Like most of us, I am less than thrilled that Covid-19 is still sloshing round the UK. It is tedious, it is worrying, but it will pass. First Tier 3, then Tier 4, now complete lockdown all mean the Butterfly Loft is closed, forlornly waiting for you to come and visit when you’re allowed to do so, dear reader.
However, the law’s the law (as is common-sense ref social distancing), so in the meantime let’s just deal with this as best we can. And for me that means seizing what opportunities we can for fresh air and exercise. Also has the additional benefit of reducing the impact of the mince pie season.
One of the many great things about the Butterfly Loft is its proximity to gorgeous countryside and great walks.
Sometime before Christmas (i.e., before lockdown) our neck of the woods had an awful lot of rain. The ground was absolutely sodden. Peter and I did a walk from Granborough across to North Marston crossing several fields. It’s a lovely walk with beautiful view, but on this occasion by the time we were passing Marstonfields we looked as though Willy Wonka had thrown the entire chocolate factory at us. Yes, that ground positively squelched when we walked on it …
After that we monitored the situation and avoided field walks. The water levels have gradually been reducing but it’s still incredibly soggy. One option is the Milton Keynes Redways (an excellent topic for another time), but we really enjoy being in the countryside if possible, so Plan B is walking on the smallest, quietest roads we can find – these are the yellow roads. And when I clicked the heels of my boots together, just like Judy Garland, we had our wish for a lovely walk.
We managed to identify four or five walks which are mostly on yellow roads within a permissible distance of the Butterfly Loft, so we got togged up and off we went for a walk starting at Water Stratford.
In my brightly coloured bobble hat, I was doing a fairly good impression of a small, determined tea cosy on legs. It’s pretty hard to be on top of things sartorially at this time of year isn’t it? The cold makes us dive for our thickest, woolliest clothes, our ears and noses go that cute shade of Barbie pink, our eyes (if we can see past the swathing layers at all), tear up a bit with the cold and on our feet are sturdy footwear, generally Great Big Boots. But heigh ho. One’s elegance must take a knock if you want to get up close and personal with nature in winter.
Leaving Water Stratford, we took a tiny yellow road to Finmere, we passed a large cat surveying life from the shelter of a garden gate with whom we exchanged pleasantries. The road was so quiet we only passed about four other people and about the same number of buildings. And that was more or less it until we got to the village of Finmere.
Finmere is a small, rural community of approx. 400 inhabitants, located on the borders of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, in the UK. According to The New Oxfordshire Village book he name ‘Finmere’, means pool frequented by woodpeckers. What a lovely idea. It’s a pretty village with a pub (The Red Lion) and a 14th century church, St Michael and All Angels.
From Finmere we walked to Fulwell, then on to Westbury (coffee-from-a-flask and socially distanced chat with a passing local), then back to Fulwell, diverted to Mixbury, then retraced our steps back to Water Stratford. It was about eight miles in total.
The great thing about the yellow roads is that although you can’t avoid some traffic, most of it is joggers, dogwalkers and cyclists. Some of the cyclists are a bit of a menace when they ride up behind you but don’t ring a bell or call, but most are fine. Nothing is perfect. The great thing is there are relatively few cars and social distancing is very easy.
It’s an absolutely lovely area, new to us from a walking point of view, very pretty and full of interesting looking footpaths. At the moment, we’re not allowed to go even as far as Water Stratford, but we’ll definitely come back to explore some more when things are back to normal.
Stony Stratford is a wonderful place to escape to for staycation or work! If you’re thinking of staying in Milton Keynes and you want somewhere characterful, historically fascinating and tranquil with some great walking as part of the package, do get in touch.