A gentle ride through rolling Chilterns countryside
Living on the edge of the Chilterns, I have a wealth of good riding on my doorstep, so when somebody asks me where to ride it’s not easy to narrow it down. One of my favourite little rides is officially known as Herts Recreation route 6 , a circular 13 mile route through quiet country lanes, suitable for families and a range of abilities.
The route starts at Berkhamsted train station opposite Berkhamsted Castle. The castle dates all the way back to Norman times and has direct links to the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror. It’s a welcome distraction from the climb up to Berkhamsted Common! I’m never a big fan of starting a ride with a hill, but I’ve come to accept that it’s inevitable in the Chilterns and this one is gentle enough to get the blood flowing without getting out of breath.
Quite quickly, I’m up into the woodlands of the National Trust owned Ashridge Estate and as the scenery opens out into a grassy clearing the route passes by the stunning Ashridge House, a 19th century neo-gothic mansion.
It’s another short climb up to the village of Little Gaddesden with a small country pub, just right for a refreshment stop on a summer evening, but as it’s the middle of the afternoon I head instead for the café next to the Bridgewater Monument and stop for tea and cake. There’s also an information centre with a whole host of guidebooks and leaflets detailing walks and rides around the estate and in the local area.
Ashridge Estate also has a couple of signposted cycle routes starting from the café that take riders onto some rougher tracks through the woods out to Ivinghoe Beacon and views over the Dunstable Downs.
My chosen route for the day stays on the road and takes the steep hairpin descent down into the picturesque village of Aldbury. The duck pond in the centre of the village is a popular photo spot for walkers and cyclists and, as I ride past, there’s a small group of cyclists sitting outside the pub in the sunshine.
The route then crosses the busy A4251, but is soon back onto the small, twisty lanes that run alongside the A41 up on the ridge line above Berkhamsted.
Uphill starts to a ride usually mean a downhill finish and this ride is no different - there's a long descent back down into town. This avoids the busy high street by taking a smaller parallel residential road, crossing over the high street and heading back to the train station to finish. All in all a very pleasant way to spend an hour and a half on a free afternoon.
The beauty of this route is that it can be done either way round and you can even change the starting point to Tring train station as both of the towns and stations are served by London Midland.
With a bit more time it’s possible to extend the route in various different directions too, heading east over towards Whipsnade Wild Animal Park or passing Ivinghoe Beacon and dropping down towards Ivinghoe before returning through Aldbury. The possibilities are almost endless but this is a good basic route to start with.
A leaflet for Herts route 6 is available to download from the Chilterns AONB website and includes the slightly longer 18 mile Herts Recreational route 5 that takes in the Tring Reservoirs and Long Marston.
A gpx file of Herts route 6 is available to download here