Buckingham Otter Trail

Follow The Buckingham Otter Trail This Summer!

On Friday 23rd July, residents of Buckingham woke up to a delightful sight as a new family of ten colourful otter sculptures appeared across the town. Organised by Buckingham Town Council, the Buckingham Otter Trail is a free, fun art sculpture event that features 3ft otter sculptures holidaying in shop windows and surrounding green spaces. The public is invited to take part in this family-friendly activity to find all the otters making the perfect day out this summer.

The trail is live now and will continue until Monday 31st August. We hope the art trail will attract both residents and visitors from far and wide to discover and re-discover the beauty of our town and get Buckingham back to business after lockdown as well as making art accessible to all.

Councillor Margaret Gateley ‘One of my first opportunities as Mayor of Buckingham has been to meet many of the community groups and schools, who have lovingly painted one of the ten otter sculptures, which are part of the Otter Trail. It has been a delight to see their different artistic interpretations and to witness their enthusiasm for their work; this was especially evident when I was able to meet groups of schoolchildren with their own otter. I look forward to walking the trail myself’.

Since April, the artists have been busy decorating the otters into beautiful pieces of art for your enjoyment. The funding for the project came from the underspend following events being cancelled during lockdown, and as part of the Town Centre and Event’s Committee’s work to support businesses and encourage more people to shop local. The project has been supported by local businesses and charities who have kindly sponsored an otter making the trail deeply rooted to Buckingham.

It is easy for people to take part, visitors can pick up a free trail map from the Tourist Information Centre inside the Buckingham Old Gaol, or you can print one yourselves on the link above. The trail is also available to follow on our community heritage exploration app Buxplore,  you can download this from the Google Play Store, separate links for android and IPhones included above. Otter spotters will then be able to pinpoint which otters they want to see, in what order and where in the town they can be found. This also allows visitors to read more about the artists and sponsors behind the project.

Once you have completed the trail, hand in your completed trail map to the Tourist Information Centre for a chance to be entered into a prize draw for some local goodies and pick up an otter spotter badge. Competition prizes will announced soon! If you’re on social media, we would love to see and share your selfies so don’t forget to tag your photos using @buckinghamtc and using #buckinghamotters

You can also access the otter trail via the Buxplore app Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

 Heritage & SonsSponsor Logo are proud to serve the wider community in Buckinghamshire and to support the fantastic Buckingham Otter Trail.

We are part of CPJ Field, a leading family-run funeral service provider which operates funeral homes across South East England. At CPJ Field we understand that no two lives are the same, which is why every funeral we arrange is completely individual too. Whether you’re making the arrangements for a loved one or prudently planning your own, we’re here for you in every way.

Over the past three centuries, CPJ Field has been actively owned and managed by the Field family through ten generations. It is our solemn promise to help you to make your funeral experience as personal and individual as possible.

Sponsor LogoBuckingham Canal Society are proud to be supporting the Buckingham Otter trail. Our aim is to fully restore the 10 miles of the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal, from Cosgrove right through to Buckingham. At Bourton Meadow, where our otter is located, you can see a restored 1/4 mile stretch of the canal, which is a haven for many species of wildlife and flora, including kingfishers, reed warblers, herons, various butterflies, dragonflies and fish species, water voles, and even grass snakes, which love a swim on a warm day!

We welcome new members and volunteers to join us; membership starts from just £4 per year - and our volunteers need no skills other than a desire to get involved, whether weekly or infrequently. We hold regular work parties at Bourton Meadow, Hyde Lane (2 miles from Buckingham) and Cosgrove, during the week and on weekends, or you can volunteer to help with admin, finance, marketing, grant applications - and much more.

We would like to give a special thank you to our amazing Otter Artist, Zoe Day, who is from Buckingham.

 

 

Gawcott Solar CICSponsor Logo is a not for profit enterprise which owns a community solar array at Gawcott Fields Farm between Gawcott and Buckingham. The 4.17 megawatt solar array is made up of over 16,000 solar panels and is expected to generate over 4 million kWh of renewable electricity each year. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 1,000 homes. Surplus income generated by the solar array (after operating and financing costs) is used so support community projects in the local area.

MyFutureSelf Matters is a mentoring service who support young people in Buckinghamshire with their mental health, lifestyle and wellbeing.

