Walk No 11 – from West Ruislip, at the western end of the Central Line, to Rickmansworth




14.5 km ( 9 miles)


Footpaths, woodland tracks, towpaths

Outward Journey

By Central line to West Ruislip - about 35 minutes from Central London


By Metropolitam Line from Rickmansworth

Points of Interest

Bayhurst Wood country Park, Grand Union Canal


Coy carp PH (after 10 km), Cafes and pubs in Rickmansworth

Public Toilets

At West Ruislip and Rickmansworth Stations

Shortening the Walk

Buses from Harefield to Uxbridge


What To Expect From This Walk  

This walk passes through a large tract of open countryside which lies to the north of Ruislip and there many occasions when it is is difficult to believe that you are still within London. Bayhurst Wood Country Park is a good example of this feeling of remoteness. It includes part of Ruislip Woods Nature Reserve is a remnant of the Wildwood that once completely covered England about 8,000 years ago. The woodland contains hornbeam, coppice, oak and beech. In the final partof the walk, there is a 5Km section along the Grand Union Canal which includes a waterside pub

1. Use the pedestrian lights outside West Ruislip Station to cross to the opposite footway of the B466 (Ickenham Road). Turn right for 250m and then turn left into a cul-de-sac, opposite a petrol station, by a large sign for Ruislip Golf Centre. Go ahead past a metal barrier on an asphalt cycle and pedestrian track. Where the asphalt swings right, take a semi-surfaced footpath on the left, signposted R145, going through a kissing gate. Stay on this path, following the white arrows which mark the Hillingdon Trail (HT), ignoring signs to the footpaths R146 and R147. 

2.  Just after a path comes in diagonally from behind, follow the HT sign left across a footbridge over the River Pinn and enter a field. About half-way up the field, go through a gap in the hedge to your left, where a stile and a marker (HT) are just visible, and turn right on an enclosed path. Walk to the end of the path to reach the gates of Old Clack Farm on your right.  Turn left here on a track which becomes a surfaced lane (Tile Kiln Lane). Pass in front of  houses, follow the lane through a couple of right turns and reach a T-junction with a larger road. Turn right here and after a few steps, cross the road to a stile in the hedge signposted Public Footpath U41. 

The next part of the walk is on paths which are less distinct, but are  always marked by signposts, gates and stiles. 

3. Cross over the stile and continue straight ahead to go through a rusty wrought-iron gate, which leads into a rough stretch of grassland. Continue to the top right-hand corner of this field and turn right to reach a farm track with some large green barns visible beyond. Turn left on the farm track, with your back to the barns, to enter a field through a double metal gate. You turn right here to walk through two fields, with the hedgerow on your right. 

4. At the end of the second field, where more green buildings are visible (this time a small industrial estate), cross a stile, go up a small slope via some dilapidated wooden steps and turn left on an indistinct path, signposted U39. Cross another stile into a field and turn right, still following the footpath signs. Pass a rickety bench to reach a gate onto a track. Go straight over the track to the gate opposite, which takes you into the next field. Walk down the right-hand side of the field towards a faded footpath signpost. At the signpost, bear slightly left across the grass towards a much clearer footpath sign for the U40, next to a gate. Go through the gate onto a farm track. Ignore the faded waymarks on the  stile directly opposite. Instead, turn left on the track and join the footpath a little further on by going through a large gap in the fence to your right. Follow the footpath for a short distance to a stile where you emerge onto a road. 

This is the end of the less distinct section. 

5. Turn briefly left on the road to reach a footpath on the opposite side. Turn right and continue on this path (the U35), ignoring signs for footpath U36. When  you reach a fork with a bridleway to the right and a wooden gate ahead, go through the wooden gate into Bayhurst Wood Country Park. Swing left to follow the path along the edge of the woods until you reach a rectangular open space with picnic tables. Cross diagonally to the far side of the rectangle, looking out for a narrow bramble-lined path at the top corner. This path cuts through the undergrowth  for about 50m to meet a clear track, where you will see a Hillingdon Trail sign pointing left and right. Turn right here on the Hillingdon Trail and go gently uphill into the woods.

