A Good Local Walk
What have the Great Train Robbery, one of the oldest post mills and a barometer set in stone got in common?
Want to find out? Why not try one of my favourite walks in Brill, just outside Oakley (coincidentally where we are holding this year’s charity shoot). The walk is approximately four-and-a-half miles and usually takes a minimum of one-and-a-half hours. Dogs are welcome but for larger dogs be aware that there are at least 8 stiles and the walk crosses open farmland with livestock, so don’t forget the lead. Of course, I would recommend using an Ordnance Survey Map or AA Route Map, but here is a rough guide:
Drive up the hill to the village of Brill and park in the car park next to the Pheasant Inn – on a good day you can see for miles. I usually like to take a moment to admire the stunning views across
Buckinghamshire. The Old Windmill stands on the edge of the village, overlooking the surrounding countryside. The mill dates from around 1680 and is actually a post mill – a rather unique structure as the windmill’s whole body revolves around a central post to face the wind. In its day it would have milled
barley and this is believed to be one of the oldest structures of its kind in the UK. The nearby pits indicate that clay was extracted for use in brick and tile manufacture. From the car park walk down South Hills, next to the Pheasant Inn, keeping the windmill on your right and join the track on the left when you see the signpost for Leyhill. Bear south, passing rolling grassland and a plank bridge, until you reach Little London Green on the outskirts of the village of Oakley. Walk to the end of this road and turn right on to Brill Road before taking the first path on the left (opposite Little London Farm). Head diagonally left across this field and make for a gateway. Cross the next field, heading towards a waymark and galvanised gate, and then continue across the next pasture to a stile and track. The walk will take you around Leatherslade Farm where the Great Train robbers holed up immediately after the robbery (in fact, this was the farmhouse where Ronnie Biggs left his fingerprints on the tomato sauce bottle, which led to his arrest and directed the police to the other members of the gang). Once clear of the farmhouse buildings, bear left heading north towards Brill again and keep climbing gently, passing several public footpaths on your right until you reach a gate in the top boundary. Follow the track to the road and head left back towards Brill, passing the Wesleyan Chapel on your left and the village church over to the right (across the green). Pass The Square and the turning for Oakley on your left and continue on the road round to the right (High Street) and look out for the barometer in the wall. This is quite unusual and dates back to 1910 when it was erected in memory of Sir Edmund Verney of Claydon House in grateful recognition of his devotion to the welfare of the people of Brill and for his tenure as the district county councillor. Bear left into Windmill Street and return to the car park and the Pheasant Inn for a well-deserved post-walk drink (I liken it to an après ski drink).
By Paul Rushworth