy accessibility to the heights of Aspley Heath, which drovers grazed their beasts on as they came south from Northampton to Watling Street.  (Then an 18C landscape enthusiast-cum-madman planted over fifty thousand pines on top, which made the route less appealing.)

 

 

The soil on the Heath is the opposite of the Northamptonshire clay I was used to: one of the paths is called Sandy Lane, which gives the game away.  The heath is well over 400 ft above sea level on average, so the thirsty beasts would have needed a lot of water.  Perhaps Pinfold Pond just west of Woburn was a popular stopping-point the other side.



I started at London End in Bow B. (#1) “London” is always a pulse-quickener and according to John Trimmer, who has studied the area far more than I have, there was an early Welsh settlement here, on what is now the field.  After a steep climb up a tarmac holloway (#2) I reached the sand and from then on the lane was true to its name (#3).  Sometimes the path narrowed before widening again.  It was charming. (#5,6)



Except for a few parts of the track where there are holloways it’s impossible to tell how old or drover-connected the path is, but it’s a smashing walk.  I advise you not to pick a weekend or a bank holiday, however.

May 2018 image 1
London End Field, BB
May 2018 image 2
Up to the top
May 2018 image 3
Sand & pines
May 2018 image 4
.Narrows...
May 2018 image 5
...Widens