Sunday, 13 March 2011

Dudswell (Circular) – (Hertfordshire) – 13/03/11 – 8.5 Miles – IVC

Why do I bother ordering cappacinos at mainline railway stations, they always taste full of detergent, and cost a bomb. So black marks for Delice de France in Euston station, who charged me £4.60 for that disgusting swill, along with a pain au chocolate.

So why do you bother to buy them at all I hear you say ? Well I had an hour to kill at Euston, having got their extra early (leading the IVC troops myself on this walk you see). Anyway matters were not being helped by London Midland train drivers who decided they don’t really want to work on Sundays. All of which meant that it was a revised hourly service to Tring and back. Not a problem going out though, as the train I designated every one to be on was still going at the correct time. Anyway by the time we all spilled off the twelve carriages at Tring station, we had a nice little group of ten (self included) which were most of the usual regulars.

The weather was certainly gloomy for this one and it did threaten to chuck it down throughout the day, yet thankfully it never did. Anyway this was a repeat of the walk I recceed out in January, which started (and eventually finished) on the Grand Union Canal. Coming quickly off of that we proceeded through two farms, before entering a wooded area and eventually turning off that to walk alongside a golf course, from which the top of the Bridgewater Monument could be viewed some distance away at the top of the tree line. Following this route as it curved along it eventually brought us to a road at the outskirts of Aldbury.

Now previously when I had done this walk I had lunch at the Greyhound at Aldbury, where the landlandy had told me to ring the day before our walk to book a table. Having done that yesterday however, it turned out that there was no room at the inn. The other pub in town, the Valiant Trooper had told me a similar tale on the phone, insisting we could only book a table (yesterday for today) if I was able to give her exact numbers dining. My point therefore, is that Aldbury does not seem a very walker friendly town. Their loss I’m sure as we carried on further without diverting into Aldbury and spending our money to prop up their local, second home in the country, economy.

Anyway I had put in my flyer for this walk that there was a steep and muddy climb after lunch (along the edge of Moneybury Hill). However given the change of lunch stop the climb came before hand, which to my relief every one managed (albeit in some cases much slower than others) To be fair though there wasn’t the slippy mud I had in January which turned it into more of a scramble. So picking up the path again we diverted up towards the Bridgewater Monument on the National Trust’s Ashridge estate, and our revised lunch stop at the café by the visitor centre.

Now this actually turned out to be perfect for our needs. It was also very popular too as we managed to just grab the last of the outdoor tables for those of us using the café. The usual sandwich eaters meanwhile were able to find plenty of benches on the grounds for which to have a good stare at the monument. That wasn’t the only thing to stare at either, as given the amount and variety of dogs there was running around both the tables and the grass, it was easy to think you were at Crufts. Anyway I had a brown bap, with sausage, bacon and egg filling, as well as later having a mug of coffee and a clotted cream scone (all at usual National Trust prices). Also (and much to my relief as leader) the toilet facilities were all available and adequate, given one report from the internet which suggested they were rubbish and usually closed (this would have spelt disaster for the walk if that had actually been true).

Once back walking again we were on a downhill trajectory passing through Aldbury common, dissecting the Chiltern Way before skirting around the edge of Northchurch common. During the course of which we were joined by a dead ringer for the Andrex Puppy, who kept running away from his female owner, to follow us instead (unfortunately we had no IVC membership forms with us). Eventually we made it to Dudswell, where we able to pick up the Grand Union Canal again, and a two mile walk along there back to bridge 135, where we initially joined it, only this time to come off it to Tring Station. Arriving there at 1505, this meant a forty minute wait for the 1545 back to Euston (whereas in normal circumstances there would have been two trains an hour on Sunday). However the sun had started to peep out and everyone took the wait in good spirits.

Overall then a very good walk, which could have gone badly wrong due to a lot of potential banana skins. My GPS came in at 8.5 miles, which was exactly what I had said in my flyer it was going to be.

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