It has been a glorious day, and the perfect one for a short Chiltern walk. As we wait for the joy of Easter, we are in anticipation. Nature is bursting forth in readiness for the rebirth of summer, in all its variety giving praise to its creator. We then stepped out to enjoy it, as we wait for Easter.
Aldbury stands below the scarp of the Chilterns, a perfect little village set around a village pond, and buzzing with activity when we arrived – cars had begun to circle like sharks for parking spaces. Rising above the village is the wooded slope of the hills, which here belong to the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate.
The eagle-eyed may notice that I was here in Aldbury on Day 2 of my Herts Embraced walk. That day was very different: it was raining so hard I thought my map would dissolve into papier maché and my camera would fill with water. I still recognised that this was a pretty village and the woods were lovely even in those conditions, and the coffee in the National Trust café at the top of the hill was very welcome. Today though was dry, bright and the hottest day of the year so far.
We started down an intriguingly named road, Trooper Road, a name which was explained as we arrived at The Valliant Trooper, one of the village pubs, and at once lost the crowd. We continued out of the village across a field to a cross-track, the east, across the road, and began climbing the hill (past a lovely arts-and-craft house, worthy of Lutyens) and up through the woods. As this is woodland held by the National Trust it is left to be more natural than others. At one point a group of roe deer appeared, close to the path and apparently unbothered by walkers.
While the escarpment is steep, the tracks climb this part across the contours to make it a gentle climb for the family. Crossing a corner of the road we entered a part of the estate which was suddenly full of other families: The National Trust in partnership with Cadbury were running an Easter egg hunt. Whatever you might think about cheapening the Church’s most precious day, it was getting families out and walking, which is a good thing.
Before too long we were joined by a path climbing more directly from the village which I had taken on ‘Herts Embraced’, and soon we arrived at the Bridgewater Monument, the centrepiece of the Trust’s estate. Before the estate was broken up by Lloyd George’s taxes, the monument was part of the scheme of the Duke of Bridgewater’s private estate, standing as it does as a focal point on a two mile vista from Ashridge House, which is not owned by the Trust. The monument was open, so we climbed it, and the views are wide all around, and clear in the brightness of the day. (The last time I was here I did not see if the tower was open, but it would have been hard to see anything very far at all in that weather.)
We turned north-west around the Monument and headed back into the woods, then by a cottage lost in the woods turned south-west crabbing down the scarp until at the foot of the slope we emerged into fields by Stocks Farm. From there, across the fields it is just a step back into the village.
The whole walk is only about three miles – just right with two tired but enthusiastic children to break a busy day
- Ordnance Survey Explorer 181 Chiltern Hills North
- Ordnance Survey Landranger 165 Aylesbury & Leighton Buzzard