Day 17: 2nd September 2017 – Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire

Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Buckinghamshire 3 – Wing
Bedfordshire 1 – Woburn
Bedfordshire 2 – Whipsnade
Hertfordshire 2 – Aldbury

Day 17 was to be another first for me while questing – three counties in one day! Whilst looking to plan a days riding I realised that there is a point where Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire meet and with a number of checkpoints close together it was too good an opportunity to miss.

I needed to travel to any start point in this ride by car, so I chose the train station at Tring as it’s reasonably large, likely to be quiet on a weekend, and easy to get to from home.

Once I was parked and had unloaded the car it was time to make a start to the first checkpoint which was only in Aldbury, a short stretch up the road, so having barely warmed up I was in Aldbury and looking for the checkpoint, which was easy to find. One thing I have done with all my checkpoints is to take a picture of the answer so that I have a record of my visit and I don’t need to remember the answer when I get home and fill out my card, but this is the first time I’ve felt a little uncomfortable as the answer to the question lies on the front door of a private house, however there was’t anyone around as it was still early so after a quick snap I was on my way again.

The route out of Aldbury was then quite steep with a short sharp climb up Toms Hill Road, and then a flat cruise around the outside of Ashridge Park and through the villages of Ringshall and Little Gaddesden. From here the road took a downhill turn and then back up as it crossed the valley formed by the River Gade, Reaching the top of the valley at Clements End. Here the road then turned north again through Holywell and in to Whipsnade itself.

Tree Cathedral

Most people associate Whipsnade with its zoo, however this wasn’t the location of the checkpoint, it was instead the Tree Cathedral which is in Sallowsprings Nature Reserve opposite the Zoo – there are various ways in and out but it can be tricky to find so make sure you have some sort of map when visiting. The tree cathedral is a fascinating place in itself with a collection of trees, hedges and shrubs planted in the form of a medieval cathedral. So having had a wander around, and taken some refreshment it time to crack on a bit to Woburn and the third checkpoint.

The route out of the tree cathedral took me up a small path until it met up with Sallowsprings Lane, and then through and out the north exit of the of the Reserve. From here the road, although a ‘B’ road got a little busier as it veered around the edge of Dunstable, but this didn’t last to long as it quickly returned to some quiet lanes again passing through the villages of Totternhoe and Stanbridge.

Once through Stanbridge it was an unavoidable return to slightly busier ‘A’ roads for a while as I followed the only available road in to Woburn, however as it was only a single carriageway ‘A’ road it wasn’t too busy as most local traffic would be using the bigger ‘A5’. After about five or six miles the road brought me in to the centre of Woburn, and the location of checkpoint number three.

Woburn Checkpoint

Woburn is famed for both it’s safari park and Abbey, however neither of these well known attractions were to form the checkpoint. Instead the checkpoint is an old historic building in the crossroads of the town with a distinctive carving in the gable end of one roof, although I did miss it as I rode in to town because the question in the booklet says that it’s an antiques shop, but when I visited it had become an estate agent. As it was about 12:30 by now and half way through the ride it made perfect sense to stop for some lunch and in a break from the norm I decided to use the cafe that was in the town square for a sandwich, cake and tea rather than my usual pub lunch.

Once fueled it was back on the bike and the next ten mile stretch down to the small town of Wing just over the Buckinghamshire border. After leaving Woburn via Leighton St it was a plesant ride along the edge of Woburn golf club and over the A5 into the village of Little Brickhill. From here the road was back to being nice and quiet as it wound theough Green End and Great Brickhill. This part of the world seems to have more than its fair share of golf courses as it wasn’t long before I was alongside yet another golf course just after Bragenham and in to and through the village of Soulbury and a slightly downhill run in to Wing itself.

St. Marys Wing
St. Marys – Wing

Finding checkpoints can sometimes be a bit tricky but not this time – checkpoints that are also churches are usually amongst the easiest to find – if you can’t see the Church then there are always people around that can point you in the right direction. Having taken pictures of the checkpoint answer and taken on some water I then went a little ‘off piste’ as I wanted to see the National Trust property of Ascott House, which is well worth the visit if you have the time.

After leaving the house it was a fairly straight forward run south back to Tring via Mentmore, Cheddington and Pitstone with a little climb back to the car park. It had been a lot of miles to cover, and the terrain had a lot more climbing than you would expect for this part of the world, but this routes crosses many small rivers that have formed their own valleys, meaning a lot of downhills followed by uphills. All in all though yet another great day questing with a a lot of miles covered and many checkpoints visited.

Miles Cycled –42
Checkpoints Visited – 4
Total Miles Cycled – 633
Total Checkpoints Visited – 34

Click here to download a gpx file for this ride

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