We offer 1:1 support in person or online, the age range MyFutureSelf Matters work with is from 10 to 24 years old.

MyFutureSelf Matters aims to equip young people with tools and strategies to increase their emotional health, resilience and improve their overall wellbeing.

Howes the Florist has been on Nelson Street in Buckingham for over 70 years, offering flowers for all of life's big occasions and here to celebrate the small joys too. Our hand delivery floral gifts are created by our wonderful team and available 6 days a week, delivered locally.

Sponsor Logo

The otter trail is a wonderful idea and having grown up in this beautiful market town we wanted to be part of raising the profile of our amazing local community. We are fortunate to be among the families benefitting for YC2 (Young Careers Buckingham), Our three children have attended village schools, as have my parents, Grandparents, Aunts and siblings. The pandemic has shown what an amazing community spirit we have in Buckingham and we are so proud to be part of this wonderful town.

Barratt David Wilson Homes is part of Barratt Developments plc - the country’s leading house-builder. Barratt is committed to building quality homes and this year received more NHBC Pride in the Job Quality awards than any other house-builder for the 16th year in a row and was awarded 5 stars by the HBF for customer satisfaction for the eleventh year in a row.

As a house-builder that is committed to supporting the communities in which it builds, Barratt David Wilson Homes, who are currently building at selection of 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 bedroom homes at its St Rumbold’s Fields development in Buckingham, is proud to sponsor the Buckingham Otter Trail this year. It’s a great opportunity for residents and visitors to get behind local businesses and engage with a fantastic community event, as well as adding some fun public art to the local area.

Sponsor Logo

 

Sponsor Logo

Bucks Radio is the new sound of Buckinghamshire, aiming to bring local radio back to the county.

We've been overwhelmed by the support we've received so far, and are looking forward to becoming a part of Bucks life.

Between them, our team have been working, and broadcasting, in the area for over 40 years, so we understand what matters to you.

Right now we're broadcasting online, via smart speakers and app, meaning you can take us with you wherever you go.

We have the latest news, weather and travel, and loads of community information, including our free What's On Guide and features like Charity Friday.

We're supporting local business, and have a variety of advertising and sponsorship packages available, and are happy to talk about bespoke competitions and partnerships.

We are looking forward to the relaxation of current restrictions so that we can get out and about in the local community again.

University LogoThe University is delighted to participate in the Otter Trail initiative. Positive relationships with our local community are really important to the university and we love seeing residents enjoying our campus facilities. The University has educated thousands of students from all over the word for almost fifty years and we employ many of our staff from within the community. We hope the Otter Trail and our University Otter will encourage families to make use of the University Bookshop and (if Covid guidelines allow) that you make a visit to the Vinson Building and experience the University Café. We very much look forward to welcoming you.

 

Wellbeing Wednesday: Buxplore Green Route Activities

Outlined below are lots of fun and exciting activities that the whole family can enjoy together both outdoors and indoors from Leaf Art and Willow Crown making to Pooh Sticks and Shadow Tag gaming! You can do these activities in various places around Buckingham like Pooh Sticks from one of the Bourton Park bridges, Building a Den along Railway Walk or maybe even a Twig Maze in Chandos Park; lovely memories can be created anywhere. What will be your favourite activity?

Places to try these activities are highlighted on the Buxplore Green Trail!

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

Leaf art can be a fun and easy craft for all children to enjoy outdoors and indoors! The simplest version of leaf art is by using leaves to create wonderful and imaginative pictures whereas, more advanced leaf art requires you to take leaves home and then press and paint them to create cool and colourful pieces of artwork.

What will you need for simple Leaf?

  • Lots of Leaves all different shapes, sizes and colours
  • You can also include stones, sticks or nuts – Forage away!

How to make simple Leaf Art?

  • Collect lots of leaves and stones, sticks or nuts of your choice and place them on the ground
  • With your materials, start positioning them to create a picture
  • Once your picture is complete, take a photo to remember what you made

What you will need for advanced Leaf Art?

  • Leaves
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Plate or Palette
  • Small Paint Roller
  • Newspaper or Paper Towels

How to make advanced Leaf Art?

