Monday, 26 March 2012

Yelden to Melchbourne

Yelden to Melchbourne

Distance - 11.12km
Time Taken - 2hrs 25mins
Assent - 83m

The excuses for not walking could last no longer (I was recovering from the SWCP...honest) and with another stunning day forecast I thought I should get back out there.  I remembered to use some sunblock this time but could of done with a hat!  Today's walk was into the unknown of North Bedfordshire.  I just never got round to coming up here, there isn't much in the way of anything to drag me up here. 

The small villages are nice and quiet and in many ways represent traditional rural England, bit old, bit new, bit thatched.  Yelden (Also spent Yeilden and Yeldon depending on which road sign you see, no really it has no official spelling...add a bit eccentric to the list!) is a quiet village with just 1 pub and the remains of a Motte and Baillie castle.  See only in England could the remains of a castle be so nondescript!

The Motte, ramparts and moat.
The path is well signposted and easy to follow.  For the most part the route was across general farmland and was a pleasant gentle walk.  A few hills and a bit of woodland to make things interesting.  And it was the woods where the things got interesting later.

The sky remained cloudless throughout and to be honest I (yet again) underestimated how warm it was.  A hat would of been nice!  I saw a couple of dog walkers but on the whole was left to my thoughts and my map. 

The walk led through Meltchbourne Park and had nice views of Melchbourne House, an old stately home with what looked to be extensive grounds back in it's prime. 

Never seen this in a wood before...
It's not often in the leafy Bedfordshire countryside I've come across a sign warning me of poison gas!  I knew Meltchbourne House was used by the USAAF during WWII  and it was now I remembered that various woods in the area had been used as bomb dumps.  Some of the ordnance was not the nicest with Mustard Gas bombs being stored in underground tanks.  The mustard gas was burnt after the war but as many things at that time it was a half arsed job.  Chemicals leached into the soil contaminating the land. 

Despite being cleaned up after the war it was as late as 1988 before a proper clean up happened (they found Gas bombs still on the site.) however even with modern methods some of the site is still full of nasties!  The woods all seem to have concrete pathways (some now bridleways) running through them, showing how extensive this bomb dump was.

Melchbourne House
All in all it was a nice day out.  A walk for a sunny day as it lacks any real highlights that would drag you through if it was raining!

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