Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk

There are lots of wonderful walks that you can do around the Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal area in Hertfordshire. In one small area there’s four different reservoirs, the main canal and two different arms off the canal. That’s quite a lot of water!! I’ve written a separate review of the Wilstone Reservoir walk as it’s slightly further away. The three that are grouped are the Startops Reservoir, Marsworth Reservoir and Tringford Reservoir.

There are three circular walks that you could do around the Tring Reservoirs (as they’re collectively known). Or you could wander down to the Grand Junction Arms and walk back again. I decided to do something a little bit different, but then I’m awkward. The route that we took did involve a short section where you’re walking on the road, without a footpath. I do have a suggested alternative though.

Our Tring Reservoirs Walk

Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids | Free things to do with the kids

Having looked at the various walks on the website I decided to do a bit of a mash-up of a couple of them. It’s slightly shorter than the other way-marked routes, but it’s probably still about two miles! I did this walk with Smallest Child when she was about 3 1/2. As it turns out I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do the walk when she was any younger, as it might have been too unsafe for her. I would definitely say that, as a family walk, this particular route around the Tring reservoirs and Grand Union Canal is probably more suitable for older children than younger ones. There are a few areas when I wouldn’t want to take a very young child and this isn’t a pushchair friendly route.

Grand Union Canal walks | Free Time with the Kids | Aylesbury Arm, Tring, Hertfordshire

We started at the Startops Reservoir car park and walked up the path between the canal and Startops reservoir, keeping next to the canal. You’re guaranteed to see lots of boats along this part of the Grand Union Canal, and there’s a plentiful supply of ducks and swans eager for any seeds and duck food on offer (not bread). Take the ramp up to the side of the reservoir.

The canal-side section

Follow the path alongside the first reservoir and then turn left at the t-junction to continue walking between Marsworth reservoir and the canal. You now continue to walk along the tow path. There are lots of locks along this section of the Grand Union Canal, which Smallest Child found fascinating. There must be an incline along this section (hence all the locks) but it’s still a nice easy walk. The tow paths are wide here and felt perfectly safe for the little ones but, in or after bad weather, it can be quite muddy. Wellies are advised. There are some cute little cottages alongside the canal and Smallest Child was particularly interested in a little overflow stream flowing between the two different arms of the canal.

Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids | Free things to do with the kids

Up until this point this walk has been relatively quiet, although there has been various other people enjoying the walk as well. There’s plenty of space for everyone though and the towpaths are wide enough.

Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids | Free things to do with the kids

The Wendover arm of the Grand Union Canal (disused)

You’ll eventually come to a little bridge, go over it and then double back on yourself to go underneath the bridge and follow the towpath of the (disused) Wendover arm of the Grand Union Canal. Although some parts of the canal are now completely dry, this section still has water in it. It’s worth noting that if you decided to continue walking down the Wendover arm of the Grand Union Canal eventually you would link up with the Wilstone Reservoir walk and, even further along, one of the walks near Weston Turville.

It is considerably quieter than the previous section of this walk (we only came across one other person). That’s very much a good thing because the towpath here is VERY narrow, and in places you are just a couple of cm from the edge of the canal. Generally this section isn’t particularly well maintained. Not great if you would need to be jumping out the way all the time.

Continue walking along the towpath until you get to the next bridge. There’s a little stile here that you need to go over. Keep an eye out for the kids here because you’re directly on the road here.

Tringford Road

In order to get back to the Tring Reservoirs you need to turn right and walk along the Tringford Road. The bridge itself doesn’t have a footpath, and it’s single file for traffic, so you need to be really careful when crossing this bridge. Once you’ve crossed the bridge there isn’t a footpath at the side of the road for a little while so you need to work along the road. Thankfully this is only for a very short section.

The map from the canal trust looks like you walk along the road here. Looking on Google maps when we got home it looks like maybe there’s a path through the field behind the hedge that is accessible for the towpath. Cross the bridge and there’s access to the opposite towpath. Almost immediately to your right it looks like there’s a path through the hedge. That said it doesn’t appear on the public rights of way map so I’m not sure. Maybe someone could explore it and let me know!

Once you’re on the footpath (again this is fairly narrow and right next to a 60mph road so please be careful with younger children) continue walking down Tringford Road.

Just before you get to the bend there’s a path on your right that leads down towards a gate. Go down this path and follow the track round to the right. This brings you out between the Marsworth Reservoir and Startops Reservoir.

Go through this gate
Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids | Free things to do with the kids
Follow this track to the right

Startops Reservoir

Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal Walk, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids | Free things to do with the kids

Looking out over Startops Reservoir is a little bird hide. By this time it had started to rain so the little bit of shelter was very welcome! Some idiot had decided to burn a fire near the entrance so do be careful where you walk! Smallest Child decided to trip up here and nearly went flying into the reservoir! Probably not a great idea but her little legs were starting to get tired. Rather than walking back down by the canal we decided to walk around the edge of the reservoir until we got to the steps back down to the car park.

Startops Reservoir, Tring, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

Alternative Tring Reservoirs Walk Route

Since we finished our walk around the Tring Reservoirs I’ve been trying to find another route that would skip walking along the road as that was my least favourite part. The next time we go for a wander around here I think we’ll do the purple 5k walk and see what that one is like. If you’re happy with that short on-road section then this route was actually a nice walk of the right length for us.

Admission cost


Parking / How to get there

We parked at the Startops End / Tring Reservoir cark park. It’s £1.50 for 3 hours or £3 all day. There’s only about 70 spaces.

Address – Lower Icknield Way, Tring, Hertfordshire. HP23 4LJ


There are no public toilets on site. There are customer toilets at the cafe and pub though.


There’s the Bluebells Tearooms near the Startops End car park and the Grand Junction Arms off of the Grand Union Canal. You could have a picnic next to the canal or one of the reservoirs – but you might be fighting the geese for your lunch!

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch or get in touch via Facebook

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