This blog showcases the Chilterns, the Thames Valley and the Vale of Aylesbury. We’ve travelled round them to research content for Slow Travel: The Chilterns and the Thames Valley, a new guidebook published in February 2019. (There is a chapter on the Vale of Aylesbury too!) You can buy the guide, in physical form or as an e-book, here.
The Chilterns, the Thames Valley and the Vale of Aylesbury include parts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and even a small piece of Surrey. About half the region is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AoNB), in which you can admire rare orchids or crane your neck up at red kites as they wheel above you. The region is famous worldwide through images of Windsor Castle and Chequers and via TV and the movies, from Hammer Horror to Midsomer Murders. Literary legends such as the Shelleys, Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, John Milton, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and many others lived or wrote here.
We are Helen and Neil Matthews. We have lived in Prestwood, a Buckinghamshire village in the heart of the Chilterns, since 1991 and Helen is Chilterns born and bred.
Neil won the ‘Best Unpublished’ prize in the Bradt / Independent on Sunday travel writing competition in 2008. His travel writing has since been published in Optima, Best of Britain, Wanderlust and other magazines. In addition to Slow Travel: The Chilterns and the Thames Valley, Neil has written two books: Journeys from Wimbledon Common about the places from which the Wombles took their names; and Victorians and Edwardians abroad: the beginning of the modern holiday about the Polytechnic Touring Association, a successful 19th and 20th century travel agency.
Helen was a founder member of a local conservation group, is a member of the Chiltern Society ‘Save our Pubs’ group and has served on the committee of the Wycombe National Trust Centre and as a member of Chiltern District Council. Helen’s book The Legitimacy of Bastards: the place of illegitimate children in later medieval England was published in 2019.
Bradt Guides, the publisher of Slow Travel: The Chilterns and the Thames Valley, has been publishing ground-breaking travel guides for almost 50 years. The range includes full-country travel guides, regional guides, wildlife guides, Slow Travel guides to special areas of Britain and travel literature. Bradt has a reputation as a pioneer in tackling unusual destinations, for championing the causes of sustainable travel and for the high quality of its writing. Find out more about Bradt here.