  • Choose leaves that are still fresh and pliable. Leaves that are dried will not work, as they usually snap and crumble when pressed or worked on.
  • Lay newspapers down to protect your work surface.
  • Select a piece of paper for your leaf print and then squeeze a little paint onto a small plate or palette.
  • Paint the surface of the leaf with paint. This is best done by placing the leaf on kitchen paper towel and painting over using a small paint roller suitable for craft projects and make sure the entire leaf is covered.
  • Gently flip the leaf paint side down onto the paper and then carefully but firmly press on the leaf to ensure that the leaf touches the paper.
  • Peel the leaf from the paper and then you should have a printed mirror image of your leaf.
  • Repeat the previous steps again with the same leaf and or different leaves. The same leaf can be used up to six times before it ceases to leave an acceptable imprint. And by adding different sorts of leaves, you can build a pretty pattern or design for gift paper, cards, a painting, or any other paper craft project.
  • Let the paintwork dry and then frame your masterpiece!

Dens make perfect bird watching hides, as well as shelters and basecamps for woodland walks. Building a den is also great fun for the whole family and a wonderful way to spend time together, so head outdoors and try building your dream den!

Den making materials:

  • Long, straight branches and sticks
  • Lots of thin, bendy sticks
  • Dried leaves, twigs and grass

Make sure to not break off living branches from trees or bushes to ensure you don’t damage them. If you use any unnatural materials such as string or rope, remember to take them home at the end of the day.

How to build your den?

Coming up with your own den design is part of the fun, but here are a couple of simple ideas to get you started.

Tepee-style den

  • Find a tree with a fork in the branches that's quite low down.
  • Make a frame by propping some long, straight sticks in the fork and fanning them out. Also make sure that any branches are really secure – you don't want them slipping.
  • Weave bendy sticks in and out of the upright sticks to make the walls. Leave a gap at head height for a window.
  • Cover your den with natural materials so it's camouflaged and weatherproof.
  • Then scatter a carpet of dried leaves on the floor to make your den extra cosy.

Tent-shaped den

  • Find two forked trees that are close together and place a long stick between them.
  • Prop a row of sticks against it on each side so you end up with a tent shape.
  • Weave your bendy sticks in and out of the upright and add your plant materials to furnish.

Make a mini den

This activity is a lovely way for very small children to have a go at den building.

  • Simply collect a handful of small sticks and prop them up against a tree trunk
  • Then make the inside of the den nice and cosy with some fallen leaves and then it’s ready for their favourite teddies or dolls to play in.

Don't forget to dismantle your den!

Before you head home, please remember to take your den down. Don’t worry though, on your next visit you can have fun building it all over again, or you can experiment with a different design altogether.

Too wet and cold to go to the woods? Never mind – you can practice your skills by building an indoor hideout instead.

You will need:

  • Four sturdy dining chairs
  • A large sheet and some blankets
  • Cushions, pillows and maybe a duvet
  • Some heavy books
  • Fairy Lights and a few clothes pegs (optional)

How to build it:

  • Start by finding the best place to build your den. This could be against a wall or the back of the sofa.
  • Then place two chairs on each side with the backs facing inwards to form the walls and continue to hang blankets over the chair backs.
  • Drape a sheet over the top to make the roof and put some books on the chair seats to hold it in place.
  • To finish, put a blanket or duvet on the floor and arrange some cushions or pillows around the sides. For some extra optional magic, decorate with fairy lights, using the pegs to attach them to the sheets.

Your indoor den can be the perfect place to read stories together, come up with new games or to have an impromptu sleepover!

Nature crowns are magical things. Weaving branches, flowers, leaves and little bits of nature into a crown, gives children a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and engage in imaginative outdoor play.Chandos Park River and Willow Tree

What you will need:

  • A few willow tree branches
  • Other bits of nature like flowers, leaves, berries or feathers
  • Scissors

How to Make a Willow Nature Crown?

  • Gather willow tree branches and other bits of nature from the ground and then take one long willow branch and wrap it around your child’s head to measure how big the crown should be.
  • Weave a circle out of the willow branch.
  • Then start to weave or wrap the willow branch around the circle to make a willow crown.
  • Start adding in your flowers, leaves, berries or feathers for decoration by tucking the stems into the willow crown. If you have any stems or bits poking out, use scissors to cut them off.
  • It’s then time to wear your beautiful crown and see what adventures await you!

