Thinking of moving to Buckinghamshire? Here is some information on the County
Buckinghamshire (/ˈbʌkɪŋəmʃər/ or /ˈbʌkɪŋəmʃɪər/, abbreviated Bucks; archaically the County of Buckingham) is aceremonial county in South East England. It borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.
Buckinghamshire is a home county and towns such as High Wycombe, Amersham and the Chalfonts in the east and southeast of the county are parts of the London commuter belt, forming some of the most densely-populated parts of the county. Development in this region is restricted by the Metropolitan Green Belt. Other large settlements include the county town of Aylesbury, Marlow in the south near the Thames and Princes Risborough in the west near Oxford. Some areas without direct rail links to London, such as around the old county town of Buckingham and near Olney in the northeast, are much less populous. The largest town is Milton Keynes in the northeast, which with the surrounding area is administered as aunitary authority separately to the rest of Buckinghamshire. The remainder of the county is administered by Buckinghamshire County Council as a non-metropolitan county. In national elections, Buckinghamshire is considered a reliable supporter of theConservative party.
A large part of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, runs through the south of the county and attracts many walkers and cyclists from London. In this area older buildings are often made from local flint and red brick. Many parts of the county are quite affluent and like many areas around London this has led to problems with housing costs: several reports have identified the market town of Beaconsfield as having among the highest property prices outside London.Chequers, a mansion estate owned by the government, is the country retreat of the incumbent Prime Minister. To the north of the county lies rolling countryside in the Vale of Aylesbury and around the Great Ouse. The Thames forms part of the county’s southwestern boundary. Notable service amenities in the county are Pinewood Film Studios, Dorney rowing lake and part of Silverstone race track on the Northamptonshire border. Many national companies have offices in Milton Keynes. Heavy industry and quarrying is limited, with agriculture predominating after service industries.
The county can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hills to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesbury, a large flat expanse of land, which includes the path of the River Great Ouse.
The county includes parts of two of the four longest rivers in England. The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Etonand Slough so that the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse rises just outside the county in Northamptonshire and flows east through Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Olney.
The main branch of the Grand Union Canal passes through the county as do its arms to Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover (disused) andBuckingham (disused). The canal has been incorporated into the landscaping of Milton Keynes.
The southern part of the county is dominated by the Chiltern Hills. The two highest points in Buckinghamshire are Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods (a stone marks its summit) at 267 metres (876 ft) above sea level, and Coombe Hill near Wendover at 260 metres (850 ft).
Quarrying has taken place for chalk, clay for brickmaking and gravel and sand in the river valleys. Flint, also extracted from quarries, was often used to build older local buildings. Several former quarries, now flooded, have become nature reserves.
Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes) is served by four motorways, although two are on its borders:
- M40 motorway: cuts through the south of the county serving towns such as High Wycombe and Beaconsfield
- M1 motorway: serves Milton Keynes in the north
- M25 motorway: passes into Bucks but has only one junction (J16-interchange for the M40)
- M4 motorway: passes through the very south of the county with only J7 in Bucks
Five important A roads also enter the county (from north to south):
- A5: serves Milton Keynes
- A421: serves Milton Keynes and Buckingham and links the M1 to the M40
- A41: cuts through the centre of the county from Watford to Bicester, serving Aylesbury
- A40: parallels M40 through south Bucks and continues to Central London
- A4: serves Taplow in the very south
As part of the London commuter belt, Buckinghamshire is well connected to the national rail network, with both local commuter and inter-city services serving some destinations.
Chiltern Railways is a principal train operating company in Buckinghamshire, providing the majority of local commuter services from the centre and south of the county, with trains running into London Marylebone. First Great Western provides commuter services from Taplowand Iver into Paddington. London Midland provides commuter services from Milton Keynes Central into Euston whilst Southern provides services (via the West London Line) from Milton Keynes to Croydon.
For intercity services, Virgin Trains runs services from Milton Keynes Central to Euston, North West England, the West Midlands, the Scottish Central Belt, and North Wales. Meanwhile, First Great Western operates non-stop inter-city services through the south of the county between Paddington and South West England and/or South Wales.
There are four main lines running through the county:
- The West Coast Main Line in the north of the county serves stations in Milton Keynes
- London to Aylesbury Line serves Aylesbury and other settlements along the A413 towards London. Once part of the Metropolitan lineof London Underground, which now runs to Amersham
- Chiltern Main Line: serves the towns along the M40 motorway including High Wycombe and Beaconsfield
- Great Western Main Line: runs through Slough. Slough is now in Berkshire, but the line enters Bucks twice, on either side of Slough, with Taplow and Iver both having stations in Buckinghamshire.
There are the following additional lines:
- Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line: a single track branch that connects the Chiltern Main Line to the London to Aylesbury Line.
- Marston Vale Line: between Bletchley and Bedford
- Marlow Branch Line: between Marlow, Bourne End and Maidenhead.
- Metropolitan line: between Amersham and Chesham to London
- Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, a preserved railway.
From 2017, Iver will have Crossrail services. From 2019, the East West Rail Link is to reinstate the route via Winslow between Oxford and Bletchley, enabling electrified services to Milton Keynes Central. The line between Aylesbury and Claydon Junction is also to be reinstated in the same programme, enabling services between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. [Electrification of the Marston Vale Line is not programmed, meaning that passengers for Bedford must change at Bletchley]. Finally, the High Speed 2 line may run non-stop through the county at some future date.
Education in Buckinghamshire is governed by two Local Education Authorities. Buckinghamshire County Council is one of the few remaining LEAs still using the tripartite system, albeit with some revisions such as the abolition of secondary technical schools. It has a completely selective education system: pupils transfer either to a grammar school or to a secondary modern school depending on how they perform in the Eleven-Plus exam and on their preferences. Pupils who do not take the test can only be allocated places at secondary modern schools. There are 9 independent schools and 34 maintained (state) secondary schools, not including sixth form colleges, in the county council area. The unitary authority of Milton Keynes operates a comprehensive education system: there are 8 maintained (state) secondary schools in the borough council area. Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are also home to the University of Buckingham, Buckinghamshire New University, the Open University and the University Campus Milton Keynes.