by Natalie & Helen Gerrish from Hiya Bucks
Authentically local, trusted and valued, hiya bucks is written for, and about, Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire is our home. It’s where we live and do business. With hiya bucks we support and nurture the local business community and want to see the county thriving in all areas. Our passion for Buckinghamshire is the ethos that runs through everything we do. One of our most popular features that continues to bring new readers to hiya bucks is ‘Our Beautiful Buckinghamshire’ (OBB); showcasing the beauty of this county that we are so lucky to call home.
We have collated some of our previous OBB articles, as we write these for our monthly magazines, in the hope that if you live nearby these areas and you’re daily exercise may include a walk from your home around the local area these places will come of use. Or, if like us you’re staying indoors whether that be your bedroom, living room or garden to do your daily exercise, hopefully you can save this article for the summer when we’re able to explore the local area all over again!
We had no idea that Florence Nightingale used to live here in Bucks; and no idea we would ever be standing in her bedroom!
The Claydon Estate is north of Aylesbury, seemingly miles from anywhere. Set high on a hill, the view of unspoilt countryside is spectacular.
The estate consists of Claydon House, The Courtyard, the landscaped gardens and the surrounding parkland. Walking around the parkland is free but there is a small admission charge for Claydon House (National Trust), The Courtyard and the gardens. The house contains over 400 years of history of the Verney family, some of which still live there to this day.
Built by Ralph, 2nd Earl Verney in the 1760’s, the house is an example of 18th C extravagance. Huge double height rooms are filled with ornate wood carvings of faraway lands, all painted white. It was built to demonstrate wealth and status, and it certainly does that. When you visit see if you can find the tiny painting of the hot air balloon. Let me know if you do.
The Courtyard houses an interesting collection of art galleries, studios and independently run craft shops. It’s a hub of creativity with exhibitions and workshops galore, attracting people from all over the country. There is a 2 bedroom cottage to rent if you want to extend your visit and stay a couple of days.
Amongst the artisan businesses you will find the Phoenix Tea Rooms. Now don’t think of the tea rooms as just somewhere to have a cup of tea; they offer so much more than that. We had the most delicious Phoenix Burger with chunky homemade chips and mugs of warming hot chocolate.
The tea rooms also sell local produce and we couldn’t resist buying the Claydon Set Honey which apparently is made by hard working Claydon bees!
Florence Nightingale (her sister was married to Sir Harry Verney) lived at the house and you can visit some of the rooms she used and even lie on her bed if you want to. You can also try on some of the 18th C replica costumes and sit on the sofas to read through scrapbooks.
The landscaped gardens were designed by James Sanderson, a pupil of Capability Brown. With herbaceous borders, attractive pools, a decorative walled garden, and an interesting fernery, there is plenty to explore. Follow the circular Phoenix Trail and get the kids to find the wooden plaques.
For further information and to check opening times visit www.claydonestate.co.uk
The Claydon Estate, Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire, MK18 2EX
Aylesbury is our county town and is located right in the centre of Buckinghamshire. It is very accessible from all directions and is home to the Waterside Theatre. Opened in 2010 by Cilla Black, Aylesbury Waterside theatre is big, bright and airy and this is where we began our walk.
A statue of Ronnie Barker, casually leaning on the wall in front of the theatre, commemorates his first professional appearance right here in Aylesbury, in the County Theatre in Market Square in 1948. I wonder if he had any idea at just how popular he would become. Where would we be without his famous “four candles” sketch, or was it “fork handles”?
From here we walked along the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal. It’s the longest canal in the UK and stretches from London to Birmingham. I’m not sure how far you can walk, maybe all the way to either end, but we only had time for a short walk today. It was nice to see the towpath busy with families and a bunting clad narrowboat gliding past serving afternoon tea; how very relaxing! We loved looking at the brightly coloured decorations (painted by local residents) under the bridges which go over the canal.
After our canal walk we headed to Market Square, the oldest part of Aylesbury and full of history. Here you can see Aylesbury’s famous lions, kindly donated by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1887 from his Waddesdon Estate. Tucked just around the corner you’ll find the world’s only statue of iconic David Bowie and his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust. As with Ronnie Barker, Aylesbury was the location of Ziggy Stardust’s first outing too. It has only recently been erected and we expect David Bowie fans from around the world will travel to Aylesbury to pay their respects.
Church Street is the location of the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, a museum in honour of its namesake. Inspired by Roald Dahl, Aylesbury host a WhizzFizzFest each year which is enjoyed by thousands of people. It’s usually a weekend in June, if we’re lucky we might just be able to make it this year!
We finished our afternoon walk, as we so often do, in a café enjoying hot chocolates and cake. I mean who doesn’t love a bit of cake?!
On a freezing day in early January the sun was shining and there were no clouds in the sky so off we set to discover somewhere beautiful.
Located 2 miles beyond Wendover and just past RAF Halton, is a turning to Wendover Woods. Drive up the lane and you’ll see a small right hand turning almost opposite the entrance to Chiltern Forest Golf Club. It’s easily missed… well we missed it! If you are using Google Maps it’s probably best to follow directions to the golf club, HP22 5NQ, and keep your eyes peeled for the Wendover Woods turning.
There is a spacious pay and display car park which costs £1.70 for 2 hours or £3.30 for 4 hours, this may have changed so check their website for updates.
There are many choices of paths through the woods, including activity trails for children, fitness trails for adults, cycle paths, bridle paths and of course plenty of footpaths. We chose the Hill Fort trail which took us around the remains of Boddingdon camp, an Iron Age Hill Fort dating back 2,500 years. From here there are amazing views of the Aylesbury Vale where, on a clear day, you can see for miles and miles.
Wendover Woods has plenty of picnic benches for warmer days, BBQ areas, toilets and a welcoming cafe. All in all, it’s a great way of getting some fresh air and exercise and is suitable for the whole family. If you visit Wendover Woods see if you can find the Gruffalo.