diamond geezer

 Sunday, January 12, 2014

There are walks you could do but you won't. This is one of those. A 12 mile walk through Milton Keynes that goes nowhere near the central shopping district.

Wolverton → Bletchley

Before Milton Keynes, the north end of Buckinghamshire was mostly fields and villages with the Grand Union Canal winding through. And then the new town came, covering 34 square miles with low density housing and greenspace, of which the artificial waterway was now a part. It sweeps round from Wolverton via several residential neighbourhoods to the north and east of the city before exiting at Bletchley, and all of this with only one single lock at the southern end. I could describe the 12 mile walk in detail, from station to station, but instead here are 20 things you could see along the way. [map] [map]

1) Wolverton station: The halfway point on the London to Birmingham railway. Once this meant tea rooms where passengers got a cuppa while their trains refuelled, plus one of the largest maintenance works in Britain. Today's relocated station is absolutely nothing special.
2) The Train Mural: A black and white steam loco and carriages, 160 metres long, painted onto the wall facing the canal beside the Secret Garden by Bill Billings, co-creator of the concrete cows.
3) Grafton Street Aqueduct: Here the canal passes over V6, one of twelve 'vertical' roads forming MK's famous grid.
4) Bradwell station: If you divert off the canal, slightly, you can follow the route of the disused Wolverton to Newport Pagnell Railway, now a cycleway, and one very obvious ex-platform along the way.
5) Bradwell Windmill: As a reminder that Milton Keynes really was once very rural, it contains a 196-year-old windmill (currently smothered in scaffolding).
6) Funion Bargee: A bright lilac narrowboat owned by the Milton Keynes Play Association, bringing recreational opportunities to a towpath near you.
7) Great Linford Church: A 13th century church beside the canal. Some other bits of MK are even older.
8) Linford Wharf: The Newport Pagnell Canal used to leave the Grand Union here. It was only a mile and a quarter long, but was partially built over by a railway in 1864, and now only the winding hole remains.
9) Giffard Park I thought the two feet sticking out of a bivouac on the towpath belonged to a reclining angler... until I spotted two other feet sticking out, playfully. Some other kind of fishing, I suspect.
10) Moorings: A lot of narrowboats are tied up for the winter beside the towpath in MK, some belching woodsmoke, others with portable satellite dishes on the roof.

11) Willen Lake: You have to divert briefly away from the canal to see this east MK treat. The lake's in two parts, the northern half dominated by the Peace Pagoda, and the southern half currently overspilling onto the perimeter path, drowning the miniature railway and allowing swans to paddle through the adventure playground.
12) Gullivers Land: A small adventure park for little kids, between Campbell Park and Willen Lake, featuring Lilliput Land and 28 rides.
13) Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway: A long-planned-for canal, still on the drawing board after two centuries, which might one day leave the Grand Union beside Childs Way (H6).
14) Milton Keynes Village: Contrary to popular belief MK wasn't named after economist John Maynard Keynes, it was named after an existing village swallowed whole by the 1960s development.
15) Mud: It's a bit soggy underfoot along the towpath at the moment, but then you'd expect that when a month's worth of rain fell in the first week of January.
16) Bridges: There are at least 20 bridges over the canal on its sweep through MK, each individually numbered. Some are characterful, old and arched, while others support arterial roads and are broad and concrete-y.
17) Dog walkers: The towpath to the north of MK was busier than I expected, mostly with residents leading hounds. The towpath to the east, and especially the southeast, were rather less so.
18) Miles 7-12: To be fair, pushing on all the way to Fenny Stratford is probably overdoing it, and you could have made a break for it back at Campbell Park and aimed for the centre of town instead.
19) Fenny Stratford lock: Built as a 'temporary' measure in 1802, this lock has a drop of only a foot, and a swing bridge across the centre for pedestrian escape.
20) Bletchley: Better to divert here for a train home than wait up to an hour at Fenny Stratford's minor halt. Best hurry through the less than lovely town centre. And don't rest your muddy boots on the seats on the ride home.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream