A long Circular Walk up to Ivinghoe Beacon in The Chilterns.

This 12 miles/19kms walk goes from Marsworth Locks along the Grand Union Canal, across countryside up to Ivinghoe Beacon then returns via The Ridgeway Path and the canal at Tring.

Bits and Pieces: the map used for this is Ordnance Survey Explorer is Chiltern Hills North 181 however the way is generally straightforward enough. There is a pay and display car park beside the B489 just outside of Marsworth Village at Startop End beside the Grand Union Canal - this is at HP23 4LJ if you have a tom-tom or similar (SP 920 140 on the map). The Ridgeway Path ends at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon - if the weather is potentially windy/cold/wet bear in mind the Path and Beacon area are very exposed - take appropriate clothing and in any case wearing good hiking boots is beneficial.

Start off from the car park by crossing the B489 then cross over the canal bridge on the walkway and down onto the towpath and turn right along it - (i.e. don't go back under the bridge). Follow the towpath passing the Aylesbury Arm junction and then shortly go onto and cross the bridge (131) as the towpath changes sides.
The Grand Union Canal heading away from Startops End, England. Grand Union Canal's Lock 38 in Buckinghamshire, England. Nicely shaped railwaybridge on The Grand Union Canal in England. Swingbridge 125 crossing The Grand Union Canal in England.
The canal bends around a little and passes Marsworth Locks 38 and 37 which are both in beautiful settings - the towpath is lined with quite high hawthorn and has it's fair share of nettles and cow parsley so there is generally plenty of wildlife around. Soon the sound of fast-moving trains occurs and the canal turns under a huge railway bridge - then just a little further on arrives at canal swing bridge 125 - cross the bridge and take the marked public footpath now heading towards Pitstone.
St. Mary's Church at Ivinghoe, Bucks., England.Lovely walking path going towards Pitstone, England. This is quite a wide path and very pleasant to walk along - it is lined with trees and foliage which have overhung the path so that it is like walking through a tunnel. The path comes out on the B489 at Pitstone - turn left along the road for several 100 yards as far as a bend and then turn left into Chequers Lane. Go to the end of the lane and continue straight ahead on a marked footpath.
Follow this path which is initially quite enclosed and then goes out into open fields - this is a really nice path and full of wild life. As the path narrows near houses keep straight ahead to go onto a drive and then reach the B488 on the edge of Ivinghoe. Turn left and follow the road fairly steeply up to reach a junction with Ivinghoe's beautiful St Marys church on the right.
The 2km path to Ivinghoe Aston, Chiltern Hills, England.Cross a road and continue past the church and then take the next road on the left (Vicarage Lane) passing some really nice cottages. On reaching a t-junction with the Rose and Crown pub on the right turn right down Wellcroft (sign-posted to the golf course) - at the end of the road carry straight on along a hedged path. This is perhaps quite an unusual path for The Chilterns in that it goes reasonably flat and is almost straight for nearly 2kms. The path eventually joins a driveway and then reaches a road at Ivinghoe Aston. Amongst the hedgerow on the right there is a quite hidden path - take this which goes parallel to the road along a field edge then at the end of the field veers right and then go through a gate on the left (sign-posted). Turn right and follow the field edge eventually quite steeply up to the very top of the field. The path then turns left and follows the field edge further up, then drops down then climbs again to reach a gate and the B489 - Ivinghoe Beacon itself is right in front of you.
This is a busy main road often with fast-moving traffic - turn right and at the junction cross over onto Beacon Road.. Go over a cattle grid and then go left on the marked footpath. This is the steepest way to get up to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon and can be quite difficult - especially if it is windy and/or wet - it really is very steep. Therefore if you want to reach the Beacon and do not fancy this climb then continue on up Beacon Road and after a sharp bend take The Ridgeway Path on the left on up to the top - which is the start/end of The Ridgeway National Trail.
Ivinghoe Beacon, Chiltern Hills, England. The Ridgeway heading away from Ivinghoe Beacon, Chiltern Hills, England. Looking back towards Beacon Hill, Chiltern Hills, England. The Ridgeway Path up along Pitstone Hil, Chiltern Hills, England.
The views are unsurprisingly really good at the top of the Beacon and there is always plenty of fresh air!. It is popular with people kite-flying and model airplane enthusiasts.
To continue the walk head south i.e. back down on The Ridgeway Path (which you will stay on for the next 3.5 miles) - this is generally quite a wide set of paths which are quite worn - the path drops down to reach Beacon Road. [For anyone not wishing to do this long walk but simply wanting to go up to the Beacon, just a few 100 yards on up this road there is a quite large parking area]. Anyway - cross the road and continue on up The Ridgeway (which is as usual marked with an acorn). Initially a wide path The Ridgeway soon veers to the right onto a narrow path going along steep grassy slopes and then reaches a gate - turn left up the hill and into woods.
Aldbury Nowers looking beautiful, Chiltern Hills, England.Incombe Hole, Chiltern Hills, England. Pitstone Hill, Chiltern Hills, England. Having walked through these woods the path starts to descend over grassy areas and goes around a huge hollow called Incombe Hole before continuing along to arrive at a road with a parking area opposite. You can ignore the Ridgeway Path sign which indicates you should turn left down the road (unless you wish to religiously follow the Path) because all that does is take you a few 100 yards to the end of the car park). So cross the road, go through the car park and continue on up the hillside (The Ridgeway Path goes round the hill on the left and it all comes together a little further on). Just keep going over Pitstone HIll on a couple of ups and downs - when you reach the very top there are once again excellent views all round - including Beacon Hill behind you and water filled chalk pits down to the right. Simply stay on The Ridgeway (which for two short parts is also joined by Grimm's Ditch) - going through really nice woodlands (Aldbury Nowers). As you leave the woods go down some wooden steps and at a track junction turn right and at the next junction turn left - this is still all marked as The Ridgeway.
Continue on the track between high hedgerows - at the next cross track turn right (this is still The Ridgeway) to walk down to Station Road.The Grand Union Canal along The Tring Summit near Tring, England. Turn right along the road and walk on down soon passing Tring railway station, go over the railway bridge and continue up the road - just before the canal bridge leave The Ridgeway and take steps on the right leading down onto the Grand Union Canal towpath [SP 94784 12123 ]. Turn right alongside the canal on Tring Summit which is in a deep cutting and lined with high trees - these almost make a canopy and the way is really pleasant to walk along. After a while the towpath switches sides at Bridge 134 (Marshcroft Lane) then continues along to another canal bridge (133) at Bulbourne. Here there is a nice little public house called the Grand Junction Arms - the pub has a fairly large garden area with picnic tables beside the canal. A little further on there are some nice old canal buildings on the right (originally British Waterways workshops where lock-gates were once made) and then the Grand Union arrives at where The Wendover Arm leaves at Bulbourne Junction. At the junction the Grand Union Canal starts it's descent from Tring Summit starting off with lock no45 which is the start of Marsworth Lock Flight.
Bulbourne Junction, Chiltern Hills, England. Bulbourne drydocks - old British Waterways workshops, England. Marsworth Lock Flight and Lock 42, near Bulbourne, England. The Grand Union Canal wandering by it's reservoirs towards Startops End, Buckinghamshire.
As the canal descends it goes alongside Marsworth and then Startop End Reservoirs and eventually the car-park - there are quite a few locks and usually lot's going on in the area. This is also a really popular place for familes bringing their children for a wander around and of course to feed the ever present ever hungry ducks. The reservoirs themselves as well as the canal are also well used by fishermen and because of the amount of wildlife living on them, regularly frequented by Ornithologists
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