English villages: what on earth is a pyghtle?

When you spend time in the countryside of England, you come across some amazing sights among the villages and towns.

From ancient burial cairns and standing stones to ruined castles and relics of the Vikings, Romans, Saxons, Normans – and even pirates.

The sights are many, varied – and just keep astonishing.

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But, the ‘Pyghtle’ completely stumped us.

We first heard of the word while visiting one of our favourite ‘picture-postcard’ villages, Denham in Buckinghamshire.

Our curiosity was piqued by a sign on a wall adjoining the village green, so we asked villagers about the ‘pyghtle’.

It was, they told us, an old English term for a small section of land.

And they were correct. Google tells us that the word ‘Pyghtle’ – sometimes spelt ‘Pightle – is actually an Anglo Saxon term for a small ‘croft’ or enclosure of land.

Apparently a ‘Pyghtle’ can be a block of land on which there is a building; a vacant area; or even – as in the case at Denham – a public footpath.

Denham’s ‘Pyghtle’ is a well-used link between the village and the railway station – and is itself enclosed by high brick walls at one end.

Another equally endearing term that you regularly find in the English countryside is ‘bridle path’ or ‘bridleway’.

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This is a path, trail or thoroughfare that can be used by people riding horses.

The way it was explained to us, these often meandering trails, in most cases, were originally created for horses, but have now been opened up to hikers and cyclists – but not motorised vehicles.

Bridleways are often quite narrow, but – as shown here – they often take you into bushland, wetlands, conservation and natural areas that might be missed otherwise.

Of course, they exist in many countries of the world – not only England – and are not only for leisure.

In many areas, they are important transport links.

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