Buckinghamshire walk along the canal at Cheddington
PUBLISHED: 10:25 15 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:25 15 June 2015
Steve Davison takes a walk along the canal at Cheddington in North Buckinghamshire and discovers some tranquil scenes
• Population: Approx 1,700
• OS Grid Reference: SP9217
• Most famous for: Regular winning best kept village contests; the nearby Great Train Robbery
• Landmarks: St Giles Church and The Methodist Church at The Green
• Start/finish: Cheddington – recreation ground car park to the south of village centre; grid ref SP924169 (train services to Cheddington Station)
• Map: OS Explorer 181
• Distance: 5 miles (8km)
• Terrain: gates and stiles, fairly level walking, paths, tracks, lanes and roads with pavements
• Time: 2.5 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Cheddington – The Old Swan (01296 662171) and The Three Horseshoes (01296 668367)
The first mention of Cheddington was in the Domesday Book where it was known as Cetendone, however, the area’s history goes back much further as Southend Hill, just to the south of the village, was once crowned by an Iron Age hill fort; Roman remains have also been found in the area. These days, Cheddington, winner of the Buckinghamshire Best Kept Village Competition on several occasions, is home to a couple of pubs, including the picturesque thatch-roofed Old Swan.
Just to the north of the village is St Giles Church. The building originally dates from the late 12th century, but little of that time remains, most of what you now see dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. Pop inside to see a lovely early 17th century carved wood Jacobean pulpit, some colourful stained glass windows and interesting tiles.
The railway arrived with the opening of the line between London Euston and Birmingham (which now forms part of the West Coast Main Line) in 1838. A year later the world’s first branch line, from Cheddington to Aylesbury, opened; sadly the branch line closed in 1964. The area surrounding the village was noted for its plum and apple orchards and in the 1840s around 15 tons of plums and apples could be loaded onto trains at Cheddington on an average day. Little remains of the orchards today, although the path between the village and church passes through some remaining trees.
In August 1963, the area to the north of Cheddington was a hive of activity following the Great Train Robbery, classed at the time as the ‘crime of the century’, making headlines around the world. The Glasgow to Euston Royal Mail train was stopped and robbed at Bridego Bridge (127), just 1.5 miles north of Cheddington Station, and the gang made off with £2.5 million.
After leaving Cheddington the walk heads through low-lying farmland before meeting up with the Grand Union Canal, which is followed southwards for two and quarter miles, before heading back to Cheddington. The Grand Union Canal was formed from the amalgamation of several independent waterways between 1894 and 1929 and one of these waterways, along which the walk travels, was the Grand Junction Canal; the canal ran from Braunston in Northamptonshire to the River Thames at Brentford and was built between 1793 and 1805.
1 (SP924169) – Exit the car park and turn right along the main street for 600m, soon passing the thatch-roofed Old Swan pub. Just after passing The Green, turn right along Church Lane; 50m straight on along the main street is the Three Horseshoes pub. Continue along Church Lane towards the village hall and near the end, fork half-left along the enclosed tarmac path, which later swings left to reach St Giles Church. Continue along the tarmac path and then down the lane (Church Path) to the main road. Cross over and turn right for 150m, passing some houses and the turning for Breachwell Place, to reach a footpath sign at a gravel drive on the left (150m further along the road is Cheddington Station).
2 (SP920181) – Turn left along the gravel drive and then keep ahead along the grassy strip before going through a kissing gate to a join bridleway. Turn right along the field edge, soon running parallel with the railway on the right. Turn right through the railway arch and along the track to the main road. Cross over slightly right, cross the stile in the hedge and follow the left hand field edge, ignoring a kissing gate on the left part way through the field. On reaching the far left field corner go through the kissing gate and continue alongside the field margin on the left.
3 (SP926191) – Cross a stile, then a driveway (kennels on right) and keep ahead to cross another stile. Follow the left-hand boundary for a while and where this turns left, keep ahead aiming for a stile in the far right field corner. Cross this and join an enclosed bridleway. Turn right, following the enclosed bridleway as it quickly swings left to reach a bridge over the Grand Union Canal. Do not cross the bridge but turn right along the towpath with the canal on the left and Keeper’s Cottage on the right.
4 (SP931195) – Follow the peaceful towpath for two and quarter miles, passing the two Ivinghoe Locks, then going under a road bridge (B488). Continue past three more locks (Seabrook Locks) to reach a swing bridge (125), shortly before the railway bridge. Turn right here, go through a kissing gate and head through the long narrow field. Cross a stile at the corner and turn left along the lane, passing under the railway (just to the right is Great Seabrook Farm). At the junction with the main road, turn right for 500m, using the pavement on the right at first before crossing over to continue along the left-hand pavement back to Cheddington and the car park, which is on the right.
To find out more about Steve, including information on his walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk
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