Ouse Valley Park
The Ouse Valley Park lies in the flood plain of the Great Ouse which flows from Oxfordshire to the Wash. The park is the most rural of any found in Milton Keynes and is a great place to go to experience the feeling of the countryside without leaving the city. Old trees, hedgerows, meadows, and new plantations combine to provide excellent habitats for wildlife.
What to see and do
Stony Stratford Nature Reserve is located between Queen Eleanor St, Stony Stratford, and the A5. The reserve provides a variety of artificially created wetland habitats especially for waterfowl and waders. It was created from the gravel workings which supplied materials for the building of the A5 Trunk road. This site has been subject to a programme of works to enhance the quality of the habitat for wildlife, especially wetland birds, including the formation of a new island and new ponds and ditches. A bird hide is provided for viewing of the main lakes and meadows.
Water Mills have been a feature of this river valley since at least the Domesday Book surveys in 1086. Those at Wolverton Mill and Stony Stratford would have been extended and rebuilt many times over the years. The Stratford mill was destroyed by fire in 1985 but has been rebuilt on the original floor plan as private apartments. Its millrace, which had long been dammed and practically static, has now been reopened and the Trust is working on removing collapsed trees etc from the channel to allow it to run naturally. The Mill at Old Wolverton was last rebuilt in the 18th century and is now a private house. The millrace here is lined by hybrid black poplars and lesser spotted woodpeckers can sometimes be seen in their upper branches.
The Iron Trunk Aqueduct carries the Grand Union canal over the Ouse at a height of 10.8 metres and connects Wolverton and Cosgrove. The Grand Union (or Grand Junction canal as it was known until 1929) was built between 1793 and 1805 to link London with the industrial Midlands and North. The aqueduct was renovated in 2012 by British Waterways and it was restored to its original colours. Once an industrial artery carrying a wide range of goods in horse-drawn narrow boats, the Grand Union is now a popular route for walking, cycling, and pleasure boating. Scrub and marshy areas border the canal's route through the park and form and provide an excellent habitat for a variety of birds. There are steps up to the canal from the riverside walk and a tunnel which takes the path under the canal.
A number of way-marked walks can be enjoyed around the aqueduct and surrounding parkland. Follow the link for more information canalrivertrust.org.uk
Holy Trinity Church stands on what was formerly the site of Wolverton Motte and Bailey ( the large mound behind the church being all that remains). This was built in 1100 AD by the de Wolverton family who made it the the centre of their extensive estate. The remains of the other estate buildings and the homes of the villagers who worked it can still be seen in the lumps and bumps that dot the fields both east and west of the church.
Manor Farm stands on the site of a large medieval "grange" a monastic farm established here by the Oxfordshire priory of Clattercote. The earliest buildings that remain on the site date from the 17th century but most of the farm was rebuilt in the early 19th century. After falling into disrepair the farmhouse is being refurbished and sympathetically converted into apartments, while its outbuildings have been transformed by the Parks Trust into modern business units which are now available to rent.
The lower lying land to the north of the farm will soon be the site of the Floodplain Forest restoration, which will recreate an ancient and wildlife-rich environment, now lost to most of Europe.
The Ouse Valley Park is an excellent spot for cycling and walking, away from roads.
For full programme see our what's on pages.
The mix of ancient trees, hedgerows, meadows, and new plantations combine to provide excellent habitats for wildlife - which will be further enhanced as the Floodplain Forest develops. Look out for woodpeckers, while along the river itself you may be lucky enough to see kingfisher or little grebe.
Need to know
The park follows the river from the west of Stony Stratford under the A5, the Grand Union Canal, and the West Coast Main Railway Line to New Bradwell.
At the Iron Trunk visitors can choose to climb up to the Grand Union Canal and continue north or south along the towpath.
The park and car parks are open at all times throughout the year. There is no admission fee.
Free parking is available (see map)
There are no public toilets at this site, but the hotel has customer toilets during opening hours.
Refreshments can be found at Stony Stratford, Wolverton and New Bradwell alongside the park. At Old Wolverton the route passes directly by the Wolverton Mill pub restaurant.
There are good all-weather paths around lake with some steep gradients at north end of lake.
Calverton Rd, Stony Stratford
Queen Eleanor St, Stony Stratford
Wolverton Mill Drive, off Stratford Rd, Wolverton
Opposite Galleon Pub, Old Wolverton
Haversham Rd, Haversham
New Bradwell Allotments
There are no public toilets in the park, but public toilets in Stony Stratford town centre at its north west end.
Access is generally good but midway through the park the path passes under the canal at the Iron Trunk. At this point the route is narrow and dark, making it unsuitable for those in wheelchairs, or motorised carriages.
Make a day of it
There are plenty of options for extending your outing. At the Iron Trunk you can ascend to the canal towpath up a steep path and detour toward Cosgrove in the north or south towards Great Linford and beyond.
You can also join the Railway Walk linking New Bradwell and Newport Pagnell, or head south towards Bradwell to join the Loughton Valley Park.
Proposed Manor Farm Quarry Extension
A new project is proposed between construction materials company Hanson UK and The Parks Trust to extend the existing Manor Farm sand and gravel quarry in the Ouse Valley Park (the Floodplain Forest habitat creation project) to land to the east of Haversham Road, New Bradwell.
Subject to planning permission, the quarry extension will take place over a two to three year period, following which the site will be restored to an area of enhanced wildlife habitat and returned to the care and management of The Parks Trust.
The project will require the retention of the sand and gravel processing plant at Manor Farm. The restoration scheme includes formation of areas of floodplain meadow, ponds and a lake with varied margin profiles and an island that will provide valuable habitat for bird nesting. A plan of the proposed restoration scheme can be downloaded here.
The Parks Trust will receive income from the sand and gravel sales, which will be used to manage the parks and landscapes in its care, improve park facilities and develop new areas of parkland.
About 60 local residents attended a one day public exhibition in January at Wolverton Park Bowls Club to view proposals to extend the existing Manor Farm sand and gravel quarry.
Hanson has submitted a planning application (reference 13/00148/MIN) to Milton Keynes Council for the extraction of sand and gravel resources in land off Haversham Road. You can view the application here.
Phil Bowsher, Head of Landscape Strategy & Development for The Parks Trust, said: “It was great that so many people made the effort to come to the exhibition. We had some very constructive discussions about the project.”
A copy of the planning application can be viewed, by appointment, at The Parks Trust's offices at Campbell Park Pavilion. Please call Phil Bowsher on 01908 233600 to arrange a viewing. If you have any questions or comments about the project you can also call Phil on this number, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.