A glorious February day for a walk, and so I walked the Chess Valley Walk with my daughter; eleven miles from Chesham in Buckinghamshire to Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, all along the River Chess.
The river, the constant companion along the way, grows from what is little more than a muddy puddle in Chesham into a shining waterway – never more than inches deep, nevertheless it has carves a deep, verdant valley. It is a lovely walk, and as we met many walkers on the way, others appear to agree with this. At just 11 miles, it is to be enjoyed at leisure.
From Chesham Station we headed first along a straight path wrought beside the railway line before descending to the town, and here I must observe that the signs and Ordnance Survey maps disagree on where the walk goes, so we followed the signs for the pleasanter route – further on we found even two maps disagreeing and that the promoters of the path have moved it, for the better. Soon after emerging from Chesham there are some short sub-industrial stretches, but that is the reality of a working countryside, before we crossed the river and followed through the grazed fields of the farms which are the greatest stretch of the walk.
First then by the woods towards Latimer House. It is here that the Chess pulls its greatest trick – becoming a broad river which in the sunshine glinted like a lake, which actually is what it is – in a past age the Estate half-dammed the river with a weir to create an ornamental lake. The great house has now become a hotel, but the ornament remains.
Past Latimer and we were into Hertfordshire. First stop: an intriguing enclosure which was the site of mediaeval Flaunden before it moved up the hill. Nothing visible remains. Soon after that, we were on part of the first-day route of my ‘Herts Embraced‘ walk, all past Sarratt Bottom and to a pool of the river below the Chorleywood House Estate (many dogs playing in the pool here, then sniffing for our picnic food).
On then across the M25 at Solesbridge Lane and through the back of Loudwater and back to familiar territory, in Rickmansworth.
The station at each end has an information board about the route and things to see (I could not seen any sign of water voles not white-tailed crayfish in the river, but will take that on trust). In the end though, it is a walk to be enjoyed for itself.
Page on the walk with map
The route might be done with standard Landranger maps, though the additional detail of an Explorer map is very helpful.
In the Explorer, 1:50 000 series: