River Wye Interpretation Panels

The River Wye has a rich history and importance within the Chilterns National Landscape. The design and installation of nine interpretation panels have been placed at publicly accessible sites along the River Wye, which we also hope will lead to better awareness and appreciation of the chalk stream, hopefully leading to better stewardship of the river.

The Problem

The interpretations boards will address the gap in knowledge between the public and their local heritage and help communicate the importance of chalk streams, instilling a greater connection between the local environment and the communities that live alongside it.  

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The Plan

The initial brief was to create four new boards and replace/refurbish two existing boards.  Out of the two existing boards, one had disappeared completely (Wooburn Park) and the other (at Boundary Park) was in a sorry state and unsalvageable – it was beyond repair or refurbishment. 

The scheme also meant that the boards would be in six locations along the Wye that would not cover anywhere near the length of the river. The furthest upstream would be on a busy section of the A40 and the furthest downstream would be at Bourne End Recreation Ground.  We saw the opportunity to seek matched funding in order to create a more comprehensive set of panels to encompass almost the whole of the river, with boards situated in public green spaces along the river at key locations, where they would be seen by the most people.  This included a board near to the source of the river in West Wycombe, all the way down to the confluence with the Thames at Bourne End.  The confluence is on private land in someone’s back garden, so we approached the National Trust who own the land opposite the confluence who agreed to have a board placed on their land.  

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Nine boards have been installed at various points along the River Wye at key, publicly accessibly sites. This project also complements the ‘Mills and People of the Wye’ project, part of the NLHF-funded Chalk, Cherries & Chairs Landscape Partnership Project. We chose to engage the services of a professional environmental interpretation company (Red Kite Environment) to carry out the research, community engagement, the design and writing of the content of the boards.  

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The Future

There is potential for future development of this interpretation project – we would like to see an audio-visual element to include translation into other languages which are spoken in our local community.  The series of panels has been designed in a way that, as funding becomes available, new boards can be added in the future without needing to re-do the whole lot i.e. future proofed. The content can be spoken in English for blind people to listen to and translated into several languages (Polish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Punjabi and so on), spoken by local people, to increase the diversity of the audience who can learn from & be inspired by the content. If it’s done with film and imagery then it’s is also visually appealing and informative to those who cannot get to the river due to mobility issues however caused or those who have hearing problems.