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A Tour of Milton Keynes, City of the Future

See how a brand-new city has been shaped and styled on this unique walk with a strong architectural theme.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient Negligble

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Paved walkways, boulevards and park paths

Landscape City centre and park

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 192 Milton Keynes & Buckingham, or street map from tourist information centre

Start/finish SP 842380

Dog friendliness Probably not most dogs' idea of fun

Parking Car park at Milton Keynes Station

Public toilets Milton Keynes Station and shopping centres

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1 With your back to the station, aim slightly left, line up with a row of flag-poles and make for two underpasses. Keep ahead along Midsummer Boulevard, passing the sculpture on the left. Make for the next subway and cross Witan Gate and Upper 5th Street. Swing left just before the next subway to visit the domed Church of Christ the Cornerstone. Keep the church on your left and continue to Silbury Boulevard, passing under the subway.

2 Turn right and pass Milton Keynes Library and Exhibition Gallery. Pass North 9th Street and a statue of the Lloyds black horse at Lloyds Court. Swing right and pass under the road to approach the shopping centre at Deer Walk. Don't enter the complex here, but instead turn left and walk along to the next entrance at Eagle Walk. Go straight through, pass a map of the shopping centre and emerge at Midsummer Boulevard.

3 Turn left to Field Walk and turn right here to cross the boulevard. Bear left to reach the tourist information centre, Milton Keynes Theatre and the city's gallery. Continue ahead under the subway and cross the footbridge into Campbell Park. Skirt the round pond and make for the beacon that represents the highest point in the park. As you approach it, turn sharp right and follow the path as it snakes down through the park. Roughly 30yds (27m) before a circular seat bear sharp right to join a grassy path alongside a fence. Make for a kissing gate and turn right. Walk along to the next path junction, with a kissing gate on the right. Turn left here, back towards the centre of Milton Keynes. Keep to the left to join a wide concrete ride and follow the waymarked city centre route.

4 Cross the road bridge to Bankfield roundabout and go straight ahead along Avebury Boulevard. Cross Secklow Gate and Lower 10th Street, and turn right into Lower 9th Street. Pass The Point and bear left into Midsummer Place shopping centre. Cross the concourse and pass the police station. The Church of Christ the Cornerstone can be seen from here. Keep left and return to Avebury Boulevard, turning right to the underpass. Walk down to Grafton Gate, veer right just before it and head for Midsummer Boulevard. Go through the underpasses and return to the railway station at the start.

Much has happened to Milton Keynes since 1967 when an area of almost 22,000 acres (8,910ha) was designated for the construction of a new city. But why Milton Keynes? The planners and architects of the day considered its location at the heart of England to be just about perfect. Centrally positioned within the country, only an hour from London by car on the new M1 motorway and easily accessible by train, the city's communication links were seen as ideal.

It was in around 2000 bc that people first settled here and the remains of the earliest known house in the area date back to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. Later, the Romans occupied this part of the country, their farms and rural settlements were served by two towns - Lactodorum and Magiovinium. Near by ran Watling Street, now the A5, linking London, the West Midlands and North Wales.

During the 19th century the Milton Keynes area of Buckinghamshire began to expand, largely due to the dawning of the railway era that brought industrial prosperity to places like Newport Pagnell and Wolverton. The opening of the M1 in 1959 sealed the area's future as the site of a new city required to meet the demands of the business world and its employees, and accommodating a quarter of a million people within its boundaries. The task of housing a growing population became a priority and, as the 20th century drew to a close, attention was focused on Milton Keynes as the place to live and work.

Richard Crossman, Minister of Housing and Local Government (1964-66) supported the plan for a new city. Initially it was envisaged that Milton Keynes would consist of high-density settlements connected by monorail to a commercial centre - an innovative move and a far cry from the old concept of garden suburbs as developed by the London planners. However, the monorail system was eventually shelved in favour of a dispersed network of housing within a grid pattern of roads.

With its tree-lined boulevards, green squares and stylish office buildings, it's hard not to be impressed by Milton Keynes. It may get a bad press in some quarters, and there are those who feel it has too strong an American influence, but the city has been designed with convenience, mobility and modern living in mind. There are many who say it works.

What to look for

Milton Keynes likes to compete at the cutting edge of modern architecture. Equip yourself with information leaflets about the city and head off in search of a host of unusual buildings and eye-catching sculptures. One building to look out for is The Point, which opened in 1985, and takes the form of a striking 70ft (21m) high, mirror-sided ziggurat (a rectangular stepped tower) upon which a red tubular pyramid structure has been superimposed.

While you're there visit the church of christ the cornerstone - the first purpose-built ecumenical city centre church in britain. the church is 101ft (31m) high, to the top of the lantern, while the cross rises a further 18ft (5m), making it the highest point in the city. surrounding the church is a cloister and adjacent is the guildhall, a meeting place for business and commerce in milton keynes.

Where to eat and drink

There are plenty of café bars and restaurants in Milton Kenyes, providing a wide-ranging choice of food and drink. Midsummer Place shopping complex offers a particularly good selection.

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