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|
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.
|Canal Willows – there is a car on the back of one of those barges!|
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|
|Iron Sculpture makers – old buildings|
|Old Canal building|
|One of many Lock on Tring to Milton Keynes Canal Walk|
|Grand Union Canal Lock|
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.
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|
|Don’t remember this building when I was young and certainly no tea room|
|My old man’s old house|
|White Lion (my step mum used to work here)|
|Marsworth Wharf buildings|
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.
|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.
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|
|Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance|
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.
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.
|Through the Trees|
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.
|Rain on the Grand Union|
|No idea where this is between three locks and Fenny stratford|
|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
|Raining on the canal|
|Bridge over the canal|
|Bridges of Milton Keynes|
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|Sunset through a bridge|
|Ball of Fire|
|Fire in the Sky|
|Sunset in New Bradwell by the Grand Union Canal|
|Bridge over the canal|
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|
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
If you are looking for a great walk in Milton Keynes, be sure to check out my Milton Keynes Walks page.
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