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Making Tracks at Quainton

Recall the great days of steam travel on this walk to Waddesdon.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Mainly field paths, some stretches of road, parts of North Buckinghamshire Way and Midshires Way, 22 stiles

Landscape Gentle farmland in Vale of Aylesbury

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 181 Chiltern Hills North

Start/finish SP 736189

Dog friendliness Mostly on lead, particularly near farm buildings

Parking Brill Tramway Path car park, parking on extreme left. Permission given by Buckinghamshire Railway Centre

Public toilets Buckinghamshire Railway Centre

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© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 Leave the car park, turn left and cross the road bridge over the railway. From the bridge there is a good view of the railway centre and the preserved station. The entrance to the site is on the right. On leaving the railway centre, bear right and follow Station Road towards Quainton. Pass lines of houses and, when the road curves round to the left by a bus stop, turn right at a footpath sign and stile to follow a track between fields. Quainton and its windmill can be seen over to the left. Go through a gateway and turn right to join the North Buckinghamshire Way.

2 Follow the edge of the field to a gate and continue to a stile in the distant boundary. Cross three more stiles before reaching the railway line, Quainton Road Station lies away to your right. Cross two stiles and follow a track to a right-hand bend. The outline of Waddesdon Manor can now be glimpsed up in the trees, to the right of the church. As the track bends right, cross a stile into the field and turn immediately right.

3 Skirt Glebe Farm and cross a track via two stiles, continuing on the North Buckinghamshire Way. Aim diagonally right to two stiles and continue alongside a hedgerow in the next field. Cross two stiles and join an enclosed path running into Waddesdon. On reaching the A41, turn right, crossing Quainton Road and Frederick Street. Pass the Lion, the Methodist church and the post office before reaching the parish church of St Michael and All Angels on the right.

4 Follow the road out of the village, passing the Bell pub. Keep to the A41 and look for an old stone milepost, 'London 44 miles'. In 50yds (46m), beyond the speed derestriction sign, turn right at a stile and waymark. Cut through the trees to a second stile and continue ahead in the field. Cross a concrete farm track, pass under power lines and aim for a stile in the boundary hedge. Littleton Manor Farm can be seen near by.

5 Aim slightly left in the next field to reach a stile and then go diagonally left across the next pasture to the far corner. Look for a narrow gap in the hedgerow, cross two stiles and walk ahead, passing alongside some corrugated animal shelters. Make for two stiles, turn right and follow the road back to the car park.

The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is one of those wonderful visitor attractions where, if you've the spirit and the imagination, you can wallow for hours in nostalgia, reliving the days when Britain could be justly proud of its railway system.

Covering 25 acres (10ha), the site boasts one of the country's largest independent collections of railway engines and rolling stock, with vintage steam train rides and half-day steam locomotive driving courses among its attractions. As you begin your tour of the centre, gazing in awe at the Victorian station with its flower-filled platform and adverts for seaside holidays, and the steam engines, the leviathans of the railway age, being restored in the nearby sheds, spare a moment to consider how it all began.

In 1968 the London Railway Preservation Society decided on Quainton Road Station to store old railway stock and memorabilia, leading to the birth of a new railway visitor attraction. Significantly, it chose the meeting point of three railways - the Metropolitan Railway, the Brill Tramway and the London extension of the Great Central Railway. The London Railway Preservation Society became the Quainton Railway Society Ltd whose dedicated members now own and operate the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.

Originally opened in 1868 as part of the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway, Quainton Road Station was absorbed by the Metropolitan Railway in 1890, becoming one of those far-flung rural stations you tend to associate with the best of Ealing comedy films. In those days you could change at Quainton Road for the Metropolitan Line and travel all the way to Baker Street. Look out for the authentic station sign on the platform at Quainton Road, advising passengers to change here for the Metropolitan Line. By the turn of the 19th century, it was also possible to travel from here direct to London's Marylebone or north to Manchester.

However, the Beeching cuts of the 1960s finally sounded the line's death knell. In 1963 the station closed to passenger traffic and three years later the Great Central main line closed and the line through the station was reduced to a single track. Today, the line may be quieter but the crowds still fill the platforms, savouring the thrill of a ride on a steam train.

Where to eat and drink

There are refreshments at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and several pubs in nearby Waddesdon, including the Lion, which offers a daily menu, and the Bell where you may find chicken, ham and leek pie among a range of dishes. Morning coffee and afternoon tea are also served.

What to look for

At 158ft (48m) long, including the tower, St Michael and All Angels at Waddesdon is a spacious church. It celebrated its 800th anniversary in 1990, the first stones of the church you see today were laid around 1190.

While you're there

Make a point of looking at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre's superb visitor centre, which opened in 2001 and is housed in a former Oxford station, painstakingly rebuilt at Quainton Road.

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