One of the wonderful things about Buckinghamshire is that its beautiful countryside is graced with interesting outdoor attractions never very far from a bustling market town. Now that all shops can open, a trip to a town and a country estate or outdoor museum or a walk in beautiful landscape is an option and a very enjoyable way to spend a day. Here are a few local attractions that welcome visitors to their outside spaces plus information on their nearest town.
Waddesdon Manor and Estate, the jewel in the crown of the National Trust, has re-opened its grounds (the manor house remains closed) but you must pre-book online. Numbers are restricted to ensure social distancing and the bus is not running from the car park so you need to be happy to walk up to the formal gardens. There you will find hand washing stations, toilets and a coffee kiosk. If you prefer not to visit in person, there is a wonderful selection of virtual tours and online resources so you can explore the beautiful house, exhibitions and gardens in all their splendour. You can even explore some interiors not normally open to the public. From Waddesdon, it's a short drive to the town of Aylesbury which has a large selection of shops to indulge in some retail therapy.
Beautiful Stowe House has also opened in its grounds with an online booking system in place. The house is closed but is being gradually renovated and you can watch videos of the amazing work by the Stowe Preservation Trust on their social media. Next up is the restoration of the Western Suite which includes The State Drawing Room, The State Dining Room and The Small Dining Room. The 3 year project will see the floors replaced, the historic ceilings restored and the original colour schemes reintroduced. From Stowe, the county town of Buckingham is a few miles away with its Georgian buildings, the Old Gaol, town hall and independent shops.
Hughenden Manor, home to Disraeli, is delighted to weclome visitors to its grounds once again. As above, please book online and follow all social distancing guidance. The Manor is close to West Wycombe which is a medieval village maintained by the National Trust and a favourite period drama filming location. The Hell Fire Caves, a quarter of a mile of man-made tunnels dating back to the 1750s, are currently closed but hoping to open soon.
The Chiltern Open Air Museum has a fascinating collection of over 30 reconstructed historic buildings from the Chilterns including an Iron Age roundhouse, 1940s prefab, blacksmith’s forge, Victorian toll house, tin chapel, wartime Nissen huts, an earthen cottage and an historic farm which is still worked today. Currently the historic buildings will not be open but visitors can explore the period gardens, ‘Dig for Victory’ allotment, fruit orchards, bodgers area and woodland. COAM’s shop and toilets are open and visitors can purchase takeaway hot and cold drinks and snacks from the Village Kitchen but the Museum’s café will remain closed. There are picnic tables on site and dogs are welcome on short leads.The museum has also produced 17 free downloadable resources to bring the learning home. They consist of a range of activities and research projects which include how to make an Anglo Saxon broach, how to design wall paper, how to find the melting point of chocolate and how to learn the Runic Futhork Alphabet and use it to write secret messages. The musuem is in Chalfont St Giles, a gorgeous part of the Chiltern Hills which attracted such famous residents as the poet John Milton and was the location for some of the filming of BBC classic 'Dad's Army'.
An attraction in itself, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a wonderful area in which to just walk and enjoy the stunning scenery, fabulous wildlife and breathtaking views; a truly bucolic experience. The whole of Buckinghamshire is blessed with gorgeous walks and parks, including Tring Park with its stunning chalk meadows and woodland rich in history and wildlife. The much loved Ridgeway is just up the hill from the town which has a vibrant Victorian high street with many independent shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. It also boasts two museums so you can get your cultural and retail fix before or after a walk in the Chilterns.