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13 November 2021: Leighton Buzzard ‘Old Linslade Circular’ 9.5 miles, Beds/Bucks

Event led by Tom M.
Attendance: 14 men and 1 dog.
Distance: 9.15 miles (14.7 km).
Time: start 11:10, end 15:54, lunch 36 minutes.
Speed: brisk with pauses, i.e. GPS reported via GPS Prune (compressed) ave speed at 2.35 miles per hour (3.78 km per hour).
Terrain: pavement, canal towpath, road, track, grass, meadow on footpath, bridleway, highway.
Elevation: start 85m, high 166m, low 71m.
Weather: overcast, clement, 11°C.
Number of sewage works: 0.
Number of churches: 1.
Number of golf courses: 0.


This was a circular walk of 9.15 miles (14.7 km) from Three Locks, near Stoke Hammond, N then E to Great Brickhill, E to Kings Wood, S to Old Linslade then NW to Three Locks. A partial closure of the planned route caused the start point to change from its original planned point.

This event is one of Herts GOC’s rare events that started in Buckinghamshire. For those of us driving to the start point from Herts, even the drive featured a novelty: wide, fast roads of Beds and Bucks.

The speed at which we could drive to the event was matched by mild despair when we discovered the car park was almost completely full. As it turns out, some sort of marathon event was taking place, and we arrived at the same time the runners were passing through the Three Locks. So the car park was jammed with the runners’ supporting entourage. Thankfully, as the runners ran on – as runners tend to do – the entourage jumped back into the cars, presumably to race to their next support point.

Upon departure, the first phase of the route featured the towpath along the Grand Union Canal, alongside the River Ouzel and not-quite-close-enough to a golf course.

The second phase of the walk featured mainly hardstanding towards Great Brickhill, the well-heeled suburb of Milton Keynes and Bletchley. The route scaled up a hill on the approach to Great Brickhill, offering medium views WSW likely towards Drayton Parslow (~ 4.3miles, 7km).

Lunch took place in the grounds of St Mary the Virgin at Great Brickhill. The church boasted warm brown stonework, quite distinct from the densely cropped flint that we commonly see in Hertfordshire. Inside the church, the walls positively dripped with memorials to the late, great and good of the centuries. There was, and still seems to be, money in this parish.

As we approached the church, a volunteer warden said that we were welcome to eat inside the church if we wanted, “But please don’t leave crumbs, because I’ve just hoovered the floor,” she said, pointing to the vacuum cleaner she was about to lump into her car. Five of us ate inside the church, the remainder crammed onto a table in the churchyard, and one member wandered around the group offering an exquisite homemade fruit cake. Absolutely zero crumbs left of the cake, anywhere, least of all on the church floor.

Phase three of the walk started with a long view over, and into, Milton Keynes at the highest point of Great Brickhill. From here on, the route was largely on grass and track. Our destination in this phase was King’s Wood, part of Rushmere Country Park, a nicely maintained wood, with lots of services for tourists (and a lot of tourists besides us!).

The fourth and final phase of the walk started through the hamlet of Rushmere, followed by road then towpath back to the start point, again alongside the River Ouzel, squeezing out the last of the afternoon light available to us.

The optional pub at the end was the Three Locks at Stoke Hammond, at which 9 walkers attended.

The event was planned in line with GOC’s covid-secure policy. This walk required no particular mitigations.

Words by Martin Thornhill. Pictures by Peter O’Connor.

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