I have to admit that the Vale of Aylesbury was barely known to me — until one Sunday evening when the area was featured on the TV show Songs of Praise. Immediately I was seized with the desire to go there. The scenery looked beautiful, the towns and villages oozed charm, and the people looked warm and friendly. I just knew it would be the ideal place to spend a few pleasant days.
By mid-summer the opportunity presented itself and off I headed. The June sunshine was dappling the meadows and hedgerows as l drove into the gentle green vale, and a glimpse of brightly painted canal boats as I passed over a hump-back bridge had me pulling over and reaching for my camera.
I made my way down to the towpath. Here I was on the bank of Grand Union Canal which stretched all the way from London to Birmingham. Once it was a main artery of commerce as horse drawn barges pulled the fuel and fruits of England’s industrial revolution to and fro. Now it was a pleasant winding waterway given over to pleasure cruising and serious walking.
A canal boat in smart livery of red, gold and black cruised slowly past, and I reflected that this was probably more my style of travelling.
Back on the road I drove slowly through the pretty town of Ivinghoe, stopping to look at Pitstone Windmill, one of several that dot the tourist map of this part of Buckinghamshire. Under the wide sweep of the mill sails the slender spire of Ivanhoe’s church showed above the trees on the skyline. It was a scene of pastoral English tranquility that was almost timeless.
Finally I reached the pleasant market town of Aylesbury. There’s a special magic about markets. They are local meeting places as well as places to buy and sell and Aylesbury’s was no exception. Here the colorful Saturday market thrived around the elegant clock tower in Market Square. A cheerful bustle of people shopped and chatted, renewing old friendships and catching up on the local news.
Not far from the busy heart of the town was peace of the churchyard and the 13th century church of St Mary. This is