Walk 2496 - printer friendly version
Cow Roast and Aldbury from Tring Station Walk
Author - Donald Morton
Length - 5.5 miles / 8.9 km
Ascent - 420 feet / 127 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference SP951122
Lat 51.800369 + Long -0.62226215
Postcode HP23 5QR (approx. location only)
The description of this Hertfordshire walk starts from Tring Station (Grid ref SP951122). If you come by car there is a station car park; this is busy and £ 5 during the week, but at the week end has plenty of space and "at the moment" is free. An alternative option is to park in Aldbury and start the walk from the pond on the village green.
From the station, cross the road and turn left. Walk to the canal - the Grand Union Canal. Take the path down to the right to the towpath (part of the Grand Union Canal Walk 145 miles from London to Birmingham). You join it where the canal runs through a rather dark and gloomy cutting at the Tring Summit, after it has climbed up the scarp slope of the Chilterns by a series of locks: from now on it is downhill to London. Turn left and walk along the towpath out of the cutting and into the open country of the Bulbourne valley until you reach Bridge 137 at the Cow Roast Lock. Cow Roast (originally Cow Rest) was where cattle were rested on the drive from Wales and Hereford to the London markets. Climb up to the lane and turn left (divert right if you fancy refreshment at the pub at Cow Roast). Follow this lane past the entrance to the Cow Roast Marina (narrow boats not yachts) and continue until you reach Norcott Farm Lane. Here turn left. Follow the lane over the railway, turn right opposite a red brick wall, and left up Norcott Hill at a T junction.
When you reach the top of the hill the road curves sharp left and becomes private - "private road no parking". Here turn right through a very small - half a dozen cars -NT parking space and half left on a broad track through the woods. This more or less continues the line of the road coming up the hill before it turns left. At the first waymark at the corner of a wide open space turn left (following, among others, an axe sign - part of the 128 mile Icknield Way Path based on an ancient trackway to Norfolk); at the second way mark a few yards further on fork right to come out onto the edge of a wide open space - Northchurch Common. Keep straight on along the left hand edge of this open area until you come to another way mark. Here turn left, still with the axe sign, through woods. At a fork go straight on to another way mark in a few yards. This is where you join the Hertfordshire Way.
Do not, however, follow the HW sign which points straight on. The circular HW route has only been signed to follow anti clockwise and we want to go clockwise so turn left with the axe and follow a broad, but maybe muddy, track which winds through the woods fairly near the left hand edge; because of the mud you may be tempted to stray to avoid, just do not get too far from the left hand edge. Where the open area on the left becomes less visible go straight on/rightish to a visible way mark. Here leave the Icknield Way Path and turn left to wind through the woods again fairly close to the left hand edge. Pass one way mark and, at the second, fork left to reach a finger post at cross paths. Go straight on now with fence on left and soon come out on a tarmac road (part of the circular Chiltern Way and the sign pointing the way you have come from confirms that you have you have been on the Hertfordshire Way). Continue on the HW by crossing straight over and go down the track which descends steeply down the scarp slope of the Chilterns with views looking north over Aldbury. At a crossing bridle path with stile opposite turn left passing Brightwood Cottage and Brightwood to come to a small lane.
Turn right along this lane. You come to the village of Aldbury, one of the prettiest villages in Hertfordshire. In the village follow the lane round to the left and then right to come out at the village green with its pond and stocks and whipping post and beyond the "high street" with many fine old cottages and larger houses; to obtain refreshment the village has two pubs, a tea shop and a village shop. Leave the village on the road going past the church. Take the first footpath on the right. Cross the field to a gate, follow a made pebble path to a wooden kissing gate, go up the side of a large barn, through two metal kissing gates and up an enclosed footpath. When you come to a crossing path with a finger post turn left along an enclosed bridlepath. Ignore all tracks to left and right until you come to a sunken lane, with the Ridgeway signed to the right and ahead. Go ahead across a field and continue down a concrete drive to the road. Here turn right (care - first 100 yards no pavement) back to Tring station.