A circular walk from Hemel Hempstead station

Starting from Hemel Hempstead Station this is a walk which can be enjoyed without a car. The station is right on the edge of the town so virtually all the route is through the open country, much of it through Boxmoor Trust land, on the plateau of the Chilterns and along the Grand Union Canal. There are lots of reminders of the history of the area from 1594 through WWII. If you are lucky you may see a couple of rare farm breeds kept on Trust land and some interesting birds along the canal.

Technical sheet

A Hertfordshire walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Last update : 27/09/22
  • Walking
    Activity: Walking
  • ↔
    Distance: 10.24 km
  • ◔
    Calculated time: 3h10 
  • ▲
    Difficulty: Moderate

  • ∞
    Return to departure point: No
  • ↗
    Vertical gain: + 76 m
  • ↘
    Vertical drop: - 85 m

  • ▲
    Highest point: 162 m
  • ▼
    Lowest point: 85 m
  • ⚐
    District: Hertfordshire 
  • ⚑
    Start: N 51.742293° / W 0.490844°
  • ⚑
    End: N 51.744003° / W 0.490932°

  • …
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The Bulbourne River next to the Grand Union Canal


(S/E) This walk as described starts from Hemel Hempstead Station (grid ref. TL043059). The alternative, if a car is being used, is to park behind Bovingdon church (grid ref. TL017038) and start the walk from this point in the loop.

Coming out of Hemel Hempstead station cross the road, via the pedestrian lights, and go down Fishery Road towards Fishery Inn which can be seen ahead by the Grand Union Canal. (You are walking across Boxmoor Trust land: the nucleus of this was given to the 87 inhabitants of Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon in 1594 to safeguard their grazing and fishing rights in the Bulbourne and Gade valleys; over 450 acres are now looked after for the benefit of local inhabitants and on the remainder of the walk you will come across signs proclaiming Trust activity; you may also see some of the Belted Galway cattle or Norfolk Horn sheep which are now grazed on the meadows.)

(1) Turn left along the canal and walk to bridge 148. Turn left here and, leaving the canal, walk under two bridges - rail and the new A41. This valley has always been a main route into London: it was a major drove route for cattle coming from Wales and the Midlands for the London markets; the London - Tring turnpike, eventually the old A41, and the Grand Union Canal arrived in the 18th Century followed by the London and Birmingham Railway in 1838. The new A41 has partly left the valley, but not just here, and all these routes still exist in some form - you have just crossed, gone under, or walked along all of them.

(2) Emerging from the tunnels, continue to the main road and turn left to the next set of lights. Cross the road and walk up Felden Lane until on the right you see a sign for Felden Lodge, Headquarters of the Boys Brigade. You have now joined the Chiltern Way. Walk down the tarmac drive and just before the entrance gates turn left onto a bridleway. After a few yards, turn right through a 19th Century iron kissing gate in a 19th Century iron estate-fence. Go half right across the pasture aiming to the right of a house. Go through the kissing gate, along an enclosed path, over a stile, along a field edge - hedge on right - to a lane. Turn right along the lane until a right angled bend. Here, go straight on through a kissing gate and along a field break; after a hedge gap bear right across an arable field to the edge of woods.

(3) Here, turn left along the field edge with the woods and then gardens on the right. Go through a gate, along an enclosed path and through a metal gate: turn right along the field edge - woods and hedges on right - and follow it left and straight on to a metal kissing gate in the field corner. From here you can see Bovingdon church, the target as you leave the Chiltern Way to go diagonally right over two fields. When you come out onto a lane a diversion left will quickly bring you to a couple of pubs for refreshment but the walk goes straight on with the church yard on the left. When the lane bends left there is space for cars to be parked by the church wall (grid ref. TL017038): if this is full, car parking in the village the other side of the church is presently unrestricted.

(4) Where the lane bends left, turn up a public byway on the right past Church Lane House. This is the Hertfordshire Way but it is not Church Lane: its name is Stoney Lane, the old road between Bovingdon and Hemel Hempstead and although it starts as tarmac, it soon starts to live up to its name; in places signs of its original flint construction are visible. Eventually, houses appear on the right and shortly afterwards, opposite "Huntsmoor" you turn left down an unmade road flanked by houses. This gives onto the B4505.

(5) Cross with care and turn right. Just past "Little Hay Cottage" fork left down a bridleway through woods. After a little way at a path junction fork left; this comes out a road going through a golf course. Turn right on the road, go past the club house, follow the road left and then right. At this point the tarmac ends and the path goes straight on, more or less; hug the right hand bushes and very quickly pass two prefab dwellings on the right. These look as if they were left over from the RAF Bovingdon airfield. (Maybe not, but during WWII the airfield stretched from here back towards Bovingdon village and beyond and was a USAF bomber base, home to 8th Air Force HQ, 92 Bombardment Group and 11th Combat Crew Replacement Unit. The USAF returned from 1951 to 1962 with Dakotas.)