Fun Fact:

A weeping willow is a deciduous tree that is commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe and parts of Asia). The tree likes to grow near fresh water lakes and ponds and has long thin branches with light green leaves that can grow all the way to the ground. The branches are perfect for weaving into nature crowns because they are long and flexible.

You may think building a maze out of twigs is hard but after you accomplish it, you will feel so happy with your creation. It’s also a definite game to help you become less bored!

Materials for the stick maze:

  • Paper and pen for the maze planning
  • Lots of long sticks and branches

How to build a stick maze?

  • Draw a Maze design - basic is better.
  • Collect a heap of sticks and branches from outside.
  • Then nominate a leader to help direct where to put the sticks and materials following the design of your map.
  • If you make the outside of the square too small and then have to change the plan, its fine. Builders have to change their plans all the time too!
  • Once it’s complete, enjoy running through the stick maze together.

More fun? Blindfold yourself and ask your children to navigate you through the maze with their voices. You’re not allowed to touch a stick!

Pooh sticks are a simple but thrilling sport, first invented by the famous bear of the same name in the stories, Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

What you will need:

  • Two or more players
  • A stick of your choosing
  • A bridge over moving water.

How it works:

  • Stand on a bridge over moving water.
  • Make sure you check which way the water is flowing so that you can throw your sticks in on the right side to ensure that they get carried underneath the bridge with the current.
  • On the count of three everyone must throw their pooh stick into the water below.
  • The stick that floats underneath the bridge fastest wins.

Top secret tip:

Try to choose a place on the bridge above the fastest flowing water. This way you’ll have an advantage over the other players.

This bird feeder is really simple to make, which means they’re a quick and fun project to do with children of all ages. They can be customised in any way you like with string or pretty ribbons, or try using other shapes, like stars or triangles. The birds will love them all!

To make bird seed pizzas, you will need:

  • Lard
  • Mixed bird seed
  • Baking tray or Plate
  • Spoon
  • Round cookie cutter (other shapes are optional)
  • Ribbon

How to make this bird feeder?

  • Gently melt 100g of lard in a saucepan. Add 250g of bird seed, ensuring all the seeds are coated in the fat.
  • Place the cookie cutter on a tray or plate, fill it with the seed mixture and press down with the back of a spoon to ensure its tightly packed.
  • Use a skewer to make a hole through the pizza and then put in the fridge to set overnight.
  • When its set, ease the solid mixture out of the cutter, thread with ribbon and then hang in a tall tree.
  • Once you’ve shaped your feeders make sure you leave them to dry thoroughly to avoid them cracking and crumbling when you try to hang them up.

Top Tip:

Pick a tree near to your window so that you can see your bird visitors up close when they visit.

Shadow Tag is a great, free activity to get children off their screens and moving whilst at home. Shadow tag is similar to other games of tag, like freeze tag, and Marco Polo but with one big difference. Instead of touching other players to tag them, the goal of the person who is ‘It’ is to tag the other players’ shadows, rather than touch them.

What you will need:

  • A bright light for indoor play or a bright, sunny day for outdoor play

How to play shadow tag?

  • Choose a player to take the first chance at being “It”.
  • The player who is ‘It’ chases the other players, trying to step on their shadow.
  • If a player has their shadow stepped on, they are now ‘It’.
  • Repeat the above steps until you want to finish playing.

Shadow Tag for younger children:

Toddlers and pre-schoolers can be fascinated by shadows, but they usually can’t keep up with the pace of the game. So, instead of running, why not have all the players pretend to be slow-moving objects like snails or sloths?

Winter Wellness Spotter Sheet

Heading outdoors for some fresh air?

To help brighten up your daily bit of exercise and to recognise Children’s Mental Health Week this year, which runs from February 1st to February 7th, Buckingham Town Council has put together a Winter Wellness Spotter Sheet for young children. Download and print the spotter sheet and see if you can spot some or all of these seasonal nature signs on your walk today. Please take part responsibly and follow government guidelines on social distancing. For more fun, we've added some extra activity sheets to be completed at home.Winter Spotter Sheet

Getting outdoors has taken on added importance in recent weeks and most people would agree that a walk in the fresh air is a sure way of clearing the head. The weather may be rubbish but encouraging our children to get back to basics and have fun playing outdoors can make a huge difference to their overall mental health and wellbeing. Even in winter, nature is still alive and there are lots of green spaces to see and explore within our lovely town. The spotter sheet can easily be completed around Bourton Park and Chandos Park and we hope it will make your daily walk even more enjoyable.

