I went for a walk today as part of my local walking group. The group has been walking once a month for over a decade and visits areas of Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. We occasionally go further afield. Since I organise some of the routes we have visited canals and even sometimes Albert when on a cruise.

Today we didn't go near a canal and yet the walk had a canal theme threading through it. We walked around the Ashridge estate, close to Berkhamsted, and enjoyed the woods which were carpeted in bluebells. The weather, unlike yesterday, was sunny and we had clear blue skies throughout the morning.

The walk started and ended with lunch at the Bridgewater Arms in Little Gaddesden. We have walked from this popular pub a few times. The inn is, of course, named after Francis Egerton, Third Duke of Bridgewater who owned the Ashridge Estate. The "Canal Duke" is commemorated not only in the name of the pub but his first canal is now commemorated on the wall of the inn with a mural.

Mural commemorating the Bridgewater Canal

However, the most significant memorial to the Duke lies on the other side of the estate overlooking Aldbury. It is the Bridgewater Monument which credits him as being the "Father of the Inland Navigation".

The Bridgwater Monument

The monument lies close to the Brownlow cafe which this morning was very busy with walkers, dog walkers and cyclists, all enjoying the weather.

There's lot to enjoy on the estate but today the pièce de résistance was the bluebells. They were truly magnificent, particularly in Dockey Wood.

Bluebells in Dockey Wood

I wondered about access to this area from the Grand Union Canal. You can just see Cowroast from one of the vantage points on the estate but a walk to the the Bridgewater Arms from the canal is a healthy 4.5 miles and with a 300 ft climb. It's about half that to the Bridgewater Monument but that would still include the climb. Maybe one of these days we might come through Berkhamsted and feel enthusiastic(?). Today's walk was just around the 6 mile mark but with only a modest change in elevation. 

Getting to the Bridgewater Arms from Cowroast