The sun was shining and I had been energised by my morning workout with Regiment Fitness, so another walk seemed like a perfect idea. The children had been great with the walk yesterday around Kimble, so I did not have any worries picking a longer walk of 6 miles this time, and we set off to Berkhamsted to take in a circular route which would lead us out through the countryside and bring us back along the Grand Union Canal. With it being a Sunday we were able to park for free on the road leading into the High Street, and walked from there to the start of the route from the pathfinder guide.
I know the road that we had to take well from coming to Berkhamsted before, and it is the one across from the road to Chesham. A number of the shops on it had changed since the last time I had been here, including an Italian restaurant I used to go to a lot, so it was good to see that the toy shop was still there. We carried on along that road as it crossed a bridge to take us over the canal, and then turned right to the station. We went under the bridge and found Berkhamsted Castle on the right. This was not on our route but the children were excited at the thought of a Norman castle from 1066 so, of course, we took a look around the ruins, climbing to the top of everything we could climb,
and my son leading the way down the steepest slopes away from the top, enjoying a fascinating site which really does give a clear image of what would have been here,
until it was time for us to move on and get back to the walk proper.
You can see my photos from Berkhamsted Castle here.
We crossed over to Bridgewater Road, then turned right into Castle Hill Avenue, before stopping at the top for a drink break and to hand out some jaffa cakes. The road bends to the left and we carried straight on along an enclosed public footpath. This is where it became a little tricky, just to get us away from the houses and into the countryside proper. We went left along a road, then right along a track, and kept following the tracks rather than the driveways until we got to a public footpath sign, when we carried straight on, eventually coming to a field, and we walked along the left edge, as the sheep moved out of our way.
From here it really was a case of walking straight on along enclosed paths until we reached a track in front of houses, the first of which had an excellent fence made out of old railway sleepers, and then we reached a tarmac track, heading downhill through trees, which brought us out at a clearing I had driven past many, many times before, because ofr years this had been part of my daily drive into work, and I had often wondered what led to it. Now I knew. We went uphill along a grass track, crossing a tarmac track before keeping ahead into the woodlands of Northchurch Common, where we stopped for another drink.
We headed to the left as we emerged into an open area, and as we followed a grassy path through the wood the children found a couple of dens which had been built with fallen branches.
We soon reached the road and crossed it, continuing along the undulating path opposite, keeping straight ahead until we emerged once more into another large open area of grassland and we turned left along its edge. There were a number of people out enjoying the sun, but not huge crowds, and we were mainly walking along in our little group without meeting many others.
We got to the corner of the grassy area, stopped for another drink, and then took the wrong footpath. We were meant to turn left, but we turned too far left and walked down a bridleway, instead of taking the second path to the left. This meant we joined the Ashridge Boundary Trail beyond a lane we were meant to take, but it was not too long before we realised our error and retraced our steps. During our little detour we cross the path of a couple who were taking their 6-month old puppy for a walk, and the puppy was so excited to see the children that he pulled away from his owner’s grasp to run towards us. Fortunately I was able to grab hold of his lead or he might be running still. We got to the lane and took a drink and jaffa cake break, before I saw a sign asking for witnesses to the killing of a badger by some youths. Many times I despair of humankind.
We followed the lane downhill before turning off to the right, following the lane around a left band, crossing a railway bridge and then turning left along another lane which brought us to the Grand Union Canal.
We got onto the towpath at Dudswell and took our time walking along from there, enjoying the sun, seeing a couple of locks in action,
noticing more debris of humankind in the form of a television dumped in the hedgerow, before we reached a painted bridge which led us through to the Waitrose in Berkhamsted, and after a quick stop at the ice cream shop we returned to the car. The children were tired and had done very well, although I suspect they would not have been so cheery at the end of the ice cream shop had been closed.
You can see my photos from the walk here.