Friday, 16 September 2011

Pitstone Windmill to The Akeman, Tring.

In which I stomp out a quantity of residual anger, work up an appetite for a pain au chocolat, and think about nothing at all.

Ordnance Survey Number: Explorer 181
Distance: Somewhere between 3 & 4 miles. I think.
Time: 75 minutes ish

Rating: Easy  

I sort of did this walk by accident, as it was done as much on a whim as you can be when you have a baby to plan for. A number of factors led me to decide to walk and meet friends - firstly, it was a really lovely, sunny day (if a bit windy); secondly The Chap was being really awkward - tired, but refusing to sleep or feed, instead choosing to grizzle permanently; thirdly, I was very, very cross with my husband over something he had done that I'm not really going to go into here because it's Not Cricket to do so, but had led me to throw a sieve across the kitchen in  frustration the night before. Not at him; he wasn't in the room at the time, you understand. Full marks to John Lewis for crafting sieves that remain completely unscathed during marital disputes, however. And we're friends again now, so it's all water under the bridge.

Suffice to say, however - I was right.

The gently rising stony path
Looking better than a quarry
The Pitstone Windmill  is always a good starting place, and has a number of pretty views around it, so it made sense to start there again. Walking away from the windmill and across a field towards Vicarage Road in Pitstone, you pop out through a hedge for a brief turn left and then right down Church Road. When the road turns sharply left, you don't follow it but instead go straight on up a gently rising stony path. A hundred metres or so up this, you pop out into a really lovely chalk grassland meadow that is the attractive result of last century's chalk quarrying. Indeed, you can still see the sharp banks that result from the open-cast quarrying.

This meadow is very popular as a local dog-walking spot, and you are likely to receive a few friendly nods as you walk through it. The chalk grassland  is really very pretty and has all sorts of flowers on it throughout the year as well as affording some nice views of Pitstone Hill and surrounding countryside. Bear left (the path is quite well trodden)as you go through the main field, and you will find a small stony path that pops you out onto the Pitstone cycle paths. My cycling is rubbish, so cycle paths such as these do a lot to protect Buckinghamshire from my wobbling wheels.

Do you dare brave the stile for this view?
(Taken from the end of the path, looking down the
route I didn't take)

Turn left once on the cycle path, and you should be able to see a roundabout. Cross straight over this onto Northfield Road using the paths, and face your first decision. Do you wish to a) brave a stile, and enjoy a pleasantly wooded walk that protects you from the road for a bit, or b) avoid the stile and face walking up the road. I was feeling pretty lazy, to be honest, so I chose to walk up the road - it's not very far, although the road is quite well used as it's a main route to Tring station. The verge is just about wide enough for you to leap off the road should a car come up behind you (I chose to walk up the 'wrong' side of the road in the same direction of the cars, as the other side had more trees and was harder to get out of the way if a car was coming.).

Either way you choose, you will have to walk along part of Northfield Road, but a path along the verge does appear to protect you from traffic. It is not far along this that a green sign directs you to Public Restricted Byway 62 (where are the other 61, I wonder?)/Great Union Canal 1/2 mile/ Tring Town Centre 2 miles.

This is Marshcroft Lane, and for the next couple of miles you can switch your map reading brain off, because all you do is walk along here. It's good to just stomp away and pound out any rage you have - this is a place to work off all that 'helpful' baby advice about feeding/weaning/sleeping that you receive. While your brain is off, there are a number of things you can admire, among them:

Rolling countryside, of the sort the South of England does so well.

The London - Glasgow train line; terribly exciting if you're a certain type of person. I'm not that type.

The Grand Union canal

Those scabby-looking blackberries that either taste amazing
or render your face like that of a pig chewing a wasp.
Sloes. For gin.

You can also enjoy views of some really expensive houses - the sort of things that have balconies and gazebos. I didn't take pictures; they'd probably think I was weird, or a burglar.

In due course, you will pop out in Tring - turn left and follow Grove Road to its end, then turn right and follow Station Road until you reach Tring high street - a hop halfway up this will bring you to the crossroads. Turn left up Akeman Street and The Akeman is just beyond the Chinese Takeaway and Town Hall.
"Garcon! A little service here!"
Please allow me to recommend the mint tea (made with fresh mint leaves rather than a tired old bag) - I tend to decant a glug into The Chap's doidy cup for him to enjoy once it's been cooled. He's a bit of a mint fiend, it has transpired. It also means he has taken to brushing his teeth (all 4 of them, at current count) with quite some gusto. The Akeman is also very baby friendly and does some very naughty cakes. The food is also very good, if a bit pricey - nice for a treat

Tea and cake/patisserie done with, you can either be Virtuous and walk back to the Windmill, or do as I did and and take the number 61 bus (caught on the High Street opposite the Rose & Crown Hotel) back.

Things I Learnt

  • Do not blog in a rage. Had I written this right after I had the done the walk, I fear I would have written all sorts of unpleasant things. I waited a bit, however, and things are now more in perspective. But, I hasten to add once again, I was right.
  • Don't forget to put socks on your baby. You just end up holding their feet the whole time.
  • Spread-and-splay type carriers may be very comfortable, but offer little protection if your child does an epic wee which leaks down your front. The charmer.


  1. Oh the wee and the socks. The wee and the socks!!!! (Sorry, had me nodding my head off with both of those. I know them well!!!!)

    I'm sorry, this has turned out to be a totally pointless comment. I will shuffle my tired self off to bed now and hopefully share something more exciting next time xx

  2. Just as those without cats can think they are cute, fluffy, purring things - when they are, in fact, vicious sadists who spread rodent viscera across your carpet - so those without babies can think they are gurgling milky things. We know the truth, however, involves quite a lot of wee. And socks.