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29 May – Hertfordshire Challenge Walk – Wigginton 15 miles

Event led by Khris
Attendance: 20 men (11 and 9)
Distance: 15 mile challenge (6.5 and 8.5)
Time: start 9:31, end 17:10, lunch 39 minutes
Terrain: woodland, footpaths, bridleways, farm tracks and road.
Elevation: start 201m, high 244m, low 116m
Weather: sunny, 18-20°C, sunny with light breeze
Number of sewage work: 0
Number of churches: 1
Number of golf courses: 0

This was a figure of eight challenge walk of 15 miles from Wigginton, Hertfordshire via Aldbury, Ashridge Estate, Cow Roast, Hawbridge Common, Cholesbury-cum-St Leonard and Tring Park.

Morning: Wigginton to Aldbury 6.5 mile circular leaving the village descending down the Ridgeway National Trail via Tring Gap passing the Victorian built Tring Station to the 'chocolate box' village of Aldbury which was used in movies and TV from The Dirty Dozen, Bridget Jones, Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders, The Avengers and the first National Lottery advertisement. Several properties are 16/17th century timber-framed and under conservation. Popped into the John the Baptist Church to view “the Wildman” at feet of Sir Whittingham tomb from 15th century. We entered the allotments and the resident donkeys greeted us. Before the gentle climb into Ashridge National Trust Estate to the top of Tom’s Hill the scene of two military aircraft crashes from WWII and 1954. We then took a slow descent passing the Alpacas to Cow Roast lock on the Grand Union Canal. This was followed by another ascent to our start point at the hill-top village of Wigginton transiting through fields of horses. 116-224 metres

Here we chilled out enjoying lunch on benches for approx. 40 minutes. At this stage 4 left the party and another 2 joined for the afternoon section.

Afternoon: Left Wigginton and passed through some fields and entered a woodland with a plaque at entrance to commemorate a military aircraft crash in late ‘60’s. Walked along gravel track to farm before turning towards Hawbridge Common. The majestic mixed woodland in the valley is under conservation to protect the habitat and wildlife by landowner. Upon arrival in Hawbridge Common we are welcomed by a plinth on the county border in recognition of Queen Victoria. This is over-shadowed by the “Windmill” which is privately owner and being restored to by the residents to its former glory. One of its most famous residents was writer/dramatist Gilbert Cannan and wife/actress the former Mrs. JM Barrie (Peter Pan). Visitors were DH Lawrence and the Bloomsbury Set. We then stumbled on three puddingstones placed on an area which a beacon was set to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. We take a short walk into Cholesbury passing the Village Hall to enter the Iron Age hillfort with magnificent beech trees. It is claimed a small tribe resided here and hearing the Juluis Caesar and the Romans were nearing Tring, they departed. We continue into a magnificent woodland which is extremely peaceful. Afterwhich, we stroll along a small road to enter the Wildlife Trust's - Pavis Wood. Here we reached the dizzying height of 244 metres (highest point in Hertfordshire) with no signage. Here we had a celebratory drink of water. We started to descend through the woodland and a deer was noted. We arrived at entrance of Tring Park. This is managed by Woodland Trust Park (originally part of Rothschilds estate). Under Walter Rothschild the area was full of exotic animals that he brought to UK from his journeys. Most famously the Zebras. Tring Museum has the largest private collection of animals/specimens in the world including the extinct Dodo. We walked along the grand avenue and turned to see one of Sir Christopher Wren’s design - Tring Mansion (ex. Rothschild’s residence), we weaved through this magical park which is provides great joy to those who visit. A few rabbits were noted with a couple of Red Kites gliding above before a slow ascent passing the needle – which is to recognize Nell Gwynn on her rendezvous with her lover King Charles II from his hunting trips in area. Subsequently, the main walkway atop Tring Park is called King Charles Ride. Before returning to Wigginton. 150 -244 metres

29 May - Hertfordshire Challenge Walk - Wigginton 15 miles

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