On a cold winter day when the office or school has been closed without warning, it’s tempting to spend the entire day in bed waiting for the weather to change. But that doesn’t need to be the case. A snow day is the ideal time to get some extracurricular rambling under your belt, so slide on your plushest wellies, wrap yourself in hat and scarf, and head for a local waterway – ideally one near a town centre, so you aren’t too far from a hand-heating cup of tea. Berkhamsted is an ideal destination – it’s easy to get to, there’s loads to see and do outdoors, and there are several warm indoor attractions in the area if things get too chilly.
The Grand Union’s stretch through Berkhamsted is one of its most picturesque stretches, particular on snowy days when the slow-moving canal can freeze into a grey-white moonscape. The canal at Berkhamsted was once home to Castle Wharf, a regional centre of the canal trade and boat building. One of the boatyards is now marked by a Canadian totem pole. Canal Wharf was named after the nearby Berkhamsted Castle, a Norman ruin that towers on a hill above the canal and is well worth a detour. You might even manage a sneaky bit of sledge action if you have the right gear.
As well as Castle Wharf, there’s a number of locks and no less than three pubs – the Crystal Palace, the Boat and the Rising Sun (or Riser) – all of which provide a welcome retreat. But your best option is to walk along the towpath. There are several other waterways in this area, the Bulbourne and the Bourne Gutter, and there are three different circular routes you can take to see all three. The shortest is just a 2-mile jaunt while the longest is a six-mile stroll into the countryside. You can also head away from the canal to Ashridge woods, once home to the Duke of Bridgewater, the Canal Duke who built one of the UK’s very first canals.
Plan your day out to Berkhamsted with our online guide.
*If however it’s looking too treacherous outside, don’t risk it, save this walk for another day – you won’t be disappointed!