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Radio 4 discovers the Chilterns and the work of the Chiltern Society

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Open Country’ programme visited Buckinghamshire to discover for themselves what makes living in the Chilterns special.

Presenter Elinor Goodman, a freelance journalist specialising in rural and political issues, was particularly interested in the part played by volunteers in the Chiltern Society to safeguard the Chiltern’s countryside and way of life.

Click the play button on the media player below to hear this broadcast:

First stop was the delightful Misbourne River in Amersham where Elinor spoke to John Norris and Roger Lerry, the Chiltern Society’s experts in river management, before moving on to Chalfont St Giles where the Misbourne has been lost for several years. Standing over the dried-up bed, John and Roger outlined possible solutions to restoring the flow through the village. In Chalfont St Giles, the programme considered the local housing market and affordability for all with John Taylor, Chiltern Society Chairman, and a local estate agent.

The programme team then moved on to visit Bottom Wood near Stokenchurch which is managed by the Chiltern Society, where John Morris spoke of the challenges and satisfaction of caring for the trees and fauna. Sadly no dormice or deer wanted to be seen, but several red kites appeared on cue.

On a short walk along the Chiltern Way near Radnage, Elinor learned from Richard Boas about the work that the Society does in monitoring and helping maintain the 2,300 miles of Chiltern’s footpaths, and about the successful ‘Donate a Gate’ project to replace stiles with gates, which provides ease of access to the countryside for both young and old alike.

The programme finished with a look at the future for farming in this area and threats to its sustainability in interviews with Gill Kent of Beechdean Dairies, High Wycombe, and Alison Doggett, the Society’s farming liaison officer.

John Milton’s cottage detail

From left: Elinor Goodman (presenter), John Norris, Helen Lennard (BBC producer holding the microphone) and Roger Lerry recording in Amersham, and the group discussing the dire condition of the dry River Misbourne in Chalfont St Giles.

The Chiltern Society helps look after 650 square miles of England, including the closest AONB to London.

Picture © Chiltern Society's PhotoGroup.