Monday, 25 May 2009

Chiltern Ramblers
Yesterday (Sunday) we walked down from Bulbourne to Marsworth where we caught the 327 bus. Known as The Chiltern Rambler, it runs on Sundays and public holidays only from the beginning of May to the end of September. It follows a circular route (unless you have the same driver as we did who lost his way). The route is designed to encompass Hemel Hempstead, Tring, Whipsnade, Ashridge and villages between. We alighted at Aldbury and climbed Tom's Hill to the monument.

Erected to commemorate a previous owner of the Ashridge Estate by his cousin who inherited the estate in 1803, it is constructed in Aberdeen granite on a plicth of York stone.
The reason for commemorating Francis Egerton in this way was not for his management of the estate which he neglected to a point where every room in the house was open to the elements.
This dull, untidy man was worth a £13.500 obelisk because he was the third Duke of Bridgewater - known as The Canal Duke. In 1759 he kicked off canalmania in England by building a canal from his coal mine in Worseley to Manchester. Canals had been around for centuries but the impact of the Bridgewater Canal on the price of coal which halved overnight was so great it fired enthusiasm for canals all over the country. It also launched the career of arguably our greatest canal engineer - James Brindley.

If you are prepared to climb the 170 stairs to the observation platform it is possible to see Canary Wharf, Ashridge house and (should you wish to) Luton Airport.

On our descent we set off to walk back home to Bulbourne. Having seen the Wendover Arm Festival from the top of the monument we felt well prepared for this. After walking around the woods for a while we eventually came to the canal near Cowroast and then followed the Grand Union to the Grand Junction Arms for a very welcome drink.

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