Enjoy this 10 mile walk from Chalfont & Latimer to Ley Hill and back through the Chilterns and parts of the Chess River Valley.
The walk begins in Chalfont & Latimer Metropolitan Line car park. From such an unattractive sounding start, the route is extremely attractive, with woods, farmland old tracks and the beautiful Chess valley.
The walk is just under 10 miles and there is one pub en route. The path takes you up and down several healthy climbs and in total there is 322 m (1,056) of ascent.
Down to the River Chess and up to Long Wood
Leave the car park and pass through some pleasant suburban housing until the road runs out and becomes a path. You are now in West Wood which descends steeply down to the River Chess.
The river is only 11 miles long from its source just north of Chesham down to the River Colne in Rickmansworth. The middle section of the river that you cross is the most attractive. The river has along history of human habitation with several Roman villa sites located in the valley.
Follow the Chess Valley Walk along the river to until you turn and climb up the valley side to Flaunden Grove and Baldwins Wood.
Follow the map through Flaunden Grove and Long Wood to where the end of the path and then descend rapidly to Flaunden Bottom. From here there is a short walk along the road with a meadow on the right and farmland on the left.
Flaunden Bottom to Cowcroft Nature Reserve
The countryside changes as you climb up from Flaunden Bottom with farmland on either side of the path. As we passed the maize crops had not been harvested. Two large fields of maize are not the most attractive sights. But you are quite high at this point and the distant views are much more pleasant.
The terrain remains reasonably flat and walk around Ashridge Farm and into Ley Hill via Ley Hill golf course.
By now you have walked 5 miles and up ahead the site of the pub becomes increasingly inviting. When you arrive you realise there are two pubs on virtually one site.
Unfortunately the pretty pub on the left was closed and the 30’s building was our only hope and proper refreshment. At The Crown everything was done to make the place Covid safe. There was a one way system, 2 metre apart markers on the floor and plastic shields to protect the staff. However, the kitchen was closed and we were left with a choice of crisps or nuts. The beer wasn’t that great either, so altogether not the ideal village pub of our dreams.
Cowcroft Wood and home
Set off on the second half of the Chalfont & Latimer to Ley Hill walk where the route leaves the pub. Follow a short road that soon turns into a-gravel path. At this point enter Cowcroft Nature Reserve which is owned and managed by the local Wildlife Trust.
The wood is part Tylers Hill ancient woodland and has a large variety of trees, but with a predominance of oak and beech.
On the other side of Cowcroft Wood the path opens out into farmland. The fields were bare when we visited. The way descends into the valley and the rises again.
In the picture above a line of tree indicates how the path rises again after following the edge of the field.
Another descent, the walk arrives at the Chess Valley Walk again. Don’t be deceived the route doesn’t keep to the valley floor. After a mile the path rises quite sharply to follow the edge of Frith Wood. This elevation is roughly maintained and on the left sits Latimer House.
Latimer House has a long and interesting history. The current mock Tudor building dates back to 1838 when the previous Tudor building was destroyed by fire. At one time Charles I had been imprisoned here. During the war the house was owned by MI6. It was here that prisoners were interrogated and information was extracted to help the war effort.
Latimer House continued to be used by the secret services until the 1980s. It was a target for the IRA in 1974. A 20lb bomb was exploded close to one of the main buildings injuring 10 people. Today the house is part of the De Vere Hotel Chain
Pass Latimer House and the path turns down towards the River Chess and crosses the river. Climb back up towards Chalfont and Latimer Station. You might be a bit tired but you will have enjoyed a healthy and interesting walk.
If you have enjoyed the Chalfont & Latimer to Ley Hill walk you can find more interesting walks at Find a Walk.
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