Difference between revisions of "Milton Keynes"
Revision as of 20:06, 24 July 2007
Milton Keynes is conveniently located on both the M1 motorway and the West Coast Main Line, and as a result there are a large number of ways to both enter and leave the town.
The M1 motorway connects London with Birmingham, before continuing north to Liverpool and Manchester. Milton Keynes is approximately half-way between London and Birmingham. There are also links east and west on the A40 to Bedford, Cambridge and Oxford.
Coach services to many cities (including Oxford and Cambridge) can be taken from either the train station, town centre or the Coachway, which is located near the motorway junction.
Rail connections are maintained by Virgin and Silverlink, and frequent trains connect to London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and further north.
Public transport within Milton Keynes has never been great - it is a city where the car is king. The buses are small, irregular and have circuitous routes. As the city is so easily navigated by car, there hasn't been much call for buses. As most buses pass by both the central train station and the main shopping centre getting between them is easy.
The dominance of the car is greatly helped by the road layout - the main roads of the city are laid out in a grid system with roundabouts at the intersections, so getting about is quick, although predictably less so in rush hour. Visitors who drive to Milton Keynes often get lost on these roads, because they all look the same - the main roads are in tree-lined linear valleys to reduce road noise so there are few landmarks visible to navigate by. A map is recommended for people new to the town.
Pedestrians and cyclists have their own network of 'redways' - paths made of red tarmac that broadly follow the grid roads but never meet them, either crossing over or underneath. The redways are a good way to get about during the day, but at night some of the underpasses can be dangerous places. You will generally be okay in more populated areas, and most are well lit. As with any place you are unfamiliar with, caution is advised.
A must is the concrete cows (just off the H3, in Bancroft) for which Milton Keynes is famous/notorious. Another feature is the giant Xscape dome, home to a sixteen screen cinema and the largest indoor ski slope in the United Kingdom.
Milton Keynes has a number of attractions for the adventurous. Willen Lake has a wakeboard tow rope system, the Xscape has an indoor snow slope, a climbing wall and an indoor skydiving tower, the central bus station has a skate park and there's a BMX track at Pineham.
Families with younger children might like to head for the Gulliver's Land theme park, or take a stroll and have a picnic at the nearby Willen Lake.
The MK Dons play home games at the National Hockey Stadium, though a new stadium is being created in the south of the city.
Reflecting the local value of the car culture, a growing car cruise and meet is staged in the car parks around the Hockey Stadium on Sunday nights, and it is popular both with modders and the police.
The Milton Keynes Theatre is billed as the country's "most popular" - it has the most people attending for any theatre in the country. Travelling shows and longer running productions are staged here, often large productions will come here as a final dry run before they take their shows to London's West End.
The Centre: MK is the main shopping mall for the surrounding area and is where most of the shopping in Milton Keynes is to be had, and features branches of many high street chains. The High Street in Stony Stratford offers a pleasant but small alternative. Most residential areas have their own convenience store.
There are various retail parks with the larger DIY, carpet, furniture and warehouse-style clothes shops.
The city centre is home to many chain restaurants, especially within the Xscape complex. If you want something a bit different then you'll find smaller independent restaurants in outlying areas such as Stony Stratford, Wolverton, and Fenny Stratford. There is also decent pub food (and somewhat better beer) at The Plough in Simpson, and Ye Olde Swan in Woughton on the Green.
On a summer evening a trip to the theatre district / Xscape almost transports you to a Spanish holiday resort, such are the number of bars and clubs with people walking between them. Not much for a CAMRA member here though, as its more for the bottle of Bud or Smirnoff Ice crowd..
More traditional pubs can be found along the Stony Stratford high street, though this area is popular for pub crawls at weekends.
A youth hostel can be found in the district of Bradwell. The house itself dates from the seventeenth century (an oddity in Milton Keynes) and is in very pleasant surroundings. There are rooms and dormatories available. A bed in a dormatory normally costs around £13 a night. The house and facilities are kept nice and clean and secure lockers are available at no additional cost to store valuables.
The night life The nightlife (pubs and clubs) in Milton Keynes are focussed around the theatre district and snow dome areas.