Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk

Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk
Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk

Disclaimer – Photo Heavy post.

Sometimes pushing your body to its limits is a pain worth having, it is with that in mind that I set out yesterday (I needed to recover before posting) on my longest walk to date. My aim, a Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk, a 30 mile walk in all the name of self flagellation.

Actually I quite like walking the Grand Union canal, but 30 miles is a long way, and with the state of my body after my last long walk (MK Challenge walk – 25 miles) I knew this one would take its toll too.

Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk

Arriving at Tring (Hertfordshire) station at 09:30 it really wasn’t long till I was tramping the gravelled surface of the Grand Union canal towpath and striding with purpose along the first miles of my latest epic walk. I should say Tring is a great spot to head off for a walk from. On a main line from London to Birmingham, and with several great areas to walk; from the Ridgeway (a long distance path I would love to walk one day) to Ivinghoe Beacon.

Grand Union Canal
Grand Union Canal

Getting Lost Early

Now you would think following a straight route along a canal wouldn’t throw up any opportunities to actually get lost, but at the first bridge I came to the path heads upwards, looking under the bridge I couldn’t see an obvious path on the other side so assumed I would go off route for a bit till the path reconnected, odd considering there would have had to be a tow path at some point, but hey, whatever I’d be fine, and as I reached the top of the bridge a path lead straight off in front of me, so I took it. after about 5 minutes I figured this must be wrong as I was not heading back to the canal at all.

Squinting through the bushes I could see someone fishing from across the water, so realised my error and quickly backtracked. The tow path is indeed picked up across the canal, just from a little further along, so I was soon back to my steady walking.

Great Gorge
Great Gorge

 

Canal Willows - there is a car on the back of one of those barges!
Canal Willows – there is a car on the back of one of those barges!

Old Reminders

As well as the regular locks, and associated lock keepers cottages, and pubs & Inns that you can often find along the canal, there are often stunning old buildings that were once part of the huge industrial complex, the latter part of this walk includes the old railway works at Wolverton, but even early on there are units that have been modernised as new businesses or the likes.

Old Buildings on the Grand Union near Tring
Old Buildings on the Grand Union near Tring

 

Iron Sculpture makers - old buildings
Iron Sculpture makers – old buildings

 

Old Canal building
Old Canal building

 

One of many Lock on my Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk
One of many Lock on Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk

 

Grand Union Canal Lock
Grand Union Canal Lock

Tring Reservoirs

It wasn’t long before my monotonous footfall had taken me to the complex of lakes know as Tring Reservoirs, and area I know well from my late teens when my dad lived opposite them, although my last visit was twitching a Least Sandpiper a number of years ago.

Marsworth Reservoir
Marsworth Reservoir

Walking passed the lock keepers cottage and on to Marsworth Reservoir, I suddenly became acutely aware that things have changed, although partly due to my age since I last visited, the lakes did seem much smaller. The largest changes seem to be around the car park (I have no recollection of the building that now houses a tea room); and the changes to the White Lion which is sadly boarded up. Further huge changes around Marsworth Wharf, which I must admit I don’t remember at all, that is now a VERY modern housing complex.

It is interesting how a simple Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk can bring back old memories.

Lock Keepers Cottage
Lock Keepers Cottage

 

Don't remember this building when I was young and certainly no tea room
Don’t remember this building when I was young and certainly no tea room

 

My old man's old house
My old man’s old house

 

White Lion (my step mum used to work here)
White Lion (my step mum used to work here)

 

Marsworth Wharf buildings
Marsworth Wharf buildings

 

Marsworth Wharf
Marsworth Wharf

Dredging The Canal

As I strolled along the usually green/brown waters of the Grand Union, I noticed it was taking on a grey tinge, and spotted up and down there were barges carrying thick gloopy mud, long armed diggers and signs warning of the dredging that was well under way.

Dredging
Dredging

 

Grey Canal water (doesn't really show well)
Grey Canal water (doesn’t really show well)

It’s not hard to see why the waters were turning grey when you see the thick, clay like substances that have been dug from the bottom of the canal, the workmen then spreading the muck across nearby fields.

Mud spreading
Mud spreading

Bye to the Chilterns

Walking on I could see the Chilterns and, I think, more specifically Ivinghoe Beacon off to my right, the long stretch of hills cutting through the countryside. At moments it appeared in front of me, framed by the canals high hedges, at other times I followed its distant route.

Dull skies over the canal
Dull skies over the canal

 

Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance
Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance

 

Chilterns
Chilterns

 

More bridges
More Bridges

 

Distant Hills
Distant Hills

Eventually I left the hills behind and pushed on into Leighton Buzzard, but not before I had a well earned lunch break at a place called “Peace Meadow” it looks lovely from the map and sign, but in reality was a little bit of grass with 2 slightly damaged picnic benches.

Peace Meadow
Peace Meadow

A couple of sandwiches and a change of socks (and sweaty t-shirt) and I was back off along the canal, reinvigorated by the food and fresh clothes I was soon eating up the ground ahead of me.

Storm Damage
Storm Damage

 

Through the Trees
Through the Trees

 

Wooded Hills
Wooded Hills

Three Locks

As I neared the Three Locks (the location of three locks, a pub and a huge golf course) the rains started to really fall, starting as a light drizzle to begin with it soon became a heavy down pour, reducing the views but quite some way.

