Another Ashridge walk

Today I walked for about three and a half hours around Ashridge and out towards Berkhamsted and Northchurch. Again I’d hoped to walk for longer, but started to feel a hot spot on my foot where I’ve had a nasty blister recently, so I cut the walk short. The foot was OK when I got home, so perhaps I was overcautious (I know, I’m a wimp!).

The walk was a truncated version of my Alternative Ashridge Walk, but in the opposite direction to usual. I started walking from near the Bridgewater Monument in the centre of Ashridge at about 10am. I went a short way back down the drive then turned right, the same way I started my last two Ashridge walks. It was a grey and overcast morning, and quite misty and murky to begin with. I enjoyed walking through the colourful trees in these typical November conditions, which are so atmospheric. When I reached a crossing bridleway, I followed it to the left, crossed the road and continued on along the well-known avenue of beech trees on the other side.

I crossed a drive that goes to Coldharbour farm, and continued onwards to reach the lovely Frithsden Beeches. The way carried on past part of Berkhamsted Golf Course, and then I turned back towards Northchurch. The path follows the edge of a wood along a valley for half a mile or more – I met someone with binoculars coming the other way, and we stopped and chatted about bird watching for a minute or two. I then followed field paths for half a mile or so (there were Long-tailed tits in the hedgerow at one point), then turned right along a path beside a large school. As I passed a small residential estate on the outskirts of Northchurch, I saw 6 or so Fallow deer in an adjacent paddock (there are sometimes many more than that here) and managed to get some decent photos.

From Northchurch I recrossed the road, and was back on the route I’d used on my last two walks in Ashridge, though going the other way. As I followed the path, again just inside the edge of the woods with fields to my left, I spotted many more Fallow deer in the trees. I passed the hamlet of Norcott Hill, where I had a brief chat with a dog walker, and continued on back into the woods.

It was now that I decided to cut the walk short, rather than go through Aldbury and over Pitstone Hill as I’d intended, so instead of following the edge of the wood round to Tom’s Hill I made my way through the wood instead. Despite having walked the path in the opposite direction a couple of times recently, I still managed to take a wrong turning here and so came out on the Tom’s Hill road at the wrong point. It turned out to be rather fortuitous, because as I walked quarter of a mile up the road to where I wanted to cross it, I saw a large group of Fallow deer in an open space on the far side of the road, including at least one large buck. It was then a straightforward walk along a wide track back to the drive to the Monument – just before reaching the drive, I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I got back to my car about 1.30pm.

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