For more information about Buckingham walks and maps, visit our Walks and Maps page. Here you can download pdf copies of local walks and maps to help you explore beautiful Buckingham. If you cannot get out and about due to self-isolating, you should check out the Buckingham Community Heritage app Buxplore. Remote access has currently been enabled so you can choose your route and take a visual tour around the streets and parks of Buckingham, completing activities, questions, and mysteries from home.

We would love to see some photos of you out and about completing the Winter Wellness Spotter Sheet! Please send your photos to us via private message on Facebook, or tag us on your post using #WinterWellness #SpotterSheet @BuckinghamTC and don't forget to tell us what you thought to be entered into a prize draw to win a reusable water bottle. We will do our best to share as many of your photos as possible. Happy hunting!

 

Buxplore: Buckingham heritage walks and audio tours by app!

Looking for things to do in Buckingham?

Need a reason to try Buxplore? Wild or stately, industrial and rural – Buckingham is an ancient town with many secrets hidden behind timber and brick walls. Buxplore was built to help residents and visitors discover more about Buckingham.

Not one of the hundreds of people have tried Buxplore since it launched three weeks ago? Here are six reasons to give it a go!

1. Free Buckingham kids activities

We know it’s been a long time since March and families are looking for new ideas for things to do in Buckingham. Buxplore is fun and interactive, the perfect way to be active and sneak in a homeschooling history lesson. Heritage for Kids is a fantastic trail to get the whole family hooked. Starting at the Chantry Chapel, explore the oldest parts of Buckingham – find, touch and imagine icons from Buckingham’s thousand year history.

This short route passes by Chandos Park – the perfect place to stop for a picnic.

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

two children touching the ammonite on Bristle Hill

2. Guided audio tours of Buckingham

With clear maps flagging locations to explore and audio options, these routes are really easy to follow with all the benefits of an audio tour without a clunky device to carry around. Simply use your mobile phone to access the app (don’t forget to turn on your mobile data and location tracking) then head out to the first stop on your chosen route.

3. Learn and explore Buckingham’s wild spaces from Bourton Park to Buckingham Canal

Connect with nature and learn more about Buckingham parks and the river Great Ouse. This explorer route is designed to be explored a little at a time, the perfect way to find some of the hidden green spaces you might not know about. Most of this trail is well away from roads with child friendly activities to try at every stop!

For photography fans this route offers fantastic opportunities to take photographs of wildlife including kestrels, wild flowers and the most beautiful parts of the River Great Ouse.

4. There’s been a murder! Can you solve the puzzles and find the culprit?

Tried all the online escape rooms? Buckingham murder mystery trail is a totally free interactive detective mystery. Start on Moreton Road at the Old Police Station and meet Sergeant William Jeeves! Solve puzzles to unlock new locations and discover clues as you take a tour around the murkier side of Buckingham history.

Don’t worry – hints are available if you get stuck and there are plenty of places to stop for fantastic food on the way around! Not in Buckingham? Turn on virtual mode to take part wherever you are.

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

Old Police Station Buxplore

5. Discover Buckingham Walks from the railway to Stowe House and Gardens from a different point of view

With six different trail themes getting stuck into Buckingham history is as simple as choosing your route. Interested in Stowe? View Stowe House and Gardens from the parkland trail, taking in temples and the House from a different angle and discover more about how Stowe and Buckingham are linked while taking in glorious view over the town.

What about the industrial revolution? There’s a trail for that too!

6. Did we mention it’s free?

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Buxplore is completely free to use and will remain live for the next five years, with new routes add as often as we can. If you have ideas for new routes, let us know!

National Lottery Heritage Fund Logo

How to download the app and start using Buxplore

You can now download the app using the Google Play Store!

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

For Apple users, please see our FAQ which has a step by step guide to downloading Buxplore from Buxplore.web.app

Once the app is loaded, simply pick a route and visit the first location to get started!

More questions or need information about compatibility? Visit out Buxplore FAQ