Three Locks
Three Locks

 

Rain on the Grand Union
Rain on the Grand Union

 

No idea where this is between three locks and Fenny stratford

 

Rain shrouds the countryside
Rain shrouds the countryside

Eventually I reached Water Eaton, and pink or blue Arriva busses signalled that I was back into my home town, a short walk through Bletchley, with the Lakes Estate across the canal but nothing my side, I arrived in Fenny Stratford, the point I had decided I could halt if I wished, or push on to home.

Second Half Fenny Stratford to Home

Deciding I was still feeling fit enough I pushed on. My Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk extending beyond Fenny Stratford now to Old Wolverton.

 

This route follows one I have previously walked – Fenny Stratford to Old Wolverton, feel free to have a read of that one as well.

Then the Rain Came Down

If I’d thought the rain was bad earlier, it really came down, all be it briefly, while I made my way through Milton Keynes, at one point I even had to take shelter under one of the many bridges just to stay dry.

 

Raining on the canal
Raining on the canal

 

Bridge over the canal
Bridge over the canal

 

Bridges of Milton Keynes
Bridges of Milton Keynes

Pushing Through

Thankfully the rain didn’t last long and soon the sun was out (the first time all day), always annoying when this happens towards the end of the day.

Sun shine
Sun shine

With the sun came some real pain as well, the kilometres between 35 and 40 were some of the hardest I have walked, while my feet were not blistering, as they had on my 25 mile challenge, or as sore, thanks to my wonderful Salomon shoes! My hips and calves were starting to burn and the less said about my shoulder the better.

Pushing through the pain, and slightly motivated by the joggers, who passed me occasionally I fought through the pain barrier and started to pick the pace back up. In fact at the 40k mark, I felt much fresher, although by now sunset was only an hour or so away and I still had a long way to go.

Owl Mural
Owl Mural

 

Changing weather
Changing weather

 

Low Sun on the canal
Low Sun on the canal

Sunset and Dark Walking

As I walked through the Great Linford area the sun was starting to get very low, it actually made seeing a little tricky as the bright evening sun glared off the still waters of the canal. and I was starting to worry.

As I passed the Black Horse and approached Stanton Low CP the sun was well and truly setting, the sky quickly turning to fire as I wandered.

Twilight on the Canal
Twilight on the Canal

 

Sun is Setting
Sun is Setting

Torn between wanting to enjoy the beautiful sunset that was unfolding before me, but very worried that the sun would go and darkness would envelope me, I tried to keep up a decent pace, while also grabbing some photographs of the evenings events (not that easy).

Golden Skies of Sunset over the Grand Union Canal
Golden Skies of Sunset over the Grand Union Canal

 

Sunset through a bridge
Sunset through a bridge

 

Ball of Fire
Ball of Fire

 

Fire in the Sky
Fire in the Sky
As I walked through New Bradwell the sun had gone. A glow still remained in the skies (just), and I was able to continue navigating the canal path by the eerie twilight. But knew if would not be long before there was not enough light and things could potentially become a little dangerous. Walking next to a bod of water with an uneven path in the dark isn’t something high on my list to recommend.
Sunset in New Bradwell by the Grand Union Canal
Sunset in New Bradwell by the Grand Union Canal

 

Bridge over the canal
Bridge over the canal

Nearly Home

Wolverton was dark when I passed under the railway line for the final time. My path, lit only be the lights from the near by apartments, or the floodlights lighting the industrial estates, some light pollution that I am thankful for.

Wolverton new builds in the dark
Wolverton new builds in the dark

As it transpired it was only the last couple of hundred yards of canal that I had to use my phone torch to navigate. Then mainly to make sure I wasn’t walking head long into a low hanging branch!

I soon arrived home, sore, and ready for some food and drink (and bed). My Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk completed.

Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk Stats

It took me 10 hours 27 minutes to walk 30.01 miles (48.36 km) I had done it. A Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk! And my home.

Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk View Ranger Maps

You can download the route I followed in two maps, one Tring to Fenny Stratford and One Fenny Stratford to Old Wolverton.

Tring to Fenny Stratford

Fenny to Wolverton

Linking to…

The Helpful Hiker

If you are looking for a great walk in Milton Keynes, be sure to check out my Milton Keynes Walks page.

 

I’m Walking 2500 miles in 2017 to raise money for Birding For All – Read about it here – Please consider donating through My Donate

Did you like Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk? or Find it useful? Please consider sharing with your friends, via the links below.

Like it? Share it!

6 Replies to “Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk

  1. Walking 30 miles is no mean feat so we’ll done. Being on the move outdoors for over 10 hours is liberating on the one hand but a heck of a challenge on the other. It’s been a while since I’ve done a distance like that and I sort of remember why haha. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling I hope you can again tomorrow when it opens again.

    1. Thanks, it wasn't as tough as a 25 mile walk I did at the start of the year, so distance is obviously getting easier 🙂 I quite like the challenge of walking distance, next up though I need to tackle day/night walks and/or hill walking 🙂

  2. That is an impressive walk. I've only every walked that far one go once, and it cost me both my toenails (although I did walk 20 miles the next day too!). Love the photos of the dwindling light, although I can well imagine how you were desperate to keep going before the light went completely. How many miles are you up to now? Thanks for sharing with us at #AdventureCalling

    1. I really want to get my teeth into a long distance path one day, but while the kids are young, that will have to wait (well that is what Zoe always tells me, I think 8 is fine to walk the Ridgeway personally)

Leave a Reply