Walk 19 - From Watford, at the Western End of the Metropolitan Line to Chorleywood via Whippendell Woods and the Chess Valley



11 km (7 miles)


Woodland paths, tracks and field edges

Outward Journey

By Metropolitan Line to Watford - about 40 minutes from Central London


By Metropolitan Line from Chorleywood

Points of Interest

Cassiobury Park,  Sarratt, Chess Valley


Cafe in Cassiobury Park and Cock Inn at Sarratt

Public Toilets

At Watford Station

Shortening the Walk

Infrequent weekday bus (352) from Sarratt to Hemel Hempstead or Watford 


What to Expect From This Walk 

This walk is a mixture of woods, parks and open fields. It passes through Cassiobury Park, and then crosses the Grand Union Canal to Whippendell Woods, full of bluebells in springtime.  Later, open fields lead to the hamlet of Sarratt, with its almshouses and 15th-century church. Next, you descend into the beautiful Chess Valley and climb out the other side to finish the walk at the town of Chorleywood 

Route Directions

1. Turn right as you come out of the station and walk for 150m. Turn left at the traffic lights by the entrance to  Cassiobury Park. Go into the park and go ahead to a junction of paths  where you turn left onto a path which veers to the right between trees. Carry on for 400m to another junction, where you turn left downhill along an avenue of trees. After 300m you come to a café on the left, near a children’s play area. Continue down the path and cross two bridges, the first over the River Gade, the second over the Grand Union Canal. 

2. After the second bridge, turn right and follow a broad track, which at first runs parallel to the canal but soon swings away to the left and rises to cross the West Herts Golf Course. Continue until you reach a junction with a sign for Rond Point. Leave the track and take the path straight ahead, signposted to Chandler’s Cross. Descend through Whippendell woods and continue to follow this well-walked path for the next kilometre, ignoring all turnings to the left and to the right until you reach a gate next to an information board at Rousebarn Lane.

3. Turn right and walk for 600m to reach a junction of roads at Chandler’s Cross. Turn left and ignore a road coming in from the right. Go to the left of a restaurant and where the road takes a sharp bend to the left, continue straight ahead on a track between hedges, signposted Micklefield Green. Continue on this track for 1.8 km. Soon you are walking alongside the M25 motorway. When you reach a road, turn right on a bridge over the motorway. Turn left on a driveway which crosses the path and leads out to a road. Cross the road to a stile with two signposts. Climb over the stile and turn right along the field edge, following the sign for Sarratt.

4. Continue along the field edge for 250m. Go past the access gateway to New Model Farm and return to the field edge for another 250m. At the end of the second field, make sure you do not go through a metal gate ahead of you. Instead, turn left and walk  to the next corner, with the hedge on your right. Go through a gate in the hedge and walk diagonally right across a field. At the far side, go right and then cross a stile with a sign for the Sarratt Parish Footpath. Turn right after the stile to reach the Cock Inn car park. Turn left onto a lane. Pass the inn on your left and Holy Cross Church on your right. 

5. Turn right and walk past the former almshouses at Church End, founded in 1700, although the current red-brick houses are late Georgian (1821). Enter an  enclosed path, cross a driveway and walk downhill with good views ahead, past a hedge on your right, which is followed later by a metal fence. You are descending into the valley of the River Chess. At the bottom of the hill, turn left on a track to join the Chess Valley Walk.

6. Cross a road and continue ahead on a path which soon turns right and crosses the river by way of a wooden walkway and bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn left and walk for 300m to a junction of paths. At the point where your path swings left, turn right on a smaller path and walk uphill, just inside a wood. At the top, continue straight ahead on a broad track. After 350m the track reaches a junction. Turn right and then left onto a paved driveway which first goes downhill but then rises again. There is a large grassy area on your right and (later) a small cemetery to your left. 7. When you reach Rickmansworth Road (the A404), cross over with care. Walk diagonally right along a broad grassy avenue between trees. Ahead you can see the outskirts of Chorleywood. You can also see a road away to your right. To reach it, go across the common and through a car park out onto the road. Immediately after the car park entrance, there is a green sign pointing right towards to the station. Go downhill in the direction indicated, through the gates of a small housing development called Betjeman Gardens. Follow the driveway as it takes you right and then left between houses and then watch out for the steps which lead down to Chorleywood Station.

Information On The Things You Will See

Watford is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, 15 miles (24Km) northwest of Central London. It should not be confused with Watford, Northamptonshire which is 55 miles to the the north.  The town belonged to St Albans Abbey until the 16thC. Connections to the Grand Union Canal and the London to Birminham Railway allowed the town to grow rapidly in the 19thC with paper-making, printing and brewing as its main industries.

Cassiobury Park is the largest public open space in Watford comprising of over 190 acres of green space stretching from the town centre to the Grand Union Canal. It contains a variety of sports facilities and parts of the parkare designated as a nature reserve. The Earls of Essex lived in a mansion called Cassiobury House (now demolished) for 250 years until the early 20thC.

Chorleywood dates from the Paleothithic era when the plentiful availability of flint led to swift development of tools by man. The Romans built a village here complete with a mill and brewery. A large influx of Saxon settlers called it 'Cerola Leah', meaning a meadow in a clearing. Edward the Confessor gave Chorleywood to the Monastery of St Albans and later it passed to the Bishopric of London, being renamed 'Charleywoode'. The Turnpike Act (1663) gave Chorleywood a chance to exploit its strategic position, allowing locals the opportunity to charge civilians to use the road from Hatfield to Reading. Chorleywood is also famous for its Quakers who were given sanctuary by the locals.  

The Chess Valley Walk is a 10 mile walk from Chesham to Rickmansworth. The Chess Valley has some of the most attractive countryside in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way there are historic buildings and estates, water meadows, ancient field systems and nature reserves. The Chess is a chalk stream and is fed by groundwater, which is stored in the aquifer – layers of chalk rock which work like a sponge, soaking up water until it emerges at ground level. Regular winter rainfall is needed to recharge the aquifer and keep the chalk streams of the Chilterns flowing throughout the year. Typical chalk streams, like the Chess are shallow, narrow streams, with gravel beds and clear, warm water.