Walk from Maple Cross – open farmland and ancient woods

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22 May 2020 Maple Cross and over the M25
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Introduction

You’ll need to drive for this walk from Maple Cross, but don’t worry parking is easy.

We took just under two hours to complete the walk. The tour begins at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills and so you’ll find a few modest hills to climb. The total ascent over 7.5 km is 156 m.

A really nice walk that takes you from the A412 near Maple Cross through farmland and across the M25. There is a a combination of open country and ancient woodland with plenty of ups and downs.

Up to the M25

There is a large lay-by at the start of the walk which I have never known to be full. After parking here, follow the path towards the farm buildings. You maybe lucky and find Creative Juices Brewing Company open. If you prefer a non-alcoholic drink then try The Tea Shack.

On the return you’ll pass by these two refreshment points again when you’ll possibly be thirstier.

Also of interest at the farm is an old barn that is being restored.

Just near Maple Cross this barn is being restored
Old barn under restoration

From the farm the land rises towards the M25. On the right near the top is a strip of land that has been deliberately cultivated for winter bird feed.

Winter bird feed mixture
Plants include sunflower, wheat, barley, white mustard, linseed, rape

This wide strip of land is designed to provide birds with food and shelter during the winter with a variety of seeds. What a brilliant idea from the local farmer.

M25 with a lot less traffic than in pre-lockdown days

In sharp contrast we then encounter the M25. As we walked this route in May 2020 the traffic was very light, but still the noise is constant. However you are soon over this major obstacle and into open countryside. Here the path takes you across an open field and downwards to Bottom Wood.

Bottom Wood and beyond

Bottom Wood, which apparently was once called No Dragon Wood, is a quiet oasis close to the bustling noise of the M25. The wood has a diverse selection of trees, including apple, beech, cherry and conifers. You may come across tawny owls, red kites or dormice who all inhabit the 35 acre site.

Exit the woods and follow the path across country. You’ll then arrive at a series of lanes.

Shire Lane part of the walk from Maple Cross
Part of the narrow lanes

Old Shire Lane is the most important of these lanes and was part of the boundary between Mercia and Wessex. This makes the lane over 1000 years old. It is now part of the boundary between Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

The route now takes a right turn and runs parallel to Heronsgate, which itself has an interesting history. Herringsgate Farm was bought by a Chartist in 1845 called Feargus O’Connor and he built 35 homes on the site. The rents were subsidised and families were resettled from the north of England to farm the land. The idea behind the scheme was that the tenants should become self-sufficient. Unfortunately the factory workers and miners who took up the offer knew nothing about farming and the project failed.

The estate now has conservation status. O’Connor was teetotal and alcohol was banned. A pub was opened just outside the boundary called the Land of Liberty Peace and Plenty. If you are keen on craft beers it is well worth a visit.

With Heronsgate past you cross back across the M25 and return down hill back to the farm and car park.

What to do now

If having read the description and you want to follow this walk then visit this page. You won’t need any instructions as you can see where you are on the route from your phone.

If there is a route you enjoy then please send the GPX file of the route plus photos and a description if you can.

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