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Out and About - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

The area west of London, which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, is often referred to as "Upper Thames".

Oxfordshire includes parts of three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the north-west lie the Cotswolds, to the south and south-east are the open chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs and wooded hills of the Chilterns. The north of the county contains the ironstone of the Cherwell uplands. Long-distance walks within the county include the Ridgeway National Trail, Macmillan Way, Oxfordshire Way and the D’Arcy Dalton Way. The central part of Oxfordshire contains the River Thames with its flat floodplains; the river forms the historic county boundary with Berkshire. The Thames Path National Trail parallels the river as it crosses Oxfordshire, continuing towards London. There are many smaller rivers that feed into the Thames such as the Thame, Windrush, Evenlode and Cherwell. Some of these rivers have trails running along their valleys. The Oxford Canal follows the Cherwell from Banbury to Kidlington.

Berkshire is drained by the Thames. Two main tributaries skirt past Reading, the Loddon and its sub-tributary the Blackwater draining parts of two counties south and the Kennet draining part of upland Wiltshire in the west. West Berkshire hosts the varying-width plain of the River Kennet rising to high chalk hills by way of and lower clay slopes and rises. To the south, the land crests along the boundary with Hampshire; the highest parts of South-East and Eastern England taken together are here. The highest is Walbury Hill at 297 m (974 ft). To the north of the Kennet are the Berkshire Downs. This is hilly country, with smaller and well-wooded valleys those of the Lambourn, Pang, and their Thames sub-tributaries.

Buckinghamshire can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hills to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesbury and the Borough of Milton Keynes, a large and relatively level expanse of land that is the southern catchment of the River Great Ouse. The county includes parts of two of the four longest rivers in England. The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Eton and Slough so that the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse rises just outside the county in Northamptonshire and flows east through Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Olney. The main branch of the Grand Union Canal passes through the county as do its arms to Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover (disused) and Buckingham (disused). The canal has been incorporated into the landscaping of Milton Keynes. The southern part of the county is dominated by the Chiltern Hills. The two highest points in Buckinghamshire are Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods at 267 metres (876 ft) above sea level, and Coombe Hill near Wendover at 260 metres (850 ft).

Some useful links


Bernwood Meadows

[]Bernwood Meadows is a 7.5 hectare nature reserve near Oakley in Buckinghamshire. It is managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

This traditional hay meadow has over 100 plant species, including lady's bedstraw, green winged orchids and cuckooflowers. It also has many species of butterfly, for me it's the best place to see the rare black hairstreaks. There are plenty of other things to see, but seeing these beautiful butterflies makes the journey worthwhile.

There is access from the road between Stanton St. John and Oakley. There is an issue with parking as you can only fit 3 cars in at a pinch in the car park so some come early!

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