Chenies, Latimer and the Chess Valley

(APOLOGIES for the format of this post – I wrote it in MS WORD as the web server for my blog was down, then ‘cut and paste’ it. I’ve tried re-inserting blank lines between the pragraphs but they keep disappearing when I publish the post!)

Today I had a superb walk, on a glorious autumn day. It was cold – I had to scrape ice off my windscreen before setting off – but I was warmly wrapped up and the clear blue skies made for some great views. I’d been looking forward to this walk, as it went through Chenies, Latimer and the Chess Valley, an area I’d really enjoyed on Day 1 of my Chiltern Heritage Trail walk last year.

I parked at Chenies, and took a bridleway westwards along the hilltop south of the Chess Valley. I soon got a sight of Chenies Manor across its attractive grounds, then had good views across the Chess Valley towards Latimer. I took a footpath that descended through a wood, then across a meadow in the valley bottom. I crossed the road through the valley and went diagonally across another meadow, before crossing the river Chess with Latimer House on the hillside above me. I turned right on a path through another meadow, initially alongside the river before heading slightly left to reach the village of Latimer.

I took a few photos of the small village green with its water pump, Boer War memorial (I saw another on Coombe Hill on Friday) and grave of the heart of a horse on which a General was killed in the Boer war. I then followed a short footpath which soon rejoined the road out of the village. I passed the church on my left, and admired the views over the woods and valleys to my right. I then took a path across a large field of winter wheat to reach Frith wood. On the other side of this attractive wood I crossed a meadow, a lane and then a sheep pasture to reach a second lane. A short distance to the left, I turned right onto a bridleway.

This was a pleasant part of the walk on a clear path between hedgerows, although the latter obviously restricted the views. I eventually took a footpath that crossed a corner of a field to rejoin the bridleway after it had turned right. I was now following Bottom Lane, and soon reached a part that I’d walked last Wednesday (immediately before I stopped for lunch). At the end of Bottom lane, I crossed a road and continued along another bridleway, which had the intriguing name of Broomstick Lane. I turned right, and followed a hedgerow to reach a wood – I’d been here before on the final day of the Chiltern Heritage Trail, so had little difficulty in following the paths through the wood to reach Ley Hill. I turned right, and at a funny junction where the road effectively splits into three, I followed the middle road (there was a sign indicating a path slightly left of the road, but I couldn’t see where it went across a cricket pitch and then a golf course). After maybe a third of a mile I turned left onto a bridleway.

Again this was very pleasant, following fences and very gradually descending, with a nice view towards the valley of Flaunden Bottom ahead of me.I turned right along the road through Flaunden Bottom, then went left on a bridleway, steeply uphill between pastures then through another attractive wood. The path levelled out beyond the wood, and I soon turned right on a hedged track marked as an ‘other route with public access’ on the map. This led to a bridleway through Baldwin’s Wood – again it was pleasant walking through the wood with the fallen leaves rustling underfoot, and I saw a Muntjac deer here. On the far side of the wood, the bridleway turned left along the edge of the wood a short way, before turning right and descending back into the Chess valley.

Where the bridleway met another one running through the valley, I stopped and ate my lunch sitting on a stile. Then I turned left and followed the bridleway through the valley to Mill farm. I went a few yards left along a lane, then continued on a footpath between fences with paddocks either side. Through a kissing gate, I had a slight problem as a horse was blocking my path, grazing from a bush. Having checked it was friendly and wasn’t going to kick me, I squeezed behind it and crossed the field to continue on a path through some trees. There were a group of four walkers just ahead of me, but I didn’t catch up with them as I kept stopping to take photos of the very attractive Chess Valley. Part of the path hereabouts was on a boardwalk.

The path came close to the river at a point where watercress was being grown – the walkers ahead of me went somewhere right here, obviously on a path not on my map. I continued ahead down the valley on a farm drive, and at the end turned right along a lane. I was now in part of the Chess valley known as Sarratt Bottom (I visited Sarratt church on the Chiltern Way this spring). Where the lane turned left I went straight on along a tarmac drive, with the river visible a few feet away through the hedge on my right. Just yards after the tarmac ended at a row of cottages, I reached a crossing path where I turned left and crossed the river Chess on a small footbridge.

I was now on the route of the Chiltern Way, but only for a couple of hundred yards as at the next path junction I turned half-right to take a different route back into Chenies (as I approached that path junction, the four walkers I’d seen earlier appeared from the right – we chatted for a couple of minutes, and it turned out one of them walks with the Hillingdon branch of the Rammblers, same as the chap I walked with near Chalfont St Giles recently). The path went steadily uphill across a large grass field to a hedge where I turned left, turning right in the field corner to follow a wood on my left. This curved round to the left, and then I followed another hedgerow to a farm, and finally followed the farm drive back to the centre of Chenies where I’d parked.

I probably walked about 12 miles – the walk only took just over 4 hours. It had been very sunny and bright throughout, there were still many trees in their autumn colours though most had shed their leaves, Chenies and Latimer were well worth revisiting and the Chess valley was as lovely as ever. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable walk that I’d be very happy to do again.

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