Milton Keynes, England: A Northern Lass in the South

What travel stories do you have?

Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!

milton keynes

Milton Keynes, England: A Northern Lass in the South

After nineteen years of growing up in Wakefield, studying in Nottingham and moving back home temporarily due to financial reasons after university, suddenly I found myself living in Milton Keynes.

It all happened so fast. One minute, my ex-boyfriend and I had graduated, we’d moved back home and had both got retail jobs whilst applying for career jobs where we could utilize our degrees. The next minute, my ex had managed to bag himself an entry-level office job across the country from his home town of Bristol and I had the opportunity to go with him.

After a lot of internal conflict, I agreed. Even though the south of England has so much going for it, I never had much interest in moving down there. I was a Northern lass, through and through, and had always enjoyed being close to my friends and family.

Even though I went to university in Nottingham, it was only an hour and a half to drive back to Wakefield on a weekend. However, from Milton Keynes it took double that amount of time to get home. Nevertheless, I was excited about living in a new location (and moving in for the first time with a boyfriend) and was open-minded as to what good ol’ MK had to offer.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, essentially, Milton Keynes is the closest thing you’ll get to America in England without actually living in America. It takes a little while to wrap your head around, but there’s no denying this fact. The similarities in terms of the roads (it has a grid system and the main roads in the centre are called ‘boulevards’) and the feeling of newness compared to other areas of the country (MK was only formally designated as a new town in 1967) are uncanny.

You also get the variety that you get in America. Some of the areas are reasonably industrial, but some are full of pretty parks and lakes – such as Willen Lake. Arguably, there’s not much to do in the centre once you’ve visited the shopping mall; however, the shopping mall itself is rather impressive if you like your nationwide chains. There are also many places to eat and drink – there’s even an indoor skydiving centre! I’ve never been too much of an adrenaline junkie so didn’t ever get around to trying this, but I have a friend who did an actual skydive before visiting the MK indoor skydiving centre and she found it to be just as good as the real thing!

It’s important that I don’t forget the cows as well – how could I forget the cows? The Concrete Cows situated in the middle of intu shopping centre are iconic to Milton Keynes. The sculpture was created in 1978 by Canadian artist Liz Leyh, originally in Bancroft, but then it was moved to the shopping centre so that more locals could see and experience it. The first time you stumble upon the cows is a bit random when you don’t know the back story, but you soon learn to love them!

At the opposite end of the scale to intu, if you prefer smaller, independent shops, cafes, and eateries, then you can day trip to the outer suburbs of Milton Keynes. Some of the older, surrounding villages are super cute – such as Newport Pagnell, Woburn Sands and Stony Stratford – and have more of a sense of history, character and charm.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, essentially, Milton Keynes is the closest thing you’ll get to America in England without actually living in America.


Additionally, the Woburn drive-through Safari Park makes for a fun day out – just watch out for the monkeys! They tend to jump on your car bonnet, cover your windows in mud and refuse to move! I had to practically have an argument with one before we could drive on to the next part of the safari. Woburn Safari Park also puts on fabulous party functions at the Woburn Safari Lodge. Soon after moving to MK, I got a job working in the marketing department at Fossil UK’s head office in Wolverton Mill. That year, we had our Christmas party at Woburn Safari Park and the location was just stunning! We got to see all of the animals on the drive to the lodge, and back, and it was so much fun!

Milton Keynes is also a 45 minute train ride away from London, which meant I got to go to the Big Smoke a lot during my time with Fossil for various meetings and PR events. I’d never lived so close to London before and it was great being able to nip in and out of one of the most famous cities in the world – it’s not just tourists that love it!

However, as it turned out, I missed the North too much; or, rather, the people in it. A year and a half had passed and I ended up moving back up north to my parents’ new house in Wetherby, just before I started my traveling adventures.

It was nothing against Milton Keynes, I was happy that I’d experienced a place I never thought I’d ever live in. I was just ready to get back to my life in the north. It’s true what they say – you can take the girl out of Yorkshire, but you can never take Yorkshire out of the girl!

Katie Davies

Katie Davies

Katie is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and World Traveler. Since the completion of her Fashion Marketing degree in 2012, she has been honing her craft by writing for a number of businesses and publications. She blogs about Fashion, Beauty and Travel weekly at, never without a cup of tea close by.