Location – Situated on the Ouse Valley Way between Foscote and Thornborough Mill is the Buckingham Canal Nature Reserve near Hyde Lane lakes. This site is owned by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and leased to Buckingham Canal Society. BCS manages all aspects of the nature reserve as well as undertaking restoration work. The towpath that runs through this section is a part of the Ouse Valley Way and can be accessed from various other footpaths that join onto it. It is most easily accessible from where the Ouse Valley Way crosses the Thornborough Road opposite Leckhampstead Wharf.
History – As part of the original line of the canal, this site has the original lock chamber (Lock Number 1) which was partly rebuilt in 2008 with funding from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd) ensuring the integrity of the structure.
More recently, redundant lock gates were donated by Canal & River Trust (CRT) and these have been fitted into the lock to help show how it would have looked in its heyday.
BCS activity – As an example of some of the conservation work we have undertaken at this site, the ancient towpath hedge has been restored by laying and replanting where necessary for a significant part of its length through the nature reserve. This will improve habitats and increase the linear migration route for insects, birds and other wildlife. Further hedging and general maintenance is done at the site each year outside the bird nesting season.
In December 2012 BCS was awarded a CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) MARK for its contribution to “Protecting and Enhancing the Buckinghamshire Countryside” for its work on the hedge.
Videos – You can view a video made by University of Buckingham Journalism students about preparation of the site for the lock gate installation by clicking here and another video of the gates being installed by clicking here.
Current status – Work is ongoing to bund and re-water this site.
Next steps – Regular work parties return to strim and control the vegetation growth in this stretch of original canal which is in an excellent state of repair and needs minimal work to enable it to be re-watered. We are working to produce detailed plans and budgets for this.
If you would like to get involved please click here.
Work Party Location – Driving from Milton Keynes along the A422: after the sign for the village of Foscote look for a large pylon on your right and a brown sign for Winslow Auctions. Opposite the sign is a farm gate and we meet there at 10.00. For work parties the gate will be open from 09:45 to 10:10. If the gate is unattended please drive through it and down the track, the car park is at the bottom of the track on the left shortly after the field ends (see map below). There is no public access from this point unless as part of a pre-planned work party. Public access is via public footpaths including the Ouse Valley Way.
Here is a location plan for the site. Address for the entrance gate to the access track is opposite Home Farm, Stratford Road, Foscott, MK18 5EX