Paul Graham, Director of the Colne Valley CIC, led this year’s annual Colne Valley Park walk, which explored 5 miles of countryside, including working and derelict farms.
The walk showed off some of the best features of the Colne Valley Park, whilst highlighting the successes and difficulties of farming in the urban fringe of Iver. This was linked to one of the Colne Valley Park’s aims and objectives – to achieve a vibrant and sustainable rural economy, including farming and forestry, underpinning the value of the countryside.
The total length of the route was 5 miles. 28 walkers took part, starting at Wingrove’s Farm Shop at 10.30am. The pace was easy going, with lots of opportunities to pause, rest and enjoy the surroundings.
We left the farm at Mead’s Bridge on Slough Arm of the canal, and learnt about the industrial heritage of the area stemming back to Victorian times when William Mead was listed as a brickmaker and farmer at Shredding Green from 1895 to 1910.
The second major stop was Huntsmoor Park Farm, owned by Bucks County Council, with tenant Bill Lidgate, and a thriving business despite high rents, thanks to diversification. John Whitby explained how it was economic for both he and Bill to keep Rowley Farm cattle at Huntsmoor. Bill listed many ways in which he had managed to diversify, including use of the land for commercial storage, dog training, grazing donkeys, keeping animals for educational purposes etc.
The third stop was Palmers Moor Poultry Farm, cut in two by the M25 in the 1980s but until earlier this year supplying eggs to the community. Ted Barlow spoke eloquently of how he had come to Palmers Moor in 1950 where three generations of the Pearce family had farmed the land.
The fourth stop was Coppins Farm, formerly the home farm to the estate of the Duke of Kent. The land is owned by an absentee foreign landlord and has been derelict and unused for over 30 years.
The last farm to be viewed was the former Love Green Farm, now completely rebuilt as a private house and no longer used as a farm, although some of the land is used for horses.
As well as highlighting farming in the Colne Valley, we showed people some very attractive local countryside. Extensive views of the Thames Valley to Windsor Great Park and the Runnymede Hills, autumn colours and lots of wildlife along the Slough Arm of the canal – including iconic herons, the braided waterways and lakes of the Colne Valley, Little Britain, Huntsmoor Park, and quiet country lanes via Delaford Manor, Coppins and Love Green.
Our sincere thanks go to farmers Tony & Claire Wingrove, Bill & Sylvia Lidgate, Ted & Ruth Barlow and John Whitby who gave up their time and in some cases allowed us to walk on their private land for the day only.
Written by Paul Graham