After having queued, to buy the tickets, for what seemed an eternity, and missing our first train by mere seconds, we eventually found ourselves sitting on a train at Central Milton Keynes train station. The little lady nervous with excitement at her brothers side; panicking that the train might not be the right one, it having come in from the wrong way, and just sat there for a few minutes, before we decided to risk boarding.
The adventure if it was the wrong train would have been fun. But fortune favours the brave and we eventually chugged out of the station, on our way to Tring and our planned (well semi planned) circular walk from Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon.
Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon Circular Walk
The sun was actually shining down on us as we headed, right, out of Tring Station and along the busy country road. Our aim a waypoint onto The Ridgeway national trail, and the start of our walk proper. It wasn’t long till we had left the path free road and headed up a small concreted track, in search of a marker and the real countryside we were looking for. Our hike from Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon now well underway.
|Views from the start of the trail|
Having found the path we wanted heading up into the hills, we were soon hiking along, poles in hand (Bubs and I now have a single pole each, we’ll see how they go and if we decide to add more), and of course decked out in my new walking trousers. Winding our way slowly up hill and into the woods. The first thing we noticed as we made our way uphill, was a steady stream of runners coming passed us, heading down. I’m not sure what race they were on but we met plenty more all along our walk. Many were hellishly tired by the time they passed us a the start of our walk. The second thing we noticed was, we are pretty sure, a badger sett, sitting just off the path we were walking.
Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve
Keeping walking we soon came up to Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve a part of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and area that I am lead to believe is brilliant for butterflies during the summer months, something that will hopefully bring us back next year (that and the potential for common lizards and glow worms) knowing my love of butterflies. It is a beautiful area of chalk grassland, situated on the side of the hills with wonderful views all around.
|Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve|
|Another view of Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve|
Walking further up hill we soon entered the woods properly, all around Beech trees and Oak trees tower over us, their fallen fruit covering the floor in husks and seeds, crunching under foot as we walked; While smaller, delicate, Silver Birch, dappled in golden light, filtering through the leaves of their massive neighbours, grow up around the larger trees, the brilliant white of the paper thin bark shining brightly in their small sunny locations; Large, fallen trees sprawl across the forest floor, home to amazing, self contained, ecosystems; While fungus of all colours grow from the slowly decaying remains.
|Views out from the Woods|
Rounding a long corner of the trail we came up to Pitstone hill and the views out over Pitstone quarry, College lake, and on across the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside. Walking along the chalk and flint path the views to our left are amazing, breath taking even at times while the trees lining our right take your breath away in a different yet equally beautiful way, the area is one of immense beauty.
Every so often we stop to take in a sun dappled area of path, the gold and brown leaves of autumn creating stunning light as it filters through and lights the path; or marvel at the vistas spreading out below us and across the wonderful rural setting.
|Sun Dappled Path|
|Another Stunning View|
Reaching Pitstone Hill proper while I stop to capture a stunning panoramic of the view over the quarry and sprawling countryside, the children run up the hill and disappear over the ridge, lost to sight in the wavering grass for a few moments, as storm clouds gathering over their heads. This disappearance forced me to give chase, and near break myself in the process, my lungs gasping for air as I rush up the steep slope, my opinion and respect for the runners we have passed growing with every breath.
|Panorama from Pitstone Hill (made from 6 photos stitched)|
|The Kids heading over the hill|
Cresting Pitstone hill we were greeted with our first views of Ivinghoe Beacon off in the distance and realised the task still ahead of us, having already walked for an hour and a half we began to have doubts that we would make it to the beacon and back to the train station before dark fell across the land.
|Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance|
|Ivinghoe Beacon and Sheep|
We pushed on over the hill and decided we would reassess when we reached the point on our walk when the loop stopped and we would take the path to the beacon.
Our onward walk lead us passed a checkpoint for the runners, a table set with jugs of flavoured drinks and snacks of varying kinds, and on through a series of grassy fields. All around us Skylark sang high in the air, battling with the growing winds and the start of a spot or two of rain.
A change of Route
By now we were well over two hours into the walk and could feel evening coming on, the problem with starting so late in the day I guess. The time, weather, and tired legs on the little lady, made the decision to cut out the walk up to the beacon pretty easy and so for a few hundred yards we went off route (the alarm on my ViewRanger app alerting us to this every few seconds until I learnt how to switch it off).
The long return walk began in earnest as we entered the National Trust woods of Ashridge, thankfully our path from here would be a solid paved path, and the views off over the area we had just walked were still spectacular. Tiredness and changeable weather had the kids slowing down a little, and in the case of our daughter stripping down and re-clothing every few minutes (the joy of detachable legs on her trousers).
|Bubs now in shorts to cool down a bit.|
|And now putting the legs back on the trousers|
|Looking back over where we have been – Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon|
Eventually we arrived at the Ashridge or Bridgewater Monument, a monument dedicated to Francis Egerton third duke of Bridgewater and “the father of inland navigation” built in 1832 to commemorate a man responsible for canal building during the industrial revolution.
The car-park was full of vehicles and the area was jam packed with people, climbing the large fallen trees or visiting the NT gift shop and cafe, we decided to grab an ice cream each and use the “facilities” before we carried on, but we didn’t stop for long.
The path home
From here our path went quite steeply down hill, a rough track full of loose stones and cracks in the earth, we all had a few near misses with slips, but thankfully stayed upright. the path lead us down into a real chocolate box of a village, Aldbury, complete with village pond, pub and church – it’s just a shame about all the cars.
A short walk through the village and along the roadside verge led us past the large church till we could turn off and up a small path through more fields. This time full of cattle (including one large bull!). Fortunately we were not long in the fields. And the large bovine beasts were stood distantly watching us on the far side.
Passing through kissing gate after kissing gate we arrived on a thin path, edged by ploughed fields and bramble filled, blackthorn, hedges, as we meandered our way back up hill. Slightly towards the Ridgeway path we had walked previously.
To our right were distant views of the monument peeking out through the tops of the trees. Showing just how far we had walked. To our left were views off over the Hertfordshire countryside as the sun was beginning to slowly dip low.
|Looking back at the Bridgewater Monument|
|The sun sinking over Hertfordshire|
We soon turned left and found ourselves walking quickly back to the signpost that started our walk. The railway line ahead of us cutting through the autumn coloured fields. We soon arrived back at the road to Tring station and so began the last few hundred metres.
Tring Station Once More
We eventually arrived back at Tring station at 17:26. Just under 4 hours since we arrived, all tired and ready for a rest.
|Waiting for the Train Home|
You can see our actual Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon route below. As well as the route we should have taken, so you can compare or potentially try yourself.
Actual Route Tring Station to Ivinghoe Beacon Circular
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