Another dull start awaited us on Tuesday morning but it was dry and mild so not too bad, although for August the weather continues to be pretty pathetic. Anyway, we were underway by ten and crossed the Tring summit in just under an hour. Most of the summit is tree lined and would make for a welcome respite from the summer sun for the boater if there had been any, which there wasn’t. When we reached the junction with the Wendover arm we decided to swing left and visit it again as we did five years ago. Little had changed except that this time around we had the only boat on the navigation. We turned at the end and stopped for lunch on the visitor moorings; had it not been for the fact that we had spent the previous day in Tring, this would have made the perfect base from which to explore the town which is just one mile away.
After lunch we returned to the junction and began the descent of the Marsworth flight with nb Que Sera Sera. It didn’t seem to take long and we were soon at the bottom, our lock buddies tied up almost immediately whereas we carried on around the bend and moored just above the next lock. The canal passes between Marsworth and the enigmatically named hamlet, “Startop’s End” so we decided to have a look around the immediate area. The first place that we found was Bluebell’s Tearoom which occupies the old lock cottage and is of course, next to the lock. We had tea and a scone each and by way of an apology for not having cream for the scones, we were given an extra piece of cake to take away with us which we thought was exceptionally generous. After that, we popped across the road to the local pub, the Angler’s Retreat and sat outside with a drink looking at the birds in the aviary there, I can’t remember ever visiting a pub with an aviary before.
We dropped the free piece of carrot cake off back at the boat and then went for a walk around the nearby Tring reservoirs. There were one or two fishermen, a few dog walkers and others, like ourselves, out for an early evening stroll. The sun had come out and the evening was very pleasant. It did strike me that a lot of fuss had been made about the eclipse of the sun observed in America the previous day, spectacular maybe but for those watching it only lasted a few minutes. Meanwhile here in Britain, the sun disappeared on Sunday afternoon and didn’t reappear until Tuesday evening, now that’s what I call a Solar Eclipse!
It was a bit of a struggle but we finally managed to break out of Berkhamsted. On Wednesday evening we had decided that we would leave on Thursday but after overnight rain and waking up to an overcast morning, we decided to stay another day. On Thursday night we agreed to leave the following morning but after a short conversation at 8am on Friday we decided to stay and catch the bus to Aylesbury for the day.
On our return we were finally agreed that we would leave Berkhamsted on Saturday morning. At ten o’clock on Friday night we had a random idea to walk to the local pub. This was a first for us, yes we like going to the pub but usually in the afternoon, sometimes in the early evening but never at night and certainly not at bedtime!
We walked the short distance to the Boat Inn and spent a couple of hours there. It was noisy but we soon got used to it and had a lovely time there.
When Saturday morning came around, staying in Berkhamsted for yet another day wasn’t a difficult decision to make so we had a lazy start before walking into town.
The Saturday market was in full swing when we reached the High Street and we bought some fruit and veg there before returning to our boat for lunch.
After lunch we walked to Waitrose and made a few more purchases for the next part of our voyage and then returned once again to our mooring.
The sun came out and I realised that we hadn’t visited the Rising Sun pub which sat a few hundred yards away. It seemed a little unfair to neglect the establishment having spent money in the other canalside pubs, The Crystal Palace and the Boat Inn. So we walked along the towpath and enjoyed a drink, sitting outside the pub, next to the lock on what was a sunny afternoon. We later agreed that we should end our stay in Berkhamsted and move on the following morning.
When Sunday morning came around we were resolute, despite the temptation of the monthly Farmers Market which we knew was taking place that morning in the town. We set off just after nine o’clock and started the climb out of town towards the summit at Cow Roast. It didn’t take us long considering we had eight locks to do and did all of them on our own. We saw a few boats coming down the hill so that, combined with the instruction on some locks to leave bottom paddles drawn meant that almost all locks were set in our favour. The only boat that we saw travelling in the same direction as we were was a widebeam that we caught up when we reached our seventh lock of the day. Caxton’s water tank was in desperate need of replenishment so our target had been the services above Cow Roast lock where we also took the opportunity to get rid of the “Get-riddables”. Once sorted, we moved on a few hundred yards and tied up just beyond the marina.
After lunch, showered and dressed in fresh clothes, we went for a walk. Along the towpath to Tring Station and then to the village of Aldbury. This place is very pretty with a duck pond in the middle of the village, a small shop and a fairly large church. After a walk around the church, we paid a brief visit to the nearby Greyhound pub for a much needed refreshment before we started the walk back to the canal. We were returning by a different route to give us a circular walk and that caused us to pass the second pub in the village, The Valliant Trooper. “Pass” as in “pass through” rather than “pass by”. We were soon on our way again and walking along the narrow lane that would eventually get us back to the boat. The sunshine was by now, giving way to dark clouds and by half past five it had started to rain, so that was us in for the rest of the evening.