Grandad's walk from Chipperfield Common
Walk Route Description
This Hertfordshire walk starts from Chipperfield, a village convenient to both Watford and Hemel Hempstead. The simplest way to get there is from A4251 in Kings Langley which is between the two towns. Turn up Vicarage Lane at the Hemel end of the village and keep straight on until you arrive at the crossroad with Tower Hill garage on the right and the Royal Oak on the left. Turn left here, go over another crossroad and there is a car park on the right looking over the cricket field on the Common (Grid Ref TL045015).
From here, with your back to the car park and facing the cricket pitch, turn left and go into the woods; as you enter the woods look out on the right for wild raspberries in season. Soon after also on the right is a wonderful gnarled twisted sweet chestnut tree - 400 years old ("Grandad are you that old?" so lessons on time relativity) the shape best appreciated in winter when bare of leaves and appropriate to the Wild Wood or Nutwood or the woods of Hansel and Gretel. A diversion to the left here brings you out opposite a (16th century?) redbrick manor house once the home of Peter Sellers, but the walk goes straight on. Again on the right is a low prehistoric mound, once unobtrusive but now with a brand new surrounding fence unmissable - time for more lessons of time relativity and talk of skeletons and buried bodies and shrieks from ladies in the party - "you'll give the child nightmares" - nonsense they love it. There is another one a little further down on the left. Then you come to the Apostles' Pond - "lets count the new lime trees" "and now the old ones". (Grandads should practice before showing off skimming stones) Past the Apostles' Pond go straight ahead down a narrow enclosed path. If children do not have animals at home this is a good stretch to teach the wisdom of looking out for, and not stepping in, dog poo. Further on if you are lucky you might find sheep grazing in the field on the right. Sometimes in the field on the left are highland cattle with long shaggy coats and wide horns or a rare breed which I cannot identify - white with brown, grey and blue markings - with equally spectacular horns. This path terminates in an old cast iron kissing gate; once a child has learned the folklore, tribute will be exacted with glee from each adult in the party.
Turn right down the lane. Level with Poachers Retreat a path starts on the left. This "secret path" runs parallel to the lane for quite a way. I only had to lead our eldest grandson once and he was then delighted to have the frisson of being away from, albeit not too far, and out of sight of the adults. And even better to lead the next one when the time came and of course the younger one was ever so pleased to be let into the "secret" with the older one. All six grandsons have enjoyed this; they have not used it for a couple of years but it is still there and slightly wider now. One caveat: not to far from the start a house drive cuts across it and it is as well to be on hand at this point and also where it comes near the road at a dip and at the end where it finally emerges opposite an alternative life style settlement called Vardo Currently in the field opposite Vardo is the nose cone of a (combat?) aircraft.
Where the lane swings left, the walk can be shortened by turning right up an enclosed path and then right again at a cross path to return to the Apostles' Pond. Otherwise go straight on down a green lane. Once through a gate look out for an old apple tree on the right of the horse track. It must be an old variety. The fruit is misshapen and heavily marked, certainly will not be found in a supermarket but if stored until end of October/early November has a wonderful delicate flavour. (There has always been plenty of fruit until 2008 when there was none: hope it was frost and not lack of pollinating bees.) Further down also on the right is another smaller pond for children to poke about in or fall in and this time without competition.
The horse ride can be muddy but there is a footpath to the left. Where the ride comes out to a patch of green turn right (there is a wild plum tree on the corner here but I have never timed it right to have any fruit from it) and follow the path past another green patch straight on to cross paths. Here turn right and follow the signed Hertfordshire Way back to the Apostles' Pond. Alternatively turn left opposite Mahogany Hall to come out a road opposite the Windmill pub. Turning right down the road takes you past a splendid white house which has featured in Midsommer Murders, and a café, to the Two Brewers and the green where the car is parked. (And also an ice cream van on summer weekends)
|Ordnance Survey Explorer 182||Sheet Map||1:25k||BUY|
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|Anquet OS Landranger 166||Digital Map||1:50k||BUY|
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