Up The Gade and Down The Ver
Today's 50-mile cycle trip was both a training session for July's Ireland trip and a 2 ticks for the price of 1 for the Chiltern Rivers. Both the Gade and the Ver start high in the Chilterns and meander south, eventually joining the Colne. Neither has well-defined paths next to the rivers, so they're best followed by bike along nearby roads.
The Gade can be seen many times after Hemel Hempstead as it keeps close to the main road to Leighton Buzzard. The Ver was less interesting and I barely saw it at all on the trip. The Ver Valley Walk, which I noticed on a few signs whilst speeding by, is a better way to see the river at a much slower pace.
The cycle route makes for a very pleasant adventure with a mix of canal, parks, country roads and quaint villages. There's a few stretches along busier A roads, but nothing too scary. The downhill stretch through Whipsnade and Kensworth after climbing Bison Hill is a particular highlgiht.
Here's the route:
- Start at the free car park at Rickmansworth Aquadome.
- Follow Grand Union Canal north to Hemel Hempstead
- Turn right onto Two Waters Road heading north. Take the underpass under the Plough roundabout.
- Keep the Gade to your left, taking Waterhouse Street then Marlowes to Gadebridge Park
- Keep to the right of Gadebridge Park, exiting to Piccots End Road, continuing to Leighton Buzzard Road.
- Continue north until the Red Lion pub at Dagnall. Celebrate with lunch.
Between the Gade and Ver
- After the Red Lion, double back for a couple of hundred metres then turn left onto the Dunstable Road towards Whipsnade.
- After about a mile turn right onto the B4540, taking the steep(!) Bison Hill up to Whipsnade.
- Continue past Whipsnade village, eventually reaching Kensworth, the source of the Ver.
- Continue along the B4540 until it reaches the A5, turn right.
- Follow the A5 to the M1 junction, briefly diverting along Old Watling Street just past Markyate.
- After the M1 junction, continue straight on Dunstable Road to the roundabout at the edge of St Albans.
- Take the 3rd exit onto the A4147, following signs for Old Verulamium.
- At the park, follow signs for the St. Albans Greenway until it meets NCN Route 6/61
- Turn right / south onto NCN Route 6/61, following it all the way back to Rickmansworth Aquadrome.
- The Ver meets the Colne just south-east of Bricket Wood station. I didn't search for it but, from the map, it looks like you can there via Drop lane, opposite the station.