Herts Embraced 1.5: Canals and reservoirs to Long Marston

8:00 pm, in the Queen’s Head, Long Marston.  (Typed after I returned home.)

The path down from the county top descended swiftly and soon I was off the Chilterns.  Skirting along the northern edge of Tring and turning north, I entered a very different part of Hertfordshire, one which owes its geography more to the Vale of Aylesbury.

The path ran down to an abandoned arm of the Grand Union Canal – the Wendover Arm.  That said, it is not entirely abandoned: west of the bridge the canal was ‘in water’, while east of it, behind an earthen dam, the canal was dry and overgrown, but a “Restoration” banner attached to the bridge pointed to the dry section.  Beyond the canal, the Wilstone Reservoir was visible, and this was the next destination.  North of the reservoir I met the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union, which was in water and operative.

However, I had been noticing for several miles that my pace was slowing significantly and my feet were in revolt.  I did not feel tired as such, I rarely do when walking, but a slowed pace and occasional blurred vision were telling what my brain refuses to accept.

From the Aylesbury Arm I took the road to Puttenham, which is not on the route I had originally mapped but s a worthy addition to the route.  It is Hertfordshire’s westernmost village, and Puttenham is also Hertfordshire’s only Thankful Village – a village to which all who had served in the Great War returned alive.

The light was fading by this time.  I sought the route across the fields to the neighbouring village, Long Marston – the farthermost of the Tring Salient nd more importantly a place with a pub.  Somehow I missed the intended path (they are very poorly signposted and the descending night did not help) but came to Long Marston in the end, and was soon downing a pint of lemonade.

Earlier in the day I had considered heading from Long Marston south-east to the main canal and following it to Tring Station but I was clearly not up to another six miles or so by that time so Long Marston, point furthest north in the Tring Salient, concludes the first day.

Day two should begin where I left off, heading down to Tring Station and then across the Ashridge Woods.  That will not be tomorrow (domestic and civic duties to be done) but will follow shortly.

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