The Rickmansworth to Whippendell loop walk takes in a quiet section of the Grand Union Canal, the ancient Whippendell and Harrocks Woods, open countryside and the River Chess. The 3 hour easy walk is ideal for both humans and dogs with only two roads to cross.
For a quick 2m min overview of the loop walk watch the YouTube Video below.
Where to begin
You can begin this walk, either from Rickmansworth Station or the free car park beside Scotsbridge Mill (WD3 1AT). See the Map for both options. The two starting points join together at Caravan Lane (WD3 1FT).
This first section passes between St Joan Arc Catholic School and the Metropolitan Line. The school has an interesting history. The local catholic parish priest bought no. 11 The High Street in 1904 for 5 pupils. The school flourished and in 1922 ‘The Elms’, a Georgian estate provided additional space. Famously, George Eliot wrote Daniel Deronda here.
Croxley Hall Farm
After you pass the playing fields of St Joan you will find a drive leading to Croxley Hall Farm.
The farm has a long pedigree dating back to pre-reformation times when it was owned by St Albans Abbey. After the dissolution of the monasteries the crown sold the farm and it came into the hands of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
During most of the 19th century the farm the Sansom family managed and developed the farm into a watercress business fed by the River Gade. The business lasted until the end of WWII.
Move on slightly and you will see the Great Barn in the distance (see picture below).
Recently restored, 15th century Barn has Grade II status.
The Grand Union Canal
Follow the path down to the canal.
The Grand Union’s total length now exceeds 280 miles. The small section from here to Cassiobury Park indicates how the canal has changed dramatically since it was originally built. Conceived as a means of carrying cargo for the profit of the canal owners, now a public body, the British Waterways Board is responsible.
Some craft definitely provide reminders of the industrial past while others show the luxury side of barge living. Some people have utilised their barge as a travelling workshop and store. In places you’ll find new development on the side of the canal. All very different from the original intention for the canal entrepreneurs.
Leave the Canal
Check on the map for the point where you leave the canal.
The route rises slightly as it runs parallel with the canal and then sweeps left. This is probably the busiest part of the walk. However, a very wide makes it easy to avoid people. You will shortly cross West Herts Golf Course. Look out for balls coming from the left.
Lime Avenue & Whippendell Woods
You can find some old interesting photos of Lime Avenue from 1910 at this site. This magnificent avenue of trees formed part of the original Cassiobury Estate. The avenue’s history goes back to 1672, when the Earl of Essex planted the trees.
At the end of the avenue you enter Whippendell Woods. Our route continues straight ahead and descends quickly.
The bluebells are out in April and May, so take the opportunity to see these magnificent displays throughout the woods.
Continue through the wood on the main path.
At the end of Whippendell Wood cross the minor road and enter Harrocks Wood. A much smaller wood than Whippendell, but much quieter, it has a charm of it’s own.
As you pass through the woods on the path you may find it convenient to have a rest at the bench and enjoy the atmosphere.
The path turns left to a gate and you leave the wood. You have passed half way on the Rickmansworth to Whippendell loop walk.
To Croxley Green
Follow the way between the hedgerow and the large wheat field.
As we walked along this section of the trail we saw our first swallows of the season. They were darting furiously over the field. Unfortunately their speed and size makes an image impossible to capture on my phone. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
You will then emerge onto a track with some attractive cottages on your right.
Continue ahead until you arrive at a main road. Take a sharp left along another track that leads to Little Green. Here you’ll discover a pair of very pretty cottages.
Take the road to the right of these homes and head down to Croxley Green, The area is named after Richard de Croxley. On arrival at the green you will see a diagonal path heading towards a footpath and gate.
The final section back to Rickmansworth
Pass through the gate and the shortly afterwards the way descends and then rises. At the top of the rise turn left and hug the hedge on the right.
Peak through the hedge to the field beyond. The way descends again and at the bottom turn right along the path and then sharp left. Cross the bridge over the River Chess.
On nice hot summer days this spot is ideal for families to paddle in the clear waters of the Chess. The Chess valley also housed numerous watercress farms. The last farm closed only a few years ago.
Follow the course of the river and then enter Rickmansworth Recreation Ground.
No one playing football on the day we walked through. Keep to the left hand side and exit at the car park. You may have parked here or at the first car park as you entered.
Continue to follow the map to return to the start of the Rickmansworth to Whippendell loop walk.
If you enjoyed the Rickmansworth to Whippendell loop walk then you can find other great walks at Find a walk Britain
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