Craving fresh air and a stretch of our legs during these short dark days of winter we made the most of a brief spell of sunshine to go for a walk in the beeches. Burnham Beeches is a National Nature Reserve and European Special Area of Conservation and has been a tourist attraction for more than 130 years. It is currently accredited with both the Green Flag and Green Heritage awards which recognize high standards achieved in an open space for people to enjoy.
The beeches are extensive (540 acres) and consist of woodland, heath, wood pasture and wetland. The closed tarmac roads are ideal for cyclists, horse-riders, families with buggies and wheelchair users. However there are plenty of muddy footpaths where kicking up the leaves is always a fun pastime for any age.
The 1 km sensory trail (easy access path and even surface) visits woodland, wood pasture and the pond with five special sculptures to touch, listen to or even sit on.
You can visit any day of the year and the car parks are open from 8 am until dusk. Responsible dog walkers are welcome but Dog Control Orders apply at all times. From Monday-Friday 10 am–4 pm less mobile visitors can borrow an electric off-road buggy and blue badge holders can gain access to the Car Free Zone.
Registered as a charity, and owned by the City of London, the funding to maintain the beeches comes from grants, car park charges (£2 all day charge at the weekends or on bank holidays), visitor donations and films. Revenue from the Harry Potter films (scenes from the first and last films were shot in Burnham Beeches) raised sufficient funds to open the Beeches Café, managed and run by Kavan Harley.
Kavan has been able to source images from a hundred years ago showing tourists travelling to the beeches from London on a bus and then enjoying a cup of tea in what was then called Wingrove Tea Rooms. Cards depicting these images are available to purchase from the Beeches Café for just £2.50. The café also serves hot and cold food, slices of delicious homemade cake, ice creams and other snacks with plenty of outdoor seating to choose from. Cups of tea only cost £1, very refreshing! If you need to spend a penny though, don’t worry, there are clean toilets available for all to use.
We’ll definitely be heading back very soon to walk off the excesses of Christmas as it’s only a short drive away. If you visit the beeches too please say Hiya to Kavan in the café from us.
For more information please visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/burnhambeeches or telephone 01753 647358
Let us know if you visit the beautiful Burnham Beeches and please send us your photos.