Circular walk from Great Gaddesden to Little Gaddessden

This walk explores some of the hamlets of the Chilterns which, although close to Hemel Hempstead retain their remoteness in their quiet locations. It goes over the typical chalk uplands of the Gade valley and up to the beechwoods of the National Trust Ashridge estate. It passes charming 17th century cottages, a vineyard, a Buddhist Temple and long established churches. The country truly merits its AONB designation.

Technical sheet

A Great Gaddesden walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Last update : 04/08/16
  • Walking
    Activity: Walking
  • ↔
    Distance: 11.74 km
  • ◔
    Calculated time: 3h50 
  • ▲
    Difficulty: Moderate

  • ∞
    Return to departure point: Yes
  • ↗
    Vertical gain: + 157 m
  • ↘
    Vertical drop: - 161 m

  • ▲
    Highest point: 178 m
  • ▼
    Lowest point: 107 m


(S/E) The walk starts from a dirt layby on the A4146 (Grid ref TL030116), the Hemel Hempstead to Leighton Buzzard Road. The layby is opposite 4 blocks of houses on the right hand side of the road coming from Hemel Hempstead just after passing the turning signed to Great Gaddesden and with a large Wyvale Garden Centre notice. Coming from Leighton Buzzard after passing the crossroads with lanes going off to Little Gaddesden and Studham look out for Bradden Lane on the left: the houses are soon after on the left with the layby opposite.

Start the walk through the kissing gate at the Hemel Hempstead end of the layby, signed Hertfordshire Way. Go across the field and over a long wooden bridge over the river Gade and a patch of swampy ground. Once over the bridge bear left and emerge through another kissing gate by a childrens' play area. This is Great Gaddesden: it is the parish which is bigger in area; as a village it is much smaller than Little Gaddesden which was a "company town" for the Ashridge estate. Turn left along the road, pass the school, ignore a road on the right and come to a T junction. Turn right and go up the lane past some typical redbrick and timber houses. Pass the lane to the right signed to St Margarets and continue along this quietish lane for about 1km, up over Piper's Hill and down into the pretty little village of Nettleden. You come out in front of the church and turn right along the road for a few yards before turning left up a road marked unsuitable for motor vehicles.

(1) The road soon becomes a track, ascending in a walled ravine under a bridge to emerge at the top of the hill, and then descending to the hamlet of Frithsden. On the way you pass Frithsden Vineyard, currently being brought back into production with the first wine possibly available in 2008. You emerge into Frithsden itself by the Alford Arms. Cross the road and go up the slightly stepped track through woods. Continue on this track until you come out onto a drive to the left of a large house. Cross the drive, go through a barrier and continue along an enclosed path between gardens. At the end go through another barrier, at crossing paths turn right and then right again to emerge - with a green on the right and a hole on the left -at the golf course which originated on Berkhamsted Common in the 1880s.

(2) Take the path between tee and hole and then, with due consideration to the golfers, skirt the right hand side of the course along the backs of gardens. This is the route of the Hertfordshire Way. It soon plunges into a narrow strip of woodland between the fairway and the gardens. It is actually a bridle way so, although it maybe muddy, it is easy to follow out to a road (Grid ref TL005096). Cross the road and continue diagonally right across the fairway - watch out to the left before crossing - towards a line of trees: hoof marks in the grass define the line. At the far side continue through the trees with the golf course now on both sides. The path through the trees ends with hole 6 on the right and tee 7 on the left. Follow the bridle path straight on - muddy in winter but possible to find parallel tracks. The muddiest part terminates at a finger post at crossing bridle paths. Again go straight on through gorse bushes and down a broad grass avenue between woods. On the right are Frithsden Beeches - ancient woodland with National Trust signs warning of the danger from falling branches: it is not unusual to see deer hereabouts.

(3) The grass avenue ends with Brickkiln Cottage on the left. You now leave the Hertfordshire Way to turn right down a gravel drive with Frithsden Beeches on the right and a wide open grassy space on left. Follow the drive down to the road. Turn left along the road and in about 100yards or so pass "Charnis" and then turn right up a footpath and permissive bridle path - Gaddesden 1 mile. Where the ways fork, keep left past "Rodinghead" and continue down an enclosed footpath with wide expansive views to the right. At the end go through a kissing gate and straight on over a wide field to a gate in a fence. Through this and you are at the end of Golden Valley. Cross to the other side and to the left of a water treatment plant find a broad gravel track. Follow this up behind the plant and as it swings left to come out a road (Grid ref TL001122). This is the outskirts of Great Gransden; the main part of the village stretches as a strip along the road to the left for about 2 miles. Cross the road to the pavement and turn right. Go past Ashridge Cottages 1929 and opposite Cromer Close turn left down a footpath, signed to Nettleden. You have now rejoined the Hertfordshire Way which will take you back to the start. Go right diagonally across the field and through a gate, at the top of a valley, into an enormous field under cultivation. The footpath is apparently not restored after ploughing or planting and there are no waymarks. However, other walkers will probably have come this way to show the route which goes straight on descending down the valley bottom. Look out for an isolated clump of trees up to the left. When you come level with it this is where you leave the path which goes on to Nettleden (Grid ref TL007118). Turn left at right angles to your previous direction to go up hill to pass to the left of the trees. There may be a small pile of stones to mark the junction of the two paths but there is no waymark. Again other walkers will probably have pioneered the trail. But if you cannot discern one, once you have passed the trees, bear diagonally right aiming for the tallest trees to the right of a white house. When you arrive, you will discover that they surround a small pond: skirt this to come out at track.

