4 January 2014: Amersham Berkhamsted circuit

4 January 2014: Amersham Berkhamsted circuit
Walk descriptor Test walk Day 00
Date Sat 4 Jan 2014 Start to end time 04h 53m
Start point Amersham End point Beaconsfield (circuit)
Miles today 17.48 Cu miles 0,000.00
Ft today 1389 Cu ft 000,000
Route miles left 0,000 Route ft left 000,000
Today’s weather Rained hard almost the whole way round except for a slightly drier 30 mins towards the end.   Light wind, average to mild temp (7-8C)
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

Today’s walk benefited from rather more than its normal share of hazards.

It started out in pouring rain (where is all this water coming from??) which continued more or less undiminished the whole way round.   Passed through the outskirts of Botley and Whelpley on the way to Berkhamsted.   One of Berkhamsted’s main claims to fame (apart from the fact that the West Coast Main Line goes right through it) is that it is the home of sheep-dip.   Invented by William Cooper in 1852, this unprepossessing mixture of arsenic and sulphur was used successfully to treat scab.

Passed along the Grand Union canal, then through the centre of Berkhamsted, stopping briefly for millionaire’s shortbread at one of the many cafes, then back over the hills to Chesham – through forests which in May are full of bluebells.  But not today.

The first hazard encountered along the way was caused by the rain – many of the paths, particularly in the valley below Chesham near the start of the walk, had turned into raging torrents of floodwater, which made going slow and difficult.   I gave up all hope of retaining dry feet within about 10 minutes of leaving home.   The next hazard presented itself in the valley near Great Wood, just outside Berkhamsted, where a herd of bullocks grazing in the field I was walking through decided it would be much more fun to stampede down the hill at me than to continue to munch on wet grass.   Can’t think why.   Anyway needless to say I doubt the nearby barbed wire fence has ever been negotiated quite so swiftly as it was this morning.

Having survived the torrent and the bullocks, the next collective hazards were the Dogs of Berkhamsted.   Exactly what the residents of Berkhamsted do to their animals I don’t know but I can only assume that when the ovine market for arsenic and sulphur dried up they must have decided to put it in their pet food.   In the space of just 2 miles, I was set upon by dogs no less than four times.   Most spectacularly when a large animal roughly the size of a horse but more like a polar bear in colour and a crocodile in dental equipment leapt onto my shoulder and went for my throat.   Fortunately I managed to fight it off and beat a hasty retreat across the A41 before any damage was done.

Note to self – always carry a heavy stick when walking through Berkhamsted!

The last hazard was the A41 itself.   Although it proved to be a natural barrier for the Dogs of Berkhamsted, crossing it is a death defying experience and quite why the Dept for Transport didn’t do the job properly and build a bridge for the right of way is beyond me.

So after my adrenaline laced adventure, I was definintely ready for a stiff G&T on return home!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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I managed to combine several features of this winter’s walks into one photograph.   Heavy rain, path turned into raging torrent by rain, and fallen tree blocking the way.   A hat trick! Scout camp at Botley has definitely seen better days
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These creatures only look docile because they are exhausted after stampeding down the hill in pursuit of one rather alarmed hiker Here is a picture of a pub.   The Rising Sun on the Grand Union Canal at Berkhamsted
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Despite having two legs, all these geese near the railway station at Berkhamsted only actulally seem to choose to use one of them Dicing with death – crossing the A41near Shootersway.   Not a good place to tie up your bootlaces
On a nice day, the view of Chesham from this seat in the Copas farm between Ashley Green and Hawridge is stunning.   Today, it wasn’t
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue