Woburn Sands


On Sunday afternoon I decided to take the bus to Woburn Sands and walk around the area.

Getting started

Once I arrived, I left the town by the main road and walked a short distance before following a public footpath uphill into the woods. There's actually a lot of woodland in the area, mostly plantations on or near old quarries.

There was a sudden rain-shower; unusually, I had brought a raincoat. I didn't have to wear it for very long because the sun came out quarter of an hour later.

1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′29″N 0°38′34″W

Big shed

My first vague destination was a bit on the map where it said 'disused workings' and looked like a building. I wasn't sure if it would really be there, but it was! While not exactly the most exciting abandoned building in the world (and certainly not the best-roofed one), it wasn't even fenced off and there was a convenient path leading directly there.

I presume this used to be related to the sand quarry in some way, but who knows; not like there's a lot to distinguish it.

By the way, should you ever go out this way, I recommend having a cold like I did; the building currently hosts large piles of something that smelled (faintly, in my case) like manure.

North end of the building in the sun.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′24″N 0°38′27″W
Piles of wreckage that somebody has tidied up, presumably from the roof.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′24″N 0°38′28″W
What goes on? Wellllll... (I had Public Enemy No. 1 in my head when I read that, but apparently there's also a Beatles record; who knew.)
1/1000 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′25″N 0°38′27″W
Partially surviving wall siding, fluttering slightly in the (rather strong) wind.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′25″N 0°38′28″W
The roof.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′25″N 0°38′28″W
Front of the building; raised loading bay.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′23″N 0°38′29″W
Yay, the sun came out again.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′24″N 0°38′29″W
Last look at the roof. Switch reads 'batch mixer'. Somebody's scratched a crazy long tally-chart on the upright, no idea what they were counting.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′24″N 0°38′27″W

Mermaid's Pond

I'll be honest: this isn't really Mermaid's Pond. There actually is something called Mermaid's Pond marked on the map, just a little further on in the woods. I tried to find that too, but must have gone the wrong way or something; anyway I didn't see it. The mermaid is well-hidden.

But it would be totally awesome if this pond were called Mermaid's Pond, so let's pretend.

Oil drum (and some other chemical, too rusted to read).
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′26″N 0°38′21″W
Post, fire extinguisher, and discarded branch.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′26″N 0°38′21″W
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′26″N 0°38′21″W
Wide view of nice sandy colour.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′26″N 0°38′22″W

Across the road

After passing through woodland and failing to find the mermaid, I emerged to cross a small road, then walked along a footpath in farm fields for a short distance. Eventually I got back to the main road, crossed it, and walked uphill on the other side. There's a large area of forested ex-quarry there.

And no phone signal! (I was just playing with the camera's macro feature when I took this picture, but I kind of like it.)
1/125 at f4, 23mm, ISO1600 51°59′53″N 0°38′47″W
Acres of dead (?) pine trees. I did find some live ones eventually.
1/30 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO800 51°59′57″N 0°38′43″W


Within this area, near Aspley Heath, there's a sandpit which has apparently been a recreation ground for local children since 1939. Before that it was common land that local people could use if they needed sand for building materials. Anyway, it's quite neat.

Looking down into the sandpit from the trees along the top.
1/125 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO400 52°0′12″N 0°38′56″W
And again.
1/250 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO400 52°0′11″N 0°38′57″W
As sandpits go, this one's quite large.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′11″N 0°38′57″W

Aspley Heath

From the sandpit, I walked along Sandy Lane (actually a lot less sandy than some of the other paths I'd taken) and Narrow Path (not terribly narrow) to reach the road in Aspley Heath, which is basically just the south end of Woburn Sands.

Sandy Lane.
1/30 at f8, 23mm, ISO500 52°0′21″N 0°38′57″W
Parish church.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′31″N 0°38′55″W
Church wall.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′31″N 0°38′54″W

Woburn Sands

The buses on Sunday are hourly and I managed to arrive with 58 minutes to wait (and on the one occasion when it wasn't late). 58 minutes is considerably more than enough to experience all that Woburn Sands has to offer. There are a few interesting shops though.

Top Knot (and me, without a top knot).
1/125 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′37″N 0°38′45″W
1/250 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′37″N 0°38′47″W
Colourful shed next to pizza place.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′37″N 0°38′48″W
Garage roof (top) and side wall of older building that probably used to have a painted sign.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°0′39″N 0°38′47″W

That was it, my bus turned up at last and I went home.

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.