Walking the Chess Valley

Making the most of the fine, summer-like weather yesterday we headed over the border to Hertfordshire for a walk along a stretch of the Chess Valley. We began at Chorleywood station, walking north through Chorleywood House Park to the river and then roughly following the river past the M25 to Rickmansworth, where we picked up the tube home.

Chorleywood houses
Chorleywood houses

Chorleywood is a compact place; one of the relatively small settlements on the farther flung reaches of the Metropolitan line which, through the vision on the railway’s founders has nevertheless a station to its name, and so became a popular, yet rural, commuting location. We began by exploring Chorleywood, heading south of the station to the high street. It was functional and featured some nice delis, cafes and shops.

Chorleywood Common
Chorleywood Common

Returning to the north of the station passed the golf course and the local pub which was full of Chelsea fans. It was the only hostelry we encountered, which makes Chorleywood quite dry compared to neighbouring Rickmansworth. The road skirted along the edge of the common at the top of which is the entrance to Chorleywood House Park. Although the house is now privately owned, the park covers some considerable area and incorporates several walks, including a wood and valley walk.

Treelined path in Chorleywood House Park
Treelined path in Chorleywood House Park

We followed the path down a tree-lined way where it eventually joined the Chess Valley path proper. At this point it’s only possible to glimpse the river and we heading right (East) towards Rickmansworth. This part of the walk passed through some fields but there’s nothing to be seen of the river itself.

Overlooking the Chess Valley from Chorleywood House Park
Overlooking the Chess Valley from Chorleywood House Park

At the M25 the walk joins a road over the M25 and then heads down the side of the motorway. There’s a moment where the Chess can be seen before the path becomes trapped between the motorway and a garden centre. This portion of the walk was dull and tricky due to muddy going. Wood fencing on either side made the path feel claustrophobic and this continued as the path runs between the very substantial properties of Loudwater, a village to the north of Rickmansworth.

Crossing over the M25 on Solesbridge Lane
Crossing over the M25 on Solesbridge Lane

Finally, and to our relief, we reached Loudwater lane. Crossing here the walk took on an altogether more interesting character, opening out into fields and after a period meeting and then following the route of the river. This section proved popular with families and couples walking the dog. In hindsight we would have probably looked at finding a more interesting route from the M25 to here, perhaps going through Loudwater.

Bridge crossing the Chess river
Bridge crossing the Chess river

There’s a pleasant spot where a wooden footbridge crosses the river where a couple of benches offer a resting place, generally absent on the rest of the walk. From here we continued past some sports fields to Rectory Park Road, a few minutes from Rickmansworth tube and train station.

Chess river, near Loudwater and Rickmansworth
Chess river, near Loudwater and Rickmansworth

Walk rating

The walk comprises three distinct sections so it’s best to look at it as such. The Chorleywood to M25 section of the walk was pleasant enough, if occasionally tricky for pedestrians in Chorleywood with some absence of pavements and busy roads. The M25 to Loudwater lane section was dull, muddy, narrow and offered nothing to recommend it. From Loudwater lane the walk was as you might hope for from a river walk in that the path largely followed the river and offered pleasant scenery and easy going.

Chess river with Loudwater houses in the distance
Chess river with Loudwater houses in the distance

Route map

Click to see high-resolution image.

Map of route taken, courtesy of Google Earth
Map of route taken, courtesy of Google Earth
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