Our retreat is located on the very edge of Wendover but because most of the village is located on the other side of the High Street it means that the centre – with all its facilities – is only about 5 minutes walk along the Heron Path alongside a charming stream.
The name Wendover comes from the Celtic Gwyn Dŵr which means White Water. At times of high rainfall this stream is coloured white by the chalk that is washed out of the Chiltern Hills on its way north to the River Thame and thence the Thames. The babbling of the White Water not far away will lull you to sleep in your yurt every night.
The path to the village runs past a meadow called Witchell. The legend of Witchell (originally either Witch Well or Witch Hill) is that the Christians tried to build the village church there but every night the stones were mysteriously removed to the site of the current church. With a name like Witchell it seems that this meadow was almost certainly the prime pagan site in the village. So it looks as if the followers of the old religion in Wendover were very aware that an appropriation of their sacred space was about to take place and took direct action to prevent it. This is quite unusual as in most places the Christian church simply took over pagan sites and got away with it. It was a recognised part of its technique to convert followers of the old religion.
Wendover High Street is part of the ancient Icknield Way which runs at the foot of the Chiltern Hills. This was already a major trading route when the Romans invaded Britain. Not surprisingly there are many ancient sites and earthworks up and down this route which continues into Wessex as the Ridgeway after crossing the River Thames at Goring. The modern Ridgeway long distance path follows this route and is a signposted path for walkers running from Ivinghoe Beacon to Avebury. It passes our garden gate and Chiltern Yurt Retreat makes an ideal stopping off point.
Only a couple of miles away, out in the Vale of Aylesbury runs the St Michael Line. First observed in the 1960s this alignment (running from Carn lês Boel in Cornwall to Hopton in Norfolk) is the longest possible landline in England and also passes through numerous ancient sites such as St Michaels Mount, Glastonbury Tor, Avebury and Bury St Edmunds Abbey. The route was dowsed in the 1980s and the authors of the study claimed to find two dowsable ways spiralling around the linear alignment – each one linking numerous sites. On one they were dedicated to St Mary and on the other to St Michael. Nobody can really say what the meaning of all this really is but it’s an interesting phenomenon nevertheless.
These are just some of the lesser known features of the Buckinghamshire countryside which has a quiet beauty and is surprisingly unknown to the millions of people who live less than an hour’s train ride away in London. For more mainstream attractions take a look at: