River Chess highlights : Chalfont & Latimer, Chiltern AONB

This circular walk is very peaceful and part of the Chess Valley Walk. The short walk from Chalfont & Latimer station will take you through neat Metroland streets, with mock 1930’s Tudor jostling with Art Deco suburban dwellings within easy reach of London and the countryside. Hemmed in on all sides by the pressures of London and urban overspill, the charming Chess Valley is a haven of solitude in outstanding Chilterns countryside.

Technical sheet No. 21803979

A Little Chalfont walk posted on 10/05/22 by Chilterns AONB Conservation Board. Last update : 14/06/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h50[?]
Distance Distance : 9.10 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 68 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 68 m
Highest point Highest point : 135 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 71 m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Little Chalfont
Starting point Starting point : N 51.669041° / W 0.563079°
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Chenies Manor River chess View over Chiltern countryside Latimer and river Chess weir


Start & Finish : Chalfont & Latimer Station on Bedford Avenue behind the station.

(D/A) From Bedford Avenue, located at the back of Chalfont and Latimer train station, walk West along the road. At the T junction, turn right (North-North-East) on Chenies Avenue and keep straight on this avenue until the end of it where you take a gravel road downhill (North-East-North) into West Wood (A). You are now following Chess Valley Walk.

When you enter the wood, ignore the footpath coming from your left. Keep straight (North-East) for a few steps and when you get to a 3 ways junction, take the first path on the left.

(1) Keep the same direction going downhill. When you reach a main wider track down the slope, turn right. Walk a few steps then take the footpath going left downhill. At the next junction keep straight (North-East) out of the woods. Enjoy the nice view of the countryside going through the gate.

Keep straight down hill with Latimer Road (B) as a destination. Past the gate, cross the road straight ahead with care then take the gate and path opposite. Go straight, then you will eventually reach a farm road where you keep straight again. Cross River Chess by the bridge on the way, enjoy the view on a weir on your left-hand side. In front of you up the hill you also have a nice view of the nice Latimer building.

(2) Just after the bridge, turn straight away on your right (East) past a gate, on a footpath along the riverside following the Chess Valley Walk. You now have the river on your right-hand side.

When you reach the road in Latimer (C), make a detour up the hill on your left to enjoy Latimer village and its history then come back to this point otherwise cross the road straight ahead (East) to the gate and the next footpath following the Chess Valley signpost. You are now on a livestock field with the River Chess still on your right-hand side.

Carry on the way following the electric poles as a guideline on your right. At some stage you will have a hedge on your left hand- side to follow before reaching two gates to cross.

(3) After the second gate, carry straight on East between a hedge on your left and a wire fence on your right up to another gate. On the way, you will find Alice Liberty grave on your left.

At the junction, keep straight and eventually, you will end up following a stream on your right-hand side before reaching a gate at Mill Farm. After the gate, turn right between the buildings to reach a gate then the road. Cross the road with care to have a look at the board sign explaining the Chess Valley Walk in front of you.

(4) Turn left uphill along the road for a few meters and when it bends left, keep right (North-East-East) through the gate on the footpath between wood fences and horse fields. Carry straight on past the wooden gate following the Frogmore Meadow and Chess Valley Walk signs.

Follow this footpath (D) with River Chess still on your right-hand side along the Frogmore Meadow Nature Reserve (E). Eventually, you will reach boardwalks before going through a gate, and entering the woods (Limesghill Wood).

(5) Into the woods keep straight on the main path ignoring the side ones. Getting out of the woods, you walk between wire fences. Find a viewpoint on your right then continue along the same path East. On the walk you will find boardwalks again, a broken stile easy to pass next to, and another portion of boardwalks before reaching the road at Crestyl Barn and Valley Farm (E).

Here you can make a detour following the road straight ahead to enjoy a local ice cream and come back here or at the junction, turn right (South-West) to cross over the wooden bridge (F) and walk out on Holloway Lane for a few meters. As it curves right, take the path on the left and straight away turn right uphill into the woods (South). Do not cross the gate on left. Keep walking up the steep hill South into Mount Wood until you get to a gate giving you access to a field. Keep straight to reach a wooden gate with Mountwood Farm on your right hand.

(6) When you reach the farm road, turn right (West) reaching a tarmac farm road past Mountwood Farm entrance and gate. At a junction with some paths, keep straight until you get to Latimer Road in Chenies (F). On the way pass Ladu Dell Farm on your right.

You now are in Chenies. Chenies Manor is in front of you. Walk South-West past the bus stop, an old water pump and a red phone box before going along Claypits Lane in front of Chenies School. At the corner of the school, take a footpath right along the school with Chenies Manor on view on your right.

