This is the sixth stage of the King’s Cross to Birmingham jaunt via the Grand Union Canal.

On the map below you can see the stages completed prior to this one (red line), and the stage completed on this occasion (yellow line). Birmingham itself is up in the top left corner, still quite far away…

Map showing route taken so far...
Map showing the hike so far…

I arrived at Tring station on a bright, brisk, sunny morning on one of the last days of December 2013.  My last hike of the year!  It had been a while since the last stage of this expedition (February 2013) and I was looking forward to picking up the trail.

The first thing I noticed after leaving the station was a sign-post for the Ridgeway Trail that continues for 87 miles westwards to Wiltshire on ancient tracks on chalk ridges.  I’d love to hike this most English of trails, one day, some day…

Signpost for the Ridgeway Trail
The Ridgeway Trail, one for another day…

After a short walk I joined the canal once more.

The Grand Union Canal at Tring
The Grand Union Canal at Tring

It felt wonderful to be out hiking again after the indulgences of the holiday season.  A light frost covered the grass, frozen puddles offered themselves up for breaking, all was good with the world.

Lock-keeper's house near Tring
Lock-keeper’s house near Tring

Tring reservoir looked striking under the clear winter sky. I was taken by the contrast between the water and reeds.

Tring Reservoirs
Tring reservoir

The fella below studied me carefully as I passed by.

Dog on narrowboat
Dog on narrow boat

I admired the picturesque view of Marsworth church from the canal.

Marsworth church

Ivinghoe Beacon, at 757ft above sea level, dominated the skyline for much of the hike.  It would be a great adventure to wild camp at the summit, maybe later on in 2014.

Ivinghoe Beacon from the canal
Ivinghoe Beacon from the canal

Towards the afternoon the clouds began to slowly gather…


The land south of Leighton Buzzard is flat and the skies wide, reminding me of my fen home in Cambridgeshire.


I think the photo below is the best of the day’s hike, I love how the clouds are reflected with such strength and clarity on the water.

The last lock before Leighton Buzzard

Not long after this scene I reached the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard, the River Ouzel, a tributary of the River Great Ouse, ran alongside the canal for a short while.

And then, suddenly I was in the centre of town, sharing the towpath with supermarket shoppers and families out for a stroll.

A fine end to my hiking year and I’m looking forward now to the next stage of the hike that will take me on to Milton Keynes.

14 thoughts on “On the Grand Union Canal :
Tring to Leighton Buzzard

    1. It is a cracking walk and the first third (from KX to MK) is well serviced by tube and train from/to London. A bit more tricky past MK but that’s all part of the fun : )

  1. I do like a good towpath walk. And you had some stunning weather.
    I really need to get some walking in this year, regardless of weather or the state of my knee.

    1. One of the great advantages of towpath walks is you don’t have to check maps that often, just keep the canal to one side and on you go. Hope your knee improves this year.

  2. What a great start to the new year – finding another of your great posts in my inbox, complete with super photographs. Thanks.

  3. Thank you martinox, and a Happy New Year. Stunning pictures, I’ve walked all around Ivinghoe Beacon, along the Chiltern hills some years ago, so this reminded me of the refreshing walk. 🙂

  4. Great walk . Caused me to think of the thousands who must have used it in the Canal,s commercial days + horses. Great for moving materials & products for industry. Wonder if Josiah Wedgewood used it for his pottery – more likely to arrive intact cf. road transport

  5. Really enjoyed reading this and the photography is terrific. Such amazing skies and the quality of light is lovely. Dad and I walked various stretches of the Ridgeway and it is well worth the effort. I seem to remember spending time at Ivinghoe Beacon with wonderful views of the countryside from the summit. I envy you these walks and only wish my legs were up to it! Keep it coming,

  6. I’m thinking of doing a long distance ride on the grand union canal what is it like for camping and hosteling ?

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