We have walked The Ashridge Estate before (here and here) but our route today is new and that much enjoyable for it. With last week’s walk under our belt we opted for a longer walk this week…well, truth be told, I opted for a longer walk, Sue graciously went along with the idea. We have very different attitudes to our walks. For me, I want to complete the walk while Sue is much more interested in the walk itself. These walks here and here still rankle with me! I wanted to try the Ashridge Boundary walk, 16 miles in total. Sue agreed because we’ve had some lovely walks on Ashridge and the weather was set to be fine.
It’s a long walk and the days are getting shorter now so we park up in the National Trust car park and the Bridgewater Monument at 7-45am on a Saturday morning. This triggers more ‘National Trust membership’ celebrations as I point out that we’re wringing more value from our annual membership card…Sue gently points out that the car park’s free!
The sun rises as we pass the Bridgewater Monument and walking south along the edge of the ridge we catch a glimpse of Aldbury through the trees…it’s still gloomy down there. We cross Northchurch Common alone, except for the few dog walkers in the distance. The frost crunches beneath our feet and Sue pauses for pictures…again, she’s spotting the good stuff…I’m worrying about finishing!
We swing through Frithsden Beeches, pick our way through Berkhamsted golf course and skirt Fritshden, so that by the time we turn to head north for The Beacon it’s mid-day and we opt for lunch on the move…I’m still anxious about finishing! We stumble upon The Golden Valley, excavated by ‘Capability’ Brown nearly 250 years ago. You’ve got to admit it takes a certain arrogance to believe you can do better than Nature itself but it works and, this afternoon, it’s the preserve of dog walkers…and us.
From here, the route to the Beacon reprises a previous walk and offers a nod to another as we skirt behind Dockey Wood, eventually arriving at Ivinghoe Beacon. The return to the car park seems longer than I remember (but that might be age) and is punctuated by elderly people in lycra running past clutching GPS devices. I fail to catch on and when one of them asks me if I ‘know where the cash is?’ I laugh! Sue points out that he was referring to the ‘cache’ and they are probably part of some outdoor event. The world can be terribly confusing unless I’m accompanied by my interpreter! Nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable 17 mile walk (I didn’t factor in the additional walk from The Monument to the car) and the weather was superb for late October.
Ringshall picture gallery (more pictures on Flickr):
Distance: 17.4 miles ; Difficulty: Moderate
Coordinates for Satnav: N51° 48.456′ W0° 35.494′