6. Follow this well-defined path, waymarked with blue bridleway signs and white HT arrows, as it drops down past an information board and a wooden hut. Shortly after passing the hut, go through a vehicle barrier to reach a track, where you turn left towards a car park. Swing slightly left through the car park. When you reach the furthest part of the car park area, you will see  a clear gap ahead in the car park boundary. Go through this gap and take the path ahead through the woods. 

7. Continue walking in this direction. The path may be hard to discern at first due to fallen leaves, but your way is always ahead, with the edge of the wood to your right, with glimpses of the fields beyond. When you come to an HT sign indicating left and straight on, continue straight on, now next to a fence which separates the path from a bridleway, which comes in on your right. Just past an HT information board, go through the fence to join the bridleway. On the next stretch the bridleway and footpath are sometimes separate, in other places together. Continue, always in the same direction, until the path turns left. Go right here through a kissing gate, sign-posted HT. Follow  this  path as it winds through trees.

8. Go through another kissing gate, still on the Hillingdon Trail, and climb uphill through a large open field with a hedge on your right. In the top right-hand corner, go over two waymarked stiles and enter another large field with a distant footpath sign visible ahead at the far end. With the  hedge on your right, walk towards the signpost. Turn left at the signpost to follow the Hillingdon Trail downhill and then continue through woods to reach the churchyard of Harefield Parish Church. Continue with the churchyard wall on your left. Where the wall turns left, follow the HT sign to take the right-hand of two paths. Follow this path till  you reach a metal stile which brings you out onto the church access road. Turn right here to walk up to the main road (Church Hill), where you turn right again. Cross over to walk on the footway for 500m through  Harefield until you reach an HT sign at Bird Lane (100m after Countess Close, and just before Dovedale Close bus stop).

9. Turn left (marked HT) to descend between houses. Cross a residential road and continue downhill. Climb to a junction of paths, where you bear left. A lovely vista with a distant lake now opens up before you. Continue down to the end of the enclosed path and then descend diagonally across a field with the Grand Union Canal below you. The path meets a lane. After a short section of lane walking, cross a canal bridge to reach the towpath. Turn right along the towpath for 750m to reach The Coy Carp pub. After the pub, carry on along the towpath for another 4 km to reach Rickmansworth. Your exit point is the large bridge carrying the A404 traffic over the canal (see Map B).

10. Go under this bridge and climb the steps up to the road. Turn right and walk up to the roundabout. Turn right into Church Street and follow it for 600m until it intersects with the High Street. (The left-hand footway takes a short cut through the churchyard.) Turn left into the High Street, where there are several cafés. After 250m, turn right into Station Road. Continue up to a T-junction where you turn left to reach Rickmansworth Station.

Information On The Things You Will See

The Grand Union Canal (GUC) is 220Km (137 miles) long and stretches from Brentford on the River Thames to Gas Street Basin in Central Birmingham.  It has 166 locks.  It has “arms” to places such as Slough, Leicester and Northampton and connects with the Oxford Canal at Braunston. It is  a 'wide' or 'broad' canal, i.e. its locks are wide enough to accommodate two narrowboats side by side or a single wide barge up to 14 feet (4.3 m) in beam.

Rickmansworth is situated 20 miles northwest of central London and is just inside the M25 motorway. It is the administrative seat of the Three Rivers District Council. The three rivers, the Colne, Chess and Gade, provided water for the watercress trade and power for corn milling, silk weaving, paper making and brewing, all long gone. Other historic activities  included leather-tanning, soft drinks, soya processing, laundry, straw-plaiting and stocking production. 

Harefield is the home of the famous heart and lung hospital where Professor Magdi Yacoub carried out the first ever live lobe lung transpant in December 1983. By the end of that decade it  was the world-leading centre in the world for heart and lung transpants. It is now part of the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust which is  the largest specialist heart and lung centre in Europe.