(6) Where-ever there is a choice of paths going forward, keep the golf course on the left with views over the Bulbourne valley, and choose the right hand fork until you come to a finger post. Here fork left, over a fairway, past a copse on the left and straight on aiming for a yellow barn like building in the valley. Cross the bridge over the A41 and follow a cinder path which turns right, becomes grass and goes down to the A4251 (Grid Ref TL023063). Cross the road with care, turn right and after about 1/4 mile turn left down Winkwell. After a short stretch of very narrow lane you come to a swing bridge over the Grand Union Canal by the Three Horse Shoes (part dating back to1535). Before the bridge, turn right along the canal tow path - watch out for a history information board and also for the variety of water birds. The tow path brings you back to bridge 148, where the circular part of the walk started. To return to Hemel Hempstead Station carry on along the tow path to the Fishery Inn and turn right off the tow path to the Station(S/E).


  1. S : km 0 - alt. 94 m - Hemel Hempstead Station
  2. 1 : km 0.17 - alt. 85 m - Turn left along the canal
  3. 2 : km 0.76 - alt. 89 m - Turn left
  4. 3 : km 2.53 - alt. 162 m - Turn left
  5. 4 : km 5.03 - alt. 153 m - Turn up a public byway on the right
  6. 5 : km 6.31 - alt. 161 m - Cross the road
  7. 6 : km 7.32 - alt. 158 m - Keep the golf course on the left
  8. E : km 10.24 - alt. 85 m

Useful Information

Refreshment may be had every couple of miles or so.

Always stay careful and alert while following a route. Visorando and the author of this walk cannot be held responsible in the event of an accident during this route.

Reviews and comments

4.5 / 5
Based on 8 reviews

Clarity of route description
4.6 / 5
Clarity of route map
4.4 / 5
Walk interest
4.6 / 5
le Mon 26 Sep 2022 17:49:38 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 25/09/22
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

A delightful, varied short ( 2.5hrs of walking and a 30min drink stop at the wonderful canal side Three Horseshoes) walk in early autumn sunshine - our first with this excellent app which made it even more of a pleasure - no more ambiguous instructions or sketchy maps that don’t relate - a real, scalable OS map overlaid by almost step by step progress, even when we strayed from the path slightly to pick blackberries. One odd track error would have sent us over an imaginary bridge across the A41 but just following the path signs off the golf course to the real bridge kept us safe. The description added to the pleasure, except the cows are Belted Galloways not from Galway! Quite a different accent. Looking forward to further adventures with this, so far best walking app we’ve used (so not yet unearthed the inevitable glitches!)

le Mon 21 Dec 2020 03:53:07 EST

Overall rating: 4.7 / 5

Date of walk: 19/12/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

A thoroughly enjoyable walk correctly, in our opinion, graded as 'Average' as although it was relatively flat there were one or two rather testing inclines. We started the walk at the church car park and parking was easy and the instructions just about right. A couple of spots were slightly testing but the correct route was found without too much problem. Certain parts were extremely muddy but a good pair of welly boots/walking boots were more than suitable.
Highly recommended. Took about 2hrs 45 mins without pushing ourselves.

le Mon 10 Aug 2020 05:59:08 EDT

Overall rating: 4 / 5

Date of walk: 02/08/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★☆☆ Average
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

I did the route in reverse but lost my way. It’s a very beautiful area and I will try again.

le Mon 20 Jul 2020 03:28:49 EDT

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 19/07/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

I did the walk in reverse starting from Bovingdon church but found it rather tricky to follow the directions.the church and cemetery are beautiful and Box Moor stunning. I will take other people there. Very accessible from HHempstead station.

le Mon 03 Feb 2020 04:12:43 EST

Overall rating: 4.7 / 5

Date of walk: 01/02/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

The description was good apart from there being no gates at the Boys Brigade entrance so we went too far and had to turn back. Otherwise a good easy walk although very muddy in places!! Walking boots advised in winter. Good to have a walk starting at a station, rather than a car park

le Mon 22 Jul 2019 07:42:38 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 20/07/19
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Excellent walk. With good descriptions, I didn't need the map, although it proved useful to get a feel beforehand.

le Mon 30 Apr 2018 03:25:08 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 28/04/18
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Great walk. Lots of variety, canal, views, woods. Loved the midway stop at the pub by the canal.
Perfect directions, very easy to follow

le Mon 26 Mar 2018 07:00:53 EDT

Overall rating: 3.7 / 5

Date of walk: 05/12/17
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★☆☆ Average
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

A good walk, best when the ground has dried out as some parts quite muddy.

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