Hemel Hempstead


For the May bank holiday Mum, Dad, and I did a walk around Hemel Hempstead, based on route descriptions Mum found on the net. The reason for choosing Hemel was that it's easy for me to get to by train, and I have a problem with getting up early...


From the station, the route took us along the Grand Union canal. We've walked this section before (in 2008 or 2009), but it looks like I never put photos online that time; strange. Anyway, we didn't remember much about it.

By bridge over canal.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′38″N 0°29′27″W
Narrowboat with 'pirates only' sign.
1/250 at f11, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′40″N 0°29′57″W
Railway bridge designed by Robert Stephenson, now with added concrete (and reflections).
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′45″N 0°30′26″W
Winkwell Dock.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′46″N 0°30′41″W
The rather fancy Lady Edwina.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′49″N 0°31′16″W


After a mile or so we left the canal. The canal and railway run along a valley, so leaving the canal means climbing uphill. I've been mostly walking on the flat lately; my legs ached the next day.

Railway power supply works.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°45′2″N 0°31′43″W
Gas substation.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°45′23″N 0°31′33″W

Potten End

At the top of the hill there's a village called Potten End. We sat by the village pond to eat our lunch, then looked at the church.

End wall and bells.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°46′11″N 0°31′39″W
Cleanly designed interior, fancy cross.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO400 51°46′11″N 0°31′38″W
Pouchen End Lane.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°45′58″N 0°30′50″W


After walking down the lane a little way, a footpath led us along the edge of Hemel Hempstead proper and back down toward the canal again.

We spotted an interesting tower, surrounded by unremarkable buildings, and went to investigate. The sign said this was the Isbister Centre, part of the NHS. We managed to get a good view of the tower (in a photo I didn't include here) but were otherwise none the wiser. Later, some internet searches revealed the answer: the tower is part of the stable block of Chaulden House. None of the rest of the house remains.

Fancy tower peeking out over non-fancy roofs.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′49″N 0°29′48″W

After that our route led down to the canal, across it, and under the railway and a major road.

Newer buildings.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′45″N 0°29′44″W
Triangles on house.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′41″N 0°29′45″W
Canal bridge railing, pipe bridge.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′39″N 0°29′47″W
Railway and road underpasses.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′35″N 0°29′47″W

We walked steeply uphill along a minor road, then on footpaths including one across an infeasibly long field, before eventually reaching another village, Bovingdon.


Bovingdon used to have a military airbase. It still has a runway, but this appears to be used for car boot sales. It also has a prison. We didn't see either of these things, but we did see the high street, the nice-looking-but-closed tea shop, and the pub. After that we also had a look at the churchyard (the church was closed).

Traffic cone store in high street junction.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°43′17″N 0°31′48″W
Pink house by churchyard.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°43′20″N 0°31′43″W

Back downhill toward the canal one last time, we crossed a golf course.

Sheds on golf course.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′12″N 0°31′18″W


All that remained was to return by the canal to the railway station.

Boat at interesting angle. Boats in background upside-down.
1/500 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′46″N 0°30′42″W
'Voke' (on same bridge shown near the start).
1/250 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′45″N 0°30′28″W
Arrow on canal bridge.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°44′39″N 0°29′47″W

We didn't have long to wait for our respective trains.

By the way, Dad's posted his pictures of this walk too.


Here's a couple of bonus pictures from Bletchley as I was about to get on my bike.

Na king set. (With football print.)
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200
Flammable quarantine. (Seriously, what's in the quarantine box? I didn't hear any cat noises...)
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.