9th March So this walk completes the Aylesbury Canal...which we'd started over a year ago. The canal itself was started well over 200 years ago...and never finished. The intention had been to drive a canal as far as the Thames to the south and, via the Kennet & Avon canal and the Thames, link Bristol and the West with the Grand Union Canal. Money ran out, railways arrived and, instead, the canal finishes in Aylesbury...an 18th Century equivalent of buying a 3D TV and finding the world had move on to 4K TV. However, today the Aylesbury Canal is a pleasant walk in early spring.
It's 8am as we pull into the car park at Startop's End, squeezed between the reservoir and the canal. We are squeezing things in this weekend, ourselves. David is due back at lunchtime to watch the Spurs game and this is our only chance for a walk. It has to be short and local. In no time we reach the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union. A narrow and also straight canal, the original intention was to connect up with the Thames but money ran out and railways arrived...
You've probably not heard of the Battle of Berkhamsted Common...it doesn't rank high on the National Curriculum. However, without it we'd not be walking on Berkhamsted Common today. During the 1860's wealthy landowners raced to enclose the common land on their estates. In February 1866 Lord Brownlow enclosed Berkhamsted Common, erecting a 5ft iron fence to keep out the great unwashed and infuriating the locals. Augustus Smith and George Shaw-Lefevre, local Liberal MPs, responded by chartering a train from Euston at midnight on 6th March. It left crammed with 120 'beered-up' Irish Navvies, rounded up from the East End. The train arrived at Tring Station at 1-30 in the morning and under cover of darkness the Navvies dismantled the fence, leaving it stacked in neat piles on the Common. The ensuing rumpus resulted in a legal battle that was finally resolved in favour of the commoners in a court judgment of 1870. Do you need a better reason to vote LibDem?
A flat walk on a dull day…and yet, this walk was much more enjoyable than that. Another walk near Tring. That’s something like 8 walks around here in the last 10 months so you may get the feeling we like Tring!