Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is a Home County in southeast England. It’s a popular rural idyll – and home to many London commuters, increasing the locality’s affluence. It borders Greater London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
The county’s notable countryside includes the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stowe Landscaped Gardens. Its many historic National Trust houses include Claydon House, home to Florence Nightingale. Anne Boleyn owned property in Wendover. The Prime Minister's private country retreat, Chequers, is also here. Buckinghamshire also hosts Bletchley Park – the site of British codebreaking and Colossus, the world's first computer. Roald Dahl lived here, commemorated by a children’s museum. Other resident writers included TS Eliot, Enid Blyton, and Mary and Percy Shelley.
The county town is Aylesbury; the largest is Milton Keynes; while densely-populated High Wycombe, Amersham, and the Chalfonts form parts of London’s commuter belt. Other large settlements include Buckingham, Marlow and Princes Risborough
The county’s rich history started in the Celtic and Roman periods. Later, the English Civil War was reputedly started in mid-Bucks. The county flag comprises red and black halves with a white swan in chains – which is also the county’s emblem (swans were formerly bred here for the king's pleasure). Its motto is ‘Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum’, which means 'no stepping back' in Latin.
Road: Four motorways serve Buckinghamshire: The M40 links to High Wycombe and Beaconsfield; the M1 serves Milton Keynes; the M25 and M4 also pass through the county. Other major roads include the A5, A421, A41, A40 and A4. Internally, the A413 and A418 link the county’s north and south.
Rail: Buckinghamshire is well connected to the national rail network with both local commuter and inter-city services. The main train operators are Chiltern Railways, First Great Western, London Midland, and Virgin Trains.
Air: The closest airports to Buckinghamshire are London Heathrow (45-mins drive) and London Luton (also 45 mins) airports.
Bus: Several bus services run, including Arriva, Carousel and Redline, servicing all corners of the county.
Cycle: With over 2,500 miles of cycle lanes, cycle routes, paths with cycle access and public bridleways, cyclists will feel very welcome.
Water: Companies like Grebe Canal Cruises offer tranquil boating down the Grand Union Canal.
Country Life identified the best towns and villages in Buckinghamshire for commuters seeking an easy journey into London. It named Amersham as a town with “good schools and excellent access to some of the prettiest countryside in southern England”. Long Crendon was reviewed as “the sort of village that everyone dreams of buying a house in”. The magazine also recommended the large village of Haddenham.
Meanwhile The Guardian focused on the pretty, historic streets of Marlow – “one of the original down-from-Londoners’ honeypots”. It mentioned Tom Kerridge’s two-Michelin-starred pub, The Hand & Flowers, as a notable local lure. While admitting that the “hefty period piles” on the town’s riverside are out of most people’s price league, there are also “cottagey Victorian terraces, and drop-dead-gorg lanes like St Peter’s Street. Some groovy 1960s homes, too. Most affordable are the postwar estates.”
Milton Keynes-based Isis Relocation recommended four districts of Milton Keynes. Willen was included partly for its lake designed to capture flash floods. Walton, on the banks of the River Ouzel, is the place to be "if you enjoy peace and quiet, nice scenery, as well as the feeling of living in a small village/town". Stony Stratford was summarised as "one of the best areas of all...if you want to be near quite a few pubs, shops and restaurants". Middleton also made the vote for its surrounding scenery.
Buckinghamshire’s wide variety of excellent shopping facilities ranges from lively urban centres to picturesque market towns with traditional high streets and smaller, unique shops. Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre comprises two adjacent centres: the grade II listed building thecentre:mk, which is anchored by John Lewis, House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer; and intu Milton Keynes, which has a Debenhams.
Aylesbury’s town centre provides modern malls, specialist shopping and market-sought bargains. Bicester Village retail park offers savings on designer goods. Thriving High Wycombe and the bustling Eden Centre hoard great retail therapy and entertainment facilities. Most market towns host boutiques and independent shops – including Amersham, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Marlow, Princes Risborough, Wendover and Winslow. Also look out for traders selling speciality foods and household goods. Numerous venues serve locally produced food and drink; from farmer's shops to delis, breweries and garden centres.
Sport: Milton Keynes Dons are the county’s primary football club. The international Silverstone Circuit, home to the British Grand Prix, straddles the Buckinghamshire/Northamptonshire border. F1 team Red Bull Racing are headquartered in Milton Keynes. Stoke Park has tennis courts while its golf course hosted 007’s golfing duel in Goldfinger. Marshall Milton Keynes AC is one of England's leading athletics clubs. Rugby union clubs include Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Olney. Semi-pro ice hockey clubs Thunder and Lightning play at Planet Ice Milton Keynes. The town’s also home to Total Action Wrestling; Milton Keynes Armwrestling club; and Milton Keynes Fencing Club. It also boasts a growing Parkour movement.
Family: The award-winning Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden is aimed at 6 to 12 year olds. Xscape indoor ski slope facilitates snowboarding and Airkix indoor skydiving. At Go Ape! Wendover zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders and other obstacles await.
Cultural: Bletchley Park, site for Britain's codebreakers during World War II, is now a flourishing heritage attraction. The National Museum of Computing is also here, based in the first purpose-built computer centre in the world. Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway is an award-winning heritage railway. Wycombe Swan theatre stages theatrical productions.
Outdoors: The Chiltern Hills is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Magnificent Waddesdon Manor boasts one of the country’s best Victorian gardens. The 18th-century Stowe Landscape Garden is internationally renowned. Chenies Manor House won the 2009 Christies Garden of the Year Award. There’s Boarstall Duck Decoy and Nature Reserve. Milton Keynes is also favoured by anglers.
Events: The Milton Keynes Marathon is held annually. Under The Apple Tree Roots is broadcaster Whisperin’ Bob Harris’s festival in Stowe. Get hot under the collar at Waddeson Chilli Festival Weekend. The Spring Art Show at Cedar Maze includes a sculpture garden. Oenophiles will love Bucks County Wine Trail Spring Tour. Bristol Antique Auto Show is the longest-running event of its kind. There’s the Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place; the family friendly Bucks County Dragon Boat Festival; and the all-day Quakertown Alive! attracts 8,000 people. Washington's Christmas Day Crossing re-enacts colonial-era games.