A nice walk that you can do even if you are particularly fit and that you can easily reach from London. This is Coombe Hill in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire. The walk goes around Coombe Hill and gives you beautiful views of the Aylesbury Valley.
In summer you will cross fields with grazing cattle, while in autumn you will have the opportunity to enjoy the rich colours of nature. Notice that these are chalk hills and under the ground you can see the unmistakable whiteness. This land and hill once belonged to the British Prime Minister’s summer home, Checkers. It is now managed by the National Trust. From the hill you can clearly see Checkers and its park.
A walk takes you to the top of Coombe Hill where there is a monument built in 1804 dedicated to the fallen of Buckinghamshire during the war in South Africa. The National Trust has all the details of this walk that are not difficult to follow. The walk takes about an hour and a half and is therefore doable even if you are not really fit. However, bring comfortable low shoes.
If you are coming from London and you don’t have a car, you can take the train from Marylebone station in London, in fact there is a line called Chilterns Railways Line which serves the Chilterns area. Get off at Wendover and from there follow the signs for the Ridgeway to get to Coombe Hill. Or take the Metropolitan Line to Amersham and buy a ticket to Wendover here. Take the train to Aylesbury, it’s only two stops and 13 minutes by train. There are two trains per hour so quite frequent.
There are several ways to get there from Wendover, in any case when you leave the station you have to cross the bridge over the main road and one of the two paths starts right after the bridge. In fact you will find a small path on the left just below the trasmission towers.
Cross the field and reach the houses then you can follow the instructions you find here. There are also alternative walks that cover a longer route. There are no detailed signs to Coombe Hill so you must have the instructions with you.
Once you’re back in Wendover, you can try Rumsey’s Chocolatiere, a pastry and chocolate shop inspired by the film Chocolat. The hot chocolate, cakes and chocolates are great too. If you prefer something else, there are three pubs not far from the station that also have food.
Albert Bridge in London, facts you might not know
Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in London, but perhaps the Albert Bridge is the most beautiful and certainly the most delicate bridge. Named after Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the best time to see this bridge is after dark when over 4000 lights illuminate it.
But its pastel colors play with the sunlight at any time, it is a bridge to be seen several times, with the sun, the moon and the clouds. The Albert Bridge connects Battersea to Chelsea and is a modification of a cable-stayed bridge but has been modified several times due to its instability. Initially, you paid to cross the bridge but it was not very successful and after six years it became a bridge open to the public.
If the bridge has a delicate look it is no coincidence, this structure has always been delicate and shaky since its inauguration in 1873.
The thing got worse with the advent of the car and heavy vehicles. Especially the SUVs driven by the wealthy inhabitants of Chelsea. Another problem was that the bridge was used by troops from Chelsea Barracks to cross the Thames, and hundreds of marching men were a danger to the bridge. For this reason you still see signs instructing the troops not to march on the bridge.
The problem of dogs on the Albert Bridge
Another thing that ruins the bridge is the urine of dogs taken for a walk from Chelsea to Battersea Park, in short, dog pee corrodes the wood of the structure.
In the 1950s, the bridge was due to be demolished, but vigorous campaigning by prominent supporters, including the poet John Betjeman, who was fighting at the time against the destruction of many historic buildings, stopped the demolition.
In 1973, pillars were placed to strengthen the bridge which remains the least used of London’s bridges. It was recently closed for restoration for a year and officially reopened in 2011 by two dogs from Battersea Dogs Home, aptly named Prince and Albert.
London: How to visit Hyde Park Pet Cemetery
In the northwest part of Hyde Park, almost hidden away is the famous Pet Cemeteryfrom the Victorian era. Not everyone knows where it is and it’s not easy to see even from Bayswater Road.
Opened in 1881, the animals of wealthy London families were buried here until 1903. It all started by chance when the park keeper a Mr. Winbridge allowed two children who always visited Hyde Park to bury their little dog Cherry in the garden. The following year another dog was buried and then another, until the cemetery began to become popular.
There are not only dog graves but also two cats, a couple of monkeys and other pets. They all have a small headstone exactly like a miniature human cemetery. There are over 300 small tombstones in the cemetery and often have writings that show how much these animals were loved by their owners.
Keeping pets was very fashionable among wealthy Londoners in the 1800s. The second dog buried here belonged to Prince George the Duke of Cambridge’s wife who was the granddaughter in the male line of King George III of the United Kingdom. He was an army officer and served as commander-in-chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895. The little dog was a Yorkshire terrier and was killed after getting under the wheels of a carriage.
To visit it you have to book one of the tours that are organised every now and then to see the animal cemetery, otherwise you can only see it from the outside. To see when there are organised tours you can look here. There are regular guided tours to visit the cemetery and the good thing is that they are completely free. Even the pandemic has not stopped these initiatives. If you want to participate, just book online.
Stowe House a large building from the 17th century
Stowe House, an old country house is located near the abandoned village of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. It is now a private school, but is open to the public during the school holidays along with the magnificent gardens and park.
The house was built in the late 17th century with the help of the great architect Christopher Wren who seems to have participated in the construction of most of the buildings in the second half of the 1600s. The palace was later modified,perhaps during the 1700s although the latest changes they were made in 1779. All the famous architects of the time such as John Nash, James Gibbs and Robert Adam worked to improve the building.
The palace belonged to members of the Temple family who made money and became members of the small aristocracy thanks to the sheep and wool trade. They bought the house and land here at the end of the 1500s but only a century later they decided to rebuild a home.
The Temple family produced several counts, viscounts and barons and their humble abode became a reference point for the nobility of half of Europe. The parties in this house were famous because they could last for days and days.
Now even if you manage to visit the villa, you will only see a limited number of rooms but it is worth going there only for the magnificent gardens which are managed by the National Trust, also during the course of the year there are always seasonal or artistic events. The gardens have several structures and statues and will keep you busy for a whole day.
Concerts coming up!
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