Ouzel Valley Park
The Ouzel Valley Park meanders from Walton Lake in the south to Willen Lake in the north. The park has a spacious, open atmosphere with long views. Much of the land is still leased for grazing by The Parks Trust and between the livestock you can still see the remnants of an old field system. Incorporating the villages of Woolstone and Woughton, the park is bordered on its western side by the Grand Union Canal.
What to see and do
The Poplar plantation
This lies at the northernmost end of the park and is planted with a striking mix of 19 species of this lovely tree, including some rare varieties. The plantation also features willows, including cricket bat willows which are exported to Pakistan, South Africa and Australia to make top-class cricket bats.
The Ouzel Valley Park is dotted with the remains of medieval villages and their associated fish ponds. Some of these villages may have been wiped out by the great plague in 1686 but most were simply abandoned as people moved further from the river to avoid flooding and as increased trade reduced their reliance on fish for food. There are interpretation boards throughout the park to help you make sense of what you are seeing. Towards the southern end of the park you can also see an undulation in the surface of the grassland. This is "ridge and furrow" and was caused by medieval ploughing. It demonstrates both that the riverside fields were used for medieval agriculture and also that they have not been ploughed since. If you are interested in historical agriculture it is also well worth visiting Milton Keynes Museum at Wolverton.
The community orchard
This is located in Woughton on the Green just south of the Olde Swan between the Newport Road and the Canal. The apple trees are all of old english varieties and the apples are free for anyone to take. Please help yourself but do not climb or damage the trees.
The Ouzel Valley Park is an excellent spot for cycling and walking, away from roads. Where its route borders The Open University there is often a cricket or football game to watch.
For full programme see our What’s On pages.
The mix of ancient trees, hedgerows and meadows provide excellent habitats for wildlife. Look out for woodpeckers, while along the river itself you may be lucky enough to see kingfisher or little grebe.
If you’re particularly interested in wildlife it’s well worth detouring from the river bank to do a circuit of Walton Lake where reedbeds and bird hides bring a huge mix of bird and insect life close to view.
Need to know
The Ouzel Valley Park lies between the Grand Union Canal and V10 Brickhill Street and is bordered in the north by H6 Childs Way and in the south by H8 Standing Way.
The park and car parks are open at all times throughout the year. There is no admission fee.
There are six car parks in Woolstone village, five of which are dotted along Newport Road, while the sixth is at the junction of Pattison Lane and Marshalls Lane. Another two car parks are located in the village of Woughton On the Green, one just south of H7 Chaffron Way and the other adjacent to the Parkside Hotel to the south of the village centre.
There are no facilities within the park but there are public toilets at South Willen Lake which is 5 minutes walk from the top end of the park.
There is a shop in Woughton on the Green where you can also find the Olde Swan pub. A further two pubs - the Barge and the Cross Keys - are located on Newport Road in Woolstone village.
Access is good as the site is generaly flat and the gates are all wheel chair accesible. There are also numerous benches and tables throughout the site should you wish to take a break.
Make a day of it
There are numerous ways to extend your day out, in the north by continuing on to do a circuit of Willen Lake, in the south by continuing via Simpson village to Caldecotte Lake and in the west by crossing through the fields at Woughton to join the canal towpath in either direction.