|A highly discrete, but strangely charming Chiltern hillfort. Hidden beside the A40 at Gerrards Cross, Bucks, just north of Slough (about half-an-hour from London), it's modern function seems sadly to be the private dog-walking arena for the surrounding "exclusive" housing estate.
Take the A40 to Gerrards Cross, turning left at the crossroads with the B416 to Stoke Poges/Slough. About 150 yards on your right there is a road marked "Camp Road". Ignore the "Private Road" sign, and park up (if you're driving - good luck with public transport) wherever you like around the "No Parking Past this Point" sign (though it does look like the kind of place where the Locals might get shirty :-)
Walk up the road until you get to the houses. On your right is a village green type thang. Turn left, walk about 20ft, and look closely for the "Bulstrode Camp" sign on your right. It's open for the public, but they're keeping this quiet.
Walk up the dog-shit caked grass footpath, and you'll notice a ditch ... yes it's a double-rampart, running almost the entire circumference of this enormous Iron-age settlement. The ditch is 8-10ft deep in places, though almost impassable - large houses with swimming pools and nasty dogs now "protect" this area, magically strengthening its power by dumping their canine and garden waste into the once proud defences. Cross the ditch by the path, and into the huge clearing of Bulstrode.
The site is visually unspectacular, disappointing even, at first when compared to sites such as Maiden Castle and South Cadbury Castle, but give it a while, and it'll soon grow on you. Apart from the Southern end, the defences are still well defined, if choked with undergrowth and compost, and parts are just explorable by the intrepid. There are lots of beautiful bluebells at this time of year (May). At the northenmost end (the A40 side, though you wouldn't know, it's a gloriously peaceful place) are a couple of trees that have been hit by lightning and hollowed out by the fire. It *is* possible for large adults to squeeze through the hole at the bottom, though you will end up covered in ash, and maybe bruises :-)
Not too sure about the historical details at the moment - the board says it is Iron-Age, and it's slap bang on the A40, so there was probably some Roman occupation as well, but that's only a guess. I'll try and find more, but in the meantime, do try to get out here and have a run about ... it's too good to be so hidden and secreted away "for the benefit of the parish"..
Do also note that Bulstrode marks the eastern end of the "Chiltern Hundreds" - the traditional way out of Parliament for washed-up, disgraced and greedy MP's. A valuable place indeed.
Posted by RiotGibbon
31st May 2000ce