If you’re riding out from London, look out to your right where you’ll see some rising hills and greenery.
A landscape of beauty and defence
This is the start of The Chilterns, one of the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – sort of like National Parks. It’s a heavily wooded landscape, full of ancient woodland, bluebells, beech and oak trees. And plenty of history too.
Beyond Pangbourne village, across the river in the distance, you can see a rise in the hills.
Here stood one of The Chilterns many ‘hillforts’: three thousand years ago, Bronze Age communities began constructing these protected camps for trade, defence and communities. Bozedown Camp hillfort, which stood on the hills in the distance, was thought to have been built in the Iron Age.
The ancient routes of England
There are more than 20 of these hillforts in the Chilterns. Some are on hilltops, others hidden deep in the ancient woodlands, and many sit near to the ancient Icknield Way, which runs through The Chilterns and is said to be one of the oldest roads in Great Britain, and one of the few to have existed before the Romans occupied the country.
A thousand years ago it was already known as one of the Four Highways of England.
And ancient flora too
If you get a chance to explore The Chilterns, do. Walk along its trails and enjoy its ancient woodland culture and villages. You will fall in love there.
And if it’s springtime, you might even get to see some of their famous bluebell carpets. (But please don’t pick them – these fields of flowers take hundreds of years to grow!)