In geomorphology an escarpment is a transition zone between different physiogeographic provinces that involves a sharp elevation differential characterized by a cliff or at the least a steep slope. (Well there’s at least 2 new words for me to sprinkle through future conversations in that sentence.) The Chiltern Hills, known locally, simply, as the Chilterns, are a chalk escarpment in south east England and as such is great walking country nearby to London. (Tricky plurality issue there all you grammar pedants.) And we’ve all probably seen the ‘filmed at Pinewood Studios’ at the bottom of the credits at the cinema. (In all likelihood at the end of some Bond film or another I’m guessing – although a lot of the Carry On catalogue were shot here and the last films in the Harry Potter series are in the final stages production at the moment.) Well Pinewood Studios can be found in Iver Heath, about 20 miles northwest of London just outside of the Chilterns. Although you can’t actually wander around the studio complex itself it’s still a pretty good location for a countryside walk with a difference.
Uxbridge tube station isn’t too far away but we arrived at Langley (overground trains from Paddington and Oxford) on a bright winter’s day. (Aah – here we go with the weather again!) Almost immediately you cross the Grand Union canal heading for Langley Park Country Park up the romantically named Love Hill Lane. Langley Park dates back to the 11th century as a deer park but was subsequently landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century. Often referred to as England’s greatest gardener, he designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure today. The park is dominated by a large country house that’s probably owned by some movie mogul or other. (Barbara Broccoli has a street named for her or possibly for her father Cubby.)
Not done with Buckinghamshire’s country parks we negotiated the A4007 and entered Black Park Country Park. (Am I the only one who thinks these names are a bit clumsy – too many parks?) While not by any stretch the worst dual carriageway I’ve had to cross on a walk the A4007 does merit caution especially if you’re marshalling a large group. In case you’re keeping count Buckinghamshire County Council administer 5 country parks – Langley, Black, Denham, Thorney, and Stockgrove. Not surprisingly given the proximity of Pinewood Studios the council bill themselves as a film friendly county and proudly list many of the films who have used their country parks as locations. Black Park has a large lake vaguely near the centre and was well used by dog walkers the day we were there.
Just after you get to the fenced area that marks the studios – peer through the fence and you can see the huge underwater stage in the distance – you start seeing banners proclaiming ‘Stop Project Pinewood’. Check out the site for more information but when I got home I gave it a look I nearly fell off my chair at the opening statement: ” …it would be stupid to relax the green-belt rules….because this would ruin the point of Britain”. Not much to argue with there you might think (although it is bit simplistic) but the surprise is who said it – Jeremy Clarkson. Did I mention simplistic. We’re now at the gates of the studios themselves. The studios were created in 1934 by the marvellously named Charles Boot – hope he was a walker.
We started back towards the station, retracing our steps only where necessary. We managed to include a trip down the canal on our way back just before arriving back at Langley. This 8 and a bit mile circular walk will take place Saturday 6 March starting from langley station leaving at 11 am. As usual all are welcome.