The Chess Valley Walk is a 10-mile linear walk from Rickmansworth to Chesham that takes between 4-5 hours to complete. It’s easily accessible from London and takes you along the River Chess in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. If you’re after views of rolling country hillsides and meandering through meadows filled with wildflowers with a few country pub stops along the way, this one’s for you.
Here’s everything you need to know for your walk including how to get there, what to bring and what you can expect to see.
Planning Your Walk Along The Chess Valley
Everything You Need To Know Before Setting Off
- Location: The Chilterns, Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire
- Distance: 10m
- Heigh & Ascent: Relatively flat with a one or two steeper climbs
- Terrain: Mixture of fields, natural paths and paved paths, expect mud after rainfall
- Time: 4h30 with one lunch stop by the river
- Stiles: 1
- Highlights: The River Chess! That’s why we’re here.
How To Get To The Chess Valley
The Chess Valley walk is easily accessible from London with both Rickmansworth and Chesham on the Metropolitan London Underground and Overground Lines. The journey from London Marylebone takes approximately 22 minutes whilst jumping on the Underground at Baker Street takes about 35 minutes.
You can park at the station car park in either Chesham or Rickmansworth depending on where you start The Chess Valley walk. The Rickmansworth car park costs £2 for the full day on Saturdays and Sundays and £4.50 Monday to Friday.
What To Take With You
Here are all the essentials you need to take on your walk:
- Hiking boots and walking socks
- Waterproof raincoat
- Waterproof trousers
- Hiking backpack
- First Aid Kit
- Depending on the weather, hat and gloves or suncream and sun hat
Related Post: Scarpa Women’s Kailash Pro GTX Hiking Boots Review
Is It Difficult?
The walk doesn’t have too many difficult features. There are one or two steeper hill climbs and areas where the terrain could be muddy after rainfall but otherwise, the path is relatively flat. The trail has one stile to clamber over. All other sections are connected by wooden kissing or a metal field gates.
There are plenty of signs along the route marking the direction of the walk. In and around the towns and villages you’ll find larger signs with ‘Chess Valley Walk’ clearly marked whilst smaller signs with arrows or with the fish symbol mark the way along the route. It is always worth taking your own map of the area as you never know when technology could let you down.
The Chess Valley Walk Route & Trail
The traditional direction to for The Chess Valley Walk is from Rickmansworth to Chesham. On this occasion, however, I decided to walk it the other way round and I’m glad I did. We passed a fair few walking groups coming in the opposite direction but had our route to ourselves.
Leg 1 | Chesham To Latimer
Starting at Chesham underground station, the walk takes you through the town centre. Chesham is a relatively quiet country town with a local market and a few central pubs. You can easily pick up lunch supplies here at either Waitrose or Boots if needed. Within a few minutes of walking, you’ll pick up the River Chess as it meanders through back gardens and heads towards the Chesham Moor.
Towards the end of the moor on the east, you’ll find the stepping stones and waterfall. Continue along the path through open fields and following the river as it widens, until you get to Latimer House. Built in 1838, Latimer House was used in World War II as an intelligence base but is now a luxury hotel.
Leg 2 | Latimer To Chenies
The next two legs were my favourite. The grass is green and the views beautiful. Walking down the hill from Latimer you’ll pass through Frogmore Meadows. Frogmore meadows is a wildlife wonderland, managed and maintained by the local Wildlife Trust. The management of the land means that the tactical cutting of crass combined with the cow grazing allows for the wildflowers to bloom.
After the meadows, you’ll come to a farm. Originally home to 19 similar farms, this part of the walk is home to the last working watercress farm in Sarratt. If you set off on the right day you’ll be able to visit the farm and buy some watercress to munch on your way.
Leg 3 | Chenies To Sarratt Bottom
Continue along the path and you’ll pass some wooden bridges crossing the River Chess. Perfect to play poo sticks, it’s also a great place to stop for lunch.
Be careful in this area as landowners may use these fields for shooting practice. If you see or hear shooting, keep your dogs on the leash and don’t stray from the path.
Amateur Tip: After rainfall and especially in the colder months it’s imperative to wear hiking boots or wellies for this part of the walk. As the river is so close to the route you’ll likely need to cross patches of mud of the likes you’ve never seen before.
Leg 4 | Sarratt Bottom To Rickmansworth
This section of the walk isn’t as open as the first three legs. You’ll walk a section along the motorway, along roads and through back alleys behind houses and gardens. As you arrive in Rickmansworth, however, the River Chess appears once again surrounded by greenery and wildlife. Here’s where you’ll goodbye to the river and head to a pub in Rickmansworth before catching your train back home.
Pubs On The Chess Valley Walk
Not exactly a pub, your first stop from Chesham to Rickmansworth is the De Verre Latimer Estate. Set in Latimer house, this spot boasts beautiful views from the top of the valley and would be a great place for brunch.
The first pub you can head for is The Bedford Arms in Chenies. You will need to leave the main path to reach this pub crossing over the river to the right of the watercress farm and heading up the hill. It’s not too much of a detour.
Once you’ve made your way back to the path, a little further on you’ll see a large white house on the left at the top of the hill. If you’re looking for another pub stop, The Cock Inn is up the hill just on the right of this house. You will need to leave the main path again but you’ll find another charming pub with roaring fire waiting for you. It also boasts a large beer garden, perfect if you have a dog with you.
Alternative Routes For The Chess Valley Walk
End Your Walk In Chorleywood
If you wanted a shorter walk, you could look to end in Chorleywood. Also on the London Underground and Overground, by finishing in Chorleywood you’ll avoid walking along the motorway and through the back alleys in the last leg from Sarratt Bottom to Rickmansworth. There are a few pubs in Chorleywood you can pick up your final pint at.
Start Your Walk From Chalfont & Latimer
Another alternative for a shorter Chess Valley walk is to start in Chalfont & Latimer. Also on the London Underground and Overground line from Marylebone, Chalfont & Latimer is only one stop before Chesham. You’ll be able to join the walk just past Latimer House and will enjoy the beautiful Frogmore meadows and Chenies bridges.
Walking Etiquette Along The Chess Valley Walk
You should always follow The Countryside Code whilst out walking. The following three etiquette rules are worth highlighting specifically for this walk.
To protect the animals it’s important to properly close the gates between fields. Don’t just let them slam shut behind you, check that they have closed and the locks have fallen in place.
There are a number of fields with cows on this walk. Whilst most visitors will find no trouble with the cows they can sometimes be aggressive especially when they have young calves or are pregnant. Look out for signs and stay well clear of them. if you have a dog, you should put it on a leash.
Some of the walk will take you onto roads with cars. If there is no clear path, or at the very least a trail on the pavement, you might find yourself needing to walk on the road itself. If this is the case, be sure to take care and only do so where necessary. Walk on the side of the road with the cars are coming towards you. This means you won’t have your back to cars and will be more visible. If you’re walking around a sharp bend, walk on the side with the cars coming behind you in case oncoming traffic needs to tuck in tightly.
Have you walked the Chess Valley walk or any other trails in the Chilterns?
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