Environment Magazine

Campbell Park to Willen Lake Circular Walk

Posted on the 21 March 2017 by Ashley Crombet-Beolens @Fromanurbanlake
Campbell Park to Willen Lake Circular Walk
Milton Keynes has, as I hope I have shown in all my recent walks, some stunning areas for a hike, often these involve the outskirts of the town, but today I decided to have a walk through the heart of the city and head around Campbell park (which starts right next to the large shopping centre) and around Willen Lake, tow of the prettiest Milton Keynes Parks.
DISCLAIMER: This post is quite photo heavy.


Campbell Park to Willen Lake Circular Walk


The walk started by the MK Rose, an area that has been designed for anyone to commemorate, celebrate or remember a person or event, but I started in the heart of the shopping center having arrived by bus earlier. 

The MK Rose

The MK Rose


The sun was shining bright and a brilliant azure sky spread out across Milton Keynes as I began to walk, all throughout the walk Chiffchaff could be heard singing, these early migrants growing in numbers as the days grow in length.
My walk through Campbell park took in much of the art trail, the outward journey following the northern path of the large park, to my right, as I walked, the shining white of The Light Pyramid (the beacon) stood out atop the high hill, that makes up the most iconic feature of the city park, a hill that as a child I rolled down, although I'm petty sure the sheep were not in the fields, as I don't recall being covered in sheep poop!
As I walked I passed several of the stunning pieces of art that can be seen on the "Art Trail" (images below) as well as the arboretum area, the cricket pavilion and lots, and lots of sheep!

Armillary Sphere

Armillary Sphere


Light Pyramid

Light Pyramid


View over Campbell Park

View over Campbell Park


Another view of the Light Pyramid

Another view of the Light Pyramid


Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction


Chain Reaction from another angle

Chain Reaction from another angle


Arboretum to the left of the path

Arboretum to the left of the path


Cricket Pavilion

Cricket Pavilion


Head - from below

Head - from below


Tree Cathedral


I needed a slight detour from my planned route as there is currently a splash park under construction, fortunately this detour too me passed the Tree Cathedral, a place that is literally a cathedral shape made from trees, although this is not obvious from the footpath.

Tree Cathedral from the Outside

Tree Cathedral from the Outside 


Inside the Cathedral of Trees

Inside the Cathedral of Trees


Willen Lake North


I arrived at Willen lake on the north lake, beside the Nipponzan Myohoji monastery with it's beautiful gardens containing flowering cherry trees, and the stunning Peace Pagoda, whose gold and white glistened in the spring sunshine. While I took in the sights of these two striking buildings a Cetti's Warbler burst into song from deep within the reeds, surrounding this corner of the lake, the loud song, the loudest of any UK warbler?, burst forth from the tiny brown bird, which remained hidden from sight.

Nipponzan Myohoji Monastery

Nipponzan Myohoji Monastery


Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake

Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake


Pagoda and Lions

Pagoda and Lions


Another angle of the pagoda

Another angle of the pagoda


Front on of the Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake

Front on of the Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake


My reason for coming to Willen Lake in the first place was that a bearded tit (bearded reedling) had been seen in the reeds in front of the peace pagoda on Saturday. I spent a few minutes checking out this small area of reed bed, but there was no sign of the reedling, just a solitary Reed Bunting. The reeds however do spread around much of this corner of the lake, so I continued my walk.
As I reached the area in front of the Hospice, a call from within the reeds caught my attention, and I wandered across the muddy grass for a closer look, it didn't take long before a female Bearded Tit popped up onto a reed stem and began to work its way to the top. Over joyed at finding this proverbial needle in a haystack (my first Bearded Tit in Buckinghamshire), I attempted to grab a few photos (below).
She put on a great show for me, flying up and down the reedbed, although never landing for long the right side of me (always in slightly harsh light sadly).

Bearded Tit (female)

Bearded Tit (female)


Bearded Reedling at Willen Lake

Bearded Reedling at Willen Lake


Female Bearded Tit at Willen Lake

Female Bearded Tit at Willen Lake


Another view of the Reedling

Another view of the Reedling


Stunning views of the Bearded Tit at Willen Lake

Stunning views of the Bearded Tit at Willen Lake


As the winds picked up, the reedling became more elusive, ducking down into the reeds, I only knew she was still there thanks to her pinging call, which could still be heard. I decided to carry on and made my way along the exposed Eastern bank of the lake and headed to the hide.
From the hide I could see the area of the island known as the spit, although mainly underwater it did still hold a few interesting birds, mainly Lapwing and Cormorant, but a lone Redshank stalked the muddy fringes and a Green Sandpiper briefly put in an appearance.
To my left as I looked from the hide window a Grey Heron slowly padded its way through the shallows intently staring into the water, eagerly searching for its fishy lunch. And a second Cetti's Warbler exploded into song from my right.

View From the Hide

View From the Hide


Grey Heron among the reeds

Grey Heron among the reeds


Canada Geese

Canada Geese


Willen Lake South


My walk around the south lake was a much more hurried affair, although there were a few birds of interest, a single Golden eye still swimming the choppy water and a pair of Oystercatchers settled onto one of the pontoons, the wind was whipping across the lake bringing stinging cold with it.

Views across Willen Lake

Views across Willen Lake


Great Crested Grebe pairing up

Great Crested Grebe pairing up


Back Home


Getting away from the cold winds of Willen Lake South I headed back up through Campbell Park, taking in closer views of the Head, sculpture, laughing at the local sheep which seem to have picked up their own camouflage in the form of twigs and branches that now stick out through its fleece.

Head

Head


Sheep covered in Branches

Sheep covered in Branches


Something less funny was the two men who seemed to think their dog running wild and chasing the sheep flock was funny, only calling it back when they saw me walking, although it was back off the lead moments later once again running amok, I do wonder what goes through people's heads sometimes!

Milton Keynes Skyline

Milton Keynes Skyline

There are more photos below the map.

Campbell Park to Willen Lake Circular Walk Map


Other Photos


View over Willen Lake North

View over Willen Lake North


Another view across the lake

Another view across the lake


View of the Island from the East Bank

View of the Island from the East Bank


Distant view of the Beacon

Distant view of the Beacon


Light Pyramid again

Light Pyramid again


More Bearded Tit

More Bearded Tit


Last reedling shot

Last reedling shot


Grey Heron in the water

Grey Heron in the water


Heron in flight

Heron in flight


Another shot of the Grey Heron

Another shot of the Grey Heron


Mute Swan feeding

Mute Swan feeding


Art under the Bridge

Art under the Bridge


Cold Waters of Willen South

Cold Waters of Willen South


Buildings Across the Lake

Buildings Across the Lake


Toad Stools

Toad Stools


Crossing the Canal

Crossing the Canal


Sheep and the Beacon

Sheep and the Beacon


I'm Walking 2500 miles in 2017 to raise money for Birding For All - Read about it here - Please consider donating through My Donate
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