Berkhamsted Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
A green belt of sacred land surrounds this town making it one of the few remaining towns in England that is unable to expand outwards. Evidence has been uncovered showing how this cradling belt of exuberant enrichment has been continuously populated for well over five thousand years and is now protected as a haven of natural beauty. To the north this includes the 5000 acres of the National Trustâ��s Ashridge Estate where vast numbers of deer, badgers, the rich and famous, and other wildlife are regularly sited by passers by. The woods to the south are thick and healthy and full of stiles and paths leading this way and that, the squirrels are more at ease here and simply sit and look edgily at me rather than the panicky ones I was used to. The fields on the far side of the woods are mainly farm land occupied by fair looking horses chewing at the mounds of grass by the fences that they could easily jump if they wanted.
It winds its merry way like lines of lizard tails, through the town the grand, Grand Union Canal, part of England's waterways of old. Today it is a nature haven where glamour-stricken ducks geese and swans sun themselves on the grassy hills running down to the water.
The canal is supported by vast locks, encompassing sets of great iron arms with sleeves of hanging gates to inhibit the flow of water from one level to the next . Follow your way along the dusty tow-paths for several miles and you will find everything and nothing ahead, from traditional waterside bars where grandfathers sit and smoke their pipes with pints of real ale at their elbows to children climbing totem poles in the oh so common english summer rain . Sheep grazing cautiously in the green grassy fields beyond. In summertime masses of flowers and small fruit grow along the chalky path beside the waterside, providing treats for the blackbirds, blackcaps, tits, dunnocs, robins, wrens and Mallards that all enhabbit the area.
Berkhamsted high street is common of an old market town, bookshops and supermarkets, bakers, jewelers and gift and charity shops.
Berkhamsted is also the home to the British Film Institute's national archive, one of the best and largest film and television archives in the world, Other joys include a library, churches, a water tower and a good deal of historical architecture.
Berkhamsted train station is on the West Coast-Main-Line, linking London with Manchester and beyond. Trains are reasonably regular appart from at weekends where major engineering works almost constantly result in extreme delays and unreliable bus replacement services.
Information given within the station is not to be trusted. This said, I think i've met more weird and fascinating people time and time again stranded at that train station than any where else.
In 1066 just two months after the Battle of Hastings William the Conquerer and the Normans were advancing thier way towards London. The saxons, defeated as they were, rode out from the great city meeting the enemy at the fort at Berkhamsted to negotiate the future of the crown. Having little choice but to submit the saxons offered William the Crown and so he lead the normans onwards to London and was crowned king of England at westminster on christmas day, 1066. The fort was later replaced by a Norman castle, built by William's brother, the ruins of which can still be seen today.