(4) Turn right and go along this track for about 1km. On the right you will come to buildings behind a wall including what look like accommodation huts. They possibly are, for this is Amavarati Buddhist Temple which offers contemplative retreats. Opposite to these take a footpath to the left signed Great Gransden. An enclosed path round the edge of the field exits through a kissing gate into a field. Cross this past a clump of trees on the left, go through a gate and hedge gap and straight on to the opposite corner of the field (at the corner of the grounds of the 12th century church). Turn left past garages, then right through a small estate to arrive back at the kissing gate by the children's play area. From here back over the water meadows to the start(S/E).


  1. S/E : km 0 - alt. 111 m
  2. 1 : km 1.85 - alt. 116 m - Turn right and then left
  3. 2 : km 3.49 - alt. 167 m - Turn right
  4. 3 : km 5.57 - alt. 178 m - Brickkiln Cottage - Turn right
  5. 4 : km 9.35 - alt. 173 m - Turn right
  6. S/E : km 11.74 - alt. 111 m

Useful Information

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
4.5 / 5
Clarity of route map
4.6 / 5
Walk interest
4.5 / 5
le Mon 13 Sep 2021 03:44:11 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 10/09/21
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Really enjoyed this walk. I have lived in this area for 30 years but never visited some of the areas the walk took me to.
It started in a river valley with grazing sheep through a beautiful village. There was then a steep climb to the Common at Ashridge , through woods and finally through farmers fields and past a Buddhist monastery.It was an extremely varied walk. I was amazed that the directions on the map were so excellent we never got lost ! This was a really important point because the walk was 7 miles.I do not usually walk that far so I certainly didn’t want to walk further by getting lost .One final point is, walkers might choose to do the walk the opposite way around. That way you get to have a drink in a pub at the end!

le Mon 05 Apr 2021 06:35:13 EDT

Overall rating: 4.7 / 5

Date of walk: 03/04/21
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

Very nice walk. Lots of lovely views and passed through several picturesque villages. Quite a quiet route even on the sections of road.

The Alford Arms and Frithsden Vineyard were both unfortunately closed due to Covid, but both looked like very nice places to stop.

We downloaded the GPX file which made it very easy to navigate. Definitely recommend this route!

le Mon 15 Jun 2020 09:47:36 EDT

Overall rating: 4 / 5

Date of walk: 13/06/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★☆☆ Average

excellent routemap directions . We tend to walk slowly and still finished walk 10ins earlier than quoted time. some ups and downs early on but a little too much road walking, nice views of chilterns.

le Sat 20 Apr 2019 15:22:23 EDT

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 19/04/19
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

We really enjoyed this small but perfectly formed walk.

In a couple of places the directions made a lot more sense once you'd correctly worked out the route but, in general, we had no problem navigating. The path across the field is very clear - it's obviously been completely re-instated - but we didn't see 'Charnis' and suspect it's changed names over the years. Or we may have just missed it. But we took a gamble on the likliest-looking path and soon reached the next bit of directions confirming we were still on the route.

And the route itself is lovely. Even though it includes roads and a golf course, there wasn't a bit of it that we'd have swapped out. Varied countryside with lots to see. Recommended.

le Mon 23 Jul 2018 03:28:04 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 21/07/18
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

An excellent walk well described and easy to follow

le Wed 13 Jun 2018 11:20:45 EDT

Glad to hear you enjoyed the walk. Please feel free to post photos if you have any!

le Mon 11 Jun 2018 04:55:36 EDT

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 10/06/18
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Lovely varied walk through wild flower filled meadows, shady woods, farmland and country lanes. Lots of wildlife, including deer. Nice to end walk visiting an English vineyard followed by drinks in a welcoming pub with v.good food. No problem finding route.

le Tue 05 Dec 2017 07:42:54 EST

Thanks for all the feedback on this walk! Please feel free to add photos of the walk if you have any

Hikideas Moderator

le Mon 04 Dec 2017 08:01:29 EST

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 17/11/17
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

This is a good walk and in general the directions are good. We had a little trouble finding the way at Little Gaddesden - we ended up walking through the village, - and again had trouble on the unmarked footpath over the ploughed field

We subsequently took a group of friends to the area, but changed the walk to start from the Alford Arms. When we reached Ashford House, we turned right and down on the small path, then at the bottom climbed the hill facing towards a bench, turned right there and followed path towards a large stone bridge which was a perfect stopping place for lunch. We then continued along the woodland path, parallel to the road above, until the end. We then turned left, crossed the main road and rejoined walk instructions from footpath in left just past the 1929 built cottages on right. Coming to ploughed field we did not turn left at clump of trees but instead continued straight on across the unmarked footpath until we reached vilkage of Nettleden. There wecturned left, then shortly after right up the road marked unsuitable for motor vehicles, thus rejoining the walk and ending back at The Alford Arms which is perfect for a post drink walk. Frithsden Vineyard is a little before the Alford Arms and serves excellent tea and cake. It is also possible to book a Vineyard Tour

le Mon 08 Aug 2016 04:49:46 EDT

Overall rating: 4.7 / 5

Date of walk: 07/08/16
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

This was a good walk with great directions. The position for the starting point were spot on and we had a great time discovering this part of Hertfordshire. This is one we will do again.

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