Choose model villages, vintage trains or iconic cars. The homes and gardens of poets and politicians. Windmills and wildlife. Secret places for revels, rituals or cracking codes. Dip into the rich assortment of Chiltern treasures to find the things that will make your day.
Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve is one of the best examples of ancient woodland in Britain. Famed for its beech and oak pollards – many of which are more than 400 years old – it is also home to a rich variety of fungi, plants and animals.
There has probably been woodland on the site since the retreat of the last ice age, but today’s landscape was created by people. One of the three Scheduled Ancient Monuments on the reserve shows that the area was inhabited as early as the Iron Age. Today Burnham Beeches is characterised by a diverse mixture of ancient woodland, wood pasture, coppice, ponds and streams, grassland, mire and heathland. The site’s most prominent features are the veteran Beech and Oak pollarded trees which provide a stable habitat for many rare and endangered deadwood species.
In Victorian times many of the old trees were given names because of their distinctive shapes; ‘His Majesty” was one of the largest, the ‘Elephant tree’ was like an elephant on its back, the ‘Lace Maker” was where the ladies sat to make lace and the ‘Maiden tree’ was an old tree that had never been pollarded . At over 700 years old, ‘Druid’s Oak” is probably the oldest tree still alive in Burnham Beeches. Oak trees were revered by the Druids but the origins of the name are unclear. In 1942 most of the wooded area and a large part of East Burnham Common was requisitioned by the War Department. Further areas were taken a year later. Burnham Beeches became a vehicle reserve depot where military vehicles of all types were stored in preparation for the D-Day landings.
Since then, the Beeches are a popular filming location and such diverse titles as Carry on Camping, Goldfinger, Harry Potter and Midsomer Murders. There are numerous walking and cycling trails that can be accessed here
Visit the quirky Bunyan Museum to discover why the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan was known as the Bedfordshire tinker, preacher, prisoner and author. The Museum tells the story of this renowned 17th century author, pastor and preacher.
Harry Potter comes to the Chilterns!
Secrets of the Harry Potter movies are revealed on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London 10 miles from Berkhamsted. The behind-the-scenes tour includes sets, costumes, props and animatronics and showcases the artistry, technology and talent that went into making most successful film series of all time.