(7) When you get to a junction, turn right (North) and keep that way up to a road at Chenies Manor (G). Past the manor, go through the gate and go down to the last building at the corner of the wood.

Turn left (West) here straight into the woods with your back to the manor. Keep straight ignoring the paths coming from left and right. When you get out of the woods, enjoy the view on your right and keep going on the path on your left (West-South-West). Keep walking that way before entering another woodland.

When you get out of the woods, you reach Stoney Lane with a car park in front of you. Cross the road with care to the car park. Then when in the car park, turn right and walk a few steps along the road.

(8) When the road curves right, go straight (West) next to the gate to follow the Bridleway sign. When you see two footpaths (one after another) coming from your right, keep straight along the edge of the woodland. When you reach the top of the hill, turn right along the hedge of the woods (West). You can now see a football field on your left at Westwood Park. Keep straight and you might recognise where you entered into the woods at the beginning of the walk.

Turn left here at the junction of paths (South) and walk back to the starting point at Chalfont & Latimer train station on Chanies Avenue then left on Bedford Avenue . (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 125 m - Chalfont and Latimer train station
1 : km 0.73 - alt. 110 m - Chess Valley Walk
2 : km 1.14 - alt. 87 m - Bridge - Gate
3 : km 2.4 - alt. 83 m - William Liberty tomb
4 : km 2.96 - alt. 76 m - Mill Farm
5 : km 3.79 - alt. 75 m - Boardwalk - wood
6 : km 5.47 - alt. 114 m - Mountwood Farm
7 : km 6.54 - alt. 125 m - Chenies Manor
8 : km 7.68 - alt. 121 m - Stoney Lane - Car park
9 : km 8.54 - alt. 131 m - Woods - Houses
D/A : km 9.1 - alt. 125 m - Chalfont and Latimer train station

Useful Information

Paths in excellent condition, and minimal road crossing or walking on the road. Dogfriendly.
Ascent : The route is generally flat, one gentle climb out of the valley into the woods. No stiles. Only gates.
Pulic transports : Chalfont & Latimer is a London Underground and National Rail station in Zone 8 on the Metropolitan line, in Buckinghamshire. It also serves the Chiltern Railways line to Aylesbury.
Car park : Ample free parking at points along the route. You can also park at Chalfont & Latimer train station for a £3 fee for the day. You can find free spots at Stoney Lane car park and start the walk at waypoint (8).
Alternative route : 5.25miles with a shorter 4 miles option from waypoint (4) From Mill Farm, turn right over the River Chess across two bridges. At the junction with Latimer Road, turn left (East) on the road and seek the footpath on your right (South-East). Follow this footpath parallel to the road and enter Chenies via Claypits Lane. In front of Chenies School, keep straight (Right - South-West) to get to waypoint (7).

Accommodation :

  • Latimer House
  • Nathan's Farm
  • Bedford Arms
  • Crestyl B&B
  • Smaller B&B options available

Refreshments :

  • Tea at Latimer House
  • Seasonal refreshments at Sarratt. Tylers at Sarratt
  • Year round from the Bedford Arms.

More information at Chiltern AONB https://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/38... and Chiltern Society https://chilternsociety.org.uk/leaflet/c...

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

A chalk stream, far-reaching valley views, a tucked-away Manor House and the mewing of red kites for company, on this circular Chess Valley walk.

You can never spend enough time in the Chess Valley, each time there is something new to savour: a view, a woodland bursting with wildflowers, strutting ponies in a meadow or a new path to follow.Hemmed in on all sides by the pressures of London and urban overspill, the charming Chess Valley is a haven of solitude in outstanding Chilterns countryside. You will come away feeling refreshed and glad you experienced this accessible quintessential English countryside.

The short walk from Chalfont & Latimer station will take you through neat Metroland streets, with mock 1930’s Tudor jostling with Art Deco suburban dwellings within easy reach of London and the countryside.

(A) The cherry trees so typical of the Chilterns are in full bloom, flower petals strewn across the pavement like confetti. Follow one of the many dog walkers heading into West Wood, where gently undulating paths beckon you onwards downhill to Latimer just across the valley. The leaf cover will obscure the first of the gorgeous valley views, but as you emerge from the woodland, you can enjoy what will your valley for the day!

