There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bluebells in Dockey Wood and the Pitstone Windmill


We headed south to Buckinghamshire to help celebrate our daughter’s birthday and it was her idea to visit Dockey Wood.

This is bluebell season, and there are colonies in most woodlands, but in Dockey Wood they are spectacular.
Bluebells, Dockey Wood

The wood is part of the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate which straddles the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire border on the dip slope of the Ivinghoe Hills, covering 20km² of woodland, common land and chalk downs

Normally the public has free access to the whole estate and controversy has surrounded the NT’s decision to make a small (£3) charge for entry to Dockey Wood for this and next weekend, after which the bluebells will be gone. I can appreciate their reasoning; the woods are understandably popular at this time of year and the numbers need managing.

Bluebells, Dockey Wood

The charge applies form 10am to 4pm. We turned up at 4.30 as the car park was emptying and paid nothing – and the woods were far less crowded.

Bluebells, Dockey Wood

This blog is about places rather than people and welcomes visitors from all over the world, most of whom do not know me personally. Perhaps, then, it is an inappropriate place for a family photograph, but I like this one and so may the substantial minority of visitors who are 'family & friends'.

Family photo, Dockey Wood


The conjoined villages of Ivinghoe and Pitstone lie to the north of the hills and Pitstone Windmill sits in a field nearby.

You are now entering Pitstone

We strolled there in watery Spring sunshine that was pleasantly warm - at least in sheltered spots. Windmills are, unsurprisingly, built where there is wind and on the open ground we felt a steady breeze with a keen cutting edge.
Pitstone Windmill and Ivinghoe Beacon

Built in 1627, though parts of it might be older (and the restored parts younger!) the mill was originally also owned by the Ashridge Estate. Seriously damaged in a storm in 1902, the ruin was sold to a local farmer in 1922 who donated it to the National Trust in 1937. Renovation began in 1963 and was carried out by a group of volunteers.
Pitstone Windmill

It is a post mill, the upper wooden section designed to rotate on a central post to catch the best wind. Although the milling machinery inside is kept in working order, the wooden section can no longer turn.

Pitstone Windmill and the wheel that once helped it turn
Ivinghoe is a short distance away across the fields, the 13th century church of St Mary being the most obvious landmark.


Update 14/05/16

The 14th of May was Windmill Day and along with out grandson and other children, parents and grandparents of the local school  - not forgetting the staff, who turn out (unpaid) on a Saturday as teachers so often do - we went to see the Ben the Windmill, as he has been christened and had a look inside.

Two sets of millstones, Pistone Windmill
Belts and gear, inside the Pitstone Windmill
The post on which the mill used to turn to face the wind

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