Cycling The River Bulbourne

I nearly didn't bother with the Bulbourne. Its a chalk stream running 7 miles from Cow Roast to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. Despite being on a mission to walk, cycle or run all the Chiltern Rivers, I felt that I'd already done it. It doesn't have its own footpath but the Grand Union Canal towpath runs alongside it and I'd cycled it several times before. The completed-finisher in me couldn't let it go though. I may have cycled the route, but I never taken any notice of the river. Had I missed something wonderful? No, as it turned out, but it did make for a nice Winter Solstice microadventure and a way to avoid Christmas shopping.

My ride with cycle-buddy Charles was a 15-mile circular route starting in Berkhamsted. From here the source of the Bulbourne is a 3-mile cycle up the A4251 to Cow Roast. The actual source is penned in between the Grand Union, the main road and a Mini dealer. There's not much of the river to see for the first few miles, just marshy ground. 

After 3 miles on the Grand Union, and back at Berkhamsted, the river appears and follows the right hand side of the towpath. For the final stretch to Hemel, it disappears and reappears several times, crossing over the canal at one point. The river finally merges with the Gade at Two Waters, hidden behind a garden centre. From here the return trip to Berkhamsted is a 25 minute ride back along the A4251.

Blue = River, Red = circular cycle route

Richard gowerComment