(B) Crossing the fast Latimer Road, pause at the weir and your first view of the mineral rich chalk stream, so typical of the Chiltern Hills. Chalk streams are a globally rare habitat with the majority found in England alone. The water you are seeing, will have fallen as rain long ago and been held in the chalk aquifer, deep underground, acting as though a sponge to rise 5 miles to the north west at Pednor This river flows to its confluence with the River Colne in Rickmansworth.
This beautiful valley was first cultivated from the 1st century AD by farmers who lived in timber buildings and worked the fields on both sides of the river. Nearby is the site of extensive Roman villa, bathhouse and decorative gardens, begun around 170 AD and built with their new techniques and decorative styles to display their wealth and status. There is even some suggestion that grapes were grown on the sunny slopes of the valley, I have to pinch myself when looking around as I imagine I am in the middle of nowhere, and not in fact so close to London and other busy market towns.

(C) Continuing up the hill as Latimer House comes into view. Now a country hotel, Latimer was once a very secret place. From a manor house in the 11th century, various grand families have continually occupied and altered this site until with the onset of the Second World War, when it became the centre for MI5 and MI6 intelligence. Wander along the terrace to enjoy more valley views, or to play a game of chess!

The walk will take you through one of the loveliest hamlets in all the Chiltern Hills, Latimer. With pretty cottages arranged around the triangular village green, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a film set. Marketing the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, it’s no surprise to see local puddingstone’s amongst the two memorials.

There are plenty of winding country lanes to tempt you away, but walk back towards the river and the Chess Valley path.

(D) The next section of this walk is one of slow travel, stopping often to savour the views or take a breath. The path is an easy-going and level, well signposted and as long as you keep the stream on your right, you can’t go wrong. The water meadow here has some delicate wild flowers and so many butterflies. Look out for little egrets, kingfishers and herons.

A more English scene you could not wish for: old oak and beech trees on the valley edges, lush water meadows and ponies strutting amongst the buttercups and daisies.

Part of this valley’s charm is the sheer number of quaint ruins, stories and legends that are part of the fabric of the valley. One of concerns William Liberty; a brick maker, who by his own desire, is buried with his wife Alice in a lonely plain brick vault, outside the boundaries of the now lost church of St Mary Magdalene. Located on the opposite bank, what little remains of the ruined church has been enveloped by dense vegetation. You pass both.

There is abundant life everywhere; at your feet, in the stream, in the trees and above you in the sky. The birdsong is all along the valley. The most noticeable and so closely associated with the Chilterns is the Red Kite. You will see them drifting overhead and perhaps hear them too, mewing like cats!

(E) Continuing the walk through Geralds Meadow bursting with wildflowers and onwards towards Sarratt, site of a former watermills and the last watercress farm in the valley. Once enjoyed in sandwiches, at breakfast and high-tea, munched on in the streets, this harbinger of spring was sold in huge quantities to Victorian city-dwellers. Tired of their winter fare of meat and root vegetables, they were only too glad to eat daily bunches of ‘blood-cleaning’ watercress that had been brought in overnight by train and sold in the famous Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market in central London.

Sadly this fiery snack is no longer grown, but you can enjoy seasonal local refreshments from the pop-up at the farm entrance.

(F) It’s here that you cross the steam and follow the track that leads you gently up hill to another of the valley’s hamlets, that surely rivals Latimer for being quintessentially English.

I stopped to enjoy the view back across the valley, two kites wheeling overhead and a farmer working in the field opposite, the noise of his machine carried by the breeze.

(F) You come upon Chenies suddenly. Through the trees, cottages appear, neatly arranged around their village green. As with Latimer, this too has a water pump and curiosities essential to village life.

(G) The Tudor Chenies Manor House has been throughout its long history, home to the rich and powerful, choosing this location to make their mark in the valley and beyond. This unassuming manor house with resident Royal ghost is now a private home. This impressive estate is a favourite filming location for The Crown and Midsomer murders.

The friendly Bedford Arms is a brief detour for coffee or have a pub lunch if time allows.

The views across the valley will soon by gone as the spring greens take hold. I can see Latimer House and the edge of suburbia beckons as I walk along a very good track towards West Wood and the station.

At times you may be frustrated at not being able to instantly share your day with online friends. Instead take advantage of the lack of signal and escape for the day in this timeless Chilterns valley.

Copyright Mary TEBJE : More information at https://www.visitchilterns.co.uk

Chilterns Countryside Experiences:

  • Paradigm brewery tours and tasting in Sarratt.
  • Chenies Manor House and gardens are open April - October
  • Spend time In the nearby Chalfont woods with woodsman Dave Willis.
  • Try immersive woodland dining with Nomadic. The unique Chilterns Open Air museum.

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