Rickmansworth circular via Croxley Green and Watford
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Walk Route Description
Twenty miles north-west of central London, Rickmansworth in the county of Hertfordshire is the start and finish point for this circular walk which can be done by using public transport, namely the London Underground. For much of the route as far as the River Gade at Watford, the scenery largely consists of paths through woodland or across fields, or along country lanes or bridleways with little in the way of views. Sometimes there is a background drone of distant traffic which increases in volume as you get nearer to the main source of it, the M25, on the approach to Chandler's Cross. By way of a change, much of the return route is along a towpath next to the Grand Union Canal, offering some different scenery with some pleasant views of trees and houseboats reflected in the canal. Cyclists like to use the towpath as well so be alert to them and be ready to let them pass on some of the narrower stretches. Typical of the countryside of the south east of England in general, as a look at the Outdoor Leisure map (Chiltern Hills East 172) reveals, there are many public footpaths and bridleways in the area covered by this walk. It therefore follows that while this is one route suggestion, there are ways of varying it. The route follows part of the Chess Valley Walk for about the first half a mile of it, and continues with sections of the Croxley Green Boundary Walk (CGBW) which is clearly signposted. As the name indicates, the CGBW is a walk around the boundary of the village of Croxley Green in Hertfordshire. For those wanting to shorten the walk, one option is to return from Watford on the other side of Cassiobury Park (190 acres) though it is due to close (see footnote at the bottom of this walk description). The route also offers another possible "escape route" as the return leg along by the canal passes near to another underground station, Croxley. You can expect muddy footpaths, so suitable footwear should be worn.
On leaving Rickmansworth station, turn right towards the top of Station Road and then, on the other side of it, a public footpath sign indicates a tarmac path leading up towards and then left across a road bridge. This is the way to go next. On the other side of the bridge, signs for the Chess Valley route indicate the way across a field (Rickmansworth Park) and down a hill to the right to reach a residential area at the foot of the hill. Leave the road here to locate a path off to the left. The route now follows a meandering course around a field on the right before the chalk stream of the River Chess appears at Scotsbridge. A noticeboard explains about the flora and fauna of the river which is home to the elusive water vole among other creatures. However, the route leaves the River Chess after just a few minutes more of walking when a footbridge appears on the right. After crossing the bridge, continue ahead through woodland to a point where signed public footpaths lead both ahead and to the right. This is the first of a number of points on the walk where a sign appears for the CGBW. Follow this route, initially ahead up a field, the path following a meandering course as it skirts the field and reaches a road. Here another CGBW sign appears and you have a choice as one path to the right borders a hedge and another one goes diagonally across the same field roughly due east, two sides of a triangle. Take the latter path and follow the path as it continues downhill to the edge of the field and then up a series of riser steps through Copthorne Wood to emerge in the open at another field. Turn left and Croxley Green (village) is seen ahead with its village green, appropriately enough.
Although it is in the direction you want to go next, I don't recommend the road leading to the left (Sarratt Road) as it is narrow and not suitable for pedestrians. Therefore, I suggest a more circuitous and safer way of continuing the route. Cross the green ahead and follow the country lane to the left, Green Lane, passing KIllingdown Farm on the right and at the end of the lane follow a narrow alley past Waterdell House to reach a field. Note that a left turn down Little Green Lane before passing Waterdell House and then a right turn at the next crossroads is a shorter way of continuing the route towards Harrocks Wood.
This route takes a longer way round but across fields and through woods. Follow the path to the right initially, bordering a field, then cross the field towards a copse, part of the CGCR. Cross to the right across a field to the edge of Dell Wood and then take the path due north east to connect with the path running between Rousebarn Lane to the east and the country lane to the north of Sarratt Lane to the west. Here there is a crossroads of paths with the way ahead indicating Whippendell Wood which the walk is going to reach later, but for this route take the path to the left. Note: At this crossroads of path, the CGBW takes a shorter and more direct approach to the River Gade by turning right, but this route leaves the CGBW here to do a longer, more circuitous route, heading left instead.
When the path to the left reaches a road with a sign for Croxley Green in .25 of a mile to the left, turn right, passing Oak Farm and onwards towards and through Harrocks Wood to emerge at Redhall Lane at Chandler's Cross, where there is the Prime Steak and Grill on the other side of the road while to the left are a mission church and a bus stop - both closed at the time of writing. Turn right here (south east) down Rousebarn Lane with its various potholes and there may be occasional traffic. Continue the route by leaving the road when a path appears on the left, leading into the 165 acres of Whippendell Wood, noted for its bluebells at the right time of year. Various bowl-shaped hollows in the wood are the result of large bomb craters dating back to the second world war.
The Outdoor Leisure map Chilterns Hills East 172 shows what appears to be a single path running roughly north-west to south-east through Whippendell Wood, but, as a noticeboard near the entrance from Rousebarn Lane shows, the wood is criss-crossed by a number of paths. Further, when walking along one path, you may well find that it divides at a fork with no obvious choice as to which one of the two to follow next and there is a general lack of obvious landmarks. Therefore the best option is to try to follow what appears to be the main path, trending south east and this should lead you to emerge from the woods at a road running right to left with the West Herts Golf Course on the other side. If you can see the car park at the end of the road to the left, you need to follow the road to the right instead. The golf course is now on your left. Follow the road until a point is reached where paths to the left and right form a crossroads with the road you are walking along. Here, the route leads left along a track wide enough for a vehicle, signposted for Cassiobury Park. Being mindful of the possible danger of flying golf balls from the nearby fairway, follow the route ahead as it leads downhill through woodland with a glimpse of the River Gade seen on the left before reaching the river at a bridge. Cassiobury Park is the other side of the bridge, one of London's larger parks. For this route, follow the canal towpath ahead on the right hand side of the canal.
The route now follows the towpath by the canal for the next few miles in a roughly south westerly direction, frequently passing houseboats. There are some picturesque scenes along by the canal and at one point, a couple of swans obligingly presented some additional interest as a foreground to a photo at Cassiobridge Lock no 78. Common Moor lock No 79 is passed next. You know you are getting near to the point where you leave the canal, first when a lake appears on the right, then Batchworth is passed and a couple of locks in quick succession, Lot Mead, no 80, then Batchworth Lock number 81. Leave the canal here and Rickmansworth town centre is .25 of a mile to the right. Station Road leads up a hill to the right off the main high street.
The above walk description is based on the author having done the walk in January 2016, at which time there was a plan to close Watford tube station on the Metropolitan line click for more information
Other walks nearby
Walk 3122 Moor Park to Rickmansworth - easy/mod - 7.0 miles/11.4 km
Walk 2062 Cassiobury Park & Grand Union Canal, Watford - easy - 2.0 miles/3.3 km
Walk 3664 Northwood Hills to Northolt - moderate - 10.3 miles/16.7 km
Walk 1071 Chalfont & Latimer, Chalfont St Giles & Chorleywood - easy/mod - 12.6 miles/20.5 km
Walk 1536 Sarratt Bottom and Chenies from Little Chalfont - easy/mod - 6.3 miles/10.2 km
Walk 1568 Chalfont and Latimer to Chorleywood via Flaunden - moderate - 11.7 miles/19 km
Walk 3443 Chalfont & Latimer, Latimer and Flaunden - moderate - 13.7 miles/22.3 km
Walk 3321 Denham Circular - easy/mod - 10.0 miles/16.3 km
Walk 3403 Chipperfield to Kings Langley Circular - easy - 5.0 miles/8.1 km
Walk 1507 Grandad's walk from Chipperfield Common - easy - 2.0 miles/3.3 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
The End to End Trail
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